So you want to get jacked but you are more broke than a Durex condom on Shaq. What do you do? Well that’s not an easy answer. Bodybuilding, and just living a healthy lifestyle in general, can get quite expensive very quickly.
For a very good chunk of time I was dirt poor. I had a shitty job, no car, dumpy overpriced apartment, and due to pride, I refused to apply for any kind of government assistance. I made just enough money for rent, utilities, and my cell phone. At the time I played basketball a lot and was pretty big into parkour, mainly because I couldn’t afford to do other things. I wanted to get into bodybuilding but it was just not financially feasible.
So not only was I not eating much due to lack of money, but I was doing mostly cardio as exercise. Not to mention my job involved all manual labor work. That’s not a good combination to gain muscle. Slowly but surely I started to study what it really takes to build quality muscle. I just needed to figure out how to do it on a budget. It took some effort, but eventually I was able to build a good physical base without the use of a gym or supplements.
Whether you are in school, don’t make much money, or find yourself struggling to simply live independently, you don’t need to give up on fitness. It will be hard, and you probably won’t become a muscle bound Goliath, but just because you are broke does not mean you cannot improve your physique.
Here are some tips on how to become a beast on a budget.
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One of the most important parts of gaining muscle is to have a proper diet. You need to eat a lot of quality foods and it’s fucking expensive.
There’s no way around that. I remember eating top ramen and pizza rolls many, many nights for dinner. You aren’t going to build a great physique when the majority of your nutrition comes from salty carbs and diarrhea filled salty carbs.
Well through my time being poor I found some things that are fairly cheap yet will help you gain some decent mass. (Not fat.) Also, I’d like to point out that I live in the United States so my food options may be different than what’s available to you. (No marmite. Expensive as hell here.)
First we’ll start with protein. In order to grow muscle you will need some quality protein. Meat will always be one of the top sources of protein. (Sorry but poor people don’t usually have the financial option of being a natty vegan.)
So here’s a list of my top 5 cheaply priced protein.
- Canned tuna. Even though I’m no longer poor I still love tuna. It’s high protein and low calorie. Just watch the sodium content. I buy the pricier wild canned tuna. I think it taste better.
- Frozen chicken breast. You usually get a good amount of chicken for a lower cost. Plus it last longer since it’s frozen.
- Liver. Liver is not only cheap in price but it’s very high in protein. It’s like steak without the extra calories and fat. Just make sure you don’t eat too much as it’s very high in iron.
- Eggs. You can never eat enough eggs. One of the top staples of bodybuilding.
- Peanut butter. I go for the natural kind as it has no sugar or added anything. Very high in protein and healthy fats.
Next you need some good sources of carbohydrates. Luckily carbs are usually very affordable. Here’s my top 5.
- Oatmeal. Ah yes, oatmeal. Very cheap and another staple of bodybuilding. Go for the bulk tub if you can.
- Sweet potatoes. They are a great source of complex carbohydrates and potassium.
- Vegetables. Eat your damn veggies. There are so many to choose from and you can find some great deals.
- Rice. I prefer brown rice myself. You can buy rice in bulk and it last a very long time.
- Beans. There are a large variety of beans to choose from. Canned or dehydrated, they are cheap and full of protein plus complex carbs.
We will finish the food talk with healthy fats. This can be the priciest part of your shopping list. I’ll try my best to give you affordable options though. These are the top five I go for.
- Extra virgin olive oil. Good fats are good for heart health and are necessary in keeping your body functioning properly. EVOO can be pricy so your best bet is buying it in bulk.
- Coconut oil. Another great source of healthy fat. It can be expensive but a little can go a long way. Also buy the bulk size if you can.
- Dark chocolate. Don’t get too excited. I’m talking really dark. Like Wesley Snipes drinking a pint of Guinness in the nude during a blackout dark. It’s gonna be bitter but it’s very good for you. You can usually find 90% dark chocolate bars in the candy aisle. Just a square here and there will do.
- Nuts. There are plenty of nuts to choose from that have good fat and a lot of protein. Save money, buy peanut butter.
- Full fat greek yogurt. You get a huge amount of protein to go along with good fat. It’s great to use in place of sour cream and making sauces, dressings, and dips. If you are lactose intolerant or some such thing than I recommend using organic unsalted butter. No, it’s not like yogurt at all. But it is a great source of healthy fat.
Now that we got the diet portion out of the way there’s the matter of actually working out. If you are poor you most likely cannot afford to join a gym.
So here’s a list of good alternatives to help build up your physique.
- Playground. If you have a playground in your area you can build up some functional strength. You may not get huge but you will get pretty strong. Also you would be surprised how much muscle you can build just from doing variations of pull ups, chin ups, dips, and many other kinds of bodyweight exercises. You can find many YouTube videos on playground workouts.
- Resistance bands. You can get these for fairly cheap and do a large variety of resistance exercises with them. Also they are very lightweight and easy to travel with.
- Bodyweight exercises/yoga. You can get some great workouts at home by just using your body weight and the best part is that it doesn’t cost you anything. You may not gain a lot of size but you will get very strong and build a solid foundation. Even if you are broke you can still have the best abs around.
- Be inventive. Like a ghetto MacGyver, there are many ways to lift weights. Use water jugs for arm exercises, book bags filled with heavy stuff for squats and push ups, tire flipping, rock throwing, the ghetto exercise list is almost limitless. How do you think prisoners in places that don’t allow weights manage to get so yoked? No excuses. Get your gains.
The biggest tip I can give you is to make sure your stay motivated. Don’t ever give up on your dreams. If you really want something you will find a way. Befriend others with similar interest. If you make the right connections your bodybuilding journey can become easier. Coaches, gym owners, serious weight lifters, these are all the kinds of people that can lead you in the right direction. Eventually your financial situation will become better and you can start to make some serious gains. You will be glad you build up the best base you could while you were poor.
If you found this article helpful let me know in the comments and I may make a much more detailed article on ways to build a great physique when you are poor. Also for all the natty vegan 8 hour arm workout doing mofo’s on Facebook, I’d love to see some good Kali Muscle memes. The Piano memes are losing some of their luster. If I think you have the funniest meme I’ll mention you in the next ridiculous article I write. (Not an advice article.) I look forward to the hilarity. As always, get gains or die trying.