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Bodybuilding On A Small Budget!

I was really into fitness and I got a copy of Muscle and Fitness mainly for the 'fitness' section. However, after awhile I began to desire the 'muscle' part more and haven't looked back.

One of the biggest limiting factors for teenagers achieving success in bodybuilding is surely the lack of money. For many teenage athletes around the world, they (or their parents) lack the finances to pay for training facilities, extra specialized food, and supplements.

This is especially hard if you don't have a job; and even if you do, you may find most of your money being spent on socializing and other activities. So, here in this article I will give you some advice you might like to follow in the following three areas:

Training Facilities

Just getting into the facilities to train can be one of the most expensive aspects of this sport. Gym memberships can cost hundreds of dollars, so to a lot of people that is a great expense which they cannot meet. Don't worry though, there are many ways around this. The best is to find a gym at which you can train for free.

Try your school gym. My high school gym had very little equipment but it had a few benches, squat racks, and Olympic bars, so it could have done nicely if I needed it to.

The beauty about training at school is you can do it before school and be on a natural high for the rest of the day as a result of the endorphins produced. Or, train at lunch. Get a quick 30-minute session at the start of your lunch break, then grab a protein shake or bar and a sandwich before heading to class.

Bodybuilding In High School! Bodybuilding In High School!
Whether it is homework, friends, teachers, eating, or just finding time to lift weights, all of these factors take time can and affect you negatively.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Alternatively, you could ask your parents for a membership for your birthday or a Christmas present. This is the option I used.

My gym charged a joining fee and then a small amount each week. Although it is slightly more expensive than paying up front, it is a great option for someone who cannot afford several hundred dollars in one hit. A final suggestion I make, especially if you are just beginning, is to buy a basic bench and barbell set for your home.

I started like this by getting a set for my birthday which only came with about 40 kg in weight. This may seem like very little considering I now bench closer to 140 kg now, but it was a start. I remember I began benching with less than 20 kg to get my form down right.

Besides, in your first month of training you should be sticking to compound movements and not achieving failure until you get use to the training.


While many people believe training is the most important part of the muscle puzzle, I might actually rate it as the least. This is behind rest and the biggest piece of the puzzle: nutrition.

Building A Healthy Body On A Small Budget! Building A Healthy Body On A Small Budget!
One of the greatest misconceptions people have about making healthy food choices is that it somehow costs too much to eat right. Nothing could be further from the truth!
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Nutrition doesn't come cheap nor does eating the 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight that is required. My parents cannot afford to buy one grocery cart for me and another for the rest of my family - and neither can I. So eating chicken breasts and steak all day is not an option for me, but I have found a few ways around it.


    For me, breakfast is the hardest meal to get some good protein intake. Eggs have become my savior. I boil up 5 eggs every morning and eat the whites.

    I know I am throwing away half the protein in the yolks, but I really can do without the 25 grams of fat. Eggs are dirt cheap, especially if you buy in bulk, and are the most complete protein available. I also eat oats but cannot stand them cooked, so I eat them like any other cereal.

    This was a usual breakfast, but I calculated I was only getting about 25 grams of protein which was short of my desired 40 grams. To remedy this I began mixing half a serve of protein powder into my oats and ate them like that. The 17 grams of protein pushed my meal total over 40 and I was happy.

Meal #2

    A whey and caseinate protein shake. I rely on these shakes to get my protein levels anywhere near the desired amount.


    Ideally, I would eat a chicken breast for lunch; however, I have to settle for a can of tuna as my protein serving. But let me tell you, I hate tuna! I despise it. However, it is a sacrifice I have to make. Tuna costs only a few cents per can and provides 30g of protein.

Tuna, Yuck! How To Make Tuna Taste Better Tuna, Yuck! How To Make Tuna Taste Better.
Tuna fish. One gram of fat, no carbs, and about 20 grams of protein per serving is what makes tuna a wise choice for bodybuilders.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    A trick I learned is to mix the tuna in a bowl with mayo so that no matter what I can't taste the tuna. I then serve with a bit of salad and usually a peanut butter sandwich or oats again. I prefer oats as this is my last meal before I train.

Post-Workout Meal

    Protein shake, as above.


    Whatever my parents serve up. I ensure we always have some meat (preferably chicken, steak, or lean mince), but this is one meal I have no control over.

Before Bed

    Protein Shake.

That is a typical day of late focusing on my protein intake. Remember, you don't have to pay a lot of money for good protein - tuna is a great example.

Top 5 Supplements

Right off the bat forget prohormones and the such. Teens need only the basics (if any supplements). Only buy what you can afford and what you need. Here are my top 5 for cost and effectiveness.

     1. Protein Powder

    I rely heavily on protein powders to get my minimum protein intake; however, they need not be expensive. One of the best of the name brands in Australia is "Body Ripped" and it is also the cheapest. This is because it is not only whey.

    It contains "inferior" proteins, but this is bullsh#t. Whey by itself does work well but it has no anti-catabolic properties at all. It is absorbed immediately which is not always best. Calcium caseinate is more anti-catabolic and is digested slower providing a sustained release of amino acids. For best results, choose a combination of both.

     2. Multi-Vitamin

    You can buy multivitamins at any chemist or supermarket and are a must at under 20 cents a day!

     3. Creatine

    Creatine works for about 70% of people, so it may be good for you, but it may not. Initially, you retain water and your weight will rise, but this is good for two reasons:

    1. You look bigger.
    2. Water retention is thought to increase protein synthesis.

Creatine Supplementation! Creatine Supplementation!
One of the biggest myths about weight lifting is that it stunts your growth. No studies have ever been shown that lifting weights stunts or inhibits growth.
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    When you stop taking it, you may lose a kilo or two but that is only the water. You will keep any muscle you build. Also, creatine gives you loads more ATP allowing you to lift heavier weight for longer periods. Cost: less than $1 a day, and in most cases, well less).

What Is ATP?
Otherwise known as Adenosine TriPhosphate, ATP is critical to the release of energy. ATP is an adenosine-derived nucleotide that supplies large amounts of energy to cells for various biochemical processes, including muscle contraction and sugar metabolism, through its hydrolysis to ADP.

     4. Glutamine

    Glutamine also retains water for cell volumization and increases growth hormone (HGH) levels and immune system effectiveness. Two thirds of muscle is glutamine so keeping levels high is vital. It is also very anti-catabolic.

     5. Ribose

    While using ribose, I didn't really notice any difference, but when I stopped, whoa!!! All my poundages went down when I stopped using it and my recovery between sets was very poor compared to when I used ribose. I used the very minimum, 2.5 grams, before training. I would love to give it a go taking 5g before and another 5g after training!

All About Ribose All About Ribose.
A new dietary supplement ingredient, ribose, claims to increase ATP and energy levels, based on scientific research. Learn how it can help you!
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     6. Water

    I know I said my "top 5," but water is not really a supplement, but it is a necessity! Your body needs more water than it is telling you. A good rule of thumb is 0.7 times your body weight is the number of ounces (30mL) you need to drink a day. Water helps digestion and protein synthesis and the best part... it is free!



These are just a few tips that I have found useful while bodybuilding on a tight budget. The one thing I can suggest to you is to be creative and enjoy your training!

Callum Mahoney