No, You Don’t Need Steroids to Look Like Kumail Nanjiani

There are always people who want you to be unimpressed with fitness.

Kumail Nanjiani is probably best known for starring in HBO’s Silicon Valley (but you should really see his movie The Big Sick) and he’s making headlines this week because of a pretty remarkable transformation he made: from comedian bod to superhero bod.

He landed a role in an upcoming Marvel movie The Eternals and per Hollywood custom, the schlubby comic actor got lean à la Chris Pratt, John Krasinski, and Seth Rogen. (Remember how he got all fit for that Green Hornet movie? No one else saw that?)

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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!)

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Anyway, the caption of his Instagram post is really worth reading because the 41-year-old details how much work was involved: this was a year long process that included a personal nutritionist making sure his calories and macros were accounted for down to the gram and almost daily workouts with a personal trainer (TMZ reported his workouts included overhead presses, lat pulldowns, and bicep curls, if you can believe it).

We bolded this section from his caption ourselves:

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.

The best part about this post is the supportive comments from other celebrities:

  • Dwayne Johnson: “Extremely hard work. Dense muscle is hard to achieve. Looking great my brother!! 💪🏾👊🏾”
  • Terry Crews: “DAMN!!!!!!🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥✊🏾 Proud of you!”
  • Dave Bautista: “Holy good god! I’d say mission accomplished. 😂 way to get after it brother! 💪🏼”
  • Judd Apatow: “I look like this too with my shirt off but I don’t go showing it off.”
  • Chelsea Handler: “This is ridiculous. This means anyone can get fit.”

The worst part is that scores of comments and tweets are people rolling their eyes and saying “Yeah, that’s not so impressive, if I did steroids I could look like that too.”

OK, those tweets are funny, but these tweets are better:

Hah, Twitter jokes. But seriously:

You Don’t Need Steroids to Look Like Kumail Nanjiani

We know steroids are a tricky topic in sport and Hollywood and Insta-fitness, and don’t think for a minute we’re endorsing their use. They’re prohibited by most sporting organizations and illegal for recreational use in many countries around the globe.

And they’re definitely not necessary for a body like Kumail Nanjiani’s.

If he had gone from untrained to looking like this in a couple of months, maybe it would be a different tale. If he had gone from untrained at 41 to looking like ’70s Schwarzenegger, we might not have bothered with writing this article.

But this is not a body you need steroids to achieve.

kumail nanjiani steroids

[Related: The 8 Most Impressive Feats of Strength By Hollywood Actors]

We reached out to Stan Efferding, famously enormous bodybuilder and the nutrition coach for World’s Strongest Man winners Thor Bjornsson and Brian Shaw, who simply said,

“I don’t think it’s worth responding to the haters. That’s definitely an achievable look naturally.

Dr. Trevor Kashey, a biochemist, competitive strongman, coach of very elite athletes, and founder of TKN, more or less laughed in our faces when we asked if you’d need steroids to look like this guy.

“Not in the slightest, no,” he answered. “With a dark background, good lighting, lots of PAM spray, and good edits, you can do anything! I don’t think anyone would think that guy swallows dianabol. He looks like he lost 20 pounds and did some push-ups.”

Seriously, who are these people screaming “drugs”? They don’t deserve keyboards.

Kashey did add that when seven-figure paychecks are at stake, he wouldn’t blame actors for using steroids. (“This is acting,” he said. “Not the f*cking Tour de France.”) And we haven’t said that there’s no possible way he is on steroids.

What we are saying, and we talked to two extremely experienced coaches who have worked with clients at every level of human performance, is that Nanjiani doesn’t look like someone who must have taken steroids to achieve his physique and this is a body that is totally achievable without them.

He had a year to prepare.

He had a team of personal trainers.

He worked out almost every day.

He had every calorie counted.

People who scream “steroids!” at anyone who looks fit are people who don’t understand what the body is capable of, and they’re people who want to discourage others from being inspired by transformations like this one.

Kumail looks nice. Good for him. 

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured image via @kumailn on Instagram.

Nick English

Nick English

Nick is a content producer and journalist with over seven years’ experience reporting on four continents. At BarBend his writing more on nutrition and long-form content with a heaping dose of strength training. His underlying belief is in the middle path: you don’t have to count every calorie and complete every workout in order to benefit from a healthy lifestyle and a stronger body. Plus, big traps are cool.

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