As fresher’s week has come to a boozy end you might be just starting your messy three year journey into adulthood or returning back from a long summer at home- either way if you’re looking for a time to get fit- this is it! When you’re at university there’s no better time to get fit and healthy- especially now you no longer have the delights of your parent’s fully stocked fridge.
A Student = No Money and No Job
The number one excuse from students when it comes to getting fit is “I have no job and no money… I’m a student- I’m Skint”. But we’re here to show you that being a student doesn’t mean having to put your body through nutritional torture by living off pot noodles! Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain weight, build muscle or just become healthier and happier follow these ten simple ways to Get Fit on a Student Budget.
1. Set a Goal
Step one is probably the easiest of the bunch- set a goal and stick to it! What is it that you want to achieve and most importantly why?
Fitness goals change and develop all the time, so whether you want to lose weight or get stacked you should always be aiming to be healthy with your happiness at the heart of your main goal. Once you’ve got your goal focus on getting motivated.
Take some time to get a bit of education, read up on some different methods getting stacked or losing weight isn’t all about endless hours in the gym! Start basic and be sure to surround yourself with positive people who add to your personality and support your new fitness goals.
2. Join a Gym or a Sports Team
Once you’ve sorted yourself out with a fitness objective and some motivation it’s time to check out your local gyms. First stop- the student gym.
Many people complain that gyms are often too expensive and with a tight student loan it’s hard to justify forking out wads of cash just to go to the gym for an hour. However, many universities have a student gym with exclusive student offers… for example, a discounted price for the whole year, or discounts for all 3 years of university… yes this is one bulk payment, but if you’re serious about getting fit you’ll definitely get the most out of your money!
What’s more many student gyms offer the chance to take part in fitness classes so you can have fun and mix up your workouts. Make sure you take advantage of all your universities facilities, whether that’s swimming pools, running tracks or tennis courts.
Going to university is all about meeting new people and socialising so if you’ve never done a sport in your life, or consider yourself a future Olympian… join a sports team!
There are so many sports teams at university, if you head out to one of your fresher’s fairs you’ll be sure to find the one for you! The good thing about joining university sports teams is that there are so many different types with people from all different levels of fitness- so even if you’ve never played a sport you’ll meet people who are exactly the same as you.
If football, netball and rugby aren’t something you think you’ll ever enjoy, why not try something different such as rock climbing, surfing, skiing, cross country, swimming, fencing, running or cycling…. really there are so many different teams… and even some really strange ones out there! Whatever you do make sure you drop the “I’m not good enough” attitude- everyone has to start somewhere and there are tons of other people in the same boat!
3. Make Your Own Gym
Okay, still not convinced? Maybe you have your friends already and don’t need more… and the gym is still too expensive or maybe even too far away… why not try an at home workout and make your own gym.
There are so many workouts available from videos to crossfit and HIIT workouts. You could try buying yourself a yoga matt, an exercise ball and even some skipping ropes and small weights- they’re pretty cheap so either way you don’t have an excuse. Body weight and HIIT workouts may not be easy to do but they are super easy to find- you can even get a load of apps for your phone!
What’s more if your self conscious and really can’t get over the idea of feeling embarrassed in the gym, starting hiit workouts from home is a great way to get you started and start to boost your confidence. One of my favourite workouts in particular used to be insanity, after 2 months of doing these hiit workouts from home your confidence and fitness can increase enough to make you actually WANT to go to the gym! If you think your house or room isn’t big enough look for some free rooms around your student gym or student accommodation- you’re bound to find somewhere.
4. Designate a Time for Training
Although some people seem to think students spend the majority of time in bed… and sometimes we do, this isn’t always the case! Sometimes workload can be high and free time can be limited, so make sure you designate a time for your training. Don’t just say- “I’ll go when I’m free” because chances are there’s always going to be something better that comes up… especially in the winter months, when it’s cold and all you can think about is your nice cosy bed!
Decide when you want to train and how often- ideally you should be aiming for 4-5 days a week for 45minutes to an hour a half. When you decide to train in the day is up to you! Are you a morning person or could going to the gym in the morning be what you need to start the day? Or perhaps you feel like something from a horror movie in the morning- in which case try training at night or in the afternoon!
5. Keep Your Food Shopping Simple- Don’t forget the Basics
Now this is probably the most important step- despite being 5th of the list. You may or may not have heard this but fitness is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise- what does this mean? It means what you eat is super important! Now again, I don’t want to hear the excuse “I have no money” for three years I spent a minimum amount on food… much less than those who ate junk… and managed to eat healthy.
Be sure to keep your food shopping basic… no not ready meals… make a shopping list and stick to it! Don’t go wandering down the pick n mix isle (my personal favourite)… yes all that food looks so good but 1. It’s expensive and 2. It’s bad for you! 3. Remember your goals there’s always cheat meals and treats you can have now and then later on.
