sleep

21 Jan 2016 – The Window of GAINZ: Part 1, The Real Window!


The 'Window of Gainz', the 'Anabolic Window’ the 'Window of Opportunity’ (always the window?!)... You have probably all heard these phrases in context of the magical timeframe post-workout in which you have to consume the ideal post-workout meal or shake otherwise you miss out on all your training gains!

Supposedly, the Window of Gainz is a period of time after your training session when your body and muscles are particularly primed to accept food and shuttle it towards conversion into lean muscle mass. Bro-science traditionally puts this window somewhere between thirty minutes to two hours after your workout.

So, is this window really there? Before we discuss this time-limited, post-workout window for meal and supplementation, you should know there is a BIGGER, BETTER window! Actually, it’s so much more than a window…It’s the GATEWAY TO GAINZ!

What’s even better, it’s free! 

You have access to it every single day.
It’s 100% legal (no 'roids here!)
You can have as much of it as you want. 
You can definitely have too little, but you can never have too much!

Sound too good to be true? What’s the catch? What is the Gateway to Gainz?!?!
……..SLEEP!
Yawn! Not another one preaching me on sleep! We get it!
…but do you? Do you actually get it?

If I told you that if you floss your teeth everyday for five minutes, in one week you would increase your deadlift by 5kg, the following week you would add another 5kg, and in a month's time you would also drop a waist size, you would have already left your seat and be over the sink shining those gnashers up real good.

Obviously flossing your teeth does not get you these results (you should still floss of course), but getting enough good quality sleep can produce something similar! So when we tell you to get more sleep you should be attacking it with the same zeal.

I cannot emphasise enough just how important sleep is to your general physical and mental health. Good sleep is one of the most important elements of health maintenance, as well as athletic performance and improvement, and it tops the list before nutrition and training even enter the picture.

Sleep needs are going to vary based on the individual, but most people will get the utmost benefit from sleeping 7 to 10 hours per night.
 
Sleep is your body's recovery time and many amazing things happen when you are catching your ZZZZZs: 

- Decrease in blood pressure
- Heart/breathing rate slows
- Muscles relax and blood supply to muscles increases, which promotes tissue growth and repair
- Important hormones are released, in particular growth hormone and testosterone. Both are essential for muscle growth and development.

Many studies have shown the negative effects of sleep deprivation, and by deprivation we are talking getting 4-6 hours of sleep a night. Yup! If that’s you then you are sleep deprived!…..

4-6 hours of sleep has been shown to:

- Reduce energy levels and stamina by 15-40%
- Increase the level of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to muscle loss, increased fat storage, loss of bone mass, depression, hypertension, insulin resistance (the cells in the body lose the ability to accept insulin), and lower growth hormone and testosterone production
- Impair glucose tolerance. Without sleep, the central nervous system becomes more active, something that inhibits the pancreas from producing adequate insulin, the hormone the body needs to digest glucose.
- Increase carb cravings. This is due to the fact that sleep deprivation negatively affects the production of a hormone called Leptin. This hormone is responsible for telling the body when it is full. However, with decreased production of this hormone, your body will crave calories (especially in the forms of high reward foods aka sugar!) even though its requirements have been met.

Sleep is the original ‘Window of Gainz’ and this one lasts a whole lot longer than 30 minutes!
Getting adequate sleep will lead to fat loss, muscle gain, performance improvements, better energy, basically all the results you seek from your post-workout shake. The only difference is that sleep is free, and it works a whole lot better! Nothing you do will compensate for lack of sleep, NOTHING! No magical pill or protein shake will un-do the havoc caused by sleep deprivation.

For a more in-depth article on the importance of sleep I suggest you read this CrossFit Journal article, 'Sleeping for Performance'.

In part 2 of 'The Window of GAINZ!’ we will look at whether a post-workout window does actually exist, and if so how should we take the maximum advantage of this.


WORKOUT OF THE DAY

A) Strength: Press & Lunge

In Teams of 3
A1) 7 minute AMRAP of strict press:
50 reps at 40/30 kg
50 reps at 50/35 kg
AMRAP at 60/40 kg

- Rest 3 minutes - 

A2) 7 minute AMRAP of front rack lunges:
50 reps at 50/35 kg
50 reps at 60/40 kg
AMRAP at 70/45 kg

- Rest 3 minutes -

A3) 7 minute AMRAP of push press:
50 reps at 60/40 kg
50 reps at 70/45 kg
AMRAP at 80/50 kg
 

20 Nov 2014 - Sex, sleep & supplements

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It's time to open Pandora's box (make whatever witty comments you like given the title of the blog) and take a look at a few different types of supplements...


