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 Post subject: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:17 am 
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Rabbit
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Hi everyone! :)

I'm a 21 y/o from the San Francisco Bay Area trying to gain some muscle mass for once in my life. :) Though it's a kind of long and seemingly incredulous story, I've been an ardent vegetarian since before kindergarten and was the only vegetarian I knew growing up. Neither of my parents nor my sister were ever vegetarians. When I was very young, I conciously remember asking my mother where a piece of steak came from and, when she said cows, I realized it was both cruel and that I had a choice not to eat it. My mom was respectful of my wish to not eat it and, as I grew up, I found my rationale further vindicated. A few months ago, I took the rationale to its logical conclusion: strict veganism.

Growing up vegetarian (in Texas, no less!) by a mother who knew nothing about nutrition or cooking for vegetarians, I feel I probably didn't get some of the essentials to a building a normal physique and have been stuck being very skinny. As a young teenager it was mostly normal looking but as I got older and went through high school, and college, it became obvious I was stuck with the painfully skinny looking physique of a 14 year boy.

Here I am today:

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Details:
  • 21 y/o
  • 5'10"
  • 130 lbs.

(I put the last picture in because, despite being skinny, that extra skin really annoys me. I'm going to work to get rid of that. :))

I'm very new to the concepts in the body building space and, as I get started, realize it'd be extremely helpful if there were people who understood my situation and could give me quick pointers on what to do.

The FDA and CDC say (link) that someone of my characteristics should weigh about 30 lbs more (160 lbs). Do you all think this is the case? I seriously can't even imagine what 30 lbs extra would look like on me. Based on stories and experiences from other people with which you all are familiar, would it be a good goal to gain those 30 lbs in mostly muscle? What is a reasonable time frame that dedicated people are usually able to accomplish that in? For such an involved project, how do they educate themselves on how to do it? Does anyone know of similar stories I could read about? I figure my case is pretty typical in the "vegan bodybuilding" space.

Sorry for the newbish questions -- like I said I'm very new to all of this. I'd greatly appreciate any guidance or suggestions you could give. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:12 am 
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Manatee
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Welcome to the board, jtp. Interesting back story, and congrats on making the switch to veganism.

jtp wrote:
Details:
  • 21 y/o
  • 5'10"
  • 130 lbs.

(I put the last picture in because, despite being skinny, that extra skin really annoys me. I'm going to work to get rid of that. :))


Don't think of it as extra skin - if you begin by trying to lose weight/firm up, you'll have a lot of trouble getting anywhere. At 5'10"/130lb, you're very far from fat, and all you need is 30+ lbs of extra mass to "stretch out" your skin and the problem will be solved ;)

Quote:
The FDA and CDC say (link) that someone of my characteristics should weigh about 30 lbs more (160 lbs). Do you all think this is the case? I seriously can't even imagine what 30 lbs extra would look like on me. Based on stories and experiences from other people with which you all are familiar, would it be a good goal to gain those 30 lbs in mostly muscle? What is a reasonable time frame that dedicated people are usually able to accomplish that in? For such an involved project, how do they educate themselves on how to do it? Does anyone know of similar stories I could read about? I figure my case is pretty typical in the "vegan bodybuilding" space.


I wouldn't normally put much stock in bodyweight recommendations, but in this case, yes, you *could* definitely weigh 30 lbs more. I don't think that it's dramatically important that you do gain 30 lbs. That said, IMO, a bigger vegan is always a better vegan :)

If you'd like to put on that much muscle mass, and are serious about it and start off right, you should be able to do it in a year or so. Everyone's different of course, but there's no reason you shouldn't see a very noticeable size increase after a few months of training.

Quote:
Sorry for the newbish questions -- like I said I'm very new to all of this. I'd greatly appreciate any guidance or suggestions you could give. :)


The best way to get started is to pick up a copy of Starting Strength, a book by Mark Rippetoe. It is bar none the best book out there on barbell training. At the very least, read as much as you can of http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Starting_Strength_Wiki.

Other than that, the only things you really need are a gym membership - make sure it has free weights and a squat rack, not just a smith machine - and lots of hard work.

Oh, yes, and more food than you've ever imagined ;)

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:25 am 
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Gorilla
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I agree with Ralst. Focus on trying to add muscle mass to your frame and that will help fill out your frame and tighten you up.
The basic compound movements will work well for you, not much volume and make sure you rest enough.
Using a 1 or 2 day split with mostly, or all, compound movements, eg Legs, chest, triceps and then Back, shoulders, biceps, abs on the other day, 3-4 workouts per week. It's a similar split to what I'm using at the moment and it is working really well for me. I think with your metabolism, less is more, so 3 sessions a week and plenty of good food and rest will work well for you.
Try and keep your protein moderately high, tempeh, tofu, seitan, legumes and good quality legume based burgers ( I mean the ones with not too much crap in them! ) are your best bet and there are many ways to prepare them to keep it interesting.
Make sure you get some good amounts of healthy fats, avocados, chia seeds, flax seeds (crush or sprout the whole seed rather than using oils if possible) nuts, vegan DHA oils etc.. The fats will help keep testosterone levels up and also help with skin, hair and muscle tone.
Then the rest of your diet should have plenty of vegetables, fruit and some grains ( things like quinoa, millet, buckwheat etc) these will give you plenty of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients to help you recover and build muscle.
Good luck with it all mate


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:14 pm 
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Rabbit
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ralst wrote:
Don't think of it as extra skin - if you begin by trying to lose weight/firm up, you'll have a lot of trouble getting anywhere. At 5'10"/130lb, you're very far from fat, and all you need is 30+ lbs of extra mass to "stretch out" your skin and the problem will be solved ;)

Yeah, that's what I meant. I realize it's not fat. I remember facetiously comparing abs with a bodybuilder friend in Texas in a mirror and when we both bent over, I had that and he didn't. It was just a little surprising that someone could get rid of that so now, I figure I might as well try.

ralst wrote:
If you'd like to put on that much muscle mass, and are serious about it and start off right, you should be able to do it in a year or so. Everyone's different of course, but there's no reason you shouldn't see a very noticeable size increase after a few months of training.

Okay, that "one year" timeframe really helps a lot, actually. I have no perspective of how body weight translates into appearances since I've weighed about the same since I started consciously thinking about how much someone weighs. When people say "I lost twenty pounds" or "He is 50 pounds overweight" I am never able to build a mental image of what that even kinda looks like.

ralst wrote:
The best way to get started is to pick up a copy of Starting Strength, a book by Mark Rippetoe. It is bar none the best book out there on barbell training. At the very least, read as much as you can of http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Starting_Strength_Wiki.

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll definitely read it. I'm a book reading kind of guy anyway. :)

ralst wrote:
Other than that, the only things you really need are a gym membership - make sure it has free weights and a squat rack, not just a smith machine - and lots of hard work.

That's one thing I don't have yet: a gym membership. I'm moving early July so I've held off buying one until after the move. I think July may be the more official starting time of this project. The gym at my apartment is pretty measly.

ralst wrote:
Oh, yes, and more food than you've ever imagined ;)

Okay, this is a big question I have for the fellow vegans here. Since I've switched to veganism, I've cooked most of my meals myself -- an exciting departure from eating nothing but quick, prepared foods before. At the moment, though, I spend a lot of my day just making food and I can't imagine 2-3x more in a day. Do you all make your own food and, if so, do you just do it in bulk?


joelk wrote:
The basic compound movements will work well for you, not much volume and make sure you rest enough.
Using a 1 or 2 day split with mostly, or all, compound movements, eg Legs, chest, triceps and then Back, shoulders, biceps, abs on the other day, 3-4 workouts per week. It's a similar split to what I'm using at the moment and it is working really well for me. I think with your metabolism, less is more, so 3 sessions a week and plenty of good food and rest will work well for you.


Sorry, like I said I'm really new to this. I had to google "basic compound movements" so I get that now but what do you mean by "volume" in this case?

