Alex Balinski
Alex Balinski

School: Michigan State University
Major: Human Biology
Hometown: Essexville, Michigan
Fitness Goal: Maximize my bodybuilding potential and long term health

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  • Why did you start training and what motivates you?

    I started training when I arrived on campus as a freshman at MSU. In high school I had little motivation toward bodybuilding because I played soccer and basketball. These sports focused on speed and cardiovascular endurance, not mass and strength. Without athletics in my life, I needed a way to keep myself in shape. I noticed a massive fitness culture on my campus and the growing bodybuilding movement. So, I decided to try it out. I fell in love with the sport instantly! There is no better feeling than relieving stress from school by going into the gym and crushing weights. I am very self motivated and surround myself with like-minded individuals. I have probably cycled through more workout partners than most people cycle their pre-workouts. It isn’t easy finding people who are willing to stick with the lifestyle! Fortunately, through my dedication and commitment to the sport, I now have surrounded myself with fitness fanatics who love the taste of success just as much as I do.

  • What impact has training had on your college life?

    Training has had a major impact on my college life! What I always tell people considering the bodybuilding lifestyle is that it will not only improve one’s physical health, but one’s mental health as well. Fitness teaches discipline, perseverance, and commitment. These are all traits that a successful individual must possess in order to excel not only in school and fitness, but in life in general. I have experienced the impact these acquired traits can have on a person. Instead of poisoning my body with drugs and alcohol on the weekends, I am building a better me through proper diet, exercise, and meaningful interaction. What do I mean by meaningful interaction? I spend time with friends, network with people in the fitness industry, communicate with fellow scholars, and it is all drug and alcohol free.

  • How do you balance being a college student and meeting your fitness goals?

    The key to achieving success in both the classroom and weight room is planning. It is extremely easy to fall behind when you are in college! The last thing you want is to be freaking out in your room the night before an exam because you don’t know any of the material. Adding fitness into the mix makes planning even more important because it cuts into your study time. Personally, I know that I study best late at night. As far as I am concerned, school comes first and then everything else. So, I plan out my study time for the week and then build my schedule around it. Sometimes this means sacrificing nights out with friends or important sporting events. However, I regret nothing because I know that at the end of the day I am doing the right thing to ensure my success.

  • Best place to eat around campus?

    This is a tough one! Michigan State has so many great options! So, I will split this into on-campus and off-campus dining.

    For on-campus dining, the award has to go to Brody Cafeteria. Located in the newer Brody neighborhood on campus, this cafeteria has everything you could ask for. From make your own pasta to hand made sushi, Brody provides healthy, nutritious food in a warm and inviting atmosphere.

    For off-campus dining, I would have to say Sansu Sushi. If you couldn’t tell, I love sushi! This is my favorite sushi restaurant in East Lansing! I am not alone either. This place is a campus favorite with a packed house most nights. I would recommend going during the early bird specials from 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM. Not only are the prices lower, but the place is usually less crowded. It is an overall wonderful and peaceful experience.

  • Typical Workout Routine

    I go by the high volume, high weight philosophy when working out. In order to really tear those muscle fibers and get nutrient-filled blood into the muscles is to hammer them hard and hammer them often. I like to completely change my splits every 6 months or so, with minor changes along the way. This is basically to ensure I am never allowing my muscles to get comfortable and allow them to stop growing at an optimal rate. I am currently trying to bring up my chest as it is a weak area for me. Here is my current split that I have found to be really effective:

    Sunday: Chest
    Monday: Back and Bis
    Tuesday: Shoulders
    Wednesday: Chest and Tris
    Thursday: Back and Bis
    Friday: Legs
    Saturday: OFF

    During the school year I will have my leg work out earlier in the week so I have the energy to have fun on the weekends with friends whether it be playing pick-up basketball, soccer, or just having a fun night out.

