Cinema

The Six Pack Diaries

Suriya  

Not genes or good luck but a whole lot of hard work — from insane workouts to biriyani sacrifices to sugar abstinence. Subha J Rao and Sudhir Srinivasan got these five stars to tell us just what keeps their biceps rippling film after film

SURIYA

Daily routine

My daily fitness routine is a combination of food and exercise. It helps that I grew up watching my father (actor Sivakumar), who’s a stickler for fitness. I don’t lust for food. In fact, sometimes, I just don’t feel hungry. However, I love sweets, and my daily routine has to take that into consideration. I do a mix of jogging and swimming and add a bit of yoga, as Jo (wife Jyothika) believes in it. I also find yoga a great way to work up a sweat while exercising in the comfort of your home.

Special diet

I avoid maida and all fried food. They only add empty calories and burning them is truly difficult. I’ve also almost given up rice; I eat just a few spoonfuls. I’ve also stopped meat for a year now. I substitute it with paneer and milk products for protein intake. I also eat a lot of vegetables and drink at least 2.5l of water a day as it helps keep the skin healthy. I always try and eat before seven in the evening.

Favourite workout

I love jogging, even if I can’t do it through the week. I love yoga stretches too.

Favourite trainer

Alkhas from Delhi, who taught me that staying fit is not a destination but a journey. It was also he who convinced me that a muscle built is not a fixed asset; that it needs to be worked on constantly. He helped me on many film projects from Vaaranam Aayiram to 7aum Arivu.

Then, there’s Kannan, who tells me I must not let age dissuade me from working out. A body builder and a karate expert, he fuses sport and fitness into my routine.

Most gruelling fitness routine for a film

Without a doubt, Vaaranam Aayiram. I lost 10 kg in 22 days for it. I won’t recommend that regimen to anyone. I tried the General Motors diet, Atkins diet… I had to do the crash dieting to develop that six pack, but I don’t recommend it to anybody.



JAYAM RAVI

Daily routine

Fitness is a vital part of my life. I begin the day with a healthy breakfast — lots of fresh fruits and juice — that fills me in with the necessary carbs. I then hit the gym and depending on whether I have to beef up or slim down, I opt for more weights or reps. I do cardio for 40 minutes every day, and then do EFX and run the treadmill. I prefer working out at a gym.

Special diet

During Peranmai, to achieve that lean, mean look, I went off rice, salt and oil for one-and-a-half years.

Favourite workout

I love the shoulder press, probably because I am blessed with a good shoulder line that can handle a lot of weight, compared to my other muscle groups.

Favourite trainer

Suresh. We’ve been working together for two years now. He has studied fitness and puts a lot of thought into my workouts. Another trainer, Bala, readied me for Peranmai. He would tail me like a shadow, and not let me eat even one extra calorie.

Most gruelling fitness routine for a film

Losing 12 kg in 22 days for Peranmai. I was doing the photoshoot just after Santosh Subramaniam, a film where I looked quite flabby. I maintained a perfect diet that was split into six equal meals. I also worked out for four hours a day and lost six kg in the very first week. For Boologam, I first put on weight, ugly fat, like most boxers do, and then set about sculpting my body. I was conscious about stepping out during that early stage. I also did something similar for Nimirndhu Nil, where I lost weight for one character and bulked up for the other.



VISHAL

Daily routine

I love cycling. I cycle from the hotel to the shooting spot during outdoor schedules. I cover anything between 5 km and 14 km a day. For the last six months, my production house has taken up my time but I have managed to find time for physical activity. When I shoot a fight sequence for a week, from seven in the morning to six in the evening, it takes care of my fitness schedule for the day. I also practise mixed martial arts and boot camp. Ninety minutes, and I’m completely drained.

Special diets

I don’t eat after 7 p.m. unless it’s a family dinner I can’t skip. It’s a routine from my six-pack days for Sathyam. I don’t eat rice, except once or twice a month. No idli, no dosai. My mother is angry with me about this diet! Now, my body is so tuned to it that I don’t digest rice well.

Favourite workout

Playing a sport — badminton, cricket — whenever we get the chance, Vishnu Vishal and I play badminton at Egmore. Else, it’s mostly cricket. I swim regularly, at least three times a week, even during shooting.

