Training and 12 hour shifts

Hello all! Love the podcast and greatful for all that you do! Ive seen some serious progress since beginning the program and hope to continue! So, to my point…

I’m a nurse and I’m planning to switch from my current desk job and returning to the bedside. This will mean an unpredictable schedule along with 3 12 hour shifts a week. This will now give me 4 days rather than 5-6 for training. This could mean needing to do multiple difficult training days in a row or spending up to three days at a time off the bike (which could get tricky if scheduled prior to an event). Currently, I ride about 8-10 hours a week and I do body weight training 2-3 days a week. Bedside work can also be rather physically demanding and with my “rest days” needing to be scheduled on my work days I may not get true rest and recovery. I worry that compiling all that work into more condensed days, the increased fatigue from running around all day at work and the unavoidable inconsistency of the schedule may slow or stop my progress. Anyways, im looking for advice on how I can get the most from my training while working this type of schedule! Thanks again for all you guys do!

I’m a resident and from my experience, it’s not easy.

Acceptance that you have less time is probably most important. You can’t expect to do as many sessions as before.

Also allow yourself some flexibility: shorten a session (alternate workouts) when life doesn’t go as planned. Do an endurance ride instead of intensity when too fatigued.
Worst case abort after warmup or skip a session and show up fresher for the next workday or workout.

Prioritize quality food, hydration when on the job. Maximize sleep quality and quantity.

I can usually follow a low volume plan although that gets tricky at times. What is nice, AT adapts the plan when I have to skip sessions. The time crunch 30/45 minute plans have also been great and actually deliver some fitness!

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Assuming you don’t have a long commute (>30 min), you could aim to squeeze in a weight workout or a 60-75 min ride (indoor is easiest, wake up hop on the trainer and go) on one of your three working days. If there’s some flow to your schedule (ex. 3 on/4 off) I’d suggest doing this workout on the first or second work day. I find fatigue builds from long shifts as the week goes along and it’s best to get it out of the way when you are fresher. As for trying to do workouts after work, who knows maybe you are an exception, but myself and most of the people I know who work long shifts have much more success and consistency with before work. Starting a workout at ~14 hours into your day after you get up, go to work, come home and then have to train when all you really want to do is relax or sleep, is tough.

You mention that you are switching from a desk job to bedside and that’s a more physical job (and I assume on your feet more). Because just doing your job will add physical stress on your body, for the first two or three weeks when you make the switch, I’d account for this and ease off a little on your training or at the very least be careful watching how you feel and fatigue levels. Then once you are used to the pace and work you can assess from there.

I’m not sure how much experience you have working long shifts, but I find as much as possible, be selfish on the days you work. And by that I mean, outside of work, sleep is your number one priority. If you don’t get enough sleep you get worn down, it slows your muscles repairing themselves, etc. and that’s tough to come back from, not to mention the impact it has on your overall happiness and mental state. So as much as possible avoid making other commitments on working days minus the short training session I suggested you try and squeeze in. Do your grocery shopping, appointments, etc. on non-work days. Obviously life happens and there are family events and whatnot that we have to attend, but keep it to a minimum. Hopefully your family understands and doesn’t plan a bunch of things for your working days. If they don’t understand, make them, it’ll make your life easier.

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