Tactical Fitness: Should You Work Out After Little Sleep?

Marines and students of the National Urban League Youth Summit exercised together during the Wake Up and Workout event at Nova Southeastern University on July 28 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Cpl. John-Paul Imbody/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Hey Stew,

What's your general rule of thumb on working out on less than five hours of sleep per night? (Or whatever your threshold of sucky sleep is?)



I usually do better sucking it up and having some productive hours afterward. In fact, I did it the other day. My son woke me up, throwing up. I cleaned vomit for an hour and had trouble going back to sleep, so I actually only slept four hours. I still did a butt-kicking workout from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. that involved running, lifting and swimming. But by 11 a.m., I barely was functioning. I had to take a nap during lunch, and I felt better.  

I actually took the next day off from working out, even with eight hours of sleep that night. So you can do it, but you will pay for it and eventually have to pay it back.


Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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