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How to control the mind, chisel your body

Published : Jan 14, 2018, 2:52 am IST
Updated : Jan 14, 2018, 3:35 am IST

Fitness, like everything else, begins in the mind. Any athlete, world-class or otherwise, will agree with this without a second thought.

The Shivfit Way: A Comprehensive Functional Fitness Programme by Shivoham with Shrenik Avlani, Ebury Press, Rs 200.
 The Shivfit Way: A Comprehensive Functional Fitness Programme by Shivoham with Shrenik Avlani, Ebury Press, Rs 200.

Excerpt from The Shivfit Way, published by Ebury Press.

Aamir Khan had called for me. I was nervous. What was it about? I had no idea, but I was excited.

I had worked in films and with film stars before. But this was the meticulous Mr Khan. I could hardly sleep that night, wondering what it could be about... A variety of thoughts kept doing somersaults and burpees in my head... I got there with time to spare. It was a two-minute meeting. He knew what he wanted... He didn’t waste time — his or mine. He knew what CrossFit was…

Fitness is a complex and complicated entity. Getting a body like Aamir’s in Dhoom 3 or Ghajini is not simple. It’s not as if you start working out and the fat starts dissipating, muscles start getting bigger and more defined, and you begin looking lean and beefed-up. It takes much more than that. Discipline, diet and dedication are the three holy pillars of fitness. Ignore any one and you may be better off than where you started but still won’t be as fit as you could have been, or wanted to be. You won’t see the results that you had imagined: A body like Aamir Khan’s, the ripped physique of Sylvester Stallone in Rambo and Daniel Craig as James bond, or a beautifully-proportioned shell like Scarlet Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence or Jacqueline Fernandes.

Let’s begin with the basics. That is where Aamir, Jacqueline and Sonakshi started. That is where everyone else started. Leave your ego behind and go back to the A, B, C of fitness no matter how much you may have advanced in the gym...

Will you be doing an upper body or lower body routine today?

I often hear this remark in gyms — even the popular and reputed ones — both in India and abroad.

Each time, I feel bewildered and ask myself: What are they talking about?...

The major muscle groups in the upper body are chest, shoulders and upper back while those in the lower body are legs, butt and lower back. Digging deeper into human physiology, in layman’s terms, the upper body’s smaller muscle groups are the biceps, triceps, forearms, lats and traps, which are a part of your shoulders, connecting to the neck on either side. In the lower body, the muscles in the legs are hamstrings, quadriceps and calves while the butt consists of glutes or the gluteus muscles.

While planning your workout, no matter what the duration or intensity, you must design it in such a way that the major muscle groups in both the upper and lower body are engaged to a certain degree. Just think of the time you hiked up a mountain. Though it was your legs and butt doing most of the work, without core strength and strong arms you probably wouldn’t have made it past that rock in the middle of your path that made you pull yourself up using your arms and engaging your shoulders. Never do you do things with just one half of your body; it is always the complete body that is involved…

Have you watched roger Federer play? Have you closely watched him in action? Next time, pay attention — to him, or to any other world-class athlete or sportsman. Playing five punishing sets of tennis or sprinting 100 metres in just nine seconds are extremely draining physically...

Watch Federer. He lets his head rule both his musculoskeletal system and all feelings of sympathy. His ruthless focus doesn’t waver, and his expression never changes till the match ends. After that, not only does he let a smile escape but also offers a warm handshake to his opponent with a query about the pain he went through during the game. The match is played out not just on the court, but also in Federer’s mind...

Fitness, like everything else, begins in the mind. Any athlete, world-class or otherwise, will agree with this without a second thought. When most people are given a workout, the first thing they tell their trainers is, “This is difficult”. They start bargaining. They talk the trainers into making concessions and relaxing the routine. If pull-ups are a problem, they will ask for these to be dropped altogether; if ten push-ups edge them slightly out of their comfort zone, they would settle for no more than six. And then, when they don’t see results after three months, they ask the trainers, “Why have I not made any pro-gress…lost weight… built muscle?” When you start a healthy lifestyle with this kind of mindset, you are unlikely to achieve the body or results you desire. That’s because you are already defeated in your mind…

The best thing about visualisation, which I discovered over time, is that it comes in handy in all situations. It can, in fact, prepare you for challenges ahead, besides helping you on your way to success. Again, I have to thank Vrinda for this. she has trained the royalty of Bollywood, including the Bachchans, and taught them how to use this technique expertly to their own advantage. It may sound complex, but it is a very simple exercise.

All you need to do is have an image of your goal in mind. Then chart your path from your current situation till your goal in several progressive stages, with images for each. For example, if your goal is having six-pack abs, and at present you are slightly overweight with a fair layer of fat around the midriff, this is how you need to do it: first, pick your goal. If you like, use photoshop to morph a picture of yourself and airbrush it as close to your target as possible. Put it up on a board where you can see it clearly.

Next, break that goal up into smaller targets and prepare images for each... Keep going till you plan ten stages — from the start till the end — all accompanied by images. Now that you know what you are targeting, it is easier to plan a programme and stick to it.

Tags: fitness, muscle, six-pack abs, book review