As a kid, I was always skinny. I did not eat much in school, so my nutrition only came from my house-cooked meals. However, in Secondary 3, I got inspired. The year after, I started lifting. 3 years later, I am helping my peers with their strength training and giving them advice. This is my Skinny To Buff Fitness Journey.
- Saw a picture of a buff dude
- Started going to the gym after doing a lot of research
- Worked on my body religiously for 3 years
- Now I am the buff dude in most of my friend groups
Backstory – Before my Fitness Journey
Before I talk about strength training, let me go back in time to when I was a kid. I’m talking like I was in primary school. I played soccer every day with my dad. I looked forward to it. I played with the kids at the void deck and made many friends from there, although I don’t know anyone now.
Back then, I was really invested in getting better at soccer. During my birthdays, I would get Kinokuniya Bookstore Vouchers from my relatives as a present.
Back then, the young me would happily take those vouchers and buy many books related to soccer. This was because the Internet was not very developed back then. Also, as a kid, my dad did not allow me to use the computer and watch cartoons. (Ya I didn’t have a childhood… and I hated it) The only cartoons I watched was when I went to my grandma’s house.
But anyways, I read a lot of books about soccer. Along with the “research”, I tried practicing the skills on the court itself. I would like to think I improved over time because I honestly cannot remember.
The main point of this backstory is to tell you that I was committed to everything I do. When I pick up something new, I would train hard to get better at it and become more proficient.
This trait became very helpful later on down the road.
Secondary 1 and 2
After taking my PSLE, and moving on to secondary school, I stopped playing soccer. I don’t really know why. I guess I just lost interest and could not rediscover the momentum I had in primary school before PSLE hit me.
Also, the academic pressure of being in HCI was pretty tough as well. When you see all your peers around you doing so well academically, you will tend to feel stressed out and you will want to keep up with them.
I don’t think I’m the smartest student out there, but I believe that hard work can let you beat 90% of the population, and that is good enough for me.
In secondary 1 and 2, I did not exercise much, and being part of the Robotics Club also did not help that. So basically I was a sedentary 13-year-old kid, and that is definitely not good for my growth.
However, being a kid, I did not really care, and just played CSGO all there. Shoutout to all my CSGO players out there. Can’t wait for Valorant.
Okay, I would say that this is the true start of my fitness journey. This is how it went.
I saw a picture of really buff dudes, I think it was the Rock, can’t really remember. But, if it was really the Rock, I mean, how can you not be inspired by his body and work ethic.
So, I decided that I wanted a body like his. (I didn’t know he was not a natural back then, but it still is inspirational.) So, I spent a lot of my time, as a 15-year-old, scouring the Internet, researching strength training. On the way to school and back to school, every day, I would whip out my phone and look at what others have done.
I love looking at Program Reviews, looking at Progress Pictures, looking at statistics, and tracking the progress of others. Soon, I realized I had quite a lot of knowledge about lifting already, and I wanted to try it out myself. I decided that it was time I dipped my toes into it.
At the age of 16, I stepped into a gym. I was so damn scared. I did not dare to use any equipment. Everything was new to me. People were grunting and stuff, and I did not dare to approach anyone. So, I only used the machines and only the equipment that no one else is using.
I still remembered my first time in the gym, I kept looking around. I was afraid people would judge me. “Oh, why would such a skinny guy like him come here.”
After my first session, I thought I succeeded in taking the first step. But I did not do enough. I did not follow my plan. I went in there with a plan, but it felt more like an orientation tour of the gym. So, I decided to go again.
Second gym session
This time, I wanted to use a power rack. So, I waited for the people in front of me to finish their sets. After that, I grabbed the opportunity to use it. Then I started squatting. Then, it hit me. What weight should I start at?
Do I go heavy even though I do not know what I should start at?
Do I go light but what if other people mock me?
In the end, I decided to slowly pyramid my weight upwards, but it did not take long for me to reach my top set, because my top set was not very high. (Chill la, I’m a noob)
My fitness journey from then on
Slowly, I gained the courage to work with other people. This allowed me to actually execute the program that I planned on initially, which was Ice Cream Fitness.
If you are wondering, Ice Cream Fitness is just a variation of Stronglifts 5×5. If you want to know when you should stop Stronglifts 5×5 (a decent beginner program), you can go to my article here.
Bench press – 80kg
Squat – 100kg
Deadlift – 90kg
After moving on the 5/3/1, I never really got off of it. Mainly because I was doing it on and off, due to JC. JC is a really hectic time guys, please do not underestimate it. Especially when you join a busy as hell CCA like the Students’ Council.
I have been on it for most of my fitness journey, which would add up to roughly 2 years.
I would say it has been the best program I have been on so far, and it is mainly because of the sheer volume. I will do a program review in the future.
For now, nSuns 5/3/1 has brought me most of my gains.
After nSuns 5/3/1, I moved on a 6 day a week PPL program. This program was really for me in understanding hypertrophy work. nSuns being a fully strength-based program let me understand what it was like to be on a hypertrophy program.
Although I liked it, the program frequency was too frequent for my liking and I hopped off it after a month.
Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 BBB
This is my most recent program as well as a purely strength-focused program. As I entered the army, I had less time to go to the gym. Each day, I could only squeeze out 45min to 1 hour of gym time. Therefore, I had to switch to a shorter program.
This program is really suitable for me. And I liked it quite a lot. However, I had to stop it because of the COVID-19 situation worsened, and now I am stuck at home daily.
Nowadays, I do bodyweight workouts just to maintain mass. I definitely lost a lot of strength. Also, having no access to a pull-up bar would mean my back gains would go away.
Although I would say that my push muscles and abs are maintaining. My cardio has also improved because I train skip roping every day. Also, I have also lost a lot of weight, which led to me being the leanest I ever am currently.
It’s a Fitness Journey not a Fitness Destination
Once this COVID thing blows over, I will first get a haircut.
Then I will go to the gym. Probably going to hop back on to 5/3/1 Boring But Big again and actually finish a few cycles of it.
And so this is my fitness journey.
If you are interested in my stats, here they are.
Bench – 100kg 1RM
Squat – 140kg 1RM
Deadlift – 140kg 1RM
I definitely am not as strong now, so I hope to gain the strength back soon. And hopefully, the numbers will also go up.
Look out for more articles in the future. I will describe more specifically about my nutrition as well as my training progression.