Thursday, September 12, 2013

The TRUTH about 'BODYBUILDING': The Sport, the Science, the Philosophy.

Bodybuilding: The Sport, the Science, the Philosophy.

How many of you have come across a bodybuilder? What do you think is a bodybuilder? "A guy with huge muscles is a bodybuilder" is the stereotypical dummy answer. And this stems from the fact that there are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding bodybuilding.

So lets try to deconstruct it to its MOST BASIC ELEMENTS and understand it.




the act or practice of exercising, lifting weights, etc., so as to develop the muscles of the body.
Origin: 1900–05;  from the verb phrase build  ( up one's body.
By extending the definition, we can see that anybody exercising in any form to develop a certain set of body movements and muscles, is a bodybuilder - whether it is male or female, young or old, sportsman or dancer, sick or healthy, able or disabled. THERE IS NO BAR!

In competitive and professional bodybuilding, bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points based on their appearance. 

Bodybuilders prepare for competition through a combination of dehydration, fat loss, oils, and tanning which combined with lighting make the definition of the muscle group more distinct. 

Some well-known bodybuilders include Charles AtlasSteve ReevesReg ParkArnold Schwarzenegger, and Lou Ferrigno

Currently, IFBB professional bodybuilder Phil Heath from the United States holds the title of Mr. Olympia. The winner of the annual Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top professional bodybuilder.

Lets take this example: who do you think WON?
Phil Heath on the Left or Jay Cutler on the Right?
Bodybuilders are judged on the overall quality of their muscular development. Judging is based upon the presentation of:
    • Mass
    • Definition
    • Proportion
    • Symmetry
    • Stage Presence
    • NOTE: The judges at the pro levels also take into account your previous history, your genetics and are in the know of your strongest and weakest muscles - tracking your development all through the years. 

The perception of muscular size, has been the foundation for bodybuilding since the beginning of the sport. Yet, mass is only a merit when accompanied by the remaining qualities.

Indicates the degree of muscularity brought about by the absence of subcutaneous body fat. Defined muscularity is necessary to fully display the development of the physique. Definition is only of value when it allows massively developed muscles to be displayed.

Implies an even balance of muscular development in comparison to each muscle group. Theoretically, a "strong body part" can be just as detrimental as a "weak body part". Bodybuilders must strive for equal development between all muscle groups.

A misnomer, is commonly used to depict "proportion" or expressed to indicate an aesthetic quality throughout the physique. Although, in its strictest definition, symmetry denotes equal development of muscularity on both right and left sides of the physique.

 Stage Presence:
Includes posing performance and other factors influencing general appearance such as skin tone, grooming, charisma, and poise. Effective stage presentation is essential to display the physique to its maximum potential.

This display by Kai Greene is an epic example of taking body building stage presence to another level of 'performance arts': 

Scientifically speaking, Bodybuilding can be broken down to 3 key elements:

genes are the basic blueprints of every living body. Every human body has its own gifts and limitations. If you must have observed people, you must have noticed that people from certain regions grow taller, shorter, bulkier, fatter, get heavy around the hips, have a large butt, have larger calves, have greater endurance, have greater capacity for higher altitudes and so on. all these characteristics are mostly genetically primed.
Your genetics are the core blue print that you build your body on.
In a sculptors words - the genetics are the nature of rock/soil that the statue is being build/moulded out of.
The most common genetic attribute that affects bodybuilding is the body shape:

No matter how much training you put in and nutrition you supplement, you body will not entirely defy its genetic code which primarily regulates the hormonal and cellular behavior of the body. (that is the link where the controversial usage of steroids in professional bodybuilding comes it. and unless you are a professional bodybuilder or athlete or actor/model you should not even resort to it as the cost to effectiveness ratio is way too expensive in terms of health benefits and money)
to get into details about how genetics affect bodybuilding, read this article:

