T Nation

Manual Labor Job, More Food?


Over the summer i work in a warehouse for only 4 months while home from school. Last year i lost about 10lbs and strength. This year i want to attempt to stay heavy, and even make strength gains for a powerlifting meet at the end of the summer.

So far, i think if i just eat a lot more i will be able to do this. Days can be from 6-9 hours, on the floor all day carrying furniture and cleaning out HOT moving trucks, and last year my legs really took a toll.

My question is what else can i do to help keep my weight up, and make strength gains? Thanks




There is no other job that pays as well as this, and it is only 4 months out of the year...


Eat a lot more. I was able to gain some LBM last summer (leaned down to sub-10% BF with a net gain of 5lbs) while working as a labourer (11hr days, 6 days/wk of heavy physical labour) by eating as much as I could at every opportunity I could. The work was pretty heavy, so I didn't even need to eat clean. The downside is my gym lifts went down tremendously (didn't have the time/energy to work out on top of the job). If you can keep your nutrition, sleep, and training on point, and make sure to eat a big breakfast and at every break you get while working, you should be fine.


ok serious answer. Like the one guy said try to eat more. Protein bars probably would help. Also, taking a lot of BCAA's during times when you can't eat. Maybe splurge on some MAG-10 if it fits the budget.


^This, weigh yourself weekly and if you are losing weigh then add more calories. Also don't forget to drink a ton of water, hydration status will make a difference in the gym.


Agree with pretty much everything that's been said here. Food, rest, and water are essential to getting bigger/stronger while doing a manual labor job. When I had a summer job like this I at literally everything in sight. My favorite "snacks" were tuna fish sandwiches with huge chunks of cheddar cheese. Really anything calorically dense with a moderate amount of protein is a good idea. Shakes are a solid choice, I'd also recommend nuts for their portability and that you can keep them in your pocket and sneak handfuls throughout the day. If you have trouble sleeping try melatonin. Even the 10mg tablets are fairly inexpensive, and my sleep quality is drastically improved when I take one.

My job involved a bunch of sledgehammering, which when combined with lots of benching caused a shoulder impingement I'm still dealing with 7 years later. Be aware of specific repetitive motions and avoid movements in your training that aggravate those issues.

The good news is that this type of job can replace much of your GPP and accessory work. IMHO you should consider reducing overall training volume, and focus almost entirely on the Big 3 and their variations.


x2 on this. When I used to run valet, I kept almonds in my pocket to snack on while sprinting around all day. I got some in people's cars, but it was a free service so fuck em.


Definitely this. My husband's been working a physical labor job for a while now and was having trouble in the gym because of it, but for the last few weeks he's been going in to the gym and doing one, MAYBE two lifts, but always focusing primarily on one of the major compounds. It's been working really well for him.

And, like everyone else said, eat. Just eat everything.


Having a physically demanding job will always be a detriment to your BB goals. You can take stimulants etc to help that's about it.


BCAA's will be of little use. You need calories to replenish those expended during work. Drink a gallon of choclate milk. Don't drink plain water. No calories. Go to walmart and get some gatorade powder.

It's all about calories in vs calories out. If your losing weight. You need more calories


Get some MAG-10 or hydrolyzed whey, even one scoop a day is fantastic for sparing muscle.

On weekends /day off do Joe Defranco's 'hour of power' basically hit up a buffet and eat non stop for an hour until you feel you're about to puke.


My job is pretty physically demanding and involves extended periods of climbing (ropes, trees, ladders, terrain etc), throwing, lifting, carrying, dragging heavy objects (logs, brush etc) and various other tasks ranging from lower intensity long duration work to repeated maximal efforts. I am also pretty active in my leisure time, so my overall volume and energy expenditure is reasonably high.

About 3 years ago I went from an excessively lean 195 to a fairly lean 230 by basically eating the s#!t out of all kinds of food. I kept it reasonably clean and moderate portions during the day (fish/meat, veg, fruit, nuts) while staying well hydrated. On higher output days (most days) I'd down a litre of chocolate milk and 2 bananas right after work then go home and eat a big, reasonably-somewhat clean if somewhat carb heavy dinner (meat/fish, veg, pasta) and then eat again or have a shake before bed if I was still hungry.

Once a week, on Saturday or Sunday, I would do the "Hour of Power" as per one of the articles on this site. Basically as many calories as possible in one hour without puking. Anything goes, the only stipulation I had was that it started with a decent serving of protein. I figure my PR was about 4000-4500cals/1 hr. It was freakin awesome and pretty terrible all at once.

As far as training goes I found that either getting up early and hitting it before work and/or joining some sort of a scheduled program someone else is expecting you at a certain place at a certain time worked best for me. It is just to easy to blow off the gym after an especially brutal day. I have also had pretty good success integrating training into my work day. I randomly clean and press s#!t all the time for no reason. I'll pick a given task (i.e. throwing firewood chunks from a. to b. or chopping underground roots with an axe, climbing stairs) and perform it as fast as possible. I look for/create opportunities to lift/carry/drag/throw objects that are as heavy as I can manage and then I try to manage a little bit more. I then come home, eat and get a solid night's sleep and do it again. I usually work some kind of daily, grease the groove type calisthenics as well. My gym numbers are probably not that impressive for a guy my size, but a little more discipline (even just 2 focused lifting sessions/week, week in, week out) on my part would probably make a bigger difference than doing a less physical job. That said, when it comes doing sports and real world tasks I find I am rarely wanting too badly for more strength.

I know not all of this is applicable to you, but my point is improvise, adapt and overcome. If you're doing this job, find ways to make it work for you in terms of your goals and/or adapt your short term goals to accommodate the realities of your job.

Also, I would also suggest making mobility work a priority. If you can't sit comfortably in an unloaded, full depth, heels-on-ground-ass-on-heels squat for a few minutes at a time for instance, you've got some work to do.

Hope something there is helpful.


That is aweful advice.


Nope. ^see batman's post


Can't really figure out what kind of job involves climbing ropes and trees as well as dragging heavy objects... unless you're really Batman.


lol I did valet too, did you encounter a lot of nasty interiors or am I just lucky?


Oh, there were definitely some nasty cars. Some literally filled with garbage and there was only enough room to sit in the drivers seat. WTF.

There were also a lot of nice cars. I drove tons of Lexus, a few corvettes and a few muscle cars. Fun stuff.


great advice, so far i have been able to keep my weight up. some strenth was lost, but i think it will come back once i get used of this job. i have been eating a lot more and carrying my gallon water around the warehouse and on the moving trucks!