Other/Mixed Training and Shiftwork

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
Status
Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
For the last eleven years I had worked for the same company. My shift was Monday to Thursday 6am-4:30pm with plenty of overtime. Some stretches of 7days/12hours for a month or two. So, consistently the same day shift for 40-84 hours per week, averaging 50-56 hours per week.

Due to the prolonged down turn in the oil and gas industry I was laid off due to shortage of work. The oil industry historically goes through periods of boom and bust, but people in the industry much longer than me say they have never seen it get this bad. The last bust in 2008 did not hit Canada too hard, and we recovered quickly, and stronger, but not this time.

I found a job in my field, but a different industry very quickly. I had been aggressively looking for work because I could anticipate the drop off in work at my company. I was lucky and was laid off on Friday, and started my new job on the following Monday. Most are not nearly as fortunate.

Sorry, I will get to the point.

Does anyone have experience training and working shift work? Do or did you find it harder to make progress? I had done it when I was much younger, and not the odd shifts I have to work now. 5am-1:30pm, 1pm-9:30pm, and 9pm-5:30am. My team rotates two weeks mornings, one week afternoons, and one week overnights.

I may still try to train immediately after work as per usual. On the overnight week probably just S&S as a backoff week. Any experience or insight would be greatly appreciated.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Geoff... Many, many years ago I worked 'graveyards' and trained right after work at about 0700. I was young and it worked well for me at the time. Granted, it wasn't variable as yours appears to be. I have always been a 'morning' person, and training at that time of day suits me, which I still do. All the best with your new situation, keep us posted...
 

MattM

SFG1
Certified Instructor
I worked overnights for a while. Not sure how you managed to train after work at 7am. My head hitting my pillow at 7:20 was the best feeling I've ever felt in my life.

Not sure what your commute is but getting out at 5:30 might not be too bad if you can get to bed before the sun totally comes up.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
On overnight and afternoon work weeks it will definitely be better to train after waking up. For me I guess it would be like I do on a day I do not work. I wake up have water, coffee, eggs, bread/bagel, and maybe meat. I walk the dogs, and sort out something around the house for about 60-90min. Then before I train I will have a piece of fruit, and make a coffee to drink while I warmup.
 

Snowman

Level 6 Valued Member
I work a mix of days and nights right now, 6 to 6 one way or the other. I've found that I get the best sleep if I train after work on day shifts (evening), and train before work on night shifts (afternoon). On days I don't work, I prefer to train around 9-11 AM. The biggest thing for me has been learning not to force training if my sleep has been poor. My best advice is to prioritize sleep. Black out your room (tinfoil works great, even though it looks sketch as hell) or get a sleep mask, use earplugs if you need them. You can use vitamin D and blue light to help you wake up, and melatonin and blue light blocking glasses to help you sleep, but plain ol' light and noise control seems to be the best thing. Be careful with the melatonin, try not to use it for more than a few days at a time. When changing cycles, make sure you account for the extra sleep each time you cycle forward.

Assuming your sleep is on point, it's just a matter of learning when your body is 'ready to go'. Like @MattM , there's no way I'm training after a night shift, even though normally training at 7 am would be fine. There's also no way I'm waking up at 3:45 to train in the morning when I have a day shift. You might lose a training session here or there, but it's not that hard to adapt training to an odd schedule.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I have overused melatonin in the past. Not understanding the doses and duration of use, and had difficulty getting off of it. Your body produces very small amounts of it. Now I take only half a low dosepill, only for a few days when I really need it.

Tin foil on the windows. My neighbors will think I am running a grow house. They are very widespread in suburban Calgary.
 

DavThew

Level 6 Valued Member
@Snowman has covered everything really well there I think. The only thing I would add is regulate caffeine to your purpose. Basically my rule is always stop 6 hours before I want to sleep on a night shift.
Also dependant on if this is allowed a 10-20 minute nap whilst on a night shift does great things for your decision making ability. It's actually reccomended by the British Medical Association for all night shift workers.
When I was doing loads of shifts it took me a while to realise that sleep had to be the main priority, as training was fruitless with chronic poor sleep.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
When deployed, work hours were very sporadic. I found it best to grab a quick set whenever the mood struck me. I think S&S or any GTG program fits well for odd schedules. Otherwise, I think your plan for alternating programs using S&S for a recovery week is spot on.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I rarely do quick workouts. Unless I have an hour and a half to two hours to train I don't. I don't like training to be rushed, cut short, or interrupted. I have a ritual I go through.

