I work a third shift job and I'm a day time dad. Due to this my sleep is sporadic at best. Most days it consists of two, two-ish hour power naps when my daughter sleeps. Saturday, Sunday and Monday are typically 'free-time' days which I usually use to play catch-up on sleep or errands.

My job keeps me relatively fit as I walk around 5-8 miles per day and consistently lift heavy objects all day, but I want to put on some muscle weight by hitting a gym for the 3 days of the week that are available to me.

I'm worried a gym membership would be a waste of money if I cant fully utilize it with my current schedule.

  • You could try body weight exercises. Try pull-ups, single handed push ups, scapular shrugs. A good resource would be "Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy" by Bret Contreras Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 20:06
  • You could use the time, which you can spare on gym, to get some more sleep! :-) I don't know for sure, but it seems it would improve your quality of life more than working out.
    – Enivid
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


In my honest opinion you're already doing a lot of strenuous work which can cause fatigue as it is. Being a Dad obviously can't be easy work either, people generally recommend 8+ hours of sleep a day to enable recovery for your muscles to grow and since you're already doing a lot of exercise and lacking the sleep I would probably say it would not be feasible for you to go to the gym but it also depends on the person. Some people need less time to recover.

However the gym is heavily diet dependant, so if you don't have the time to create a diet plan and follow it you may also be wasting your time depending on the results you're looking to get.

At the end of the day it's completely your choice but I hope this helps

  • I disagree. 8+ hours of sleep is too much. Sleeping for 8+ hours per night is similar to fasting and this is catabolic to muscle growth. A general recommendation is 6 to 8 hours of sleep, which, in this day and age, is quite realistic. People hardly get an 8-hour sleep daily, let alone sleeping for 8+ hours.
    – Zaitorious
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 13:35
  • The additional perspective most definitely helps, so thank you very much =) I've never been to a gym. I'm not fat, but I feel out of shape. My concern is whether or not there are legitimate "gains" to be had if I hit the gym for 3 consecutive days in a row with an imperfect recovery schedule for the following 4 days. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 21:06

I would try to rephrase your question as:

I have bad sleeping schedule, however I'd like to add some muscle mass, but feel like gym membership will be wasted money.

There is no way for us to know how your body will respond to training, you can only find out by trying. The fact that you "walk around 5-8 miles per day and consistently lift heavy objects" means nothing, as you have adapted to that stress. Your body will not change, if you keep doing same things.

It is also hard to judge how much sleep is enough. These medical doctors were productively training during med school and medical training. So it is possible to do weightlifting and have bad sleep schedule.

You need more stress to add muscle. That can be done via body-weight training, however heavy, compound exercises with barbells will be more efficient (results per time spent). It is hard to do that outside of commercial gyms. You might have luck finding some friends with home gym, you'll have to ask around.

I would suggest you think about training as getting biggest bang for the buck. And "buck" in that case is your time rather than money. Try getting a 3-month gym membership, pick some simple novice program (Starting Strength or even 5x5) and try sticking to it. Remember to eat above maintenance calories with 1g of protein/lbs of weight, track your weight and waist (if you want to lose/gain weight), see if that's for you.

  • I appreciate the feedback. My sleep schedule leaves a lot to be desired. I work full time from 10pm until 7am, Sunday - Tuesday, and then Thursday-Friday. When I get home, my significant other is leaving for work and my toddler is waking up. Between the time I get home and the time I leave for work I get about 2 power naps in. One at around noon - 3, and another from 6 until 9. The numbers aren't static.Some days I get 5 hours of nap time, and others maybe 2. Saturday through Monday my SO is off of work so it's free time for the most part. Commented Jun 17, 2018 at 21:05

As @CuriousIndeed mentioned, bodyweight exercises might be what you're looking for. Sleep is extremely important and I would recommend you get those power naps in. Spend those free time periods napping. Make sure your diet is on point and start incorporating those body weight routines while taking care of your daughter. She's lying in the crib, pop out a couple sets of push ups or burpees. Get a pull up bar on the door and do a couple of those. Crunches, hand stand raises, pistol squats, supermans etc.

All of these things you can do while looking after your daughter along with keeping a good diet. It's a perspective thing with your current active job and an infant to take care of, you have to make sacrifices but that doesn't mean you have to give up building muscle entirely.

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