What the Military Can Teach Us About How to Gain Weight and Muscle for Skinny Singaporean and Asian Guys

May 19, 2013

Let’s face it. Guys in Singapore tend to be skinnier than the world average. This is consistent with the rest of the Southeast Asian area, so it wasn’t all that noticeable until recently with the sharp influx of imported, foreign professionals and executives, many from Western countries. While being skinnier is not necessarily a bad thing–especially as you get older, you’ll appreciate that your metabolism is still so high–for men looking to date attractive women, it can make things tougher.

I’ve been coaching in Singapore for almost five years now (and worldwide for even longer), and after talking to a lot of skinny guys looking to bulk up, I’ve found the number one problem preventing them from reaching their goal is that they are… LAZY. Yup, how ironic. The skinny guys are lazy. They’re too lazy to do a little research on google on what to eat when bulking up. They’re too lazy to break their old habits and routines, which resulted in their skinny state in the first place, and stop eating tiny meals with little meat at the hawker centres. They’re too lazy to go to the gym, work hard at the gym, and lift heavy weights. They’re too lazy do a little poking around and order a mass gainer (I mean, how lazy can you be if you keep complaining about how hard it is to gain weight but you haven’t even tried a mass gainer?). So a message to all you skinny guys who want to bulk up: Quit your whining and fix the problem.

Here’s an awesome short post recently posted on the Aura Dating Academy online forum.

It’s by KN. He’s a military guy. And I love military guys. My dad was an officer in the Taiwan Army and instilled in me a deep respect for people in the military. They know what it’s like to work hard, push through pain, and inspire others. So without further ado, I give you… KN

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Tips for Men

So in Aura Apprentice class last week, we got to talking about gaining weight. I said I’d share my experience and here it is.

I’m in the Singapore military, and a while ago, I was sent to train with the US Army. Even more so than the Singapore Army, the US Army is crazy on fitness, so all the guys were real built and cut. At that point in time, I weighed 54kg (~119lb). Goes without saying that I was the single smallest person in the class. Even the US Army ladies were bigger than me.

At some point, I told my Aussie instructor that I wanted to gain 10kg (22lb) of weight. Without being dismissive, he wished me good luck, and told me that was really difficult. Hell, was he right. But I did manage to achieve that target – I came home to Singapore with my weight fluctuating between a lean and muscular 63kg and 65kg (~139lb – 143lb). To cut a long story short, here’s how I did it.

Training:

1. Every morning, we’d do PT at 6. PT (Physical Training) in the US Army is much harder than PT in the Singapore Army, unless you were from a special tactics unit like NDU or commandos. We’d do random crossfit workouts. A sample workout would be the filthy fifty – 50 reps of wall balls (throwing an 8-14kg ball as high against a wall as you could), weighted squats, box jumps, burpees, push-ups, weighted lunges, push presses, and some others I can’t remember.

This happened every single day, besides Tuesdays, even in -6 celsius weather. On Tuesdays, we’d go to the fighthouse where we learnt Modern Army Combatives (which is based on MMA), and we’d roll. Very intensive too, considering most guys weighed 20-30% more than me.

2. In the afternoons, we’d hit the gym. I hung with a black dude (who remains my buddy till today) at the gym. I’d hit the gym 3 days in a row, rest 1, then hit the gym again for 3 days. At that time, my routine consisted of 1 day for chest and tri, 1 day for back and bi, 1 day for legs and shoulders. Nothing spectacular that you can’t find on the net.

I settled so much into this routine that even when I was travelling over the 2-week long Christmas break, I’d be sticking to it. To this day, I hit the gym even when after a long night out.

Diet:

This, truly, is where it all happens. You CANNOT gain weight with all the training in the world, without eating like a cow. David said it right when he said you gotta be hitting upwards of 3000 calories a day.

I’ve become a little conscious of diet, but if you’re not, then go ahead and eat whatever the heck you want. Typical meals for a day while I was in the US:

1. 0515 (before PT) – Breakfast shake of GNC Mass Gainer

2. 0730 (after PT) – two eggs, two slices of bread with peanut butter

3. 0930 (arriving in class) – two slices of bread with peanut butter and jelly, a big handful of mixed nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)

4. 1130 (early lunch while the instructor is teaching) – a handful of rice, with two handfuls of meat (approximately 100-150g)

5. 1430 (second lunch) – a handful of rice, with two handfuls (approximately 100-150g) of meat. Essentially one big meal spread over two sittings

6. 1600 (before hitting the gym) – one Mass Gainer shake

7. 1730 (after gym) – a normal pure protein shake

8. 1930 (dinner) – I’d cook up a dinner usually consisting of at least 250g of meat (chicken, beef or pork), two bowls of rice, one big handful of vegetables.

9. 2300 (bedtime snack) – a normal pure protein shake

Essentially, the principle behind this all was to eat a fuck load (to this day, I carry a tin of sardines in olive oil in my bag – my emergency food supply), and train a fuck load. Train meaning resistance training, where your muscles would be taxed, broken, torn and fucked all day long. There never was a day when I wouldn’t be sore.

