Top 10 Indian Bodybuilders: Diet and Workout Plan

If you think that bodybuilding is a western phenomenon, you are in for a surprise. Long before, the west began to focus on the biceps and pecs bodybuilding had already become a national passion for Indians. By 1100 AD Indians had started to work out with heavy wooden clubs known as Nal and Mudgal to build their bodies. Still, bodybuilding continues to remain on the sideline and without a doubt, the native sport of Indians is fairly unrecognized.

If you think about it, bodybuilding is a way of life. There is no break from the sport. It goes beyond lifting heavy in the gym or displaying those beefed up muscles. The larger share of building muscles happens through rest, right diet and supplements.

 In the recent times, bodybuilders like Murali Sharma, Sangram Chougule, Ankur Sharma, Suhas Khamkar and many others have made the country proud in bodybuilding.  Continue reading to get a glimpse into the life of  top 10 Indian bodybuilders,  their diet and workout plan. 


Pawan Shetty is from a small town in Karnataka and his love for bodybuilding motivated him to move out of his comfort zone.  He has won several titles like Mr Asia, Mr India, Bharath Shresta and in 2016, he won the title of World Amateur Bodybuilding Association Champion.


I split my diet into 6 meals. In the offseason, my diet includes white rice, milk, yam, chicken and a green veggie. During the pre-contest period, my diet basically constitutes of fish, brown rice, oats, yam, broccoli and asparagus. My workout involves exercising different parts of the body on the specific day of the week. I do cardio every day for 25 minutes.


Varinder Singh Ghuman started off as a cricketer, but bodybuilding won him over. In 2009, Ghuman won the Mr India title and he became the first Asian to get to the top line of Arnold Classic Europe, an international championship of bodybuilding. He even clinched the brand ambassadorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature gyms and food supplements.


Ghuman is a vegetarian and colostrum, the first milk produced by mammals after childbirth forms a significant part of his nutrient profile. Colostrum is a rich source of high-quality proteins and growth hormones. His vegetarian bodybuilding diet consists of yellow dal, chapattis, green salad, curd and lassi. As part of his bodybuilding workout, he uses each day of the week to exercise a specific body part. Weekends are dedicated to cardio sessions.


8-times Punjab champion, Hira Lal Dhillan won the Mr Universe crown in 2011 at the 65th World Bodybuilding Championship, Mumbai, after a gap of 23 years. Last Prem Chand Degra won it. Hira Lal has won Mr Punjab, Mr India and Mr Asia titles.


Hira Lal did not start out as a vegetarian but shunned eating meat in 1997 due to spiritual reasons. After leaving meat he was able to gain weight by 10 kg. His diet consists primarily of soya beans, dal, lassi and curd.


Rajendran Mani from Chennai won the fifth World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships held at Budaors, Hungary in 2013, in 90kg weight category. Rajendran Mani took to bodybuilding late in life. Before becoming a bodybuilder, he was a soldier with the Indian Air Force. Mani won Mr India title several times for the country, the last being World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships held at Budaors, Hungary in 90kg weight category in November 2013. Recently, he launched Slam Fitness Studio in Chennai.


Bodybuilding requires phenomenal discipline and investment, particularly on diet and supplements. Mani’s fitness regimen includes working out at a gym for almost six hours every day. He takes six protein and vitamin-rich meals in a day and tries to maintain a proper schedule.


Yatinder Singh, a bodybuilder from Saharanpur is a living example of winning against odds through hard work and dedication. Twice Mr UP title winner, Yatinder Singh made the country proud by winning Silver Medal in 7th World Bodybuilding Championship 2015 at Thailand.


Yatinder works out twice a day in which he exercises different parts of the body. His diet is measured and it includes 5oog chicken, 500g fruits, 10egg whites, a bowl of white rice, four rotis and supplements, such as BCAA, Glutamine, fat burner, pre-workout drink, casein protein supplement and whey protein.


Indian bodybuilder Ankur Sharma has won the bronze medal at the Arnold Classic 2016, held in Melbourne, in the Men’s Bodybuilding under 90kg category. Ankur’s earlier achievements include winning the titles of Mr India 2012 and getting the second position in Mr India 2013. He is considered as one of the most gifted Indian bodybuilders of the younger generation.


Like others, Ankur also works out his different body parts on weekdays. His diet focusses on proteins, fruits, veggies and high-quality supplements.


Murali Kumar, a sailor in Indian Navy is a relatively late entrant in bodybuilding. He started bodybuilding at 25, but his good genetics immediately shot him up in the bodybuilding scene. Twice winner of Mr. India title, Murali has climbed higher on the ladder, owing to his sheer hard work and carved and near-perfect physique. He also won Mr. Asia title in 2013, but in 2015, the young lad from Maharashtra, Sangram Chougule, stole the title of Mr. India of 2015 from him, rewriting history and making amends of his 2013 loss. Incidentally, in 2013 Murali Kumar had won Mr. India title and Sangram Chougule was the first runner up.


