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Starting Full-Time Manual Labor Job

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  • Starting Full-Time Manual Labor Job

    Hello Dr. Jordan Feigenbaum and/or Dr. Austin Baraki,

    I am starting a job that entails doing maintenance, moving objects, and more for 8 hours a day 5 days a week. Obviously going from sedentary outside of lifting to on my feet 8 hours a day doing tasks will affect my recovery. I am not sure if I can keep doing my program as it is, because now in addition to not getting ideal sleep, I will also be pre-exhausted from work. Right now I am doing a HLM program. The past 2 weeks I have failed on my 1x5 DL (before starting the job). Today is 1x5 DL day, and I just finished 8-hours of manual labor, so it is likely that I will be too exhausted to get the reps. How should I change my program to better workaround my job?

    Also, I am wondering how to convert from straps back to strapless DL. Last week I tried strapless for the first time in like 1+ months and got 3 reps, with the 4th failed due to grip. How can I catch my grip back up?

    Thanks a bunch,

  • #2
    It may take some time to adapt to the higher workloads, but this sounds like the sort of situation where using some form of autoregulation (i.e., RPE) would be most useful.

    I would also caution you to pay attention to your expectations here, as saying things like "it is likely that I will be too exhausted to get the reps" may not actually be true.

    Regarding your grip: you will need to find a weight where you can hold on to the bar, and work up from there. Not complicated.

    I'll bump this down to the training forum to see if others can chime in with their experience related to the job situation.

    IG / YT


    • ColoradoMinesCole
      ColoradoMinesCole commented
      Editing a comment
      Actually got all 5 reps with 285 lbs (5 lbs more than what I was supposed to do) because of a counting mistake.... crazy. Also, I am thinking of switching to hookgrip, but even on my last warm-up set of 2, I could barely get myself to lift the weight due to the pressure on my thumb. Should I just use it on my warm-up reps, and then progress to using it on increasing amounts of working set reps (i.e. 1 rep out of 5 being hookgrip, then next time, 2 reps out of 5 being hookgrip, etc)? Thanks for your help.

  • #3
    Hey there. I'm actually in a similar situation as you so I'll share my experience.

    I worked a desk job for the past 3 years and was sedentary outside of my training. Nine weeks ago I started a new job where I stand, walk, crouch, bend, lift, etc. for 8 hours a day. To my pleasant surprise, it hasn't impacted my training nearly as much as I thought it would. I've dealt with a bit more general aches, pains and fatigue due to the nature of the job and adding 40 hours of physical activity to my week, but it's nothing I haven't been able to train through. In fact, my bench and press had essentially no decrease in performance at all. Deadlift and Squat had some decrease in e1rm for the first few weeks, but they're pretty much back to where they were now. I did start having to consume a lot more calories to compensate for the added activity and recovery demands.

    My advice is to not overthink it too much, maintain a positive attitude towards your training, auto-regulate your intensity by using RPE, and don't panic if your strength drops for a bit. It's only temporary, you'll adapt, and you'll be able to continue making gains. Remember that a few week adjustment period is negligible in the long run!


    • #4
      Last summer I worked a manual labor construction job for 60 hr weeks. I was still able to make progress on my lifts, simply ate, got as much sleep as possible, and used autoregulation on my training. While it is far from ideal, what are you gonna do, not train?


      • #5
        I've been swinging a hammer for the last 13 years while weightlifting and I'm 34 now. Granted for many of those years I wasn't running a well designed program that we all have access to today, but we still got our asses in the gym. Suck it up, hang in there. Your body will adjust and it'll make you stronger. Working construction and other physically demanding jobs will make you stronger and mentally tougher. Stop telling yourself ,"you're exhausted". You got this, grab some food and get back at it.


        • #6
          My business means roughly a 50/50 split of desk work to manual labor. Climbing all over / unloading trucks, lifting beams. I like to think in terms of labor being SSC.
          I actually I feel more taxed and sluggish after long days of office drudgery and talking to customers than getting out and about. If your not already, use RPE. Thats what its all about.

          I found timed barbell holds out of the rack, or easier still, from a chinning bar a few times per week at the end of a session helpful regarding grip. Remember to brace hard and squeeze the shit out of the bar also.


        • #7
          Im a Cole and I also live Colorado. Funny. anyway, I've always worked outside with my body in the sun and it's the same as anything: you adapt to it. So for me, a day outside doesn't pose any more obstacles regarding training than a day at the desk for a computer nerd.


          • #8
            It would help if you had time to get used to this lifestyle, and then you would perform your program correctly. I used to work in an office and always sat at the computer and did the most ordinary work. Then, I saw an ad for recruitment to the fire academy, and I realized that I could become a firefighter WA and change my lifestyle. I was accepted, and for about six months, I got used to heavy loads. But now, it has become much easier for me, because finally my body got used to this kind of load, and now everything is fine. And I can even say that I began to feel much better, I made friends, in short, I started a new life. Therefore, you can do whatever you want, just give your body time.
            Last edited by anitatukci; 10-04-2021, 10:21 AM.