The Best Supplements for Better Sleep

ZMA: This is a blend of the essential minerals, Zinc and Magnesium with the goal of supporting recovery from exercise via improving the quality of your sleep. Zinc is thought to play a role in the regulation of normal DNA synthesis, cognitive (brain) function, normal fertility & reproduction along with the metabolism of macronutrients and synthesis of new proteins.

Magnesium is essential for the maintenance of electrolyte balance, healthy metabolism, functioning of the nervous system, cell division and protein synthesis. 

Studies have shown that supplementing with ZMA can help the body achieve deeper levels of REM sleep – the stage of sleep where all the magic happens! So the more/better quality REM sleep we can get, the better. (Read our previous blog on why you need to get better sleep, and more of it...)

Taurine: This is an amino acid that is thought to have several benefits: Lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, detoxifying the organs and protecting the heart. In some circles, Taurine is known as the amino acid of anxiety control and stress management as it helps lower the stress hormone, Cortisol. Taurine also elevates levels of GABA which is a chemical neurotransmitter that has soothing effects on the nervous system, hence its helpful effects on improving sleep.


The Best Supplements for Recovery

Sleep: Ok, so not a supplement, but better sleep improves your recovery and your ability to keep crushing it at the gym.

Fish oil: The list of potential benefits for taking regular doses of fish oil are endless: body composition, insulin sensitivity, cognitive function, fat oxidation, cardiovascular health, etc.

With regards to recovery, fish oil has been shown to reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response that happens in response to a stressor on the body. Exercise is a stressor, but it is an acute (short-term) stressor that can be healthy as we adapt to it. Fish oil has been shown to reduce this inflammation which helps speed up our recovery and adaption from exercise.

A good fish oil supplement has a good EPA:DHA (fatty acid) profile. You can read all about that here if you like, but we recommend PurePharma's 03, or Genetic Supplements Fish Oil.

Protein: Protein is the building block of our muscles. During training, we break down these tissues through the stress of strenuous activity, so having a post-wod shake can help speed the process along.

Most protein shakes these days have a variety of other ingredients designed to reduce stress hormones, decrease inflammation, etc etc. It can be a minefield to know what to choose.

We have tried many a products in our time, and we stand behind Genetic Supplements Matrix Recover.


Best Supplements for Sex (what you were REALLY reading this blog to find out...)

Exercise: A good sex life and a strong sex drive has been linked on hundreds of occasions to fitness levels. Not only are our bodies 'fitter' and 'healthier' so everything is working as it should, but we feel more confident about ourselves and we appeal more to potential partners...thus increasing the likelihood of getting some!

Remove household toxins: There are various forms of harmful toxins that haunt our homes and can be putting a damper on testosterone production. From household cleaning detergents to pesky moulds.

Healthy fats: Our body is made up of a huge portion of (good) fats, every single cell in your body has a fatty phospholipid layer, this includes the sex cells. Healthy fats are also thought to boost production of sex hormones like testosterone.

These healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts/seeds and fish oils.


All the above supplements are great and we use them all from time to time, but is there something else we can use? An 'all-in-one' perhaps? Funny you should ask...

The Best All-in-One Supplement to help you get leaner, stronger, fitter, recover faster and stay healthy and happy for the rest of your life.

Yes a long title for this supplement, but we feel one as such as this deserves a title of great length....

Our secret supplement is this: Optimal Nutrition.

I can almost hear your sighs of dismay now. If only there were a magical pill that would make everything right with the world. There's not. Sorry to disappoint you.

If you have an optimal diet, one that fits your needs and your lifestyle, you won't need to spend an extra penny on numerous supplements. You can get all the protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals from your daily chow. (Read our thoughts on nutrition here and also here).

"Failing to plan is planning to fail". If you do not address your nutrition, then you are doing yourself a disservice. If you want to back up all the hard work in the gym and get the results you want and, most importantly, live a long and happy life, you need to eat to reflect that.

It's that simple.


