TOPIC: How Can A College Student Keep Up With The Bodybuilding Lifestyle?
Meeting new people, being exposed to different scenery, and keeping up with parties and schoolwork are all part of the college lifestyle. It may sound good, but it can be difficult for a bodybuilder to juggle both the college life and the bodybuilding life.
How can a college student keep up with the bodybuilding lifestyle?
How can they follow a good nutrition plan?
What are some helpful supplements for a college student?
Bonus Question: What are some tips for someone going away to a new college? How can they resist some of the temptations?
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1st Place - LionChick
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How Can A College Student Keep Up With The Bodybuilding Lifestyle?
At 5 am, the streets of Athens, GA, are relatively silent, save for the continuous drone of the ubiquitous repair work being done on Miledge Ave. Well, that and the sound of my footsteps as I ran down the bicycle strip on Lumpkin Street towards Stegman Coliseum.
I was a division one athlete; we had weights in the morning in our own private weight room at 5:30, and, albeit we weren't really challenged to lift (in fact, I was asked NOT to lift when I started building muscle, because muscle did not suit a female distance runner physique). Keeping this schedule of early morning weights ensured that I got into the gym at least twice a week to get stronger.
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For those who are not compelled by the NCAA while in college to be in the weight room, I think that the same principles apply in order to be a successful bodybuilder while simultaneously attending the university. These principles are two:
- Set up a routine
- Find someone to hold you accountable for it
1. Set Up A Routine:
Decide, before you even start the term, how many days per week you want to lift. Look at your schedule and figure out, realistically, when will be the most convenient. I personally am a morning person, but many college students are not. Understandable. But you are much less likely to put off doing a workout if you have to wake up for it, as opposed to at the end of a long and stressful day.
Look at your courses and see how your meals will fit around them. Will you need to steal a chicken breast and broccoli from the dining hall for meal four so that you are not tempted to get vending machine crap in the student union? If so, get in the habit of doing this from day one.
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Once you've established a successful pattern, you won't feel the need to fall away from it. And of course, remember that sometimes you have to schedule routine breaks in the routine; it's better to have a few drinks at a football tailgate for the biggest games of the year than to go out and get smashed every night. Don't deny yourself every indulgence, or you'll find you won't be able to stick it out in the face of peer pressure.
2. Find Someone To Hold You Accountable
(a.k.a. The Good Sort Of Peer Pressure)
If you are going to a large school, someone else is probably also trying to lead the bodybuilding lifestyle. You'll probably find them in the gym at the same time you are!
Work with him/her and you'll have a reason to get there in the morning/afternoon/night and to eat on the salad bar instead of in the pizza line; no one wants to get shown up in the gym or in the cafeteria. When you know you've got to do the right thing not just to help yourself, but so you don't get ragged on by a friend, it motivates you!
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Most colleges offer fairly extensive dining options, and generally I believe the Grandma Rule applies in helping one to eat clean no matter the location. The Grandma Rule is simple:
Anytime you are deciding whether or not to eat a food ask yourself - How would my grandma relate to this food?
- Does my grandma know what this food is?
- Can I hypothesize what ingredients are in this food, and if I showed them to my grandma, would she know what they are and where to find them? (Granny is not going to be able to tell you where one might groan "mono and diglycerides" or "red 40, yellow 68")
- For Carbs - Would my grandma like this food because it is high in fiber, and grannies like fiber?
- For Proteins - Would my grandma like this food because it is lean and good for her heart?
You get the point; if the food is simple (a single ingredient, such as sweet potato), it is going to be a lot safer to eat than if it is complex (turkey tetrazini).
Likewise, you can always ask the people behind the counter of the dining hall how a food is prepared (are the oats cooked in water, milk, or cream), or if there is no service, assume the worst and head for the simpler foods. You can generally find a moderately good meal of a potato and hardboiled eggs just about anywhere.
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Besides the dining hall, a bodybuilder needs a significant stock of good, healthy foods. Keep a tuna packet EVERYWHERE! Your bookbag! Your car! Hide one in the building you have the most classes in! Put some oats in a Ziploc and do the same.
Keep some Metamucil or other fiber supplement around so if you can't get to vegetables at least you're getting some roughage in. Protein bars, while not perfect nutritionally, are easy to pack and last forever, as do shakers filled with a serving of protein powder (hit up a waterfountain and steal some sweetener from the dining hall - instant PWO beverage). You get the idea.
