How To Find Time To Workout In College!

College is an amazing opportunity to exercise and establish habits for a healthier life before the stresses of graduate school or employment constrain you! However, the stresses and time constraints of college itself can be exhausting and it can be hard to find the time to workout.

I understand how classes, volunteering, studying, tutoring, adviser meetings and student involvement can quickly take up all of your extra time. I am going to help you find the time and method that allows you to workout in college without sacrificing extra sleep!

After we discuss your workout goals, we can plan certain times during your day when a workout may be possible. Then I’ll explain how you can workout more efficiently to get more done in less time! To finish, I’ll give you some sneaky calorie burning tricks to make your efforts even more effective. Let’s do this!

Decide On Your Goals and Needs!

Why do you want or need to workout? Health and fitness are near and dear to my heart and I can give you advice from what I’ve learned, but you are unique and will have your own reasons for wanting a better feeling and better looking body! To make the entire process easier, decide on exactly what you want so that we can figure out the best way to get there!

First you should outline your goals. You can start off vague but eventually work your way to being more specific and create a purpose behind each goal. Write down what you want, any details that you can think of, and why you want it. Don’t be afraid to go deep into your why or be brutally specific with yourself. This is for a better YOU!

For example, if you came to college a bit overweight and you want to get in better shape for spring break, that’s awesome! However, we can get much more specific. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, firm up your legs and butt, and feel great throughout the day! Or maybe you hate being called “small” and you want to be able to lift more!

Write down some numerical goals such as the 10 pounds you want to lose or a weight that you want to be able to lift, and write down some qualitative goals that you can visualize such as how you want to feel as you walk on the beach or how you want your shoulders and chest to be bigger than your waist.

Once you have a defined set of goals and a vision of where you want to be, stick to them until you have achieved what you want! Many people make the mistake of switching between goals too frequently to see amazing progress with one, and so they say that nothing works for them.

Stick it out and enjoy the process that will bring you the amazing body, health and life that you want!

Planning a Time That Works Best For You!

You now have your goals written down, (if not, go do that and return so that this actually helps you), and you may have wondered how in the world you are going to find the time to achieve them! Don’t lose hope because it is easier than you think!

Firstly, it will help tremendously if you get a 24-hour calendar to plan out your day. You should be honest with yourself and how you structure your time! If you look for it, you will find or be able to create gaps in your schedule where we can place a workout!

Your workouts never need to be more than an hour. Even 30 minutes can be more than enough and I guarantee I could give you a 10-minute workout that would leave you begging for mercy (I will explain in the next section). Time is often not the constraint; instead it is usually the strategy!

Find a time that will work best for you most days. For many students, the best time is either first thing in the morning before classes begin, or in the afternoon after classes are completed.

There was only one semester in college when the best time for my workouts happened to be in the middle of the day because of some weird scheduling issues. Early and late classes with a big gap in between really got on my nerves and I never let that happen again.

If you can, try waking up a bit earlier and exercising before breakfast or your first class! If you struggle to have energy in the mornings, see my post on how to achieve this! This is a great way to start your day feeling amazing! Conquering a workout early in the day will make everything else seem so much easier (classes, presentations, and homework).

If later in the afternoon is more your forte (you should try both to see), then make sure you have a plan, as a large amount of other students and faculty will most likely be at the gym at this time. I used to try to be at the gym as soon as parking restrictions lifted at 4PM. This way, it was also the same each and every day.

Finding a time that you can go consistently at will make this a much easier habit to create! Another awesome strategy is to use a workout as a study break. Let’s say that you study from 4-7PM usually. Instead of checking social media or emails during that period, take a 35-minute break in the middle to workout. The added blood flow and focus afterwards will probably make your studying much more effective! It is also a great way to reduce test anxiety!

Exercise Efficiently by Burning More Calories in Less Time!

Most people have the misconception that a workout should be a long ordeal where you conduct three sets of ten reps for ten different exercise and limp your way out!

That may be true and effective if you’re becoming a bodybuilding and need to work on breaking down the maximum amount of muscle fibers to achieve the details of your physique, but to simply get in better shape it couldn’t be easier!

I keep most of my workouts to less than 45 minutes and some are as short as 10! The key to less time is to increase the intensity and/or shorten the rest periods! Without getting too crazy into the textbook stuff, intensity is measured as either percentage of your maximum heart rate or percentage of your maximum resistance.

