T Nation

Short on Time and Money

I am 27, and have a wife 2 kids under the age of 3. I have a 2 hour commute each way to a construction laborer job and get an unacceptable 4 hours of sleep average. I workout 3-4 days a week 30-45 min. depending on my energy level. I am not new to working out but at 5’2 I can’t pass 130lbs.

I am currently using the shotgun method and getting my usual results which is “none”. I have a weightbench-squatrack, a dips-pullup station as well as a bowflex nockoff. My goals are strength and size “not just size.” Any help would be appreciated.

Download this: http://spaz.ca/cronometer/

Set your food/calorie/intake goals. Log your food. Do it everyday.

[quote]agarza wrote:
I am not new to working out[/quote]
What are your current strength levels on the squat, deadlift, bench, row, and overhead press?

How heavy are the weights you have at home?

What’s with the four hours sleep? Is that just between dealing with kids at night and getting up early for work? Obviously if you can figure out a way to grab a few more hours, it’ll help your health overall.

What did you eat yesterday?

Basically, gaining size comes down to your food, gaining strength comes down to your training. Getting them both right will get you where you want to be.

Since you’re time-crunched, I’d look at something like Starting Strength since it’s pretty low volume and you can knock out a solid, productive session in whatever time you have. It’s definitely better than whatever “shotgun method” you’ve been using.


But like I said, you won’t gain an ounce of size if you’re not eating much and eating often. Especially with a construction job, you’re probably burning a metric shit-ton of calories during the day, so you need even more.

Starting Strength, and about 100 years of bodybuilding history, recommends adding a gallon of whole milk on top of whatever else you eat everyday. That alone will give you 2,400 calories that, more likely than not, will be put to good use. Lock in three solid, filling meals, and you’re on a better track.

These should give you a better idea on how to design your eating:


(Pay extra attention to the “hour of power” in that one)

Make sure you weigh yourself (first thing in the morning, after using the bathroom, bucknekkid) once a week, maybe twice a week, to chart progress. Weighing in more often isn’t any more accurate or useful.

Don’t want to hi-jack this topic but I got a related question. Is eating extra and more often the answer to people who have labour-intensive work? My mom works at a meat shop, she stands on her feet all day long and has to ‘clean and jerk’ bags of meat to a scale that’s near her eye level. I think years of insomnia has finally caught up to her and her limbs are getting ‘flabbier’. I want to get her to do some full body workout, but I am concerned that will make her tired the next day at work.

Eating extra is important to get the right things in your body for it to recover and grow.
So yeah, the right nutrition will help your mom’s recovery.
If you’re mom hasn’t worked out much before, she’s going to feel sore the next couple of days. Nothing can be done to get around that. However, after working out consistantly for a while, I’ve found that the soreness the following day is less than it used to be. It’s not really a concern anymore for me. I can work out hard and still be able to do a physically demanding job the next day. So in the beginning your mom will likely be sore, but it’s not a problem in the long run.

On the squat I am only squating 210lbs, and the bench 160lbs this is not my max but is what I am comfortable doing without a spotter. Deadlift my max is 330lbs, agood row 140lbs, overhead press 100lbs, I do weighted dips with 150lbs nothing impressive. Strength gains are low because energy levels are low. I can get about 400lbs out of my weight at home. The 4 hours of sleep is just what I end up with at the end of the day,I am up at 4:30am leave to work at 5:00am get home around 5:30-6:00pm spend as much time with my two young kids as possible,the are usually asleep at 8:30-9:30pm shower workout get ready for work comfort nightmares and by the time I am done 4 hours of sleep is what I have. I eat as much as possible on the run 3-6 eggs a day no break so whatever I can through in my mouth on the run until lunch 1-2 sandwiches at lunch, then whatever I can eat on the run until I get home for dinner and average close to 1/2 gallon of milk a day every day.