STOP Killing Your Muscle Gains!

In this weeks sports science news, cold water immersion's effect on hypertrophy, Huberman's sleep stack, a youth coaching philosophy

Eric Curry

By Eric Curry
Last updated: May 20th, 2024
4 min read

This week in the world of sports science, here’s what happened…

  • Cold water immersion may hinder muscle growth
  • Reviewing Andrew Huberman’s sleep stack
  • An effective youth performance coaching philosophy

Cold water immersion may hinder muscle growth

(Image: Outwork Nutrition)

The recent surge in popularity of cold plunges has prompted a debate on their efficacy, with a recent article in Men’s Journal shedding negative light on the subject. The article cited a systematic review and meta-analysis that investigated the effects of post-exercise cold water immersion on resistance training-induced hypertrophy. The review included a pool of 116 participants who engaged in post-exercise cold water immersion after their workouts and found that cold water immersion led to less muscle growth when compared to similar programs involving no post-exercise cold water immersion.

The finding suggests that if one is seeking hypertrophy gains, cold water immersion post-training may hinder muscle growth. However, more evidence is needed before any concrete claims can be made, especially because the studies included in the review had varying factors, such as hypertrophy programs ranging from four to 12 weeks and the duration of time spent submerged in cold water after training ranging from three to 15 minutes.

The debate on the efficacy of post-exercise cold water immersion for hypertrophy gains needs additional evidence. Nevertheless, the Men’s Journal article and scientific review provide some potential early evidence and are worth viewing.

Reviewing Andrew Huberman’s sleep stack

What You Don’t Know About Huberman’s Sleep Stack (Source: YouTube)

Andrew Huberman is widely known for his role as a decisive figure in the realm of human performance, and his podcast offers valuable insights into the subject. Specifically, his discussions with guests on optimising sleep have been especially noteworthy, and we recently featured them. As a result of his extensive work on sleep optimisation, Huberman has developed, promoted, and distributed his sleep supplement stack.

Recently, performance nutritionist Adam McDonald published an insightful video investigating Huberman’s sleep supplement stack. In the video, McDonald delves into detail about the four ingredients included in Huberman’s sleep stack – magnesium threonate, apigenin, myo-inositol, and L-theanine.

While research on the effectiveness of magnesium in aiding sleep appears promising, it is still limited. Interestingly, McDonald points out that the promising studies used different types of magnesium and not magnesium threonate. In fact, there is extremely limited research on the effectiveness of magnesium threonate on sleep in humans.

McDonald expresses concern about the lack of evidence on apigenin and believes that there have only been two notable studies investigating the effects of apigenin on sleep in humans. Interestingly, one of these studies involved patients with Alzheimer’s, and the other involved subjects with insomnia. Similarly, McDonald discusses the lack of evidence regarding myo-inositol and could only find one positive study, albeit with pregnant women as subjects. Finally, McDonald discusses L-theanine and feels much more optimistic about this ingredient’s potential to positively impact sleep.

While Huberman and his supporters may argue strongly against McDonald’s findings, checking out this video may answer some questions and save you a lot of money if you are considering taking Huberman’s sleep stack.

An effective youth performance coaching philosophy

(Image:, Creator David Crawford@ Still Sports, 2015)

Last week, an insightful post on LinkedIn caught my attention, particularly relevant for those working with young athletes. The post was authored by Euan Dale OLY, the director of swimming at Millfield School. In his post, Dale reflects on his extensive experience in high-performance swimming, spanning two decades.

Dale elaborates on the coaching philosophy he employs with his 12-16 year-old athletes, which revolves around four key principles:

  1. Emphasising self-comparison and development
  2. Shifting focus away from the scoreboard
  3. Cultivating mindset and mental strength
  4. Prioritising work ethic and self-care

Dale delves into each of these principles, supported by scientific research. Embracing Dale’s philosophy, his swimmers are prompted to assess their performance based on their previous accomplishments rather than comparing themselves to their peers. They are also encouraged to relish the journey of improvement rather than becoming overly fixated on times or rankings. They cultivate a growth mindset and are motivated to embrace challenges. Furthermore, Dale’s athletes are driven to work diligently while also prioritising self-care.

For those interested in cultivating a positive coaching culture for young athletes, exploring Dale’s philosophy, and considering its applicability in your context is highly recommended.

From us this week:

>> New course: Hydrotherapy
>> New podcast: How To Rehab From A 1% Chance To Live
>> New infographic: Carbohydrates
>> New article: Stop Looking! These Are The Best Infrared Saunas (2024)

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Eric Curry

Eric Curry

Eric is a Strength and Conditioning Coach from Ireland. Eric holds a MSc in Sports Strength and Conditioning and an undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise. Eric is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA. Eric currently works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach in Ireland predominantly with youth performance Tennis players. Eric also has experience working with athletes from basketball, martial arts, football, hurling, and Gaelic football.

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