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    Growth Principles
    Courtesy of Muscle & Fitness Magazine
    February 28th, 2004
    Maximize your training with these 29 Weider Principles within the arsenal of Weider Training Principles is everything you need to know to achieve success in the gym. Developed by the Master Blaster himself, Joe Weider, the principles provide a common training language for bodybuilders worldwide. Beginners, intermediate, and advanced bodybuilders can use these principles to help plan a training cycle, arrange workouts and perform each exercise to its utmost muscle-building potential.

    To Design Your Regimen

    1. Cycle Training: Devote portions of your training year to specific goals for strength, mass or getting cut. This can help decrease your risk of injury and add variety to your routine. Cycle periods of high intensity and low intensity to allow for recovery and spur new gains.
    2. Eclectic Training: Incorporate a diverse selection of variables, such as set, rep and exercise schemes, in your workout. Bodypart routines should incorporate both mass-building, multi-joint movements and single-joint exercises.
    3. Instinctive Training: Experiment to help develop an instinct as to what works best for you. Use your training results along with past experiences to constantly fine-tune your program. Go on feel in the gym: If your biceps just don't feel like they've recovered from the last workout, do another bodypart that day instead.
    4. Muscle Confusion: Constantly change variables in your workout — number of sets, number of reps, exercise choice, order of exercise, length of your rest periods — to avoid getting in a rut and slowing growth.
    5. Set System: Perform multiple sets of each exercise to give the target muscle a more thorough workout for optimal growth.
    6. Split System: Divide bodyparts over multiple workouts so you can train individual muscle groups more completely and perform each workout with more intensity. A sample split: chest and triceps one day, legs the next, back and biceps the third workout, and shoulders and abs on day four.

    To Intensify Your Workout

    7. Continuous Tension: Don't allow a given muscle to rest at the top or bottom of the movement. Control both the positive and negative portions of a rep and avoid momentum to maintain constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.
    8. Flushing Training: Train one bodypart with multiple exercises (3-4) before you train another. The "flushing" is your body sending a maximum amount of blood to that area to best stimulate growth.
    9. Holistic Training: Use numerous training techniques (low and high reps, faster and slower speeds, and alternate exercises) to stimulate maximum muscle fibers. Don't always approach exercises with the same 6-10 repetition sets; try lightening the load and going for 20 reps in some training sessions to build endurance-related muscle fibers.
    10. Isolation Training: A technique designed to work individual muscles without involving adjacent muscles or muscle groups. A pressdown for triceps (rather than a close-grip bench press) is an example of an isolation movement.
    11. Iso-Tension: Between sets (or even between workouts), flex and hold various muscles for 6-10 seconds, keeping them fully contracted before releasing. Competitive bodybuilders use this to enhance their posing ability through increased muscle control.
    12. Muscle Priority: Hit your weakest bodypart first in a workout or body split, when you can train it with more intensity because your energy level is higher. Are your abs lagging? Do abs first in your workout instead of tacking them on as an afterthought.
    13. Peak Contraction: Squeeze your contracted muscle iso-metrically at the completion of a rep to intensify effort. Hold the weight in the fully contracted position for a moment — up to two seconds — at the top of an exercise.
    14. Progressive Overload: To continue making gains, your muscles need to work harder in a progressive manner from one workout to the next. During most of your training cycle, try to either increase your weights each session, do more reps or sets, or decrease your rest period between sets.
    15. Pyramid Training: Incorporate a range of lighter to heavier weights in each exercise. Start light with higher reps (12-15) to warm up the muscle, then gradually increase the weight in each successive set while lowering your reps (6-. You could also reverse the procedure — moving from high weight and low reps to low weight and high reps.

