Get that lean body look

There was a time when a buffed-up Salman Khan was the unanimous poster body for gym rats. For Sallu fans, building mass may still be the mantra. However, with stars such as Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Farhan Akhtar championing the lean body look, lean has been truly in of late. A lean body is essentially a body with low amounts of stored fat. For women, a lean body is one that has 20-21 per cent body fat, while men should have 13-16 per cent body fat to fall in the lean bracket. Known to have a fast metabolism rate, the genetically lean-bodied Ranbir finds it difficult to gain weight. Ditto with Abhay Deol and Imran.

Lean pluses, bulk minuses
According to sports medicine consultant Dr Dilip Nadkarni, your knees and back do not differentiate between healthy and unhealthy body weight. So when you gain muscle mass for bulk, you may suffer from back and knee issues. The lean-bodied are unlikely to have such problems during workouts.

A lean body also means your liver and kidneys will function healthily for a longer time. Nadkarni dealt with the case of a wrestler who was living off a low-carb-high-protein diet that resulted in uric acid deposits in his knees, causing symptoms of gout. Protein-based foods contain 'pruines' that your body breaks down into uric acid. Normally, kidneys process uric acid into urine. But with a high-protein diet, the liver and kidney work overtime, thus leading to uric acid deposits in joints, etc.

Getting there
Nadkarni classifies the male body design into three genetic categories: Ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Ectomorphs are tall, lean and slimly-built with high metabolism rate; like Kunal Kapoor and Ranbir. Mesomorphs have an athletic physique, broad shoulders and large muscles, such as Salman Khan. The thick-waisted endomorphs have slow metabolism. Your gym's fitness expert can help you know your body type and design a workout for you. That said, you must consider fitness expert Leena Mogre's tips:

Breaking into sweat
Follow the rule of SWAN (Stretching, Weight training, Aerobic exercise and Nutrition). Work out five days a week, for an hour a day with three days of weights and four days of cardio. Run for at least 40 minutes and include skipping, cycling or swimming.

For weight training, develop the large muscle groups such as arms, chest, shoulders, back, thighs and legs for the initial 18 weeks. Then, focus on each body part. For instance, squats work holistically on thighs, buttocks and hamstrings, whereas leg extension is an exercise specifically for hamstrings.

Your instructor will tell you to club exercises for each muscle group - biceps, forearms, triceps, chest, shoulders, abs, back, hips, calves and thighs. For instance, you can choose to combine chest-back, shoulder-legs and biceps-triceps on different days. Heavy weight lifters do fewer repetitions per set (about 6-8 reps) with more weight. For a lean body, you are required to do more number of repetitions, about 12-15 reps, with less weight. Don't work out a body part before 48 hours of rest.

Good food
Many make the mistake of jumping on to a high-protein diet by cutting down their carbohydrate intake. Dietician Dr Sheela Tanna says, "Carb deficiency may lead to insomnia. Carbs boost your serotonin level, thereby soothing your mood and relaxing you. No-carb diets make you restless and prone to mood swings."

Have small meals at regular intervals to fire your metabolism rate. Don't avoid fats because lack of them makes your skin and hair look dull. Good fats such as olive oil, peanut oil, ghee, almonds and walnuts give a supple look to your skin and also help stabilise blood sugar level. Instead of engineered proteins such as powders, opt for more natural ones such as soya beans, paneer, eggs, chicken, dal and pulses, and curd.

With 17-inch biceps, I was bulky until a year ago. I went lean after my girlfriend told me that I 'looked like a beast' in slim-fit shirts. In six-eight months, I lost muscle mass and three inches of my biceps. I look smarter.

- Sandeep Singh

I work out five days a week to maintain my leanness. To keep my metabolism high, I have seven-eight small meals, every two-three hours. My diet has 40 per cent carbs and proteins each, and 20 per cent fibre. Being lean helps me be more agile and athletic.

- Rohit Reddy

Imran Khan
I don't like the traditional 'gym body' look. I find it artificial. I try to do more functional workouts to achieve a naturally fit look.

When I was younger, I was extremely insecure about my body as I was very skinny. To be honest, I'm still not entirely happy with the way I look, but I have mostly accepted it and made peace being comfortable with it.

At 19, I joined a gym, started working out and the plan was to bulk up. But I gradually realised that my body structure was not suited to that. Since then, I've changed my personal goals and I'm more focussed on strength and fitness than a particular 'look'. My workout schedule depends on what my role at the moment is; like how I carry a toned look for Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. Usually, I eat anything I can get my hands on since I don't gain weight. I only follow a diet if I need to bulk up, in which case my carb and protein intake becomes very high.

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