  • Training Philosophy

    My training philosophy is to hit your muscles hard and hit them frequently. Eating properly and getting sufficient sleep is the key. Your body needs nutrients and your central nervous system needs a break! I make sure I have these two aspects of my training on point. This allows me to recover quickly and go into the gym with the energy I need to continually hit those weights hard.

    I am a big supporter of hitting compound movements to begin the workout and then supplementing it with accessory movements. As I get further into my workout, my energy is naturally depleted. So, I do the big, heavy lifts at the beginning and try to get the most out of my body.

  • Typical Diet

    I am a bigger guy at 6′ 3″ 200 pounds, so I require a lot of food. I go by the gram per pound philosophy in terms of protein. That means I will have about 200 grams of protein a day (upward of 225). Any more than that and you aren’t going to absorb it. As a college kid money is tight. So, with protein being the price it is, I try to avoid excess protein intake as much as I can. My favorite sources of protein are fish, turkey, and beef.

    I need about 3,600+ calories a day to be in a surplus. With protein around 200-225 grams, that puts my macro split at around 50% carbs, 25% fat, 25% protein. That may seem high for carbohydrates, but I find myself needing the quick energy provided by carbs. Without it I feel very sluggish and irritable. Just remember, everyone’s body works differently!

  • Favorite Supplements

    I keep my supplement stack small and simple. I currently only take protein and creatine supplements. I have taken pre-workout in the past, but I have cut that out recently. It can be easy to become dependent on pre-workout. I would prefer to strengthen my body’s natural ability to produce the energy I need.

    My favorite value protein is Muscletech Phase 8 Whey. On a college budget this stuff is about $8 a pound if you buy it in bulk which is about $2 a pound less than most powders on the market. It is quality tasting stuff as well with good macros!
    My all-time favorite protein is Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey. I was recommended this when I first started bodybuilding and I saw excellent results while taking it.

    As far as creatine goes, I take creatine monohydrate. I am currently using GNC’s creatine monohydrate 5000. Once I am through with that I will be taking Beast’s Creature which is a highly rated and well recommended creatine supplement.

  • Workout Playlist

    I am a Spanish minor so I love Latin music, especially Latin hip hop. I will usually listen to songs by Juan Magan, Daddy Yankee, Wisin y Yandel, and Dasoul.

    I also really like some of Chris Brown’s lesser known work from his mixtapes with Tyga.
    Along with that I will mix in older rap and newer rap from artists like Ja Rule, DMX, Rick Ross, and Casey Veggies. These guys have that gritty, intense sound that make you just want to crush some weights!

    Here is a sample playlist:
    Casey Veggies ft. Mac Miller – Can I Live
    Casey Veggies ft Mann – Go Ahead
    DMX – Already
    Juan Magan – Banderas al Viento
    Ja Rule – New York

  • Tips for other college students who want to meet their fitness goals?

    Don’t just look at other people and say, ” I wish I looked like that.” Wishes only come true in fairy tales and fantasies. Take action and make the change TODAY. Dedicate yourself to improving your body. Fitness should take priority over going out and drinking/partying. If you are worried about losing friends, don’t be! You will meet new people in the gym who you will find have very similar interests and life goals as you. These are the kind of people you want to surround yourself with. If you don’t have a training partner, try to find one! It is hard to stay motivated if you are doing things alone. Having someone who is pushing you every step of the way will not only ensure you continue to lift, but it will also push you to make progress at a faster rate! Humans are competitive in nature. The two of you will better yourselves by trying to best each other.

    I currently have a YouTube channel dedicated to the college fitness lifestyle and the problems faced throughout. You should check it out! My channel is Alpha Mentality Fitness. Here is a video I did on the Freshman 15 and how to avoid it:

  • Training Schedule

    I like to train later in the day or late at night. The gym is usually packed right around midday. I like to go in and get things done without having to wait to use equipment. Also, I teach Chemistry lab after I get done with classes for the day. This means I won’t be able to lift until after 7 PM. However, no matter how late I get out, I always find the time to workout.