MEET -–- ‘Mr. India’ N. Mohammed Abdullah and ‘Federation Cup’ winner K. Gopinath
It’s not every day that you run into champions who are serious about learning the science of physique training. However, when you meet such persons, you just feel like talking to them over and over again.
I have known ‘Mr. India’ N. Mohammed Abdullah for a few years now and interacted many times with ‘Federation Cup’ winner K. Gopinath.
Being the skeptic that I am, I initially dismissed their compliments for ‘Bodybuilding Master’ magazine (Tamil) and some of my own stories as flattery. But, they proved me wrong in a big way and continued to surprise me by talking about new findings at every interaction we have had since our first meeting.
So, when I decided to introduce them to my readers, I thought about presenting a discussion-like story rather than a usual interview.
Team Masters: When and how did you start training? What was the source of inspiration?
Abdullah: I started weight training in 1998. My first inspiration was ‘He-Man.’ I wanted a physique like that and joined a gym
Gopinath: I accidentally bumped into ‘Bodybuilding Master’ magazine in 2000 and was awestruck. I couldn’t believe that humans could actually look like this [bodybuilders]. But I didn’t know whether I had it in me and so did not join a gym immediately. In 2002, I saw a ‘Mr. Chennai’ competition and thought that maybe I too could train hard and give it a try.
A: But sir, both of us are from families that were financially backward. My father used to sell ice-creams on a tricycle. Our family is from Devakottai in Sivagangai district of South Tamil Nadu. Later we moved to Chennai.
G: I come from a fishermen family, sir. My father died when I was very young. My mother does all kinds of odd jobs and helps the family. I also have a younger sister. We stay at Royapuram in Chennai.
TM: Abdullah, I know you are employed in Services. How did you get the job…and how about you Gopi? Are you into any job? Or maybe, are you trying to get one?
A: I got the job after winning gold in ‘Federation Cup’ and my Junior and Senior State and South India victories. Ever since my appointment, I have been working in Bangalore.
G: I work as a gym instructor for half a day. The rest of the day I repair fishing nets. It’s really very hard work, sir. I too am trying to enter Services.
TM: You will surely get it Gopi…now tell me how did you and Abdullah meet?
A: I saw him compete in a city competition, maybe his first show. He was very lean and ripped but did not have any muscle. I spoke to him about how to avoid overtraining and eat properly for gaining muscle. He soon joined me as my workout partner.
G: Abdullah was my first ‘guru.’ He then introduced me to his ‘guru’ Annamalai, who has won several titles such as ‘Junior Mr. India,’ ‘Mr. Tamil Nadu’ and ‘Mr. South India.’ I received guidance from Annamalai and started training with Abdullah at Winners Gym in Royapuram.
A: I learnt a lot about the science of training from ‘Bodybuilding Master’ magazine. When I started, I was very thin and narrow. People said that I would never be able to build muscle. With the encouragement of my first instructor Radhakrishnan, I started training hard. I then took the guidance of Annamalai. The knowledge I received from ‘Bodybuilding Master’ was the biggest boost I got.
G: Honestly sir, both of us read almost all the issues that have been brought out till date. We learnt about instinctive training, optimum rest, and also how to diet – either to build muscle or lose fat – according to our bodies. I don’t blindly follow what Abdullah does and neither does he follow me.
A: Yeah, for example, I have a high-metabolism body and can get away with a few cheat meals or high calorie foods even while dieting for a competition. But, Gopi can’t. He has to diet like crazy and that’s what he does.
G: I used to weigh less than 60 kg when I started training and Abdullah was about 55 kg. Now, he competes in 65 kg category and I compete in 75 kg class. He has stabilised his position in bantam weight but I may eventually compete in 80 kg class. Lets see. All we have in our minds that we have to improve every year.
TM: How about your off-season and competition training?
A: You may see a similarity in our approach here alone. We have started to train each muscle group once a week in the off-season. During contest prep, we train each muscle twice a week. We use the double-split system, training twice a day. Gopi does brisk walking [cardio] on an empty stomach every morning for some weeks and then if necessary, another session of walking at night. I do my cardio after my evening workout. I don’t train my best body part, the abdominals, in the off-season. I train them during the initial phase of contest prep. As I get closer to the show, I stop training abs.
G: We carb up for a competition very meticulously. If I am around while Abdullah is carbing up, I’ll look at his body and tell him exactly when to stop eating. He does the same when I load carbs. I have to be a little careful so that I don’t spill out and hold water.
I cut water for a little more than a whole day before pre-judging.
TM: I remember reading in ‘Bodybuilding Master’ how you practice posing. Would you mind telling about that once again?
A: Sure sir. My friend Ranju and I used to sit for hours and cut bits of music and put it together. I would then hit poses which I feel would look great and then put it all together with some transitions. I used to practice it for hours and I finally started posing very comfortably.
TM: Yeah, now you have a routine which says ‘Abdullah!’ I wish you all the luck that you come up with several new routines and go beyond National level and rock the Asian and world meets. I should acknowledge that Gopi is an excellent poser too. Needless to say that both of you were honed by Annamalai, who is a master poser himself. Ok friends, now tell me about the titles you have won.
G: I did not place in the first city meet I entered. I eventually won ‘Mr. Chennai’ 5 times. I won the overall in 2007. I won ‘Senior Mr. Tamil Nadu’ at Coimbatore in 2008 and once again in 2009. I won gold in ‘Mr. South India’ in 2007. I have placed second before that. I have placed fourth in ‘Junior Mr. India’ twice. I placed fourth in ‘Federation Cup’ at Salem in 2007 and I won gold in 2008.
A: I won ‘Mr. Winners Gym’ in 2000. I placed fourth in ‘Mr. Chennai’ that year. I then won ‘Junior Mr. Tamil Nadu’ in 2001. I was second in ‘Senior Mr. Tamil Nadu’ in 2002. I won silver in ‘Mr. South India’ in 2002 and also the best poser award. I won gold in 2002 ‘Federation Cup’ and picked up another best poser award. I was second in 2003 ‘Mr. South India’ and was adjudged best poser once again. In 2003, I won bronze in ‘Junior Mr. India’ and another best poser award. That year I won silver in ‘Soldiers Classic’ State Championship and another best poser award. The ultimate thrill of winning ‘Mr. India’ came in 2008 in Aurangabad!
TM: Tell me about off-season eating…
G: There will always be some kind of fish at home. That will be my main source of protein. Besides I eat around 10 to 15 egg whites and some yolks. I always eat six small meals.
A: I eat whole eggs…and…I eat pretty well in the off-season. I don’t put on much fat at all. My body expends calories very fast.
G: During contest prep, I increase my egg whites, consume some chicken and Master Neutraceuticals’ 100 % whey protein. I use supplements such as amino acids, glutamine and Hydroxycut or Lee Labrada’s Charge.
A: My diet will also be pretty much the same. It’s just that I may eat a little more than Gopi.
TM: Gopi, I know how your mother and sister helped you with finance to prepare for your ‘Federation Cup’ victory. I also know about Abdullah’s family. I wish you both the very best of luck. Keep working hard and learning more about training science.
You will certainly make our State and, eventually, our country proud.
_ C. Lakshmi Kumar
Tailpiece: I am awaiting a couple of posing videos of Gopi and Abdullah. I’ll soon post them along with this story.