Importance of Rest and Recovery in Muscle Building Program:

To allow the body to build muscle tissue, rest and recovery is essential. The two components of rest and recovery are adequate sleep each night, and adequate time in between weight training workouts of a particular body part. It is important to sleep as many hours as possible each and every night.  Many people don't realize just how important sleep is when it comes to building muscle. If you don't allow your body to get enough sleep each night, you are neglecting a very important part of your muscle building program that could completely erase all of your muscle building efforts in the gym. It is very important to incorporate "rest days" into your weight training program so that you allow time for your muscles to recovery in between workouts. We need to be targeting different muscle groups each workout. Don't forget that your body only builds muscle tissue when you are not weight training.  Simply put, you build muscle while you are sleeping, not while you are at the gym!  If you weight train and don't get an enough sleep, or train too often it can become nearly impossible to build muscle. Whether you do not sleep enough each night, you will be compromising your muscle building efforts tremendously.  Rest and recovery are extremely important, and should be a priority if you are serious about your muscle building goals. Getting inadequate sleep each night will play a number of negative roles that will make building muscle very difficult. Not only will lack of sleep not allow enough time for your muscle to grow, it may also cause the following:

• Decrease energy levels

• Decrease testosterone levels

• Decrease growth hormone levels

• Increase catabolic (muscle destroying) hormones

 While we sleep, we go in and out of four phases of sleep. This is known as the "sleep cycle", and is very important to when building muscle since this is the time at which the body releases the growth hormone.  Sleep deprivation disrupts the sleep cycle, and can be responsible for the effects mentioned above. The bottom line: inadequate sleep will essentially make building muscle nearly impossible.  It encourages your body to lose muscle, and gain body fat!  Not a good thing if you are trying to build muscle.  Get as much sleep as you possibly can.  If you are sleep deprived, catch up on your sleep.  Not allowing enough recovery time in between your weight training workouts can result in overtraining.  Overtraining will ultimately lead to an injury, slowing your muscle building progress even further.  Since you are placing tremendous amount of stress on the muscles and nervous system each and every training workout, allowing enough time in between body part is critical.  When you are training on consecutive days make sure you are targeting different muscle groups on each day. The bottom line: never train the same muscle group on two consecutive days.

How Much Sleep Does your body need to build muscle?

The number of hours of sleep your body requires each night depends on different factors such as your daily activity level, the amount of stress in your life, the intensity of your workouts, and the quality of your diet. When on a muscle building program it requires more sleep then the average person because of the stress the body is put through after every weight training workout. Recent studies have shown the getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night can seriously affect your coordination, reaction time, judgment, overall health, and ultimately your body’s ability to build muscle and repair muscle tissue.  Most experts recommend that the average person should aim for a minimum of seven, hours of sleep each night. Due to the increased stresses that a muscle building program places on your body, they should aim for at least eight to nine hours of sleep each night.  This will ensure that they allow adequate muscle recovery time. Since your muscle building program will be very taxing on your body, it will need all of the rest it can get! The easiest way to know if you are sleep deprived is to lie down in the middle of the day. If you can fall asleep within about 10 minutes, then you likely need more sleep every night. The good news is, that if you are sleep deprived it is possible to "catch up" on sleep, and your body may reward you with some extra muscle growth if you do. To catch up on sleep, try to sleep for nine hours every night for three weeks.  At the end of the three weeks, try the 10 minute sleep test again.  If you do not fall asleep within the 10 minutes, then your body is likely caught up.  If you do fall asleep, continue sleeping for nine hours each night for another few weeks until your body passes the test.  During your rest days, it is important to take it easy. No matter how tempted you may be to workout on a rest day, you should restrain yourself. Remind yourself that your body will use your rest days to repair and rebuild your muscle tissue.  Just relax and enjoy them -- if you are training as hard as you should be, they are well deserved!  Be sure to allow your body the sleep and time it needs to maximize your bodies muscle building potential. On the following page are a few tips for insuring the best sleep possible.

• Aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night

Note: Any less and you may be robbing your body of the time it needs to help repair your muscle tissue.

• Try to relax a few hours before bedtime

Note: It’s important to give yourself time before bed to prepare for sleep and truly relax—and that means no e-mail, no television, and nothing that will make you worried, stressed, or excited.

• Try to avoid physical activity close to your bedtime

Note: Late night workouts are generally not a good idea, nor are any activities that will increase your heart rate.  Elevating your heart rate before your bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep.  Try to limit your activity level within three hours of your bedtime.

• Do not eat large amounts of food before you sleep

Note: Eating too much food before you sleep means that the digestive system will be working hard while you try to sleep.  This can make it difficult for your body to get in to the state of deep sleep that it needs to repair muscle tissue.  If you need a snack before bedtime, try to eat something small that is high in protein that is easy to digest.

 • Get on a consistent sleep schedule

Note: Try to get to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  A consistent sleep schedule will help improve the quality of your sleep. Your muscles and nervous system need this time to repair them. Rest and recovery is extremely important part of your muscle building program. Your body needs at least eight to nine hours of sleep each night to maximize the body’s ability to build muscle.  Lack of sleep is responsible for a number of factors that will hinder muscle growth including a decrease in anabolic hormones, an increase catabolic hormone, and a decrease in energy levels.  Ultimately it will become very difficult to build muscle with inadequate sleep. Incorporating rest days in to you weight training program is also very important, since your body uses these days to repair and rebuild muscle and connective tissue.