And of course, remember the cheat day; it's always good, I think, to put this day on a day when you know your life will involve a lot of unclean, tasty foods.
I personally think any day your team is playing football (hockey, etc.) or when you are at a party is a good day for this; that way, you won't be hanging out at a tailgate, eating your tuna pack and drooling over the hamburger sizzling on the grill right next to you. It's a lot easier to resist unclean food when your activities are not revolved around it!
I'm a fairly simple girl, so I stick with the standard stuff... generally, I think no one should go without:
1. A Great Multivitamin:
Take your time in picking this out! I like One-A-Day Weight Smart because it has the stuff from green tea in it; some prefer vitamins by other brands, or a natural version.
Spend some time in Kroger reading the ingredients; where can you get the most 100% or more values on the nutrients in the vitamins for the best value? Warning: store brands often pale in comparison to more expensive brands. With vitamins, you often do get what you put your money in for.
2. Fiber Supplements:
Because vegetables are the hardest thing to travel with, everyone should be with some Metamucil or Psyllum husks. There is nothing worse than being stopped up for days, and just by taking some of these supplements, you'll be able to keep clear even if you might not have eaten the most balanced meal. They're not a replacement for greens, but they certainly will help your digestion!
3. Magnesium Supplements:
Magnesium is needed for muscle contraction, and I have yet to find it in any of the standard multis. It also supports digestion.
4. Protein Powders:
You obviously need (bearing that your intestines can handle it) a whey protein for PWO. I'm not going to go into which to get because that is an article in itself. Additionally, some like a nice casein for before bed, and I personally enjoy Nature's Life Pro-96 Soy Protein because it contains a "Green complex" that gives me extra vitamins and isoflavones that are good for my hormones and body systems. The Bodybuilding.com Store can help you find a good protein.
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5. Additional Supplements (Creatine, Hot Rox, etc.):
Depending on your goals, you may want to investigate additional supplements. The store, again, generally can help you with this. Be sure that you've established your routine before you decide on any additional supplements, however.
You don't want to take a caffeinated supplement right before a two and a half hour accounting class (it might help you stay awake, but will you really reap the benefit from it that it is made for - to help you be more energized in the WEIGHT ROOOM - or will this make you intolerant to its efficacy?)
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?|
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If you're craving something sweet, you can always dump some Stevia on one of your clean foods and make it taste awesome! Try out weird stuff: English toffee and sweet potato? Okay! Oats and Apricot Nectar? Awesome! Be careful not to get a Stevia cut with maltodextrin or alcohol if you are watching your calories.
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The key to resisting temptations is dual:
- First, you must know what forms they might come in.
- Secondly, you must be able to admit that you are not going to always resist perfectly, and therefore it is better to allow for a little error than to completely blow up.
You can probably guess most college temptations simply by watching something like Old School - parties, girls/guys, staying up too late, studying too hard, neglecting the gym, alcohol and drugs, etc. Being somewhat unhealthy is, essentially, the college lifestyle. College students are excited to be free from parental reign, and therefore, overindulgence is a way of life.
A bodybuilder has the advantage of understanding moderation. I say aim for about 90/10 on this. Ninety percent of the time, stay as clean as you can. Go to sleep. Put down that accounting book if it's later than eleven (how much more will you really learn before you get up at five to lift-- not much).
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If you're going out to "big giant slice of pizza and beer fest Wednesday night," come a little later after you've finished a huge, healthy, clean meal and bring along your water (perhaps flavored with some Stevia?) so that you can avoid the desire to cram your face with crappy food.
The other 10 percent of the time, let yourself have a little bit of freedom. If you're failing math and you've got a final tomorrow and you haven't covered the material, you may have to say "I'll skip the gym this ONE time," or if your team makes it to the national championships, don't be afraid to celebrate.
A small, moderated indulgence will prevent an explosion of temptation. Just make sure that indulgence is the exception and not the pattern, and you'll be fine.
Remember, you make the choices you make as a bodybuilder for yourself; so don't let yourself down! You are the only one responsible for YOU becoming HUGE! Get on it!
