How to Build Muscle and Look Good for Just S$5 a Day

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 30 September, 2016

Forget all those pricey supplements, customised workouts, and “secret guides”. Here's how Singaporeans can build muscle and get fit for a few dollars a day.

We've been building muscle since the dawn of time. In fact, it's an intrinsic property of being alive – our bodies automatically repair and renew muscle every day.

When it comes to getting swole*, there's really no need to spend hundreds of dollars on special training sessions or a pantry full of exotic pills and capsules. Instead, focus on supporting your body's natural processes with the basic supplements, and biology will soon reward you with muscles that you can actually see, feel, and flex!

*Swole – referring to the property of being 'swollen' with muscle and mass.

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First, the Basics of Bodybuilding

The basics of bodybuilding can be summed up with this mantra: train, eat, sleep, repeat. In order to successfully put on muscle, enough effort must be put into these four areas. In fact, you should look upon bodybuilding as a lifestyle, and not just an activity that you do a few times a week. Let's take a closer look at each of these four areas.

1. Train

Muscles only grow when they're worked beyond their capacity. During workouts, muscle fibres develop micro tears (this is normal and happens throughout our lifespan). Our bodies repair these tears as we sleep, making the fibres larger and stronger in the process.

As muscles get larger, the same amount of weight won't stimulate them as much. Therefore, the key to consistent muscle growth is to increase the amount of weight you lift on an ongoing basis. You should be hitting muscular failure on nearly every exercise by the end of your session. If you aren't, it's time to increase the weights.

2. Eat

Go through enough challenging workouts and you'll soon develop an appetite. That's your body signalling to you that it's ready to ramp up the repair and growth process – to get big – so don't go against biology by restricting your diet.

Increase your food intake sensibly and comfortably, and throw in some good quality supplements.

3. Sleep

Getting enough sleep is another big part of the equation that is critical for building muscle; deep sleep is when the body repairs itself. Recall that muscle only grows as a result of the breakdown and repair cycle, and you'll understand the importance of sleep.

Sleeping 7 to 9 hours a day is recommended, but you should adjust the hours and duration to find your sweet spot.

4. Repeat

Simply put, muscular growth is a result of regular good habits. If you want to grow, be consistent in all the above areas.

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Your S$5 Per Day Fitness Plan

Now that we've established the basic routine for bodybuilding, let's take a look at what supplements or fitness products we actually need in order to optimise our results.

1. Pre-workout Formula: For Energy and Focus at the Gym

During your workout, the most important factor is to stay hydrated. You'll also want something to act as fuel, and something to help you focus. There are many pre-workout formulas out there that promise to turn you into some kind of uncaged animal at the gym. Don't be dazzled by the hype, instead, study the ingredient label and look out for carbohydrates (or sugars) and compounds (such as caffeine) that help your concentration.

Typical cost: $50

No. of servings: 30

Cost per serving: $1.67

Servings to use: 1 per workout day

2. Whey Protein Powder: For Building Muscle

The body can only use protein to build muscles. Providing around 24g of protein per serving, protein powders are a convenient and inexpensive way to supplement protein intake in your everyday diet. In fact, whey protein emerge as the most cost-effective source of protein in many cases, due to mass manufacturing, ease of preparation and use, and a highly competitive market.

Typical cost: $90

Average no. of servings: 75

Cost per serving: $1.20

Servings to use: 2 per day

3. Probiotics: To Ensure Optimal Nutrient Absorption

To make sure all the extra food and whey protein you're taking in isn't going to waste, it's worthwhile to include a probiotic supplement in your diet. Typically taken once a day after a meal, probiotics boost the level of good bacteria in the gut to help digest food and absorb nutrients.

Typical cost: $30

Average no. of servings: 50

Cost per serving: $0.60

Servings to use: 1 per day

4. Multivitamins and Micronutrients: For Overall Support

Especially for those of us who don't prepare our own meals – i.e., practically everyone these days – our diets are likely to be out of balance. What this means is we are lacking in certain micronutrients that play a role in supporting vital body functions. Furthermore, if you're training at the intensity required for muscle growth, there's an even greater chance you're low on micronutrient levels. Invest in a good multi-nutrient formula to keep yourself topped off for better energy, resilience and overall health.

There are simply too many permutations in this category, so we're going to go ahead and make a direct recommendation here. Universal Animal Pak provides not only vitamins and minerals, but also amino acids, digestive enzymes, liver support and other compounds not seen in many other multivitamins. Because Animal Pak provides so many extras, it provides more bang for your buck.

Universal Animal Pak

Cost: $68

No. of servings: 44

Cost per serving: $1.55

Servings to use: 1 per day

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Putting It All Together

Let's total up the cost of our supplements and see how much it really costs per day to get swole.

Whey protein (x2 servings): $2.40

Probiotic: $0.60

Multi-nutrient: $1.55

Pre-workout: $0.67^

Total per day: $5.22

^Pre-workout formulas are only consumed on days you go to the gym. The above estimated cost is based on a 3-day-per-week workout cycle.

So there you have it. Just over $5 a day is all you need to start putting on some serious muscle.

Buy Online for Greater Savings

Fitness supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry that is rife with competition, promoting sellers and distributors to come up with many incentives to attract and keep customers. As a result, it is often cheapest to buy fitness supplements online. There are also a host of other benefits such as free deliveries, bulk discounts, reward points and other bargains to take advantage of.

To further maximise your savings, channel your online spend to a cashback card. We recommend the SingPost Platinum Visa Credit Card, which gives 7% cashback on online spending with a minimum charge of $600 during the statement cycle.

Read This Next:

Living a Healthy Lifestyle in Singapore Makes You Richer

Why Brand Loyalty Makes Singaporeans Spend More

Alevin ChanBy Alevin Chan

A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin's mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He's also on an ongoing quest to optimize happiness and enjoyment in his life.


An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


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