#FitnessFunda: Bodybuilding is a big mental process, says Arav | Tamil Cinema News

By his own admission, Arav is at his best now. The actor has spent the past six months training and achieving a physique that he is quite proud of today. “During the second wave of COVID, I looked at myself and realized that I was out of shape. When the gyms reopened soon after, I felt it was the right time to transform me”, begins the actor. Excerpts from our conversation…

What does bodybuilding take?
It’s a big mental process and you have to devote at least six months to it. Only if you are physically and mentally ready can you make this transformation possible. First, you will undergo rigorous training. Your diet will completely change. After a while, you might start to feel depressed. So, you will have to prepare for all of this and then go for it. I motivated myself by telling myself that as an actor, if I wanted to climb the ladder, I had to do it. So I approached Dr. Rahul, a friend of mine who was Mr. Chennai in bodybuilding in 2019, to be my mentor. We started in June-July and have set ourselves the goal of reaching our goal by December-January. In mid-January, I finished what I had planned to do.

No water for 48 hours!
Just before filming, to have oil-free skin, people reduced their water intake for a day. But I haven’t even had a sip of water for two days! These 48 hours have been very, very difficult. However, because I knew my six months of hard work lay in those two days without even taking a sip of water, I persisted.

I had to bulk up first and then tone down to get that physique, which will suit both love characters and action roles. I was doing Magizh Thirumeni sir’s project and I had to build muscle by playing the antagonist there.

The first days are hard
I had COVID in December 2020, and when I started this journey in June, my body was very weak. Initially, I couldn’t even do more than four to five push-ups in a row. My muscles hurt a lot when I did pull-ups. I had the paunch and I was flabby too. My confidence was completely gone. It took me a whole month to build up my stamina and strength. Slowly we started with intensive training. We had stretches all week. I hired a trainer, Sumi, from Mumbai. You can’t build muscle just by pushing weights in the gym. You need to know what type of weight you need to work with for a particular muscle, when you need to train for it… Rahul advised me on all of this while Sumi was establishing my training protocol. Even when I was filming, this crew traveled with me and made sure my training and diet went according to plan.

what to eat
For the first two or three months, I ate a high protein diet with carbohydrates and fiber. Fiber fills your stomach and helps burn your fat. In mid-November, I mostly cut back on carbs and it became a purely high-protein, high-fiber diet. I took a lot of whey, chicken, egg and fish protein. The first week of January, I totally avoided carbs because I wanted to get that chiseled physique. My diet consisted mainly of fruits – especially the fat-burning papaya – eggs, chicken, fish, whey protein and vegetables. I used to have a vegetable salad with every meal, green, yellow and red peppers, asparagus and avocado being the main ones. And I also used to take lean meat protein.

FotoJet - 2022-04-19T104816.211

Why rest time is very important
Your sleeping pattern is the most important. You must sleep for eight to nine hours. You’re going to put your body through so much physical effort, so you need to give it enough rest to recover. In fact, the lack of rest time is the reason why some exercisers go into cardiac arrest. If you haven’t rested, I would say, don’t train. Stick to your diet that day. Ultimately, your physical transformation is not more important than your life. Your body will start to shrink a lot if you don’t get enough rest.

Maintaining physical fitness
I eased the restrictions a bit, allowing me to eat some things I had been avoiding for the past six months. But to maintain that physique, I think I should maintain a diet. I don’t want my six months of hard work to go to waste. I’m still on my workout and diet schedules, even though they’re not as strict as before. Now, if I’m asked to be naked in a movie, I’ll only need a month to get back into shape. Men usually have 18% fat in their body, but to have a lean physique you need to bring it down to 8%. Now I maintain my body fat percentage at 11-12%.

No shortcut
There are many shortcuts, like taking steroids, that can help you get that physique in just two months, but I didn’t want to go that route at all. You’ll start to look more like a bodybuilder and lose the aesthetic look you need for the movies. Although it may seem tempting, especially when you feel weak for the first few months, it is better not to do it because of the side effects. You will only be putting your life in danger.

Cheat Sheets!
I am a biryani lover. And the first thing I was asked to cut was the rice, especially the biryani. I was okay with that at first, and even decided that I wouldn’t have a cheat meal. I managed to stick with it for the first four weeks. Later I was told that I can have biryani once a week, and that too, for lunch and not for dinner. If you follow your diet strictly for the first month, the amount of food you eat automatically decreases. Even if it’s biryani, while your heart might want to have two plates, your body won’t let you have more.

Before starting…

  • Set your goal. Decide what kind of physique you want to achieve.
  • Whatever people say, do your best.
  • Don’t try shortcuts. They are temporary and dangerous.

3 mantras arav swears by

  • 80% is your diet and 20% is your training
  • Focus and dedication are sacrosanct
  • Get enough sleep

Teresa E. Burton