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2nd Place - Goheels
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So you just got accepted to the college of your dreams and want to continue your healthy bodybuilding lifestyle, or you're trying to figure out how you can get back in to peak shape after putting on your freshman fifteen. The college lifestyle can be very difficult for those seeking the way of the bodybuilder, but hopefully after reading this article you'll be looking like Ronnie Coleman in no time!
Keeping With The Lifestyle
There are several interesting problems that present themselves when trying to go the way of the bodybuilder while in college.
1. Eliminate Distractions:
In college there are plenty of distractions that can keep you from living up to the lifestyle you have chosen. There are a plethora of activities you can participate in, and each one of these takes up a very precious commodity, TIME!
To really have the time necessary to really do your body justice you need the time, so it is very important to analyze which of these distractions you should really partake in, and those that you shouldn't.
Bodybuilding takes up a lot of time; you have to make sure you have time to cook some nutritious foods as well as the all important time to work out, but making smart choices and balancing distractions with time (because lets be honest, pretty women/men are distractions, but good distractions).
2. Limit Alcohol:
Binge drinking is a huge problem in college, sure an occasional game of beer pong can be played now and again, but lets not get out of control. You don't need me to tell you that alcohol should be avoided when you're trying to get your body in peak physical shape.
The truth of the matter is that alcohol is a huge part of the college lifestyle, but you should make sure to keep it within reason. There is no need to waste all your hard work by binge drinking weekly.
|Calorie Content of Common Alcoholic Beverages|
3. Manage Your Money:
- Big Results On A Skinny Budget. - By Brad Borland
- How To Choose Supplements Wisely & Still Get Huge. - By Matt Weik
- Back To School Shopping And Supplements. - By Michael Roussell
- Other Saving Money Articles...
So you got accepted to college, and as anyone knows who has been in college, money is always an issue; however, if you take the advice from point two you'll be well ahead of the game as you should have more money than your alcohol consuming counterparts, but if that's still a problem then I have one suggestion. GET A JOB!
Saving Money Articles:
There is plenty of work to be done on college campuses, get off your lazy but and do some work, or you could do like some and write up a nice article for Bodybuilding.com and save some money for those supplements you've been meaning to buy.
4. Peer Pressure:
In college, there are going to be a lot of people pulling you in different directions, and not all of these people will be conducive to your bodybuilding lifestyle choices. If they aren't it's probably in your best interest to find other people who are.
There might even be a group or a club on your campus devoted to bodybuilding. If there is join it. Having a positive group of people with the same desires and interests can be highly beneficial in your keep with the lifestyle.
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5. Manage Your Time:
So I've already mentioned this, but time is by far the most important commodity you have in college. To really commit to the bodybuilding lifestyle you have to learn how to manage your time to YOUR benefit.
You could schedule all your classes early in the morning all together, so that the rest of the day you have time for other things, like school work, a job, and the ever so important training sessions. College can be overwhelming, but if you learn to manage your time you'll be fine.
Effective time management is crucial because you don't want to start falling behind on school work because of distractions, which causes you to cut in on your workouts because your busy catching up with school work. So don't waste TIME! It's the most limited quantity you have.
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So how can you maintain nutritional superiority in college? Well, it's very very difficult. Ever heard of the freshman fifteen? I know, 15 pounds would be NICE; well these are the ugly 15 pounds, not those that you and me want to put on.
The problem with nutrition in college comes from two things: As we already discussed alcohol already provides one source of empty calories in the college setting, but the other problem in college is that of meal choices you are exposed to. Most campuses have meal plans, and most students buy them.
The unfortunate thing is that most of the meals campuses serve are simply not healthy. The best thing to do is honestly to make your own food, but as before sometimes we simply don't have the time, and the meals these campuses provide are convenient.
This is where willpower comes in to play, as it is your responsibility to pick out the healthiest food options available at these dining facilities. I know you are eyeing down that nice juicy, meaty, burger, but that grilled chicken is there too. So use your head.
Another problem that arises is that you may want to go with your friends to eat somewhere; unfortunately they may not be the bodybuilder types (you should get some new friends hah!). When you do go out to eat with them it's important that you choose the healthiest food option that are available to you.
Two tips I can share from personal experience are this:
- Always carry your shaker bottle and a meal replacement packet with you.
- Always pack yourself a healthy mini-meal to take with you. You have a bookbag, make use of it; you can easily fit a homemade grilled chicken sandwich or a peanut butter sandwich with you.
