T Nation

Nightshift

I need a little help/suggestions from any of you who have ever worked the nightshift and train on a consistent basis. I am currently focused on o-lifting and basically do full body routines 3x a week. Any tips on getting a good sleep-eat-train-work schedule? This will be a new experience for me, obviously with a big adjustment to make. How did any of you make the transition? Were you able to make gains? How long (if ever) did it take to adapt?

Any advice appreciated.

Good lifting,
Evan

keep your schedule as consistent as possible. Try eating and sleeping at the same times every day. I am just starting to train, so I can’t say for sure with that, but it should be the same. Personally, I work 12 hr. night shifts and normally stick to the same schedule when off, so it has not been that much of a problem. The problem that I have is finding much time to workout on my work days. I work 4 on and 4 off.

Thanks for asking this question Evan!

I was thinking of asking it myself soon. I just got a job working graveyards for the next year and also wanted to know any tips, suggestions from those who have done it. And more importantly… have people made gains in this situation? And if so, were they as good as when training during a normal sleep routine?

I really want to know!!

I work 8 hour shifts 5 days/week on nights, 11pm to 7am. Here is my typical schedule(when not dieting).

2:30pm get out of bed hopefully :slight_smile:
shake out the cobwebs, take supplements, drink pre-workout shake before weight training
3:30pm be out in my garage home gym or on the elliptical for some high-intensity cardio
4:00pm finish workout(if cardio)
4:30-5:00pm finish workout(if weights)
5:30 pm drink post-workout shake if I’m done feeling nauseous :slight_smile:
7:00 pm eat first meal
8:30-9:00 or 9:30 pm take nap if needed
9:45 pm bag up meals (mostly MRP’s and almonds) and water for work; eat meal #2
10:15 pm leave for work
10:35 pm arrive at work
12:30 am meal #3
1:00 am usual break time; powerwalk for 25 minutes
4:00 am meal #4
7:00 am leave work
7:25 am arrive home; eat meal #5(usually whole food)
8:00-8:30 am be in bed

This is what works for me. I know I only get 6 hours of sleep, but if you count the nap, it’s around 6 1/2 to 7 hours. I seem to not be as tired at work with this schedule rather than sleeping 8 straight hours.

I take thermogenics when I get up, right before work and then sometime in the middle of the night as needed.

I switch things around on my weekend too. I like to feel like I have some kind of normal life. On my “Friday” I’ll come home, sleep for 3-4 hours and then get up. This allows me enough rest to not feel like a zombie the rest of the day, but still be able to sleep that night hopefully.

I’ll sleep that night, get up early (7 am) the next day, and go to bed usually late the next night(11-12am). Then the day I go back to work I’ll sleep in until around 10-11:00 am and be up until the next morning when I go to bed at 8-8:30 am.

FCFighter,

Thanks so much for a such a detailed reply. Looks like you got it down to a science. Really appreciate the help.

One question… how have your gains been on such a schedule? Could you possibly compare it to your pre-nightshift days or have you been at this routine for years?

Thanks again man.

ProjectX,
I’ve been working nights for about the last 6 years, barring a recent stint where I switched to days for about 6 months. I hated it by the way-nothing to do with the hours though.

I would say that my gains in muscle mass are about the same, but my strength is better on nights. The reason being is that I workout when I am rested and fresh, about an hour after waking up.

On day shift I would have already been up for 11 hours by the time I would get to workout. After working all day sometimes I would just want to come home and relax.

That’s a good point!

thanks bro!

Wow! This is more of a response than I expected, thanks to those who cotributed. So, it is doable. I’m embarking on a new career as a nurse in the ER, 12 hr shifts 6pm to 6am – should be interesting…

Anymore out there?

Good health,
Evan

I’ve worked that shift before, currentl on 3pm-11pm, sometimes worked 3-3, 4-4, etc. Thing I do is sleep w/in an hour or so of getting home. I lift about 2 hours after waking, eating some oatmeal or something upon waking and being up for a few. The thing about a 12hr shift is it sucks, no matter how you wanna look at it. Especially if your a weight lifter. BUT you won’t lose anything, key is to train yourself to go to sleep when you get off of work, then lift when you wake up (you won’t have much time to do much else, but that choice is yours) just don’t do it the other way around, your rested and full of energy the best and they say the best time to lift is about 3hrs upon waking. Better to be sluggish at work, than in the gym if you ask me:) Have fun!

Just be sure to eat a lot frequently through out the day to keep your energy up, even bring some power bars and shakes, etc. Only thing w/you is being a nurse it would suck to be the patient at the end of your shift.JK you should be fine, just eat plenty of carbs!

FCFighter your schedule is(was) just like mine. I mean down to the T. I do(did) the same thing on day offs with sleeping for like 3-4 hrs and staying up the rest of the day and going to bed hopefully at 11-12mn like a normal person. It funny you said hopefully because I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep and be up all night. I hate that.

I now just started 12hr shifts 7pm-7am. I like it because I only work 3 days 36hrs but you have next to no time to lift on your work days.

I am a nurse btw. 3 years nights.

Oh and your family and freinds will never understand working the night shift. Call them up at 3am just so they can get an idea. :slight_smile:

I agree day shift sucks!!!

Thai Fighter for life!

My shift work rotates and 1 thing that is important to me is not lifting after working my first overnight shift. It gives my body a chance to adjust to the new times without also having to recover from a workout.

I have a similar problem. I work 1:30 pm -> 1:00 am or sometimes 2:30 am. So I often try to do the following if I get done by 1:00 am.

1:15 am - get home get cardio (30 minutes of sprints on a bike)

2:00 am - finish workout, drink pwo and then get to bed after eating a light snack

9:00 am - wake up and eat meal#1
10:00 am - work out
11:15 am - pwo and shower
12:30 pm - meal#2 and packing up my meals
3:00 pm - eat meal #3
6 pm - eam meal #4
9:30 pm - eat meal #5
11:45-12:15am - eat meal #6