Mr. India 2013

Posted in Contests on March 26, 2013 by takeupsculpting
Sangram and Murali Kumar fighting it out.

Sangram and Murali Kumar fighting it out.

Incredible Murali Kumar of Navy won the prestigious overall ‘Mr. India’ title at the sixth RMCO National Senior Bodybuilding Championship held at Bolghatty Palace in Kochi on March 24.

Going by his last appearance at a recent show in Maharashtra, Murali had made it clear that he would be the man to stop World Champions Sangram Chougule and Bobby Singh from winning the ‘Champion of Champions’ title at this event.

According to friends who attended the contest, this was one of the toughest ever nationals held as over 400 contestants rocked the show! There were as many as 40 competitors flexing their mighty muscles in several weight classes at the prejudging on Saturday, giving the judges a very tough time to select the top five for the finals scheduled for Sunday.

The finals show was interrupted by heavy rain, but was completed in a successful manner.

Here is how the competitors finished in some of the weight classes.

(This is from the information I gathered from various sources and hence, results of some classes might be missing).

55 kg: 1. Rahul Salunkhe (Railway) 2. R.K. Suraj (Kerala), 3. K. Arif (Kerala)

60 kg: 1. Anoop Raju (Railway), 2. M. Sasikumar (TN), 3. M.K. Ragesh (Kerala)

70kg: 1. Neeraj Kumar (Delhi), 2. Anas Husain (Railway), 3. M.B. Satish Kumar (TN)

75kg: 1. Vipin Peter (Navy), 2. Sagar Katurde (Maharashtra), 3. D. Vignesh (TN)

80kg: 1. A. Bobby Singh (Railway), 2. S.R. Rajesh (Kerala), 3. Sachin Dongre (Maharashtra)

85kg: 1. Rahul Bisht (Railway), 2. Vijay Bahdur (U.P.), 3. E.G. Baiju (Navy)

90kg: Sangram Chougule (Maharashtra), 2. Ankur Sharma (Gujarat), 3. Kiran Patel (Railway)

100kg: 1. R. Murali Kumar (Navy), 2. Rensu Chandran (Maharashtra), 3. Pritam Chougule

+100kg: 1. Javed Ali Khan (Railway),  2. Deepak Tripathi (Maharashtra), 3. S.P. Hari Prasad (Navy)

Best poser: A. Bobby Singh

Most improved bodybuilder: Rahul Bisht

Team championship: 1. Indian Railways, 2. Maharashtra, 3. Navy

Photo courtesy: Facebook

– C. Lakshmi Kumar


Senior Mr. Tamil Nadu 2013

Posted in Contests on March 15, 2013 by takeupsculpting
Fight for the crow

Fight for the crown

It’s a great feeling to watch a contest where iron warriors clash for glory. Beyond cash prizes, gifts and cans of food supplements, it’s the satisfaction of winning a title which makes bodybuilders spend endless hours in the gym and stay on regimented diets for months.
And when an organiser tries to give attractive gifts to winners and put together a grand show, the effort needs to be appreciated and encouraged.
I should congratulate D. Prakash (or ‘Gold’ Prakash as he is known) for successfully conducting Senior Mr. Tamil Nadu 2013 contest under the aegis of Tamil Nadu Amateur Body Building Association affiliated to the Indian Body Building and Fitness Federation, on March 3 at Kancheepuram.
The moment Prakash announced that the overall winner would drive home a TATA Nano, the event was the talk of the town. I was thrilled to watch a great show once again and am happy to share my opinion on some of the best athletes who rocked certain weight categories.
Save for a few champions who were National material and won medals in some weight classes, the rest came pretty close to each other finishing in fourth, fifth and sixth places.
In 55 kg class, Ramamurthy, who won the title, was a clear winner from the word ‘go.’ He had a nice structure, decent size for his height, good muscle shape and conditioning.
The comeback

