So you want that dream physique. You know the one. The one where everyone goes “Wow!! you look incredible!! How did you do it?”
Yep, we all want that. In reality, a lot of us would be happier being stronger, fitter, and functional in life. However, there are those of us who want more than that. We want to push limits in strength, physique, and aesthetics.
Let me introduce you to what I call the “Three Legged Table” approach to achieving that “dream body”.
It’s really simple. Imagine a table with three legs. If you took a leg away would it stand up well? Probably not at all. The same can be applied to the competition mindset. Most people, the average gym-goer, work out three to four days a week and rest days in between. The competition physique, fitness, and bodybuilding crowd go 5 sometime 6 days a week depending on where in the season they may be. This includes cardio, weight training sessions, posing sessions, and meal prep. The three-legged table approach applies here too. So what is missing? You have weight training, cardio, yep, meals in there too. But the last leg of the table seems to be missed most of the time by both average jane and joe and the competition folks.
The leg can make or break a program. It’s rest. Yes, sleep is probably one of the most important aspects to get overlooked. The human muscle tissue is broken down in training. Little micro-tears while under load or tension. Usually followed by that not-so-wonderful feeling that is known as DOMS the next few days. Then you go eat after your workout, sensibly of course. You don’t want to ruin a great workout by heading to McDonald’s and destroying everything you just did. Good healthy whole food, maybe a shake if you’re in a hurry, and get on with your day. However, those two legs alone can’t make a table stand, and they won’t make you a greek god or goddess either.
The sleep/rest cycle is the actual healing cycle of your muscles.
The “Third Leg” of the table as you were. Here is where the magic of the human body happens. Ready? When you sleep your body produces small amounts of growth hormone from the pituitary gland that signal the body to begin repairing itself. The body will take the protein you eat and make the muscles more resistant and stronger to the micro-tears. It will shuttle carbs, turned into glucose, into your muscles, and then to the liver for storage for tomorrow’s routine or workout. Fats will be made into long-term storage if the body is in fight or flight mode storing energy for those lean times when a constant flow of food is not possible.
The next time you wake up you feel better, albeit a little sore if your workout was done properly, and ready for the next round of workouts. So what is the “optimum” sleep time? Honestly, it depends on the person. I’ve seen folks that “have” to have 8-10 hours to fully recover. Then I have seen folks running on 5 hours, like myself and a couple of bodybuilder friends I have, and be just fine.
The key to this “Three-legged approach” is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It will tell you when you’ve had enough workouts, food, and sleep.
Till next time,