Now I’m back at University it can be difficult to juggle working and fitting in my training sessions, particularly in the dreaded term 3! With each session taking between 1 hour and a half and 2 hours, it can feel a bit like you’re wasting valuable revision/essay writing time but you’re not!! Exercise actually improves your productivity and gives you something different to focus on other than the text books. There are lots of ways it does this, through improving your mental health, physical health and keeping you alert. Basically, without getting too scientific (I am a history student after all!), when you exercise you are increasing blood flow to your brain, which results in you being more alert. It also gives you more energy, which I always think seems a little odd, but this will make you feel more awake and therefore you’ll be more productive. What I’m trying to say is that making sure you fit in a bit of exercise is super important, especially during the exam period. So here are my top tips for balancing University with training.
1. Set your alarm and pack your bags the night before so you have no excuse in the morning. Getting yourself up and hitting the gym early will prepare you for the day and gets your work out done and dusted so you can then focus on work. The gym is usually pretty quiet in the morning as well so it’s my favourite time to go. It can be pretty tough to motivate yourself to get out of bed but once you get into a routine your body will get used to it. If you’re really worried about missing working hours, set your alarm for a little earlier and use time when you’d usually be asleep to train.
2. Pre-Plan and make your meals. Eating well is the one thing find the hardest when I am at university, but making sure you are eating well and often is really important. Not eating or eating lots of rubbish is no good for your motivation and will leave you feeling tired and sluggish. Pre-planning is a great way to make sure you know what you’re eating and you always have the right ingredients in. If you’re counting your macros you’ll probably be used to this but it is a really helpful way to stay on track.
3. Find a work out program that works for you. You don’t need to be in the gym every single day of the week to be seeing results (plus, you should be taking rest days in between for recovery anyway). In order to be able to maintain training, it is important that it is realistic. Take a look at your timetable and revision plan and work out something that is going to be manageable and still allow you to achieve your goals. I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week but this is not necessary on all programmes so do some research and see what will work best for you. This is not just time wise but also work out what you are going to enjoy the most. If you’re not enjoying your training then you’re not going to stay motivated. This is even more important when you’re busy with University work as your work out should be something you look forward to, not dread.
4. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. When you’re training and working hard, making sure you’re getting a good nights sleep is super important for your mental and physical health. Not only will it allow you to train to your full potential, it will also mean you can get more work done. Sometimes it might mean sacrificing a night out or heading home early but it is crucial for success in both your work out and your productivity. If I have had a late night or not slept well it really shows in my work out and, if my focus is not there, it can lead to injuries.
5. Treat yourself. Make sure you’re not constantly working and not allowing yourself any breaks. University can be a really stressful time and, whilst training has helped me a lot, I know that sometimes I need a bit of a break. Give yourself some time everyday to focus on yourself. I like to take an hour before bed to wind down and do something without any pressure. If you want to treat yourself food wise, that’s fine too! You’re not going to lose all your gains if you don’t stick to your food plan exactly. Your body will thank you for it and you’ll see greater results both in your work and in your training if you allow yourself to relax.
So there you have my 5 top tips. These are all well and good but essentially is does come down to a lot of self motivation and pre planning. If you’re struggling you might want to find yourself a gym buddy who can help you when you’re feeling a bit down with it all. Being part of a fitness society as well might also be an idea as it’s a social way to train, which can mean you stay more motivated. Finally, although social media isn’t for everyone, the fitness community is super supportive and so getting involved with that is a great way to chat to people who are in a similar position to you and share tips and advice. Let me know what your top tips would be!