A Personal Trainer’s Advice for Avoiding Nursing School Weight Gain

By Personal Trainer Turned Nursing Student Justin Groce

So, you’ve been accepted to nursing school or an NP program. Congrats! Unfortunately, however, as with any new beginning you can expect some challenges to come your way. For many student this means putting on weight. No, the freshman 15 doesn’t only affect undergrads.

With hours upon hours spent in clinicals, courses in pathophysiology and pharmacology, and final exams, nursing and NP students are fraught with stress making many fall prey to that dreaded nursing school weight gain.

But, alas, based on my experience as a personal trainer I can offer some valuable tips to help minimize packing on those extra pounds.

#1: Treat your workout time like it’s a class

Are You Ready to Thrive?

Learn more about our online residency program; we pair clinical and professional development to take advanced practice providers to the next level. Get More Info>>

You just received your schedule for the new semester indicating you have class from 8am-noon and 2pm-5pm on MWF and 9am-1pm and 2pm-6pm on Tu-Thur. Looks like you’re pretty booked, eh? Not so fast. Ink in your workout time on your actual school schedule. You’re more likely to commit to your exercise plan if you see it on your written down.

Try to plan your exercise routine for the downtime within your class hours, for example around lunchtime, so you don’t feel like your workout is extending your day. This will also give your brain a much needed midday adrenaline boost.

#2: Maximize your workouts with metabolic training

Instead of meandering around on a cardio device or wandering aimlessly around the weight room, do both! At the same time! Combining strength training with cardiovascular conditioning will not only maximize time, you’ll also reap the benefits of both forms of training. Outdated is the method of lifting for X amount of time followed by a few minutes of cardio.

Combining both strength training and cardio is called metabolic training. For physiology geeks like myself, when you do cardiovascular training at a steady state you are primarily metabolizing fatty acids for fuel. However, when you perform resistance training you burn glycogen. Doing both forms of exercises allows your body to use both types of energy at once translating to burning more calories in a shorter amount of time. See the end of this post for a few sample workouts.

#3: Live the role of a health practitioner

In my opinion, this is the most important advice I can give. What if your primary care provider told you to eat better but he/she was clearly overweight? What if they told you to quit smoking but had the pungent aroma of cigarettes about their person?

To incite change and promote wellness among your patients you must be a leader. Your patients expect to learn from you, but in order for them to do so you must first practice what you preach.

By embracing the role of a healthcare provider early in your nursing career you will adopt a sense of leadership and professionalism far ahead of your pinning ceremony. Great leaders don’t just lead…they embrace!

#4: Commute with your feet- when you can

If you live close to campus, there is no reason to drop a few hundred dollars a year (or maybe even a semester) on a parking pass. You can easily save money, gas, and even the environment by lacing up your shoes or hopping on your fixie. Doing something as simple as taking the stairs or parking at the back of the parking lot will help you burn a few extra calories. Yes, it will take longer to get to class, but I’d rather wake up 10 minutes earlier every day if it means staving off a few extra pounds.

Another great motivator is to download a GPS app for your phone so you can chart the miles you walk. Make a weekly goal to hit a certian number of miles simply by walking to and from class. You’ll be amazed at how much exercise you get.


Justin’s Sample Metabolic Workouts


Workout #1

Dumbbell chest press x 10-12 reps

Dumbbell bench step-ups x 10-12 reps each leg

Jump rope x 60 seconds

Plank x 60 seconds

Dumbbell single-arm rows x 10-12 reps each arm

Dumbbell squats x 10-12 reps

Repeat x 5 rounds


Workout #2

Perform each of the following combos for three rounds before moving on to the next combo.

Combo 1

A. Bodyweight lunges x 10-12 each leg

B. Lat pulldowns x 10-12 reps

Combo 2

A. Dumbbell standing shoulder press x 10-12 reps

B. Resistance band curls x 15-20 reps

Combo 3

A. Dumbbell chest presses x 10-12 reps

B. Dumbbell single-arm rows x 10-12 reps

Combo 4

A. Sit-ups x 10-12 reps

B. Jump rope x 60 seconds

Combo 5

A. Spin bike x 60 seconds

B. Bodyweight squats x 10-12 reps


Are you sore yet?I


You Might Also Like: 5 Medical Tests You Can Do at Home


1 thought on “A Personal Trainer’s Advice for Avoiding Nursing School Weight Gain”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share Post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Are you ready to Thrive?

Support + education for early career nurse practitioners.

Are you struggling as an early career NP or PA?

Learn more about ThriveAP, the program designed to boost primary care clinical knowledge.

Support and education for early career NPs & PAs

Download the ThriveAP info
packet for more information!