Q: Sometimes I don’t feel like doing any exercise. Is it because of lack of energy on those days?
A: “Not necessarily, but sometimes over-exertion and over-training also tires the body. You should take rest. Doing this work-out 3 to 4 times a week should be enough for you. Our aim is to stay in shape. We are not body-builders.
“Body-building is totally different these days. Earlier, there were no anabolic drugs. People used to work out for health and strength. Over-muscularity wasn’t much sought after. Look at some old body-builders – Steve Reeves for example. He was one of the most handsome body-builder in this history of build-building. He played the role of Hercules; you should watch the movie series (Hercules) if you get a chance – there are about 5-6 of them. Now compare him to the body-builders today sticking their frog-like muscles out! The beauty of body-building is lost in the monstrosity that it is today. I haven’t seen a more shapely body-builder than Steve Reeves. Although in muscularity he doesn’t compare to the body-builders today, but his shape was extraordinary. And I think was much better looking than, for example, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He looked like a real hero, like a Greek god, and in comparison, the modern body-builders look like monster! Same with the other first few body-builders. Jon Gremek, who progressed a lot in Bob Hoffman’s training, was as strong as he was good looking. And he never took any drugs in his life. He used to be able to squat with 400 pounds, even in his 60s! I’m not sure if he’s still alive or not. Joe Weider has totally destroyed body-building by creating an industry around it.
“In the old days, there used to be 2 title – “Mr America” and “The Most Muscular Man”. Most Muscular is now Mr America, and the original Mr. America is now gone. Health, strength, and shape used to be the measures before. I just saw the photographs of Ronnie Coleman, Mr. Olympia. If he stood next to you, you’d be petrified! Looks like a monster. I don’t know what Weider has done to this sport. Earlier, there was no money involved. Now, without chemicals it is not even possible to compete with these kind of muscles. You should do the comparison with old body-builders – Steve Reeves, Jon Grimek, Bill Pearl. Bill Pearl was the first red indian to win a world championship. These are legendary names in body building. Look for some old photographs of Jon Grimek. I have read his life as well. He used to do a pose called “flag post” – holding his body horizontal like a flag with both his hands. Imagine how much strength it’d take to do that. I’ve never seen anyone else ever been able to do it.
“There were some good body-building magazines in early days. They’ve stopped now that Joe Weider has taken over everything. There was an Amateur Athletic Union, AAU, founded by Bob Hoffman. Bob Hoffman was known as the father of American weight lifting, he also coached the Olympics team I think. He was a very strong man himself. He started the magazine “Health and Strength”, and Jon Grimek ran “Muscular Development”. If you can get old of some issues, definitely read them. Today’s body-building is not possible for an average man. Also, the workouts published in the magazines today are misleading. They are work-outs for professional, and are being popularized in general public so beginners have a lot of difficulty in deciding what to do. I have tried Bob Hoffman’s workouts and have seen tremendous benefits, especially that 3 times a week one. It is one of the finest workouts I’ve found so far. ”
“[…] I did this work-out in college days and I can still feel it’s effects. It developed a permanent V shape and tremendous strength. I was able to do full squats with 400 pounds, bench-press with 300 pounds, and shoulder presses 180 pounds! I used to arm-wrestle with everybody in college and beat them. All machines fail in front of this work-out. The only equipment that comes any close is BullWorker X5. Two legendary body-builders used to do this workout – Casie Jaffer(?) and Mike Manger(?) – they introduced the heavy-duty principle. Other workouts are only for conditioning but this one is for strength. And strength really gives a high feeling – it’s an intoxication in itself. Then you also learn you body’s limits. You will only know that by exerting yourself.
“Today the body-building is all about chemicals. A body-builder came from Gwalior and brought me some protein powder – these Weider-style products are available even here these days!. The product claimed you’d gain muscle mass and also develop cuts. I tried for 3 days, understood the principle and stopped using it. It had some chemicals which would make you very thirsty. You’ll drink water and feel like urinating all the time. It’d drain all the water out of the body so it’d feel like you are getting thinner and the cuts are showing up. Work out, drink water, and urinate all day – that’s the way you’d get cuts. It has bad long-term effects on health.”
“[..] Muscle tissues break during exercise that’s why you feel pain. When you rest, they rebuild and grow in size. They grow to cope with the exertion. That’s why it is called progressive resistance training. Progressively increasing resistance – 10 pounds, 20 pounds, etc, and the muscles will respond to the increase in exertion and grow.
“Check out old archives for Bob Hoffman, Jon Grimek, Steve Reeves, etc. Watch Hercules series as well. Victor Mature had not a single cut on his body but his looks were amazing and had great strength too. I got so inspired by his movie (Samson and Delilah) that I don’t remember how many of my students I lifted up overhead with one hand!
“He did not have a body-builder look but a manly look.. used to throw man like it was nothing! The film was a classic. The movie was copied in India as well. Premnath played the role of Victor Mature (in movie ‘Aurat’). There was some Indian touch but it was the same movie, scene by scene. But the original is something else.
“There’s no answer to Victor Mature. He was not overly muscular but was very strong. Remember how he lifted that fat man in the movie? Even Arnold could not give those scenes. I was so inpsired by that scene, that Upendra Vyas, my disciple who had a similar body like that fat man weighing 107 Kg, even him I lifted overhead with one hand! That has been my heaviest lift so far. Single-handed! This happened in Gwalior cottage days. Have lifted Kashyap more than 100-150 times. He is only 55 Kgs so it was easy. Last year I lifted Ganja but not anyone after that. My mood has changed somehow, don’t feel like doing that anymore.
“The strength has supported Yoga practice as well, you can’t ignore that. Like the point that you caught – 200 in Yoni Mudra on the first day itself! If I didn’t have the physical back-up, it was next to impossible. Bullworker will also increase the capacity to hold breath, especially its advanced workouts. It is one of the qualities of Bullworker, that’s why I like it so much. I used to keep two of those, so that if one broke, I could replace it with the othe one and there wouldn’t be a break in the routine. You should aways be ready. I have broken Bullworker X5 at least 6 or 7 times. Some time ago the only shop which used to sell those closed down. After that, I’ve been repairing it myself. It is the finest workout to do with Yoga practice. It’ll drastically increase the breath retention, especially the isotonic one.
“I took Bullworker with me even when I had gone to Puri [Yukteshwar Giri’s ashram, when GurujI hadn’t found his Guru yet]. It was one of the old models. I was the only one there who was practicing Yoga and working out as well. Everyone else was very komal-anga (‘delicate limbs’). They were a bit scared of me as well. Some of them used to lecture me: “Shailendra baba, don’t exercise so much otherwise your bhava (divine emotion) will get destroyed”, or “if you exercise, you’ll remain stuck in body level only, will never reach the soul”. I stopped working out for 5-6 weeks, and started feeling down – losing confidence and energy. Then I told them all to go to hell, I’ll never quit exercising. Later when I met Guruji [Shri Satya Charan Lahiri Mahasaya], he told me “Make exercise a part of your life. You must keep doing that.” He told me exactly what appealed to my heart. He also shared the secret that only with physical fitness, the spiritual practice will reach its zenith! This is especially true with Yoga practice. And I have experienced that exactly. Everybody can. My swimming work-out had also made a lot of difference. I used to do a lot of underwater swimming and that has significantly increased
my breath retention.
“You should always physically exert yourself. Never over but within a limit.”
“I never maintained a special diet, whatever used to get cooked in our home. Have always been vegetarian, drank no more than 1 glass of milk everyday. The real secret is in tikkar (Indian roti) – there’s no better diet than daal and roti. “Tikkar se hi body tikti hai” (only roti sustains the body). Sometimes vitamin deficiency happens with heavy workouts, you catch cold easily when you are tired. So some vitamin B and C supplements are more than enough. ”
Q: I read in a book review that according to medical science, rib-case can’t really expand and it’s a myth that body-building expands the rib-cage?
A: “That is all dung. We exercise to go beyond the ordinary. This work-out will definitely expand the ribcage. It’ll also increase the weight, size, and strength.”
“We discussed a lot about body building today (laugh). See, we get only one body in our life, we should keep it nice. It’ll never be replaced.”
[About eve-teasing, if you see someone doing that, should you interfere, etc.]
“Only if you can beat the eve-teaser. If you can get beaten, it’s better to keep quiet (laugh). It’s only teasing in the worst case, there’s no physical assault. You should be aware of your position – there’s no point in unnecessarily acting like a hero. If you see a physical assault, make a lot of noise and start shouting for police – that’ll be enough to scare them away. The situation is not all that bad [in Indian trains]. You should learn to ignore comments like that, or tackle them with humor. Otherwise you’ll be dealing with felony all the time! (laugh)”
[About Lalu Prasad Yadav]
“Lalu is doing a good job as Railway Minister. He has put a stop to cold drinks in trains, instead they are serving lass and pede (laugh). He is also replacing plastic cups with clay cups for tea. He has also claimed he won’t increase railways fares. Instead, he has increased the penalty five times for not carrying a ticket. He has a vernacular guise but he is highly educated and is extraordinarily intelligent.
On the other hand, Atal Behari Vajpayee is frying pakodas! (laugh). He said that in an interview on TV yesterday, that “I’m spending time in kitchen”. This is funny, lost the prime minister chair and now frying pakodas. Felt like he had lost his mind in the interview. When they asked him what he does these days after finishing his PM term, he said “I make tea and pakode“. (laugh)
 Recorded: June 20th, 2004