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Background/Context

Just over a year ago, I began bicycling. Partially due to the situation at the time and also because I just enjoyed it, I became more or less "addicted" in a way. I first rode probably 3 times per week, for 30 minutes. Over the course of a couple of months, this increased to nearly 7 days per week for varying durations between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Probably 4 months into my bike journey, I was riding on avg. 5 days per week for 1 hour and 20 minutes to over 2 hours per ride. I started to really enjoy the longer rides. These rides were mostly not casual either, many days, I would essentially be "racing" myself or "racing" cars, etc... Going at probably 70-90% of full capacity for most of the rides. I found the thrill of the speed fun and distracting from how hard I was working out.

During all of this, I had also still continued to lift weights 0-3 days per week, but the focus was certainly on bicycling. However, as a weight lifter of 15 years, I did what I had to to not just eat through all of my muscle tissue, this worked.

Finally, about 7 months ago (so 6-7 months into my bicycling), I decided to start alternating workout weeks. One week, I would cycle all week, and the next, I would lift. I would do one lifting day during my cycling week, and one cycling day during my lifting week. This seemed to work surprisingly well because I did not put on any extra fat, while I was still able to actually build muscle.

During my "prime" that I described above, I was hitting weeks with 800+ "intensity minutes" as measured by Garmin. Back when I had a FitBit for a brief period, results were similar but I remember the FitBit even saying more because I think the rules for the active minutes are more forgiving. Lately, I've "toned it down a bit", and I tend to have more 600 intensity minute weeks, and occasionally 400.

However, I'm noticing that it's become more and more difficult for me to go to sleep, simply because I am rarely tired. So, it almost seems like doing so much exercise increased my body's capacity and expectation of energy expenditure throughout the day. So now, if I literally don't go and do a 1.5-2 hour weight training session, followed by a 1-2 hour bike ride, I'm not even tired at the end of the day. This in turn, leads to me sleeping less, not because I'm being woken up by anything in particular, but just because my body decides to wake up and doesn't seem to need the sleep. Whenever I've been really exhausted, I would have no issue getting to sleep and sleeping in, however, these days if I don't work out for like 4 hours, I get to bed late and wake up early.

I'm not joking when I say that I've had days where I slept nearly not at all (~2 hrs), then woke up and went to the gym and not only had a full workout, but actually broke personal records on lifts like squat, deadlift, etc... Eventually, I'll get tired but it can take a couple of days of this in a row unless I exercise for like 4 vigorous hours. Note that I also eat very "clean" - I essentially only eat grilled/unfried meats, green vegetables, beans, rice and things like this.

Question

Is this an anomaly or is this something that is relatively well known or studied in the fitness community? Is there any more elegant way to stabilize my energy levels for "off-season" or times I am trying to cut back? This has me concerned as I know sleep quantity is important, but it also doesn't make sense to "force" it... It doesn't work.

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I saw this quote that might help you: "For the majority of people with desk jobs, Dr. Hafeez says it's important to "take walks, do cardio, or try high-intensity interval training to get your body spending some of that energy." However, Joyce K. Lee-Iannotti, MD, the director at the Sleep Disorders Center at Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix, points out that exercise done within three hours of bedtime will actually arouse the body and potentially increase insomnia."

A sleep specialist would help you out with the sleep overall. Our bodies adapt to new situations and if youre training your body to use intensity all day, but then stop one day, your body has adapted to these changes and has pent up energy to use which is has not metabolized. A specialist would need to look at your job, if its sedentary, your hormones, circadian rhythms, if you take naps, etc.

As for the main question, yes and no. You can train energy levels and capacities, for instance, you can sprint and either increase your sprinting speed, or the duration that you can sprint at a certain speed. Increasing energy systems looks like the below:

  • alactic - uses creatine/phosphates. Train by doing work that has a 1:5 or 1:10 work to rest ratio. such as 20 second sprints with 2-3 minutes rest and work on increasing speed or increasing time to 25 seconds, etc.

    lactic- uses a work to rest ratio of 1:2 or 1:1. regular weightlifting or high intensity exercises such as jump roping where you work for 30 seconds and rest a minute train this.

    aerobic - work to rest ration of at least 2:1, but can be 5:1, 10:1, etc. jogging for 2 minutes and resting a minute, or cycling for an hour with no rest, works aerobic system.

There's enough to write a book here on your question if you want more details, but weightlifting is training your lactic system(unless you're doing something unusual), and cycling is working your aerobic system, so you're not tired out doing one after the other. occasionally you "Race cars", which would use the alactic system, so it seems you are just training all 3 systems within a day. Now if you were to reverse the order, your weightlifting would suffer. After weeks, it seems you've increased your energy capacity to handle more work, and your body has adapted in all 3. So naturally, now if you don't train, your body is experiencing the equivalent of a desk job, and needs to expend energy to go to bed. Sleep is relative to energy expenditure, and your energy is built up fairly high.

Unrelated, but with all this training, you might want to take a deload week, or a week off every now and then. You're likely to overtrain and injure yourself.

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