LOA but "Underweight!!?"

Oscar Whiskey

Nov 21, 2017
Hello All, longtime lurker--now active! DS was notified Sunday night that USMA is giving him an LOA. The LOA is contingent upon him having a nurse or doctor fill out a form on his body composition. The boy is 5'6" and weighs 114 lbs. I assume he must be underweight? Any new ideas on how he can bulk up within the next two weeks? Pound Ensure, Lift Weights, cut out Cardio?
I'm a student trainer at my local gym and another kid who has had some medical obstacles to jump over to obtain a 3Q for West Point.

I'm going to tell you this as it is because I want to see your son in the class of 2022, but please understand I am not a doctor. Just a student trainer and a fellow candidate.

Your DS is pretty underweight. Most BMI charts (and unfortunately the SAs default to something like BMI because you can't just stick every candidate in a bod pod or a pool; they only ask for a body fat worksheet if they need one) for a 5'6" male don't even begin to chart a score until 120 lbs.

If your DS needs to gain weight for a doctor's appointment in two weeks, he needs to cut his cardio for 14 days. I promise it won't damage his abilities too much. He will regain whatever cardio strength he lost after someone weighs him and documents it.

He needs to eat a lot, especially at night and particularly carbs. Your DS can and should still be lifting weights, but unfortunately if he needs to gain weight in two weeks some of it will be fat that he'll shred later since it sounds like he does a lot of cardio.

Invest in a mass gainer online or at a GNC. Your son sounds like he's ectothermic. These types of kids have trouble gaining weight. Have him drink a scoop before he goes to bed.

Be proud of your son. LOAs are not easy to get and I will never forget how I felt when mine came. Also, I'm the same! I weighed 98 lbs two years ago (would have been an underweight candidate) and now I am a 57 kg Powerlifter! Hang in there!
Have him eat a ton of calorie dense foods like nuts, pasta, and meats. Also eliminate coffee and consume a lot of water, seltzer, and salt to promote water retention. Some people can literally gain 10 pounds in one day by upping their water weight. I wouldn't cut out cardio completely because it's very important for health, but tone it down if he's been doing a lot of volume. It's also very important for him to be lifting heavy weights with a lot of volume as well.

GoArmy makes a good point. Your son has worked so hard to be rewarded with an LOA and now is definitely not the time to let up. Just make sure he eats, drinks, and lifts a lot. Best of luck!
Thank you for the ideas and encouragement. I made a slight mistake -- he is 5'4" and 114 lbs. The minimum weight for that height is 114 lbs. So he is right on the cusp. So I'm hoping that he can get well within the "good" zone by following your advice. I just bought him a case of Ensure, a bunch of bananas, a gallon of ice cream and a jar of peanut butter to pack on pounds. Tomorrow being Thanksgiving is a good start!
Thanksgiving sounds like a great start--and the morning of he should eat a good breakfast and drink water.
BUT, he also needs to be comfortable in his own skin--so don't push him to do anything that will make him feel like he is uncomfortable or compromising himself in anyway.
He is right at the boarder...maybe he can weigh in with clothes and shoes!
I never had this problem even though I entered USAFA at 112 lbs. After getting yelled at all during meals, I was ordered to pick up a 6 pack of Ensure on the way out of the dining hall each day. From 4 degree year to now, I've basically doubled my body mass!
If your son runs 'light', during Beast he will be given extra at meal times.
Maybe he would be agreeable to drinking light cream in place of milk for the next couple months. Milkshakes for snacks (there are many healthy but high calorie recipes out there) and generous amounts of nut butters (peanut butter, almond butter...) on his sandwiches. There are healthy ways to gain weight and he will feel better if he eats healthier options vs. sugar options (candy, etc). He may also want to consider protein powder shakes (with whey protein and not soy protein - he doesn't need the extra estrogen that soy provides).
Some weightlifting can't hurt either, instead of cardio. The increase in calories plus gaining muscle will help his peformance during Beast.
Since he's on the borderline -- I'm hoping that he gains 3-5 pounds before he gets taped and the body composition form is entered into his profile. After passing the DODMERB, CFA, and getting an LOA -- I'd hate to have to get a waiver for being a pound underweight!
Yeah. Waivers can definitely be a pain! I had to get one...not a fun process! Good luck to your DS, and make sure he eats that peanut butter!