T Nation

Working Long Hours and Training


I've recently started a new job and I'm now working some looooong hours,14-16 hour days.I'm finding it very hard to do any training due to the long hours.Basically my days start at around 5am and I dont get home until around 8pm.My work is very strenuous and working outdoors so when I get home I'm usuallu pretty well done for the day.

Anyway I guess my question is when and how much should I try to squeeze in any lifting? My thought right now is to just try to get in about 15-30 minutes a day(I lift at home) but I'm not sure when to do it.I hate to try to lift on a empty stomach in the mourning and I dont really know how I'd handle hevy lifting after a large breakfast.And at night...well I could lift some then but for the most part its shower,eat and off to bed.Anyway,what have you guys that work long hours tried?


id either go for the VERY brief thing like one lift a day a BIG ass lift like squat, DL, bench, clean and press, chins and row. 6 exercises 6 days just do one a day give each 15-20 minutes and do them just do the damn thing be it heavy, light etc go by feel just work hard.

OR I wouldnt attempt it at all. your at a strenous damn job that many hours. Thats enough. if worried certain body parts are lagging carry things in different ways etc that expose that part to new greater stimulus etc. make work more your w/o.

Best of luck,


Oh and forgot to add. When I was in that situation it was always best to do it in the AM EARLY get a small snack Metabolic Drive Cup of milk something drink that then put that short session in. I just couldnt do it at an intensity worth it after work, but could muster the stuff to make it through the work day No prob.


Strenuous outdoor labor coupled with a decent diet usually equates to a decent physique.

Just because you may not be training in a gym doesn't mean you are not getting any training effect.

If I were you, I wouldn't even think about training (in this case, EXTRA training). I would think more in terms of getting my diet as good as it can be, getting as much rest as possible, and seeing how that goes.

If you find yourself with still some fire to do something extra after a long hard day of physical labor, I would follow Phil's advice. But only after you've determined your physical labor isn't enough.


Some of the best responses I have seen in a thread to date!


Your predicament definitely sucks as far as training goes. My advice depends on whether or not this is a long-term thing or short-term. If short-term, you could do what I do during holiday season (Nov-mid Jan), which is 2x a week, hitting 3 5x5 lifts (compounds, obviously). This is about 20 minutes with a warmup. I used this as maintenance, yet I was still able to increase those lifts.

If it's a long-term thing, I would recommend going with an OLAD approach after you've let your body adapt to your job requirements (about a month). I would always recommend going early AM, because I know I'm wiped out at the end of long days of work.

Whatever you decide, be thankful you have a job and make the most of it.



I've done some heavy manual labour jobs before, and found that reducing the frequency and hitting the gym with quick, total-body workouts allowed me to make some decent strength gains. Three exercises per workout: push, pull, squat -- not necessarily in that order. Each pushed hard.

Kubik has some interesting takes on that kind of training as well.




I agree 100 percent.I work in security and at times worked 12-14 hours shifts for as long as 2 weeks without a day off ( and it was overnight work as well ).Put together something along the lines of Christian's "Renaissance Body Development" program without the gpp at the end,instead of 5x5 maybe do 4x6 to cut back the sets and keep rest intervals at 60 to 90secs and superset the 2 upper body movements ( a push and a pull ) and switch the movements every workout and maybe throw in a couple sets for arms at the end ( for the bodybuilder in you.lol ) .

Try to get in 2 lifting sessions a week and try for 2 GPP( non weighted like bodyweight circuits) or dynamic flexibilty sessions for active recovery on your non lifting days.It isn't the best schedule for gains but you'll maintain your size and strength fairly well with this protocol and each session should be under 30 mins.


From one who has worked 12+ Hour shifts(not counting travel & special details)since the balloon went up on 9/11: I found the only way to adapt in the long run was to hit the weights only on my days off, first day off chest/arms, next day rest/abs, final day:legs/back...I found this to merely keep from losing muscle, and I gained unwanted fat, but was better than falling off the total bandwagon(By the 5th year I was so exhausted and chronically sleep deprived, I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed my BMW, with subsequent bad effects on my career and the law, so don't let it happen to you, learn from my mistakes!)...I am trying to change up as of last week, since for the first time my hours have dropped from 12's to 10's...Hope this helps...Snake


Thanks for the advice guys.
Dollarbill brought up a good point in that it has taken some time for my body to adjust to this work change.I've been at this new job for about a month and a half and when I first started I was fried at the end of every day.I've also noticed that my appetite has went through the roof.
I think I'm going to try the OLAD approach.It will be fast and shouldnt burn me for the rest of the day.I just feel like if I dont lift at leat SOME I'm a worthless shit.LOL
Somebody also mentioned being thankful for the job.I'm very thankful despite the long hours and having to move my family 450 miles from what used to be home.


Oh Hell, yeah! Don't forget the food! If you're doing manual labour all day, and you expect to maintain or gain, you've got to eat like you've never eaten before. :slightly_smiling: Get yourself a giant-sized cooler and drag that to work with you daily.

Some really, really strong men have come out of manual labour backgrounds. As your body adapts, you may be able to pull the same thing. At the very least, it'll give you a kind of stamina that white-collar lifters like myself have trouble matching... if we can do it at all.

HIT stuff would come in very useful for you. Brief, infrequent, intense. Work serves as active recovery.

Go be a monster. :slightly_smiling: