How to Find Time for the Gym in College

Wanting to get into a gym routine while in college? Here's some tips for how to find time for the gym!

Let’s be honest, we all come to college with this grand idea of hitting the gym every day. There’s a free fitness center at our fingertips and maybe just maybe we’ll all get that dream body that we’ve wanted for forever. You start out strong, hitting the gym a few times during the first week of class, but then the stress and assignments start setting in and going to the gym becomes more of a chore than something you enjoy doing.

By the end of the semester, the gym is a complete afterthought, and then when you can’t fit into your favorite pair of jeans, you get frustrated with yourself because if only you’d stuck it out and gone to the gym as much as you had wanted to, you wouldn’t be in the position you’re in now.Β All of this can be boiled down into one quote:Β failing to plan is planning to fail.

I fell into this trap as well during my freshman year, and it’s a frustrating place to be. So how can you plan to succeed instead of planning to fail?

Going to the gym is like anything else in life that you find the time for. You have to make it a priority. If going to the gym is not something that you consider a “must-do” for your week, you’re not going to go. Think of the reasons why you’re not making time for the gym. Do you find the gym boring? Are you intimidated by the super muscular guys in the weight room? Do you feel like you don’t have time? Do you not have the energy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, well I’m here to help!

I wouldn’t normally answer the questions that I just asked in this post because I’m planning on doing a post all about how I got into working out, what I do at the gym, and all of that jazzy stuff in late October. But, for the sake of this post, I’ll answer them!

Find the gym boring?

Let me ask you one question. Do you strictly do cardio? Because cardio is BORING. Walking/running/biking in one place for an hour or so is extremely boring and it makes me want to not go to the gym. While cardio is helpful in creating a caloric deficit, which you need to lose weight, it’s only effective up to a certain point. Want to really lose weight and transform your body? Hit the weights. Afraid of getting too bulky? Girls, it’s virtually impossible for us to get super bulky like guys. We have less testosterone which keeps us from building massive amounts of muscle.

Intimidated by the weight room?

Afraid of all of the super muscular men? Don’t even know where to start? I totally understand where you’re coming from. Last year I avoided the weight room like the plague. If you’re afraid people are going to judge you, walk in with confidence, turn up your music, and just do your thing. Chances are no one is actually looking at you or judging you. I believe the gym is a strict no judgement zone. We’re all there to better ourselves. As for not knowing where to start, do you research. There are a ton of resources on the web for free beginner programs and routines. Bicep curls, squats, tricep extensions, lateral raises, abs, and burpees are a great place to start. Don’t focus on the weight, focus on the form, especially if you’re just starting out. Proper form will save you from many injuries down the road.

No time or energy?

Like I said before, you’ll make time for the things you prioritize. Building the gym into your weekly routine gives you no excuse to skip out. As for energy, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep, drinking a lot of water (I’m talking a lot of water), and eating lots of protein. I can be super exhausted and not want to hit the gym at all, but once I get there, blast my music, and push out some reps, I’m feeling great and energized.

Let’s get to scheduling!

Alright so I’m using an example schedule that I came up with out of the blue, but this is just an example. So you really have two options when choosing when to hit the gym during a school day: before class or after class. I don’t mind going to class a bit sweaty, and since I do live on campus, it makes life slightly easier.

Wanting to get into a gym routine while in college? Here's some tips for how to find time for the gym!
Utilize those breaks! See all of that time that you could be at the gym? If you use your time wisely, you’ll have plenty of time to go to class, eat, workout, hangout with friends, and do homework.

Set realistic gym expectations & goals

I aim to hit the gym three to four times a week. Any more than that and I’m exhausted, cranky, and I can’t focus on my school work.

Don’t set a goal of 6x a week if you know that’s not feasible. Three days is always a good option and good for most college students who have a ton of other stuff to do. Right now, here’s my gym schedule:

  • Tuesday: legs & 30 minutes of cardio
  • Thursday: upper body & 20-30 minutes of cardio
  • Saturday: upper body OR full body & 30 minutes of cardio
  • Sunday (if it happens): full body

Don’t worry if you’re not sure of what to do on specific days. For beginners, it’s going to be important to build up endurance and perfect form. Full body & 20-30 minutes of cardio is perfect!