Murali kumar follows a strict routine, 10 PM to bed and waking up at 5 AM. He is also particular about his gyms schedule and always makes time for it from his day time job. He says that following your schedule is very important as bodybuilding is all about being consistent and dedication. Murali Kumar believes that diet is a very important part of bodybuilding. His diet includes at least 50 egg whites and lots of green leafy vegetables. As per his diet plan, Murali takes a meal after every two and half hours. He also takes protein supplement shakes after his workout.


Bodybuilding runs in the genes of Suhas Khamkar, an elite bodybuilder from Kolhapur. During his growing years, fitness and bodybuilding formed a major chunk of his environment. He was deeply inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger and began to build his body under his teacher and mentor Bibhishan Patil. An employee of Central Railway of India, Suhas Khamkar became the first person to win a national level gold medal in the Railways national competitions. Suhas has won Mr. India title 9 times. He is the first Indian bodybuilder to Become Mr. Asia in 2010. He is also Mr. Olympia amateur title winner.  Suhas is also an entrepreneur and runs Khamkar’s Total Fitness. Suhas has several wins to his credit,

Suhas works out 6-7 hours in a day. His daily diet consists of the following, with minor variation.

  • 20 eggs
  • 1.5kg chicken
  • 500g fish
  • 2kg apples
  • Protein supplements


Prashant Salunkhe is climbing the ladder quite quickly these days. In 2015, Sulunkhe defeated 8-times champion Suhas Khamkar to win Mr. India 2015 titles. A t the start of 2016, Salunkhe also won the highly competitive Mumbai Shree and Jerai Classic.


Bodybuilding requires a lot of hard work. Salunkhe follows the principle and he works out two hours in the morning and two in the evening, which include heavyweight training, cardio. My focus lies in building my strength without increasing my weight or getting injured in the process. I watch whatever I eat. My meals include 20 eggs in a day, half a kilogram of chicken and rice. Besides a kilo of apples every day, I eat other fruits as well.


An electrical engineer by education and a bodybuilder by passion and profession, the journey of Sangram Chougule, recently announced as the ‘BodyBuilder of the Decade’ by Indian Body Builders Federation has not been easy. 7 times National Champion and 2 times Mr. Universe title winner, Sangram Chougule story is an inspiration and an ideal for many budding bodybuilders across the country.


For Sangram, exercise, diet and supplements go hand in hand while building a body. In fact, abs get built in the kitchen. While work out is critical to stress the muscle tissues, in Sangram Chougule’s diet chart supplements are equally important to build muscles.  After waking up, Sangram takes a fat burner and a scoop of amino acid. 15 minutes later, his session of cardio lasts for 20 minutes (6 days in a week) and he follows it up with a protein shake.

Related Article: Sangram Chougule Diet and Workout Plan

Top Indian Bodybuilders – History of Indian Bodybuilding

The eternal saga of bodybuilding in India began long before you even existed. If you’re thinking that bodybuilding is a western rara avis, you might have to give it a second thought. How ancient is bodybuilding in India?

Let’s get on the time machine and travel back to when it all started in India.

The history of Indian bodybuilding dates back to 1100 AD and by 1500 AD bodybuilding had become a national passion. In medieval India stones and sacks of sand were used for weightlifting. A popular form of exercise equipment was ‘Nal’ made of rough stone with a hole through the centre. A giant wooden club or a ‘Mudgal’ was another such equipment carrying pre-historic hangover. Stone wheels with holes were used largely for building massive shoulders and a strong neck.

Bodybuilding in India in the 19th century owes a larger share of credit to Professor K. V Iyer, a physician to the Maharaja of Mysore

Being a South Indian Brahmin, Iyer forbade meat. He was a complete vegetarian and teetotaler. Grains, like unpolished rice and ragi, were his dietary staples. Vegetables, fruits and buttermilk provided him with enough nutrients. Professor Iyer started Hercules gym in Bangalore in 1930 and trained more than 25000 students through this gym. He believed in imparting education through demonstration and explanation. Those who couldn’t enroll in the gym learned through correspondence. For outstation students, Iyer had set up a lodging facility as well.  Undoubtedly, the Hercules gym played a focal point in Indian bodybuilding history as it guided bodybuilding initiates with the right information. In the year 1938, Iyer wrote a book called “Chemical Changes in Physical Exercise”, in English, without realizing the profundity of his own work. In the year 1940, he was aptly awarded The Doctorate degree from Missouri University.

