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Optimal Rep Range for Sleep?


#1

Does anyone have any insight on whether lifting heavy for low reps has an impact on sleep quality vs lifting lighter with lower weights (assuming all else is equal)? I'm talking 5 reps vs 10 reps, both performed to about a rep or two before failure. I can't find anything on Google.

The reason I ask is because I have sleep maintenance issues - I'm good to fall asleep, then wake up all alert after 5 hours. It seems I have eliminated all other factors. I do not take any stims, I don't drink coffee, I rarely drink alcohol, I workout several hours before sleeping, I follow a strict sleep routine (including reducing blue light sources, keeping the room cold, using a fan for distraction). and yes, I have tried ZMA, with very mixed results. I'm also not interested in exploring other supplements for sleep (GAPA, HTP, etc).


#2

From a broscience point of view I’d say do whatever tires you out more (probably heavy weight/low reps).

I’d go to a doctor first though.


#3

The closer to your limits you push, the more stressful it is to your system. Not in a “I’m under pressure” way. In an endocrine system, hormonal way. Lower reps call for heavier weights, closer to your limits. When you stack these heavy sessions together, it can be a lot to recover from. The stress hormones build up, and it effects(affects?) sleep. Next, it makes you irritable during your daily life. Then you start getting all emotional. All signs that you’re pushing too hard, too fast.

This is what happens to the Bulgarian weight lifters. For every Olympic champ, 1000 dudes get burned out and crushed by their system. Most of them get ground down emotionally/ mentally.

For awhile I got on a routine of working to a 5 rep max week 1. Then a 3 rep max week 2. A new 1 rep max week 3, and a week 4 deload. I peaked the weights on assistance exercises too. It was cool for awhile. Every month you could count on a whole week of pr’s, every lift, every day.

Before long, it crushed me. I couldn’t sleep through the night. I was moody. I started loosing muscle and getting little injuries all the time. Little man went into hibernation. It was awful.

When I train a little lighter, and progress a little slower, I can avoid these issues. Sleep problems are the first sign I need to back down a little.

More sets around 80-85% have been working better than less sets with 90-95%.


#4

Have you tried a few minutes of unfiltered (no sunglasses or contacts) sunlight per day?


#5

Oh yeah, and vitamin D in general. That stuff is awesome. And fish oil? You need those good fats to store all your vitamins.


#6

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#7

You may not have a problem. I normally cant sleep more than 6 hours straight. Before electric lighting it was common for people to sleep in two phases, the first phase was from sunset to around 12 or 1 am, the second began around 3am and lasted until sun rise. The problem is this bullshit 9 to 5 routine most people have to follow.

EDIT:
If you really feel like you need to sleep, try eating Dill Weed. One or two stalks makes me very drowsy.


#8

What’s your resting heart rate?


#9

Excellent question!

It would be helpful to know what it was when you could still sleep through the night, too.


#10

Upper 50s. Can you elaborate? Would a rapid resting heart rate indicate overtraining, leading to sleep maintenance issues?


#11

Thanks - When I do get 7, I feel like a million bucks, so there may be something to what you said. I can’t even imagine getting 8.

Dill weed, eh…


#12

Thanks for this detailed response. I was training in the 3-5 range for several months. I took this week off completely to get a better perspective on things. Psychologically, I think it was getting to me - I was constantly picturing my lifts and getting psyched way ahead of time. Must have been entering my subconscious as well and affecting me at night.

I’ll try 6 reps for the main sets, with a back-off set of 10 for a while. I think 6 reps is usually about 85% of 1 rep max. Wouldn’t want to go much higher than that in reps since I am mainly trying to build up strength.


#13

I don’t want to speak for Trevor. He actually knows what he is talking about.

If you take your resting heart rate first thing in the morning for awhile, you can establish an average, or base-line rate. If you wake up and you’re heart rate is elevated, you know something. Not necessarily that you’re over trained.

This number is like your scale weight. By itself, it doesn’t mean much. But if you track it for awhile, and keep track of how you feel and how you lift, and how you are taking care of yourself, you can find some connections.

In the “Westside Thread,” the dude( StormtheBeach) mentioned the 6 rep max specifically because it would keep you under 90%. Good call.

I know what you mean about the lifts getting into your head. For me it goes like;

-thinking that the lift “feels good” and I can make progress(great sign)
-vaguely picturing future “heavy” lifts( good sign)
-starting to think about adding X-pounds by Y-date( not good)
-thinking about how the lift is starting to get heavy ( warning )
-obsessing over how I can possibly lift this week’s weights, when I barely got last week’s (too late)


#14

[quote]MarcF wrote:
Upper 50s. Can you elaborate? Would a rapid resting heart rate indicate overtraining, leading to sleep maintenance issues?[/quote]

Yes, you’re pretty close to my line of thinking with your gues here. An elevation in RHR can indicate that your body is dealing with an acute stressor, including too high of a training load (which can eventually lead to overtraining,) Since we don’t know what your “baseline” RHR is, the number can’t be used that way for us right now.

However, I was thinking more along the lines of using RHR as an indicator of overall nervous system tone. A
high RHR (for a relatively young, healthy person I’d use the cutoff of 60 BPM) can indicate poor aerobic development and high sympathetic tone to their nervous system. These people often feel anxious and have a difficult time falling asleep or maintaining sleep.

While your RHR would not put you in this category, some general recommendations that seem to work in these cases may benefit you as well: 20-40 minutes of low intensity cardio w/ heart rate @ 120-150 BPM 2-3x per week, 10-20 minutes mindfulness meditation before sleep (there are plenty of apps and YouTube videos available to guide you through this), write out your thoughts/ a to do list for the next day before bed, and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Note that the cardio will NOT negatively effect your strength or muscle gains because the intensity is so low.

For more on sleep advice in general, Google Dr. Kirk Parsley. He has appeared on a handful of podcasts that may interest you and maintains his own website dedicated to sleep.


#15

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]MarcF wrote:
Upper 50s. Can you elaborate? Would a rapid resting heart rate indicate overtraining, leading to sleep maintenance issues?[/quote]

Yes, you’re pretty close to my line of thinking with your gues here. An elevation in RHR can indicate that your body is dealing with an acute stressor, including too high of a training load (which can eventually lead to overtraining,) Since we don’t know what your “baseline” RHR is, the number can’t be used that way for us right now.

However, I was thinking more along the lines of using RHR as an indicator of overall nervous system tone. A
high RHR (for a relatively young, healthy person I’d use the cutoff of 60 BPM) can indicate poor aerobic development and high sympathetic tone to their nervous system. These people often feel anxious and have a difficult time falling asleep or maintaining sleep.

While your RHR would not put you in this category, some general recommendations that seem to work in these cases may benefit you as well: 20-40 minutes of low intensity cardio w/ heart rate @ 120-150 BPM 2-3x per week, 10-20 minutes mindfulness meditation before sleep (there are plenty of apps and YouTube videos available to guide you through this), write out your thoughts/ a to do list for the next day before bed, and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Note that the cardio will NOT negatively effect your strength or muscle gains because the intensity is so low.

For more on sleep advice in general, Google Dr. Kirk Parsley. He has appeared on a handful of podcasts that may interest you and maintains his own website dedicated to sleep. [/quote]

This is a good post, an important post.

Unfortunately, I suspect most on this forum will ignore it because the advice given is neither sexy nor will it give immediate results.