To prepare for his movie Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, noted actor Farhan Akhtar took his dedication to a whole new level. The inspiring star of Rock On transformed his physique completely, undergoing a fitness and diet regimen that overhauled his body. From looking like the average Joe, Farhan enhanced his physique into one of lean, defined muscle to take on the role of Olympic athlete Milkha Singh, one of India’s most iconic sportspersons.
The sort of physique Farhan needed to acquire takes incredible determination and fanatical hard work to achieve. Both bulking (gaining muscle) and cutting (reducing fat) are easier than attaining the ideal athletic body, which requires intense training for all the body’s muscle groups and a very strict pattern of diet and rest.
Farhan’s physique in BMB reflects his diligence and hard work. You can see that in addition to strengthening his limbs and key muscles, his core has been chiselled to near-perfection. This enabled Farhan to display the strength and balance that perfectly reflected the kind of athleticism Milkha Singh possessed in real life.
But hardcore training only accounts for about 40% of the output, while the other 60% is down to diet and rest. Eight hours of sleep is the bare minimum required, but professional athletes will often rest for up to 10 or 12 hours. The keys to this regimen are a clean diet, cardiovascular exercise to increase fat burning, and rigorous weight training to develop and tone your muscles. Only the combination of all three can do the job.
By exercising for four hours per day, splitting his workouts into two shifts, Farhan achieved what he had to. His workouts began and ended with ample stretching, but also included running, altitude training, cycling and other cardiovascular exercises. Circuit training – a series of movements performed one after another with no rest in between – also contributed to his endurance and stamina.
And cardio alone won’t develop an athletic physique. Like the best athletes around the world, Farhan had to employ a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training to achieve a physique that could pass for realistic. Toning against bodyweight or other resistance includes squats and lunges to strengthen the legs, core training moves such as hanging leg raises and crunches, and weight-based movements such as the military press, bench press and dead lift.
Before you embark on any sort of workout regimen, consult a doctor to ensure that all else is fine with your health. Stay hydrated throughout the day, primarily with water and green tea. Sports drinks aren’t required unless you’re exercising for extended periods of time, during which you lose vital salts and electrolytes that need to be replenished. Coconut water is another wonderful option.
Warming up and cooling down can be done with simple stretches, allowing your body to enter and exit a state of stress that prepares it for the intensity of your main workout. You can seek out the services of a certified, experienced physical trainer if you’re new to fitness or simply want the job done right the first time around. Farhan worked with Melwyn Crasto on running and Samir Jaura on general fitness.
Farhan’s diet included:
• As many as 6-7 small meals per day
• White meats like chicken, turkey and fish
• Plenty of green veggies like broccoli, asparagus and spinach
• Meals all featuring carbohydrates, vegetables and protein
• Water-based fruits like watermelon, grapes and apples
• Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kiwifruit and blueberries for antioxidants
• Nuts and berries such as almonds, pecans and cranberries
• Plenty of water and a daily vitamin supplement
• Whole carbohydrates as a chief source of energy for athletes