Please note: This is Part II of a series of articles by Torre. To read/review Part I, please click here.
Now that we have gotten the "10 Things to Consider Before a Competition" out of the way (see part I of this series — link above), let's get to the preparation as a vegan. Remember, as a vegan you will be consuming lots of carbohydrates. Yes, that is right, all day everyday, even on "show day".
My daily routine involves eating 5-6 meals per day, and that is based upon how my body responds to what I put into it, and when. If I wait more than three hours between meals, I am starving; even meals two hours apart work for me. Similarly, you will need to determine what works best for your body.
Although most people reading this are probably vegan, I will still discuss where you can get whole food protein for your competition lifestyle.
Protein Sources (30-35%):
Carbohydrate Sources (40-45%):
- Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes
- Sprouted Grain Bread
- Brown/white rice
- Natural Peanut Butter
The above list of items is in no way meant to be all-inclusive. The beauty of an all plant-based diet is the plethora of choices there are to meet our personal nutritional requirements. Building your body is something I like to call "trial, error and solution". As you experiment with different means of nutrition and physical exercise, there will be errors that help you learn, which then lead to solutions.
Once you have your basic nutrition elements figured out, the next step is getting your body into the condition that will give you the competitive edge. There are so many programs out there to follow to get in shape. What you must determine is what kind of shape you are in right now and what kind of condition you want to be in when your competition date comes around.
Here are a couple of the ones I tend to stick with:
- PHAT (Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training) — Dr. Layne Norton
- Periodization training
I would encourage you to search these terms online to learn more about why I hold these training styles in such high regard.
When it comes to cardio as an aid to fat-burning, I tend to think this is based upon the individual's needs. Personally, I have been blessed with the gift of not having to do much cardio, if any at all, to stay lean (low body fat percentage), while some people have to do a more substantial amount of cardio to maintain a low body fat percentage. Also, based on my research, excessive cardio is not necessary, unless you are preparing for an endurance event, such as a marathon of some sort. A competition based solely upon the physical appearance does not require cardio 2-4 hours per day. Cardio sessions need not last longer than the amount of time you spend on weight training. My personal favorite type of cardio is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). I am a sprinter at heart. I would love to get out there and challenge my fellow "yard" man, Usain Bolt. J I may do sprints once per week or none at all... unless, of course, that vegan cheesecake calls my name, and then out to sprint I go. HIITs maximize fat-burning by creating a post-energy use after completion.
Now that you have the ground work for nutrition, training, and cardio, you might wonder what is next. Your next task is to find someone with experience to help you learn how to present your hard-earned physique to the judges so that they can see you were well prepared. A little caveat here: almost nothing bothers me more than to see competitors on stage not following the direction given to them by their trainers, or not having practiced like they should have, thereby not being able to properly show their physique off to the judges. Confidence is key and will come across on stage. You will stand out one way or the other — whether it be because you practiced and know "you've got this", or because you are doubtful and guilty of skipping a few posing practices. Remember to have fun, enjoy the experience, and OWN THE STAGE!
When it's all said and done, don't just leave with your trophy in your hand and treats on your mind. Always get feedback from the judges. Take in all the constructive (and not so constructive) criticism from the judges regarding your body, suit, posing and even division choice, but only hold onto what will help you be a better competitor in the future. Hopefully, the rush of being on stage and the reward of a job well done will only fuel you to go at it again with an even more fine-tuned, plant-built physique. Now, GO GET IT!