Frederick C. Hatfield, ‘Get Lazy for Best Muscle Gains’ (1991)

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Three in the afternoon …fading fast. Workout’s at five. Gotta get psyched. Maybe take a walk or something. Coffee? That’s the ticket. I’m dead!

If science has shown us anything about the mid afternoon slump in energy, it’s that you shouldn’t fight it. It’s a universal characteristic, it’s normal, it’s good, and it certainly isn’t due to poor eating habits as is so often clamed. Go with the flow! Take a nap!

I know, I know. In this country taking a nap – a midday siesta – is on a par with taking a slug of booze before breakfast. Nor is it feasible if you didn’t inherit your wealth and must work for a living. In many other countries of the world people close up shop for a couple of midday hours for a snooze.

Not in the Home of the Brave, though! No siree! It’s as though taking a nap when your body’s natural circadian rhythms beg for one would be considered the seventh capital sin, sloth.

Too bad. If you’re a hardcore bodybuilder or are in heavy training for another sport – especially those on the Weider Double or Triple Split Systems of two-a-day or three-a-day sessions, as many elite bodybuilders are nowadays – that nap can be mighty important. Not only will it revitalize you for a more intense workout afterward, but it’ll provide an important growth hormone response for anabolism to occur. And it’ll allow other recuperative processes to take place, making it possible to work out heavy more often.

Recovery. The Soviets have spent a lot of times and rubles over the years studying the recovery process in elite athletes In fact, their efforts in sports research have centered on recuperative techniques and substances,. Let’s look at one factor in the recovery process – getting lazy.

  • Take naps in the afternoon, sometime after lunch.
  • Keep your naps under an hour. Longer than that, you go into the deeper stages of sleep, causing you to feel groggy thereafter.
  • Never eat a big lunch or drink alcohol (not compatible with bodybuilding anyway) during lunch, as these practices tend to aggravate (but not cause) the midday slump (bodybuilders eat small meals and avoid alcohol anyway).
  • Don’t sleep eight hours at night. That’s too long. Opt instead for seven hours. Make up the difference with the nap.
  • During the day, stay lazy. Avoid unnecessary activity, running around, long walks, or forcing yourself to stay awake when nature says otherwise.
  • If you suffer from insomnia (about 10% of the population does), taking a nap may be inadvisable. Instead, consult a sleep disorder specialist.

Chronic daytime drowsiness is most often a function of how well – or how poorly – you sleep at night.

The two most compelling reasons why athletes don’t take naps or practice a more sedentary between-workout routine are:

  1. The boss would fire them if they did.
  2. They would feel guilty because of our social mores.

If you can find a way around these two problems – and most athletes can if they really want to – then your training and recovery efforts will surely improve.

Most sleep disorder scientists are in agreement that taking a midday nap is normal, healthy and contributory to improved alertness and creativity. Consider the following people:

  • Napoleon took naps.
  • Thomas Edison took naps.
  • Winston Churchill took naps.
  • Lee Haney took naps, even if he had to find a closet to do it in.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to train himself to take naps in the sun at Venice Beach, near the original Gold’s Gym, between his two a day – morning and early evening workouts. This allowed him to recuperate between the two-a-day workouts and work on his all-important tan at the same time for an upcoming contest.
  • Dr. Alan Lankford, director of the Atlanta-based Sleep Disorder Center, was recently quoted as saying, “People who, for whatever reason, need to take a nap in the afternoon, get a payoff in increased alertness and better cognitive function, and they’re likely to be more productive at work.”
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