Bollywood actor and fitness enthusiast Sonu Sood, who is in the city to promote the Dubai Women’s Run on November 16 starting from Dubai Festival City, seems to practice what he preaches.
Ahead of the event this weekend, the Happy New Year star with washboard abs took time out to answer questions on all things fitness. Excerpts from our e-mail interview regarding exercise, cheat days and keeping fit all year round…
How many times should we work out in a week to lose weight and improve stamina?
You should work out at least five or six times a week to lose weight and improve stamina because you have to work on your functional training as well as your weight training. These days there are many types of exercises such as calisthenics. So you have to push your body for at least for these number of days and learn to enjoy it.
What’s your preferred machine for your dose of cardio — treadmill, elliptical or bike?
For me, it has to be a mixture of treadmill, bike and elliptical because your body shouldn’t get used to any particular machine. Learn to give shocks to your body every day. Ideally, you can do ten minutes of each or sometimes do 30 minutes of cardio on different days on different machines. The moral of my story is simple: never let your body get used to a particular form of exercise or machine.
What are your tips for all those women trying to get into running and how do they keep at it?
I was associated with the Dubai Women’s Run last year and I noticed the rigorous practice that the women undertook before the run. You have to build your stamina and work on your style of running before the big day. Get professionals to help you out to ensure that you are doing the right things before you embark on a run.
Do you think it’s all about mind over body when it comes to running?
Whether you run long distance or prefer workouts, it’s always mind over body. You just have to train your mind and strengthen it in such a way that running becomes your routine. So, it is a question of continuous training and the ability to challenge yourself constantly. It’s the only way you can train your body to be super strong.
What’s your diet in a day like?
I’m strict with food on all days of the week. But sometimes when I travel to Punjab, I cheat because I love makhi ki roti aur sarso ka sagh [a homely dish of flat bread and mustard greens curry]. Sometimes when you travel it is difficult to get what you need for your diet and that propels you to cheat. But never wait for a cheat day and go easy with food on those days because all your previous efforts where you were eating clean goes down the drain.
Is it better to have five small meals or three large meals and are abs made in the kitchen and not the gym?
Five small meals is healthier than three large meals. Absolutely, abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym. What you eat and what you drink is directly proportional to the kind of core you have. It’s important to eat right for your abs to be defined. Fitness and clean eating is not a weekly or monthly exercise. You can’t let go after getting your dream abs. Maintain it and keep a check on your body through cardio and diet. Never give up on cardio.
What’s your opinion on popular diets such as keto, Atkins or paleo? Do you follow any such diet?
I believe in eating healthy and eating right. You can’t just follow a particular diet for a month and then get back to your routine of eating unhealthy. The key is to eat right at right times and that’s the only way to survive.
Do you do cardio first and then train with weights or the other way round?
I mix things up. Sometimes, I do cardio first and then I train or the other way round. It depends on whether I want to gain muscle or lose it. There are no hard and fast rules to staying fit. You can invent your own exercise and programs. Learn to listen to your body.
What are the biggest mistakes that people make in a gym?
The biggest mistake is when I see gym goers opt for very heavy weights without realising how important form is. I have seen people squatting wrong and injuring themselves. When injured, give your body time to heal and take them seriously. When I see someone doing an exercise wrong, I correct them and that’s a healthy way to create a safe environment.
What’s the best foods to eat before a workout?
Don’t eat a lot before a workout as it makes you lazy. A banana or a protein shake is a good pre-workout food. I also have pineapple juice which you can burn in 30 minutes flat. After a workout, have an omelette with egg whites.
What will we find in your gym bag?
Gym gloves, a Thera band and a change of clothes. An empty bag with lots of determination also works wonders.
What kind of training should we do for a) weight loss b) building muscles.
For weight loss, try cardio and functional training with weights. For building muscles, you have to do less cardio and more weights.
Don’t miss it!
When: November 16, Friday
Starting point of the run: Festival Bay, Dubai Festival City Mall
What: Dubai’s Women Run (5km and 10km)
Cost: On-spot registration for Dh150 (6am)