Maybe that is a mindset I need to change, but I have trained that way for my whole training life with safety and success.
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
I worked a lot of odd and long hours when younger, and I tended to stay on the over-adrenalinized side of things too much just to keep moving. I did best then with more intense but short workouts. The drop-off for overexertion was much steeper than with regular sleep and rest. I guess it was very small reserves in the bank.
 

coachnathanwhite

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
@Geoff Chafe My wife is a police officer and has worked all kinds of crazy shifts over the past several years. I never had to radically change her training program as long as she was on a certain shift for at least 45 days. Anything less than that she didn't have time to adapt so her training intensity had to be greatly reduced. My best advice would be to go with your instincts most days and don't get too hung up on "It's Monday and I have to do 300 swings or the world will stop spinning." As you know, the kettlebell is highly adaptable so be flexible and over the long haul you will have the necessary balance to maintain health and relative strength until your work schedule stabilizes.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
For a bunch of years I worked swing shift. "Normally" it was 1st shift 8-4, 2nd shift 4 to midnight. In practice the second shift could run as long as 16 hrs. On dedicated overtime we split 8-8.

I found without a doubt it was best to flip my entire schedule, not only for my sleep but exercise as well. So if I worked till 2am, I just went about like it was 6pm, but I'd already eaten dinner at work. Run the dog, hit the bag, lift some weights. Drink a beer or two and watch TV or read, go to bed at 7 or 8 am and up at 2pm.

I was in pretty good shape on this schedule - in good weather I'd ride my bike 6 miles each way, so coming home I'm riding 6, running two, hitting the bag for 15 minutes, and lifting dumbbells or jumping rope with a heavy jumprope for 30.

One ear plug and wrap a black T shirt around my head - I used to twist one like a bandana and pull it right down over my head as far as my nose.

No way around it this is not a healthy schedule for the system, but I was in a lot better shape than people who didn't flip and tried to go to sleep right out off work, get up early, do a bunch of chores or exercise and then go to work at the end of the day - you'd never do that on a daytime schedule.

Edit to add: Snowman makes a good point - if your sleep is terrible, do not train hard if at all. Especially important if your day to day is hard physical labor. That's one of the reasons I worked in loaded aerobics like the heavy jumprope or do double Kali stick drills with footwork for a few minutes. I'd train till I felt it good and then relax - if I was feeeling good, I'd hit the dumbbells - had a full set from 30s to 90s. Lack of sleep, out of whack digestive patterns can be a real problem on that shift. I remember it taking twice as long for cuts to heal or to get over colds and such. Heavy workouts can make it worse as your body will feel like its being overtrained with a lot less stress than on a day shift.
 
Last edited:

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
While working overnight shifts it is impossible to get any meaningful practice in. I have been sleeping a lot more than usual, drinking a lot of coffee, and my diet is all screwed up. I have only been walking my dogs, stretching, and keeping the house.

I have not done nights in over fifteen years, and I do not remember it being this hard. I am also finding my job very stressful.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
While working overnight shifts it is impossible to get any meaningful practice in. I have been sleeping a lot more than usual, drinking a lot of coffee, and my diet is all screwed up. I have only been walking my dogs, stretching, and keeping the house.

I have not done nights in over fifteen years, and I do not remember it being this hard. I am also finding my job very stressful.
Hang in there Geoff...
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
I've done some shift work some years, from 8-16 hours a day at 40-80 hours a week. Sometimes the hours were totally random, sometimes they went two mornings, two days, two nights.

I always felt the most beneficial to try and get the most of my sleep before work. I too tried melatonin, and it is a tricky substance. First I found it helped, soon after I found myself even more tired but still incapable of sleep when using it. In the end it just took some time for me to get accustomed to the irregularities. Luckily, I am a good sleeper. I've never had any problems with caffeine and used it religiously to try and stay awake when the hour of the wolf came.

I generally felt that the longer training was always done before work. Sometimes I did some extra gtg sets after work. An example could be: wake up at 10 , prepare food and have coffee, S&S training at 11, shower at 12, off to work at 13, then some extra clean & press sets at 23-03. Night shifts did make things a little bit harder, as I generally had to split sleep into two parts, one earlier, and one right before work.

