T Nation

Exhausted from Construction

Hi, how is everybody?

So I just recently started a construction job, it can be (and is) physically intensive most of the time.

I am not (nor have I really ever been) a very physical in my adult life. Most of my jobs have been customer service or desk jobs. My most recent job prior was in production lifting 5 to 15 lb pieces of glass all day (possibly heavier at times) but I really only had to use my arms and was only for a few months.

3 months in between jobs, with no activity whatsoever in between.

This construction job has me working everything. The first week wasn’t too terrible, second week okay I guess, but this past week I can tell I am not doing something or multiple things right.

I drink tons of caffeine to have energy and many bottles of water throughout the day for what I lose. Got a case of LIFE WTR for the electrolytes.

My diet isn’t the best don’t eat too much at lunch but try to eat as much as I can when I get home. Money is an issue here. Even still, if I eat a bunch of food sometimes I can’t get full.

I ride a bike 2 miles or so to and from. The hills don’t help my situation but I enjoy it somehow even when I’m exhausted.

All I want to do is sleep as well. I never have enough sleep.

I am not fat about 6’1 180lb or so. I am building my arms and back and chest its very noticeable even after a couple weeks.

I’m new to all of this, I just would like some energy, be healthier and more fit.

Any suggestions? Open to criticism. :joy:

Eat more. Not kidding. Being overly reliant on caffeine for energy will just run you into the ground.

Lighter smaller meals more frequently (more like good snacks) at about 10:00 am and 2:00 pm will keep energy up and keep you out of those troughs. I prefer stuff like peaches and pineapple chunks, but personal preference is what it is. Two dinners, one when you get home and one a couple of hours after that will usually fill the bill, but if you’re really lacking after that a heavy shake (500ml. bottle, double scoop of protein, mix with milk) should help you sleep.

After many years I’ve given up on actually feeling full when working at a demanding job. It might happen once or twice a year at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Other than that, it just doesn’t happen.


At least you know the basics of what you need to do: Sleep more, eat more, drink more, work less (might not be possible).

Eating wise: Poor-ish people get fat as fuck all the time so there’s plenty of ways to get in your calories. Go for convenience, caloric density and adequate macros/total caloric intake e.g. liquid/shake/blended calories: a double scoop of whey with ice coffee in the morning is plenty of calories to start the day off with and takes all of 2 minutes. Smashing down a big glass of milk at every opportunity adds up also if you don’t mind the saturated fats. Also feeling full means jack shit.

Sleep wise maybe think about why. Is it you literally do not have enough time to sleep or are you wasting time somewhere else that you could cut? Is it trouble getting to sleep that is more the problem? Then look into using caffeine effectively and better sleeping habits/hygiene.

dafuq lel?


I appreciate the replies thus far I know I need to stock up on shake mix as well.

Money is currently an issue because I had a 3 months “vacation”, getting back on my feet. Life Wtr was bought for me.

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Eat a pound of cottage cheese every day in addition to what you’re eating. That won’t break you financially for sure.

As a former construction guy I gotta say if you’re that overwhelmed for the time being, do pullups and dips.

Once the initial shock recedes and your body accustoms itself to the rigors of manual labor, you can start a low volume routine for pure strength with special emphasis on the posterior chain.

Remember, in construction your back, and especially your lower back, has to be bulletproof.


Good advice so far. American gym culture gets us believing an hour or two of intense lifting will prepare us for any physical activity. Ha! Manual labor is 8 to 10 (and often longer) hours EACH DAY of physical activity. It has a much greater cumulative effect than gym work. That being said, given enough food, sleep, and adjustment time, you should be able to recover and adapt.

I can totally relate to the need for electrolytes. An inexpensive option is electrolyte tablets. You can buy them at Walmart by the hundreds for around $10.

Your lack of energy, as others have noted, is likely due to insufficient food and sleep. After long periods of inactivity, now you’re on your feet for 8+ hours a day, doing hard physical labor for much of that time, moving around for all of it, and biking to and from work. That’s a huge change and output of physical and emotional energy! Some inexpensive foods that will healthily increase your calories are large tubs of peanuts and natural peanut butter (sadly, both are much cheaper at Walmart than regular grocery stores), oatmeal (you can soak it in milk the night before in your fridge, and it’ll be ready to eat in the morning; add whatever you like, such as raisins, nut butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, apple slices, etc.), boiled eggs eaten during breaks, and apples for quick energy and fiber. Getting more energy from food will help you need less caffeine, which will improve your sleep.

When you can, invest in a good lunch box and some ziplock or tough lunch containers. Plastic-lined, insulated nylon lunch bags are inexpensive and eadily stuffed into a backpack for your bike commute.

A last piece of food advice - if you have a friend or family member who has a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, get them to take you when you have some grocery money. Buying $100 of staples at one of those places is the equivalent of $200 at regular grocery stores. You can freeze things that may spoil, like a second load of bread, and you’ll have basics for a long time.

As @loppar said, in a little while after you’ve adjusted to the work, a basic strength (and joint health) routine will be feasible and will serve you well in your new endeavor.

Good luck!


It’s new to you, so I think it’ll take some adjusting if you’ve brand new to this kinda work.

Just to say, I’ve never done construction or anything similar. But the guys at my gym who do construction swear by Monster Mash. If you get a good thermos, that shit will stay warm for hours.

If money is in the way of meeting your caloric needs, I don’t think you should be shy about inquiring with your local foodbank or church. You also didn’t mention anything about breakfast or whatever you eat before you start.

Dont usually eat breakfast… maybe some fruit or veggies… /: I feel dumb :joy:

I am currently staying in a 3 qtr house some food is donated but is usually consumed quickly by those here who do nothing all day.

Big mistake. A couple of sausage and egg sammichess at least.

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I know these would be like 2 bucks at McD’s, but if money is so tight that even that’s an issue, dude can buy a tub of oatmeal and a jar of peanut butter and have breakfast for a week for like 6 dollars.


That is good advice too. It never occurs to me to do that, mainly because I’ve never done it. I’ve used a good bit of barley and PB when switching up from rice.

For some reason I run like a champ on barley.

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Got PB and some cereal today. Bunch of carb and protein foods today, lots of nuts and whatnot too.

This should be a better week. I’ll try to get more sleep aswell. What sucks is I never have enough time in the day to accomplish my tasks.

Will keep you all updated. Thanks for the advice.

P.S Cottage cheese is gross.

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SkyzykS where ya from? From PA as well brother. I don’t know how to PM on here.

PM’s have been disabled since a few unsavory incidents awhile back. But there are three of us (@SkyzykS, @Basement_Gainz and myself) that all live in southwestern PA.

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Gotcha. I live in Central PA.


Cool. I grew up in Reading; lots of fond memories in Hershey and surrounding areas; moved to the Burgh for college & settled down in this area afterwards.

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Cool. My niece and her husband are just south of Altoona. Its beautiful over there.

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There’s a guy named steelnation or something like that as well. Never met him.

Went bowling with @SkyzykS and can confirm he’s not a serial killer.

Would like to ask @ActivitiesGuy for deadlift advice in person, but his wife just had a baby.


We can still make this happen somehow. Skyz has my email address, feel free to ping me.

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I think that what I did to that game was a bit unholy. At least the kids didn’t point and laugh! :grin: