Training and Nutrition for Shift Workers (By Mark Harrison)

I’m hearing more and more from people working long and unsociable hours as part of their job. This ranges from people who work long hours (12hours plus), to people who work through the night or are on call.

Common complaints that I hear are:
- Lack of Motivation
- Feelings of Lethargy
- Lack of Training Time
- Poor Diet Routine

Now, I understand that my suggestions may not be suitable for everyone’s situation, but I have tried to be quite broad with what options you have, by giving easy hints and tips, to help you improve your results whilst working at these times.


The most important thing you can do is get a strict routine in place. Many shift workers know their upcoming patterns so planning is of key importance. Set an allotted amount of time each day to the things you need to do to bring about the results you want. E.g. 90minutes training and 60minutes of food prep. Just by allotting a specific time to these tasks, you will feel more inclined to get out and do them.


By preparing in advance, you really can take the stress out of your training and diet. By setting time aside for food prep, you can get meals ready for the next three days, using storage boxes etc. I personally tend to cook a number of chicken breasts together along wit a big pan of rice and assorted greens. I then divide this up into however many meals I need. Know when you will be eating (breaks for example), and plan your meals with that in mind. Prepare your sessions too. This way you know what you’re going to be doing at the gym, so missing it will implicate your overall training.

Learn Your Body

This one may sound strange, but it is important to get to know your own body. Work out when your body likes to train. With long hours and night shift work, your body is going to be fatigued, so it is best to work out what works best for your body. This may be going to the gym before sleeping after the night shift, or it may be to train just before you start your shift for example.

Get a Training Partner

Find someone who is willing to train at the same time as you. You will help motivate each other when you’re not feeling up to it. You will spur each other on, spot each other and generally get each other through the more difficult sessions (especially towards the end of the working week)!


Diet is still the most important thing for your goals. If you want to cut fat or build muscle or improve endurance, your diet is what is going to help you the most. This is both good and bad, as it means that it’s not the end of the world should you miss a training session, but it also means you have to be willing to prepare your food.


I understand that having plenty of meals is sometimes unattainable in some busy work environments, so this is were supplements can come into their own.  Dependent upon your goals, you will use different products, but a shake that has a good Carbohydrate source alongside some high quality Protein can really help keep you going through your shift. This will have a knock-on effect for the time after your shift meaning you can make more of the time you aren’t working. By keeping your Kcals up through your shift, with good ingredients, you will not only have more energy, but also feel better mentally for the proceeding hours. You may also want to include multi-vitamins to help your body’s immune system and ZMA to help you sleep in a more settled and restful state.

Products I’d Suggest

PhD Synergy Iso 7                            RRP: £62.99         Monster Price: £37.95

Millennium Sports Tech ZMK      RRP: £24.99         Monster Price: £20.79

Universal Animal Pak                      RRP: £54.99         Monster Price: £31.99

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