Post-independence, four names stand out as top Indian bodybuilders who have made India proud by winning the coveted Mr Universe title. Consecutively in 1951 and 52, Montosh Roy and Manohar Aich bagged the title for the country. Contrary to popular perception, it was Roy and not Aich who won the first Mr Universe title. In the year, 1988 unforgettable Premchand Degra won the title and in 2012, Sangram Chougule, our very own MuscleBlaze athlete won the prestigious award. 


Timeline: 1916-2005

Body Measurements at his best

  • Height: 5 feet 5 inches
  • Weight: 70 kgs
  • Neck: 16.5 inches
  • Chest: 45 inches
  • Biceps: 16.5 inches
  • Thigh: 23 inches
  • Calf: 15.5 inches

Montosh Roy was born in the current-day Dhaka district of Bangladesh, then India. He was a great fusion of yoga and bodybuilding. Trained under the stellar yoga teacher, Bishnu Charan Ghosh, younger brother of Sri Sri Parmahansa Yogananda, the author of ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’. Montosh Roy didn’t taste the success initially but he had a never-ending spirit. With his zeal, hard work, and dedication, he succeeded in winning the title of East Indian Body Building Championship.

Post-independence, he was crowned as the winner of the All India Bodybuilding Championship. He rose to fame by winning the highly prestigious Mr Universe title. Roy was the owner of an aesthetic physique that took the audience by storm and gave him an edge over his competitors and he went on to win the Mr Universe title in Group III Amateur Division Category. Glory kissed Roy’s feet and he enjoyed immense popularity. People used to queue-up to take his autograph after his shows.

After winning the title of Mr Universe, Montosh Roy returned to India to expedite his interest in bodybuilding. He was the founder of the Indian Bodybuilding Federation and opened a chain of bodybuilding centres and gyms. He also trained celebrities and authored various books. Roy was the owner of a great ability to bend steel with his bare hands. He was also an expert at yoga.


  • 1947 All India Bodybuilding Championship
  • 1951 Mr. Universe in Group III Amateur Division Category   


Timeline: 1912-2016

Body Measurements at his best

  • Height: 4 feet 11 inches
  • Biceps: 18.1 inches
  • Chest: 47.2 inches
  • Forearm: 14.1 inches
  • Wrist: 6.4 inches

He also trained celebrities and authored various books. Roy was the owner of a great ability to bend steel with his bare hands. He was also an expert at yoga. Manohar Aich, born in present-day Bangladesh, was a popular household name in the 50s. He wasn’t blessed with great height (4 feet 11 inches), but through his hard work, he gained a stalwart physique that compensated for it.

P.C. Sarkar was a very famous magician at that time and Manohar Aich started his career with him as a stunt man. He performed stunts like bending steel with his teeth, resting belly on a sword, and bending spears with his neck. He participated in protests against the colonial regime and for this action, he was put behind the bars. While he was imprisoned, he developed a passion for bodybuilding.

While he was in jail, he started training and trained insanely for 12 hours which cast a great impression on the authorities and they made arrangements to provide Aich with special meals that would help him with his bodybuilding. After India attained independence, Aich was released from prison. He didn’t have enough money than to continue his bodybuilding, yet he persisted. As they say, hard work always pays off, it did for Aich too. It was in the year 1950, he became the winner of the Hercules title. From here, there was no looking back for Manohar Aich. he went on to earn the name ‘Pocket Hercules’ as he established himself as a man of high strength and stamina for his size. The following year, he was declared the runner-up for the Mr. Universe title in London. Again, in the year 1952, he won the title for his nation. He didn’t stop there and went on to win gold medals in Asian Bodybuilding Championships.

Manohar Aich was blessed with a really long life. He breathed his last on 5th June 2016, two days after the god of boxing Muhammad Ali left for the heavenly abode. Aich was 104 years old at the time he passed away. The secret to his long life was his absolute refrainment from smoking, drinking, and stress.

In his long life, Manohar Aich inspired many and took bodybuilding to new heights. He paved the way for modern-age bodybuilding in India.

In his life, he grabbed many big titles, which are mentioned below:


  • 1950: Mr. Hercules Title
  • 1951: Runer up in Mr. Universe Contest
  • 1951: Gold Medal in Asian Game (New Delhi)
  • 1952: Mr. Universe Gold
  • 1954: Gold Medal in Asian Game (Manilla)
  • 1955: 3rd Position in Mr. Universe
  • 1958: Gold Medal in Asian Game (Tokyo)
  • 1960: 4th Position in Mr. Universe


Timeline: Born 1955


Body measurements at his best

  • Height: 5 feet 6 inches
  • Weight: 80 kgs
  • Chest: 48 inches
  • Waist: 31 inches
  • Arms: 18.5 inches
  • Forearms: 15 inches
  • Thighs: 25.5 inches
  • Calves: 17.5 inches

Premchand came from a small town in Punjab. Born on 1st December 1955, he is a Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee. The success that he enjoyed in his life is the result of his hard work. He wasn’t from a wealthy background and faced various difficulties. He had to struggle a lot to establish himself. He broke the full 30 years in Indian bodybuilding by making his way all the way to the international bodybuilding arena.

His journey started as a wrestler, and then switched to bodybuilding. He was crowned as Mr. Punjab, Mr. North India, and Mr. India 9 times in a row. His international career began when he won the title of Mr. Asia in the middle-weight class at Karachi in 1983. In the year 1984, in Seoul, South Korea, he won the same title again. He switched to light heavy-weight class in Mr. Aisa contest and went on to win the title at Colombo in 1985. His winning streak didn’t end here and he grabbed the titles in Taipei and Malaysia in 1986 and 1987 respectively.

Degra was comfortable with the middle-weight class and continued in this in all the five appearances he made at the World Championships. The biggest event of his life came in 1988 when he won the Gold medal in the middle-weight class at Queensland in Australia and was crowned as Mr. Universe. Premchand turned into a professional bodybuilder in 1989 and participated in Mr. Olympia contest in the same year.


  • 1983: Asian Amateur Championships- IFBB, Middle-weight, 1st
  • 1984: Asian Amateur Championships- IFBB, Middle-weight, 1st
  • 1985: Asian Amateur Championships- IFBB, Middle-weight, 1st
  • 1985: World Amateur Bodybuilding Championships- IFBB, Middle-weight, 1st
  • 1986: IFBB Mr. Universe- Middle-weight, 2nd
  • 1987: Asian Amateur Championships- Light heavy-weight, 1st
  • 1987: IFBB Mr. Universe- middle-weight, 4th
  • 1988: IFBB Mr. Universe- middle-weight, 1st
  • 1989: Mr. Olympia- IFBB, 16th
  • 1992: Niagara Falls Pro Invitational- IFBB, 18th
  • 1996: Asian Amateur Championships, IFBB, Light middle-weight, 1st

These two men changed the bodybuilding scenario in India and from there on India saw many ace bodybuilders.


Body Measurements at his best:

  • Height: 5 feet 8.5 Inches
  • Weight: 74 kgs
  • Chest: 46 Inches
  • Forearm: 17 Inches
  • Biceps: 20 Inches
  • Waist: 32 Inches

Sangram Chougule, a Marathi mulga, and our very own MuscleBlaze athlete is a perfect example of how passion can make you change your ways. Born on 28th December 1979 in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Sangram is an electrical engineer by education. His passion for bodybuilding made him choose bodybuilding as his profession. He was announced as the ‘Bodybuilder of the Decade’ by the Indian Bodybuilders Federation.

Success wasn’t served on the plate for Sangram. He belonged to a small village in Kolhapure and had to face many adversities throughout his childhood. With his strong determination, he conquered various titles amidst adversities and gripped success. He is an inspiration for modern-day bodybuilders and bodybuilding aspirants.

Sangram has been nominated for the Arjuna award twice. This 40-year old bodybuilder has won many national and international competitions. His major breakthrough came in the year 2014 when he was crowned as Mr. Universe.


  • 2014: Mr. Universe
  • 2012: Mr. World
  • 2012: Mr. South Asia
  • Mr. India –  6 Times
  • Mr. India Overall Winner  – 2014
  • JERAI Classic Overall Winner
  • Mr. Maharashtra – 5 Times

Other than Sangram Chougule, the current era of bodybuilding in India is witnessing some really good bodybuilders who are dedicated to bodybuilding like anything and are constantly working to make it big in this field.

Some of the popular Indian Bodybuilders of today are:

  1. Suhas Khamkar: Born and brought up in a bodybuilding family of Kolhapur, Suhas is currently one of the topmost bodybuilders in India, this 39-year old bodybuilder has won the title of Mr. India 10 times in his career. He is the first Indian to win the title of Mr. Asia. he won this title in 2010.
  2. Murli Kumar: Many would not consider taking up bodybuilding as a career at the age of 25 as it considered to be pretty late for it. But not this man, who has served the Indian Navy. He started lifting weights at the age of 25 and went on to win the Mr. India title 9 times.
  3. Amit Chhetri: Popularly known as the Arnold Schwarzenneger of India, this Haridwar-born bodybuilder is the winner of Mr. India title in 2016 in the 100-kg weight category. He is a police constable serving in the Uttrakhand police department.
  4. Varinder Singh Ghuman: What makes this ace bodybuilder even more special is that he is among those few vegetarian bodybuilders in the world who broke the stereotype of diet in the bodybuilding world. Hailing from Punjab, this bodybuilder won the title of Mr. India in the year 2009 and a silver medal while competing for Mr. Asia in 2012. He has also acted in Bollywood movies like Marjaavan.

It will be interesting to witness the rise of bodybuilding in India in the coming years with the new crops of bodybuilding blooming in the nation.