Guy doing a plank with puppy on back

3 Fitness Routines Every Shift Worker Needs to Know

If you’re a shift worker, you already know how tricky it can be to fit exercise into your ever-changing schedule. But guess what? Your health can’t afford to take a backseat, no matter how irregular your hours are. So, I’ve got your back! Here are three adaptable fitness routines designed specifically for you—the unsung heroes of the 24-hour clock.

Start off with a 5-minute warm-up of your choice—jogging in place, dynamic stretches, or a quick dance to your favorite tune—anything to get that heart rate up.

Each exercise should be done for 15-30 seconds (depending on fitness level), and then at the end of the routine, rest for 1 minute and complete it again. The circuit can be 2-4 times. Cool down with some light stretching or a brief walk.

  • Squat jumps: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and perform a squat, then jump explosively as you reach for the ceiling. Land softly and go back into the squat position.
  • Plank: Elbows directly below your shoulders, engage your core and maintain a straight line from head to heels.
  • Air boxing: Stand with feet hip-width apart, bring your fists to your face, and throw quick jabs into the air, fully extending your arms.
  • Wall sit: Sit against a wall as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Keep your back flat against the wall.
  • Mountain climbers: Start in a plank position and draw your right knee into your chest, then switch and draw the left knee into your chest, similar to running in a plank position.

The Flexible Strength Training Regimen

Begin with a warm-up—5 minutes of light aerobic exercise like jogging in place or jumping jacks.

  • 10-15 push-ups: Keep your body in a straight line as you lower down and push back up.
  • 10-15 bodyweight squats: Stand with feet hip-width apart, squat down as low as you can, and stand back up.
  • 10-15 lunges on each leg: Step forward into a lunge, making sure your knee doesn’t go past your toes, then step back and switch legs.
  • 10-15 tricep dips: Use a sturdy chair or a low table, lower your body down by bending your elbows, then push back up.
  • 20-30-second plank: You know the drill; engage that core!

Do these exercises in a circuit, resting 1 minute between each circuit. Aim for 2-4 circuits.

  • Child’s Pose: Start on your hands and knees. Sit back onto your heels, stretch your arms out in front, and lower your chest towards the ground.
  • Cat-Cow: On all fours, arch your back while inhaling (Cat), then dip it down while exhaling (Cow).
  • Downward Dog: From all fours, tuck your toes and lift your hips towards the ceiling, creating an inverted “V” with your body.
  • Forward Bend with Twist: Stand tall, fold forward at the hips, then reach your right hand to touch your left foot and vice versa, twisting your torso.
  • Pigeon Pose: From Downward Dog, bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist, then stretch out your left leg behind you. Hold and then switch sides.
  • Reclining Twist: Lay on your back, bring your knees into your chest, then let them fall over to one side as you extend your arms out, twisting your spine.
  • Legs on the Wall: Finish off by laying on your back with your legs up against a wall for 3-5 minutes.

This routine is excellent for winding down and preparing your body for restorative sleep, especially after a demanding shift.

Now, you’ve got three detailed routines you can rotate through to keep things fresh and committed. And remember, a consistent, adaptable routine is your best friend when juggling shift work and fitness.

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