    To Shock Muscles into New Growth

    16. Burns: Continue a set past the point where you can lift a weight through a full or even partial range of motion with a series of rapid partial reps, for as long as your muscle can move the weight, even if only a few inches.
    17. Cheating: Use momentum (a slight swing of the weight) to overcome a sticking point as you fatigue near the end of a set. Doing heavy barbell curls, for example you might be able to do only eight strict reps to failure. A subtle swing of the weight or a slightly faster rep speed may help you get 1-2 additional reps. For advanced bodybuilders only.
    18. Compound Sets: Perform sets of two exercises for the same muscle back-to-back with no rest in between. For instance, when you train shoulders, do a set of dumbbell presses followed immediately by lateral raises.
    19. Descending Sets: After completing your reps in a heavy set, quickly strip an equal amount of weight from each side of the bar or select lighter dumbbells. Continue to do reps until you fail, then again strip more weight off to complete even more reps.
    20. Forced Reps: Have a training partner assist you with reps at the end of a set to help you train past the point of momentary muscular failure. Your training partner lifts the bar with just enough force to overcome the sticking point.
    21. Giant Sets: Four or more back-to-back exercise for one muscle group. 22. Partial Reps: Do reps involving only a partial range — at the top, in the middle or at the bottom — of a movement. This allows you to use a heavier weight than you cold normally lift in the full-range version of the exercise.
    23. Pre-Exhaustion: Pre-exhaust a muscle with a single-joint exercise before moving to a multi-joint movement. In leg training, you can start with leg extensions (which target the quads) before a set of squats (which also works the glutes and hamstrings).
    24. Rest-Pause: Take brief rest periods during a set of a given exercise to squeeze more reps out of a set. Use a weight you can lift for 2-3 reps, rest as long as 35-40 seconds, then try for another 2-3 reps. Take another brief rest and go again for as many reps as you can handle, and repeat one more time.
    25. Reverse Gravity: Resist the downward motion of a very heavy weight. For example, on the best press, use a weight that's 15%-25% heavier than you can typically handle and fight the negative as you slowly lower the bar to your chest. Have your partner assist with the positive portion. Also called negatives.
    26. Staggered Sets: Alternate sets for smaller bodyparts (calves, forearms, abs or traps) during training of a major bodypart such as chest, shoulders, or back. This is a good method to target a slow-responding bodypart without increasing your time in the gym.
    27. Supersets: Perform sets of two opposing muscle-group exercises back-to-back, with no rest in between. For example, superset biceps curls and triceps pressdowns, or leg extensions with leg curls.
    28. Super-Speed: When doing heavy sets, especially of compound movements, consciously drive the weight up with an explosive effort rather than lifting it in a more controlled, deliberate pace.
    29. Tri-Sets: Perform three consecutive exercises for one muscle group in nonstop sequence Guest

    Obesity is rampant in America, as most of us are well aware, as well as diabetes, cancer, and a slew of other illnesses. Without a doubt, you have someone in your family, a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, or possibly it's even you yourself, that is struggling with weight and a desire to feel vibrant and healthy. Everyone would love to feel truly alive and capable day in and day out, right? While working out helps burn calories and boost metabolism, what is the underlying issue in nearly every circumstance? Diet. Here I am going to give a few tips on healthy fats to include in your diet — no matter what your goals are. I'll include a dinner recipe and also offer my newest smoothie concoction that will cater to your sweet tooth, yet contains just a few basic, plant-based, nutrient dense ingredients.

    When I was in college chemistry classes (amongst countless meat eaters), the attention would inevitably turn to me whenever talk of protein consumption or balanced, healthy meals came up. At the end of the year, the class was divided up into groups, with each group assigned to prepare and bring a food dish for the end-of-the-year potluck. The catch was that each group's food item had to fit into an assigned category of one of the following: lipid, carbohydrate, or protein. My group was assigned lipids, and despite knowing that every fat is a lipid, yet not all lipids are fats, we chose to use avocados as our source of lipid. We opted for guacamole with onion, tomatoes, cilantro, lime, and pepper. It was basic, but it was the first dish gone in the class — and the only one I ate! Our instructor raved about some chocolate chip cookies that were made, but was sure to point out that of all the foods brought to class, the guacamole was the healthiest. So, why did I tell that story? Because, even in a class full of budding scientists/chemists, dietitians and nurses, there remained much confusion on what was truly healthy and why.