Determine the times when you’re free

A quality gym session can be done in just an hour. Do you have big gaps between your classes? Do your classes not start until later in the day? Do you have one day where you’re done with classes by noon?

Determine the time you spend watching Netflix when you could beΒ at the gym

I am guilty of this 100%.

On the day’s I go to the gym, I have a four-hour break in between my classes. If I just go straight back to my dorm room, I know I’ll sit down and watch Netflix for those four hours. So, I turn time that I’m unproductive into time that I am productive. Sitting and watching Netflix is not going to get you to achieve your fitness goals.Β 

schedule it into your life

Not going to lie, I have a portion of my Google calendar that’s blocked off for the gym because if I don’t have it scheduled in, I am way less likely to go. Think of it as another class, except it’s more fun than class. If you’re really bad about not going, set notifications on your phone to remind you to go!

See all those breaks in that picture up there? Those are prime gym times! Again, you don’t need some crazy 2 hour gym session. All you need is about an hour and you’ll be good to go! If I’m running low on time, I’ll do my strength workout and then do cardio for however long it takes me to get to a full hour. There are ways for any lifestyle to get to the gym and start achieving those fitness goals!

Let me know if you have any more questions! Do you schedule your workouts into your week? How do you keep up with hitting the gym on a regular basis?

~abigail gray

  • I love going to fitness classes my rec center offers and making plans to go with a friend to keep me motivated to actually show up. I don’t want the instructors or my friends to think I’m slacking off or bailing on them!

    Caitlyn |

    • I totally forgot about fitness classes! I’m not one to like to be around others when I’m working out, so that’s why it totally slipped my mind. But fitness classes are such a good, structured thing to include in your schedule!

  • Love this, Abigail! I completely agree–fitness is so important, but it’s so easy to flake out on it xD

    Great tips πŸ™‚

    Rebecca | Life as a Dare

    • Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ I’ve become super passionate about fitness because it truly changed my life this year. So glad you enjoyed!

  • This is just what I needed–I love the idea of figuring out when you have free time, having it all laid out makes it a lot easier to figure out when I can make it happen! πŸ™‚
    paige // eyeliner wings & pretty things

    • I’m glad you enjoyed! This is going to be a long reply, so I apologize, haha. Last year in one of my courses, we had to fill out a daily time sheet. We wrote down everything we did for the exact amount of time, and after doing that for a week, I realized how much time I wasted. That meant I had way more free time than I thought. I don’t know why I shared that, but that’s also a good way to see your free time!

      • I’m glad you shared that!! That sounds like such a good idea, I really want to try that now to see where I’m wasting my time, I wrote a post for the lala about not being as busy as we think or things we don’t have time for but actually do, and I think this is such a good idea to kind of back that idea up! πŸ™‚

  • Kennedy Skye

    A little tip, if you’re trying to lose weight or fat, DON’T DO A LOT OF WEIGHTS! You won’t get too bulky, BUT, you’re not burning fat, just building muscle, so it will actually push your fat out more. Find a happy medium between cardio and weights! this was a great post though! A lot of good tips πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! Yes, lifting weights builds muscle which may push out your fat at first, but muscle burns more calories than fat. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’re body is going to need. If you’re really trying to lose weight, diet plays a HUGE role in weight loss and is truly how you’re going to see results.

  • I love this post! In college, I have developed a routine of finishing my work for the day (usually around 9 or 10pm), and then heading to the gym super late. Not only are there less people, but it allows me to take my mind off anything stressing me out from the day. I find that it also helps to have a gym buddy to keep you accountable!

    Colleen | Buckeye Bliss

    • That’s such a good plan! I wish I was like that, but by the time 10pm rolls around, I’m so ready for bed, haha

  • I need to start working out more often, so I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind! Your post just motivated me to get started. πŸ™‚

    • Awww yay! Starting is always the hardest part πŸ™‚

  • Katlyn

    This is a great post! Luckily, I love going to the gym in college. But I still have those moments when I have no motivation. My blog is dedicated being healthy in college, so I love that I’ve found someone else that blogs about this!