Between having higher testosterone than you ever will for the rest of your life and the all-you-can-eat campus cafeteria, college truly is an all-you-can-gain buffet. With that said, here’s how to pack on slabs of muscle while taking full advantage of the opportunities that college presents. 


It’s pretty well known that college is both widely advertised and renowned for drinking. Getting in shape doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself and take part in social activities while you do it. Dom Mazetti, the star of the YouTube sensation known as BroScience says: “What’s the point to lifting weights if you can’t get drunk and take your shirt off?” Really let that sink in for a second. In life, all things in excess are bad. Eating, working out, sleeping, studying, and dating for example. If you do too much of anything, there is some form of disease or a deleterious side-effect waiting for you. It’s foolish to say that you won’t gain any muscle when alcohol is included in your diet, yet drinking four nights a week won’t lead you hitting any of your gym goals. Making your gains will simply be a slower progress compared to those who don’t overindulge. Drinking in such an excess will likely cause your grades to drop, and will impede on crucial gym time.

I have a very dear friend who is an army ranger with bigger arms than I could ever attain. He could two miles in ten minutes. While in college he was president of his fraternity and would wake up from a night of partying and broke every record the ROTC program had. This worked for him because he did not let alcohol affect his intensity. This guy works out every day harder than anyone, regardless of how bad he feels because of his hang over. I want this story to come across as that you can enjoy alcohol (in moderation) and become stronger. My friend, who I was describing, would run eight miles in combat boots with a 60-pound ruck mid-day during the summers. If that isn’t your level of intensity, I would be very mindful of alcohol’s effects on your life and progress in the gym. 

Personally, I drink once in a while, and do enjoy beer and wine. I enjoy going out, but alcohol isn’t needed as a form of a social lubricant. I can have a great time with or without alcohol, and that’s because I’ve become a well-rounded person. Having a scotch on the rocks with a friend can be great, and partying is a blast, but just remember to find a balance between everything. 

Man Lifting Barbell

Consistency Is Key

How do I get good grades? I study. And I’m not talking about a grade point average. If I want an average, then I’ll hit the gym once or twice a week and get by. I’ll be getting by staying healthy but nobody will be admiring me for my body. Also, I probably won’t have much of a physique to truly be proud of. I want the 3.5 and the 4.0 and I want people to say “with distinction” when I hit the gym. How do I get distinction? Consistency. Personally, I go to the gym six days a week, sometimes seven. However, this is not advised to a newbie unless you go lighter or just stretch during the off-days. Over the years I have built my body up to be able to handle this volume of training. 

The best students study all of their courses with vigor, and tackle their assignments weeks before they’re due. I want you to approach your fitness with the same attitude. I want you to look at working out as something you do every day that’s part of your routine. When you do it, do it perfectly, and then go the extra mile. You need to go and build the habit. School is hard though, and going to the gym every day is easier said than done. At times, compensations will need to be made, and always pick your academics first. I can bench press any day of the week, but I can only earn sub-par scores once. The class average on an exam is average — don’t waste your time on being average. Win at everything.

A neurosurgeon I interned under once told me: “A half workout is always better than no workout, and a quarter workout is still better than no workout.” This guy makes no excuses. As a division I wrestler, he is so focused on staying in shape that he will hit the gym hard at 5AM before seeing patients on his feet for 12 hours. He might mention being sore, but NEVER would he complain about it. If you absolutely cannot exercise because you have work due, accept it and make plans to kill it next time you work out. Get excited to go back! Taking some time away to handle your business will only make coming back even more special. 


Make Gains In The Cafeteria

I don’t know how familiar you are with grocery bills, but they are really expensive. While you’re paying for a meal plan, get the most out of it. Be frugal. For example, my college has a giant bowl it fills with walnuts every day. Buying walnuts is the equivalent of lighting your wallet on fire. I show up in the cafeteria with my plastic bag and will take some walnuts to bring home with me. You can do the same with other foods in the cafeteria. This way you’ll have healthy foods in your dorm for when hitting the cafeteria is too inconvenient. 

