You have booked that well-deserved vacation in 2021, to the south coast of Spain; “Costa del Sol”. As you let your imagination run wild, you can see yourself lying on a beach bed, with a piña colada in your hand, sunglasses on, but there is only one thing missing... That perfect beach body: everyone’s silent desire. Now with online classes, no partying and only gyms that can go open, a lot of free time has been created. My fellow students let’s be honest, after 10 in the evening no one seriously works on school anymore. Instead of mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, start working out.

Why you should start working out

I’m just going to start with the obvious, working out is healthy for both your body and your mind. Working out helps making you feel more alive, gives you energy and allows you to sleep more deeply at night. If you have trouble feeling awake during the day because of all the online classes and stress of your daily life, try working out for a week and feel the difference. You experience results rather than thinking about how it would feel to experience them. It is a chain reaction, you start lifting, you start to look better. When you start feeling better about the way you look, you’re going to gain confidence. A lot of confidence, isn’t the only benefit. Working out is a great stress reliever, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Have you ever had some free time and really wondered what you could be doing at that moment? Well, why not start going to the gym?

How to begin working out

Start thinking about what you want, do you want to gain muscle and mass, or perhaps lose some mass? Whatever your goal is, it dictates what you want to achieve. Instead of praying to the gym gods to grant you your perfect body, work and dedication are the things that actually make it happen. Once you know your goal, start researching, start researching everything there is to know about the gym. Ask yourself how many days in the week you want to spend in the gym. Honesty with yourself is the key, make your plan for the week achievable. There are millions of exercises and training schedules on the internet. They explain what is best for which specific goal. If you want to grow, hypertrophy and compound exercises are key. Hypertrophy means more sets and reps, while slightly decreasing the intensity, which increases cell size. Compound exercises work for multiple muscle groups at the same time, for instance, a squat, where you use your glutes, calves and quadriceps.

Sleep and diets are just as important as hitting the gym, sleep is needed for your muscles to recover. A rule of thumb is that 48 hours of rest are needed for a muscle to recover and repair, creatine improves and shortens this rest time. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep, you could work out 5 times a week, follow the best diets possible and still not notice any significant effects. A study in 2011 found out that, without adequate sleep muscle mass decreases. Lack of sleep hinders energy levels, and leave us susceptible to mood swings. If you are interested in what can improve sleep, my friend Max wrote a whole article about it.

Your diet is key

Your diet is just as important as working out, if you want to lose weight then your diet is even more important than going to the gym. Strength training breaks down muscle tissue, during recovery, that tissue rebuilds stronger and bigger, but your body can’t create that new muscle tissue out of nothing. To make gains you need to have the right nutrients in your body, to create muscle.

Your diet needs to be adjusted to your goal, muscle gain and weight loss are two different diets, both focused on different aspects. But my fellow student, don’t worry, especially in the beginning small differences already create change. For building muscle, eat more, add a shake for the missing protein and in 2 months changes can already be noticed. Protein shakes provide amino acids that are easily absorbed by your body. Their intake increases amino acid levels in the bloodstream, which in turn triggers a more significant response for muscle synthesis. Fuel up before and after your workout, pre-workout snacks combine carbohydrates with protein, this makes you feel more energised. Avoid junk food, this is made of sugar and lots of fat, instead of building muscle, you will gain fat instead.

In brief

Imagine yesterday evening and ask yourself, what did I do in the evening? Bet it was either watching tv, being on your phone, or watching a Christmas film on Netflix. Most gyms are open 24/7, so instead of being a couch potato, why not go to the gym? Most students sleep after 1 am, you can go to the gym at 10 pm, workout for 2 hours and you still have an hour left for eating and falling in sleep. I gave you guys all the necessary information to begin, now it is up to you what you do with it. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualisation shit, see you in the gym.