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When Exactly Does Hypertrophy Occur?

A somewhat naive question at first look. Of course you need a stimulus, a proper diet and enough rest/sleep.

I recall Arthur Jones tried to pinpoint the exact moment when growth occured (during sleep). Did he ever come up with an answer to this? Any other science or theories re this?

Why I’m asking, is because I sleep less nowadays due to being a family man. Nevertheless, I am getting stronger and believe I’m also growing.

To put it simple, there must also be other important factors at play here? The sum of all balances/imbalances?

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I’m not sleeping well these days either so if sleep is the biggest factor then I’m in trouble. I often wonder of the difference in sleep vrs rest . Sometimes I get a good nights sleep and sometimes not. Does lying there in bed resting really help or not?

My partner has had a lot of problems with sleep herself.
She has read a lot on the subject and it is the quality of the sleep which is paramount.
But as we cannot control that much, at least by getting in 8/9 hours a night , then it offers more time for that to occur.
It may be that within your limited sleep , you are “currently” still getting the “appropriate” sleep to facilitate the positive adaptions from your training .
Just a thought


Thanks for your input, Mark (and Scott),

I have also thought the depth (quality) of sleep is more important than length. This may explain why I still make progress. When I sleep, I always fall asleep easily and don’t wake up during the night. Tired in the morning though, as 6 hours feels inadequate.

There is some recent sleep research going on, with a prominent collegue locally. I’m considering sending him an email. How to ask about GH re anabolism in a polite way, without sounding like a genuine musclehead - that’s another question? LOL

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Yea like muscle hypertrophy is the worst thing in jeopardy if you don’t get enough sleep, ha ha! I’m sure there’s other physical and mental areas of the body that suffer more greatly from lack of good sleep.
As for the original question about when muscles suddenly magically grow I’m guessing its just like plants, they don’t just suddenly grow another inch with the flip of a switch, they grow at a certain rate depending on if all the ingredients and conditions are met for growth. With poor sun they will still grow but not quite as strong and tall as they could with plenty of sun.


Based on studies of muscle protein synthesis, it seems unlikely that a ‘growth switch’ flips on when you got to sleep. More likely, the process of elevated muscle protein synthesis (to repair damage) starts soon after exercise, reaches a peak, and then returns to baseline within 2 to 3 days.

Here is the abstract of one study which examined the pattern of elevated muscle protein synthesis after heavy resistance training:

“It has been shown that muscle protein synthetic rate (MPS) is elevated in humans by 50% at 4 hrs following a bout of heavy resistance training, and by 109% at 24 hrs following training. This study further examined the time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis by examining its rate at 36 hrs following a training session. Six healthy young men performed 12 sets of 6- to 12-RM elbow flexion exercises with one arm while the opposite arm served as a control. MPS was calculated from the in vivo rate of incorporation of L-[1,2-13C2] leucine into biceps brachii of both arms using the primed constant infusion technique over 11 hrs. At an average time of 36 hrs postexercise, MPS in the exercised arm had returned to within 14% of the control arm value, the difference being nonsignificant. It is concluded that following a bout of heavy resistance training, MPS increases rapidly, is more than double at 24 hrs, and thereafter declines rapidly so that at 36 hrs it has almost returned to baseline.”

Here is the reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8563679/

I’m sure you can more stuff like this if you start searching the academic literature.


== Scott==
So wouldn’t that sort of indicate you would at least need to recover at least 36 hours after a workout to get back to your baseline and possibly a little more to allow for growth? 3 or 4 days?

I recommend anyone with sleep issues to read “Say good Night to Insomnia”. Based on Harvard research (and other research) it explores a lot of myths about sleeping including the nonsense everyone requires 8 hours - which was never based on science. Most insomnia issues are behavioral and psychological. Sometimes it’s related to anxiety and depression - so getting to the core of those issues can be key. But you might be amazed about how many people worry about getting enough sleep only to sleep less as a result! lol Once these issues are ironed out (as the book explains and gives working examples & techniques) people will likely have no problems assuming there are not physical issues such as sleep apnea, etc. But people with sleep problems usually have terrible “sleep hygiene”. Not going to bed and waking up the same time each day, too distracted or worrying before bed (bad thing to do), spending time in bed while awake, watching TV in bed, etc.

I sleep about 6.5 hours a night on average and do/feel well, but there is an individual aspect to it just like training and recovery (who would have thought?)

