Workout Tips

Find the Right Path for Staying Fit in College

Navigating your way to optimal health and physical performance can be best achieved by following some simple guidelines.

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Find the Right Path for Staying Fit in College

Classes, relationships, and parties. The three words that typically define your average person's college life. The same holds true even for those of us who have chosen to go down the fitness lifestyle at this age, although we also have the gym and our health to think about. The struggle is definitely real. There is hope though for those of us who tend to prioritize the gym over everything else. I just began taking classes at the University of Nevada, Reno and sticking with this lifestyle is actually much easier than I could've imagined. The key is to choose the right places to eat, construct the right program to fit in with your schedule, and  find people to with which to train.

The one thing that I was most worried about before coming to college was the nutrition aspect, mainly because I've chosen to adhere to the vegan diet and lifestyle. I was afraid that the stores and cafes wouldn't have options for someone like me, though my fears were put to rest after the first few days. I was lucky that my college had a buffet-style place known as the Downunder Cafe. Besides my time spent in class and in the gym during the week, the rest of my time has been spent at the cafe. I can typically only afford to go there 1 to 2 times a day, so you can bet I make the most of it.

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It isn't uncommon for me to pull a 2 to 3 hour eating session while I'm there. For some people that might seem crazy, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to meet my caloric needs. You might think that being vegan limits my options, but that's hardly the case. All of the food options there are kindly labeled vegan, vegetarian, or gluten free. My meals typically consist of rice, beans, and a helluva lot of green vegetables and fruit. I'm able to meet my caloric needs without sacrificing my health. They have a salad bar, a sandwich bar, and even vegan burgers. If you're not vegan then your job becomes much easier. Just stick to your whole foods and complex carbs, good fats, and lean meats.

Post-workout nutrition is somewhat of an issue if you're as strapped for cash as I am at the moment. If I can afford it, I'll typically purchase a calorie dense naked juice and down it post workout. If I can't afford it, I just do without. Having something that digests quickly is crucial post workout, but getting in your whole foods in is even more important. Of course there's always the cheaper option of just buying powder in bulk and using what you need. Suffice it to say, nutrition was something that I was really worried about before, but now only two weeks in I'm fully confident that I can make it work.

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The second aspect is of course, the training. Before I left for school I would typically follow a 6 day a week training routine. Now that I'm in school I train with less volume but I train more frequently. The first week I followed a push-pull 4 day a week routine that worked out really well. This past week I trained only 3 days a week but I trained my entire body. Training everything 3 times a week maximizes the amount of time my body is in the process of MPS (muscle protein synthesis) for someone like me who's natural. I have always and continue to stick to my heavy compound lifts: the squat, bench, deadlift, barbell row, and overhead press. I typically do 5*5 for these lifts and do accessory work in higher rep ranges following these lifts.

I always say that with whatever fitness goals you have, the barbell and compound lifts will always be your best friend. They stimulate the most growth and hormone production. But with whatever program you choose, it's important to find a program that you can stick to consistently while still staying on top of your classes and having a social life.

The third aspect of the college-fitness life that I wasn't expecting was having friends to train with. Before I left I always trained by myself so I got used to motivating myself in the gym. But having friends to get in your face and push you to compete and lift heavier makes all the difference, so I recommend making some friends in the gym. When you have friends you push each other to get better and better.
Being and college and living the fitness lifestyle is much easier than I could've imagined, especially whIle being vegan. With everything in life, it's important to find a balance between work, school, friends, and lifting.

Alexander Abecassis is a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno and majors in sociology.

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