These can be used in times of need when you really need to get in that extra meal, or if you need to say to your friends I'd love to go eat with you, but I'm going to eat this instead.
As a reminder: it's always beneficial to make several meals in advance - that applies in college, just like it applies to the "real world."
Supplements can be really beneficial in college. Here is a list of some supplements that should be included with every college person who wants to follow the bodybuilder lifestyle.
A good multivitamin can go along way, especially with what you have learned about the difficulties in making smart nutritional choices in college. It is imperative that your body gets the nutrients it needs daily to maintain peak performance.
2. Multi-Source Protein Powder:
A good protein powder that has a steady digestion rate is crucial in college. Your body needs to be fueled all day and sometimes you will have a long stretch of classes and it might be a while before you can eat. A good powder will help you get through these times until you can get your hands of a nice meal.
3. A Good Meal Replacement Powder:
For those times when you know you're not going to be able to get a good meal in or those instances when you unexpectedly do not have time to eat, which seems to be very frequent in college. I suggest that this powder is not sugary and has some fiber in it.
Along with the MRP I suggest you have an apple or banana handy to help fill you up with the shake. This should help in those dire times and I highly recommend it.
People may or may not agree with this, but pure caffeine can be highly beneficial in college, especially if you're not taking in caffeine from soda or coffee. This can be used before classes and early in the morning to give you that jump start to your day, and doubles as a fat burning assistant.
It increases your mental concentration and alertness which is highly beneficial when trying to pay attention in class; however, be sure to use caffeine in moderation as its effects will diminish if it is used too often. Caffeine can also be used in conjunction with your cardio to help you mobilize fat to burn as energy. This will help you burn that stubborn fat which saves time!
Creatine is just a good supplement, plain and simple, in college or not it should be part of your bodybuilding arsenal. There are plenty of great articles on this site helping you understand why this is, and I don't need to go in to detail, but know this, creatine really works!
The Lightning Round
What Are Some Tips For Someone Going Away To A New College?
- Visit the campus before you go.
- Learn the layout of the campus.
- Work during the summer to have some money saved.
- During orientation find people who are also interested in the bodybuilding lifestyle.
- See if anyone from your high school is going there as well. A familiar face is always helpful.
- Be confident in yourself. Everyone else is in the same boat as you, don't be scared. Be proud of yourself and take charge! College will not overwhelm you if you don't let it.
The Lightning Round
How Can You Resist Some Of The Temptations?
- Find other people who have the same goals as you. They will help you stay accountable, and you can help them resist the temptations as well.
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- Know that you are working towards a lifestyle and goal that is important to you. If you are sure of what you want to do, the temptations always become less tempting.
- Remove yourself from the situation, if there is a crazy party going on and you know you're going to get plastered if you stay too long, leave, no you're not uncool. You just have the discipline that these people don't have.
Hopefully, with the knowledge of a recent graduate, you too can take your bodybuilding lifestyle with you to college, or maintain it if your already there. Remember, college is a place to meet new people and have fun, and that it doesn't necessarily have to come at the cost of your bodybuilding lifestyle. You can do both, but it's up to you to have the discipline to do it though!
3rd Place - bmac09
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I am currently entering my 3rd year of college as a Neuroscience major. Being a member of the Greek community, a player in the Rugby football club, and a student in the Pre-med curriculum, it would seem that there is little time to dedicate to bodybuilding.
Considering these factors along with the fact that my university is located in the heart of New Orleans, you can imagine the number of potential distractions to my productive bodybuilding lifestyle. I am here to persuade you that not only is it possible to merely continue bodybuilding in college but that it is possible to enrich your life by bodybuilding throughout college.
How Can A College Student Keep Up With The Bodybuilding Lifestyle?
For a student, the hardest part of maintaining a bodybuilding lifestyle is dealing with distractions. I will first advise how to deal with the primary distractions of partying, pledging, and schoolwork. The key to dealing with all of these issues centers around friends.
Choosing at least one friend with the same goals as yourself will eliminate many of these distractions. With a friend that also enjoys bodybuilding, you both can decide which parties to attend, which fraternity to join (or not), and which classes require the most studying.
Going to parties will hinder your nutrition, training, and sleep schedule. Therefore, I advise moderation when partying. Restraining yourself to only a few drinks (1-3) will allow you to have fun, meet people, and still be in a good state of mind.
