Let's face it. Most Filipino men aren't genetically blessed to grow as tall as their Caucasian counterparts. Now, it's one thing to be a little on the short side, but it's another to be a hardgainer (a fancy term for "skinny dude") who's also lacking in height.
While there's little you can do about your vertical measurement, there's definitely a way for you to tip the scale and build a bod that shows you're not one to be, ahem, overlooked and taken lightly. Take notes and put these tips to practice to whip your skinny ass into fit form.
It may seem like common sense, but it never hurts to spell it out, if only for the people at the back.
You don't necessarily have to focus on loading up on protein. Stick to a balanced diet even as you up your meal portions, licensed physical therapist and UFC Certified Coach Rozelle Diu of UFC Gym Vertis North stresses. This is important since you’ll be using up a lot more energy to keep up with the kind of training you’ll need to achieve that perfectly lean and mean build.
“Caloric surplus ang kailangan mo, basically. Caloric deficit if you wanna lose weight, meaning bawas ka ng calories than sa usual na binu-burn mo. So 'pag gusto mo to gain, dagdagan mo kain mo,” advises UFC Certified Coach Rey Talosig of UFC Gym Vertis North. “At the same time, lift heavier to gain more muscle mass.”
Lift more, work less
For your workout, you can go for the same moves as a big guy (dynamic stretches, planks, burpees, squats, push-ups, lunges, and pull-ups) but you definitely have to ramp up the weights.
Get a kettlebell or two. “Kettlebells are very functional and very versatile,” says Diu. “Pwede nga siyang over-all eh, na pang-gain, pang-weight loss, pang-power, pang-strength-building.” Talosig recommends swings, single-leg deadlifts, snatches, and Turkish get-ups using kettlebells.
In exchange for heavier weights, you get to work out for shorter durations. “[In between sets, you] can rest a little longer kasi kailangang mag-recover ng muscles mo so you can lift properly pa rin the following set,” explains Diu. “Possible rin na, ‘yung range of motion mo for each move ay half lang because of the heavier load, and that’s okay.”
How heavy should you go? Each person will have a different baseline for how much they can lift, so here’s a handy guide to figure out the right weight for you: “‘Pag kaya mo 10 to 12 reps of a weighted exercise nang perfect form without breaking a sweat or getting shortness of breath, then the weight is too light. It has to be with effort. Tapos if around 6 reps pa lang out of the 10 hindi mo na kayang mabuhat, then it means it's too heavy,” Diu notes. 7 to 9 proper reps is a good benchmark for just the right amount of weight.
“But for a starter, bodyweight pa rin muna talaga to get the proper form. Always get the proper form bago ka mag-load up ng activity,” warns Diu.
Talosig also emphasizes: “As you do the exercise, kailangan smooth at pain-free 'yung actual activity. Kung 'yung kasama mo nakikita mo na nagagawa niya ‘yung move nang mabilis, pero improper naman pala 'yung position, then sayang naman 'yung effort.
It’s important to make incremental increases in the weights you lift, points out Talosig. Adhering to the same principle above, once you’re comfortably pushing 10 to 12 reps with the current weight you’re lifting, progress to a heavier set. The growth of your muscles will stagnate if you stick to the same weight for too long, and you don’t want that.
Diu adds: “Depending on your goal, after one to two weeks, guys can increase the weight by 5 kilos agad. Sa babae kasi, around 2.5 kilos ang increments of increase.”
Diu also reminds that you should take stretching seriously. Besides learning to go for dynamic stretches (e.g. The World’s Greatest Stretch, Gorilla Squat variation) before your actual workout, the quality of your your static stretches at the end is something you should watch out for. “Static stretching is ‘yung standard where you choose a specific muscle group, like ‘yung tricep, chest, hamstrings—and that’s for relaxing the muscles and cooling down,” she explains. “They bring your muscles back to their natural state.”
“Now, it's important when you do static stretching, it should last more than 20 counts. Kasi if hindi nakukuha ng muscle 'yung enough time to relax or appreciate the static stretch, it still goes back to its active state, so hindi ka rin na-relax,” Diu reminds. “It defeats the purpose, basically, so sayang lang 'yung cool down.”
Oh, and one more thing: Start counting once you’ve reached the end of your stretch! Not as you’re only starting to bend down. No cheating, bro.