Whether it’s Shah Rukh for Happy New Year, Priyanka Chopra for Mary Kom or Aamir Khan for Dangal, Bollywood celebs regularly undergo mind-boggling physical transformations to fit their roles. With the Pakistani film industry fast spreading its wings, it looks like our stars are set to impress in that department as well. Umair Jaswal, the rocker-turned-actor, will soon be seen in the role of an SSG commander in the upcoming Yalghaar and he’ll be sporting a jaw-droppingly chiseled and muscled physique.
“I don’t think such a physical transformation has been undertaken by any actor in Pakistan previously,” Jaswal tells Instep. “It was motivated not just by my role in Yalghaar but also for the upcoming Geo Television magnum opus Mor Mahal, where my lead role demanded a physically dominating appearance.” The actor shares some valuable tips that helped in his transformation over the course of one year.
1. Have a plan
Not everyone needs to undergo the kind on intense physical transformation that Umair has achieved, but no matter what your fitness goals, they are best realised if you have a specific plan to follow. In Umair’s case, that translates into a team of three highly trained individuals charting his routine: Dr Imran Khan, a personal trainer with a PhD in Human Performance Management and coaches Hasaan Mahmood and Ali Niazi of Islamabad’s swanky Metroflex. “My training is a combination of weight lifting, muscle building and caloric control. It’s an exact science that is best left to the experts to handle,” says Umair.
2. Don’t say no to carbs
In today’s era of fitness fads, carbs have earned a bad rep but studies now suggest that we may have been too quick to judge them as bad. Umair agrees. “One of the biggest revelations I had when I started to work out was that carb cycling – a routine where you alternate high carb days with low carb ones – is not a myth as some people believe but is essential to getting a ripped physique,” he explains. Carbs provide fuel to the body that is essential for burning energy i.e. calories, and carb cycling is fast gaining popularity as a realistic fat loss programme.
3. Know thy enemy
Umair assures us that he has his fair share of burgers and pizzas. “I believe that people who work out especially deserve to enjoy what they eat!” While carbs aren’t essentially the enemy, he does advise a switch to brown rice and wholegrain bread as opposed to white. He swears by a balanced diet that includes carbs, proteins, fiber and fats. “People have a misconception that protein shakes and bars are bad for you but they are essential to keep up the protein count for those looking to increase muscle,” says Jaswal. What he does warn against is sodium, which is known to cause high blood pressure and heart diseases. “The easiest thing we can do to cut down our sodium intake is to decrease the amount of salt we have in our food or replace table salt with sea salt.”
4. Be patient
Umair’s remarkable physical transformation took a period of 8 months to complete. “It was a very slow and grueling process. For the first 4 months I was working out twice a day and then I brought it down to once a day,” he tells us. The rewards are worth the pain. “When you work so hard to achieve a goal, you start cherishing your body and are much more responsible about what you put into it. Now it’s become a lifestyle for me and I feel mentally and physically better than ever before.”
5. Never say never
Achieving a body like Umair’s isn’t going to happen without its set of drawbacks. Even if your exercise regime isn’t so intensive, there will come a time when you lack the motivation and the will to follow through with it. “People are scared of exercising and pushing their bodies. I’ve realized that the human body is extremely resilient and able to handle a lot of pressure. Initially, there were days when I would vomit and black out post exercise but the body eventually got used to it. It’s all about increasing your threshold and giving yourself that extra push. Don’t give up. I’m a living example of how that can be achieved. People compare me to Hrithik Roshan now and I find that extremely humbling and flattering. My fans have started going to the gym inspired to get a body like mine – I feel that’s my biggest reward.”