T Nation

Programming Help with Inconsistent Schedule


#1

So I finished my schooling and have been working 12 hour shifts from 7p-7:30a, my numbers have progressively gone down. It’s from not eating near enough, nor eating good. It’s so hard for me to be consistent in the gym because some days I don’t wake up until 5:30p-6p and at that point there’s no way I could get to the gym. I’ve been considering going straight to the gym as soon as I get off work, but I don’t know how well that would play eating then going to the gym then coming home to go straight to bed. I just have to screw my meal times up and revamp my program to work with a 3rd shift schedule. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated.


#2

Are you working 7 days / week at 12 hr shifts?


#3

I’m guessing it will play out a lot better than not waking up in time and missing your training entirely. A plan you cant/dont execute is worthless.

My game plan would be to aim for before work but be prepared to go afterwards. So if the first choice doesn’t pan out you have a backup plan.

BTW, this is basically how you can fail and still not fail at just about anything you do in life.


#4

This is great.

If you really need 10 hours sleep there’s not much that can be done but maybe try to make those 10 hours better quality or minimise the time it takes to get to sleep and shit. Stuff like having a dark environment at appropriate temperature, sleep hygiene and all that jazz.

Either way start setting alarms you may find you can do well on 8hrs, 9.5hrs or whatever especially with better quality sleep.

I think we can help you on this one.

First what’s your current goal: Bigger and Stronger or Leaner and Sexier.

If assuming bigger/stronger/bulk then basically we’ll need a caloric surplus with adequate protein.

Counting is a good practice and minimally time consuming however for you I think even minimally is too much. Instead maybe just loosely track your protein for the day with estimates rounded to the nearest 5/10g to make sure you are getting in enough. If weight is going up too fast the way you’re eating back off a bit if it’s too slow or not going up increase a bit. Kinda like intuitive eating.

Eating clean/fresh/organic or all other manner of healthy sounding is of lower priority. Meal timing would be nice especially to get the most out of workouts but overall caloric balance is more important. Is your work physical? If so factor in that extra activity.

During your 12 hour shift you’re going to have legit breaks and maybe popping off to take a shit or something. Each of these is an opportunity to eat and drink as much as humanly possible. Drop by the break room grab food/drink and eat as fast and for as long as you’re allowed.

Umm probably don’t eat in the toilet but… as the late Rich Piana (RIP) would say “Are you doing whatever it takes?” lel

Liquid calories are most definitely your friend. Towards the end of a meal you may be forcing yourself to eat another bite, even of something tasty like a steak, but you could probably chug some fruit juice, milk or better yet chocolate/strawberry flavored milk.

Bring 2L with you to work, throw it in the fridge and that shit better be finished by punch out… well I guess you could finish it off on the way to the gym/home/commuting. 1500 calories give or take a few hundred ez

With some milk and whey you can consume a days calories in next to no time if required. You have plenty of time/opportunity and the means to eat enough.

If you eat this way you’ll have a lot of foodstuffs going through you to fuel an after work training sessions tho you’ll be slightly fatigued from your shift. If you’ve done your eating at work already maybe take a half an hour rest before lifting if possible (use the time you would’ve been eating after work).


#5

When gym times and days are more unpredictable in life, I go with full body routines to make sure that everything gets trained at least once every few days.

One thing that also helps me is that I start making deals with myself. Like if it’s been a tough day you just tell yourself, “I’ll park my car in a gym parking spot, and I’ll decide if I still want to go then”. Then the next one might be, “Okay, I’ve already parked my car here, I might as well step inside and then I’ll make up my mind again”. Then the next would be, “Since I’m already in here, I might as well warm up and then I’ll see how I feel”. Then, “Alright, I"ll at least go through my first most important exercise”. And so on.

9/10 times when I do this, I"ll end up doing things as planned.


#6

If you always work the same hours then it’s an easy solution, just wake up earlier so you have time to train before work. Based on what you said, it’s not your schedule that is inconsistent but rather what time you wake up.


#7

Eat more. Don’t worry so much about the quality of every meal, try to get enough calories and protein. Eat fruits and vegetables when you can.


#8

Start out by doing something like 2-3 times a week. Let your body adjust to working 3rd shift especially if you never have. I used to work 3rd and it took me months to “adjust.” I never actually adjusted to working overnight to be honest. It’s not natural to be nocturnal and your body has a terrible time keeping up because it’s been sleeping during the nigh, working during the day your whole life before your 3rd shift job starts. You have to give it time before it clicks. Slowly add in sessions and food until you find a nice rhythm. It’ll come, you just have to be patient and know things will be different.

For reference, I would train after work or right before. You don’t need 10 hours of sleep. You can get by on 6 just fine, so start there. Slowly cut down in sleep time and get your diet right in the time you gain from not sleeping as much. Either train before work, shower there, and eat on the way, or right after work, eat and shower when you get home and konk out.