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Construction Work and Building Muscle?

So i’ve worked 12 hour shifts as a mailman for some time now, and i just got a job as a construction worker. Im wondering if anybody here has some experience doing construction work (10 hour shifts) and bodybuilding? It seems like good cardio, but a google search showed me that you burn approximently 2400 calories in a 10 hour shift. It may not be 100 % accurate but im sure you burn a lot.
It seems like you have to eat a shitload more calories, anybody here have some experience?

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It depends on the position. If you’re hanging dropped ceilings then maybe not so much, but if you’re busting concrete or stocking block, way more.

Generally speaking though, yeah, you have to eat a lot.

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Are you meaning actual bodybuilding or simply getting jacked?

Just getting jacked not competing

No personal experience in it, but give “Super Squats” a read. In it, the author, Randall Strossen, discusses gaining around 20lbs of bodyweight while working construction with a diet rich in food and a program intense in the squat. A thermos with milk went a long way. For non-perishable snacks, make your own trail mix. Dried fruit, nuts and M&Ms or Reece’s Pieces are all dense.

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I worked construction when I was younger. All I can remember was being hungry all the time.

I think a lot depends on your body type. I am an ectomorph. Could not get enough food. But I was ripped in my own, skinny way.

If you have a better body type, the work itself will get you somewhat jacked. I would think you should design your workouts to emphasize the parts of your body that aren’t getting hit enough through work.

It’s been known to happen before.

What do you currently weigh?

How much bodyweight have you gained in the last six months?

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You burn calories when you are asleep too, everyone’s metabolic rate is different. How much higher it is while working a physical job will depend on what exactly you are doing. You will need to eat more, and the job will add physical stress so you don’t want to overdo it in the gym or you won’t be recovering. It’s not the optimal situation for building muscle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.

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I worked construction most of my adult life. Often laying block or pouring concrete, as that was my trade. You will notice a lot of fat guys on the site, don’t worry too much about getting enough calories, worry about getting the wrong kind. Just sayin’. You will feel like you are too tired to lift - frequently - and especially at first. Do it anyway. After a while it gets better, but keep in mind what you are doing during the day when working out. For example, if your grip is fried from work, use straps or wrist wraps. Allow enough recovery for the combined activities.


This is pretty important, and I agree that at first it may seem very difficult to stick with working out after work. Just do it until it’s second nature. You’ll get accustomed to the workload and I usually find it takes 2-3 weeks before the soreness of the new work goes away, depending on what type of work it is. That’s not to say that you’re body is fully adapted to the new workload though.

I’d give the new job a week or two before you lift again, see how you fare with just working and slowly begin adding stuff in. You don’t want to suck ass at a new job because you decided to lift.

Depending on your goals, eat whenever you can. I’m lucky enough to be a service tech now, so I eat in the van between jobs. I can see how roofing, framing or concrete/block work could be different due to being sort of “stuck” where you are, though. Pants and jackets have pockets for a reason, throw some food in there and eat when you get a spare minute.

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Plenty of old school guys worked manual labor jobs and did just fine with their physique efforts. Arnold and Fanco’s “brick laying” business, well, I’ve heard questionable tales of that -lol (someone tell me if I’m wrong or not!)

I think at the end of the day it’s going to come down to what type of actual work you’re doing, and your own individual capabilities. I’ve known people that can do a ton of work, eat poorly and not lose a step, while others can show a set back from just few days of deviating from being on top of everything and walking the line of a minimal recovery ability.


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Ive been in construction since i was 16, just about 28 now. Drywalled since i was 19 and for the past 5 months or so i have been doing stucco. Most others here have already mentioned how important food is, but one thing i will mention specifically is protien. Personally i have found over the years that if i am consistant with protein i can either maintain my weight or gain, but if i let it drop or my levels are all over, my bodyweight drops pretty quick. So get in plenty of protien, keep consistant with it and generally eat well and you should be fine.

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I work an extremely physical job with all kinds of hours. It’s not uncommon to work 50-100 hours of overtime in ONE week here and there. My record is working almost every single hour in the week. I was short 3.5 hours and I would have worked every minute on the clock for 7 days :joy:.

Nobody I work with looks like they lift unless, they actually lift. The human body is the king of adapting. That’s why you need some type of constant progressive overload via one or more ways to make progress in the gym.

Your new job may absolutely kick your ass at first, but you’ll get used to it. You might be tired all the time and eat more, maybe even loose a little fat and firm up a touch since you’re going from sedentary to manual labor, but you’ll never get jacked working construction.

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