India is a rapidly developing nation with major social stratifications pertaining to class and wages. The end result is like many places, the rich happen to be very rich, and the abundant number of poor typically happen to be very poor. Because of this many feel that the sport of bodybuilding is reserved for only the socially elite and or privileged of the country. With a tub of Species Protein costing as much as a month wages for the average citizen of India, it is no wonder that athletes have struggled to emerge from the country into the upper levels of competitive bodybuilding. Nonetheless, as the country develops their future as a whole and more specifically in bodybuilding increasingly appears to be more and more bright.
“Do it only if you’re rich!!”
In a recent interview, Mahesh Waghmare, a veteran Indian bodybuilder, who’s won many awards in the sport in India in his long career, when asked about what he advice he had for a young person in India wanting to pursue bodybuilding, had this to say – “ Rethink, or better, drop the plan, unless you are rich!” Indeed, the biggest issues relating to bodybuilding as an active pursuit in India, relate to finance, or the lack of it. In fact, it may be argued that in a country like India, which has among the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world, even higher than Sub-Saharan Africa, bodybuilding is a sport rigged against anybody who’s not born rich.
Trials of an Indian Bodybuilder.
Consider this. The per capita income in India is estimated to be just under $100 a month. 4.4 pounds of a Whey protein supplement in India, from international brands such as EAS and MuscleTech, which should last a bodybuilder for a month at best, costs just over $100. This should give a good idea of the difficulties faced by an Indian from a working class family wanting to take bodybuilding seriously. Add to this the extremely poor quality of most Indian gyms. We’ll not include the ones frequented by the rich in India, as although they are as good as any in the West, they are sadly out of bounds for a majority of India’s population. The typical Indian gym is underequipped, overcrowded, and unhygienic with poor lighting. What of the trainers? Most gym instructors in India lack any real training of any sort.
So a young Indian bodybuilder has to do without any real guidance or support system, forced to learn by a method of trial and error, by reading expensive bodybuilding magazines from the abroad, as well as watching videos on YouTube. This leads to many using the wrong form to lift weights, resulting in severe injuries. Another dark side to gyms in India is that they are the main suppliers of steroids, many of them illegal, taken by bodybuilders to bulk up their bodies. Anabolic steroids are most commonly used, often with many serious side effects such as liver and kidney failures, and psychological disorders such as depression.
An Indian Bodybuilder’s Diet.
Indian dishes are well known for their wonderful spicy taste. However, these are hardly ideal for an aspiring bodybuilder. This is because Indian meals are largely based around white rice, a very abundant and cheap food source in the nation. Though Admittedly tasty, rice is also very high in carbs and poor in proteins, which results in bloating of the body in all the wrong places for someone looking to compete as a bodybuilder.
Indian bodybuilders compensate for this by having plenty of eggs for breakfast, as well as a post-workout meal. Lunch usually consists of wheat based chapathis, with vegetables, and for dinner – red meat or fish. And they consume a prodigious amount of milk.Whey proteins, although expensive (as discussed earlier), are the preferred post-workout supplements. Indian brands are most preferred as they are priced at half of what international brands sell for.
Looking into the future.
Because of the serious issues faced by them, enduring great personal and financial difficulties and poor diet, Indian bodybuilders lack the size, build and muscle definition of their counterparts in the West – but certainly don’t lack in spirit, as you may see from the pictures of some of the better Indian bodybuilders shown here. As the Indian economy grows in stature, as living standards improve and diets get better, it’s hoped that a newer generation of Indian bodybuilders will make more of a presence globally, and make their country proud.
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