Building Teenage Muscle



During the early seventies I played a lot of sport at school. It was that which convinced me to get out of bed daily, to get dressed into an ugly grey school uniform and to make my way to the schooldesks which I really abhorred.

Rugby was my favourite and I weighed a mere fifty kilograms at the age of thirteen. I had a hard time playing the physical game amongst the brawny schoolmates who saw me as a timid competitor. This made me more courageous. I was fit though, very fit. Never smoked and always ran whenever I wasn’t riding my bicycle. I had lots of stamina but this excessive energy burnt every piece of fat that entered my body. I could eat like a horse but my body didn’t show it. Skin and bone and lots of blond hair was all that moved.

I played wing or centre as I had the speed needed to score tries. In one game I broke my nose and after every other game I walked from the field full of “roasties”. I gave it my all and tackled opponents with vigour. I often hurt myself more than I hurt them but I felt good when I was finally able to get chosen for the school’s first team in my final year. I weighed only fifty six kilogram at the time and decided with my best pal Mauro to join the gymnasium in the city to increase my muscles and mass.

Mauro was bigger than me and had a solid bone and muscle structure. He also played rugby and various sports at school but for him it wasn’t such an obsession as it was for me. He was willing to help me and at the same time he could tone his muscles and hopefully I would manage to do all that and to gain some weight. Playing in the school’s first team against very strong, big opponents was starting to show my weaknesses. Tackling guys weighing twice my weight wasn’t only a massive challenge but a frightening experience. I didn’t want to lose face and did it all the same.

During our training period at the gym we also met Arnold Schwarzenegger the famous actor who at that time was Mr. Universe and Mr. World in the bodybuilding industry. He visited South Africa and the gym where we trained. We looked like two underfed chickens standing next to an ostrich. What made me feel good meeting Arnold was that all those muscly guys in our gym who used to look down at Mauro and me in a superior way also looked like midgets next to this giant.

We worked our bodies for about a year in this gym and my end result was gaining two kilograms more muscle which I thought was not worth the money, pain and sweat. Mauro’s result was more evident and exiting as he was sporting solid upper arms, a bigger chest and a six pack abs waist. He also got rid of some flabby fat in general.

Looking in the mirror my two kilogram muscle gain was a psychological improvement. I had a bit more chest, a bit more upper arm but on the rugby field nobody was the wiser.

About Bugs

I am an amateur writer of true life stories. I was born in 1957 in South Africa, married an Italian and have lived in Italy since 2000. I have many pleasant and also some sad memories of my journey through life. I would like to share it with anybody who is also interested in the smaller and more simplistic issues of life.


  1. Bugs,
    this story brought back memories and I relived that period in my mind. You are right when you say that your school uniform was not so nice, but on the other hand when you played rugby you wore a very bright orange colored jersey with black shorts and orange socks. Your rugby outfit was really smart!
    Do you remember which was the gift Mr. Universe left us? It was that bent iron-bar which was hanging on the gym wall. He did this by putting too much weights on it, so when he lifted the bar, it bent V shaped. Of course it could not be used for any other purpose and it became Arnold’s signature to show he had been there.
    All of us guys were full of roasties, we collected them during the tackling of the opponents. It was inevitable that our knees and elbows would rub on the grass for several meters. Although the ground was soft, roasties came all the same. For some hours they were green patches, when washed they turned red and swollen and that really hurt.
    I was certainly fatter than you, as I ate more often milktarte!
    Thinking about your story, I realize how important the psychological aspect in the rugby game is. For us boys was really very difficult to accept that there were other guys more performing and more courageous than ourselves!
    Thanks a lot, dear Bugs, for your contribution to our website, this helps me to dig in the past and come up with new ideas and memories to share with you all.

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