A few more questions:

  • I care a lot of heart health since my father and grandfather both died of a heart attack. Right now my cardio is amazingly bad. Should I focus on cardio in my workout a lot? How does that affect my meal preparation, ability to gain weight, or other aspects of my daily routine? I used to be able to do 45 minutes at +160 strides/minute constant on a kind of running machine but when I jumped on the treadmill, I couldn't do 10 minutes at that same pace. Is a treadmill the de facto best thing for concentrated cardio exercise?
  • Should I worry about stretch marks as I gain weight?
  • Is this section the best place to put this thread? Should I ask an admin to move it?

Thanks so much for the pointers so far guys!


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:17 pm 
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I completely agree with ralst. Reading Starting strength and doing the routine was the best thing I ever did. I got some really good gains both in mass and strength. Before i started i was already a fit guy, but still I went from 83kg to 93kg in 7 month (ofc i gain a bit of belly, but you gotta eat big to get big, eh!) Seriously, do the program! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:57 pm 
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I'll agree with what's been said and add that if I were in your shoes I'd start now. Go to the gym your apartment has just to start moving some weight. Join the gym when you're able.

-a


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:06 pm 
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Rabbit
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joelk has some sound sounding advice. Also applicable to me so im going to take some pointers. jtp good luck and dont forget to have fun with it. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 4:11 am 
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Elephant
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jtp wrote:
Since I've switched to veganism, I've cooked most of my meals myself -- an exciting departure from eating nothing but quick, prepared foods before. At the moment, though, I spend a lot of my day just making food and I can't imagine 2-3x more in a day. Do you all make your own food and, if so, do you just do it in bulk?


I was there about a month ago, I'm consistently eating every 2 or 3 hours now. To cope, I've only been having 2 cooked meals a day really. Baked potato/veg/fake meat around lunchtime, and then a dinner with either rice/pasta, veg, and tofu/beans (or both!). I try to keep the majority of my meals quick and easy so they're no hassle to chuck in a rucksack and eat on the move. Stuff like peanut butter sandwiches, bags of nuts, any fruit, oatcakes i eat clif bars as well if I'm desperate for time and need something quick.

I'm starting to add weight now, i was REALLY skinny back a month. Just a year older than you as well. Don't think i'm posting my before pics before i have some after ones ready a few months down the line.

I'm not doing much cardio just now (5 mins jogging before workout), but I'm actually trying to gain a wee bit of fat as well at the moment so I don't look like a skeleton so much lol. Good cardio will keep your heart rate in the recommended range (depending on your age) for 20 minutes, so any exercise is good that will do this. Check this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0IbZ0eiEiQ


How long till you move now? You been doing any body weight exercises in the mean time?

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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:02 am 
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Finch

Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 1:50 am
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Hi JTP,

I just logged onto to do some research about putting some muscle on my skinny frame. Man. We have the same body. Mine's just a little older. :-)

Anyway, I also live in SF and am interested in finding a trainer and someone who is very knowledgeable about vegetarian lifestyle. Let me know how it's going with you. If you find a good routine or someone local to work with it would be great to have some direction.

Good luck.

David


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:52 am 
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Hey chewybaws,

Thanks for the suggestions and poking me about my progress! :)

I move in less than two weeks. In the meantime I've been going to the gym about 4-5 times a week and doing mostly cardio and and upper body. I didn't realize just how bad my cardio situation really was. One of my New Year's resolutions was to really hit the gym hard. I ended up doing mostly cardio on an arc running contraption and made amazing progress. When I started, I could only do 10 minutes of running at 160+ strides/minute and that was pushing it. I then went back the next day, and did 10 again. The next day I did 20, then 20 again the next day. The day after that I did 30 and the day after that I did 45. All in the course of just one week, really. It was a huge win for my determination and I felt great for making measurable progress.

I did 45 minutes 5-7 times a week for several weeks and then tried to apply my self-confidence to another running machine in my apartment gym. I got on another bigger, fancier arc running contraption and could only do 5 minutes or so on it when I had been doing 45 on the other machine! I thought something was wrong so I went back and did the original machine for a few more days.

