Training Regime for Night Owls
According to recent studies, work outside normal daytime hours contributes to increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other coronary diseases. This is very bad news for as many as 15 million Americans, over 3 million Britons and as many as 15% of Australian workers who are regularly pulling all-nighters. Add to it the widespread workweek extension trend, and what you get is tons of ab flab, multiplying health issues and deteriorating fitness for many a nighttime busy bee. But do you really have to choose between your fitness and sustenance? No: all you need is to adjust your training agenda and diet to non-traditional work hours.
Training schedule: The big when
Depending on your work schedule, you can choose between different workout slots.
- The best training time for night owls is immediately upon waking up. A quick workout will refresh you, boost your focus, and get your bodily functions on the right track.
- Exercising before work is another good option for as long as you do not drain yourself completely and nod off at your desk during work hours.
- A quick trip to the gym during the office break is a real gem for back shifters. Thanks to the growing number of fitness facilities open 24/7 such as Non Stop Fitness Gym, this workout agenda will produce much better results than unstructured or after-work exercises.
Short yet intense: Best workouts for non-9-to-5ers
Due to time limitations, night shifters will fare best on short yet intense trainings. Strength and weight exercises are optimal for morning and nighttime workouts as they burn tons of calories, promote weight loss, and keep concentration and hormones in check.
- Outside the gym, bodyweight and total-body exercises including push-ups, squats, ab roll-outs, pull-ups, and split squats will help build strong, lean muscles with no extra equipment required.
- In the gym, make sure you warm up well before deadlifts, overhead presses, weighted pull-ups, bench presses and other compound lifts. Exercising outside habitual daytime training hours entails a higher risk of injury, so warm-ups and cool-downs are in some cases even more important than the lifts themselves.
Fueling muscle growth: Foods for all-nighters
Fueling properly during overnight shifts is essential even without workouts in the agenda. With trainings in the mix, however, both solid meals and hydration need to be prepared with greater care.
- Making your own work nibbles does not require a lot of time or effort, and homemade meals are always more nutritious than takeout or vending machine snacks. For optimal gym and work performance, structure your meals around lean protein, complex carbs and vitamin salads.
- Take protein-rich drinks either as breakfast substitutes or after exercising to maximize muscle growth, and avoid empty liquid calories found in sodas, energy drinks and lattes.
- Black coffee and tea are a better source of caffeine to help you stay alert during an all-nighter. In case you are hankering after liquid food, make a smoothie or shake before work.
Recovery: Do not cut your sleep short
Sleep helps restore hormonal balance, heal muscle damage and allows the body to recover after an interval of intense physical strain. Do not cut your sleep shorter than 5-6 hours, especially if you are working night shifts: your brain will need extra rest to adjust to activity outside daytime hours. If you are experiencing problems falling asleep, try supplements such as ZMA, Valerian drops, Gamma-aminobutyric Acid, or kava kava to help you relax and relieve anxiety.
Other tips for fitness-driven night owls include incorporating light stretches and walking in the workday (or night). If you are pressed for training time during back shifts, try biking or walking to work, walking up the stairs instead taking the elevator, and performing dumbbell reps at your desk. Frequent movements signal to your brain that it needs to stay alert, so standing up and stretching now and again will help your mind and body stay fit and on the healthy track.
Remember: every bit of workout you cram into a busy work schedule counts – and you certainly can find half an hour a day to do your health a favor.