Concluding thoughts:

1. It wasn’t easy. Heck yea it wasn’t. It got tiring sometimes to eat. I forced myself to eat. It wasn’t easy cooking extra portions for dinner so I’d have stuff for lunch the next day. Still I did. Cos I didn’t wanna eat fast food from the base mall.

It wasn’t easy at the gym too. Imagine, all these US Army soldiers, US Marines, Rangers, etc, at the gym hitting the big weights. There I was, the sole asian dude hitting them baby weights. Imagine this – my buddy would press 110lb dumbbells, while I would use 30lb dumbbells. (to be fair, he’s quite a freak. for one morning PT, he did 5 sets of 20 pullups in strict form, no jerking, as part of a workout called the Murph. I think he completed the Murph in less than 30 mins. Google ‘crossfit Murph’ to have an idea how crazy that is)

It wasn’t easy waking up at 0530 to do the morning workouts. As international students, I could have chosen not to do it. There were students from other countries who opted out, sleeping in till 8 before heading to class. But I pushed through.

2. Cardio is your enemy (if you wanna gain weight). All along, i’ve been super active and sporty. I used to play sports 3x a week at fairly high intensities (competitive amateur level). I never gained weight though. Mostly cos I was doing so much fucking running.

Up till today, I do my best to avoid long runs. I never run distances of more than 3km. To upkeep my stamina, I do sprints and interval trainings. 4x100m, 8x50m and 12x20m trainings do wonders for your stamina. I regularly and comfortably outrun soldiers 10 years younger than me.

I’ll probably write another post on it, but long distance running is actually what contributes to visceral fat (belly fat in other words). A lot of fitness these days is based on what our caveman ancestors did (just like much of what David teaches is based on evolutionary psychology). In that school of thought, humans naturally have two modes – fight or flight. When you fight (moving heavy objects like your opponent), you get stronger and bigger. When you flight, your body goes into emergency survival mode – it begins storing whatever nutrients you give it as fat. This also explains why the difference in performance between male and female marathon runners is much smaller than the difference in performance between male and female sprinters (because long distance running requires using fat stores while short distance sprinting requires muscle).

Again, a story for another post, but I’ve essentially cut my carb consumption down to very low levels. After returning from the US, I found that my body fat percentage was a little too high, and i attributed much of it to my excessive carb consumption. After cutting down on carbs, I’ve managed to cut down on body fat without losing much muscle mass.

3. Tying it all up, I’d like to share my mantra with everyone. For me, the journey to transformation took a somewhat different route. I changed my body first. So my mantra goes – If I can change my body, I can change my mind. That’s why I’m here in Aura. To learn, to discover and to push the limits.

Remember what David taught – if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not pushing your limits. Comfort is stasis, and stasis is death. On the physical part, I had difficulty driving my car out of the gym carpark on most days because of how sore I was. Was it tough? Yes, but I embraced it, because I knew I was going to come out of it stronger. I hope that comes somewhat close to what David says about harnessing your fears.

If you’re looking to change your body, think about what you’ve achieved so far in Aura. Most of you have achieved so much more than me (haven’t done the 10 Direct Approaches assignment yet). If you can conquer your mind, your body is nothing to you. You are so much stronger than me for going out there and doing those 10 Direct Approaches and facing the possibility of rejection, mockery, and whatever the f*ck women could throw at you. So yes, if you want to, I’m pretty sure you can conquer your body too.

To those who are looking to make a change in your life physically, I hope I’ve provided some useful information. Best of luck in your physical, emotional, spiritual and social transformation!

(hammered this out on the taxi home from class, so pardon me if it’s not well-written)

Yours,

KN

For you hard gainers and ectomorphs out there, here’s a good list of mass gainers that you can order in Singapore and have delivered to your doorstep the next day. There are a couple other such companies in Singapore, but this is the one I use. This is not an affiliate link; I get no commission from this. If you order from them, feel free to mention that you heard about them from me, though http://sg.fitlion.com/cat/mass-gainer  Disclaimer: I have not personally tried any of the mass gainers since I am a 36-year old mesomorph, so these mass gainers would likely result in too much fat gain. For you mesomorphs like myself, I recommend something like this instead: http://sg.fitlion.com/100-natural-oats-whey-3-lb

Genetically, I’m from Taiwan and Guangzhou, so I share those southern Chinese genes. But I was raised in Canada and the US, surrounded by mainly white people. So I had incentive as a youngster, especially since I wanted to play competitive sports, to hit the weights and bulk up, but it wasn’t until I got a fitness trainer at 30 that I learned what hard work really feels like at the gym. You can read more about my fitness journey up to the end of 2009 here: How to Get Fit in 3-Months  Since then, I’ve gained 7 kg (15 lbs) of mostly muscle and am aiming to gain another 9 kg (20 lbs) by the end of 2013. I highly recommend Beachbody’s Body Beast program as a series of quick (~30-40 min) but effective workouts.

Get it done. Get it handled.

Best, David

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