Then I tried out a treadmill. That was another disaster. I couldn't even do 5 minutes of running at a similar pace on a treadmill. How the hell could I go from 45 minutes on one running machine to not even 5 on the other???? I realized that the machine I had been on was a very contrived exercise that didn't really work much of anything and that I really had no idea what I was doing in a gym when it came to proper procedure. At that point my confidence pretty much crashed and I stopped going to the gym altogether for several months.

Per ralst's suggestion I got Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe and have been reading it. I surprisingly like reading about the technical details of weight lifting. I've been going back to the gym and starting all over from the beginning, this time using a treadmill for cardio and doing almost only upper body strength.

My current treadmill workout is 2:3:3:2 -- two minutes of fast walking (speed setting 3.5), three minutes of fast running (8.5), three minutes of walking again (3.5) and then 2 minutes of fast running. I monitor my heart rate studiously each time and it kinda scares me. Two minutes of fast running will get my heart rate above 190 bpm (to the point where I definitely couldn't have a conversation with someone). By the end of the 3 minute break, my heart rate will be between 160-170 and I push it again to 190 in the first few seconds of the last 2 minute intense running session. Judging by my experience watching people run in gyms on treadmills, 10 minutes of speed setting 8.5 shouldn't get me to the point where I can't talk to someone. Yet 2 minutes on the treadmill does that to me! I'm going to keep doing the treadmill until I can do 10 minutes of nonstop intense running and use that as my warmup for the rest of this year at least.

Another confidence crasher in the past has been working out and seeing 0 results. This time around, since I'm focusing only on upper body, I'm essentially trying to generate results as quickly as possible just so I can get a boost of confidence. I'm using this pre-move time to learn the limits of my upper body so I can take that to my personal trainer at the new gym. I started doing 3 sets of benchpresses with 4 reps each with the most weight I could muster: 110 lbs. After watching a video online, I decided to do 12 reps / 3 sets / 70 lbs. Lately I've usually missed on the 10th or 11th rep on the last set. 70 lbs benchpressing sounds pretty pathetic but just look at my picture! :)

Anyway, I've been enjoying the minor results I've seen so far and the treadmill I think is a good way for me to get better at sports (which I've been playing more of) and a relatively easy way of measuring progress (like I did with the first arc running machine).

I'm still keeping at it! Expect more from me on this forum after I move. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:47 am 
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Elephant
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Hey jtp you mentionned worrying about other people on the treadmill and worrying about the weight on your bench press, there's really no need. I don't bother comparing myself to others; different people are better at certain exercises and are at different levels of fitness. What you need to do is measure your own progress (I'm not talking visible progress). Hell, if you can do one more rep, or lift even a tiny more amount of weight you're getting stronger (and/or fitter).

Couple of weeks ago I started the Stronglifts program, mostly compound exercises, 3 workouts a week. You start off 20kg (about 45lbs) for nearly all exercises, and every workout you add just 2.5kg (about 5lbs). Even though that's starting out at a ridiculously low weight, I'm getting time to work on technique and every workout I'm making progress in EVERY exercise - this is a massive confidence booster being able to add weight all the time. I'm still not doing 70lbs on the bench press (will be soon though).

Keep a training log, have a plan and stick to it.

You mentionned seeing 0 results. Over what time period are we talking here. What exercises were you doing. But most importantly, this is the thing that concerns me the most - you've barely mentionned nutrition at all! I take nutrition as seriously as working out, I get pissed more if I miss a meal, than if I make a stupid mistake/lack of effort during workout. Get your nutrition posted now! :D (and your exercise plan =] )

I saw virtually no results before I got my eating sorted out.

Looking forward to hearing back

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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 3:58 am 
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Quote:
You mentionned seeing 0 results. Over what time period are we talking here. What exercises were you doing. But most importantly, this is the thing that concerns me the most - you've barely mentionned nutrition at all!