Favourite trainer

Prasad and Jayakumar. Prasad, who trained me for my first six-pack in Sathyam, is a great friend. He eggs me on when I’m low. Jayakumar trained me for my six-pack in Madha Gaja Raja (MGR). He helps me look natural on screen, like I did in Sandakozhi. Best of all, he lets me have a cheat meal.

Most gruelling fitness routine for a film

Aiming for a six-pack in Sathyam was really tiring. When it was time to sport a six-pack in MGR, I took my trainer abroad. I could not eat the food I wanted to; I was on a lean protein diet and lots of exercise. This, when the rest of the team would eat biriyani!

BHARATH

Daily routine

I hit the gym five days a week for an hour each. I split this one-hour session between cardio and muscle exercise. Whenever I can, I dance with Swingers, a city-based dancing group. This routine makes me flexible and is also an exercise form I enjoy a lot.

Special diet

I’m naturally not a fan of chocolates, ice creams or cakes. So, it’s not like I sacrifice much. The healthiest food is that which has no taste at all. But I can’t resist chicken, egg and beef. However, I stay away from mutton, as it’s fattening. I also strictly avoid rice at night.

Favourite workout

Dancing, definitely. I also love chest and bicep workouts as they make me look great in a tight T-shirt. So, I do a lot of flat chest benches, weight lifting and crossover ropes.

Favourite trainer

K. Sivakumar. He dedicated a year and a half to help me develop a six-pack for Ainthu Ainthu Ainthu. As any fitness expert will tell you, the problem with a stringent regimen is more mental than physical. It’s sometimes impossible to fight lethargy. But Sivakumar, a national-level bodybuilding bronze medallist, helped me overcome these obstacles.

Most gruelling fitness routine for a film

Definitely my six-pack routine for Ainthu… I came up with the idea, and the director agreed even though he was initially hesitant since actors such as Suriya and Vishal had already done it before. However, I returned after a gruelling three-month routine with a six-pack that impressed him. When people saw my pictures, they thought they were Photoshopped!

I lived those three months on a total protein diet (egg white, grilled chicken) and when I’d get hungry, I’d make do with digestive biscuits and raisins. I worked out for at least six hours every day, with each day focussed on different parts of my body. The reward for all that work came when I looked in the mirror after three months.

AADHI

Daily routine

My routines depend on the film I’m doing at the moment. In my upcoming film, Yagavarayinum Naa Kaakka, I have to be convincing as a final year college student. Broad shoulders make one look old. I had to reduce muscles around the shoulders to look younger. Even when I have shoots, I ensure that I practise yoga in the morning. As I tend to put on more weight in my lower body, my yoga exercises are aimed at keeping that in check.

Special diet

I have egg whites and almonds in the morning and begin exercising 15 minutes later. My breakfast later is a mixture of millets, boiled vegetables, and soya. My lunch is usually brown bread, vegetables and meat in the form of fish, chicken or turkey. I eat roti with chicken in the night or perhaps a sub from Subway. Once a week, I let myself free and treat my starved taste buds to dark chocolate, chocolate mousse, or my mum’s Andhra pickles.

It has also been more than two years and a half since I tasted sugar. I have it only in the form of jaggery or honey. After my strenuous workout for Aravaan, when I had to abstain from sugar, I completely lost interest in it.

Also, I don’t mix vegetables and fruits as I read that different digestive enzymes are secreted for them and that it’s unwise to have the combination in one meal.

Favourite workout

I like pushups and pullups. During these exercises, I love being able to feel my muscles. However, the exercise I perhaps like best is running. It keeps one’s core fit. Even if I don’t do anything else, running ensures that I feel fit.

Favourite trainer

Thamim. He has been taking care of my fitness from Aravaan. He pushes me to achieve my best. I usually exercise at 02 in Nungambakkam.

Most gruelling fitness routine for a film

Aravaan gave me sleepless nights. The director Vasanthabalan said he wanted lean muscle. He said I had to look ripped, and yet be agile enough to run and scale walls. I worked out for six hours every day for around two-and-a-half months. After looking the part, I had to retain my appearance for almost two years while we were shooting. It was almost torture to remain on a stringent diet and avoid rice like the plague. But I’d tell myself constantly that rice was my enemy and keep myself motivated. After shooting every day, I’d exercise at Talwalkar’s in Madurai. It was definitely my most demanding fitness schedule.

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Printable version | Jan 14, 2021 7:03:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/the-six-pack-diaries/article6751499.ece

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