Fall means football games, tailgate parties, shorter days, and cooler weather. For better or worse, it also means going back to school. While we can't help you with study tips to help you pass that econ exam, we can suggest a few ways to help keep your workouts on track so you don't succumb to the freshman 15, even if you're no longer a freshman.
Between your study load, limited dining options, and must-attend social events, making real gains is next to impossible, right? That's where I beg to differ. Looking back at my high school and college years, I actually made some of the best gains of my life. Sure, a little extra commitment was in order, but if you've got the right drive and determination, you can really make some serious progress during school in both your grades and your physique.
Check out my 5 top tips for making gains during the school year!
1. PREPARE PRIOR TO CLASS
When you're sleep-deprived, who doesn't want to just roll out of bed and step right into class? However, it's really not hard to give yourself an extra 15 minutes to throw some quality foods into your backpack. In both high school and college, I carried plenty of food and protein powder around with me every day. In between classes I made sure to eat, as there was no way I was going to take in all the calories I needed otherwise. Being an ectomorph, I had to consume a lot of calories to grow, so I made sure there was never a day my backpack wasn't full of clean foods like protein bars, jerky, and other clean snacks.
2. BUDGET CLEAN, HIGH-PROTEIN FOODS
The second complaint I hear from students is that they're broke. (The first? Why did they ever schedule an 8 a.m. class?)
Trust me, I went to college and I know the struggle. However, when I sat down and actually wrote out everything I was spending money on, there were plenty of things I could eliminate to afford the food and supplements I needed to grow.
Remember, some of the best foods are the simplest ones—milk, eggs, chicken, and fish. And your muscles will go a lot farther on a quart of milk than they will on an all-you-can-drink weekend kegger.
3. PRIORITIZE YOUR TRAINING SESSIONS
Make sure you plan time for the gym. If you don't have a plan or schedule, you'll almost always find something to do instead. You know, like when your roommate wants to hit the afternoon mixers after class. If you have a set schedule, it's easier to stick to it.
Having a dedicated workout partner from school—someone who depends on you and on whom you can depend—makes it even easier to overcome other tempting activities. Getting to the gym is just a bit easier when you know someone is waiting for you and you don't want to let them down.
to do instead.
4. MAKE SMART MEAL DECISIONS
Anyone enrolled in college can appreciate that the dining hall options on campus aren't exactly ideal. But just because they offer fat- and sodium-loaded fare doesn't give you a free pass to eat a ton of garbage. I travel nearly every week now, and I can almost always find some solid food options anywhere I go.
At the end of the day, your macros are what's most important. Sometimes it's hard to know what you're getting when eating cafeteria-style, so choosing lean proteins, fresh fruits and veggies, complex carbs, and avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts is an easy place to start. Just don't let hunger rule your food choices.
5. FOCUS ON YOUR FUTURE
This is the most important tip of the bunch because the mindset of nearly every student I work with is that the good life will end once they finish school. Enjoy yourself, but realize there are plenty of good times to be had after you get your diploma. Plus, those good times will be much more enjoyable when you have a physique you're proud of, and you receive lots of well-deserved attention.