Fitness: Getting into shape simply means toning body muscles

From hair styles to computers coming with customized options, college students prefer to extend the availability of choices to their bodies too. It is all about getting to decide the way they look with anything to pick from between body building and body sculpting.

Six packs

Gone are the days when Arnold Schwarzenegger and his ‘mass monster’ counterparts flexed their arms in gym advertisements; Surya and Aamir Khan with their flat abdomens have now taken over. Requirements of students vary from case to case, and differ radically between the sexes, say fitness instructors.

“Girls come in for weight reduction or weight gain and prefer cardio and strength programs,” says M.Tamilmani, fitness manager and physiotherapist at Cosmo Fitness Centre. “Boys who are eyeing bodybuilding contests are keen on gaining muscle mass; others want to acquire flat abdomens and sometimes, six packs.”

“I used to be lean and joined the gym for weight gain,” says Chandrasekar, a college student who has been hitting the gym for the past ten months. “While I was there, I was motivated to try for a flat abdomen and toned muscles as they make me look and feel good. It has increased my confidence level.”

No pain, no gain

But he admits that some of his peers gave up mid-way. “Following the trend set by movie actors, many of my friends tried to form six packs. Since the workout process is challenging and heavy intake of food is required, some lost heart quickly. Besides, it is not an easy task for hostellers.”

“Acquiring the six pack, which is the latest fad among youth, is a painful process requiring dedicated hours of workout,” acknowledges Sudhan, fitness consultant at Aim Fitness Centre.

“But many opt for crash dieting which is literal starvation of the body, and diuretics or voluntary dehydration, to attain the ripped muscle look.” Prolonged starvation and dehydration can lead to low haemoglobin levels, increased stress, paranoia, constipation and organ failure, he warns. Often, jaundice is one of the initial symptoms.

Shortcut with steroids

Sometimes, students desperate to achieve the sculpted look in a short span, ask trainers to prescribe supplements (dietary equivalents) and steroids. Though the body structure one aspires can be achieved by high intake of protein rich food and hardcore workout, it is the quick visible results of the steroids that win them over. “If workout schedules are interrupted by long breaks, the muscles begin to sag in those who use steroids,” says T.Suthanthiran, project manager, Cosmo Fitness Centre. “This leads the person to believe that achieving the desired body shape is not possible without steroids. Thus begins an addiction.” As this is generally not the case with those who follow the traditional exercise-diet route, fitness instructors, caution against health consequences of using anabolic steroids and excessive supplement use for long period of time. They insist, it is better to sweat it out!

Muscle matters

Flat abs- Acquiring a body shape without a belly, by adhering to a regulated nutritional diet with low carbohydrates, and proper exercise.

Six packs- Rippled fat-less muscle look of the abs, achieved by hard core exercise. Requires intake of salt, sugar, carbohydrates and water to be highly reduced.

Body sculpting- Process of maintaining a symmetrical body structure by developing the weak muscled areas and toning the already fully developed muscles.

Body building- In short, it is the muscle building. Requires heavy diet including intake of more protein and carbohydrates, proper sleep and regular exercise.

Toning- Maintaining fitness after desired weight loss or weight gain by regular repetitive exercises.

(Source: Sivarama Suthan, AIM Fitness Centre)