Eating Healthy

Everything You Need to Know About IIFYM

Let’s be honest here, the unlimited food part is awesome. Also, don’t sacrifice the quality of life by avoiding ice-cream with your friends because you have to pay respects to the almighty gain-God. No one is paying you to work out, and all you are getting from it is a decomposing aesthetic. Have the ice cream, live a little. And enjoy your workouts. Not only will you be happy, but you’ll be building great memories and enjoying delicious foods along the way. 

There is an 80/20 rule that if 80 percent of what you eat is clean, then 20 percent can be whatever you want. I am on a competition diet right now and this is keeping me sane. I can still enjoy my Pop Tarts and meet my dietary needs. As long as you can consistently make good decisions in life then the bad decisions will be null. But if you’re consistently eating unhealthy foods, re-evaluate your diet by reading up on some Muscle & Fitness nutrition articles and follow their guidelines.

And exercise is great for your mind. Having a consistent exercise schedule can help combat stress and fatigue that’s associated with school. You will be a happier, more confident person… who doesn’t want that? 



Maintaining a healthy physique should be fed with proper nutrition along with a few muscle-friendly supps. And steroids are just an automatic no… why sabotage your health?

Protein: This one is a no-brainer. Taking a whey protein post-workout will help to maximize your gains because you are feeding the muscles at their peak. Your body is “pumped” with an increased blood flow, heading to the areas you just exhausted. While this blood flow is high, a quick-digesting protein such as whey is perfect for delivering the right amount of growth-inducing building blocks.

Creatine: Due to a lack of understanding, creatine has a bad rep. I love creatine and data says it is ok! As long as you are staying hydrated while using this supplement, your muscles will have more creatine stored and ready to be used as energy during workouts. Don’t worry about cycling this stuff. Just take 5 grams a day and reap the benefits! Also, people might try and say your body will lose the ability to create creatine as well. If I took a lot of protein does my body lose its ability to make amino acids? No. Don’t worry about setting any regulatory systems out of whack. 

DISCLAIMER: If you have a history of kidney disease within your family, consult with your physician about using creatine. People with kidney disease typically have blood filtration difficulties, and adding an excess amount of creatine can potentially become problematic. 

Pre-Workout:  I have never taken a pre-workout in my life and don’t really plan on it.  I do occasionally drink a coffee before the gym. Caffeine is natural and can be a great pre-workout. Caffeine is great for opening your blood vessels by allowing larger amounts oxygen and nutrient delivery. If you really need some motivation, brew some coffee. And if you’re going to take a pre-workout, don’t use all thirty scoops in one month. Save them for those days where you’re feeling absolutely terrible and need the motivation to get there. 

Branched-Chain-Amino-Acids (BCAAs): BCAAs are great to sip on during your workout or throughout the day. Amino acids are the building blocks to proteins, and are readily absorbed and utilized. Drink BCCAs pre-workout and post-workout. If you want a really good one, make sure it has calcium, potassium, and phosphorus in it. These elements are vital for the muscle contraction process and will help increase the quality of your entire workout. 

Dextrose: Dextrose is a simple sugar that I would recommend drinking during your workout. The sugar is quickly converted into energy after being digested. This fast absorption will cause an elevation in your insulin levels. When insulin meets a muscle cell, it sends a signal to increase the cell’s intake of amino acids, creatine, and glucose (energy). I would recommend taking dextrose with a BCAA to maximize this effect. Having a quick digesting protein for your post-workout would make a lot of sense too, wouldn’t it? 

Multi-Vitamin: Now your cabinet is starting to look like a pharmacy. As someone who exercises, you have an increased need for nutrients. Meet that need by taking a multi-vitamin every day. But be wary of ones marketed with superior potency. Having too much vitamin A,D,E, and K can cause a condition called hypervitaminosis, which is literally a toxicity caused by having too many vitamins. Remember what I said about moderation! 

Fish Oil: Fish oil is great for your joints, which you will want after slinging all that heavy weight! Fish oil is also very beneficial for hair, nail, skin, eyes, and literally everything you can think of. Most importantly, it supports cognitive function and a healthy brain! Congratulations, you now take everything that TJ takes. Now go work hard and make some gains!

TJ Kelly is a senior at The College of New Jersey and majors in biopsychology/pre-med.


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