The other tip of the bodybuilding triangle is nutrition. Simply explained by the term 'you are what you eat', nutrition is often the most overlooked part of bodybuilding. Since nutrients are the core building blocks of every cell in your body - proteins, carbs and fats are pretty much the brick and mortar of your physique. So even if someone has the genetics to be massively well built, but is starved in a prison, he will turn skinny and weak. And if the same guy is put on a macdonalds diet, he will most definitely bloat out of proportion. but that's the simplest way to put it.
Nutrition in itself is a complex science. On a proper bodybuilding regime every nutrient you put in your body is calculated as per need. Durning gain season or off season for eg, bodybuilders load up on carbs to help them build muscle and generate strength require dto push their bodies to the max. Then durinf ON season or while 'cutting down' they often move to an entirely ketogenic diet that consists of only proteins and fats.
besides the basic nutrients, body building also requires other additional nutrients to aid joints, boost anabolic activity, boost ATP within their cells to generate energy, cause vaso dialation for better pump of blood into the muscles, and many more.
Along with nutrition comes supplementation. because it is highly improbable for people to get all the nutrients they need in their food all year long and every day. supplementation makes this task simpler and more effective. Supplements are not magical potions - they are just highly absorbent nutrients - that will help your physique build itself in the way you train your body to.
FOCUS on the word 'SUPPLEMENT' and you will know exactly what it means. It by no means replaces the hard work that a bodybuilder has to put in to build his physique. it only supplements those efforts with the right nutrition.

The final and most popular side of the bodybuilding triangle is training. The human body is one of the most adaptive machines in the world. As you train it, it shall become. and this feature plays a huge role in bodybuilding. There are thousands of training regimes worldwide that promise to build a certain type of physique - but stripped of its fancy marketing terms and broken down to its most basic levels, bodybuilding training can be broken down to just 5 distinct components:
3. ENDURANCE (or what is commonly refered to as CARDIO training)
(even of these there are various versions which also include agilty, co-ordination, balance, accuracy and flexibility.  but since we are talking about BODYBUILDING, we'll stick to the bodybuilding 5. )
different sports call for focusing on different training regimes. but competitive bodybuilding mostly focuses on STRENGTH and POWER TRAINING with ENDURANCE and SPEED TRAINING thrown in mostly during cutting season.

This interview with competitive bodybuilder Nizar Dawoodani effctively explains the corelations between the nutrition and training routines of competitive bodybuilding:

irrespective of what sport you are building your physique for, STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE are the two most important segments of training.
BodyBuilding has been a part of every culture and every civillization. Body Building in itself means to BUILD the body - whether it is to improve performance in young age, to develop specific abilities or to prevent the effects of aging by combating the degenerative effects of age with exercises. Yoga, sports, strength straining, martial arts - all are kinds of body building routines aimed at building the body into its desired form and funtional capacity. 
but somewhere over time in the modern world, the term BODYBUILDING got  restricted to just competitive bodybuilding and large musculature. That is not Bodybuilding. that is just a part of the whole universe of bodybuilding - a publicized fragment of the universe of bodybuilding that has come to represent the whole philosophy of bodybilding at its extreme levels today.

To keep track of it, if you notice, even bodybuilding competitions till the 80's aimed at musculatures that were symettrical and aesthetic in its human form - like the greco roman sculptures and paintings of ages past. The ideal of the human physiology. But with the advent of rampant use of GH and Ergogenic aids, the sport was taken into a different direction all together - a direction which led to the extreme nature of the competing bodies today.

But even in this scenario, the bodybuilders physique is the highest peak of development of the human body - which is why it has all the acclaim. if leonardo da vinci had access to the modern bodybuilder's well developed physique, he would definitely use it to study the human anatomy.
But sport aside, whether its competitive or not, body buildign in any form depends on one major principle - DISCIPLINE.
Whether you do yoga, pilates, ballet or strength training without discipline  you wont attain any benefit that is worthy of the method. Eating right, following the techniques right and dedicating yourself to the methodology and the routine forms the foundation of bodybuilding in any form. So even today, whether its in the army, at a fat loss camp or in a personal home routine, the first thing that will always be stressed on is discipline. If you have to devote a certain time to it a certain method a certain habit to it, you have to. no excuses.

Overtime, Gymming, yoga, or training - martial arts,sports or other wise becomes like a religion. it gives you peace, it helps you focus, it helps you organise the chaos of life, detach yourself from external situations and focus on your regime towards a purpose. Its not just beneficial physically but also mentally, intellectually and emotionally. 
Many people find it higly relaxing and soothing. patients with adhd and manic depressive disorders and bipolar disorders have found it beneficial to workout. and tests have proven these effects too. 
Today, gymming or working out have become social behaviours and are beinfg more and more widely accepted as social behaviours. And thats not something new - infact in the 1900's a sect called muscular christianity had also developed where people used to get together and work out in the gym together in the name of god. India has its own league of 'hanuman bhakths' who used to to the same. The shaolin temple monks are another example. 
Even today indian wrestling is closely rooted to religion and society. And the time is not far when people will realise why it was made so and why it should be so. 
Afterall, body building is not just a sport of a phase, its a philosophy of continuous creations and improvement. a Kaizen, if you may, for the human body - the temple of human life. 

