T Nation

Hardest job/ toughest workout

Have any of you had any hard labour jobs, i’ve had a few and i really don’t know how i worked that hard at the time as i’m 42 right now. I worked in a casting plant in the mines and we worked brutally hard. I’ve had some tough workouts as well but nothing was like working there. Built a good amount of functional strength though and tried to workout a little at the time but got a lot of work doing the job. Just wanted to hear others who have had similar experiences.

0331 USMC infantry (nuff said)

I worked at a seafood company in Louisiana and we would have to shovel a god awful amount of seafood. During the mullet season, boats come in with around 2000-4000 pounds of mullet. We would have to get into the boats and shovel the mullets (around 40-50 pounds a shovel) into a conveyer around chest high. After you would get finished with one boat there would be 10-15 boats waiting. It was non-stop and I would usually work 18 hour days for 7 days a week. We also buy tuna and some boats would come in with over a 100 tuna (60-170 pounds). The tuna would be rolled on a roller to the dock and then the workers have to clean it(like the exercise) to about chest level and put it in a box. Sometimes we would get 4-5 boats a day. Most people quit after 1 or 2 days. A little hard work never killed anyone. Thats what my dad used to tell me at least. I couldn’t quit because my dad owned the seafood company. I’m glad I went through that though. It made me realize what real work is.

Moving produce for a large grocery store, had to unload and breakdown 25,000 lb loadsof produce, thenget it out on the shelves. Everything was in 40 to 50 lb boxes. i also used to carry irrigationpipe in corn fields. had to hold the pipe above my head, and push it through corn that was 7-8ft high( I’m 5’10), and with your feet sinking into the mud. Sometimes the pipes would not drain, so you had to lift one end of the pipe too drain it. 40 foot pipe, 4 inches in diameter, not easy, especially when it was stuck in the mud.

Pulling boards in a lumber mill.

Last summer on my 1st day on my roofing job I moved 150 rolls which each weighed 45kg, or 15,000lbs total. I bent down & scooped each one up to my shoulder & walked it to wherever it was needed. At least it only took about 5-6 hrs, not 18. I was working at the Safeway also, so I was gwtting about 70hrs/week, I’ve never done so much work in my life. My toughest gym session was 20-rep breathing squats of course. I had some tough sessions on the erg when I was rowing though.

Worked construction for a while. The biggest project I was involved with was Disney’s Splash Mountain. In order to meet the November opening, we were working 7 days a week, up to 16 hours/day at the end there. And after that, I would still drag my tired ass into the gym! Well, when you’re 25/26 years old you can get away with a lot. But I do remember looking at myself int he mirror, getting ready to sit back with a couple of dumbbells for a set of incline press, and thinking, “what the hell are you doing here?!?”

OOH RAH M-Dog! Nothing like humping a .50 cal receiver!

I actually made my best strength gains and muscle gains ever while working for a concrete refinery construction crew during a summer in south Texas. I had just started lifting at this time and was very scrawny. We had to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts for safety reasons and the heat from the sun + the heat from the refinery was unbearable. My dad set me up with the job as he knew a foreman from the company…little did I know that ol dad was trying to teach me a lesson about hard work! On a crew of 10 hands I was the only one who could speak english as everyone else except for the foreman was from mexico as these were the only people they could find to do this work. The job consisted of digging 4 foot ditches through the middle of the refinery, running pipe and then filling the ditches with concrete. Since the ditches were in the middle of all sorts of pipes, machinery, etc. there was not any way to get any equipment in to do the work so everything had to be done by hand. This meant digging and picking by hand through rocks for 1/2 of the day then the other half would be spent with a wheelbarrow running wheelbarrows full of concrete on treks up to 1/4 mile through the refinery back and forth. After 2 months of this and without ever even thinking about touching a weight I had put on 20 lbs of muscle and increased every lift in the gym by a good 20%.

