What’s happening everyone? How’s your week thus far? Oh, come on now it’s not that terrible I promise you, and if it is I’ll brighten your mood with some humor while I simultaneously inform you. Also, I’m very late to the party, but I saw the new Star Wars and yes, I liked it, no more needs to be said. Don’t worry no spoilers if you’re less cool than me and haven’t seen it yet (seriously get on it you’re going to have someone ruin it on you).
Getting back to the more important things of today. Who out there, wants to hit a new squat PR this year? How about drop some body fat? What about run your first half marathon? Chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably have a goal similar to this, no? Some of you, may not have a goal quite like this. Your goal could be something as easy as, I want more energy to play with my kids or to help my spouse around the homestead. There’s something that can help all of the above, its super easy, and it’s something you probably already love to do every day. If you don’t, what kind of monster are you?
Today we’re talking about sleep. None of what I’m spitting is news as I’ve mainly borrowed from the articles of respected people, Eric Cressey, Brian St. Pierre, Mike Sheridan) and sources (T-Nation and Precision Nutrition) much smarter than me., but I figure if I help one person improve then it’s worth regurgitating the information.
First off, if you didn’t know, America sucks at this sleeping thing. It’s killing us all slowly and probably is a heavy contributor to us becoming one of the unhealthiest developed countries in the world.
As recently as 2006 (the number is probably more outrageous now), a study showed, both men and women, every single age group, had an increase in the number of people reporting an average of less than 6 hours of sleep, compared to 1985
6 hours is plenty? WRONG, sorry that’s a bit harsh, but no 6 hours is not plenty. It’s not detrimental to us every once in a while, life happens, things get in the way, and no one is perfect. But a lack of sleep comes with many increased health risks, the big one being obesity. There’s some that wonder whether it’s the chicken or the egg (whether obesity leads to less sleep or less sleep leads to obesity), but it’s widely believed that less sleep as well as poor sleep quality, have a negative effect on important systems in your body that help control weight gain. If you want to think of it simply, more time awake means more time to cram kcals into your face and less time for your machine to use those kcals to rebuild and repair while you sleep.
Those that want some more nerdy information check out what things like Cortisol, Insulin, Growth Hormone and Leptin do for you in terms of weight gain/loss and overall health. I’ll give you the cliff notes, none of it is good news; you’re more stressed, your body doesn’t process insulin well (hello diabetes), you don’t recover from your workout quite as well as you should and your body doesn’t know how to tell you to stop eating.
Some of you are maybe saying to yourself, “I only get 5.5 hours of sleep during the week, but I sleep in on weekends”. That my friends, is a dangerous game to play. There are some studies that show that it’s not a terrible method, but here’s the problem. Many of you are probably “sleeping in” because you had a late night, and you still probably only slept for 5-6 hours. Especially those of us that enjoy our adult beverages, that sleep time was 100% garbage sleep, and we’ll get more into that in a minute.
Here’s a chart from Precision Nutrition with some signs that you’re lacking in the sleep category and need to level up sooner rather than later.
Here’s 3 steps to nudge you in the direction of getting a more restful sleep
1. Watch the alcohol and caffeine intake- Yes, I drink my share of both, but we have to be smart about it. Drinking coffee like it’s going out of style and/or going on a bender every other night has a host of health problems outside of impacting our sleep. Caffeine after 12 PM (some say 2, I say 12 to be safe) is going to keep that brain ticking way longer than you want it to. Alcohol needs to process 100% before you can actually get into a deep sleep, so when you’re slugging them back until 3 AM, wave bye-bye to getting any actual sleep (even if you do shut your eyes for an extended period). Keep it to 1 or 2 drinks if you’re planning on getting some good sleep that night.
