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How Victor Basa bulks up ‘the right way’

The model-actor creates his own exercise programs and watches what he eats to get just buff enough, so he won’t ‘look like a bouncer’

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LIFTING lighter weights builds muscle endurance. NELSON MATAWARAN

In GMA 7’s homosexual-themed teleserye “My Husband’s Lover,” model-actor Victor Basa plays David, a chef and ex-lover of Vincent (Tom Rodriguez). He is buff, as vain gays are wont to be.

Standing almost 5’11, Basa weighs some 170 lbs, thanks to a diet of brown and red rice and weight-resistance training. He taught himself how to pump iron in the correct form for health and aesthetic reasons.

“I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder. Once, I got so bulky that somebody said I looked like a bouncer,” he says.

Then again, he loves to eat, and names his favorite restaurants—Aysee Sisig in Pasig, Som’s, El Cirkulo, Jozu Kin in Burgos Circle and Barrio Fiesta for bulalo steak, which he also cooks at home. The pleasures of life once took their toll. One day, he couldn’t fit into his jeans that he ended up wearing shorts every day.

BASA’S philosophy: Gain more muscle and strength without injuring one’s self.

He then made his own weight-training program and eschewed white rice. He does his own split program at Gold’s Gym at Robinsons Galleria.

“I prefer working out at the gym. As males, we are competitive creatures, so we thrive in a competitive atmosphere,” he says.

Asked how he lost the excess fat and bulked up, Basa cites the benefits of pyramid training, which builds an intense workout as the muscles become overloaded. When the muscles are given weight that they are not accustomed to, they react physiologically to adapt to the stress, thus the increased muscle size or power.

The pyramid program either increases the weights while decreasing the repetitions or decreases the weights while increasing the repetitions or a combination of both. After warming up on a stationary bike, Basa executes push-ups and lifts a light weight to warm up the body and gird him for eventual heavier lifts.

200-lb bench press

PULL-UPS using body weight as the ultimate test of strength. PHOTOS BY NELSON MATAWARAN

Basa says he creates his program according to how his muscles feel, or until muscles get exhausted from lifting the heavy load. He can lift 200 lbs in a bench press while maintaining the form. However, he doesn’t really overload himself.

He favors lighter weights to build muscle endurance. More repetitions mean more calories burned in a session, compared to lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions.

Occasionally, he’ll do a selfie to see any improvements on his body mass. “There are calipers and tests to determine the ratio of fat to muscle. Nothing will tell the truth better than the mirror,” says Basa. Or in his case, his photographs.

The results: a 39-inch chest, a 30-inch waistline and bulging biceps.

WARMING up in the stationary bike.

“I was bulking up but not the right way. I enjoy food. Since my workouts this summer, my trips to the restaurants have decreased. My wallet thanked me for that,” he says.

Basa reads online magazines such as Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness, but ignores the training forums. “It’s called ‘bro science.’ Everybody is different. The advice that works for one person will be different for another. These forums are not filtered. I trust the magazines.”

At left, with fellow GMA 7 actor Rafael Rosell at Gold’s Gym in Victoria Tower, Quezon City

For his diet, he eats oatmeal for breakfast. His household serves brown and red rice for their health benefits. The antioxidants lower cholesterol and blood sugar, and fight free radicals.

With the brown rice, he serves stir-fried broccoli and grilled chicken breast. Basa says he learned how to cook when he stayed in Singapore for a modeling assignment. He picked up cooking tips and recipes from his foreign flatmates. At night, Basa doesn’t deprive himself of his favorite dishes, such as crispy pata.

Off-camera, Basa does podcasts on geek nights or posts on his blog, victorbasa.net. Still, Basa says he’s found his venue for self-expression. “I’ve tried telling a story through music and writing. But I found it in acting.”

For him, the ultimate wellness program is to take a week off from the computer and even social media. Still, Basa acknowledges their influence, especially on his media career.

“In ‘My Husband’s Lover,’ we were surprised by the reaction. We were trending for 27 days on Twitter. That’s a lot of clamor for the TV show.”


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