Being a student and training can be difficult, what with the seemingly endless volume of work. However, I think it’s important to find time to have a break from work in order to hit the gym. Even the most committed of students spends way too much time perusing the pointlessness of YouTube and constantly refreshing Facebook in a futile attempt to see if things have been updated in the last two minutes.
Rather than mindless this procrastination, this time away from work should be spent doing something constructive – and one of the best options available to students is to train at the gym. Even an hour three days a week is better than nothing, and it is certainly enough for the majority of people to see positive results. Especially when you take into account the average student’s lifestyle.
And this is where things frequently go downhill: diet. Back at home everyone has a nice clean kitchen, a cleaning routine and a vast quantity of food for all occasions. I dread to think of the amount of calories I consumed in takeaways throughout my time at university. Nonetheless, it is still essential to keep your diet in check: shop once a week or so in order to buy proper food (fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, etc.) and try to eat actual meals rather than living off (inevitably unhealthy) snacks.
Bad sleeping is another factor that I found helps attribute to bad eating habits, in that by getting up too late you’re lessening your ability to make a good, healthy breakfast. But I know how much more enjoyable staying in bed for just that extra half an hour can be, especially with the prospect of a day off. This and general kitchen cleanliness are, in my opinion, the two most important influences when sticking to a healthy diet whilst being a student. Cooking in a dirty kitchen is perhaps my least favourite thing in the world and you must have a real desire to avoid this – make sure your housemates feel the same way as well. Trust me though, they won’t.
It’s up to you when you want to train, and you should take into account the potential for randomness in your timetable, as well as having to simply carry more stuff. If I was training and doing uni work in the same day then I end up having to take two bags: one with my laptop and notebook in, the other containing my protein shakes, pre-workout drink, training journal and gym attire. You quickly get used to it, but it’s something to be aware of.
Dividing your time up between training and socialising is also extremely important, and can be difficult – especially if you take your training seriously. It all boils down to being disciplined with yourself. It’s very easy to find yourself spending time with a group of friends and finding your desire to train wither away, which is perfectly understandable with socialising being one of the key parts of the university experience.
It helps if you have someone to go with, who can help spot you to the next level and compare progression with. The company, enthusiasm and desire for improvement from that person will definitely help.
So what does training at college or university ultimately boil down to? Think about how you want to look in the summer. Whether you want to look massive or shredded, summer is the perfect time to be in peak condition. It is also the time when you see your friends from back home again, so think about all the positive compliments you hope to obtain when you return to them – results can look even more dramatic to those who haven’t sen you for months. Slightly narcissistic, but anything to drive you to achieve your goals.
Three elements compromise training whilst being a student: diet, timetable and discipline. Diet is especially important, as it’s so easy to fall short and eat things that you really shouldn’t be eating.
Try not to live meal by meal and make plans for the upcoming week in order to keep both your diet and financial situation in check. Don’t go to your nearby Tesco or takeaway to get an easy and lazy dinner. Every. Single. Day.
Oh, and most importantly of all? Enjoy yourself, both in the gym and outside of it.