Workout Schedule For Night Shift Workers: When, How, And More

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If you are reading this, then you know how hard it is to find time to do what you love: working out. As someone who has experienced this frustration, here are some ideas that can help you with your workout schedule for the night shift. Workout plan included as well. Read on!

workout schedule for night shift workers

What Is The Best Workout Schedule For Night Shift Workers?

Well, to be honest, there is no right answer here.

In short, the best workout schedule for night shift workers is the one that you can stick with.

Basically, you will need to experiment with different times and see which one works better for you.

There are two potential ways you can fit your workout schedule with your night shifts:

  • Before your shift
  • After your shift

Working out before your shift means getting strict about your sleep schedule, which you should be anyways, waking up a bit earlier, working out, re-fueling, and hitting the road.

Working out after your shift means once again, getting a good night’s sleep, doing your night shift, eating well on your last break before you’re done, then hitting the gym or home gym and getting it done.

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workout schedule for night shiftwoman looking at her watch in fit clothes

Best Time To Workout For Night Shift Workers

As someone who works the evening shift, that is 3 pm to 12 am, I have tested both methods and this is what I have discovered:

Working out before your night shift

  • Waking up earlier requires a lot more willpower and discipline. I definitely had to push myself a lot harder to get out of bed!
  • I am one of those people that aren’t hungry upon waking up. As a result, my heavy lift days would sometimes be really drowsy and just not the best quality.
  • You might have to invest in some form of pre-workout, especially if you don’t drink coffee. Personally, I needed a pre-workout every morning!
  • If you have to drive to get to your gym, if you workout at a gym, and you haven’t gotten very much sleep, things can get dangerous.

Working out after your night shift

  • I always feel a lot more energized after my evening shift, surprisingly. Being on the go for 8 hours has me feeling energized and my adrenaline is at an all-time high!
  • You can eat a good meal, that is carbs, protein, fats, etc, on your last break, let’s say 2-3 hours before your shift ends. At the end of your shift, if you are feeling hungry, you can gobble a protein bar and get your workout in!
  • You don’t have to stress about waking up early or rushing your workout so you can go home and get ready for work.
  • Food in your belly will have a huge impact on the quality of your workouts!

What To Eat On Night Shift To Lose Weight

Your meal plan plays a major role in your fitness goals.

Your eating times might be slightly chaotic because of the bizarre hours and break times.

However, you can do anything you set your mind to. Never blame your shift hours for making poor choices!

With that being said, here are some snacks you should avoid while on the night shift:

Snacks To Avoid While On Night Shift

  • chips
  • chocolate bars
  • empty liquids (this one’s a hard one, I know!) such as Redbull, sodas, etc
  • candy
  • basically anything from the vending machine!

Snacks You Can Eat While On Night Shift

  • focus on whole-wheat snacks such as crackers (more fiber, more nutrients, sustained energy)
  • nuts
  • fruit
  • smoothies
  • protein bars
  • anything homemade!

Just check out the infographic below for reference!

Workout Plan Ideas – Workout Schedule For Night Shift

Workout Plan Before Or After Your Night Shift

Assuming you are crunched on time, you should put a focus on weight lifting and walking.

3-Day Full-Body Split (with a greater focus on compound lifts that work your entire body)

Monday

  • Deadlift
  • Pullups
  • Incline Bench Press
  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Bicep Curls
  • Tricep Extensions

Tuesday

  • Walk/Jog/Bicycle/Stay active at work

Wednesday

  • Squats
  • Overhead Press
  • Diamond Pushups
  • Reverse Flys
  • Lat Pulldowns
  • Calf Raises
  • Cable Crunches

Thursday

  • Walk/Jog/Bicycle/Active At Work

Friday

  • Bench Press
  • Barbell Rows
  • Sumo Deadlifts
  • Skullcrushers
  • Preacher Curls
  • Planks

On your weekend, train whichever body part you enjoy and have immediate goals on growing.

If you train from home you can easily perform these exercises with dumbbells and resistance bands!

Staying Active During Your Night Shift

Depending on what type of job you have, staying active during your night shift can add major benefits to your fitness goals.

For example, set an alarm on your phone that goes off every 15-20 minutes.

Every time it goes off, you have to do 20 squats or 20 push-ups.

If you do this four times in the span of one hour, that’s roughly 60 squats/push-ups!

Now, if you do this every hour, and work for 8 hours, well, you’ve got yourself a workout right there!

Here are some more ideas on how to fit your workout schedule into your night shift:

  • Are there stairs at your workplace? Every 15 minutes go up and down the stairs 10 times. That’s 5 up, 5 down.
  • Add an alarm every 15-20 minutes and perform a bodyweight exercise. (Ex. squats, push-ups, lunges and lunge variations, tricep dips, etc.)
  • If you have a stocking job, well, chances are you will get a good workout in! However, there are some things you can do to intensify the workout. Squat down to pick up the items that need to be stocked, breathe properly, and use correct form. Leave your stocking pallets slightly farther away so you can walk or lightly jog to get to them. (I have personally tried this!)
  • Whenever there is an opportunity for a coffee run, volunteer. If the coffee shop is near, skip driving and just walk.
  • Try fitting in a quick jump rope sesh! You won’t even need too long of a session. (Burner workout!)

How Do You Stay Fit During Night Shifts? [Tips]

Workout schedule for night shift workers extra tips:

  • Plan your day. Know what you will eat, when to train as well as how. Remember, consistency is the number one factor for success. Always have a plan in place, and prioritize your fitness goals.
  • Never use your job as an excuse. “If there is a will, there is a way.” This pretty much sums it up. You are the creator of your life. Never let any obligations and life responsibilities get in the way of your goals and aspirations!
  • Start small, grow big. Be patient and take it one day at a time. Don’t try to do it all in one week. You will most likely be overwhelmed! Add a couple of workouts/week, then try staying active during your shift. Eventually, it will become second nature to you!
  • Find a workout partner! You will be surprised at how many people are doing the same thing you are trying to do while on a night shift. Ask your friend if they would like to do a quick workout with you on break, or walk to the coffee shop instead of driving. If you are really lucky and you have a friend with the same shift as you, go for a morning run before your shifts!
  • Home workouts can be just as brutal as gym workouts. No, you don’t need a gym membership to get fit. All you need is willpower and a bottle of water! HIIT workouts can make you sweat more in 20 minutes than a 1-hour gym sesh! Invest in some good resistance training equipment such as dumbbells and resistance bands and you can pretty much perform gym lifts at home.

Final Thoughts

Trying to come up with a workout schedule as a night shift worker can be very challenging.

Traditional workout patterns don’t work with bizarre overnight shifts and you need to get creative.

Experiment with working out before and after your shift and see which one makes you feel better and more importantly, which one will make you stick to it.

There are ways to stay active during your shift like walking, doing coffee runs, performing a bodyweight exercise every 15 minutes, jump rope, going for a run on your break, etc.

Always plan ahead. Never rely on vending machine treats and salty snacks. Those are quick fixes that will most likely hinder your will and workout performance.

Above all, remember to put yourself and your goals first. Make your fitness and wellbeing a priority and never lose sight of your aspirations. Choose you!

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