The college years should be synonymous with personal growth, discovery, and establishing a mastery of a field of study. Staying focused on your physical fitness can sometimes take a backseat. Sure, the snazzy rec center might have weighed into your decision, but relying on it is at best, foolhardy and at worst, potentially disastrous. Many schools offer nothing more than shiny equipment and expansive facilities.

For freshman, college is abundant with anticipation, trepidation, and temptation. While most fears are extinguished during the first term, temptations intensify. The infamous “freshman 15” is attributable to a combination of indiscriminant consumption of food on campus and a slew of dorm parties. I’ve witnessed poor nutritional discretion coupled with a lack of time management morph former prom queens into defensive linemen.

Having been there before as a student and now a manager at a campus recreation center, where I help countless students achieve their fitness goals, I am providing you these five valuable tips to succeed in your higher learning journey.

Get a Leg Up Workout

1. Don’t major in the minors

The college years serve as a lifter’s developmental primetime. Outside some varsity athletes, few college students have invested sweat equity honing fundamental movement patterns.

Instead of tackling the squat, deadlift, and pressing variations, a majority of lifters opt for machines, body part splits, and faddish cross training ideologies during their formative years.

As it pertains to setting out on a course of study, would a student be better served earning a handful of minors or majoring in something meaningful? Someone who graduates with a major is more employable than someone who spent years meandering through courses they found interesting.

2. Time is your most valuable asset

The adage of time equaling money aptly applies to the life of a college student. In fact, I’d argue that time is more valuable than money, because all of the money in the world cannot retrospectively rescue a person from consequences stemming from poor time management.

Time should be carved out for yourself before you even contemplate creating your schedule. That way you have time to yourself, instead of having to find enough to hit the gym.

3. Make your training more efficient

College gyms are crowded. Think WWE battle royale crowded, especially during the beginning of the school year. Many pieces of equipment are occupied and floor space is often limited. To better manage the crowds, consider performing your warm-up in your dorm, or if you live a ways away, during your commute with a run/dynamic warm-up.

Try my full body “Fab Five Warm Up”.

While at the gym, consider alternating strength exercises with movements that are dedicated to improving flexibility and mobility. Doing so, will keep your heart rate up while you work to prevent or correct musculoskeletal imbalances which can impede progress.

4. Train with purpose

Don’t merely go through the motions, instead train with purpose. Set clear-cut, realistic, quantifiable goals which infuse your training with purpose.

“Once you step in the door, focus on your workout with intensity. If you want to see results and progress you need to be serious about your plan,” says Chris Policastro, CSCS, director of fitness and recreation and Manhattan College. 

5. Find a training partner

Few things can contribute to your success like a good training partner. During the beginning of the school year, seek out someone who has similar interests and goals as you and ask if you can work with them. Having a training partner provides necessary support, establishes camaraderie, and helps hold people accountable.

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