Shift work made my eating really strange. I used to have a big meal right in the beginning of work, and the next big meal a couple of hours later, and then some random snacks for the rest of the awake period.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
While working overnight shifts it is impossible to get any meaningful practice in. I have been sleeping a lot more than usual, drinking a lot of coffee, and my diet is all screwed up. I have only been walking my dogs, stretching, and keeping the house.

I have not done nights in over fifteen years, and I do not remember it being this hard. I am also finding my job very stressful.


Second the "Hang Tough".

Shiftwork is not right for most people. It takes a lot to adjust, especially the digestion. Takes a lot of familiarity to be productive, a main reason I switched over to more aerobic-minded exercise. Jumping rope became my mainstay, it just too tough sometimes to get into heavy resistance and then it seems to take 2x as long for the body to recover. And then it often felt as if I was overtraining.

I did find doing swing shift that heavy resistance helped when it was time to reset my clock. The first few days back on days I'd hit it hard.
 

banzaiengr

Level 6 Valued Member
I've worked a varying schedule for over 37 yr and yes, it effects your training. Having said that, everyone has great suggestions here.

On your Friday (last day of work for the week) when you work nights, go home and sleep about 4 hours then get up, go train to allow yourself to get to sleep that night. Some elect to stay on their night schedule but if you have a family and/or friends with regular jobs you will find this tough. This would also be a good day to take off training.

Train on your Sat. and Sun. as you would on your days off or say after work if working days.

On your Monday get up early to allow for a nap before work and to get yourself back on the night schedule. This can also be a good day to train to allow for that sleep before going to work that night.

What worked for me when on straight nights was a two on/one off/two on/two off training schedule. I would take my Sun. and my Mon. off. Train on Tues./Wed., take my Thurs. off, train Fri./Sat. and the Sun. off for family and Mon. off to get ready for the week ahead. Most of the time these days weren't as listed, my Mon. was probably Tues. in reality.

All of the sleep tricks help when sleeping days, darkening shades and having your bedroom temp. cool. But, for me I have never slept as well during the day as at night. A prolonged night work schedule after three months started to wear on me.

It definitely changes your digestion too. Working nights were the worst. I'd get up and have a protein shake and then go to the gym. Have my largest meal after my workout. Then a light lunch at work and no caffeine after 5 hr. at work if working 8. If you eat before bedtime carbs help you sleep but I've always tried to not eat before bed. I've never used sleep aides other than a fan as background noise.

My schedule can also be all over the place. Some days nights and the next trip during the day. The worst is that most times I have no idea for sure when I'm going to work. I may think that I'm going to work the next morning so I have a good workout that day. Get home from the gym and now have to go to work. This can lead to me being up for about 24 hr. That sux and I hate being at work tired. My job isn't physical, but when I'm at work tired I rather be busting my butt than sitting on it.

I think the biggest issue isn't the training but recovering from your training when your schedule varies. A good tool can be to check your heart rate just as you wake. When it's higher that's a day to have a lighter workout. Some on here have used monitors and apps that measure heart rate variability to measure this and say that it works. I haven't but now that when I use a heart rate monitor for my training and that when I see higher heart rates than usual during training, the symptoms of overtraining are coming soon. As I said, it's most likely not overtraining but not recuperating.

Here's advice that a very smart man gave me. That is your job, so let's look at what we CAN change, things like nutrition. Good luck and if you have any questions or thoughts on this PM me, I would be interested in trading ideas or helping if I can.
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
I am still struggling to fit training in with shift work, and life. I have accepted my normal ways of training do not fit with my current life. I work odd shifts and long hours, my diet and nutrition is lacking, pregnant wife, two dogs(one of which has food issues we cannot get sorted), and more household and family duties. I am not complaining, I love my life, but life is changing and my training has to change with it.

I need flexible minimalist 3-5 day a week training like S&S or PTTP, maybe a combination of both. I have to make efficient use of the reduced time I have available to train, and recover.

This program was my introduction to kettlebells, and I really enjoyed it. I combined it with Olympic Weightlifting. I think I may give it a go as written.
The Program Maximum: Kettlebell Training for the Advanced Athlete
 
Status
Closed Thread. (Continue Discussion of This Topic by Starting a New Thread.)
Top Bottom