Workout Tips

Making the Fit Choice as a College Student

Tips on training and dieting for the college lifestyle.

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Making the Fit Choice as a College Student

College is filled with choices. What classes to take, who to spend time with, and most importantly, what do I spend my time doing? Many students crawl out of bed only to barely make it to their 8:00am, then attempt to make it through the day via coffee or energy drinks. From there they may stay up into the late hours of the night playing video games, or maybe hanging out at the local bars or frat houses.

However, you value your time more than that. You have made the choice to live an active lifestyle and be a physically fit individual. This means you will have to give up some aspects of the college life in order to progress towards your fitness goals. This is not to say you will not be able to enjoy your college experience; however, you may have to choose between the six-pack of abs or the six-pack of beer. This is where effective and efficient time management come into play. As a senior in college, about to graduate, I have learned how to efficaciously manage my time.

Taking over twenty hours each semester, being an NCAA athlete, and working as a personal trainer, I have learned how to manage my time so that I am able to maintain a high GPA, stay physically fit, and still be able to have downtime with my girlfriend, family, and friends. I have learned that if strive to put what I need to do before what I want to do, I am able to cut any wasted time out of my day.

Tip 1: Plan Everything.

As by now you have heard in order to get stronger, look better, or make progress in the gym, you have to train hard, eat the right foods, and know how to recover. Therefore, you should plan out each day accordingly. If you have classes from 8:00 am-4:00 pm, and maybe you want to hang out with friends that night or study, then perhaps you should wake up earlier that morning to fit your training in. Try to plan out meals around your classes, or take something healthy on the go. I have found it easiest to be the first person at my gym in the morning. I am able to finish each training session before most students get out of bed. This may not sound enticing to most; however, it ensures that I am able to train, and avoid allowing it to interfere with my school work or relationships. It has also helped me to keep a notepad detailing all of the tasks I need to accomplish. This helps me to plan out each and every day to most efficiently utilize my time not only in the gym, but with the rest of my college life.  

Tip 2: Train with Intensity and a Purpose.

If you really want to achieve your goals, you have to make the conscious decision to prioritize your training. So great, you've made it to the gym, now what to you do? Too many times people spend their precious gym time standing around either texting, fiddling with their music, or worst of all, taking selfies of themselves not working out. This is where you are different! Train with a purpose! If your goal is strength, rip your deadlifts off the floor like your life depends on it! If you are trying to build your back, squeeze as hard as you can at the top of that last pull up. You do not have to spend hours upon hours in the gym. Know your goal, get the right mindset, and train with an intensity that is far and above that of your peers. Cut down rest time, focus on form, implement techniques to keep your body guessing, and most importantly, always be willing and eager to learn and better yourself. Plus, a boost in intensity will help mitigate any damage from that extra bag of chips you ate the night before. Also, have fun! After all, you are doing something that most people are not willing to do. Train like an animal, and enjoy your progress and results. 

Tip 3: Learn How to Eat.

If you are reading this site, you probably know by now that you have to eat the right foods in order to obtain results. With that being said, this is often times difficult on a college campus. Normally that pizza or burger is quicker and convenient to grab between classes, and let's be honest, it probably looks more appetizing then the chicken and broccoli. This is where planning ahead comes into play. Give yourself enough time to eat the right foods. Most cafeterias have healthy options, or at least healthier options. This may mean that you eat chicken instead of the pizza, or maybe you bring a snack when you and your friends get fast food for the third night in a row. You do not always have to keep a perfectly strict diet, but make the day-to-day decisions to eat what will best accommodate your fitness goals.  

Staying fit or becoming fit in college is not an easy goal to achieve. With all of the extra obligations, temptations, and stress, it is easy to stray away from what you are trying to accomplish. However, if you learn to manage your time wisely, I promise that it is achievable. Use your time to most efficiently meet your goals, train harder than anyone else, and make the right food choices, and your efforts will be rewarded.  

Below is a sample full body workout designed for a student in a crunch for time.

Perform exercises with corresponding letters as a superset or circuit.  Pay attention to rest times, as the objective is to accomplish an intense workout in a short amount of time.  Remember, intensity is key.  No matter how busy you may be, learn how to dedicate a focused highly intense 45-60 minutes to your training.  

5 Sets: 60 sec. Rest after superset 

A1) Squat x 8-12 

A2) Pullups x max 

5 Sets: 60 sec. Rest 

B1) Bench press (dumbbells or barbell) x 8-12 

B2) Straight Leg or Romanian Deadlift x 8 

4 Sets: 

C1) Single Arm Dumbbell Row x 10 each arm 

C2) Lunge x 10 each leg 

5 Rounds: Little to no rest 

D1) Pushup x 20 

D2) Goblet Squat x 20 

D3) Pullups x 10 

D4) Jump Rope x 1 min 

Quick Cardio Options: 

- Sprint 20 seconds at max intensity at the top of every minute for 12-15 minutes.

- Jump rope or row at max intensity for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds.  

- Use body weight exercises or psychometrics in circuit fashion.

- Cut down overall rest time in between sets. This will not only result in better cardiovascular health, but more work volume each day in the gym. 

Jason McCoy is a Senior at North Greenville University in South Carolina majoring in Business and Economics. He is a personal trainer while in college and also played college baseball.

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