- Pushkaraj Shirke

Ketogenic Diet: The fastest natural way to lose fat without losing muscle.

Since the ancient times, the Inuit tribes of the arctic regions have lived only on a diet comprising of meat, fish, and fish and animal oils. And these people are absolutely healthy as compared to the vegetable and farm produce eating people of the rest of the world. And this becomes a hot topic of debate for everyone in the field of dietary sciences, medicine and fitness.

How are these tribes healthy even though they eat only meats and oils - that's only proteins and fats?
There have been theories that their genetics are responsible - but these theories have been smashed by research and studies and the pioneering effort of an explorer by the name of VILHAMJUR STEFFANSON, who actually made himself a subject to the experiment an lived entirely on an inuit diet - without any sideeffcts whatsover. 

This diet, comprising of only meats and oils is called a KETOGENIC DIET.

KETOGENESIS: What does it mean?
The human body, as widely studied in the agrarian world today, widely relies on glycogen (carbohydrates) for producing energy for its functions. Now when this abundant energy source of glycogen, for some reason depletes and is no longer available to the liver, the body triggers a survival function. The body now starts breaking down Fatty acids and Proteins for energy production. Much like switching a car engine from petrol to CNG, or an electrical source from AC to DC.
As per the wikipdia: When glycogen stores are not available in the cells, fat (triacylglycerol) is cleaved to provide 3 fatty acid chains and 1 glycerol molecule in a process known as lipolysis. Most of the body is able to use fatty acids as an alternative source of energy in a process called beta-oxidation. One of the products of beta-oxidation is acetyl-CoA, which can be further used in the citric acid cycle. During prolonged fasting or starvation, acetyl-CoA in the liver is used to produce ketone bodies instead, leading to a state of ketosis.
How does Ketosis help in BodyBuilding?
When it comes to competitive bodybuilding, there are two stages: Gaining and Cutting.
The usual gain phase is where the athletes are on a high carb, high protein diet supplementing their workouts as they are trying to gain as much muscle mass (size) as possible.Though it is possible to gain muscle without gaining too much fat in the process by following a Gluconeogenic adaptation of the ketogenic diet - but i shakk leave that for another article.

The cutting phase is when a bodybuilder is trying to cut down on all possible body fat so that the muscle definition can be seen through the skin.
Therefore in the cutting phase, many bodybuilders switch to a ketogenic diet - of only high amounts of  healthy fats (especially rich in omega 3) and moderate amounts of protein - thus forcing their bodies to burn all the fat that they have accumulated for energy and thus cause a higher rate of fat loss without losing too much muscle mass. 

Can you keep switching between ketosis and a regular diet?
NO. unless you are doing it just for fun and results don't matter. which i hope is not the case.
Coz as i said before, it is a switch in the system. Your body is switching to an alternate energy source. It takes time for your body to adapt to it. and once it has adapted to it, it takes time for your body to switch back to accepting glycogen as the primary energy source.

If you are going on a ketogenic diet, to test if your body has actually switched to ketosis for energy, you can test your urine with KETOSTIX. It is a commonly used diabetic testing aid that tests the levels of ketone in your urine. Please note that this will help you diagnose ketosis on in the early stages where your body is still not fully keto adapted. Ince your body is keto adapted, it will stop excreting ketones at diagnoseable levels as it gets more efficient at utilizing the ketones. And therefore will not give a visible result on the ketostix even though you are on ketosis. 

KETOSIS FAILURE: if you consume more than approx 30 grams of carbs in a day, your body will automatically switch back to buing glycogen for energy. The 30 gms limit varies from person to person - some people shift to ketosis on higher amounts too. but 30 gms is considered the usual standard for a person with lean body weight between 50 to 80 kgs. Even when you are aiming for 30 gms, you should actually try to not consume any carbs at all - because still 30 gms will sneak into your diet. The only carbs allowed on ketosis are cruciferous veggies and green leafy vegetables once a day - thats spinach, lettuce, methi, brocolli for fiber. Mind you, there are no cheat days on a ketogenic diet. But if you want to make it a longterm diet, you could take a break day every 15 days, followed by an intense workout the next day to immediately deplete all the glycogen so that your boy can switch back to ketosis asap.