2. Get into as much of a bedtime routine as you can- Not only am I talking about getting your body into a routine in terms of what time it’s going to sleep and waking up, but also what you do shortly before and shortly after. Start shutting down 30 minutes before, get the lights down (screens included). If you have something on your mind that’s going to bug you like hell until you do it, write it all down on a piece of paper, then you’ll get it out of your mind. When you wake up, don’t just lay there hitting the snooze button, get up! There’s something about “sleep inertia” or a term similar, that basically says laying back down only makes you more tired, so just get the heck up and start.
3. Go to bed earlier- Why in the heck people are into this whole, staying awake late every night even though I was tired 2 hours ago, thing is beyond me. When you are tired your body is trying to tell you something, so don’t fight it, that something is…TIME TO SLEEP! I’ve heard this on probably 10-12 different occasions in my time as a coach, many sleep experts out there believe that because of the way our bodies natural rhythm works, every hour slept before midnight is worth two after. I’m pretty sure there’s not a ton of research (or a way to measure it even) out there, but it seems to make sense, and work from my perspective at least.
There, now aren’t we all excited to get to sleep? I realize much of what I just said is a bit of scare tactics. I’m not trying to make you panic into thinking that you’re going to drop dead tomorrow if you don’t get 7-9 hours of sleep tonight. At the same time, there are long term negative consequences to sleep deprivation and besides, who the heck doesn’t like sleeping? Just because I get up early in the morning doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my Zzz’s, I just go to bed earlier on most nights. That’s what I got today guys, get some rest, then go out there and get after it!
References: The links below are to the articles that I’ve pooled the information in this post from. They did the research much better than I ever could. If you enjoyed this post and want more information on sleep, click one of the links below and thank them for making it easy to understand the information.
Mike Sheridan (via T-Nation): https://www.t-nation.com/living/tip-a-quick-guide-to-hardcore-sleeping
Eric Cressey: https://ericcressey.com/sleep-what-the-research-actually-says
Brian St. Pierre (via Precision Nutrition): https://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep
Ryan Andrews (via Precision Nutrition): https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-sleep
Happy Thursday to you all once again, everyone all dug out from our little dusting of snow yesterday? At the expense of contradicting myself I'm posting this one up to go with last week's post. Last week I put an article out there that was to, hopefully, encourage those that are getting their fitness and health back on track in 2018, and not let them give up. Today I have something else to help on the flip side of that, looking at those that are full bore and right into it.
First off, those that are pedal to the metal, that’s awesome, way to be, you’re doing it. Secondly, sorry to be Buzz Killington, but rain it the hell in. OK that’s probably a little too extreme, but I’m just going to tell you that you can cool your jets just a bit.
Let's start with this, do you remember that workout yesterday or the day before that you really pushed yourself through despite being more tired than an ultra-marathoner? Truth be told, probably was not your best decision, might’ve been more prudent to take an off day. We can get into how a workout is not a punishment for your eating, you can’t out train a bad diet and what a gaping pitfall that whole ball of wax is, or we can talk about why you need to recover. Really this is the biggest culprit as to why a lot of the new year’s resolutioners burn out or get hurt, too much, too fast, too soon and not recovering.
Here’s the facts, the time that your muscles do their growing, and strengthening, is NOT during the workout, but actually in your down time, when they're repairing themselves. You know that soreness you feel? That is your body in recovery and doing its job. Your body needs down time and food, yes that stuff too, food! Not resting, going full tilt, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, means either you’re a freak, or you have a burnout (at best) or an injury (at worst) in your no too distant future. Yes, there are people that train almost every day, the key there is almost. Those are also people with loads of training in the books and have a very dialed in program, both in and out of the gym. You strive for that you say? AWESOME, but this is not the time to get crazy just yet. Let's shoot for something you can consistently stick with, 5 days in a row might be overachieving it. 3 days consistently training, for weeks and months on end, is far better than 5 days in a row every 3 months.
