How to get a body like Farhan Akhtar ? Well, this is something that will make Bollywood’s best all-rounder proud but this prolific actor-singer-director did not have it easy. 39 year old Farhan Akhtar stayed away from his home for nearly a year and half, dedicating himself totally to get this dream body, which is now the highlight of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
After completing Don 2 back in 2011 end, Farhan Akhtar completely immersed himself in getting in shape for Milkha Singh’s part. His trainers on-board were Samir Jaura, a fitness trainer and Melwyn Crasto, athletics coach working for Central Railway. While Melwyn taught him the sharper nuances of competitive running, Samir helped Farhan get into a toned body.
“Farhan has literally lived the character. He is psyched about work and I don’t think any actor has this sort of dedication. Forget the training part, even the time factor…who will give a year and a half to a movie?” notes Samir.”Just watch the rushes, you see he has lived the part — he hasn’t shaved, he stuck to his diet, trained diligently. His biggest sacrifice is, he stayed away from family,” adds the proud trainer.
Six months before the shooting of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Farhan would train four hours daily. The first 20 days consisted of training early in the morning, on learning how to run like an athlete, with stress on nuances like lifting knees, hand-body coordination Then the focus turned to speed workouts which included a lot of endurance exercises, adds Melwyn.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has three types of look for Farhan in the film. Look 1 has him as a college kid, look 2 has him looking like someone in his mid-20s and look 3 has him in his 30s. it is the look 3 which required Farhan Akhtar to have a muscular body. Samir says that he was beefed up for this look and gradually, the weight was brought down, at a difference of 12-14 kilos to come to Look 2.
Samir feels that Farhan Akhtar has the best body in Bollywood. He adds, “I give him 10 on 10 for symmetry because very few people can boast of a proportionate physique. It’s by far the best body I’ve seen in Bollywood. I would say his body is even better than Brad Pitt’s in Fight Club,”
Melwyn says, “Since he had to run like Milkha, speed was one area we had to really had to work on. We had to test his endurance, flexibility, show him how to keep his arms, how to lift his legs while running. Once he perfected the technique, speed came automatically.”
There was high altitude training as well, where the trio stayed in Leh-Ladakh for 20 days before the shoot began. “We would cycle 25 km and then go running uphill, downhill. We were staying near the Shanti Stupa which is on a hilltop. Every morning Farhan and Melwyn would reach the stupa by foot — it was a 500 stairs climb — and come down running. It was another training method for them,” adds Samir.
Director Rakeysh employed real athletes in the film, many of them were state level, national and international university levels. Samir smiles, “During the shoot, while Farhan had to run his 100 per cent, these guys had to run 90 per cent. And he had tuned himself so well to running that these guys failed to believe that he was an actor!”
Farhan Akhtar’s diet and workout
His diet comprised of six to seven meals a day, which included white meat like chicken and turkey, green veggies like broccoli and asparagus, fish and mushrooms. The food was mostly grilled with very less salt. He also took supplements for muscle recovery and protein shakes.
He says, “For breakfast, I would have six eggs white and mushrooms along with orange juice.” He did not add any salt to his food because the puffy look would ruin all the hard-work he put in, his workout. Two hours later, Farhan would have a bowl of oatmeal with half glass of skimmed milk. An hour later, he would drink coconut water.
Farhan Akhtar’s lunch was grilled chicken, asparagus, baby cabbage, sauteed broccoli and pak choy, all cooked in olive oil. Two hours later, he would drink a protein shake. Farhan Akhtar says that he would eat berries for fruits because they contain high level of antioxidants and have very low glycemic index. In the evening, he would have moong salad or boiled chana with tomatoes and cucumber. he light dinner consisted of fish, especially salmon. Before retiring for bed, Farhan Akhat would drink a glass of protein shake.
Farhan Akhtar would workout from 6:45 AM to 8AM. In the evenings, he would concentrate on professional running under the tutelage of Samir. Farhan believes that professional running is quite different from normal running and requires a lot of focus, mental strength and steely determination. A lean body should have a weight of 72 kgs, ideally.
The functional training involved hanging from a height and climbing up a rope. His amazing flat abs is due to abdominal exercises which he would do for 1.5 hours. To get a body like Farhan Akhtar, one has to do 12 sets of ab crunches, where one crunch equals 200 repetitions. This means, he did 2,500 reps daily for thirteen months.
Farhan says that he would dedicate two hours after 6 PM for Hypertrophy Strength Training and Tabata. HST is a workout that builds quick musicle on a long-term basis without the need to use steroids. It comprises putting more weight on the muscles progressively. Farhan would workout on his legs, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps and back for 12 weeks. As he increased the weights, the reps reduced.
3 months on, Farhan Akhtar switched on to Tabata which is a form of high intensity exercise with maximum reps in a given period. The trainer worked on two muscle groups every day – shoulder-legs, back-triceps and chest-biceps. He performed 10 sets in one and a half minute for each body part. Towards the last six months, when Farhan had to look slim, he went on endurance training with weights, where he combined two muscle groups in one day and performed fifteen sets of hundred reps for each body part. By the end of the training part,the actor had just 5 percent body-fat.
In a nut-shell, here is how you too can get a body like Farhan Akhtar in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
1. Maintain a routine – He works out every alternate day for 2 and a half hours, which includes a 45 minute ab workout. On other days, he goes for a swim or plays volleyball.
2. Getting the right trainer – Farhan would train alone for a few weeks but he did not see the results that he was looking for. So he found a trainer who understand what diet regime and fitness routine would get him the body he was looking for.
3. Time Management – Farhan believes that if you love something, you will always make time for it. At the end of the day, it is about getting your priorities right. If you want an ideal body work towards it.
4. The right diet – Farhan got rid of carbs like rice and roti from his diet. He had four to five meals a day. His diet consisted of fresh fruit juice, scrambled egg for breakfast, a light lunch, snack consisting of dried fruits, low-fat digestive biscuits, light-friend kebabs. At 4 PM, he had a protein shake and would have light dinner by 8 PM. He also drinks protein shake before going to bed. For the soldier look, the actor aimed for 3,500 calories a day and drank five liters of water. The same diet remained for the runner look but this time, he aimed for 1800 calories.
5. Finding the ideal balance – It is important to not stress yourself or overdo a certain thing. Just find an activity that makes you happy and maintain a balance between your hobby and work.
6. Do not blame it on your genes – If you are regular with your exercises and follow your trainer’s advice, you will get an inspiring body. People rave about Farhan Akhtar’s body but he says that the last time he took part in sport, was during his school days