I’m sure some of my sleep problems are anxiety related . It’s been very stressful working from home since March and worrying about them bringing me back to face school kids before this virus is under control not to mention all the insanity going on in the government to worry about. Before this virus started for 20 years I always went to bed around 10:30 and woke up at 6 am and felt fine. Now I usually go to bed at 11 and sometimes I wake up at 3 and I lay there thinking about everything. When I was working I was up and about doing stuff all day but now being stuck at home I don’t do near as much. I’m wondering if I should go to a split routine where I have some kind of stressful workout every day to simulate work ?? There’s no easy answer for this . I’m sure you guys are sick and tired of hearing me whine about sleep .

Curse the youth.
GHB was the best sleep aid ever. Near contest time where I was fighting starvation I would go to the health food store and buy a container of GHB. Take a scoop when I was about to go to bed. I was out like a light in 15 minutes. If I hadn’t gone to bed and decided to stay up a little longer, if I sat down I would quickly drift off. After 4 hours I would awaken like clockwork. I would take a half scoop and go back to bed. 4 hours later, like clockwork, I would awaken and feel the best sleep I ever had. No hangover. No drowsiness. Just felt fresh and alive.

Then the youth discovered GHB and mixed with alcohol. The end of GHB followed shortly thereafter.

When I’ve had sleep issues at times in the past, it was always anxiety related…and poor “sleep hygiene” in general.

One thing that I found that works great and is backed by research: wake up at the same time every day and get to bed at the same time. 7 days a week. The body thrives on regularity with sleep. If I don’t do this, my sleep quality suffers. If you have any worries: worry about these things earlier in the day or write them down in a journal if needed. One technique that works for people with anxiety is to schedule a “worry hour”. For that hour, worry about everything you want. But that is the only hour you are allowed to do so. Do not focus on these issues before bed as they will not be solved anyway…and will just spike your cortisone and adrenaline in some cases…making it that much harder to fall asleep. Relaxing before bed is important for people with sleep problems.

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Done some research. In general it seems GH-release is major during the first stage of deep sleep, meaning during the first couple of hours after falling asleep. Minor pulsatile releases are during approx 6-8 hours of sleep. Appearantly most effective when going to bed before midnight.

Another interesting aspect is that HIT-excercise is best for GH-release! Something Dr Darden has kept an open eye upon.

Scott: Re sleep disorder (and also good for GH) GABA and melatonin are recommended against it. GABA is supposedly safe to try. Now a supplement in Europe, earlier on prescription.

Of course regular daily excercise is a good anxiety reliever. I can remember a patient of mine with a serious case of GAD, who made it without medication due to his regular daily excercise. When he for some reason wasn’t able to excercise - all hell broke loose.

Not a lot of science behind melatonin actually…has failed in a lot of studies…except for jet lag, time zone changes, etc. The expectation being Seniors where their body doesn’t produce much of it. But for general insomnia, not great.

Melatonin is a divider. About 1/3 of patients do not respond to it for some reason. Also a very mild drug. (Maybe we should start a sleep thread?)

Actually most with true insomnia (medically defined) do not respond to it. It’s actually a hormone. However, don’t rule out placebo for some either.
In 2013, I went through Insomnia hell because of personal events in my life. One of the very top sleep MDs in the country only works about 30 minutes from me. He’s also been involved in a number of peer reviewed studies. I saw him for a bit and had a sleep study.

Heavyhitter: I like your transitions on this. You shared some very good conservative advice in a previous reply. Meds are only to be considered a short term solution, and not advisable for everyone.

During a period as a physician in the military, we couldn’t use sedative drugs. Conservative advise (sleep hygiene) worked wonders then.

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I’ve tried ZMA and the doctor gave me Melatonin time release capsules. Some times they help, sometimes not. I always fall asleep like a log with or without those pills, it’s the waking up too early part that is annoying. Guys , please don’t use so many abbreviations, please spell it out once in a while. I just worked out extra hard today so let’s see if that makes any difference?

I have found that one key to fall asleep quickly is to clear my mind of things that the only thing I can do about them is worry and ponder a multitude of scenarios. To do so, I do a few sudoku puzzles to clear my mind for 20 to 30 minutes after taking some ZMA and melatonin, allowing some time for the magnesium and melatonin to take effect. Works for me, but few things worry me.

You must be like Alfred E Newman, “ What me worry” ha ha ! I worry about everything so it’s tough to clear the mind. Right before bed I usually read a easy going kids book kind of story for my son . That helps tire my eyes out.

IMO, worry never corrected anything. Also, anxiety is a competitive bodybuilder’s worst enemy come stage time. It is difficult to get that crisp definition when anxiety is embracing you.