Friday, August 29, 2008

4 Reasons Why Sleep Deprivation Will Inhibit Your Muscle Gains

By Sean Nalewanyj
Natural Bodybuilding Expert & Best-Selling Fitness Author

It may seem like a trivial issue that could be easily overlooked, but giving your body a proper sleep every night really is an important step in setting the wheels for maximum muscle growth into motion.
If you really want to see the most dramatic changes in your body over the shortest period of time possible, a restful, quality sleep every single night is a must.
What makes a proper sleep so important?
Well, let’s simply take a look at what happens when you DON’T get a proper sleep each night…

1) Mental focus will decline.

One of the biggest problems with sleep deprivation is the effect that it will have on your mental state. Studies have shown that just a single night with insufficient rest will have a significant negative impact on your mental focus and willingness to perform difficult tasks.

Putting forth an all-out effort every time you enter the gym is one of the primary keys to building muscle fast, and in order to do so you must remain mentally sharp at all times.

2) Physical performance will suffer.

Not only will sleep deprivation have a negative impact on your state of mind, but it will also have physical consequences as well. Without a proper sleep, your strength levels will decrease and you'll end up using less weight and/or performing fewer reps than you would normally be capable of.

Your bottom line muscle gains are ultimately determined by the steady increases in poundage that you are able to make on all of your exercises, and keeping your strength at top levels is critical in achieving this as quickly as possible.

3) Recovery will be interrupted.

As you are probably already aware, your muscles do not actually grow while you are IN the gym. Rather, they grow while you are OUT of the gym eating and resting.
The time that you spend sleeping is one of the primary periods where the recovery and remodeling of damaged muscle tissue takes place. Not only do your muscles require recovery time, but your central nervous system, joints and immune system need rest too.

4) Hormone levels will be compromised.

Depriving your body of sleep will have a negative impact on some of the most important muscle building and fat burning hormones circulating in your body. I’m talking specifically about cortisol, testosterone, growth hormone and insulin.
Simply put, sleep deprivation has a negative impact on every single one of them...

a) Cortisol - A catabolic stress hormone that increases abdominal fat storage and stimulates the breakdown of muscle tissue for use as energy.

Studies have shown that insufficient sleep will cause the body to release higher amounts of this hormone.

b) Testosterone - The most important hormone when it comes to building muscle. The higher your levels of testosterone, the more muscle you can build.

Sleep deprivation measurably lowers testosterone levels.

c) Growth Hormone - Regenerates the body and plays a large role in building and maintaining muscle.

The time that you sleep is also the time when your body experiences a natural surge in growth hormone levels. If you fail to get a proper rest at night this hormonal surge will be compromised.

d) Insulin - Responsible for the uptake of important nutrients into your body cells.

Sleep deprivation can result in an increase in your body's insulin resistance levels. This means that your body will have to release higher-than-normal amounts of this hormone to compensate. This can lead to excess fat storage, diabetes or heart disease.

So, just how much sleep is enough?

As with most things, it’s certainly an individual factor and varies from person to person. As a general guideline though, I would recommend that everyone out there strive to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every single night. If you feel that you require more than that, sleep for 9 hours or for even longer if you need to.

The bottom line is to get enough sleep each night so that you feel 100% rested and energized throughout the day. If you regularly feel fatigued and sluggish, then increasing your sleeping time is a must.

In terms of building muscle size and strength, proper amounts of sleep will:
- Increase your mental focus and energy
- Improve your strength
- Allow for proper recovery in between workouts
- Lower cortisol levels
- Increase testosterone
- Raise growth hormone levels
- Decrease insulin resistance

That should be plenty of incentive right there to start paying close attention to how much sleep you’re getting each night.

See you in the morning!
Make sure to visit for more winning muscle-building and fat loss strategies that you can begin incorporating into your program right away. You'll have the chance to instantly access my award-winning natural bodybuilding program, "The Muscle Gain Truth No-Fail System", and sign up for my free 8-part muscle building email course.

