Exercising for college students
It can be hard to find the time to work out as a college student. Trying to fit in a workout around classes, essays, and having a social life can seem almost impossible. So here, we will look at different workout plans to help you with your fitness goals.
Where to start?
Think about your goals; do you want to build muscle, or lose weight? It is essential to set goals for yourself before you start, so you know what you are working towards. Remember to set achievable goals. Don’t set yourself up to fail by overdoing it.
If you are working on building muscle, think of individual muscle groups and which exercises target which muscles. Again, it is helpful to have an idea of this before you begin planning your workout routine, to plan a full-body workout carefully and effectively. For instance, you don’t want to be training the same muscles on consecutive days and end up with an injury, so one day might focus on legs, while the next focuses on upper arms.
If your focus is on weight loss, consider your target weight before commencing your workout plan. This way, you can track your progress and work towards your target weight healthily.
Working out every day
How much do others workout
Life as a college student can be hectic, so finding the time to exercise is tough. Commencing a weekly workout routine can be very beneficial to your physical and mental well-being. However, you don’t want your workout to take up all of your free time, or you will find it achieves the opposite as you no longer have enough time for studying or socializing.
The good news is that you don’t have to create a crazy workout plan to follow every day! Especially if you are beginning your workout journey, you can see positive results from just a few exercises each week without sacrificing the small amount of free time you have.
Your college workout plan needs to fit your schedule, so try not to be too influenced by what others are doing. They might have more time than you, have different goals, or have different priorities. If you are just too busy on a Tuesday to fit in a workout, then don’t!
- Instead of taking the bus or driving, try walking to class instead
- Drink plenty of water – 2 liters per day is the recommended amount, especially if you are going to be exercising more often.
- While sitting in your lecture, you can flex and release your abdominal muscles to work on this area.
How do you exercise in college?
Short workout options
Finding the time to work out can be tricky. However, regularly performing 5-10 minute workouts can feel more manageable than longer ones.
Below are some options for shorter workouts that you can complete in 5 minutes in between classes. So there is no excuse!
High-intensity interval training can be great for weight loss if you have limited time. It has been shown that doing high-intensity exercises for short periods is just as, if not more, effective as long workout routines for improving cardio fitness and losing weight.
Pick one or two exercises for a quick workout, such as jumping jacks, burpees, jump rope, etc. and go at 100% for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat. Do this 8 times and feel your heart rate rise!
You can easily fit these in during a study break or between classes. Plus, when you return to studying, you’ll find your brain refreshed and ready to intake more information! Check out some online videos for ideas.
If you have a little bit longer to work out, try a series of short exercises. For example, pick five exercises and do each for 30 seconds, with a 10-second break between each, until 30 minutes is up.
You can incorporate various exercises into this to focus on different fitness areas, such as cardio, strength, or stamina. Try to alternate muscle groups so you don’t tire one area before the 30 minutes is completed.
Longer workout options
If you have a free afternoon or a day off in the week, this is an excellent time to plan for a longer workout. Take a class, go for a long hike, and play a football match. Be creative. Remember this needs to be sustainable, so you want to be enjoying yourself!
Where can I work out?
Gym – Pros
Most colleges will have their gym, so make the most of this! Gym memberships cost a lot of money, as do most of the equipment you’ll find there, so take advantage of these years that you get this for free!
Lots of options
You can tailor your workout plan to what you like to do at the gym. Maybe you enjoy rowing, running on the treadmill, or lifting weights. Also, you could use the access to a swimming pool to swim laps or participate in workout classes if these are available.
It can be helpful to schedule a workout class or two into your workout plan. Having a set time to exercise could help with scheduling. Similarly, going with a friend could help you if you’re likely to skip exercise as you can encourage each other to attend.
Gym – Cons
It might take time to get to the gym from your dorm, so you stay home and skip exercise altogether. Or you might only have half an hour to fit in a workout so it doesn’t make sense to go to the gym. Try some home workouts instead.
You might find it daunting to exercise in front of many other people (understandable!). Learn when are the gym’s busiest times and avoid these.
Dorm room – Pros
If you like to work out alone, doing it in your dorm is perfect. There are numerous options for home workouts, many with little or no equipment required.
There are thousands of workout videos online for you to follow. Whatever your goal is, you will find a video to help guide your workout, whether yoga, weight lifting, or cardio.
Dorm room – Cons
If you’re likely to jump around a lot with your workout, it might become frustrating for your downstairs neighbors. There are specific workout videos online that can cater to this.
Lack of equipment
You might think that you need a bunch of dumbells, a rowing machine, and various other apparatus to complete a successful workout. However, you can use different household objects as weights, or follow an online workout that specifies that no equipment is required.
Venture outdoors! Go for a hike and see the scenery with your pals. Cycle or take a jog through the town and see sights you won’t otherwise come across.
If you can get outside and spend plenty of time in the fresh air and sunlight, this will feel a lot more enjoyable than staring at the back of someone’s head while you run on the treadmill in the gym!
How much per week?
You have to be realistic. Don’t imagine you will be working out daily, and suddenly in two weeks, you will reach your fitness goals. Remember, slow and steady wins the race—plan to start slow and see how you get on.
You might want to adapt your workout plan after a week or two if it doesn’t fit into your schedule.
You can always add or change exercises to create a more challenging workout as you get stronger and fitter. However, starting with a challenging workout plan is likely to result in you getting fed up with it and stopping pretty quickly.
It is recommended that people try and do 75-150 minutes of exercise per week. This can include walking to class! Try and plan for this, and create a workout plan for three days per week, with alternating rest days.
Tips to stick to it
Make it fun
If you make your workout routine boring, it isn’t going to last long before you abandon it. Try to make it fun by including a range of different exercises, going to other places to work out, and making different playlists for each day.
Listen to your body
Never go too hard on a workout, or you’ll burn out and need to take numerous days of rest, which will set you back. Only do as much as feels right. Remember to push yourself, but don’t forget that your body has limits!
Set a goal
Have something to aim for. This way, you can measure your progress, which will motivate you to keep going.
It’s a good idea to exercise before class or immediately afterward.
Exercising first thing will set you up for a good day with improved focus and means you don’t have to worry about working out later.
Exercising straight after class before you go home will help prevent you from getting home and deciding to put on your slacks and watch Netflix instead of hitting the gym.
Buy some equipment
Get yourself a yoga mat, or a set of dumbells to keep in your room. This way, you might be prompted to do a quick 5 minutes of exercise even while you watch TV. You might suddenly be motivated to do some squats or push-ups if you have your mat out all the time!
Exercise with your friends
Playgroup sports or go to the gym together to chat and have fun while working out.
Be sure to take rest days!
Please don’t force yourself to do a daily workout or it will quickly become a chore. Your body needs time to rest and heal, so plan rest days into your routine.