We're talking about various half-assed attempts in the past of me going to the gym and having an awful diet. I never saw results in the past but now my nutrition is much better and my general education is much better now too. I still have a ways to go on diet though. What do you mean by "nutrition plan"? I've been watching the wonderfully cheesy YouTube coach you linked me to and he mentioned that, at my weight, I should be having about 23g of protein and 350 cal per meal multiplied by 6 meals per day. Is that what you meant or something more specific?

Quote:
I'm getting time to work on technique and every workout I'm making progress in EVERY exercise - this is a massive confidence booster being able to add weight all the time.


That's really interesting actually. I'm definitely going to pay more attention to my meals and try to make bigger batches. Just need to find a non-stick wok big enough now. :)

(it's 2am out here in California, I better get some sleep. :) )


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:20 am 
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Elephant
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Haha cool. All I meant by nutrition plan is what do you typically eat during the day and how frequently. At first I carefully calculated the split between carbs/protein/fat and all that stuff, but since I'm a beginner and I'm really trying to put on weight, all I care about now is calories (keeping it simpler so I stick to it). In a day I aim for between 3500-4000kcal. I'm eating tonnes of nuts (and peanut butter =D) and carbs (pasta/potatoes/rice/bread). Although my diet's got a lot more calories coming from fat/carbs, I'm still getting enough protein because of the sheer amount I'm eating for a skinny guy.

Give us an example of the meals/snacks you'll have in a typical day.

Cooking in bulk is always good =D Especially for folk like me who can't be fucked cooking any more than twice a day haha.

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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:17 am 
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chewybaws wrote:
Haha cool. All I meant by nutrition plan is what do you typically eat during the day and how frequently. At first I carefully calculated the split between carbs/protein/fat and all that stuff, but since I'm a beginner and I'm really trying to put on weight, all I care about now is calories (keeping it simpler so I stick to it). In a day I aim for between 3500-4000kcal. I'm eating tonnes of nuts (and peanut butter =D) and carbs (pasta/potatoes/rice/bread). Although my diet's got a lot more calories coming from fat/carbs, I'm still getting enough protein because of the sheer amount I'm eating for a skinny guy.

Give us an example of the meals/snacks you'll have in a typical day.

Cooking in bulk is always good =D Especially for folk like me who can't be fucked cooking any more than twice a day haha.


Oh my God, can I please have your face, eyebrows, and hair?

What?

Oh, sorry, my envy got the best of me for a minute there...

:(


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 Post subject: Re: Skinny 21 y/o vegan gaining weight and needing a little help
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:23 pm 
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chewybaws wrote:
Haha cool. All I meant by nutrition plan is what do you typically eat during the day and how frequently. At first I carefully calculated the split between carbs/protein/fat and all that stuff, but since I'm a beginner and I'm really trying to put on weight, all I care about now is calories (keeping it simpler so I stick to it). In a day I aim for between 3500-4000kcal. I'm eating tonnes of nuts (and peanut butter =D) and carbs (pasta/potatoes/rice/bread). Although my diet's got a lot more calories coming from fat/carbs, I'm still getting enough protein because of the sheer amount I'm eating for a skinny guy.

Give us an example of the meals/snacks you'll have in a typical day.

Cooking in bulk is always good =D Especially for folk like me who can't be fucked cooking any more than twice a day haha.

I don't keep a calorie-for-calorie count but I do try to watch my grams of protein. I try to have 40g or more of protein per day which I think is adequate considering I'm not doing full body exercises yet. Right now I usually have 3 meals a day and a snack, each meal probably about 1.5-2x the size of the smaller meals most body builders eat every day. The snack is usually an almond butter and jelly sandwich on whole gain complete protein locally made bread. I realize this is sub-par and am trying to get more meals in each day. When I move back to San Francisco I'll start full body exercises (with a personal trainer) and really focus on the nutrition.

How effective do you find pasta to be for energy? During my vegetarian years I went through a phase when I ate virtually nothing but pasta and, I have to say, it completely burned me out on it. I've had the same dried pasta and unopened pasta sauce sitting in my cupboard for probably 7 months -- I just never make it anymore.

Also, do you try to double up on olive oil when you cook? Do you care about healthy fats like olive oil or do you just focus on calories?


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