Monday, August 25, 2008

If You’ve Hit A Training Plateau, Read This...

By Sean Nalewanyj
Natural Bodybuilding Expert & Best-Selling Fitness Author

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another…

Our training programs are running smoothly, and with each week that passes we’re successfully adding more weight to the bar, more pounds to the scale and more muscle size and thickness to our bodies.

Then, all of a sudden and without warning, those gains come to a screeching halt and our muscle building and strength gaining progress is stopped dead in its tracks.

In the bodybuilding world, this is referred to as a “plateau”.

The very idea of this would send shivers up the spine of any serious trainee, as this plateau essentially means that despite our best efforts in the gym and in the kitchen, no additional progress can be made.

What does a typical lifter do in response to this?

They immediately begin haphazardly switching up their training routine in an effort to “shock” their muscles into new growth... They change their exercises and rep ranges... And they implement new “advanced techniques” such as forced reps, negatives and static holds in an effort to break through the plateau into new levels of growth.


While exercise variety can sometimes be a reasonable option here, these plateaus exist as a result of far more fundamental reasons. They usually have nothing to do with the repeated use of the same workout.

In the majority of cases, training plateaus are simply the result of overtraining.

All we have to do is review some basic physiology in order to see why this is the case…

When we train intensely in the gym, we are damaging our muscles. Each set that we perform digs a “hole” into the body’s recovery ability. When we leave the gym, the body then uses rest and nutrients in order to rebuild the damaged muscle and to fill up this hole.
Once the muscles have been remodeled back to their previous state, the body will then compensate by building additional muscle mass as an adaptive response to the stress.

So far, so good, right?

Here’s the critical factor that you need to keep in mind…

As you become stronger and add more and more weight to the bar on your exercises, the overall stress and resulting “hole” that is dug into the body’s recovery ability continually increases.
The advanced lifter who is bench pressing 300 pounds for 6 reps is placing his muscles and body under far more overall stress than the beginner who is benching 125 pounds.

What does this have to do with plateaus?


If you are consistently adding more weight to the bar and pushing your body to higher and higher levels of stress each week, you MUST compensate for the increase in stress by reducing your training volume and frequency.

If the stress from each individual set is constantly on the upward climb yet you are still performing the same number of sets and training days, your body will inevitably be pushed beyond its ability to properly recover in between workouts.

Improper recovery means that the muscle is not given an adequate amount of time to remodel and to increase its size and strength further.
This is why your gains slow down and eventually stop; it’s because every time your body is about to compensate by increasing the size and strength of the muscles, you interrupt the process by placing them under more stress and digging a new hole into recovery.

If the hole never gets filled, you never progress forward, and you keep yourself on the plateau.

How crystal clear and obvious is that?

As you become more advanced, you must train less often and with fewer sets!

Training intensity and volume are DIRECTLY related, and are part of a balanced equation that determines your progress. As one variable increases, the other MUST decrease.

So to all of you out there who are “stuck” on this weight training plateau…

Regulate your volume and frequency!

Decrease the number of sets that you perform for each muscle group slightly, and consider
inserting an additional rest day in between workouts.

If by doing this you begin coming back to the gym stronger than you were before, you'll know for sure that you were previously overtraining.

A slight reduction in volume and frequency is usually all that is needed in order to make steady, uninterrupted progress in muscle size and strength.
Instead of panicking and reaching for the latest Muscle Mag for a new "ground breaking" routine, simply understand that the body has a finite amount of recovery ability and that as you grow stronger, you use up more of it on each individual set.

Reduce the volume slightly, consider inserting an additional rest day, and that is most likely all you’ll need to blast yourself through the plateau and into a new phase of growth.
If you found this article helpful, make sure to visit me at for more highly effective muscle-building tips and tricks. If you want to build muscle fast, then you can't be making mistakes that will sabotage your efforts.

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