    We know avocados are a great source of fat, and to consume them in moderation, but what are some other really great sources of healthy fats? Flax seeds, chia seeds, and raw, unsalted nuts are my top choices. Raw nuts are better than roasted because the fats change in the roasting process (due to the heat/temperature), causing them to be higher in trans fats, which we should avoid. Flax and chia seeds are high in Omega-3s — the fats the FDA swears by, encouraging everyone to consume chicken eggs to obtain a balance in their diet. I really want to cover this thoroughly because I know a lot of vegetarians or people phasing out their consumption of animal products are torn on why eggs aren't good for their health and why they aren't included in a vegan diet. The argument often comes up that eggs can be purchased from a local, organic, grain-fed, free-range farm and the animals aren't harmed during the process.

    I also want to talk about the “local, organic, free-range” spiel: I respect and admire those who can buy all local, organic ingredients, as it truly is better for the environment than accruing food miles by buying food from other countries and so forth. Unfortunately, buying any kind of animal product, or byproduct, directly adds to the methane problem at hand. Furthermore, a quick debriefing on “free-range” chickens — they are still in confinement, unless the farm is a very small, local farm, the chickens are trapped in 2 sq. ft. cages. Now then, the act of buying any life form, it is hierarchy to put a dollar value on a life, and who truly has that power? Lastly, did you know? Eggs contain 187mg of cholesterol and 8% of saturated fat? But, the food guidelines say not to consume more than 300mg of cholesterol in a day! If someone eats two eggs a day, they're already over their daily intake limit. My suggestion? Nix the eggs and go for the seeds and nuts.

    My favorite way to eat chia and flax seeds is in smoothies because they blend up well, and create a gelatin-type consistency when they hit liquid — which is why they are perfect for baking and replacing eggs! Raw nuts are delicious by themselves, but if you're like me and you enjoy nut butter on a rice cake or in your oatmeal, raw cashew or almond butter is a perfect solution.

    While there are of course other categories to cover, I feel like fats are the most misconstrued and confused food group, and I hope I was able to shed some light on them for you to use and apply to your next grocery shopping trip!

    I love Thai food, but eating out is costly and high in fats and salt, and can be tricky to be sure they get your order just right if it's not a vegan restaurant. “Can I have the pineapple fried rice with no egg, no shrimp paste or fish sauce, with tofu and veggies, please?” It's just a gamble we can avoid by recreating our favorite dishes at home.

    Here is my version of pineapple fried rice sans concern for possible animal consumption:

    Brown jasmine rice-prepared as package states, with 1-3 star anise
    Green lentils- same as rice cooking instructions. I seasoned with cumin, ginger, & turmeric

    While these are on the stovetop, dice up your veggies. I used bell pepper, onion, garlic cloves, cherry tomatoes, fresh pineapple, and, if you're carb loading or not on a strict meal plan, sweet potatoes (these will also need to be on the stove top to soften while boiling for a bit)

    Blanch the onion and garlic with water and seasoning, then add rice and lentils and other veggies to the pan, add water as it “fries” up! Squeeze fresh lime on top and eat up!

    Dark Smoothie:
    Frozen banana
    Carob or raw dark cacao nibs
    Nut milk
    Vanilla powder and cinnamon
    2-3 dates
    1-2 scoops of Vega Mango Smoothie powder
    Deliciously healthy, and not nearly as much of a guilty pleasure as say a non-dairy ice cream or vegan cupcake!

    Mindy Collette

    How do I get rid of my Gut?
    October 8th, 2003

    I have always been kind of big, in high school I was a lineman in football. At one time I weighed 198 and I am only 5'9". Now I hover around 175, but it is more fat than muscle these days. At this point I am most concerned with getting rid of my gut. What kind of exercise/diet do you recommend? Should I adopt a diet similar to your competition diet, at least temporarily?

