Students Ultimate Guide to Muscle Growth
Starting University in September or going back for your next year? Building muscle and staying in shape can be a challenge while at university, in this blog we will break down them challenges you may face.
Start off by deciding on a goal that you want to achieve. For example this could be build muscle, drop body fat, improve cardio etc. In this article we will focus on the goal of building muscle. By setting yourself some goals in the gym at university you are more likely to stay motivated compared to if you were just going to the gym and winging it.
Dealing with nutrition
When moving into student accommodation you will probably find you have to be smarter with the food choices that you are making. You will have to budget how much you are spending on food per week. Find food sources that have good macro nutrient values that are also affordable. For example pasta and rice are two carb sources that fit this criteria. When it comes to choosing a protein source, lean meats such as chicken breast and mince are usually a cheaper option than something like fish. With all the fast food chains sending you regular student discounts it can be tempting to order food regularly at university. If you limit this to once per week you can easily fit these foods into your diet, especially if you track what you are eating throughout the week. By not limiting yourself with nutrition too much and keeping this balance, you are more likely to stick to your goals because it will be more enjoyable.
When you are at University you are likely to have lots of free time to fit in a good amount of gym sessions throughout the week. If you can go to the gym 3-6 times a week, this will be enough to build muscle / drop body fat depending on what your goal is. Below are some examples of some training splits that you could run while at University depending on how many times you can get to the gym per week:
3x full body sessions - 3 days a week
Upper, Lower, Repeat - 4 times a week
Push, Pull, Legs, Lower, Upper - 5 times a week
Push, Pull, Legs, Repeat - 6 times a week
One of the most important factors for muscle growth is applying progressive overload throughout your training. Progressive overload is where you progress on your performance from the prior gym session. For example if you lift more weight than the week before, perform more reps, slow down the tempo of reps etc. If you are not applying progressive overload to your sessions, you are not giving your muscles a reason to grow and consequently you are going to look the same and stay the same strength wise.
It's not secret that University involves a lot of partying and other social events. With this events usually comes alcohol and this means you need to know how to find the balance between training and still having a good time. By being consistent for 90% off the week, going out on the weekend shouldn't hinder your progress too much and there are actions that can be put in place to make sure you stay on track even more.
Similarly to making smarter food choices while at University, you can also make smart drink choices. If you are following a calorie controlled diet, opting for something like a vodka and diet mixer will see you having less calories than drinking beers.
Another way to manage social events is by banking calories so you have some saved to use when you go out. For example if you are going out on the Saturday, lower the calories that you are consuming on the few days before by 200.
University should be some of the best years of your life and by finding a balance between enjoying yourself and training, you will still be able to make huge amounts of progress. Everyone's routine will be different so it is about finding what works for you and then being consistent with a plan.