Workout Tips

6 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your College Fitness Experience

Want to get the most out of your gym time? Here's how.

by
Power Clean

It’s finally here: you’re a freshman in college and the freedom you now have has never been so sweet. You have big plans for the year and [think] you know exactly how to achieve them.

But, you’ll soon find out that nothing ever goes exactly as planned. Maybe that chemistry class is filling up your time at the tutoring center, or maybe there’s some cutie in one of your classes who you started spending a lot of time with, or you’re a lot more homesick than you thought you would be.

Here’s a list of tips from my own and several of my fellow powerlifters/bodybuilders’ experiences that will allow you to best use the provided facilities and making your fitness goals a priority:

Boost Strength - Training Partners

1) Be friendly with the staff   

I cannot stress how friendly and helpful the campus based staff can be your first few weeks there. I’m sure you realized that the gym is full right around when classes are done (typically around 2-3 PM at my university). It may be great to have everyone admiring your dedication and hard work, but the twenty-minute wait for the equipment you need is to the point of wasting your time. 

Talk to the staff; ask them when the gym is generally empty, when the people with similar goals as you are there, or even inquire about a powerlifting/bodybuilding club. The staff more than likely are upper classmen who are more than happy to help you, and you may just find a great lifting partner while you’re at it.

Workout Calendar

2) Have a plan for your whole week

This tip is mostly for those who might be new to the fitness lifestyle. Don’t have the “just wing it” attitude with a workout, and don’t just have a broad idea of arm day, or leg day. Make it precise and track your progress and growth! When you have your routine you will work through it faster, giving your muscles more fatigue which leads to more growth. (Another perk of the staff if you are new to weightlifting is there will be personal trainers provided on campus.)

As an example:

Wednesday= Leg Day(1 of 2 in a 6 day program.)

Squats- five sets of 10 reps.

Leg curl- five sets of 10 reps

Calf-raises- four sets of 15 reps. Etc.

healthy food groceries fruits vegetables

3) Diet is key

It will be really easy to go and eat at the fast food joints that fill the campus. It’s really hard to eat healthy while at college, but not impossible. Like your workouts, your diet just needs dedication. None of us want all the hard work we put into those washboard abs to be wasted! My advice would be to stock your fridge in your dorm room with as many fruits and vegetables as possible. 

Campuses across the nation seem to lack these, especially vegetables so make sure you have your own stash to fulfill the half meat and grains and half fruit and vegie recommendation. If you can I would suggest having some chicken breast or steaks. The dining halls cannot beat your own healthy meals, and if you do it right stocking your own fridge is actually cheaper than the $10 burger at the campus market. 

Don’t beat yourself up though if you do take an occasional cheat day, my rule is two meals a week can be cheats (preferably on high intensity days). That way you can still go and socialize with people when they ask you to join them… and if you don’t want to cheat just pack a meal to go for yourself and still go socialize! 

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4) Find a good lifting partner.

This tip isn’t a must; I spent the whole first semester of my freshman year lifting solo, and some people prefer that. However, when you find the right partner and the two of you go through a workout, you feed on each other’s energy. You see this other person pushing their body to its limit and you will naturally follow. You will want to look for someone that will push you to your limit and wants you to succeed. A great example of this is Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu.

5) Early morning lifts

This one is where I lose most people. My campus’ weight room opens at 5am Mon-Fri and then the weekends are 8am. No one wants to get up at 4:45 to lift at 5am, but once you start and get adapted it is a great way to start the day. The gym is nearly empty except for myself and my partner/s and we get a great workout in with minimal breaks or disruptions. Lifting as early as we did leads to finding the truly dedicated people, of both genders. 

The energy you get off of them keeps you coming back, and this leads to more and more individual growth. Then we go and eat breakfast at 7am, and by this time we are wide awake for our classes later in the day. Also lifting in the morning frees up your afternoons tremendously. Now you can attend that tutoring group for Chemistry, or take that cutie from your class out without having to skip anything. So you are prioritizing the two most important things while you are at school: Education and Fitness. 

6)    Don’t skip leg day.

Self explanatory.  Be proportional. 

Ryan Sailors is a freshman at South Dakota State University and is studying athletic training with a pre-physical therapy emphasis.

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