While everyone’s busy searching for the perfect rep scheme or newest miracle supplement, one of the greatest progress boosters of all is constantly overlooked. The concept of taking an afternoon nap is foreign to most of us yet it can do more for your training than 90% of the other minutia bullshit people waste their time obsessing on.
There’s a popular MMA t-shirt that reads “Tap or Nap.” While the intended meaning of the t-shirt is obvious, this slogan can also be applied to your training. Taking naps is so important that if you don’t find the time for one you may be tapping sooner than you think… to injury, illness, or frustration.
That’s because that afternoon fatigue that sets in for almost all of us is a normal thing. It’s your body’s way of telling you it needs a rest. You can ignore it and just battle through the rest of your day. Or you can drink some coffee to mask the symptoms. But over the long haul it will catch up with you one way or another. That much is inevitable.
The smartest plan is to take a short nap. Twenty minutes is ideal but if you’re pressed for time, ten minutes is better than nothing.
Now right about now the majority of people reading this are probably thinking they’re too busy to take a nap or work in a job that doesn’t allow it or that one way or another they just can’t afford the luxury. And that may or may not be true.
Americans pride themselves on how hard they work. And “hard” is judged in hours. It’s a badge of honor to work 70 hours per week; 90 is even better. Only slackers work 40 hour weeks these days, right?
With all there is to worry about who has time to nap? It’s just not that important.
Or is it? If I told you to get some fresh air and sunlight every day you wouldn’t argue. If I told you to eat fruits and vegetables you wouldn’t tell me I was crazy. So why is the concept of taking a nap still so frowned upon? Because, it my opinion, it’s just as important as anything else.
When your body needs rest you should let it rest. Most of us ignore these signals and then end up having to use sleeping aids to fall asleep at a later time because we are over tired and the body’s homeostasis has been disturbed. A short nap will reenergize you and improve your focus for the rest of the day, making you even more productive. It will also help increase growth hormone secretion and restore all of your body’s depleted functions to a state of homeostasis.
While the majority of us continue to resist the idea there is a portion of the population that has begun to make the shift. Several companies have recently recognized the importance of afternoon naps and have begun allowing employees to take them. Some of these organizations have even gone so far as to add rooms dedicated to power naps. That’s because they know that productive employees make them more money, and productive employees are well rested employees.
Taking a regular afternoon nap will help you recover faster from training, it will help you build muscle faster, it will boost your immune system and your focus and will lead to an overall improved feeling of well being and health.
My advice is to start looking for times to squeeze one in. If you can’t, you can’t. But many of you can and I suggested you start doing so today. The optimal time is right around when the mid afternoon fatigue sets in. Another great choice is to take a nap immediately after training. This is something that I have recommended to my clients for years and something that many well known bodybuilders have always been big proponents of.
I must warn you, though, that the sense of guilt will make your nap difficult to enjoy at first. But you’ll have to get over it.
Secondly, your wife, girlfriend or mother may have a problem with it. As I already mentioned, we have all been led to believe that no one in this country has “earned” the right to take a nap. This is an obstacle you will have to overcome with your house mate. But explain why you need to do this and be firm. No matter how much they oppose the idea… you’re napping. I know a guy who’s been married for three years and his biggest complaint is that he hasn’t taken a nap since the wedding. And he’s absolutely miserable about it. Don’t become that guy.
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