Baskar of ICF

Baskar of ICF

In the 60 kg class was ICF’s Baskar. This former National champion, known for his thick, dense muscle, recently made a comeback at the All-India Railway Championship held in Madurai and placed third. Baskar, at that event, was not at his best and needed some more weeks of dieting to dial-in and reach top form. Here, he was much more ripped and better conditioned. Though he was still not at his absolute best, he was way ahead of the rest. The moment he walked on the stage, his muscle shape, roundness and fullness shocked me. I just couldn’t take my eyes off Baskar – such was his magnificence! The competitor who placed third in this class was a young man, Raja from Nagercoil. Trained by my friend G.M. Chandru of GM Fitness, he looked very promising and has the potential to do well in future shows.
Bantamweight shock

Kothandaraman (Vinod)

Kothandaraman (Vinod)

The outcome in the 65 kg category gave me excitement and shock – excitement over the appearance of the first two finishers; shock over the injustice done to a particular competitor.
The first place finisher M. Kothandaraman of ICF (Vinod to friends) was class apart. His muscles were hard, ripped, dry and full. Haribabu of ICF (Senior Mr. India winner in 2011), who placed second at this event, usually competes in 60 kg class. However, I heard the little freak had put on so much muscle that he couldn’t bring down his weight and had to enter this class! Haribabu was looking excellent but Vinod was ahead of him.
The competition was intense as this class had former Junior Mr. India medalist Harikrishnan making a comeback after a few years, Mr. South India medalist Sriram and Junior Mr. India bronze medalist Haridas! A surprise entrant was Kalaichelvan of Tiruchi, now representing Chennai. The Tiruchi native was back on the stage after 3 years, but all set to grab third place. I was shocked when he was put in sixth place and out of the finals! In the evening show, Haridas, who was also back competing after a couple of years, looked full and much more dry. He finished third. Sriram ended up in fourth place and Harikrishnan fifth. Both these athletes, I’m sure, will amp up their training and diet and look fabulous in the coming shows.
Hero of the show

Jayaprakash (JP)

Jayaprakash (JP)

Jayaprakash (JP) of ICF dominated the 70 kg category. The three-time Senior Mr. India winner was big, thick, full and dry. His waist was tiny and taper amazing! The class line-up for the title was like watching a superstar and other stars competing – such was JP’s dominance. His evening posing showcased his confidence and flexibility.
Best entertainer
The 75 kg class winner K. Arunachalam of Chennai was awesome. His shoulders were wide, separated and full; his thighs were deep and muscular; his arms were full; back was etched! There was no way this incredible man aged over 40 was going to take anything less than first. M. Kandan, who placed second, was huge and full, but not dry. Conditioning cost him the title, according to the audience. The third place finisher was my friend Saravanan from Chennai. The handsome man was in his best form – at least the best I had seen in the recent times. His was a beautiful physique, but lacked the freakish look of the first two place finishers.
Arunachalam’s posing at the evening show was amazing and I would say he was a real crowd pleaser. His posing routine entertained the audience who were otherwise kind of bored seeing just muscle, muscle and more muscle.


Two great champions fought for the title in the 80 kg class. Antony Kumar of Chennai and Rajesh Kannan of Thoothukudi, both State title winners, entered this weight category. Kumar was huge, ripped, full and dry. This was the best version of Kumar I had seen. Rajesh Kannan had improved his thighs and was looking beautiful. However, Kumar’s muscle density, vascularity and hardness pushed Rajesh to second place. Had the young man entered the 85 kg class, he would have easily won gold.

The ageless - Arunachalam

The ageless – Arunachalam

Monster mode
Murali Vijaykumar of Chennai was at his biggest ever in this contest. Entering the 90 kg class, he looked wider than before with round deltoids, bigger and deeper quads and more muscular back. His biceps were bigger and had a deep split. His conditioning was pretty good and stage presence dominating. Biglee Murali was a clear winner and is now set for a rocking performance in the Nationals.
The hurrah!
The evening show was what everybody was waiting for and the outcome was on the expected lines.
The clash for the overall title narrowed down to ‘Vinod,’ JP and Kumar. For a while I though that ‘Vinod,’ who was looking drier, harder and fuller than in the morning, might upset JP’s dream of driving home the Nano! However, the senior’s muscle maturity, density, taper and fullness helped him win the overall.
Jayaprakash is now focused on getting a fourth victory at the Senior Nationals scheduled in May.

