Fitness Advice for the College Student
Wanting to get more active but unsure how to manage your time? Read for workout advice, ideas and motivation!
College is the beginning of real life—the entrance into adulthood—aka, one of the most stressful times in life. Between balancing classes with internships and extracurriculars, it can be hard to find free time to stay sane.
When I find free time, I release my stress by going to the gym. I work out six days a week, focusing on weightlifting, cardio, and aerobics to work every body part.
I love working out because not only does it clear my head and make me feel more confident with my physical appearance when I make those ~gains~, but it also leads to a healthier life down the line, especially by making it a habit now.
How I Got Started
I’m a gym addict because of my family, no doubt. My mom, dad, and brother all played sports in college and are absolute beasts, so I’m grateful that I was born into a family that keeps me motivated both physically and nutritionally. With both parents in their mid-50s and still hitting the gym every day, I gotta keep up!
Ugh, But How Do I Have Time to Work Out?
Let’s talk scheduling. If you’re just starting out, know that you don’t need to go to the gym every single day. I personally go almost every day for around an hour because it works best for my schedule, but I have friends who go three times a week for two hours, and know others who go every day for 30 minutes.
Try going once or twice a week at first, and if you want more, add it. At some point, you might need to make time for it—sometimes, the actual getting to the gym is the hardest part. It can be so easy to think up excuses and distractions, but once you form your plan, stick to it! If all else fails, just tell yourself you’re going to the gym for 10 minutes, and once you get there, chances are you’ll wanna keep going.
The easiest way for me to implement gym time into my schedule is by going directly before or after my classes—that way, I’m still on campus and still motivated.
But What Do I Even Do When I Get to the Gym??
This is the fun part—do whatever the heck you want! Get your heart rate up on the treadmill, go punch the boxing set, do some jumping jacks on the turf—whatever your heart desires.
For me, I have different workout routines that I assign to each day, correlating with my schedule and mood. I have 4 core routines, 2 arm routines, 1 back routine, 3 leg routines, a cardio routine, and a stretch day. Each routine has a set of 12 or more exercises that I’ll do for a minute (for core) or a number of reps.
I’ll start my week with an arm and back day on Monday (doing the other arm routine the next week), then I’ll vary the four core routines with 15-20 minutes of cardio on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Friday I’ll either attend a yoga class or go for a run, and Sunday, I’ll alternate every other week with a full cardio day (running, spinning, and stair master for 20 minutes each) or one of my three leg day options. I typically rest on Wednesday because I have class for a majority of the day.
Additionally, you might be someone who likes group fitness classes more than working out by yourself, so give both methods a try!
Woah, How Did You Come Up with Those Workouts?
Through talking to a couple of personal trainers and trying out different things, I came to that schedule, which happens to work well for me, but maybe not for everyone. Try out your own thang!
For the workouts themselves, I did research online to get ideas for specific movements. Once I’m in the groove, I also frequently come up with variations of workouts on the spot.
I follow a few Instagram accounts to get ideas as well. One of my favorites is @CollegeCleanEating, which posts a mix of video workouts and inspirational messages.
Lastly, whenever I feel like I’m in a rut (usually bi-annually), I mix up my workouts. I’ll look for new ideas online or perform exercises in a different order to hit every muscle possible.
Okay, Cool, Thanks. But Do You Have Any Concluding Advice? Definitely.
1. Start small if you’re just stepping into the gym for the first time and work within your comfort zone to avoid injuries.
2. Don’t be afraid of looking stupid or asking others for help, especially if you don’t know how to work a machine or are concerned about your form.
3. Listen to your body. If you’re exhausted, take a rest day. If a muscle doesn’t feel right, ice or heat it and be careful when returning to the gym.
4. Write down your goals. At my gym in Tampa, there’s a sign that says it’s scientifically proven that people who write down their goals achieve them more successfully—I’m not sure where the proof is, but writing my goals down honestly does help me.
5. Reward yourself! You went to the gym today—you should be proud! Rewarding yourself doesn’t have to be getting that Levain Bakery cookie on the way home after every leg day (although that sounds good); it can be as simple as saying “Addison, you went to the gym today and that is the first step to improving your physical and mental health—good job!”
6. Lastly, results: if you aren’t getting the physical or mental results you’re looking for right away, don’t freak out, and don’t panic. And never compare yourself to others.
We’re all on different journeys and it takes a long time to build muscle. So, keep going and you’ll eventually get there, I promise. You got this!