In terms of diet it’s important you get healthy forms of affordable forms of protein, carbohydrates and fats… check out your local market and butchers for meat and vegetables. Eat lots of pulses, tinned beans (NOT baked beans!) and eggs- these are super cheap and great sources of protein! Another tip would be to check out the reduced isle and also the frozen range in your local supermarket. For example bags of frozen fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish are often great deal cheaper than fresh with the supermarket value range being the most affordable (e.g. a kilogram of frozen vege for £1.00). If you’re looking for healthy snacks and breakfast ideas- try products such as supermarket value oats, low fat natural yogurt, cottage cheese and quark- all of which are affordable and good sources of dairy and protein.
6. Cut Down on Takeaways
Stop buying takeaways! You’re on your own now- no mam or dad to cook for you and make sure you eat well, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy out at cafés or buy takeaways. Takeaways… even the ones that seem healthy, like a chicken kebab are full of salt, sugar and high levels of saturated fat- a nutritional disaster! Its fine to enjoy one every now and then but not all the time! I for one am the worst cook, but making simple meals really isn’t hard- check out the Zone recipes page for some ideas.
In my experience, mainly with my best friend, I always seem to hear “ I can’t afford to eat healthy food”… but in reality this is a massive misconception in society where studies have actually proven and shown that many people won’t eat healthily because they feel fruit and vegetables and healthy foods are “too expensive”.
Okay… but how much is that dominoes pizza? Even a cheap take away such like a McDonalds are around 5 pounds… which could have bought you a good 2 days worth of meals or more if you shop sensibly! So stop giving in to takeaways- your body will thank you later. What might save you ten minutes here and there won’t do you any good in the long run.
7. Plan your Meals: Eat Little and Often
After making yourself a decent shopping list, plan your meals! Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! If you plan what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks you’re less likely to give into quick impulse buys and unhealthy temptations. Make sure you eat little and often and try not to starve all day and overcompensate with a huge dinner!… yes we’ve all done it!
Try finding some quick tasty and basic recipes, buy Tupperware boxes and start making some healthy delicious packed lunches… that way the foods there when you need it most!
8. An Affordable Supplement Regime
Some people swear by supplements, others say they are a load of rubbish- either way they’re expensive right? Here at Myprotein we buy our products in bulk so we can offer them to you at the very cheapest prices.
Okay but where do you start? Well this depends on your goals. As a rule of thumb Impact Whey protein is the top supplement for a range of goals and an ideal way to get extra protein in your diet, without having to buy loads of chicken breasts. Second on the supplement list is BCAA’s … bcaas are branched chain amino acids which are the supplement of choice to help prevent post workout muscle pains and allow your muscles to recover fast. You may also be interested in other products such as pre workout, creatine and post workout supplements, check out our other articles and our product range to find the best products for your fitness goals.
PLEASE remember though- supplements are NOT to be consumed instead of food! Products such as protein powder can be used as meal replacements when they are incorporated into tasty protein shakes but that’s not to say you should only consume whey protein to lose weight. Make sure your getting an adequate nutrition from a range of different sources and food groups!
9. Limit Your Alcohol
Some People tend to stick with the stereotype that being a student is all about going out, drinking and sleeping all day… although for some this may be a big part of university it’s not always the truth!
Just because you’re now at university doesn’t mean you have to be boozed up 24-7. Alcohol is not only expensive and a sure way to make you have to scrap the pennies together but it’s also super unhealthy… I know, I know… you didn’t come here for a lecture! You don’t have to completely eliminate alcohol if you really don’t want to but to get fit and healthy you’re going to have to cut down and like all things that are bad for us- enjoy it in moderation.
Drinking too much can leave you dehydrated, affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals… and also lead you to make some rather cloudy judgements! Overall you’re consuming a ton of empty calories! For example did you know just one small bottle of alcopop has over 200 calories in and a ton of sugar… don’t know about you but most people don’t just stick to one of these.
If you’re going to drink make sure you make sensible decisions and try opting for spirits and diet sodas rather than ciders, beers and alcopops. But really if you’re serious about changing your physique and getting healthy- cut the alcohol.
10. Find a Buddy and Have Fun
Last but by no means least, find a workout buddy and have fun! Find someone with similar goals- even if you like time to yourself, finding a workout buddy means when one of you feels unmotivated or down the other is there to get you going and help support your goals- they also understand what you’re going through during tough times! Always enjoy getting fit, you should be having fun… most of the time… and enjoying your progress and hard earned results!
A Take Home Message
When you go to university your life changes forever and it’s your chance to meet new people and become part of a totally different community. Some say it’s the time you grow up the most- that’s debateable, but it could definitely be your time to shine and get fit and healthy!
Have fun and enjoy your next three years of freedom.