New Job, Manual Labor - Any Program Changes?

Every time I see this topic I skip it - as I have no experience in the subject AND worked a desk job. So didn’t need to learn anything about it.
But I’ve changed to a manual labour job. A proper manual labour job as well. Steel erecting.

The question is simple - is there anything else to do but up the calories, keep and eye on hydration and make sure sleep is nailed on?
I’m guessing this is it. Any other advice.

Sounds good :man_shrugging: I’ve only ever worked manual labor so I’m not sure what you’d want to change but what you stated sounds good! Hydration is hard when working outside. I don’t think some people realize how much water you really need when you’re outside working all day long. I also like to drink a biolyte drink here and there.

You can take a deload for a first week and then slowly adjust total volume as you could be more sore for the first weeks. Also your lifts might suffer a bit at start but they will come back up later when you get used to it.
Depending on what kind of work you do(i dont know what is steel erecting) and what taxes each muscles, you could also not do any accessory lifts for those muscles as your daily volume at work might be enough for that(for example - i used to dig ditches when i was 17, and that is basically light deadlift done 3000 times per day, so no need for hyperextensions etc).

You can also try to use your work as training - if you need to lift smth, you can actually lift it like it works certain muscles, and switch it up, so you actually add some nice volume.

I don’t know how they do it in the UK but in the US they’ll have you running buckets of nuts and bolts and doing the ugly grunt work until you either get good at it or quit.

So I’d say allow a little time to get good at it, feel out recovery and what you can do in the gym slowly. Stay hydrated and fed, but don’t over eat or you may get sick/barf/shit pants/what ever. 30-45 min. after lunch is the danger zone for that.


I will add I started this work last week so deload is a great idea but already well into it.

Laying off the assistance work if a good idea. I’m doing a lot of the grunt work. just moving steel about. Lots of “mini dead lifts” every day. Along with pulls and pushes as I have to man handle the steel.

Worth noting that working outside in Britain is a whole lot different to Alabama.

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Have you noticed any or much cumulative fatigue?

Like I could always tell if my recovery in general was off if I was dragging on Thursday or just dead by Friday. Typical solution was either more food, more sleep, or both.

Anyhoo, somehow Thursday became my barometer for recovery.



Got any steel over there big boy?

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Nope, just erections :wink:


I’m a manual labor guy here too…personally I have a 1gallon yeti bottle that I bring everyday, and sometimes it’s not enough. But I have found that using an electrolyte supplement in it has been very helpful. Also, yes up the calories and get enough sleep. But here’s another tip too…if you are packing lunches with you, bring more food/snacks then you think you need to. I have never done the work your doing, but I find that from day to day or week to week, sometimes I just need more food, so I always have extra just in case.

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Thanks man. I might start adding an electrolite sup. They are pennies. And its a great idea. And snacks to. Id spending a small fortune at the shop!!


Yeah there’s a lot of guys I know who buy lunch almost everyday, and prices get up there pretty quick especially when you’re trying to stay remotely healthy. One of the best things I did was start making bigger suppers so I could take leftovers to work…let’s you eat real well, saves money in the long run and then you don’t have sandwiches all the time. If you don’t have access to a microwave and you want hot food, invest in a food thermos. Microwave your food before you leave the house so it’s good and hot, and warm up the thermos with hot water, pack it up and as long as you bought a good thermos the food will stay warm till lunch time.

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I meal prep. So every Sunday I cook 1.5kg (3lb) of mince in a tomato sauce. I split that into 5 meals. And there you go - 300g of mince (about 10 1/2oz) of red meat a day for lunch.
With 6 eggs every breakfast - I get 100g of protein before dinner.

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Wanted to follow up to see how it’s going?

Good, bad, ugly?

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I’ve alternated back and forth from desk to manual labor jobs many times over the years.

  1. Sleep. It’s the most important factor, per Stan Efferding. It becomes even more so when trying to recover from manual labor and training.

  2. Food and water. You will burn a ton more calories each day.

  3. Believe it or not, the volume and frequency of load placed on the muscles you use each day will benefit greatly you, over time. So much so that, even if you screw away recovery, you can still see progress. This is why car mechanics who eat two meals a day and drink beer at night have huge hands and forearms. Speed skaters have massive quads, bigger than most bodybuilders. Oly lifters have massive traps, and soccer players have huge calves. Female gymnasts who eat next to nothing have bigger lats, quads, and glutes than any of us. All of these people train these muscles submaximally every single day and enjoy better results than the rest of us, even if we follow programs specifically targeting these muscles. Just severely cut back the gym volume for whatever muscles you are using each day. Train them maybe once a week, and only occasionally do a really hard set or two to test strength.


Sorry man - been away from the forums for a while.

It is okay. I’ve removed any and all lower back stuff aside from dead lifts. T bar rows were going to be a big part of my work outs, as were bent over rows. But I removed them. I also have to be careful what I do in the gym on harder days work. For example - last week was the last week before a comp. As we had to drag a 350lb steel frame up 4 flights of stairs. It was not only heavy by awkward. So I had to skip a few days as I was feeling VERY tired.
Aside from that - lots more carbs. And I was a carbohydrate fan already. Sleep in my main fight. My wife thinks I’m mad as I try and go to bed at 21:30. I get up at 05:15.

So yeah it can be done. It is harder work and you need to make sure you plan your work out. for example I’m moving to 531 hard gainers style squats. I will do these Friday or Saturday. I can’t do these on a work night. But its possible.

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There a hell of a a lot of truth in this post.
Once I get my sleep sorted with the wife (I’m doing separate rooms from tonight) then I should be okay.

It’s all good!

Sounds like you’re figuring it out. With each different type of work I did there were different (physical) benefits and drawbacks that I had to respond to.

The only two constants were food and sleep. Everything else was in response to that days tasks.