Kumar who finished second in the overall fight was given a TVS Scooty. Vinod who finished third was given a fridge. Baskar and Arunachalam were given a washing machine each.
– C. Lakshmi Kumar

Eating for good health

Posted in Nutrition & Diet on March 13, 2013 by takeupsculpting

Everything has become instant in today’s fast-paced life. Fast food, instant ready mixes, instant batters and so on. Though on one hand awareness of fitness and exercising has been constantly on the rise, on the other consumption of instant food has been increasing. Time being a big constraint, families becoming nuclear, both husband and wife working, there’s hardly any time for cooking, leave alone cooking only healthy foods. So people are forced to opt for instant foods compromising on essential nutrients.
It’s nice to note that the common man has started to read the label of food products he buys.

The main things people look for are fat and carbohydrate content. They are also becoming more conscious about what they eat. But, this is not sufficient. Quality protein plays a major role in our daily diet which is the most neglected macronutrient, especially by strict vegetarians. However, any nutrient-rich food or drink should also be had only in moderation. Excess consumption might cause unpleasant side-effects.
Here is a sample diet which is healthy, doesn’t overload your system and also saves time spent on cooking.
Breakfast – 6 tsp oats + 1 glass milk + few strawberries or guava + few walnuts
Mid-day snack – 2 to 3 whole wheat biscuits + 1 cup green tea
Lunch – 1 small cup brown rice + Vegetables + green peas or soya
Evening snack – 1 cup of mixed fruits or 1 cup of sprouts +1/2 serving protein drink (approximately 12 gm protein)
Dinner – Roti + vegetable salad + paneer
Drink plenty of water every day.
Points to remember
Veggies such as broccoli, celery, spinach can be consumed every day.
Fruits such as banana, mango and jack fruit should be had only in moderation.
Pop-corn prepared with very little oil can also be had as a snack.
Products made with ragi, semiya and wheat can be added to the diet here and there.
Non-vegetarians can add a couple of egg whites to breakfast; grilled chicken breast to lunch or tuna to dinner.
No cookie cutter stuff
The outline for this eating plan has been drawn keeping in mind that the trainee takes part in some kind of moderate activity throughout the week like weight training for a couple of days and cardiovascular training for a couple of days.
Talk to your trainer and nutritionist and make a plan which would suit your body and needs. Use this plan as a guide. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all plan.
– P. Srimathy


Suhas, Heera win silver at Amateur Mr. Olympia 2012

Posted in Contests on December 1, 2012 by takeupsculpting

This year has been memorable to all bodybuilding fans in India because some of our champions have done extremely well in prestigious international events.
My good friend Suhas Khamkar and Heera Lal have won second place in Amateur Mr. Olympia contest held on November 29-30 in Kuwait.
Khamkar earlier won bronze medal in the world championship conducted by the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB), at Ecuador.

Sangram rocks Mr. South Asia 2012
Another great friend of mine, Sangram Chougule, bagged ‘Mr. South Asia’ overall title at the Ninth South Asian Bodybuilding Championship held in November at Ludhiana, Punjab. It was held under the aegis of Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Federation (ABBF).

Participating countries included India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal. India was represented by a 16-member team and bagged the Team Championship honour!!!

HIV positive Manipuri champion, Khundrakpam Pradipkumar, won the title in 65 kg weight category. Pradipkumar reportedly placed 8th in the world championship last year.

I wish all the champions the very best of luck in their forthcoming contests.