Dad liked to try instilling the work ethic by describing his job changing the anodes on the aluminum smelting pots. He had to break the crust over the molten metal pull the anode and install a new one. Also involved was heavy shoveling of the slag. Lots of sweat, lots of work, he loved it.

Steel plant. The work didn’t involve so much heavy labor, but it was constant manual labor in EXTREME heat. On top of that, to comply with safety rugulations we had to wear long pants, long sleeves, arm gaurds, thick gloves, and a hardhat. The outfit itself was enough to suffocate you and compared to the inside of the plant, stepping outside was a big relief - even during the summer in the South. Lunch was the one hour I always looked forward to as it meant 45 minutes of air conditioning. Nothing wears you out like that kind of heat.

About 5 years ago I had a sales route for Pepsi. That was tough. I would have to lift and pack out roughly 400 cases per day, each case weighing about 20 pounds, for a total of 8,000 pounds lifted per day.

The job was tough, but the nice thing was I walked out of that job with huge traps and amazing forearm strength.

I’m noticing not a single one of you said that brutally hard work did anything but make you tougher. THAT’S what built America! Thank you for showing the rest of the people how it’s done.

Funny thing is that the only workers my dad could keep were workers from mexico. It seems like most Americans are afraid of hard work. Either that or the pay.

After I thought about it, it’s not the pay because most of our workers need a job when they come to us, so I guess it is just laziness.

I have nothing as tough as you guys but I work a Huge christmas tree lot, and the 5 days that the trucks come in are pretty rough, basically its 12-14 hours a day unloading about 30,000 trees ranging from 3 foot to about 25 feet…

One thing I’ve noticed is that Mexican workers don’t mind the hard work at all as even getting minimum wage is heaven in comparison to what they would get in Mexico.

dave you mentioned “functional strength” tell me the diff between that and “NON-functional strength” just a Q 4 ya’. but I have unloaded trucks for a living and I have also worked at ups and I have worked on construction sites. If any of you people think that is as hard as a great work out then you ain’t worked out hard ENOUGH!!!

In Morgan City, La, at a hazerdous waste plant; we got the haz waste trucked in on trucks, we had to unload them with squeeze lifts, then break off each 50 gallon drum top with either tools or our hands, not being able to create sparks. We did this for 12 hour shifts, I bicycled in and out for an hour each way (I’m serious)~~it ended up like circuit training; truck after truck, barrel after barrel. Oh and we wore long sleeved protective suits, gloves, hardhats w/goggles, and face masks when visiters and bosses were around. We also had to carry bags of oil dry and another 50lb bag of something, and we had to walk it up the manmade hill, and me being stubborn would carry 2 50 lb bags, one on each shoulder, and most times I could go all the way up with both, sometimes I had to put them down partway and start again. I weighed about 130 lbs then. We also fought fires that started from unknown and known sparks, that set the large barge of waste on fire, again all in our protective suits. This was hard, but a lot of the other posts really show how you guys/girl have a strong work ethic!

I guess my hardest job was loading tractor-trailers for UPS, as far as short-term pain. It was in Columbia, SC, the 5-9 PM shift. So, you walk into the main unairconditioned building, which is as warm as it is outside, (humid SC summers keep us at 90 degrees until 10 or 11 at night, and of course higher during the day) then you step into the metal trailer that has been sitting there in the sun waiting on you. Quite warm. I’ve never sweated, drank, or cursed more in my life. The good thing was that we could only work four hour shifts. Then there was the workload, but I won’t get into that. It was fine after the first month, but the first couple of days I kept thinking, “You know, if I pass out, they’ll take me out of here” so I kept working. And I really don’t think anyone works harder than a Mexican. In another job of mine spraying pesticide (sounds easy, and sometimes it was, but that was really job-dependent) the company I was working for finally started hiring Mexicans. No one ever worked harder than them. Kind of makes me resent the handouts our governments give to people when these guys are killing themselves for minimum wage, but I guess there’s a place for handouts.