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Staying Strong Through University

By Adam Sinicki

Reprinted from: – home of self enhancement for bodybuilders, martial artists, traceurs, athletes and transhumanists.

I wasn’t like most kids; I was afraid of stickers. That’s not really the point though, the other reason I wasn’t like most kids, was that when I was going to University I was a bit nervous, like anyone, but unlike my mates the main reasons I was worried was that I thought I might lose muscle. I knew that I’d be out partying every night, cramming my work in somewhere, living off a tiny budget and sleeping in a room where I could touch all four walls without getting up (or even straightening my arm as it turned out). Still, when I got to University I found that my worries were unfounded and I actually became stronger than I was before. I’m on my year out now doing a placement in Leeds but as I reminisce I can pass on to you the secrets that will bring you success in the gym and mediocrity in the exam room.

The way I see it there are a few major obstacles and each one can be effectively neutralised if you know what to do, and you will if you read below:


Okay, so you might not have quite as much dough available to you as you once did. This is a problem when buying equipment/stuffing your face with protein. However Uni life also has advantages on this front. For example gym membership; at Surrey University you can get a full year’s membership for about £75. That’s not bad seeing as the same money would fetch me two months at my current gym.


That doesn’t solve the problem of the food though, and so here’s how to eat big without spending too much.
First of all find your nearest Asda, Lidle, Audi, Morissons or other cheap super market. Tesco will do fine too if you stick to the Tesco’s own range (but not their mayonnaise… dear God not their mayonnaise…).
Tuna pasta salad is a staple in the student’s diet anyway and that suites us bodybuilding scholars just fine. Buying cans of tuna in bulk (a good workout in itself when you trek home with a few heavy bags) is not only cheap, but it also saves you from having to go shopping too often. It can then be mixed with some pasta and onion to make a good meal high in carbs and protein (add a tin of chopped tomatoes for variation). Alternatively stick it on some bread, adding mayonnaise depending on how strict you are (but dear God not Tesco’s own mayonnaise…).
Another useful food item for students and bodybuilders alike is the egg. So simple and beautiful the egg can be eaten raw, or cracked over some hot pasta with a tiny bit of parmesan cheese to make carbonara (should be called proteinandcarbonara, although no one would probably eat it then).
Whether or not you can afford supplements is really down to your personal situation and how well you budget. Unlike the food though your Mum probably never bought you protein shakes anyway so it shouldn’t be too much of a shock to carry on paying for them. Personally I never used any supplements throughout Uni anyway.

Social Life

The real reason you go to University though is not to train… but to party! The hierarchy of priorities should go thus:
1. Party
2. Train
3. Eat Sandwiches
4. Study

In other words, you don’t want to waste away your whole student life in the gym or abstain from any fun incase it hurts your figure. You should still go out every time you are invited and you should still drink just as much as everyone else. That’s what Uni is all about, think of it as a gym for life. However, there are certain methods you can use as damage limitation.
Firstly what you drink is just as important than how much you drink in terms of getting a beer belly. When possible drink spirits instead of lager and steer away from Guinness (except on St Patrick’s day of course). My favourite drink is Newcastle Brown, but that is almost as bad as Guinness so I keep it as a treat. JD and Coke became my drink of choice for most nights out. A bottle of wine every now and then doesn’t any harm either. Do not drink rosé however and do not drink alcopops; these are for girls and girly men.
Secondly, if you’re worried about the amount you’ve drunk there’s a simple way to burn it off – on the dance floor. Throw your arms in the air and kick your legs like an insane man; University is one of the few places you can get away with this. If you’re lucky then you may be able to burn off a few more calories later with a lady friend. If you’re like me however, then the aforementioned throwing the arms around will probably mean this isn’t the case.

When it’s time to go home, try to make sure you walk when possible. You will not only burn off some more alcohol but will also sober up more ready for a day of heavy lifting tomorrow.
If you know you’re going for a big night out then try to get in a quick session before you go. If time is sparse then do an ‘express session’ which consists of half the amount of exercises, or 2 sets instead of three. If the night out is an off-the-cuff thing however (the best kind), then just get to the gym first thing next day (as soon as that hang over goes away).
Of course training can be a social experience in itself if you find yourself a gym buddy or two and there’s few better ways to bond with a mate than by going through an intense workout. There may even be a club you can join, I’m thinking of starting a bodybuilding society when I go back next year. For my first two years though I was a member of the Rock Climbing club, which made a fantastic regular workout for the forearms, lats and calves.


Going to University means that you spend allot of time going out and partying, a bit of time at lectures and an obscene amount of time sleeping. It’s a little known fact that students sleep all the time. Some part of the brain seems to revert to childhood when day-time naps were cool (all the other babies were doing it). Only these aren’t power naps, but full on 3 hour sessions. When students aren’t doing this they’re watching Hollyoaks, Lost, Scrubs or 24.

In other words, students who complain of having no free time are talking shite. Now that I have had a glimpse of working life I realise just how good I had it (damn I’m starting to sound like my Mother). I used to spend hours with my house mate rating girls on Hot or Not during the day. Eventually we moved on to rating girls who walked past his window (yeah we weren’t that cool).
In other words, get your lazy butt to the gym. Especially as it’s now only a ten minute walk from your room. Alternatively, if you’ve space, working out at home can easily be squeezed in during nights in since you will most likely have turned mostly nocturnal. There’s no Desperate Housewives on at this time so you may as well do a workout.


Students are not known for their spacious living quarters, particularly freshers who will most likely live in halls. While you will be able to go to the gym most days, there will be times when working out at home is necessary and ‘there’s not enough space in my room’ is an excuse I hear regularly.
The only space you need is a clear patch that’s 6 foot by 4 foot to do press ups and sit ups in. You can sit on your bed to do curls and rest your hands on it to do dips. You can even do sit ups on the bed if you’re that pressed for space. Bottom line though – you’ve had mates sleep on the floor so there’s definitely enough room for you to work out on it.
Next year will be better – you will likely have a house. Now you can work out in the living room (much to the dismay of your housemates). I got lucky in my second year in that I lived with a playground behind my house. How cool is that?

Other Hazards

There are a few hidden hazards for the bodybuilding student to beware of. One is colds. As a student you will always have a cold. Your best combat against this is fruit. Another is travelling. As you will be travelling to and from home regularly and for long periods of time you are going to need to either buy a set of weights for each location, learn to drive or get some kind of exercise travel kit.
The drunken kebab is also a hazard. The simple way to beat this is to swap the kebab for a subway. A tuna subway. Get a big one too and make the most of those munchies. See there you’ve turned a negative into a positive. Life gave you lemons and you crushed them and squeezed the juice into your enemy’s eyes.

Why Bother?

The hardcore bodybuilders among us never need to answer this question, but for those of you who aren't so hard core yet here's some convincing points

1. You are normally topless at Uni
2. If not, then you are in revealing fancy-dress
3. If you don’t go to the gym at Uni then you will get fat
4. Working out is good for your brain
5. If you have a big nose then it’s your best chance… (biggest reason for me)
6. People always challenge you to arm wrestles at Uni

So there. No excuses and every reason to get your academic butt in the gym. Party hard, study hard, eat sandwiches hard... and lift hard! Keep punching!

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