By George L. Redmon, Ph.D., N.D.
When you consider the statement above by one of bodybuilding’s most accomplished participants, it implies that to reach your full growth potential, you need to also be doing something that is just as important— if not more important— than working out. In fact, according to Lee Labrada, “Recuperation is the factor with the biggest, most significant potential to help one reach the next level of muscular size and strength.”
Conversely, what the scientific literature tells us now is that if you don’t get adequate rest coupled with enough sleep, your body doesn’t fully recover from daily workouts. This aspect of non-adaptation, due to the micro-muscle damage and resulting inflammation followed by inadequate healing time, leads to what researchers refer to as being in a ‘perpetual under-recuperative state.’
To stimulate, build and repair muscle, you need to take a much more proactive approach toward recuperation. For example, after a workout, the body’s ability to bounce back from the inflammatory stress response can take up to 72 hours. That’s three days. In response to the time it takes to heal and readjust, this could take up to six weeks, depending on the extent of an injury.
It is the state of constant under-recovering from your workouts and/or injury that will limit your ability to build muscle and invariably lead to the development of other catabolic (muscle-wasting) factors. Additionally, without a well-planned recovery program, you will not only comprise your growth potential— you could also be compromising your overall health by overtaxing your system and perpetuating uncontrolled oxidative stress.
So instead of your driving force being no pain, no gain— let it be no rest, no gain!
Sleep Growth and Repair
There are two different stages of sleep, each having unique characteristics. The first stage of sleep is known as non-REM sleep, also referred to as ‘deep’ and or ‘slow-wave’ sleep. During this sleep cycle, the entire body is relaxed, cerebral cortex activity is diminished as well as the heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. During this sleep period, the body’s use of energy also decreases by about 20 percent.
The second phase of sleep is call REM or ‘rapid eye-movement, sleep, due to the fact that the eyelids tend to quiver. In this stage of sleep, breathing may become rapid and irregular. The heart rate and blood pressure sometimes rise during this stage of sleep. Studies indicate that the brain is very active during this time and that at this stage of sleep, dreaming occurs. More stimulation and generally interruptions (noise, etc.) are needed to awake someone from REM sleep.
Nature At Work: Do Not Disturb
As you are undoubtedly aware, it is the REM stage of sleep that your body relies on heavily to do most of its internal repair work. This is why it is very important to get your full 8 hours of sleep consistently. As you sleep, your body goes through a defined period of growth and repair (anabolism) during the early stages of sleep. Afterward, the body shifts into a period of muscle protein breakdown (catabolism). This part of the equation you want to disrupt, while enhancing the anabolic stage. As you can see, biologically, poor sleep management can sidetrack and/or derail much of your hard physical work.