Here is a list of champions along with their placing at the South Asian Championship.
55 kg      1st place      C. Kalaivanan
60 kg     2nd place     Vivek Panwar
60 kg     4th place     Swapnil Narwadkar
65 kg      1st place      Khundrakpam Pradipkumar
65 kg     5th place      S. Jeya Kumar
70 kg     1st place      Raju Khan
70 kg     3rd place    Damayant Singh
75 kg     2nd place    Ramesh Kumar
75 kg     3rd place     Govind Jha
80 kg     1st place     Arambam Boby Singh
80 kg     3rd place    Abdul Salim Ansari
85 kg      1st place     Tanveer Akram
85 kg     4th place    Vijay Bahadur
90 kg     1st place     Sangarm Chougule
90 kg     3rd place    Virender Singh
+90 kg  1st place     Mukesh Singh
+90 kg  3rd place    Vikram

_ C. Lakshmi Kumar

Photo courtesy: Facebook

Sangram photo and news courtesy:

MEET – Sachin Yadav

Posted in Champions on November 23, 2012 by takeupsculpting

There are some competitors who shock the audience by their freakish look. And then there are some who look like a piece of art, chiseled and polished by the best of sculptors. When handsome facial looks accompanies such a physique, the final product is a sight to behold. My good friend Sachin Yadav from Uttar Pradesh is among such champions who have a great physique and handsome looks. As I interacted more with him, I felt like I should do a story on him for my blog. Read along and see what this young man has to say about his journey as a competitor.

Triumphant at Mr. Uttar Pradesh championship.

Lakshmi Kumar: You have a very nice physique Sachin. I’m really curious to hear your story. Let’s begin with the usual questions. Tell me about your parents, family back ground and all those things.

Sachin Yadav: Thanks for the interview ‘bhai,’ I was born on December 6, 1987, in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. My father’s name is Kiranpal Yadav. He is a property dealer. My mother’s name is Urmila Yadav and she is a housewife. I have four sisters – two elder sisters and two younger. My elder sisters are married.

LK: Oh, that’s a pretty big family. If I guessed it right, you have done your graduation.

SY: Yes, you are right. I have completed B.Sc. (statistics).

LK: How did you choose body building?

SY: I like this sport very much because this is where a competitor is identified by his sheer appearance. With due respect to all sports, every sportsman has to be introduced to the common man as to what sport he plays, unless he is a celebrated world-class player. But, you don’t need to introduce a bodybuilder to anybody – the champion’s physique says it all and does that talking. I looked at it like this, and started to train hard to build a great, muscular physique.

LK: Who was your inspiration, hero?

SY: Who else? Arnold Schwarzenegger of course.

LK: When did you first start working out and in which gym, and in which town?

SY: I remember the exact date I started to train – it was April 20, 2002, that I first stepped into a gym. It was the Prime Health Club in Meerut.

An early shot showing great potential

LK: Who was your first guru?

SY: Honestly speaking, the bodybuilding magazines I read were my guides.

LK: Oh, we share a common point there ‘bhai.’ I too started learning only by reading Muscle and Fitness, Muscular Development, Musclemag International, Ironman and Flex. Ok, do you have a guru now?

SY: Yes, right now I’m under the tutelage of Aniruddha ‘bhaiya.’

LK: Did your family support you when you started on the bodybuilding journey?

SY: My answer is an emphatic ‘no.’ They didn’t approve of it at all and tried to prevent me from going to the gym by not helping me pay membership fees. But, I didn’t give up. I somehow managed to workout and my body responded pretty fast. Within the first three months of training, my physique looked completely different. For all that, I couldn’t afford to buy any food supplement; it was just hard training and some good food.

LK: When did you get good guidance?

SY: After one month’s training, I switched to another gym – Raj Health Club. That was because they had enough equipment. However, I didn’t get any great coach. I just kept reading magazines and trying out new things myself. It was purely trial and error, but it worked big time. I trained for four years, but could not take any of the supplements I read about. My family wouldn’t support me to spend on food supplements and I had to remain contented with just solid food. In 2006, I started training clients in Physique Gym and that earning helped me to buy supplements. My body responded amazingly well and my offseason weight went from 64 kg to 88 kg! I entered my first contest, Mr. Uttar Pradesh in 2007 and placed second. That was unforgettable because I trained and dieted without any guidance. But, whatever I had learnt helped me. Then I met Sageer Ahmad, who taught me a lot of basic things about training and dieting. After that, I sought help from Sunil ‘bhaiya’ from Delhi to prepare for the nationals. And now, Aniruddha ‘bhaiya’ is guiding me. He is like my friend, brother and ‘guru.’

