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  • Do Women Need Specialized Diets and Workouts? by Marcella Torres


    Derek Tresize and I have been working on a book about competition preparation as a vegan. The writing is nearly done, it's been edited and transcribed, and I need only to write the recipes for the meal plans! It includes all of the nitty-gritty details and calculations involved in preparing for a competition - mainly the mechanics of bulking and cutting with some contest tips - and so could be used by anyone with a physique goal to meet.

    As I've been sorting through this volume of information and reflecting on our own experience as a bodybuilding couple, it occurred to me that a point I've made several times in the text is a great one to share here with the Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness audience. It may be shocking or banal, depending on where you are in your fitness journey, but here it is: there are no special foods or special exercises for female athletes. The foods eaten and their quantity, the exercises included in workout routines - these things are determined solely by your goal as it relates to where you are currently and by your preferences. When we began preparing for the Naturally Fit Super Show eight months before the contest, I was 5'2, 129 pounds and had just had a baby, leaving me with a body fat level of 28%. Derek was 5'11 and 196 pounds with 8% body fat. Yet throughout our prep, we ate virtually the same meal plan, in different quantity, and performed very similar workout routines that included the same exercises, with different weights. At the end of our prep, I was 111 pounds and 12% body fat and Derek was 183 pounds and 3% body fat. Clearly, we did not need different food and exercises to arrive at our very different goals!

    Here's a comparison of one of the menus from our contest prep, for example:

    We eat almost entirely the same foods, but the volume is different. I had more fat to lose than Derek for the competition, so I didn't include high-fat pumpkin seeds in my snacks. I also needed to eat less calories overall (because I'm much smaller) so my portions of calorie-dense foods such as sweet potatoes and beans were smaller, while my portions of vegetables and fruit were about the same as Derek's. These slight differences were necessary, not because I'm female and he's male, but because I'm significantly smaller and my fat loss goal was greater and required a more drastic diet.

    Here's a comparison of the exercises, for a few body parts, that we included in our respective routines at around 12 weeks out from the show:

    My purpose in pointing this out is that a woman can use any meal plan or workout routine they desire, whether it was written by and for a man or not, and this is useful information because most of the free information out there is written by or about male athletes! The key lies in knowing how to take all of this free information, such as the meal plans and workouts each athlete shared in last year's Plant Built Muscle issue of Vegan Health and Fitness magazine , or any of Chad Byer's articles listed on this website, for example, and customize it to fit YOUR goals and your starting point. These calculations are covered in (at times excruciating) detail in our upcoming competition prep manual, and I will be sharing some of them in next month's article!

    Marcella Torres

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