One of the biggest misconceptions within bodybuilding is that it has to be expensive. When I was in college & University I knew so many people who would use “I’d love to go to the gym - but I just cant afford it” as their excuse. The misconception comes from the amount of money involved with the diet and supplements.

Sure - if you were to eat steak, organic vegetables and gluten free everything 6 times a day - you’re going to be spending a lot of money.

But if you use some common sense and listen to my advice (speaking from experience) you can  pack on a ton of muscle, cheaply.

Today im going to run over some diet, supplement and common sense tips to help you bodybuild on a budget as a student.

Get a Cheap Gym Membership

Im in the UK so im going to be talking pounds (£) - but the same applies anywhere in the world. In my area there are gyms that range from £9.99 a month to £44.99 a month.

The big chain commercial gyms are able to offer a discounted membership price purely due to economies of scale. They can offer a floor dedicated to cardio and every weight lifting machine as well as a huge area for free weights for such a cheap price.

You might find that your college or Uni even has a cheap membership rate - so check that.

What im saying is, as a student you dont need to be spending anymore than £15 or at the absolute most £20 for gym membership.

Supplements Basics

As a student I used creatine and protein powder - that was it. I never started using pre workout until i’d been lifting for about 4 years.

Now when I go into a gym and see teenage guys, the thing I overhear them talking about most often is “how wired” they are off their pre workout.

You dont need them.

As someone who is looking to bodybuild on a budget, I would only recommend a protein powder and creatine monohydrate. Creatine is one of the few supplements that is shown to work from research and its really cheap. You don’t need a fancy brand - just a simple bag of creatine monohydrate. If you’re in the UK any of the big bulk suppliers will sell it for a few pounds. Id recommend Myprotein, Protein Dynamix, Bodybuilding Warehouse, Gonutrition, Bulk Powders or The Protein Works. All of these companies offer very similar products, at a similar price range and are all similar in terms of quality. I actually set up my protein discount code site as an offshoot of my Shreddybrek bodybuilding youtube channel and blog to publish supplements reviews and supplement deals. Of the above companies - go for whichever has the best deal on currently.

Id also recommend a protein powder, which brings me onto my next point.

Make Protein Powder Your Best Friend

Whey protein is the cheapest source of protein you’ll find. A lot of people think protein powder is something magical and spend so much time and effort in pursuit of finding the “best protein”. I like to think of protein powder as a food - it makes things less complicated.

Although it is a “food supplement” - its easier to just think of it as food. It contains protein - you need to eat protein to repair and build muscle. Simple.

Don’t get hung up on brands. Worst yet - don’t get hung up on looking at what IFBB Pro is on the label, or what the reality tv “star” flavour of the month is posting on instagram.

All you need is a basic whey protein concentrate. Just like I mentioned above with creatine, any bulk UK supplier sells cheap whey protein concentrate that is good quality. Again, do a quick price comparison of the key players. Look to see which site has a free discount code, or the biggest discount when you’re looking to buy.

You don’t need to get hung up with whey isolate, casein, beef protein or anything else. Just get a whey protein concentrate.

Buy In Bulk

I learned the term “economies of scale” when I was at University as part of an economics lecture. In all honesty - I didn’t need to go to University to understand that buying in bulk means you get it for cheaper - but hey - my degree wasn’t a total bust.

As a bodybuilder, you’ll be have a small list of “go to” foods that you eat daily. Things like rice, oats, chicken, eggs.

If you eat it every day, which you will be, you’ll want to get it for the cheapest possible price. This is why you should buy in bulk.

A 1kg bag of rice might cost you £1.79 from Tesco. A 10kg bag might cost you just £9.

That’s a saving of about £8 - not to mention the time you’ll save having to go to the store to keep restocking on smaller packs. If you live near a few different supermarkets then you’ll want to visit mysupermarket. This will let you compare prices of whatever you want to buy to make sure you’re getting it for as cheap as possible.

I do the same with my chicken to. Tesco will charge about £4.50 for maybe a 600g pack of fresh chicken breast. I can go and get 5kg for around £20 from my butcher.

The same goes for protein to. For example, a 1kg bag of impact whey at Myprotein is £12.63, but if you buy a 5kg bag you can get it for around £46.99

If its something you use regularly - and you are going to be consuming all the above on a daily basis, you want it as cheap as possible.

Cheap Meal / Snack Ideas

Im going to share some of my “go to” meals and snack ideas that I used to have when I was a student. The quantities will differ for you, but if you want to “bro bulk” and just pack on mass, then the following will definitely help you bulk for as cheap as possible.

Scrambled Eggs On Toast

There are cheaper carb sources available - but toast is super easy and quick to cook and is fairly cheap.

Eggs are a cheap protein source to - especially if you don’t bother yourself with all this throwing away the yolk nonsense.

7 whole eggs will cost you about £0.70 and give you about 42g of protein - as well as about 30g of healthy fats. Perfect for bulking, especially when scrambled over 3 or 4 slices of toast!

Chicken & Rice

About as basic as bodybuilding diets can get. Bulk buy your chicken from a local butcher, and bulk buy your rice from a supermarket as mentioned above - buying in bulk brings your costs down.

You can put this in tupperware and throw it in your bag - eating it between lectures. Without access to a microwave - its not the tastiest, but it gets the job done.

Peanut Butter Sandwhiches

Or peanut butter on toast, peanut butter on rice cakes, or just a peanut butter by the jar full…… Ok - im a bit of a peanut butter addict - but for bulking on the cheap - this food is perfect!

A 1kg tub of natural peanut butter is around £5 (throw it in with your next supplement order of protein powder and creatine). 100g packs around 50g of fat and over 30g of protein.

If you’re a hard gainer, spread it over some bread for peanut butter sandwhiches and have it with a protein shake - or blend it up into your shakes. Which brings me to my next meal idea…

Homemade Mass Gainer

Ive actually dedicated a post on my blog to making a 1000 calorie weight gainer for under £1. But it stemmed from when I was a student and would struggle for time to eat meals because of back to back seminars. Sure in a lecture theatre its easy to pull out tupperware on the backrow - but in a seminar room of 10 people, its a little bit awkward.

I’d mix up 100g of porridge oats with milk on a morning, and just leave it sitting in a shaker. Id then have a dry container with 2 scoops of protein powder in. When it was feeding time, id mix the protein powder in with my oats and milk for an instant (and cheap) mass gainer.

Over To You

Thats it. If you were expecting some secrets, shortcuts or “weird tricks” then im sorry to dissapoint. What you’ve just read might sound basic… but thats because the basics work.

Unfortunately - basic doesn’t sell, so the fitness and supplements industry has to constantly invest new slogans, buzzwords and methods to try and take your money.

Im here just to share a bit of actionable, sensible and working advice with you.

Start using these tips and start eating those snack ideas - you’ll be making gains in the gym, and making gains in your bank account to!

About the author:

Adam Foster is a digital marketer, university lecturer, amateur bodybuilder, pro wrestling fan & all round comic book geek.