Also, your brain and body are going to one day scream for mercy, hopefully before you get hurt, listen and listen well. As a coach of a team I can tell you when I see this look on my player’s faces. It’s not tired like you’re going to sleep, it’s tired like you are dragging an 800 lbs. gorilla named Coco chained behind you. Those are absolutely the days you need to call it off and get yourself away from the gym or training facility.
I’m not saying sit on your posterior and do absolutely nothing for the days you don’t train (workout), there are ways to keep active, but not destroy yourself in the process. Things like going for a walk (my favorite), doing yoga (holy shit Jarrod just said to do yoga, head for the hills, the world is about to move on), doing some soft tissue work (foam rolling or a a massage) or you can do a recovery workout like the one below;
Foam roll all your ouchie spots for a few minutes
1. Spider-Man x5/leg
2. Split Squat (either body weight or very light load) x5/leg
3. Yoga Push-up x5
4. Goblet Squat x10
5. Glute Bridge x10
6. Forearm Wall Slides x10
7. Yoga Plex x5/side
8. Lateral squat x5/leg
9. Dead Bugs x5/side
10. Lightly loaded farmer's carry
Do this all twice (3 times if you're a little more seasoned), rest as needed and you'll feel 10000 times better for your next workout.
Keeping the blood flowing is important, it’ll help alleviate the soreness that you’re likely feeling from all that hard work. Remember that first time you worked out in a long time and you were sore all over like you just went 5 rounds in the cage with McGregor? Did you stay at home for a week before you went back? You were almost just as sore all over again weren’t you? Let’s try something different this time and move. Just a little, nice and light, just enough to get the heart rate a little elevated and the blood flow. That's what I got today folks, thanks for reading, now go out there and get after it!
A good Thursday to you all, it’s been a crazy week or so here, getting slammed with about a foot of snow and then, all of a sudden, it’s 50-60 degrees out. My body just keeps telling me something is off, anyone else feeling that with this crazy stuff?
Today I want to address a crowd that’s probably at the end of their rope, our wonderful New Year’s Resolutioners that decided this was the year to get off the couch and be just a bit healtheir. No this is not a rant about how you need to stay out of everyone else’s way that knows what they’re doing. That does none of us any good and just makes you fresh faces, feel bad all over again, not quite what anyone wants really.
Right about now, some of you, are right on the edge of dropping it all and giving in. The excuses are prepped; it’s too hard, it’s too early (or late) to stick with it, I haven’t got time (we both that’s not true, you Netflix binger you). That is the easy way, and nothing worth a damn actually come to you the easy way. Don't let any BS infomercials or celebrity endorses of whatever fad product that's out there, tell you otherwise, after all they just want your money.
My point is, stick with it, results don’t come over night like aforementioned sources seem to enjoy advertising. It’s likely going to take you at least 6 weeks plus to feel or see anything, that’s the hard truth. It sucks to hear and no one wants to actually believe it, and I can't make you if you don't want to, it's entirely up to you if you want to believe it. Can only lead a horse to water, right?
Here's another thing to think about, do you remember that great deal that you signed up at the gym for where you got a percentage off or a month free? They’re counting on you bailing after a few weeks and still taking your money for the next 6 months to a year, then if you want to cancel make you do a few tricks and jump through hoops just to do so. In that case you might as well make the best use of the membership you are paying for and start sweating.
Obviously, I have my bias (science kind of does too) and believe strength training is the king to get it done in the gym, but that weight room can be pretty intimidating when you are brand new, don’t worry about it. They were where you are once upon a time too, some of them may never admit it, but you can just ignore those jerks and do you. Stick it out, maybe find a gym buddy to get you through that really rough patch and things will get easier. Quite honestly they never get super easy, because it is work and anything that's worth a damn takes some, but you’ll be happier for it (also science), I promise.
Here's the summary; don't quit so you can stick it to those counting on you doing so, pick up some weight (find a coach/reputable resource to help) and be patient. Hopefully this helps at least one of you stick it out a little longer, and if that's so, my work is done for the day. Have a good day all, go out there and get after it!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS