Counting Calories and a PPL Split Helped This Guy Gain 48 Pounds of Muscle

Sakhile Mgitywa is a 20-year-old entrepreneur and graphic designer living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Fueled by the desire to gain muscle and a stronger desire to be strongThis is how he increased his food intake and made hard gains.

I knew I always wanted to be strong and muscular despite doing everything I could think of to get in shape like working out at home and joining a sports team. It wasn’t until I joined the gym four years ago that I was able to change my body.

Realizing that I burned so many calories from walking six to 10 miles a day on average, I focused my gym work around hypertrophy workouts to build muscle. I did a “bro-split” routine where every day of the week I would train an individual body part. For example, Monday was chest day, Tuesday was back day, and so on.

I made sure to make friends with the bigger and stronger guys in my gym, and through them I was able to gain the knowledge I gained from researching online and being able to put it into practice in the most effective way possible.

Recently, I switched to a “push and pull” (PPL) routine which I found most effective for building muscle for me. I’ve trained most of my muscle groups twice a week (compared to one muscle group once a week), in order to get more benefits and work on those muscles. I knew I wanted to gain as much strength as possible and that goal hadn’t changed a bit over the years.

As the years progressed, I gained a lot of knowledge and experience from research as well as training with more experienced people than I had, which ultimately led me to pick the best I learned and create my own personal exercise program.

My body has really grown in size during this journey, but the parts of the body that have seen the most growth I can tell are my genetic strengths which are my chest, back, shoulders and traps.

Before my fitness journey, I ate like a typical teenager – lots of junk food or whatever my mom cooked for me. Once I became independent, I was really able to take charge of my diet and take note of where my calories come from and go.

I doubled my protein intake, and added an extra chicken breast or extra deli meat steaks for every meal. Walking 6-10 miles a day helped me, meaning I didn’t gain a lot of fat mass, but I didn’t get much improvement in my body until I started counting calories. I made sure to hit my daily calorie limit of 2,400 calories to maintain my weight and 1,900 calories when I wanted to leave the body.

Tracking my calories allowed me to feel full compared to when I didn’t. Now that I’m more aware of the food I’m eating, I’m avoiding low-calorie foods like nuts and oils, and focusing on low-calorie, bulky foods like lean meats and crunchy vegetables to get more out of my meals.

Not surprisingly, this was the best my body had ever looked like, which showed me the importance of a good diet.

Seeing my results and how the gym has positively impacted my life got me excited to commit to my goal of exercising 5-6 days a week. I spent months not going to the gym, but I think those periods throughout my journey were absolutely necessary. I was able to get both physical and mental rest, as well as fall in love with weightlifting all over again.

During the first two months of my trip, I gained a significant amount of weight while remaining relatively skinny. My starting weight was 105 lbs and after 6 months I weighed 125 lbs. Over the 4 years of training, I gained about 48 pounds of mass, and I weigh 154 pounds at five feet four.

The biggest challenge I faced was and still is the mental one – dealing with body deformity. I’m rarely satisfied with how I look, an ironic feeling I get when so many people have stated that my body is the structure of their dreams. Overall, the trip as a whole was life changing and made me the person I am today. I am forever grateful to my little girl for getting into the gym and adopting this lifestyle. I wouldn’t get it any other way.

My friends and family have always encouraged me throughout this journey, and I am so grateful to have them in my life. Everyone was deeply moved and shocked at how quickly I went. Now almost everyone calls me ‘Mr. Fitness’ but every now and then I get compliments from a friend telling me of my excellent progress.

I am more disciplined, have more confidence, a new found purpose in life and a deeper appreciation for the power of consistency. My advice to anyone wanting to get started or just getting started is to find the cause. This journey is full of ups and downs and sacrifices and pain, and without a strong enough driving force it will seem as though it wasn’t worth it. The next tip I would give is not to compete with anyone but you. Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to create disappointment and steal joy. My last and most important tip is to maintain consistency. Pay your dues straight if you want results.

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