Consuming drinks like vodka tonic, gin and tonic, etc. will keep the calories down and not leave you so dehydrated the next day that you can not train. Some people assume that pledging will destroy your body. Pledging allowed me to meet other people interested in weightlifting and gather a group of quality friends. In addition, some organizations will actually require you to go to the gym while pledging.
In my opinion, schoolwork is not detrimentally affected by bodybuilding. Even if you go to the gym every day, the one hour (give or take a few minutes) you spend there should not be a hindrance to your studies. If anything, reducing your partying so you can lift the next day will also allow you be rested, so you can study more.
Contrary to popular belief, bodybuilding will not drain your energy during the day and disrupt your schedule. Sticking to a workout schedule will aid you in time management as well as provide you with the energy that a sedentary lifestyle would not.
How Can They Follow A Good Nutrition Plan?
This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of bodybuilding in college but the most rewarding if done correctly. I advise getting a meal plan at the university cafeteria.
Most cafeterias open early in the morning and close reasonably late at night; they also have a variety of foods (both healthy and unhealthy) available. This allows you to vary your meals (so you don't get tired of a diet quickly) and gives you motivation to not spend money on fast food.
The key to succeeding with this plan is to not indulge on cafeteria favorites like pizza and ice cream. Personally, in addition to my meal plan, I keep cottage cheese, protein bars, peanut butter, and a loaf of wheat bread in the fridge of my room. These foods allow me to eat clean when the cafeteria is closed late at night (lets face it, most food tastes approximately the same after you've been partying, so it might as well be healthy).
If a meal plan is not possible, or you don't live on campus, then cooking for yourself is not much different than it is at your parents' house. Just be sure to keep a balanced diet with at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, a limited amount of fats, and a decent supply of healthy carbs (more for bulking, less for cutting).
What Are Some Helpful Supplements For A College Student?
I will always promote eating whole foods instead of taking supplements, especially in college when your budget is tight. However, supplements do allow you to spend less time in the cafeteria and more time doing other things, so they are a good aspect of diet for some people.
The most important supplements for me have been protein bars, protein powder, creatine monohydrate, multivitamins, and vitamin C tablets. Protein bars allow for a quick, high-protein breakfast (or lunch) for someone on-the-go. Also, I have never encountered a professor who would not allow a student to eat one in class.
Protein powder is an important post-workout supplement, prior to eating a full dinner. It also allows you to easily meet your daily protein requirement.
Creatine is a very good pre-workout supplement. It provides you with energy for your workout and promotes strength (as well as some size) gains.
Multivitamins support normal body functions; in this way, your gains will not be hindered by the lack of a particular vitamin (that you may not even be aware you were lacking).
Finally, vitamin C promotes recovery following a workout. This way, you can workout frequently and still achieve steady gains.
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What Are Some Tips For Someone Going Away To A New College? How Can They Resist Some Of The Temptations?
I mentioned some of these earlier, but I will elaborate on them here. For starters, I advise creating a workout schedule and beginning it immediately. This way you're lifting consistently even before classes begin. I go to the gym 5 days a week. This allows me to stay motivated and consistent in my schedule.
Since I only work out one major body part per day, it also gives me adequate rest time for each body part. Also, club or intramural sports can encourage you to go to the gym. These organizations can give you a support network of "health conscious" friends.
If college sports are not for you, choose other friends that respect your commitment to bodybuilding. Even a party-animal will see that you value lifting and will not deliberately keep you awake at night or peer-pressure you into going out every night.
Budgeting your time wisely is also very important. Bodybuilding actually helps with this one. It is fairly easy to follow the ideal routine of:
The hard part is beginning this routine, so start immediately.
Finally, and most importantly, stay motivated. Keeping motivated is one of the best ways to reduce temptation for yourself. I stay motivated mostly by others reaction to my progress. College is where most people abandon fitness and pack on the pounds.
If you remain fit, other people will notice, both in the gym and at parties, thus raising your self-esteem. There is no greater feeling than when someone begins a conversation with, "wow, you have nice arms" or when you're in the gym and someone asks you for weightlifting advice.
In conclusion, always remember that, "A person will experience one of 2 pains in life, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret." So stay motivated and get in that gym!
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