In 2014, it was my pleasure to have taught him kettlebell training during the KTCC course in Bangalore. However, at that time I could not know more about his methods of training as we spent the full 2 days practicing and discussing kettlebells. So let’s get to know this Karnataka state champion powerlifter better, who has also ambitions of one day competing in another brutal sport, mixed martial arts.
ArnavSarkar (AS): Hi Raghu, first of all I would like to thank you for taking the time out to do this interview. Could you begin by telling us a bit more about yourself and how you got started in strength training?
Raghu Hondadakeri( RH):Sure Arnav, it’s been fifteen years since I first stepped into a gym, little did I know that I would compete in bodybuilding, power lifting and become an internationally certified coach as well. I spent plenty of time studying from various resources, and learning from accomplished strength training athletes and that simply helped me go on to improve year after year and my desire to win still has me laser-focused on accomplishing more.
AS: How has your training progressed over the years?
RH:In the early part of my career, the primary focus was bodybuilding and competing on stage, getting bigger, leaner, and increasingly conditioned with each competition. However, while transitioning to a power lifting style of training, I had to change my mindset and approach to training and recovery, with lower volume and higher intensity training methods.
RH:In simple words, staying big while training heavy isn’t as easy as eat big and lift big. Besides following a strict power lifting routine with the 3 compound lifts (Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift) as my area of focus. I vary the training volume and use proven periodized training cycles. Besides this, incorporating the use of novel training modalities such as Kettle bells, Core and Sports Conditioning work, etc. is also part of my routine.
My training split could be something like -
Monday: Legs and Forearms
Tuesday: Flexibility and Conditioning.
Wednesday: Chest and Calves
Thursday: Heavy Sandbags, Sledge Work and Kettle bell
Saturday: Shoulders and Arms.
AS: What are your current best numbers in powerlifting, and which are your proudest moments in the sport?
RH: I am a Raw powerlifter (Raw = Lifting without any suit and knee wraps).
My best powerlifting stats are -
Squats: 265 kg or 585lbs
Dead Lift: 280 kg or 615lbs
Bench: 150 kg or 330lbs
My proudest moment was winning my first gold medal in State Powerlifting championships for Karnataka.
AS: What are some of the biggest challenges that you have had as a powerlifter, and how did you overcome them?
RH: My biggest challenge was to recovery from heavy lifting and getting the form right every time. The only ways to overcome these are recovery, well-planned diet and supplements.
AS: What are some of the mistakes you have made in your progress till now, which you advise others not to make?
RH: Being excited to train and hitting the gym every single day with full enthusiasm could count as a mistake when you consider how important the recovery aspect of growing bigger and stronger is. Therefore, the best advice I would urge everyone to follow is not to overtrain for longer duration or training cycles. Go slow on progression, this is the best way to reach your goal and be in your best shape for a consistent period of time.
AS: What about nutrition? What type of a nutrition plan do you follow?
RH: I eat around 6,000 Calories a day, consisting of a lot of protein, carbohydrates and moderate amount of fiber. I also believe in good supplementation to give me that extra edge in training and recovery.
AS: How did you get interested in kettlebell training?
RH:Kettle bell training had always been my area of interest. Due to a lack of qualified kettle bell training experts, I could not learn training with them effectively until completing my certification with ArnavSarkar. The amount of strength endurance, core stability, and mental focus it has given has really helped me in my training
AS: How do you incorporate kettlebell training into your current training program, and which are your favorite kettlebell exercises?
RH:I train with kettle bells mainly for my grip strength, my shoulder stability, and hip mobility which is must for every powerlifter. My favorites are heavy push press, clean and press, and swing.
AS: You are also a very successful personal trainer. Tell us about your personal training profession, and how do you manage that along with your own training and development?
RH:I count myself fortunate to have had a really rewarding career as a personal trainer at India’s major fitness clubs. I have consistently been the ‘Best Trainer’ award winner many times with clients ranging from bodybuilding champions, powerlifting athletes, dramatic weight loss and transformation success stories. It’s with the social support around me (one of the keys to success), my discipline of training without taking days off for the sake of it, and my own clients inspiring me with their progress, that it seems quite normal to manage everything.
AS: Tell us about your recent development of training for MMA? How did you get into it, and what future plans do you have in this regard?
RH:I met the Khayoom family last year, and learnt of their vision to take fitness to the next level in India. I was inspired so immensely that I jumped right in to be part of their project. Now, as one of the directors at BodyForce MMA (India’s only professional MMA league)and as someone who is in it purely due to the desire of learning, providing the best for people and growing, it was an obvious choice to train for MMA too. My training is currently ongoing and with the help of leading MMA coaches of India and international athletes, there’s a steep learning curve and I feel the journey is only getting started and you can expect greater things to come. Did I mention that I’m looking to compete very soon?
AS: Who are some of your biggest influences in sports and outside?
RH: Dorian Yates. I’ve never been influenced more by the philosophy of any athlete than Dorian. His laser-focused approach to bodybuilding, religious mindset to diet and lifestyle, and hardcore intensity while training, has always inspired me the most to improve my sport (whether it’s bodybuilding, power lifting, perhaps MMA too in the future).
AS: Any final thoughts?
RH: I’m really looking forward to competing for powerlifting later this year, and also fulfill my role as an outstanding director at BodyForce MMA. For everyone reading this and want to grow by learning more about how to live healthier, fitter, and stronger, please feel free to stop by at our facility and meet me. I’ll be glad to help you, thank you for your time.