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What you need to know as a student bodybuilder.

August 01, 2018

You’ve enrolled in college/university and you find out that a gym membership at your school is a part of your tuition (it is at most schools in America now). You know you should use it since you’re technically paying for it.

 Or if you’re from the UK, you may as well join the gym, I mean, what else you going to do with all that spare time?

 It’s a good way to meet people and you’d love to build an impressive physique. But the problem being, you’ve got absolutely no idea where or how to start.

students talking about fitness

 If that description fits you, then this is the perfect article for you!

The problem most college-age kids have when it comes to getting started with bodybuilding is, well, getting started. Analysis paralysis is real and it keeps a lot of people from beginning, especially young people.

What supplements should I use? What exercises should I do? How much rest should I take? What should I eat?

This article will cut through all the fluff and give you EXACTLY what you need to be a successful student bodybuilder!

Plus, you’ll learn the piece of gym equipment that costs $2 but will help you pack on tons of muscle.


The Skinny on Nutrition

Let’s start with what is usually the most difficult to understand, nutrition.

First, you need to decide on a direction to go. Do you want to begin by cutting fat or building muscle? This is totally up to you and should be decided based on your priorities.

Once you’ve chosen, the next thing to do is consume the amount of calories you need to reach your goal.

There’s a concept in science called energy balance. Energy balance refers to the relationship between energy (calories) and your bodily functions. If you consume more calories than your body needs to maintain its functions, you’ll gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its functions, then you’ll lose weight.

Then how do you know how many calories to consume? Luckily we have previously dived into this subject. If you want to lose weight then check out How much should I be eating to cut bodyfat? And if you want to put on muscle mass then check out How many calories do I need when Bulking?

Next, you need to know how many calories are in the foods you’re consuming. You can learn this by checking the nutrition facts on the back of any food container or package.

  1. Get yourself a food scale (they’re pretty cheap) and weigh out the serving sizes.
  2. Multiply the amount of calories by the serving size you had.
  3. Write down the amount of calories you had.
  4. Repeat this process for each meal you have during the day until you meet your goal amount of calories.

calorie counting to help students

This may sound like an arduous process, and it can be in the beginning. Yes, your roommate may give you odd looks or even make jokes. But it gets much easier over time.

To make this process a whole lot easier, you can download an app called MyFitnessPal. This app allows you to scan the barcode of the foods your eating to keep a running total of your daily intake. 90% of the foods found in the supermarket are on the app, so it makes calorie counting 10 times easier. 

Also, you may have a meal plan you’re paying for. If you do, then calorie counting becomes significantly more difficult.

You can’t bring the food scale with you to the eating area after all. If you’re mostly eating from a cafeteria, then make healthy choices (no fried or sugary stuff) and compare your diet with how you’re progressing.

If you’re losing or gaining the weight you want, then things are going well with your diet. If you’re not progressing, then either cut or add more calories to your overall diet. 


Lifting 101

Again, we’re going to keep things simple and to the point. But we do need to cover a bit of science first.

Here are a couple of short programs that are perfect for a beginner to start packing on the muscle.

The 3 Times Per Week Workout

You can do this on any day of the week.

    • Squat (4 sets x 8–12 reps)
    • Chin-up (4 sets x 8–12 reps)

Weighted pull-ups. 47.5 pounds for 3 sets of 6. In my @brutebelt. Although weighted pull-ups are a great exercise, I really do them for enjoyment. There's something special about doing heavy weighted pull-ups. Just makes me feel good about myself ya know? As far as function. The lats are a shoulder extensor. Because your shoulders begin in a flexed position and end in an extended position, pull-ups are a better choice for your lats than most types of rowing exercises. Try extending your spine and retracting your scapula before you begin the pull-up, and do your best to maintain that position throughout the entire movement. Doing this will put the lats in a more shortened or contracted position at the top of the pull-up. When you train a muscle, do your best to put the muscle in its' shortest (most contracted) and longest (most lengthened) position. As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask!

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    • Dumbbell Bench Press (4 sets x 8–12 reps)
    • Seated Hamstring Curl (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
    • Cable Lateral Raise (4 sets x 12–15 reps) 

Yes, this would be considered a full body workout. For people who can only train three times a week, full body workouts are perfect.

The 4 Times Per Week Workout

Workout A:

  • Squat (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
  • Chin-up (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
  • Seated Hamstring Curl (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press (3 sets x 8–12 reps)

Workout B:

    • Cable Lateral Raise (3 sets x 8–12 reps)

💥💥Engineered Lateral Raises💥💥 Instructions 1. Stand in the middle of a cable crossover machine, and hold each cable with the opposite hand. You want the resistance coming out of the thumb side of your hand. 2. Tip slightly forward at your hips. 3. Raise the weight to a 90-degree angle as you would in a standard lateral raise. Reasoning 1. Gripping the resistance in this manner is going to force you into internal rotation as you pull the weight. Because of the internal rotation, your lateral deltoid will be forced into being opposite the line of resistance throughout the entire movement. Also, because the resistance is lateral the tension will be constant throughout the movement. This solves the problem of the lateral deltoid only being used for about 30° of the average lateral raise. 2. Tipping forward at the hips will reinforce that we’re keeping the anterior deltoid out of the movement. This is a lateral deltoid exercise, not an anterior one. 3. There’s no need to go above 90° after about 90° your rotator cuff is going to take over, and that’s also not what we’re trying to work.

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  • Standing Calve Raise (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
  • Bayesian Curl (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
  • Overhead Tricep Extension (3 sets x 8–12 reps)
  • Rear Delt Cable Fly (3 sets x 8–12 reps)

After you complete workout B, your next workout will be A. In other words, you’ll be doing each of these in rotating order.


The One Thing You Need

You’re a student. You need to be disciplined and studious if you’re going to earn that degree. You should know bodybuilding is no different.

Strength and muscle gains tend to happen alongside one another.

Think of strength as the test for whether or not your workouts and nutrition are working properly. If you want to be a successful bodybuilder, then you need to make absolutely sure you’re getting stronger on a weekly basis.

How do you make that happen? With a notebook! (Or notes on your phone)

You bench pressed last week and you know you need to surpass what you did. You remember the weight you used, but can’t for the life of you remember how many reps you got on your 3rd and 4th set.

If you recorded the previous workout, then this isn’t a problem in the slightest. Just refer to your notebook/phone and you know exactly what you need to do to make progress. Another benefit is you’ll be able to see your progress month after month, and year after year.

Having a phone on you whilst you're in the gym may prove to be a distraction, so many people like to opt for the notebook.

So stop by the bookstore, get yourself a small notebook, and start logging those workouts.


Wilfredo Thomas has been voted a top Quora writer in both 2018 and 2017. He provides invaluable advice on the popular forum and has received over 19 million views on his answers. The videos you see in this post are from Wilfredo, to see more simply click on the video to visit his instagram profile, and give him a follow!



What do you need to know as a student bodybuilder by Robor Fitness Apparel

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