The Best Workout Plan for College Students

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Dec 4,2023|12 min| 2353

Don’t let the pressure of school weigh you down

School can put a lot of pressure on you, whether that be high school, college, or other forms of higher education. It also limits your time in the gym, chances are if you are a student, you can’t be in the gym for 3 hours a day like Arnold Schwarzenegger was. That being said, you should not give up on training as a whole, who doesn’t want to get stronger and add some muscle mass? So, what do you do? Finding an optimal training program to help you make the best gains as a student is the way to go.

Let’s break down how to train as a college student, what to look for in a program and where to find one, and the best program for students. 

Weight Training as a Student

Whether your goal is size or strength, it can be a lot more difficult to achieve your goals as a student. Class schedules, extracurricular activities, and so on can get in the way of not only maintaining a training routine, but also a solid diet and nutrition plan, sleep schedule, and supplementation routine. All of these things are crucial when it comes to getting bigger and stronger. 

What to Look for in a Student Weight Training Program

Finding a quality weight-training program that keeps you on a schedule and helps you to make some solid overall progress, but does not have you in the gym too long is ideal. You want something that will maximize the time that you spend in the gym, and a program like that will not focus on just one thing, but it will also not have you all over the place, as that can make you miss out on gains.

Here are a few different things to look for in a weight training program for students:

  • Compound Lifts: You want a program that includes the major compound lifts, which consist of the deadlift, the barbell squat, and barbell bench press. These movements are crucial for developing the base strength, and a solid foundation for your physique. Familiarizing yourself with these lifts and really progressing on them can also help with minimizing the risk of injury, as these are known for strengthening joints and ligaments as well.

  • Isolation Movements: Aside from compound movements, you also want a program to contain isolation movements that help with fine tuning the muscles and topping off the overall physique. Isolation movements are crucial for hypertrophy. For example, your leg day should include movements like leg extensions and not just be compounds like leg presses or squats. The same goes for a back workout, it should not just be deadlifts, nor should a chest day be only bench press.

  • Volume: Chances are if you are a student that is looking for student workout programs, you do not have time in the gym to be working up to a one rep on a compound lift, then backing down. If you are limited on time, you should be looking to go in and absolutely brutalize the target muscles, leaving nothing in the tank before heading home. That being said, you don’t want a program that will have you doing so much volume it is more like cardio, but your sets should be in the rep range to build muscle and strength.

Powerbuilding is the Way to Go

As a student, a good option of a weight training program to follow is a powerbuilding program, which is something that has a mix of hypertrophy and strength training. Now, if you are a competitive bodybuilder or strength athlete such as a powerlifter or Olympic weightlifter, then you should follow a program tailored to your specific sport. However, in this case, we are talking about students who are looking for a good weight training program to follow to just stay in shape, building muscle and strength.

That being said, finding a good powerlifting program can be difficult too, as there are many out there, and a lot of them might not be the best suited programs for students. Luckily, the Boostcamp team has hand-selected our favorite weight training program for students to follow.

SBD 101- Powerbuilding for Students

The SBD 101- Powerbuilding for Students program is THE powerbuilding program that is absolutely optimized for the college student's schedule and lifestyle. We understand that college could be one crazy experience that happens once in a lifetime, and constantly saying "no" to your friends when they ask you out because you have to go to the gym instead could be really detrimental to your college experience. This is why Alex Chen wrote the college powerbuilding program with 2 variations to help meet your training goals without sacrificing your college life: the 5 day plan and the 3 day plan. Both versions are built surrounding a full 16-week long college semester (bang for your buck).

That’s right, the college powerbuilding program comes with 2 variations to help meet your training goals without sacrificing your college life. One version is a 5 day split, and the other day is a 3 day split, but both versions are built around a full 16-week long college semester, ensuring you are getting the most bang for your buck. 

The first 8 weeks focus on increasing hypertrophy and work capacity while the latter 8 weeks focus on strength and 1 rep maxes. These programs are created with a few things in mind: time, stress, academic and social lives.

  • Time- Most college gyms are packed during all hours of the day, making it hard to get a good workout in when you get there. However, these workouts are designed to be completed within 50 to 90 minutes (depending on procrastination).

  • Stress- Exams, quizzes, finals, balancing out your schedule, these can all become very overwhelming and stressful, making it difficult to get anything done in the gym, as you can be so drained that even a solid pre-workout won’t have you ready for your workouts. That being said, most days in this program are RPE based which allows for autoregulation to manage fatigue and stress while other days are linear to ensure gradual progression

  • Academic and social lives- Optional exercises are added in to get MORE gains when time allows, and if you don’t have time, don’t worry about it. 

Versions of the SBD 101

As stated above, there are two different versions of this program, 5 days and 3 days. Let’s take a look.

The 5 Day Version

  • Monday: Squat / Posterior Chain

  • Tuesday: Bench / Chest & Shoulders

  • Wednesday: Deadlifts / Quads

  • Thursday: Bench / Back

  • Friday: Squat / Shoulders & Arms

  • *Another workout split is M, T, W, F, Sat (if so, swap D4 and D5's workouts)

The 3 Day Version

  • Monday: Full Body

  • Wednesday: Full Body Upper Focus

  • Friday: Full Body Lower Focus

Exercises: There are plenty of exercises included in the program that are not just squat, bench, and deadlift. There are a mix of split squats, barbell rows, bicep curls, lateral raises, and so on. 

Price: While the SBD101 program offers great training advice, it is not free. On the Boostcamp App, it is available for $9.99.

Wrap Up

Overall, weight training as a college student is not something that needs to be overly complicated. There are a lot of things to worry about when you are in school. Staying in shape can be done through a great program. Powerbuilding programs tend to work well with college students on a strict schedule, and our recommendation is the SBD 101- Powerbuilding for Students Program, which can be found right on the Boostcamp App amongst other amazing programs! 

That being said, check out the Boostcamp App for over 50 FREE programs or even create your own. Boostcamp also allows you to track progress, so you know how to adjust each week. Be sure to also follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!