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It’s often said that only 30% of one’s gains are made in the gym, while the remaining 70% are made in the bedroom.

Last week I ate well, had a pretty heavy workout, and then failed to sleep until the next night, when I managed to sleep for nearly ten hours. To what extent was that workout just “wasted,” and what else can be said about this type of occurrence?

To clarify, my question is about how much the recovery must be within the temporal vicinity of the training session, and what is the importance of them occurring within the same circadian cycle as the workout? For juxtaposition with nutrition it is often said that protein consumed many hours later than the workout is much less effective at supporting muscle protein synthesis that than concerned within the “feeding window, no matter if one is hitting one’s targets for the day or (on average) one’s targets for the week. As the actual muscle growth and protein synthesis following a workout takes place not during the workout but during the sleep and recovery following it, does the vicinity of the recovery or an abnormally deferred recovery make much difference to the amount of gains one can get from the workout?

Does the catabolism of a lifting session queue and “lock in” a degree of hypertrophy even if the recovery, while quite comprehensive/complete, is significantly deferred from the workout? Or is the extent of the muscular gains greatly diminished and stunted by the body’s demand for sleep being (fully) met, but only significantly after it is first needed?

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  • I’m not sure what sort of answer you’re looking for here. Do you actually think it’s possible to quantify the hypertrophy you missed out on from having one bad night of sleep? Is that what you mean?
    – Thomas Markov
    Nov 30, 2023 at 1:16
  • As stated above its impossible to quantify exactly how much the missed sleep with affect muscle recovery. If you're simpley asking if it will or will not have an impact on hypertrophy then yes, it definitely will.
    – Ethan
    Nov 30, 2023 at 19:39
  • Hi @ThomasMarkov, sorry for missing this closer the time, but what I mean is to ask about someone who gets a very good and full night’s sleep, only the night after, and not of, the day of their workout: does that support the same anabolic/growth activity as a nice and full night’s sleep that is had on the night of the workout? Does this make a bit more sense now? Jan 14 at 20:27
  • @TylerDurden Maybe this is more the answer to your question, but the timescales we’re talking about when we look at hypertrophy are measured in at a minimum weeks to months (in untrained and minimally trained lifters), and months to years in well trained lifters. I think we can say that sleeping better is on average better for hypertrophy than sleeping poorly, but quantifying the difference between a single night of good vs. bad sleep is literally impossible. If this is the sort of answer you’re looking for, I can post it, otherwise it isn’t clear what you’re asking.
    – Thomas Markov
    Jan 14 at 20:44
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    @TylerDurden Anytime we think about how some habit or event affects hypertrophy/strength, we need to be thinking longitudinally. If we ask “how will doing X one time affect my gains”, the answer is always going to be “it won’t”, unless X is something like acute injury. But asking “how will doing X instead of not X every week for years affect my gains” may be answerable, because that’s the sort of question research is actually trying to answer.
    – Thomas Markov
    Jan 14 at 20:52

1 Answer 1

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The question is impossible to answer, as the gains from a single workout are immeasurably small, so it's not possible to assess what proportion of your potential gains you would miss by failing to sleep the night after a workout.

We know that chronic sleep deprivation will adversely affect muscle growth. We know that chronically low protein consumption will adversely affect muscle growth.

We cannot infer from either of those facts that a single night of bad sleep, or a single instance of not consuming protein for several hours after a workout, will ruin the benefits of a preceding bout of exercise.

Don't keep yourself up at night worrying about it.

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  • Penultimate paragraph is missing at the least some punctuation though otherwise thanks for tying all this together for me. Jan 15 at 8:25
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    Oops, looks like the autosave, when I logged in and returned to the question in order to be able to submit my answer, didn't catch all of my text. I've filled in the missing words now. Jan 15 at 9:32

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