Simply put, the harder you work and push yourself (the greater the challenge), the more intense the workout. The more intense the workout, the less time you need to burn the same amount of calories to achieve your goal.

For example, if one person runs three miles at a slow, leisurely pace while another only runs one mile but does it as fast as he is able to and pukes at the end, it is obvious which was more intense! The amount of total calories burned during the day for the individual who ran one mile at maximum exertion will be higher than the one that ran three and didn’t break a sweat.

How can you use this to your advantage? If you are extremely limited on time, you can perform circuits, interval training, or maximum exertion to achieve a high calorie expenditure in a small amount of time.

Reduce the rest periods between exercises, increase the weight or speed of the exercises, and give more effort! This is easy to do if you have a “timed” workout. For example, if I was low on time, I could do the maximum amount of burpees possible in five minutes, and I guarantee if I push myself I would get a better workout than most normal gym-goers in their hour of exercise.

Have you ever seen people that go to fitness classes, yoga or jazzercise consistently for years and never seem to look much different? They probably blame age, genetics or someone’s cooking as the reason for a lack of progress, but the simple and awesome reason is that our bodies are great at adapting!

Our bodies are programmed to become efficient so that activities become easier. Even if it is an hour when they are active and sweating, it is not a high enough intensity to force the body to adapt and change.

The uncomfortably difficult workouts are the ones that bring about the best results because the body must adapt to “survive”.

Easy “Sneaky” Ways To Burn More Calories on a Tight Schedule!

With less time to workout, you may be happy to know that little tweaks to your day can increase the amount of calories you burn and the results that you see! Make sure to check out my post on losing the freshman-15 as well!

  • Increase your exposure to the cold! Cold showers, drinking cold water, keeping the temperature lower while you sleep or wearing fewer layers in the colder months all force your body to burn more energy to keep a stable and higher internal temperature (homeostasis at its finest, baby!).
  • Walk everywhere you can! Instead of standing there waiting for a bus to sit on before you sit in class and sit outside the class on your phone waiting for the next bus, plan your time and walk! Take the long route if you have extra time between classes and enjoy the scenery!
  • If there are stairs, use them! Not only is it usually faster than waiting for an elevator, but simply taking the stairs daily or more often increases the amount of calories that you burn that day.
  • Put an extra book in your backpack! Rucking, or walking with a weighted backpack is all the fitness rage nowadays, although I’ve talked to some military buddies that couldn’t be more ready to be done with it! Simply walking with more weight on your back increases the amount of calories you burn as you walk around using your core for stability (good posture people!), your back and shoulders for the pack, and legs to propel yourself forward.
  • Take study breaks where you move around! Do some squats, push ups or enjoy a walk! Whatever you do, don’t let yourself sit all day long everywhere you go.
  • Drink caffeine! You probably do anyway! Coffee or green tea can greatly enhance your body’s ability to burn fat, especially if consumed on an empty stomach prior to activity. The only caveat to this is that you can’t be putting a bunch of cream and sugar into your tea or coffee, as this defeats the fat-burning benefits!
  • Eat more protein and fiber (healthier foods in general). Protein can be thermogenic in nature and will assist with both controlling hunger and proper exercise recovery. Foods higher in fiber such as celery will require more energy (calories) to digest than they give, which is an easy way to boost your caloric expenditure while feeling full.


Make It Part Of Your Normal Routine!

Exercise shouldn’t be something extra you have to find time for. It should be a non-negotiable part of your day! Even a small amount of activity is better than a completely sedentary lifestyle.

Not only will your health and body improve, but your performance in the classroom will improve as well! I hope this post helped you to figure out some ways to get your workouts in with your busy college schedule! If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please let me know in the comments below!

Also, please let me know if you want more information on this topic or another and I would be honored to make it happen!

Conquer College and Dominate Life!

-Hudson, LikeTheRiver






  • Shirun

    Man oh man! This has got to be some of the best college workout advice I’ve seen posted online. I can’t tell you how many of my personal training clients I’ve preached this too. Rest periods are KEY people. And if anyone is the King of efficient workouts, it’s Mr. Hudson Sadler here. This man got all his work done and exercise complete with little to no stress each day. This article gets my seal of approval; keep it up brotha!

    • Hudson

      Thank you brother, your words are too kind! You know I had to get efficient or else I would be “too busy”, and my workouts were too near and dear to my heart!

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