What if I told you there was something you could start doing now that would make you burn fat, build muscle, prevent disease, extend your life, and make you smarter, hotter, and better in the sack? What if I told you that this "Holy Grail" was backed by every scientific study on the above mentioned attributes, and recommended by even the most ancient texts, scriptures, tomes, and scrolls? What if I told you that it is something that you already know how to do, requires zero effort and costs literally nothing; it will actually save you millions of dollars in your lifetime. Would you be interested?
How much money would you pay me to tell you this secret? And would you still pay me if I told you that after you know the secret, an act that is proven, easy, and free, you won't do it. You'll laugh like it's a joke and then go on being fatter, weaker, dumber, and less hot than you want to be. Because that's what you will do after you read this article. That's what you will do when I tell you that the Holy Grail of Hotness... is sleep.
During the first six weeks of this year I did an experiment in hypertrophy (putting on muscle). I put on 8lbs of muscle in that brief time and did it with less than 45 minutes per week of actual "lifting." To be sure, those were the hardest 45 minutes of my week and by the end of the 6 weeks, I needed two full days of rest between sessions. So I had the consistency; I had the intensity; but what did I do to guarantee my results? I slept between 9-10 hours a day.
I know that this seems counter-intuitive. We Americans tend to think that more is more. If we want to be hotter, then we need to work harder! But physiological change takes place when your body has time to focus on it. And when is your body most free to convert fat to energy and build new muscle? When it's not coordinating the demands of your brain telling it what to do. When your muscles are atonal and your energy demands are constant. You get hotter when you are asleep!
All fitness goals need three things. Consistency, Intensity, and Recovery. The more you do of any one of these, the more important the others become. The harder you work out, the more rest your body needs to recover properly for the next workout. This goes double when you are trying to lose fat. In a caloric deficit, your body's recovery times are seriously compromised (because it takes more time to convert fat to energy than Snickers Bars to energy). If you start working more and more or harder and harder without also increasing the recovery time, you will get stuck in the dreaded "Overtraining Death Spiral." The Death Spiral is where people are working harder and harder, eating less and less, and going to the gym more and more in an effort to lose that last 10-15lbs. They get weaker, slower, sicker, and will never see a change because their bodies are being stressed to the breaking point. Their cortisol levels (stress hormone) go through the roof and their metabolism drops more and more in an effort to keep pace with their drastically increasing levels of activity and caloric deficit.
How do you reset the clock on your gains? How do you kick-start your metabolism? How do you steer clear of the Death Spiral?! Get some freaking sleep. Here's how:
- Tell yourself "it's OK." You aren't being lazy, you're challenging yourself to become more efficient with your time.
- Start going to bed 10 minutes earlier every night. You aren't gonna miss anything. That's what TiVo is for.
- Don't do anything else in bed other than sleep (and that other thing).