On Becoming a Bodybuilder
It was eight years ago when growing athlete, Mahmoud Hassan, has taken up fitness and body-building as his profession and life passion. The expert is here to give you advice based on his firsthand experience, and what is best for your wellbeing in the long run. Check out our interview with Mahmoud Hassan!
By: Mayar El-Shamy
How did you get into the world of fitness?
I started working out since I was 14 at my neighborhood’s local gym. At first, I used to train only one muscle before I knew that was the wrong way to do it. I tried to learn more about the field by asking freelance coaches, who gave me advice so terrible, I think I would have died trying them as a beginner [laughs]. I was entirely addicted and so was my body, so I bought books and read articles on the internet about health, diet, workouts, supplements and how to get the body I dreamt to have. I then started to transform my body step-by-step. When I noticed my physique’s changes, I decided to take the game to the next level and moved on to bodybuilding, fitness modelling and competitions, which take place here in Egypt. I found that the best of them was ‘Musclemania’. That’s how I began my journey with dedication to become a successful fitness model in Egypt as well as world-wide. Right now, I’m preparing for my next shows, which I really look forward to.
Are you with or against steroids and why?
I’m against steroids. I am personally a 100% natural athlete, and have never even considered using them for quicker results. I like to watch my body and muscles growing gradually and naturally to truly feel proud of myself. Steroids may lead to kidney and liver failure as well as possibly damage the male reproductive systems, so I don’t recommend them. Some professional bodybuilders aren’t natural at all, but even those only consume a dose prescribed by a professional coach and a medical team.
What kind of diet would you recommend to those who seek a similar physique to yours?
They must maintain a healthy diet plan containing the macronutrients their body needs, which include protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. You must remember that the results are 70% your nutrition plan, and 30% your workouts.
Tell us about your workout routine.
It comprises weight lifting, body weight workouts, cardio, and strength exercises. I hit the gym six days per week, and my workout takes from 45 to 60 minutes. When I have a contest, I train twice per day to get in the perfect shape for the stage. I also do abdominal workouts thrice per week if I am training for a fitness modelling competition. Cardio is also essential as it burns calories, body fat, and makes you lose body water. One of my cardio sprint programs includes one minute of walking, another minute of jogging and another of running, then repeating that for 20 to 30 minutes.
As an instructor, what kind of mistakes/myths do you commonly come across?
I have been in this field for eight years, every day of which I learn and discover new things about the game, and its tips and secrets. Many people who workout fall in mistakes like lifting too heavy to get big muscles, not knowing that this could make you short! They may also start their workout without warming up, exercise their abdominal muscles and do cardio to get shredded without maintaining a healthy diet, take steroids and hormones, or take supplements without maintaining a proper healthy diet, assuming that by only taking supplements they will transform their bodies. Others use fat burners without training and maintaining a healthy meal plan. When it comes to myths about the gym, your ears will hear the most laughable things. Like “the more you sweat, the more you burn”; many people follow that rule, but it’s not true. Sweat is stored water in your body, but to burn fat, you need to make sure you are burning the right amount of calories to start losing body fat.
How has your health changed since you have taken up such fitness routines?
My health really changed to the better and it continues to ameliorate with time. I feel strong; I can multi-task and train without taking a break. My health makes my stamina perfectly high and enduring.
Are there any fitness icons you look up to?
Yes, the American actor and former army ranger, Greg Plitt, has been always my idol inside and outside the game. I started watching his videos five years ago when I was 16, and it really motivated me and still does. I signed in on his website and trained online with him. Greg died at age 37 when he was struck by a train locomotive while filming a video, but his legacy lives on.
What achievements have you accomplished since you delved into this field?
I’m very thankful to rising fast since my first debut two years ago competing in ‘Musclemania Arabia’, which took place in Cairo, Egypt. My name is circling more day-by-day; I appear on social media programs and TV shows; I promote commercial-products and have been titled as one of Egypt’s fitness Icons. I was lucky enough to win first place in the fitness competition at the Arab Academy for Science and Technology Fitness (AAST), as well as first place in the ‘Trainers Fitness Competition’ at Misr International University (MIU), defeating Egypt’s best trainers and athletes.
Tell us about the obstacles you had to face before you could build your body the way you wanted it.
I have faced many obstacles, not least of which was how thin I was as a kid. My body has a high metabolic rate, which becomes a challenge when you want to build muscles. Having no sponsors is also an obstacle, and a huge one as well. Challenges never end, but as long as you are looking forward to your goal, keep in mind that giving up is not an option.
How can beginners avoid the unbearable pain of muscle fatigue? To avoid muscle fatigue pain, you need to start slowly with lighter exercises of a shorter duration. It also helps to get a workout buddy to spot you while performing your routine, along with a personal trainer to guide you right and to tell you what to do exactly in order to avoid any injuries and to reach your goal safely. Internally, you can increase your protein intake for faster muscle tissue repair. Most of all, make it fun and enjoy what you are doing.
You carry out online coaching. How does that work?
I carry out online coaching through my social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram. I offer online body transformation program packages consisting of weight lifting, nutrition, supplementation plans as well as cardio and ABS programs. If they’re interested, they can visit my Facebook page Mahmoud Hassan Fitness, or my Instagram account @mahmoudhassanfitness, and I will be more than glad to guide them to get the body they dream to have.
What advice would you give to aspiring young athlete-enthusiasts?
My advice to the youth is to never abandon any kind of sports they take up without good reason. This will change you to a better person not only physically, but mentally. Never be satisfied, always be hungry for more success, and never stop dreaming no matter the struggles!