FIFO – tips and tricks

Fly in – Fly out lifestyle

The Fly in Fly out lifestyle is not conducive to physical or indeed mental optimisation. This is due in part to the schedule itself, but also the nature of the work and the hours spent out on site. Let’s consider, as a simple example, a roster of two weeks on and two weeks off. It is generally safe to say that the day prior is already a right off as well as the final day, or in some cases the day after the two weeks. In effect, the two weeks has already blown out to sixteen days due to travel.

6am until 6pm sounds like a 12 hour day; but in reality….

Twelve-hour days are also the norm, however, that’s just to the uninitiated – anyone working a twelve-hour roster will tell you that at least an hour and a half pre-shift is dedicated to getting ready, eating and transport to site. Then the hour after the shift is equally as spoken for. A twelve-hour day is almost certainly a fourteen to sixteen-hour day, and maybe even longer depending on the distance from the workers camp to the worksite.

The rules to FIFO by..

So, how do you achieve physical optimisation, or preparation for the ADF when you are chained to a work schedule such as this. Well, like everything with discipline – it’s worth having some rules.


Be fully aware of what you’re shoving in your mouth!

One of the biggest issues you will face is the role that food plays in a FIFO lifestyle. In most cases the food is good and there’s lots of it. It’s good because food keeps the workforce happy. It’s abundant because the type of foods that the contracting companies supply is carbohydrate centric, meaning it’s cheaper than high protein, or health food alternatives. The good news is that fruit and vegetables also feature heavily in many work messes. The rule. During the time away, watch your diet – eat for performance specific to the role that you do. Don’t eat because you’re bored, but rather use it as a time to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Keep away from stews and curries and instead look at eggs and chicken and lean meats as the mainstay. Consider taking your own tins or pouches of tuna to supplement your diet and also consider a good ketogenic meal replacement for afternoon energy. During the time spent back home it will be vital to focus on recovery and that should also be when you let yourself have a cheat meal or two, this gives you a reason to stay the course while away. Consider using the app, My Fitness Pal to track what you’re consuming.


Do what you can with what you’ve got, when you can

The person who is lifting heavy or training for performance while undertaking two weeks of back to back twelve hour shifts is a beast. No doubt about it. They didn’t just start to do that either. That comes with consistent application and a slow adjustment to the volume of training while recovering on minimal sleep. I for one, couldn’t do this and I’m sceptical of those older guys that can and the results they are actually getting. If you’re not able to get more than six hours sleep, and optimally eight, then I wouldn’t be training for heavy or for performance or gains. The two weeks is better spent working on mobility and perhaps skill focus, maintenance workouts perhaps too. This is of course dependant on having a decent gym. No gym?, stretching, band work and body weight gymnastics might be a good solution. Consider using the app ROMWOD to help you reach your mobility goals while away.


There’s never a good time to study

It’s tough, there’s no two ways about it. The FIFO life might pay well, but there’s not many people who can sustain that type of lifestyle or work / life imbalance indefinitely. It pays to go into any job (not just FIFO work) with an exit plan. A strategy of where you want to go from here and what you need to do to get there. After all, it’s just a job. Remember, there’s never a perfect time to study, there’s never a good time to start a course or for self development. The rule – start something and then work out how to manage it. High School leaver certificate, University, a writing course or an online self improvement program. JUST START. It’s the same as going into the ADF, go into it thinking of the long term goal and make small steps to move onto the next thing.


FIFO work is great, if you go into it with a good mindset, value add to the organisation and seek to use the experience and the little down time that you have to seek self improvement. Like everything, go into it with an open mind (or change your perspective now if you’re already in it). Remember, always take a job with an exit strategy  – it might be four years time, ten or twenty years time – but have a plan – otherwise you end up a slave to the job.

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