Eating and Working Out
One of the much-hyped inclusions to the GTA gameplay are the eating and exercise mechanics. Theres no need to fear that GTA is turning into The Sims; these inclusions are relatively minor, and you can feel free to ignore them if you wish. If you do decide to partake in a bit of bulking up, though (whether its fat or muscle that youre packing on), youll find that people will react to CJ in different ways, and hell have different abilities in the game world.
There are diners and fast-food joints all across San Andreas, serving up a variety of meals for CJs consumption. While the game intimates that CJ will lose maximum health if he goes without eating for too long, the length of time required for this to occur is apparently quite long; so long as you get a square meal once a week of in-game time or so, you shouldnt have to worry too much about losing health. If youre trying to get CJ nice and big, though, feel free to stuff his face with fast food; its cheap enough to do.
A little exercise can go a long way in San Andreas, especially if you want to muscle up CJ. If you want to exercise, hit a gym; in each one, youll find both stamina-building workout machines (the exercise bike and treadmill) and muscle-building items (freeweights and the benchpress).
Muscle and Fat: Building muscle is really easy; just start with a small set of weights, place your index finger and middle finger over the X and O buttons, and tap them as rapidly as possible. The muscle index will build fairly quickly; you should be able to completely max yourself out in just a few visits, after which you can go to your wardrobe and remove your torso clothing to show off your rippedness. (Dont forget to stop by a tattoo shop to get some ink!) Building muscle will also remove fat, and improve the power of your physical attacks.
Muscle will naturally decrease over time, so youll need to stop by the gym if you want to retain your honed physique. Again, though, this occurs fairly slowly, so dont worry about hitting the weights every day. On the other hand, youll gain fat if you go too long without exercising. Again, though, this wont affect you too much at low levels, and can be burned off incredibly quickly while you weightlift, so you shouldnt ever have to worry about it.
Building Stamina: You can build stamina by using the treadmill and exercise bike. This has much more of an impact on the game than does building muscle - youre going to be running and sprinting much more often than youll be using your fists in combat - but also takes much, much longer to improve. The technique is similar, but instead of tapping the X and O buttons in short bursts, youll have to repetitively jam away at the X button while youre on one of these machines - if you have a controller with turbo fire, this is an ideal time to whip it out.
Although your stamina increases slowly, it will never decrease through lack of exercise; the running-about that you do in the course of your travels will be enough to slowly improve your stamina resources.
Hitting The Wall: You can only exercise so much in a single day; eventually CJ will wear himself out, and youll have to save your game or advance the clock in order to continue with your workout. You can usually hit around 35 reps on the weights, or clock in for around five kilometers on the bike or treadmill before you have to pack it in. You can combine exercises, if you wish, but there is a sum total of exercise you can do for the day, so you wont be able to do any treadmilling if youve already worn yourself out on the weights.
New Melee Attacks: As you bulk CJs muscle up, youll be able to talk to the various trainers in the gyms to learn new melee attacks. All you have to do here is defeat a single opponent in hand-to-hand combat; we managed to defeat three or four of these guys while only receiving a single blow in return, so trust us when we say that all you need to do is keep mashing your attack buttons, and you should win easily.
After you win your challenge, the gym or dojos trainer will give you a few new techniques to use in melee combat. This is more of a neat extra than anything that really impacts the game; youll rarely encounter situations where youre forced into melee combat.