Listen to this interviewThe Bulk Hackers robot can read Debarghya's interview aloud for you (playtime 10 minutes and 6 seconds) 🤖
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
Hi! My name’s Debarghya Das, but I usually go by Deedy. I’m 27 years old and I’m a founding engineer at a small stealth startup in the Bay Area, California. I recently moved here from a job at Google Search in New York. I have a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Computer Science from Cornell University.
I’m a recreational gym-goer and powerlifter. Although I’ve been in and out of the gym since I was 17, I started training more seriously at 25, when I went from 95kg to 65kg in eight months in pursuit of revealing a six pack for the first time.
Since then, I’ve blogged briefly about tricks and techniques to become fitter with minimal effort. My first blog post outlines how I went about getting a six pack for the first time: transformation.
The second outlines how I maintained my weight for eight months after: maintenance. I’ve largely maintained my fitness levels since, but haven’t blogged much about it.
I was never much of an athlete growing up. I played cricket and chess, and was never very good at the former. Now, I like hiking, running, and cycling. I spend a lot of my free time reading books and writing online.
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⏱ Describe a typical day of training[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
My training philosophy has always been simple: Keep in top shape with the least effort possible. I don’t aim to be a professional bodybuilder. I train three to four times a week, for about an hour or a little more. I do a push/pull/legs split, with one main compound movement: Squat, bench and deadlift.
For my compound movement, I do 5×5 and I do four accessory movements for the body parts I’m training that day. I typically begin or end my workout with a short run, and if I feel like doing a fourth day in the week, I do a longish run.
My training philosophy is designed to be low effort and high adherence, and to that extent, I’ve found certain tactics to be particularly helpful:
- Pick a gym as close to you as possible, preferably in your building. I prefer a less equipped free gym than a $200/month Equinox membership. This serves two purposes: Convenience and approachability. In terms of approachability, by two training sessions, an apartment gym feels like home in a way membership gyms usually don’t, which tends to keep you going. In terms of convenience, you can usually change at home and go, which saves you time and mental overhead of remembering what to pack.
- Pick a 24/7 gym if possible. I find myself making excuses when I’m pushing the closing time or the opening time of my gym. This eliminates that possibility.
- Stick to one basic routine and don’t vary it up too much. There’s endless debates about how to micro-optimize your training, and they’re probably right. Maybe I should work out every body part every day to maximize mass. But the more you change your routine, the less likely you are to adhere to it. I like doing more or less the same thing and getting comfortable with it.
- Diet. I do a combination of intermittent fasting and when I’m serious about cutting weight, keto. Intermittent fasting works because eating two meals between 2pm and 10pm everyday is way easier than picking and choosing what to eat. The general idea behind what I eat is to try to eat high fiber, low carb, protein rich whole foods during the week, and then let loose a little on weekends. If I know I’m in for a big dinner meal out with friends/family, I fast the rest of the day.
- Supplements. I used to use more while I was losing the weight, but now I don’t even take Whey protein anymore. It’s just too expensive and too much cognitive effort that I’d rather spend elsewhere. Just one supplement involves remembering to buy it and consuming the appropriate quantity. You need to research which supplement brands are safe too. I don’t see significant enough impact on my fitness performance to warrant using them.
- If you’re on a goal to lose weight (or gain it), weigh yourself every morning without fail. It serves as a mental compass that tells you how astray you’re going.
I don’t do bulking season, I don’t do supplements, I don’t do pre-workouts. I typically train alone but could always use a gym buddy. And I try to listen to podcasts to get through my workout while learning something else during it.
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👊 How do you keep going and push harder?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I kept pushing myself the first time I started training because I could see the weight reduce on the weighing machine every day – just that. It felt like playing a game.
Now, I’ve internalized a lot of the effects different foods have on me and what missing a few weeks of gym does. I’m never too strict on myself.
One key aspect of consistency is giving yourself a break – both diet-wise and gym wise. What’s important is to mentally track your breaks and be very cognizant of the fact that this is time off.
