Kumail Nanjiani got ripped and one GQ writer is here to tell you that it is even harder than it looks
Kumail Nanjiani looks like a superhero. Which is helpful, because he's been playing on in Marvel's Eternals. More than that though, he has transformed his body, and confounded Hollywood stereotypes about what funny men can do and be.
What’s even more impressive is that Nanjiani showed off his new body via an Instagram post that recognized how privileged he is to be able to build a body like this. No six-pack-in-six weeks yarn here.
Instead, Nanjiani took the time to succinctly break down how he achieved his, frankly, ludicrous new rig. And, as someone who has (very limited, admittedly) experience with a body transformation, having worked for a well-known men’s fitness magazine, I can tell you that Nanjiani’s body is the result of some incredibly hard graft.
How Kumail Nanjiani built his body
The star of Marvel’s Eternals, began by making it clear that this was the result of consistent hard work, facilitated by the expert help and financial backing of trainers, nutritionists and a Hollywood studio.
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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)
A consistent fitness plan
And that’s point number one: transforming your body like this isn’t impossible, it’s just infinitely easier with plenty of money and a detailed plan.
The other thing you need in spades is time. When I attempted a body transformation I had just under eight weeks to do it. From a standing start, it’s simply not enough time.
A realistic time frame
That’s not to say it can’t be done, but here is point number two: give yourself a realistic timeline. Nanjiani, for example, had a year. If that sounds like a slog, take comfort in the fact that you should be able to achieve serious results in 12 weeks.
The other thing you need, of course, is dedication and focus. The sort of result that Nanjiani has achieved requires constant effort, exertion, pain and abstinence. He’s packed on muscle mass, stayed lean and, in this photo especially, dried himself out so much that you can see the veins in his stomach (old-school body builders will be nodding in appreciation), more on which later.*
Paying attention to his diet
Point number three? You cannot out-train a bad diet, so investigate your meal plans with as much focus as your workouts.
Finally, it is crucial to recognize that a change like this is all consuming. Nanjiani concluded his post by thanking his wife, the writer Emily Gordon, for putting up with him talking constantly about working-out and dieting.
It is terrifying how quickly you become a gym-bore, and if you’re not careful, an obsessive. And that’s the last point: this should not define your worth as a human. I can’t speak for Nanjiani but I know that I quickly altered how I quantified happiness, substituting success at work, relationships and a social life for body-fat percentage, muscle mass and a bench-press PB. It wasn’t healthy.
In Nanjiani’s case, he says in his post that his trainers ‘forced him to have cheat meals’, which seems to suggest that he was taking his diet a little too seriously. Credit to his team for seeing the big picture: that a fit body means nothing if you can’t enjoy it, and encouraging him to treat himself now and then.
Nanjiani’s success should be applauded. Even with all the help, he has clearly worked very hard. He looks incredible and should serve as an inspiration to men everywhere. But he should also be applauded just as loudly for being honest about how he got there.
*Before a photoshoot like Nanjiani’s, fitness models do something called a water flush. By drinking huge amounts of water in the days leading up to a shoot (we’re talking 3 gallons a day) the body goes into ‘flushing mode’, excreting all excess moisture. The day before the shoot you then cut your water intake to a tiny amount, causing you to ‘dry out’, which in turn helps reveal muscle definition, abs and those aforementioned veins. And no, we do not advise you try this at home.