“An adult male weighs at least 200lbs” ~ Mark Rippetoe.

One fine day in May, just a few months back, Atul and I decided we needed to break the chain of being stick insects. We were both around the same height and body weight. I weighed in at a paltry 68kgs at 1.67m tall. Atul weighed in at 71.9kgs at 1.7m tall.

We started a monthly competition that will run until the end of this year. The insect that can gain the most weight within that month wins, and the loser receives a punishment. The grand finale is at the beginning of next year, and the insect who gains the most weight within that 8 months wins.

We are almost at the end of the second month, and here’s our progress:

Weigh-in (12/5/22)

Atul (71.9) vs. Marvin (68.0)

Month 1 (2/6/22)

Atul (74.0) (+2.1) vs. Marvin (70.6) (+2.6)

Marvin won Month 1. Atul’s penalty was finishing a whole loaf of plain bread in one sitting.

Almost Month 2 (26/6/22)

Atul (75.6) (+1.6) vs Marvin (70.6) (+0)

Atul is very likely going to win Month 2

From this friendly competition, there are a few parallels between training and our pathetic attempts to gain weight that I realised.

1. Don’t get greedy

Within just 2 weeks after starting the competition, I had gained 2.5kg—the secret: continuous overeating. That’s when I started to develop some pain in my stomach, and I felt a lot of acid reflux throughout the day. After consultation with my two doctor clients (thanks, Doctor Shilpa and Doctor Rahalkar), I found out that I had gastritis.

This experience reminded me of some novices in their NLP (Novice Linear Progression). Too eager to add as much weight as possible on the bar within a short period. I made this mistake in approaching my weight gain process. And instead of being able to stay “competitive,” I lost more than 1 kg before our first-month deadline because of gastritis. Genius.

2. Consistency is the key.

If you see the current results, Atul has a bodyweight PR. So I asked him what the key to his success was. He said simply, “not skipping any meals.” This is the training equivalent of showing up at the gym.

If you’re a regular listener of the Starting Strength podcast, there was a recent episode whereby Rip talked about how he found it baffling that the gym is empty on Christmas day. He said that if Christmas falls on Monday, and Monday is your training day, you come to the gym on Monday.

For achieve my goal, I need to show up 3 times per day for my meals. No excuses!

Well, actually, consistency over a long period is the KEY

You don’t get strong just by doing your NLP; you need to continue coming to the gym 3 times a week and training – gradually progressing to more advanced programming. You get strong by accumulating the work for months and years in the gym.

A year of perfect attendance at the gym starts with a week of perfect attendance at the gym. Then you repeat it, again and again.

I won’t get big by eating a surplus for a month. I need to eat and train properly for a much longer duration. This competition with Atul will end by 2022. It’s not very long, but this is the longest commitment I have set to gain my body weight. Who knows if we decide to renew the “contract” for the 2023 season.

3. Set yourself in a successful environment

The competition hasn’t ended yet, but I know we will have great results with this. To me, the critical factor is by having Atul in this process. Our competition has pushed me to do more than what I would have been willing to do on my own.

This is very similar to signing yourself up for a meet. There’s something about having to compete on a platform that will renew your motivation to train.

Okay, sure. Not everyone like that kind of pressure. How about having a training buddy? Having a training buddy forces you to show up at the gym and makes training more fun.

In this case, my weight-gain buddy, Atul, always reminded me what an insect I am for not gaining enough weight. Such a good guy!

What! No friends?!

Then you should come to Hygieia to train with like-minded individuals and get world-class coaching. We’ll get you strong and get you to the bodyweight you want.


My interest in fitness started when I was around 19 years old. Being overweight for most of my growing up years, I decided to do something about it. After months of not being able to achieve the desired results, I began poring through books and articles about training and nutrition. The more I read, the more interested I became in this field, and got better results when the the newly discovered knowledge was applied. After 1 year of persistence and hard work, I lost 24kg and felt fantastic. The sense of achievement motivated me to pursue a career in working with people to help them achieve their own fitness goals.

After achieving my weight loss goal, I tried a variety of training programs for a few years, looking for a new goal to train towards. After aimlessly moving around from program to program, I chanced upon a book called Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, written by renowned strength and conditioning expert, Mark Rippetoe. Little did I know that this book was about to change my life and coaching career.

At that point, I had experience training with barbells and was relatively familiar with it but never have I come across any material that gave such explicitly detailed explanations of how to perform the barbell lifts. I devoured the book and modified my lifting technique and program. In just a few months, I was pleasantly surprised by how much stronger he had become. I now had a new goal to work towards – getting strong.

With full confidence in the efficacy of the Starting Strength methodology, I began coaching my clients using this program and got them stronger than they ever thought was possible. The consistent success my clients achieved through the program cemented my confidence in Mark Rippetoe’s teachings. I then decided to pursue the credential of being a Starting Strength Coach and I’m currently the first and only certified coach in Singapore and South-East Asia

In my 9 years of experience, I have given talks and ran programs at numerous companies and worked with a diverse group clientele of all ages with a variety of goals. Today, I specialise in coaching people in their 40s, 50s and beyond because it brings me a great sense of satisfaction to be part of the process of improving this demographics’ health and quality of life by getting them stronger.