WORKOUT OF THE DAY

Run 500m
50 Over the tyre jumps
50 Deadlifts 60/40kg
50 Wall balls 9/6kg
50 Ring dips
50 Wall balls
50 Deadlifts 
50 Over the tyre jumps
Run 500m
(Time cap: 22 minutes)

11 Sept 2014: WOD and Why More Zzzzz’s = More Gainz

Workout of the Day

A) Skill Work: Hang Power Clean
+
B) 3 Rounds for Time:
Run 600 m
15 hang power cleans
15 over the bar burpees

Rx for Beginners: 40/30 kg
Rx for Intermediate: 50/35 kg
Rx for Advanced: 60/40 kg


Why More Zzzzz’s = More Gainz

Lately Phil and I have noticed something slightly amiss with our training. We haven’t felt as prepared going in to our WODs, or felt like we could lift as heavy during our strength sessions. We even seemed to be taking longer to recover from our training than we normally would do.

Any guesses on why this is?

It’s because, for the past couple of weeks, we haven’t gotten enough of that beautiful, magical elixir, SLEEP.

I have been reading up on sleep, how much you should get, the different stages, how to give yourself the best sleep, and, most importantly, why you need it. The website, Mark’s Daily Apple, and CrossFit Journal, have proven to be the most informative, giving me tons of reasons why you need more of those Zzzs (or Zeddddss, if you're Phil).

First and foremost, the main reason why you need more sleep is that no one likes hanging out with a Grumpy Gus. The less sleep you have, the grumpier you are = Zero Friends (this equation I figured out on my own, no need for Mark’s Daily Apple).

Then there are the more scientific reasons…

A chronic lack of sleep (getting 6 or less hours of quality sleep for multiple weeks, which is an all too common scenario in our hectic worlds) means that in the long term, you are more prone to diabetes, heart disease and other metabolic issues. Check out this article for a breakdown as to why - Damn that lazy rev-erb!

Getting even more specific, a chronic lack of sleep will also have a significant, much more externally observable, affect on your athletic performance. 

In our experience, what the vast majority of people want to achieve from their training is an increase in lean muscle mass. Why, you ask? Lean muscle mass typically goes hand in hand with improved strength, fat loss, and in general makes us feel good because we look good. 

 Mark’s Daily Apple cites many different studies and reports, all pointing to one common denominator: Lack of Sleep is Bad for Gainz.

If you are regularly getting 6 or less hours of sleep per night, your body is being subjected to increased level of cortisol aka the ‘Stress Hormone’ (not bad in small doses, very bad in regular, large doses!) and decreased level of testosterone, which is an integral hormone for muscle development.

Furthermore, and potentially one of the reasons why Phil and I were finding it difficult to recover after training, when you enter ‘slow wave sleep’ (the sleep cycle before REM which happens about 15 minutes after falling asleep), your body begins to secrete hormones such as prolactin, gonadotropin (I mean seriously, who comes up with these names?!) and the all-important Growth Hormone. Together, these hormones aid in tissue repair, which is absolutely necessary if you are going to aim to hit another WOD the next morning.

So, my apologies for potentially just preaching to the choir with this blog (with a few big, science-y words added in). Even though you may not have known why EXACTLY sleep is important to your health and athletic performance, we all know that we should get more sleep. And better quality sleep at that. So HOW do we do this??

Below are a few tips that have worked for me in the past... 

1) Stop using your phone or any other electronic gadget as an alarm clock. 
Having your phone close by keeps you connected to the stress of the real world when you're meant to be sleeping. I’ve even been known to wake up in the middle of the night and, without even thinking about it, check my phone for messages! Keeping your phone in another room will help you get a more relaxed, deeper sleep.

2) For one week, aim to go to sleep 15 minutes earlier.
Think of what you can accomplish in 15 minutes... not a whole lot! So why not sleep during this time?? 15 minutes doesn't seem like long, but in one week, that adds up to just less than 2 additional hours of sleep. If 15 minutes seemed doable, the following week, try getting to sleep 30 minutes earlier than normal.

3) Cut down on your coffee intake (this worked better for Phil than it did for me...).
Don't go cold turkey, but try limiting yourself to 1 cup per day and not having any later than mid-afternoon. Similarly to not using your phone as an alarm clock, this will lend itself to a more relaxing, deeper sleep. 

Have any other suggestions that worked for you? Let us know in comments!