How Bukhosi Khoza Built Muscle In His 20s

"I’ve had my ups and downs in my fitness journey, but what kept me going was the need to constantly improve myself."


Thaaqib Daniels |

Getting buff as a skinny 20-year-old is a tough ask, but not impossible. Bukhosi Khoza was on a mission for muscle a few years back; and now, at age 24, he’s no longer that skinny kid on the rugby field, but a fully fledged (and flexed) personal trainer. This is how he did it. Make sure you follow his journey on Instagram @bukhosi_khoza.

Bukhosi Khoza

Bukhosi – Before
  • Location: Pretoria
  • Occupation: Online Personal Trainer
  • Age: 24
  • Weight Before: 51kg
  • Weight After: 78kg
  • Time To Goal: 4 years

The Challenge: “I grew up very skinny, but was very athletic and loved playing soccer. But my high school didn’t have soccer, so I had to play rugby. Being skinny and playing rugby is not the best combo. Especially if you had as little strength as I did. I started going to the gym to gain muscle mass and get stronger. I wanted to play first team rugby so badly, and that’s where my weightlifting obsession began.

After three years in the gym, I could see all my hard work paying off, which gave me more confidence and motivation to improve myself even more.

I was obsessed with fitness, so much that I gave up rugby straight after matric to follow my passion. I fell in love with the process of getting fit, so I worked on becoming a trainer and fitness model.

I’ve had my ups and downs in my fitness journey, but what kept me going was the need to constantly improve myself. And honestly, pursuing this goal is the only thing that made me feel like I have a purpose. My results have brought me a higher level of self-belief and have allowed me to inspire others as well. I’m becoming both mentally and physically stronger, because I invested in my own personal growth. Now I want to help others do the same.”

THE FITNESS

Bukhosi is self-trained. After a lot of experimentation in the gym, he found what works for his body and stuck to it.

Think Big

The secret to Bukhosi’s muscle growth is his approach to working out. Instead of isolation moves like bicep curls, he went for exercises that spread the workload across his entire body, such as squats and deadlifts. “I would work my full body every day,” he says. “Your workout programme must cover all body parts. And you’ll need to lift a bit heavier than your usual.”

Related: Just Started Weight Training? Here’s Our Beginners Guide

Your Body Weight Is The Best Weight

If you’re just getting started, make bodyweight exercises the backbone of your routine. They’ll help you improve overall body awareness and ensure that you’re keeping your core involved in all your training.

The Mind Is A Muscle

“One of the most important things I learnt through my fitness journey is that it all starts with your mental health,” he says. “You need to have the right mindset in order for you to grow physically.” Bukhosi also found that having a strategic approach to his training helped him achieve better results. “You need to know what you want, and how you’re going to get it. Plan accordingly.”

THE NUTRITION

“Getting a fit body is not only about training, but also good nutrition and good mental health. It’s a whole combination.”

Give Those Jaw Muscles a Rest

Bulking up requires a lot of chewing. This is where protein shakes can help. Try going with three meals of real food and then incorporate three liquid shakes to help cut down all that mastication.

Make The Diet Portable

Pick smart and pack smart when you’re away from home. When you’re out to eat, cough up the extra cash for a bowl of berries at breakfast. And then leverage protein for snacks: biltong, low-sugar protein bars, nut-and-seed trail mixes.

Prep For Your Meal Prep

Bulking diets require structure to thrive. Even Bukhosi slipped up at first when he started eating more healthily. “Compared to before, I’ve become really focused on my diet and what I eat. I can now control my craving, and I’m aware of what’s good for my body.”

For people with busy schedules, it’s tough to get the hang of prepping your meals. Try this: shop on Tuesdays and meal prep four meals for lunches and dinners, which should last you until the weekend. Then shop and prep three more lunches and dinners on Saturday, which should take you back to Tuesday. Tweak it to your schedule, and see what works for you. Fiddle until you find what works.

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