This is what it takes to become a bodybuilderIt all begins with discipline, says a gym instructor who bagged a gold medal at the South Asian championship last month.
His drinking water intake is strictly one litre per day. He has stopped consuming sodium and only eats a limited amount of carbohydrate products each day. He keeps himself away from sugar and its products. He is also mindful of when and how much time he needs to rest.
These are some of the essential steps-and at times very testing ones-in becoming a bodybuilder in the words of Samir Shrestha, who last month struck a 65kg division gold medal in the 12th South Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships in Kathmandu. Shrestha believes it takes a lot of determination, hard work and disciplined habits to become a good bodybuilder.
“Everyone tends to be fascinated with muscular figures of proper bodybuilders. But it takes years of hardship and dedication to get a well-shaped body,” said the 35-year-old who has been practising gym for the last 14 years. “It’s always a testing time for a bodybuilder during the (tournament) seasons because it’s the time when he/she has to be extra careful of what he eats and drinks. One also has to be very careful of time for rests,” said Shrestha, a local of Changu Narayan, Bhaktapur, who has been working as a gym instructor in Saudi Arabia for the last 11 years.
This time of the year the bodybuilder is mindful of not drinking more than 1 litre of water, that too only the branded distilled ones. Limiting water intakes, as Shrestha believes, will help him avoid gaining unnecessary weight without risking dehydration. “In offseason [when there are no events to take part] one can relax a bit in their eating and drinking habits as it helps gain weight. But doing so during tournament seasons could hamper your preparations. One will be preparing for a certain weight division and any unnecessary weight gains can pour cold water on your efforts,” said Shrestha.
“Just imagine how testing it is to refrain yourself from quenching your thirst to the fullest,” said Shrestha showing a bottle of distilled water he was holding which he would consume in a day. Fascinated by the figure of Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger, Shrestha started gym a bit late when he was already 21. “I was inspired to take up the sports after watching one of his movies way back in 2005,” said the bodybuilder.
Buying even the basic bodybuilding equipment was not an option for a son of farmers. So he collected mud from the river banks and mould it into the shape of dumbbells and wheels for weightlifting purposes. “I also used bicycles tubes to make a sort of cable pulldown,” recalled Shrestha. After making do with such handmade gears for the first six months, he somehow managed to buy dumbbells and a set of bars.
After toying with his new equipment for further six months, Shrestha finally got a taste of a gym house—Diaspora Gym—in Bhaktapur. He shifted to Robust Gym a year later and worked on his body for one year. He saw a career opportunity in 2008 when some manpower agency-the name of which he could not remember-came calling for a trainer in Saudi Arabia. He applied for the job and was duly recruited as a junior coach for The Power Gym. Two years on as a junior trainer, he was promoted as senior coach/supervisor. He is still working for the Gym house and only came to Nepal to participate in the South Asian Championship.
“I had to take the job in Saudi due to family reasons,” said the elder son of the family who shoulders the responsibility of looking after his family. Shrestha said he draws a monthly salary of Rs 60,000. Remarkably though, despite practising gym for such a long period he only started taking part in competitions tentatively for the last one year. Apparently, he is unwilling to risk his job for his sporting career. He simply said that he was unable to go into competition earlier due to ‘family issues’.
He has no regrets in taking up the job in Saudi Arabia. “As I wanted to become a bodybuilder, it was a double opportunity for me. It offered me bread and butter while also helping me to continue with my passion,” said Shrestha who trains three hours a day—two hours at the gym and one hour for cardio exercises.
In the last one year, Shrestha took part in six competitions and has won at least one medal in five of them. The only time he returned empty-handed was in the Bullsman Championships in Pokhara. While he secured gold medals in his weight division in Mr Kathmandu and South Asian Championships, he finished second in both the 15th Dharmashree and Mr Himalaya. He was confined to bronze in his weight category during the second Everest Bodybuilding Championships.
He is well aware of the ordeal a bodybuilder like him has to go through. “During the offseason, I spend around Rs 40,000 for diet every month. The cost soars to around Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 each month during the tournament season. Considering my financial status, it is a huge challenge that I somehow have been able to deal with,” said Shrestha, whose supplement diet intakes include Branched-Chain Amino Acids, Omega3, multivitamin, glutamine and creatine among others.
Remarkably though the bodybuilder does not know anything about doping in sports. He even appears unknown of substances that are barred from using in the sport. “I don’t know much about doping in sports? In any case, I have mostly been competing in local competitions where I have never gone through any tests. Maybe there is such practice in big international tournaments,” said Shrestha.
“It is almost impossible to be a professional bodybuilder without taking supplements diets these days. If you know how to take them in the proper amount it will not have a negative effect on the body,” he said. “I sincerely believe that private sector and the government should come forward to support bodybuilders who represent their nation,” said the bodybuilder who is indebted for the support he receives from wife Sunita to continue with his passion.Shrestha is returning to Saudi Arabia on August20 but not before taking part in the Asia Pacific Championships in Hong Kongwhich is scheduled for August 16-17.