Weekly, I spend maybe four hours training on average unless I’m preparing for an endurance running event – typically a half-marathon or a marathon.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
Right now, I’m focusing mostly on maintenance. Since 2016, when I became fit, I focused on increasing my main compound lifts. After I was satisfied with where I was, I shifted gears and decided to focus on running. I trained for a marathon, and have grown to enjoy the very different pressures and stresses of running.
In the next five years, my main fitness dreams would be to complete an Ironman or to climb a 20k+ ft mountain. I’ve always wanted to set the fitness bar a little higher every passing year, and as someone who doesn’t naturally identify with athleticism, I think the Ironman would go a long way to proving to myself that physical feats of endurance are about the effort, not necessarily the talent.
My primarily interest and profession is software engineering. I work at a small, new company of less than 10 people in the Bay Area, and my goal is to focus my effort in understand technology better and build out the company to the point where it’s successful.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
This is an easy one. I’ve been fortunate to never have too many injuries. My main prevention tactics have been very obvious:
- Don’t push yourself out of stupidity when a muscle is clearly bothering you already or you have a prior injury.
- Don’t ego lift.
- Don’t try to lift anything you can’t do for five reps.
- Get your form down.
- Youtube channels: AthleanX, BeerBiceps, StudentAesthetics, VitruvianPhysique, Rob Lipsett, OmarIsuf, BroScienceLife, BuffDudes, Jeff Nippard, and Terron Beckham.
- A blog called JohnStoneFitness
- Reddit: r/fitness, r/progresspics and r/brogress
I enjoy foam rolling, although I can’t guarantee it does anything. After a tough leg day, I usually need it.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I follow an intermittent fasting low-carb diet, occasionally doing keto. I do intermittent fasting because it lets me be in a calorie deficit with minimal effort.
I stick to low-carb because I tend to get full off fewer calories. I switch to keto whenever I need to urgently shed weight, which involves a little more effort.
My go-to morning drink is a plain black coffee sweetened with Stevia. I used to track calories for a couple of weeks, which helped me fine-tune my ability to eyeball calories reasonably. I don’t use MyFitnessPal or any such trackers because they require too much mental bandwidth.
I try to be healthy during the week and give myself a little leeway on weekends. Typically, when I know I’m going to be doing a big meal, I try to fast the rest of the day.
The easiest way to prevent cravings is to never have anything to eat at home. However, I typically keep generic brand no-carb protein bars to snack on, which are tasty enough to satisfy cravings but filling enough to prevent me from doing more than one.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
There’s a lot of YouTube channels and online sources that helped:
For endurance running, SageCanady really helped.
The best advice I’ve ever received is:
“Being fit isn’t an achievement. It’s just going to the gym and lifting iron up and down. If that’s an achievement, how are you gonna do anything else with your life? It’s a prerequisite.”
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
A lot of initial gym goers don’t go to the gym because of impostor syndrome. You convince yourself I’m not one of those guys and I’m never going to be like them.
You’re afraid someone will judge you for being too fat or too thin or your worst nightmare – that you’ll do something embarrassing in front of all these people.
- A great way to start is to find an empty gym, go late hours, or just go with a close friend. Establish comfort.
- Track the metric you’re trying to move. If you want to lose or gain weight, make sure you’re weighing yourself every day.
- Set a very basic goal. Run a mile. Do one deadlift with just 50 pounds.
- Slowly make changes to your diet.
- Iterate on steps 3 to 4.
Fitness and easy, doesn’t require supplements, or any of that complicated stuff people are trying to sell you. It’s actually really straightforward and easy. And what’s best? Becoming fit is a one time ~year long investment, and then it’s done. Staying there is much easier than getting there![speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?[/speaker-emphasis][/speaker-voice]
I’m happy to weigh in on small issues people reach out to me about, but I’m not a trainer and I don’t take clients.
However, the most common set of questions I always get asked: “I don’t have X. Can I still be fit?” The answer is almost always yes.[speaker-voice name='en-US-Wavenet-D'][speaker-emphasis level='strong']