The way you sleep can have a direct impact on the muscle gains you will ultimately see from your workouts. I’m going to show you how 8 popular sleeping habits are possibly interfering with your ability to build muscle and remain injury free. Don’t be embarrassed if you wind up finding out that you are doing at least a few of these. The important thing is that I’m here to help.
The first thing that you want to do before you even get into bed is stretch. Now I’m sure you’ve heard that it is not good to do static stretching before working out but do you know why? The reason is twofold. When you stretch before lifting you are interrupting the stored motor patterns that your body has to make movement efficient and memorable. This means, with the new muscle length provided by the stretching your bench press movement will not match up with the one that is stored. This leads to awkward pressing and an increase likelihood of injury.
The second thing that occurs is that the increased length disrupts the overlap of muscle fibers and interferes with the strength of contraction. If this happens, you can expect to see a decline in your strength levels and force output at the exact worst time that you would want that to happen, just before your workout.
Next, you want to be sure you adjust the sheets at the end of the bed before you even get in it. Why? This is because the tightness of your sheets will directly impact the tightness of your ankles in the long run. When you lay in bed your ankles will be pulled down into plantarflexion because of the sheets that are tucked in to the end of your bed. If you stay in this position for say 8 to 10 hours, you can guarantee that your calves will get tight and your ankle will lose mobility over time. Try squatting with bad ankle mobility and you will quickly see your leg gains go down as you no longer can descend low enough in the squat.
The health of your shoulders is paramount to a big upper body. Just ask anyone who has ever injured their shoulder what it meant to their ability to lift and make gains in their chest, arms and back not to mention their delts. The key is to limit the tightness that is likely to happen just by avoiding common but bad sleeping postures.
If you lay on your side with your hand under your head, make sure you don’t do this on top of the pillow. You can see instantly how this internally rotates your shoulder and leads to tight posterior shoulder capsules. If you place the hand under the pillow however you can dramatically change the situation and actually help to restore some lost external rotation.
The same can happen when you lay on your stomach. Your arms get internally rotated at the shoulder to support your head on the pillow. Even worse however, your low back takes a beating as you compress your lumbar spine and adaptively shorten your lumber paraspinal muscles. This leads to the all too common low back pain.
The best way to sleep is either on your back with the sheets loosened at the end of the bed or on your side with your legs straight and a pillow between your knees. Either way, you are minimizing the damage that you are doing to your body for extensive periods of time every night and giving your body a better chance of making pain free gains in the gym.
Finally, upon waking make sure you immediately start the rehydration process by drinking two 12-16 ounce glasses of water. You have just gone a long period of time without drinking any water so you will want to get this in you to provide the environment for muscle gains. And of course, never underestimate the value of good sleep. Cortisol will be released by your body the less sleep you get. This will directly counteract the benefits of testosterone and lead to less muscle. Sleep as much as you can.
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