LK: Which weight class do you usually enter?

SY: I generally compete in 75 kg category. My offseason weight has been between 85 and 90 kg and I’m 171 cm tall.

Nice physique and smart looks make him attractive to the common man.

LK: What all titles have you won until now?

SY: My first competition was, as I said earlier, Mr. Uttar Pradesh in 2007, in which I placed second in 75 kg class. I then won the State title and overall championship in August 2008 and qualified for the nationals. But, I did the mistake of coming down to 70 kg class. I lost muscle in that process and could place only in Top 10. It was very disappointing that I couldn’t place in Top 5. I continued my journey and won overall in State championship in 2011. I entered Mr. India Federation Cup, but, placed fourth, unfortunately. I was determined to get to my absolute best and kept training hard. I once again won State championship in 2012 and am ready to go next level.

LK: Does your family support or encourage you now?

SY: Yeah, a little bit, I should say.

LK: Where do you workout now? Do you have your own gym?

SY: No ‘bhai,’ I don’t have my own gym. I train at Inches & Pounds Gym.

LK: How did you feel after winning silver in your very first contest?

SY: Oh, I was on cloud nine! I have seen so many people training and dieting hard but not getting any placing. But, here I am with just 4-5 years of training all by myself and placing second in a prestigious State championship. Honestly, I was a little afraid about the results, but once it was announced, I was ecstatic.

LK: Who are your friends among Indian body builders?

SY: I don’t have very close friends among National champions. North Indian championship winner Pramod ‘bhai’ is my close friend. He is a great champion, a true friend and a very nice human being.

Sachin Yadav always wanted to be the most muscular man

LK: Who is favourite international bodybuilder?

SY: Phil Heath, Ronnie Coleman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

LK: And, among Indian bodybuilders?

SY: Suhas Khamkar is my favourite.

LK: How do you workout these days?

SY: I train each muscle twice a week. I do five different exercises for each muscle and 3 sets on all of them. I don’t do any cardio in offseason. When I start my contest prep, my diet helps me to burn off all the fat. If I really need it, I might do cardio for the last 15 days before a show to lose stubborn fat.

LK: Oh, does that mean there will be a lot of change in the way you workout in the offseason and contest season?

SY: There will be some changes. I use supersets while getting ready for a show. And, at times, I might increase the sets or reps for a particular muscle, if needed. I might do 6 exercises instead of the usual 5 for a muscle.

LK: Tell me about your offseason and contest diets.

SY: I eat six times a day. I get my protein from egg whites, chicken and whey protein powders. As regards carbohydrates, I get them from rice and chappati. I also take supplements such as glutamine and pre-workout shakes.
During contest prep, I eat once in 2 ½ to 3 hours, which comes to 7 or 8 meals per day. My diet consists of chicken breast, egg whites, brown bread and salad.
I continue to use whey protein, glutamine, BCAA, pre-workout shakes.

LK: I don’t think you are married. Do you have a serious girlfriend?

SY: (laughs) No ‘bhai,’ I don’t have a girl friend like what you mean.

LK: Then tell me what type of girl do you want as a comrade, and then, as partner?

SY: Of course, I would prefer a girl who would respect my family and take good care of them. As an individual, I would want her to be good looking, which is stating the obvious, and a bit mischievous and naughty.

LK: (Laughs) That’s nice and very honest too! Will you teach her how to workout, or rather, would you want her to train?

SY: ‘Bhai,’ when I was very young, I used to tell my mother that I would marry a woman bodybuilder (laughs). But, jokes apart, I will definitely teach her how to eat right and train so that she stays healthy and fit.

LK: That’s nice. OK, now tell me what are your favorite sports.

SY: Bodybuilding, of course.

