The College Strength Freshman Survival Guide

So your freshman year at college is approaching, in a few short weeks the day you have been waiting for will be upon you. Freshman year of college is a major milestone in the life of any young person. It is the first opportunity to find freedom and start to pursue your goals for the future. For a lot of people, college is the time where you find yourself and for many fitness. For me, the second semester of my college experience was the one in which I began my journey. Boy, do I wish I started earlier. Creating a routine and being consistent is essential to succeed in fitness and especially powerlifting. This article is to serve as a guide to making it through your first year in college and making strength gains.

 

  • Stay true to yourself
    • This is not necessarily a strength related item, but, it is by far the most important. You don’t have to reinvent yourself when you go to college to fit in. Just be yourself and you will enjoy the experience much more. You will find activities and organizations that genuinely interest you and more than likely you won’t waste your time. In the same light, if you don’t drink then you don’t have to go out every night and pretend you do. Be realistic and do what you enjoy!
  • Scope out the facilities
    • This might sound ridiculous, but if you are truly passionate about strength and you want to pursue powerlifting, find a school that allows you to do that. For example, at my university, the rec only has hex plates which if you aren’t aware are the worst thing ever! But, I say this to place the importance of finding a facility that will help you on your journey. It should be a factor your decision. Another important aspect is to see if your school of choice has a powerlifting team, as this can be a great way to find like-minded individuals to compete/ train with.
  • Get in a routine
    • Super important! They say it takes 2 weeks to get into a habit and 3 million years to break it, I made that up, but, really once you start waking up at 11AM every day it is almost impossible to break that habit. This is detrimental for a variety of reasons, firstly, if you are involved in organizations and you’re taking a full course load and you have a job, finding time to train is tough, trust me! Secondly, when you eventually have to take a morning class, you will be screwed! So find a routine that works for you, whether that means you take all evening classes and start your day at 1PM or if you take morning classes and start your day at 6. Find what works for you and be consistent, it will help your training and your classes.
  • Plan Plan Plan
    • Time management is one of the most difficult parts of being in college, classes, work and involvement often make it hard to find time to exercise. That is why planning out your semester down to the day is essential. Personally, I find it really difficult to get in the zone and focus on my training if I have homework or tasks weighing on my mind. The best way to ensure focused training is to organize your day and plan ahead. I use a wall planner and google calendars to map out all my obligations so I can keep my mind empty. I also keep a notebook by my bed so I can write ideas or things I remember before I go to bed.
  • Get you a meal plan
    • Meal plans are definitely not the ideal way to get your calories. More often than not they are not 100% healthy, but, they are ridiculously convenient. There, is literally nothing better than coming back from a morning gym sesh and going straight into the dining hall to inhale a bunch of food. Seriously, getting a meal plan makes eating a lot easier in college, especially with a busy schedule!
  • Find some accountability
    • An essential part of succeeding in fitness especially strength training is to keep yourself accountable. There are a couple of ways to do this, firstly finding someone like-minded with similar goals. You can train with them, personally, I prefer to train alone as I am more focused on getting my shit done. But, the main benefit is having someone to discuss your training with, as well as providing you with a degree of comparison. Another great accountability option is coaching, obviously, there are other benefits to coaching, but a big element is having someone check on your progress and consistency.
  • Get them supplements
    • I know we recently hated on supplements on the podcast (College Strength on Soundcloud/or at collegestrength.org ) but, College is one of the most important times to have supplements. Dining hall food is carb heavy, so getting enough protein for the day can be a struggle. So having a good protein powder can really help you meet your macro goals. Secondly, morning workouts can also be difficult, more often than not when I head to the gym at 6AM there is nowhere I can get breakfast from conveniently. So a good BCAA can really help you make it through those tough morning workouts. (Seriously, check out episode 1 and 2 of the podcast we covered this in depth).
  • Sleepy time
    • It can be pretty difficult to manage your sleep while you’re in college, but, it is one of the main controllable factors that affect your training. Go to bed, preferably early, or at least take some naps recovery is difficult if you are not sleeping enough!
  • Compete in something
    • The hardest part of succeeding in strength training or bodybuilding is to maintain motivation. What is the solution? Compete. Find something you are passionate about whatever it is, powerlifting is my passion. It is so much easier to maintain focus and prioritize my training because I want to succeed. College is a time where you are torn in many different directions, but it is one of the few times in your life when you have the ability to do that. If you are on the fence about competing, just do it! Either way, it will help you to realize your passions and competing has provided me with some great experiences.
  • Get a job!
    • College is expensive, so is powerlifting. Giving yourself an income is a great learning experience, it is important to realize that the majority of the education you get from college is outside of the classroom. Having a job gives you access to so many opportunities!
  • Ask for help!
    • When you enter the gym for the first time, and you are unsure of what you are doing. Check your ego at the door. By that, I mean that it is important to recognize that you might not know what you are doing. Ask people for help, if that is a friend or if that is someone you meet in the gym with good technique, ask them to help you. Technique is more important than anything else it will make things much easier for you! Check out collegestrength.org for our coaching and free programs to help you out!
  • Be open to experiences
    • Take part in anything you can to boost your experience, whether that is in or outside of the gym. Embrace the freedom of college and take advantage of it! For me being in college allows me the opportunity to have free time to participate in competitions when I am not taking classes. College is one of the best times to build strength as well as pursuing powerlifting as a sport so take advantage.

So there you have it, my advice for making the most of your freshman year if strength training and having fun while doing so! Best of luck to anyone pursuing strength in their first year!

 

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