Fitness is one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time, don't waste it
An ongoing belief is that Indians have the worst genetic make up for bodybuilding or fitness.
This is a reasonable claim to make considering many South Asians possess the dreaded body type known as ‘Skinny-Fat’.
Being brutally honest, it is relatively rare to see Indian gym goers, both men and women, possess physiques that are of similar levels of quality to their black and white counterparts at the gym.
In the realm of Bollywood there are plenty of examples of great South Asian physiques including the likes of John Abraham, Shahid Kapoor, Malaika Arora Khan and Sonam Kapoor.
Furthermore, Indian bodybuilding and fitness modelling has come along leaps and bounds in the last few years in both the male and female categories.
This all begs the question to why this type of physique isn’t regularly seen across the general populous of gym goers.
Many men of South Asian decent can make some incredible gains in strength and size but this usually comes at the price of a much higher comparative level of body fat, while on the female side of things many struggle to attain prominent muscular tone.
Genetics do play a significant factor in what kind of body you can attain but they are not the be all and end all.
There are certain changes that Indian gym goers can make that would yield a much improved physique.
‘Too many Chapattis will make you a Fatty’
The standard South Asian diet is detrimental for anyone trying to progress towards their fitness goals, as Desi dishes are usually overloaded with carbohydrates and saturated fat.
It’s not that you can’t have these foods at all but it’s a case of eating smart and knowing your macronutrient needs.
Macronutrients are the composition of protein, carbohydrates and fats that make up your daily calories.
Discovering your nutritional needs can only be found out through experimentation; it will take some time but is certainly worth the effort.
Diet is just as important as the training and if you are not fuelling your body correctly your progress will be hindered.
Don’t over-do the Protein Shakes
Despite what your favourite YouTube personality tells you, whey protein is unnecessary if you can get all the protein you need from whole food sources which is doable and preferable.
British Asians do have a tendency to binge on supplements, especially mass gainers which are usually packed full of sugar.
Supplements are called ‘supplements’ for a reason. They should be used as additional elements to your whole food diet, not as the focal point of your caloric consumption.
If you stop making significant progress through a whole food diet or you aren’t recovering as efficiently as you would like, only then should you turn to supplements for aid.
Routine is Power
A well-thought out routine and proper programming is key. Know exactly what you’re doing before you enter the gym in terms of what exercises you’re doing, what weight you’re going for and how many reps you’re aiming for.
This will result in workouts that will correctly and effectively stimulate the targeted muscle groups and allow you to see visible progression in both strength and numbers.
However, don’t stick to the same routine for too long because your body will adapt to the habitual way you attack your body.
A well-known bodybuilding concept is ‘muscle confusion’ which means engaging in a variety of workouts in order avoid plateaus in strength by constantly shocking the body.
Free Weights are Essential for both Genders
Many women tend to shy away from the free weights section which is understandable as it can be daunting heading into this area of the gym.
Although it can seem like entering the lion’s den cardio machines will not result in the body you desire; that’s an assurance.
Remember doing free weights also burns calories; especially if your routine is more attuned to endurance type training.
Know your Goals
It is vital to know what you want to achieve from your training as your routine and programs will be determined by this.
Do you want to build muscle mass? Do you want to build strength? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to drop body fat? Do you want to build up endurance? Are you training for a sport or event?
Answers to these questions will directly affect what you need to do in the gym to achieve your desired results.
Everyone has different body types, limb lengths, caloric needs macronutrient requirements and goals so what works for others may not work for you.
Avoid the excessive Bulking/Cutting Cycles (Men)
These cycles of bulking and cutting are extremely unhealthy as they play havoc with your hormone levels.
There are also the psychological factors that a fitness nut goes through during bulking and cutting to consider.
When bulking, be it a lean or dirty bulk, the unavoidable eventuality of putting on body fat will sadden you as will losing a bit of size during a cut. You’ll be self-conscious either way.
Why not just cut body fat first and attempt to build lean muscle mass? It is a slower process but will be healthier option for both body and mind.
Make every rep count. Don’t go into the gym with the mentality that simply lifting the weight is all that is required to achieve the body you want.
Your goal needs to be effectively contracting the muscle you intend to work. ‘Ego-lifting’ or incorrect form will only hinder progress and potentially lead to injury.
Concentration is key. In the words of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson…FOCUS!!!
Don’t skip Leg Day or Cardio
The amount of Asians that neglect their legs or their cardio-vascular endurance is startling.
Training legs will increase testosterone in men which will lead to gains in other body parts so get squatting people!
The lack of cardio is probably a contributing factor to why many Desi gym goers in the UK do have relatively high body fat levels.
Cardio after a weight session is ideal seeing as you burn all your glycogen during that workout meaning when you hit the tread mill fat stores will be targeted.
Remember everyone is different. Everyone has different body types, limb lengths, caloric needs macronutrient requirements and goals so what works for others may not work for you.
Fitness is very much a marathon, not a sprint. It is a long, arduous journey but one of the most rewarding and gratifying ways to spend your time; just don’t waste it.