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Old 12-19-2008, 05:57 AM   #1
Andy Robinson
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Default Working out on little sleep...


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Old 12-19-2008, 06:05 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Some of my best workouts have come when I got very little sleep (e.g. one arm chins 16 with L arm and 17 with R arm in one session). However, some of my worst sessions come with very little sleep. The majority of sessions if you're really exhausted it won't be a good workout though.

I would play it by feel mostly. Do you warmup and then see if you feel like working out:

1. If not, just focus on things like prehab/rehab and stretching because we can always use more of that.

2. If so, just bang out the workout if you're starting to feel good once you're warmed up.

If you're concerned about missing too many workouts (which is legitimate), plan to workout in the morning right after you've gotten enough rest from the 24 hour shift. Or whenever your other free time is...
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Old 12-19-2008, 06:28 AM   #3
George Mounce
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Personally sleep > working out in my book. I will purposely miss a workout if my sleep sucked and make it up later. I prefer to train with maximal effort and I know I can't get it without quality sleep.
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Old 12-19-2008, 07:10 AM   #4
Garrett Smith
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Working out intensely on little to no sleep is a double whammy on the adrenals. Not good in the long term.

Doing some form of light to moderate exercise, mainly stuff to get the body moving and the blood flowing, is likely beneficial regardless of how much you slept. That is not to dismiss the ultimate value of sleep, however.
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:02 AM   #5
Pat McElhone
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It sounds like 24hr shifts are part of your life. If that is the case, it seems like you have to either decide if you want to train hard or not.

If you feel strong, train strong. If you feel tired/weak train light, stretch, work on technique, etc. Just listen to yourself and try to not get too bummed about a bad session following a rough shift (I know that is easier to say then do).
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:40 PM   #6
Frank Needham
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Originally Posted by Andy Robinson View Post
A question concerning limited sleep and working out: When should a person consider it counter productive to push through a workout on very little sleep? I am asking this as a firefighter that works 24 hour shifts and who sometimes gets little or no sleep on a shift. I know that this elevates cortisol levels, as does exercise. When coupled together do these factors become more of a anchor on progress in strength training/gpp, or should I suck it up, work out, and repeat the mantra "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger"? In short, I feel like a pussy skipping a workout because I'm tired, but I not sure if pushing it is always the best idea...thoughts?
I don't think this is a question that necessarily depends upon whether one works 24 hour shifts or not but can instead be generalized to a much wider degree.

This is one of those questions that is answered by "it depends". If working out is done on little sleep continuously then it can only result in bad results, either getting over trained or even sick. I only have to look at myself to see the latter. After deciding, on little sleep, to keep up my work out schedule, along with attending to school, family, and work I became over tired and then sick around the end of November. Still have a bad cold at this point and it will likely be until after the holidays that I'm back in trim. I've relearned a valuable lesson: When you've got a lot on your plate its best to scale things back a bit in order to keep it all in balance.

On the other hand, there are times when it is good, even necessary, to push things really hard. But for how long? There do seem to be people who can push themselves quite a bit harder that most for longer periods than others can. For most it is quite a balancing act and things can get out of whack quicker than we realize.

I realize that this is all a bit general but a general answer is all one can really expect since what results from your situation may be widely different from my, or anyone else's experience.
"Lack of sleep makes cowards of us all."
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:09 AM   #7
Aaron Gainer
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You may get away with it once, but your chances for injury and failure double or triple.

Sleeping is a necessity for athletes. It really is the missing link between success and failure for most average gym goers!!!!
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Old 12-26-2008, 09:44 AM   #8
james libby
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This is a very good thread, of which, the topic serves as a constant burden to most Military and LEO communities in relation to our fitness goals (IMO). Our professions require high levels of GPP as requisite for our job performance, and often times, our own survival as well as other depending upon us. The US Army’s stance on fitness in accordance with Field Manual 3-22.20 (Army Physical Readiness Training) is that: Physical readiness is the ability to meet the physical demands of any combat or duty position, accomplish the mission and continue to fight and win. That statement contains enormous implicit undertones and physical responsibilities when put into reality. More often than not contingency operations (current deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom), training missions, and even sometimes just normal garrison duties, require absurd daily hour requirements. These mission requirements, more often than not, put us into situations were we are required to have to balance our physical training/daily lives with little sleep, usually 5 hours or less. If our fitness goals are to meet and surpass our professions physical requirements, and those requirements entail the ability to sustain high levels of physical capacity under conditions of extreme mental and physical fatigue; then how do we condition ourselves to meet these demands when the common school of thought says that we will spiral into states of overtraining and or sickness? I have found myself on numerous occasions having to squeeze workouts into 19 hr + days just out of a matter of basic time management due to professional requirements. This condition of training without adequate rest without a doubt limits potential gains but often times is unavoidable if one in the Military/LEO community desires to train. Good topic…
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