What 'to and not to' eat on a Ketogenic Diet?
There is a long list i provide to my consultation clients. But as a simple rule of thumb, you can follow these notes for basics:
PROTEIN SOURCES: Meats, Eggs, Poultry, Fish, Protein Bars and HYDROLYSED WHEY PROTEIN.
FAT SOURCES: Fish Oils, Cheese, Peanut Butter, Olive Oil.
Ketogenic snacks: walnuts, almonds.
One bowl of salad of cucumbers, a few rings of onion, spinach, methi, lettuce and broccoli every day. (it would be wise to keep total carbs below 20-30 grams per day - some people have a lower tolerance for carbs and the body quickly switches back to glycolysis - to avoid that, keep checking with a ketostix every 3 days to keep on track)
Avoid having more than a cup of milk and curd per day if possible.
No sugar. No grains. No Beans. No Agro produce whatsoever. 

What Supplements enhance a Ketogenic Diet for fat loss?
Whey Isolates, Fish Oils, Carnitine, Caffeine, Guarana, Yohimbine.
PS: Switching off carbs can sometimes result in cramping of muscles during intense workouts.
Taking a potassium supplement and a zero carb BCAA mixture with salt keeps muscle cramps and fatigue at bay. If you have enough salts in your diet, this wouldn't be an issue.
Having CoQ10 enzyme capsules help improve digestion and bolster immunity while on the ketogenic diet.
Having VSL3 for 2-4 weeks can help restore the healthy gut bacteria that sweetners may destroy.

Does a ketogenic diet affect your fitness levels?
Now this is a point on which many fitness professionals would argue. Professional bodybuilders that i have spoken to say that your strength reduces on a ketogenic diet - which is scientifically quite sound. You might not be able to lift the same amount of poundage on a ketogenic diet as you might be able to on a fully carb loaded day. 
But research argues that not only are the inuit tribes STRONG and RESILIENT in terms of endurance, but also explorer  Frederick Schwatka, pulled off one of the greatest feats of endurance (long distance sledging across the arctic) on a fully ketogenic diet.
From my own experience i can say that as my body is used to carbs as a dominant source of energy, when i switched to ketosis, the first week was a struggle. I felt drained, weak and not as strong as usual. Even my poundages (amount of weight i lift in a particular exercise) dropped considerably. But by the second week i was feeling quite normal and my poundages returned to normal - in fact i was feeling quite lighter and breezier. I don't discount a feeling of placebo here In both situations.
Losing weight and gaining a definitive muscle definition might have made me feel stronger and more confident. While the autosuggestion of people and years of thinking that carbs give the body energy, into me believing that i got a little weaker.
Addendum: my recent studies show that my poundages are perfectly high and normal right upto my personal records even on ketogenesis.

Can you run a marathon on ketosis?
Now this is a question where people generally succumb to common perception. They believe that since they have always read about carb loading and glucose refilling during marathons, you probably cant run a marathon or do a highly intensive endurance activity on Ketosis. BUT THEY ARE WRONG.
Since most of the initial studies done on ketosis were actually endurance activities iun extreme conditions, its actually a no brainer that ketosis works perfectly well even on endurance tasks.
If there was any doubt about it still, a friend of mine who is a marathon runner - ZEEBA KHAN, recently volunteered to run marathons on a ketogenic diet. She actually managed to better her time running on a ketogenic diet since it made her lose weight without losing her muscle mass and endurance capabilities.

How do you prevent binging or control food cravings on a ketogenic diet?
I keep a snack pack at hand all day. Infact, on a ketogenic diet, im constantly eating.
My snack poack contains Almonds, walnuts, cheese cubes, almond barfiis (sweets) sweetend with sugarfree and sugarfree chewing gums. These hold me off very well uptill the next meal.

What are the FAT LOSS results on a ketogenic diet?
In a nutshell, I lost 4 kgs on a purely ketogenic diet in a month - and most of it was fat loss. Most of my muscle and water remained intact. Which is always the greatest challnege in the war against fat. To lose weight without compromising strength or getting weaker.

How to speed up the fat loss results of the ketogenic diet?
If you are doing the ketogenic diet purely for fat loss, and want fat loss at a hyper accelerated rate and do not mind the drop in strength and muscle mass, INTERMITTENT FASTING KETOGENIC DIET is your best bet. Here you eat all your designated macro nutrients within 2-3 meals set within a 6 hour feeding window and fats for the other 18 hours of the day. This not only speeds up the fat loss without any derogatory health effects but also improves your metabolism and hormonal system by resetting the insulin release mechanism of the body on a daily basis.

But come what may, if you plan to adopt this diet and find the need for consultation, do consult a proper nutritionist and a not a quack.
It is also reasonably expensive to maintain in areas where meat is not abundant. 
So, be wise. Do your own research. Consult an expert. and all the best!

- Pushkaraj Shirke
Professional Fitness Consultant and Fitness Columnist for the DNA

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