LK: Hey, that’s very similar to what your favourite champion Suhas Khamkar said. And, do you watch movies?

SY: Yeah, I love watching films, especially movies made in the South. I love action films and Hrithik Roshan is my favourite actor. And among south stars, it’s Gopichand.

LK: Hrithik is my favourite too! Fine, tell me about your other interests as well.

SY: I love reading books, watching movies, travelling and riding my motorbike.

LK: What do you fell the present-day competitors need the most?

SY: ‘Bhai,’ it would be inappropriate on my part to answer this question. Only a veteran can answer this.

LK: You are very unassuming ‘bhai,’ that makes me feel so good. Before we sign-off, do you have any message for our readers?

Fine work of art, isn’t it?

SY: To all my friends who are reading this story, I will say – love bodybuilding. It’s not just a sport but lifestyle. Sign up at a gym and train with weights to improve your lives. Eat the right kind of food to stay healthy. Always think about your health and well-being and not just your taste buds. Though this advice on eating applies to both men and women, I target men here and add a tagline – “be a real man.”

Even as I finished this interview, I received information that Sachin has once again won overall at a State championship. Let’s wish him the very best of luck in his future contests which include the prestigious Mr. India and Mr. Asia.

– C. Lakshmi Kumar



Food supplements needed the most

Posted in Nutrition & Diet on November 15, 2012 by takeupsculpting

Every competitor has to battle several odds before he is being accepted as the best. E.Karthik of Chennai, who is gold medalist in federation cup, is one such competitor.


I  regularly come across a lot of bodybuilders who are serious about building their physiques but are financially struggling. In countries like ours, only a few have the desire to take on challenges against such odds and over 90 per cent of these warriors come from a poor background. Often they are confused about what minimum food supplements are needed.

Here are a few suggestions which might be of help to those who do not want their supplement bill to soar.

1. Take 1,000 mg of Vitamin C, split into two doses every day.

2. Add a multivitamin/multi-mineral tablet to your lunch, which might contain brown rice, vegetables and chicken breast.

3. Take calcium orotate once with a meal.

4. Take a serving of whey protein immediately after workout.

5. If possible, take 5 gm of glutamine, twice a day. This helps to improve recovery and gut health.

This supplement plan has been suggested under the assumption that your diet contains enough solid food giving you sufficient calories and all macronutrients such as protein, carbohydrate and fat in the right numbers based on your activity level and physique goal.

– C. Lakshmi Kumar

Recovery, key to non-stop gains

Posted in training on October 11, 2012 by takeupsculpting

I keep reading about how important recovery is to improving your physique even as you move into mid-to-late thirties and forties.
There are a lot of persons with pretty good knowledge of training and diet, but fall short in the recovery part. Majority of trainees are still under the impression that doing more sets or reps ALONE lead to overtraining. Reality, however, is a person can overtrain even if he or she hits the weights hard when the body is still tired from a previous workout. This can be what many big names call ‘systemic recovery.’

Inability of a person to sleep well, feeling tired despite regularly working out and eating right, and the lack of motivation to train are some of the common symptoms of overtraining.
These are more pronounced in the case of a person who is in his mid-thirties and older.
For example, a person who used to feel fresh and ready for another serious bout with the weights on his usual three-on-one-off split (or any split, for that matter) may suddenly need one more rest day. If the person ignores this message coming from the body and BLINDLY sticks to his split, he might not be able to train hard. He might even find it impossible to move a weight which he usually does, or experience pain and discomfort while forcibly training. This will most certainly lead to overtraining and might even cause injury.
In my own case, I can see that my body is right now not recovering as fast as it used to when I was 30. This is despite eating pretty right and training carefully.
On one of my recent workout days, I felt kind of tired and didn’t know if I was ready for the weights again. When I ignored that thought and started training, I was horrified to see my training poundage drop by more than 25 per cent on basic movements!!! Listen to your body and try to differentiate between laziness and genuine tiredness.
The concept of recovery applies not only to pro bodybuilders but also small-time amateur competitors.
– C. Lakshmi Kumar