Today, I wanna brush up on some common knowledge that a lot of us forget during our busy lifestyles. It’s something we all underestimate, we always want more, and we usually NEED more of it – ESPECIALLY if you want six pack abs.
I’M TALKING ABOUT SLEEP AND OUR LACK OF IT.
Not getting enough sleep has a crapload of negative side effects waiting to take its toll on your body and keep you from getting six pack abs. While many of the best athletes and people who are in awesome shape (and have ripped six pack abs) make a lot of sacrifices like taking the time to prep their meals, eating clean, adjusting schedules for longer training sessions…. I guarantee this: They’re usually getting enough sleep. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have those killer six pack abs.
They’re over the “I-can-sleep-when-I’m-dead” mentality because they know what I’m about to tell you and how it drastically decreases your chances of getting six pack abs. I know a lot of people think they can skip a few hours of sleep, wake up super early for a hard workout, and then go about their normal life thinking they’re putting in all the work and effort for the six pack abs…but sadly, this is WRONG.
Getting the six pack abs you want and deserve doesn’t JUST mean putting in the hard work as often as you can. Our bodies aren’t made to kick ass all day, every day. They HAVE to recover and rebuild so you can lift heavier the next time.
Whenever you can’t get enough sleep, your body becomes stressed out. This state of stress induces the release of a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is NOT great for six pack abs. Why?
- Cortisol reduces protein synthesis
- Helps turn protein into glucose (aka use protein for energy)
- Halts tissue growth
- Promotes fat storage
To put these things simply… It makes your body have a harder time converting the protein you eat into muscle tissue. And then, it makes it easier for that protein (that we WANT to go toward muscle repair) to be used as a fuel source. In fact, it even stops tissue growth – muscle tissue being one. And lastly, it promotes fat storage – which we know is the opposite of what you want for six pack abs.
This is a biological response based in our ancestors that were hunter-gatherers. If your body perceived that you were in a stressful situation, like running from a predator or not having enough food, then it wants to save its most dense energy source (fat), and focus on preserving what energy you have left rather than performing processes that cost energy (like tissue growth).
Speaking of tissue growth – There’s something else that happens during sleep that is CRUCIAL for growing the necessary muscle/losing fat for six pack abs, and that’s the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This hormone is responsible for a lot – some people think of it as the “youthfulness” hormone, and it’s often used by bodybuilders because it’s also an anabolic hormone, which means it builds things… in this case, muscle tissue is included! Now before we go any further let me address the trolls… YES you could just supplement your body unnaturally with a synthetic version of this hormone – but there are lots of negative consequences of this that we can talk about later. Back to HGH – Just a few of it’s many benefits are as follows:
- Strengthens & increases bone mineralization
- Increases muscle mass
- Promotes lipolysis – which is the use of fat for energy
- Increases protein synthesis
- Stimulates growth of internal organs
- Keeps your body in homeostasis
- Contributes to the maintenance & function of pancreas
- Stimulates the immune system
So as you can see – this hormone is VITAL for six pack abs – but if you don’t get good quality sleep or enough sleep at all…. Then you miss the biggest release of HGH which happens if/when you reach Stage 3 of your deep sleep.
The last essential fat burning, six pack abs – producing hormone that is greatly affected by your sleep (or lack thereof) is Leptin. I call Leptin the “master fat burning hormone” because it tells your body when to stop feeling hungry and when to start burning that belly fat so you can actually see your six pack abs.
Studies have shown that when you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels drop – so you feel hungrier and store more fat. And not sleeping enough is definitely a stressor – and what responds to stress? Cortisol.
So – You can see how vital it is to avoid this nasty cycle of fat storing, stress hormones and keep your anabolic, muscle building, fat burning hormones high if you want six pack abs. Now let’s address the reasons you don’t get enough sleep:
“I don’t have enough time in the day”…. Isn’t it ironic that sleep – as valuable as it is for our health, our fat loss (and thus our attractiveness), our mental well-being and acuity, and ultimately, our HAPPINESS is something we can’t make time for? How about this – see how much your life improves after a week of enough sleep. Set alarms for yourself to start winding down in the evening – Most adults need around 6-8 hours of sleep per night, so start off trying to get 8. If you have to wake up at 6am, set an alarm for 9pm to remind you to start winding down and going through your pre-bedtime routines. Make sure you get home in time to take care of your business – and give yourself a certain time frame to get it done.
“I’m too wired to get to sleep.” This is very normal with young adults. I don’t blame you. I used to do this too, before I got into fitness and learned what it took to get six pack abs. We mess up our internal sleep cycles – our “circadian rhythms” – and make our bodies think that the evening time is the time to be wakeful and busy. About 30 minutes or an hour before bedtime, do some calming and relaxing things. Instead of watching a bright screen or playing an intense video game, read a book. Take a warm shower so you feel relaxed… Do some stretching, even try meditating/deep breathing, or listening to very calming music.
If those don’t seem to work for you – Try a supplement. I personally use “Six Pack Sleep” – it contains GABA, melatonin, and Valerian Root. These substances (two of which are naturally produced in your body) help synchronize your circadian rhythm, help you get to sleep more quickly, turn off your arousal/wakefulness hormones like adrenaline, promote relaxation and sleep, and improving the quality of your sleep – all of which optimize hormones that you need for six pack abs.
So – if you haven’t gotten the picture by now, let me reiterate: You will have a terribly hard time getting six pack abs if you don’t make sleep a much higher priority. With my crappy genetics, I couldn’t get six pack abs until I regulated my sleep, got my diet together, and got on a proper routine. So set your alarms to start winding down, try some different relaxation methods, figure out how many hours it takes you to feel good after sleeping, and try out some sleep aids. I know it sounds difficult – and sometimes it may not work how you planned, but just keep giving it your best and eventually, your internal clock will work how you need it to.
Keep training hard – and don’t skimp on the sleep.