Today’s topic is more of a Bodybuilding Topic but a good read for the public. This is a topic which a lot of guys would want to know desperately. A lot of us term it – ‘bulking’. I will have another article about ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ very soon to debunk this misleading topic. For those who are curious and would like to know how long I have been training; it took me a long 13 years to achieve it. I weighed 55kg when I started bodybuilding and I am 88kg now. Yeah, 13 years of struggle where no one guided me, until recent years. Lots of experimentation, trial and errors. Hence, for those who just started out, I don’t want you to be like me, wasting so much precious time.
I have to be honest that I don’t look freaking big in person but I am striving to get the most proportional and balanced body to the best of my ability. That is what Bodybuilding is all about and also, overall health.
After sitting down for many nights to think about this article, below are the things I did which have worked for me for the past 13 years. If you haven’t been doing some things I did, try them if you think you have reached a ‘plateau’ – leave no stones unturned. Nope – getting big is never easy. Think about this – if it is so easy, every guy would have a nice body, walking down Orchard Road.
1. Never Skip Breakfast
I still remember many people telling me they’ve got no time to eat breakfast and it is difficult to eat meals early in the morning. Living in a hectic city, I can truly understand the hassle to wake up earlier and prepare your own breakfast especially when you have long days and late nights. It is not easy to grow. You got to do what you got to do. I would recommend a meal immediately upon waking up because your body didn’t have any food while you were sleeping for the past 7-8 hours. A sample meal would be 80-100g of instant oats mixed with 20g of protein powder plus 5-7 scrambled eggs. Yes, you didn’t read wrongly. That will be 1 meal. It’s just an example and there are a lot more meal combinations you can explore. If you start to burp excessively, reduce your eggs and adjust accordingly. The burping is a sign of the body having trouble breaking down/digesting the food.
2. Eat Every 3 Hours
When people ask me how to get big and I told them to eat like crazy, they told me they are already eating a lot. When I tell them to eat every 3 hours, their jaws dropped. I’m talking about quality food instead of junk food every 3 hours. Have at least 80-100g of carbs, 25-40g of protein per meal. E.g. if you wake up at 6.30am, by the end of the day, you should have eaten about 5-6 meals. Yes, it is tiring but this is the only way.
3. Never Go To Bed With An Empty Stomach
If you go to bed at 10pm, eat your last meal (choose a dense meat + healthy fats) at about 9-9.30pm. Your stomach will be empty for about 6-8 hours when you are sleeping. That would be catabolic for your body. By feeding your body before sleeping, you can further enhance muscle repair.
4. Wee-Hours Protein Shake
This is an old school method and it really works wonders. Prepare 250-300ml of water with 30-45g protein and leave it in the fridge before you sleep. I am sure you would wake up around 3-4am to take a piss etc. If not, set an alarm to wake up to drink. Yes, you must be thinking I am mad but that was what I have been doing since 2012! Remember, it is never easy to get big. You just have to eat and eat and eat.
5. Never Train On An Empty Stomach I used to train on Sunday morning around 9am and I saw so many youngsters working out in the gym but I always wondered if they are training on empty stomachs. I would always have at least a meal before my training. So, if I train at 9am, I would wake up and have my meal around 7am. Feeling groggy or not, I forced myself to eat. You want to grow, you got to eat. Your body needs the energy from food for your workout.
6. Limit Fast Food During your period of adding weight and mass, you do not want to introduce additional fats which can become ‘skinny fat’. Try your best to remove fast food from your life for 3 months to ‘reset’ your body and let it get used to it for awhile before you jump right in again. If you want to cheat, cook your own cheat meal once a week. There are tons of ‘home cooked cheat meals’ online you can check out!
7. Train As Heavy As You Can To The Best Of Your Ability When you hit the gym, you got to select a weight which is heavy enough so you can push for about 8-12 reps. If you can finish 12 reps easily, that is not the right weight. If you are planning to do 12 reps, you should be struggling by the 10th repetition. Lifting heavy weights tear the muscle fibres and after they repair, they get stronger and thicker. That is how muscles are formed. A lot of people select a heavy weight which they lift 2-4 reps and don’t even activate the right muscles. Do not fall into that trap because that will not build much muscle.
8. Focus and Visualise During Training When you are in the gym, put your phone away. I still remember back then as a teenager, I was so serious that I put my phone in the locker for every single training session. Visualise the muscle part that you are training so you can further engage them; neuromuscular activation is very powerful. Learn to master it. I would recommend you to read ‘exercise muscle anatomy’ books before your training day to learn more about how the muscles are being worked.
9. Post-Workout Golden Hour Window Meal A lot of arguments here regarding this meal. Basically, it is a meal to be eaten within 1 hour after your workout. Some studies state that it is a complete bunk ‘bro-science’ information but some said it helps to synthesis more protein which leads to more muscle mass. I have experimented quite a lot and I can only agree to a certain extent. I used to be the guy shaking my protein shake anxiously after training and rushing home to consume my ‘golden hour meal’. The only difference I could see is the rate of how fast muscles get repaired. I would advise you to have a protein shake after your training because your body is deprived from hours of training. After your shake, continue to have your meals as usual. You don’t need to have any special meals. Same old fist-sized carbs, palm sized protein and a cup of vegetables will do.
10. Have A Rest Day This is a tricky one to master. A lot of people think that muscles are grown in the gym! In fact, you are actually tearing muscle fibres during training. Muscles are only built when you are in resting mode. You may be a victim going to the gym every single day. Don’t feel guilty when you have a day off, doing nothing but things you love e.g. video games, jogging etc. Your body needs the due rest. Some of you like a recovery workout which is fine too but a complete rest will be beneficial to the body, especially your central nervous system (CNS). For some people, it takes 2-3 days to recover the CNS. Learn to listen to your body the night before you sleep and the moment when you wake up.
Some people might say this is detrimental to your health because of the amount of food being forced into the body. Again, the training has to correspond with the food intake. If so much food is consumed, training intensity has to be as intense as possible to reap the benefits. It will not damage the body because this is not overfeeding the body. Hence, eat to your comfort level and find the right amount of meals per day according to your lifestyle.
With all these life experiences, I wish you good luck in getting big!
You can also subscribe to my website via email (on the right of screen) to stay updated with all health and tips!
Your Coach, Amirrudin Ong