What a lot of people may not realize is that a very important part of gaining weight and building muscle mass is actually getting enough quality sleep every night.
Your muscles don't grow in the gym, they grow only when you are resting in the hours and days following a workout. So you need to make sure you give your body plenty of good, high-quality sleep to maximize recovery and repair.
Here are 4 good reasons why sleep is an underrated yet highly crucial aspect of bulking up:
So how exactly does sleep affect the muscle building process? Let's find out by listing what will happen if you DON'T get a good night's rest:
1. Your mental focus will decrease
By not giving yourself adequate sleep you are affecting your mental state. It's been proven that by just missing out on one night of decent sleep, you will find it hard to focus on completing some tasks.
This lack of mental strength will almost certainly affect your workouts, because you need a lot of focus and mental strength to push through a workout with heavy weights.
2. Physical performance will decrease
Lack of sleep also affects you physically as well as mentally. Without proper sleep you will be weaker and won't be able to summon as much energy during your workouts. This could mean you will use lighter weights, or won't do as many reps.
In your quest to building bigger muscles, this is not a good thing because you will be wanting to have the strength to lift the heaviest weights you can, and for the most amount of reps possible.
If you're tired because of your sleeping habits, then there's little chance of you increasing your weight and/or reps from the week before. Therefore you won't be pushing yourself hard enough to build bigger muscle mass.
3. Muscle repair and recovery will slow down
Like I mentioned before, your muscles grow whilst you are resting and sleeping. So by not giving yourself enough quality sleep your body isn't able to repair and recover your muscles as well as it could. This isn't good news if your goal is building big muscles!
4. Hormone levels will be affected
Another main drawback to lack of sleep is that important muscle building hormones will be negatively affected. I'm talking about such hormones as testosterone, growth hormone, cortisol and insulin.
These hormones play a major part in your body's ability to build muscle and burn fat. Let's take a look at them in a little more detail and how lack of sleep will affect them in a bad way.
Ok, I'm pretty sure by now you understand the importance of sleep for building big muscles. But how much sleep do you actually need every night?
That depends on the individual, some people need more than others. But in general I would aim for at least 7-8 hours a night if you're training hard. But if you feel you need more, say 9-10 hours, then go right ahead.
With the right amount of sleep you should feel fresh everyday and ready to hit the gym at 100% intensity. Only then can you maximize your gains and build bigger muscles.
But in saying that also keep in mind that it's normal to feel tired in the days following an intense workout, especially after leg day!
Hopefully this article has answered your burning question or aided you in your further research, but remember that whilst information is crucial, what's even more crucial is taking consistent action on a good well-balanced, optimally-designed muscle building program if you're serious about getting great results and levelling up your strength, health, physique, confidence, and your life. To get off on the right foot with a great program fine-tuned for maximum lean muscle gains, there are essentially three paths you can take:
Option A: Design Your Own Program (no investment)
Learn all the crucial basics, principles and over-arching strategies you need to know about planning the best well-balanced, science-based, all-natural mass building program for your specific goal and workout/diet preferences with our pillar 7-step comprehensive guide for beginner lifters and future heros. If you don't want to spend any money at all, this is how you do it, but be sure to thoroughly research all aspects of your DIY muscle gain program as an unbalanced/bro-science/straight-up-bad program can mean little to no gains at best, and bad posture, injuries and a whole lot of having to backtrack later at worst.
Option B: Follow An Existing Program ($)
To save time having to research and plan the best muscle building program for your specific goals as a hardgainer/skinny-guy/skinny-fat-dad-bod/whatever, there are indeed some excellent pre-made online programs out there (ie eBooks) that have stood the test of time in getting guys great results. It can give you a great head-on your transformation journey, and will make things simpler for you as it's simply a matter of executing a specific eating and workout program and not having to worry about getting all the little important details of your program on-point.
Option C: Find a Good In-Person Trainer ($$)
I personally don't do 1-on-1 training with clients for various reasons (mainly 'cause I run a business which takes up all of my time, and plus I travel a lot which isn't ideal for training people), but if you have the money to spend on this (PTs can quickly add up in costs) and you care about getting results then ensure they understand the science behind muscle gain, fat burning, supplementation, nutrition, etc, and most importantly pick one who practices what they preach and has similar results to what you want (and if you're a hardgainer, ideally you'll want a trainer who was once a hardgainer themselves and managed to build muscle successfully otherwise they may not understand the best course of action for you or worst-case they'll falsely tell you that you can't build the physique you want; don't listen).
Whichever path you take, if you're a hardgainer/skinny noob who's a little sceptical that you can actually build the strong and muscular physique that you know would change your life - remember this: no matter what anyone tells you, your destiny is 100% in your own hands despite where you may be starting from. Don't fall victim to the illusion that being a hardgainer or [insert excuse] will hold you back, as smart strategies and persistence will always win in the end.
To your success,
Mad-Scientist of Hardgainer-to-Hero Transformations for 12 Years & Counting
Last and Definitely Least: Certified Fitness Instructor