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Staying Strong Through University
By Adam Sinicki
from: www.the-biomatrix.net – home
of self enhancement for bodybuilders, martial artists, traceurs, athletes and
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
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
The real reason you go to
University though is not to train… but to party! The hierarchy of priorities
should go thus:
3. Eat Sandwiches
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
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.
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!