I found myself free, with no tension, no responsibilities, at home, laying on the couch in the middle of the day. I had no burden — physically and mentally. I had a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a high-paying job starting in two months. My life was set!
But, I couldn’t have been more sad and remorseful.
After four years of hostel-life, junk food shenanigans, and carelessly binge-eating butter-laden Indian parathas (veggie stuffed bread) and oil-drenching fritters, my belly had become a bean bag.
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The clothes didn’t fit properly. Swimming pools were a big embarrassment. The irregularly proportioned ginger-like body forced me to tuck my tummy in and hold my breath while taking photographs. In a nutshell, I didn’t need anyone to body shame me.
The only thing bothering me the most (like most skinny people) was the extra tires wrapped around my belly.
Now that college was over, I had to do something about it rather than blaming my old lifestyle.
Soon, I started fasting under the pretext of religious beliefs to disperse Mom’s questions and her force-feedings (Indian moms never let their kids fast unless it’s a religious activity). For them, chubbiness is healthy. They consider it a sign of a happy and contented life!
Contrary to my anticipation, the fasting idea backfired. My eating portions skyrocketed as I restricted myself to one meal a day.
I reaped no results!
I finally decided to meet Dr. Parekh (our family doctor) to see if he had some useful insights (without letting my family know about it).
As soon as I sat beside Dr. Parekh, I asked him this question.
“Anyone can have visceral fat, but skinny people are more vulnerable to it,” he exclaimed.
Like a curious toddler, I listened to him as he pointed out some eye-opening reasons for my pot belly.
Skinny individuals inherently have less muscle mass. They have weak core and stabilizer muscles that don’t hold the body in place. Lower cross syndrome, also known as anterior pelvic tilt, occurs when the pelvis tilts forward, pushing the belly out.
I never engaged in any rigorous physical exercise during my college days due to a heavy study load(I am joking). I was too lazy to challenge my muscles. As a result, my abdominal muscles became weak and loose, preventing them from staying the same size and strength.
Guiltily, I admitted to eating a lot of processed junk and restaurant foods. He said, “even eating in the right proportions can’t prevent the harm. The unhealthy fats, vegetable fats, and trans fat gets deposited around the belly over a period of time if calorie out is less than calorie in.”
Protein is a big big problem for vegetarians like me(who don’t eat eggs). Unless you take supplements or consciously follow a diet, you’re always protein deficient. The only rich sources of protein vegetarians look for in their diet are cottage cheese and tofu. Beans, lentils, dried peas, nuts, and seeds aren’t sufficient to provide you with your daily requirements.
The bulging belly is a big problem for thin people because they lose muscle mass if they exercise excessively to get rid of their belly fat.
I was skinny because my body didn’t feel the need for bigger muscles, and I had belly fat because the extra calories I consumed were stored as fat instead of muscle.
The trouble with most weight-training routines is they aren’t intended to help you gain muscle. Yes, they sometimes result in muscle gain as a side effect.
However, for naturally slim men, we shouldn’t undertake activities that encourage muscle growth as a side effect; instead, we should do exercises that are specifically meant to stimulate as much muscle growth as possible in addition to burning fat.
Strength training is for people who want to grow stronger for their size, Olympic weightlifting is for people who want to develop explosive power, CrossFit is for people who want to get in shape, and hypertrophy training is for those who want to put on muscle and lose fat.
“In general, hypertrophy training is two to three sets of ten to fifteen reps repeated in a moderate but difficult weight. Therefore, if you perform three sets of twelve repetitions the weight you use must be heavy enough to do more than 12 reps, but not as heavy as 12.
But before starting hypertrophy training, you need to train your body to lift heavy weights for numerous repetitions. Your joints and muscles must be adapted so that each action may be done safely over its whole range of motion.
The golden rule of any training is warm-up. Warming up avoids injuries by relaxing your joints and increasing blood circulation to your muscles — making them less prone to rip, tear, and damage.
Warm-up activities include jogging, cycling slowly on a bike, or any light activities that prepare your cardiovascular system for physical activity by increasing the blood flow to your muscles and raising your body's temperature.
1. Barbell squat: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Stay apart, grip a bar across your shoulders with your feet’s shoulder-width. Ensure that your knees follow the line of your feet, then bend down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then get back up.2. Bulgarian split squat: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Take a step forward, approximately the same distance you walk with your back foot raised on a table or stool. Put most of your weight into the front leg and bend to your back knee and drive through the front foot again.3. Pendlay row: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Stand on the ground with a barbell in front of you. Hinge on your hips until your chest becomes parallel to the floor. Grab the bar with an overhand handle, hands wider than the shoulder width and lift it to the bottom of your sternum. Lower the bar to the ground and rest for 90 seconds before next rep.4. Seated narrow band row: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Sit with your legs outstretched and a resistance band wrapped around the soles of your feet and other end in your hands. Row your hands back until your elbows break the line of your torso, keeping your elbows tight to your body. Return the band to its starting position while maintaining control.5. Bench press: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Place your feet on the floor and lean back on the bench. Place your hands on the bar with enough wide grip to keep them over your elbows for entire movement. Lower the barbell to the bottom of your sternum, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle. Push the barbell back up above your chest with a strong push.6. Dumbbell flye: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Lie down on the bench with your palms facing up and dumbbells straight above your chest. Slowly drop the dumbbells out to the sides, keeping your elbows slightly bent at all times, until they're level with your shoulders. Return to the starting position by squeezing your pecs.7. Romanian deadlift: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Hold a barbell in front of your thighs. Lower the bar by hinging at the hips and maintaining it close to your thighs and shins. Lower it until your hamstrings are slightly stretched. Then drive your hips forward to return to a standing position. Maintain a flat back and a small bend in the knee while performing the action.8. Overhead press: 3 Sets. 10–15 Reps. 90 secs rest.How to do it: Hold a barbell at the top of your chest with your palms facing up and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Raise the barbell until your arms are fully extended above your head. To stimulate the back deltoid, try to finish with your head slightly pushed forward. After that, steadily lower the bar.
During the workout, your heart rate is significantly higher than normal, and it’s crucial to slow it back down rather than abruptly halting all movements.
Cooling down aids in blood flow regulation. Lactic acid builds up in your system after vigorous activity, and it takes time for your body to clean it out. Cooling down exercises (like stretches) can help speed up your body’s recovery after a workout by assisting in releasing and removing lactic acid.
California State University researchers discovered that moderate-intensity cycling following strength training helps minimize DOMS(Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Cooling down after a workout relieves muscle discomfort, making you more comfortable and allowing your body to recover before your next activity.
Your muscles will suddenly stop contracting if you quit exercising abruptly without cooling down. This can cause blood to pool in your lower extremities, reducing the amount of pressure required for blood to be pushed back to your heart and brain. As a consequence, you may feel dizzy and lightheaded, and you may even pass out.
Hypertrophy training is always performed in phases to prevent excessive muscle tear and loss. To help the body adapt to the new weight training, you need to do it step by step.
Here’s what I did.
Your muscles adapt to exercise rapidly. So, it’s critical to keep your muscles challenged if you want to see further growth and definition. In the same action or circuit, change up your workouts and activities so that it assists you in firing up numerous muscle fibers.
Lift considerable weight. Also, never increase the amount of weight you’re lifting too rapidly to avoid injury. Instead, strive for a week-by-week gain. Lifting a weight that is too small will not allow you to see any growth.
You might not see results in these two phases because their objective is to strengthen and adapt your muscles.
The actual muscle-building process starts with this phase called hypertrophy.
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