    Karl S, Amarillo,TX

    Thank you for your question. I think I'll be able to help you out. I came from opposite direction. I was always small, but then when I got into college in Salt Lake City, UT, I started to get a bit of a gut. I only had it temporarily and then started my fitness-turned bodybuilding programs.

    This is how I would approach your mid-section trimming program:

    First of all I would set a goal. Not just something that you hope for or that you tell a few people about. Set a goal as specific as possible. Give exact numbers whether we're talking inches you want to lose, pounds you will shed, pants you'll fit in, whatever the case may be, make it specific. Have a starting and ending date for when you'll begin and achieve your specific desired results. Write it down, tell people who are close to you, make sure you stay on your toes and have a supporting cast who will also be checking in on your progress. If it helps, cut out a photo of someone with ripped abs to use as motivation and pick out an inspiring quote or two to help light the fire to keep your training and nutrition programs on course.

    Speaking of training and nutrition, let's talk about it. You don't need to adopt a pre-contest diet, but you can extract certain aspects of contest preparation to achieve results. I have some photos from early 2003 at nearly 200 pounds and some photos look like I have an awesome gut. Then I prepared for my contest and had abs sticking out, which was my goal. I had specific dates and I worked hard to do it. Now here are some of the things that I would suggest you extract from my "pre-contest" program:

    I would focus on abdominal exercises as well as full-body training. I would make sure that your workouts stay quick and intense. Keep sweating and burning calories throughout instead of long rest periods between sets. When I'm preparing for a contest, or getting lean, instead of resting after a completed set, I hop on the floor and do some crunches. I'll also do them on a bench or an ab machine, something convenient and nearby that will work on the abs while your primary muscle group can rest from the set.

    Another suggestion would be to do a 15-25 minute warm-up instead of 5-10 min to get more cardio in, burn more calories, etc. I'd also do 20 minutes on the bike or stair-stepper after your workout as well, a perfect time for some cardio when trying to get lean.

    Also if you plan on working abs as well as other muscle groups that day, start with abs so they get hit when they're fresh. Remember that "speed" isn't always the best when doing crunches or sit-ups. Try to feel the muscles working and perform the exercise at a pace that gets the best muscle contractions. Also don't limit yourself to just sit-ups, you can do cable-crunches, hanging leg raises, decline sit-ups, weighted sit-ups, side crunches, bicycle crunches, and use abdominal machines.

    Don't forget about the rest of the body, it's great to work the mid-section when trying to get rid of a gut, but work the whole body with a 4 or 5-day split, or whatever works for you based on your current program and daily schedule.

    Diet....cut out a lot of processed foods, eat a lot of natural healthy foods. You can cut out some carbs, but you don't have to go too low. Remember that if you're doing a lot of cardio and having intense workouts with longer warm-ups, it allows you to consume a lot of more carbs since you're burning them off. So don't go hungry just watch some of the vegan junk food. Keep the protein high to build muscle while you're training, with moderate fat intake.

    Drink a lot of water, a gallon a day if you can. This can be hard to do, but it's great for better cell nutrition and for carrying nutrients to all parts of your body, fighting off dehydration, and helping your build the kind of physique you want.

    Take notes on your progress, notice what's working for you and what isn't working as well as you had hoped. Make some changes if need be but not too soon. Give yourself a few weeks of a certain aspect of your nutrition or training program before you ax it and say it doesn't work.

    Best of luck to you Karl. If you like, feel free to check out some of the "clean foods" I was eating during my contest prep and add a few of those to your diet.

    You'll be lean in no time and forget that you even had a gut.

    Take care,

    Big Rob
    Robert Cheeke

    How do you Create your Training Schedule
    May 22nd, 2003

    What is your current training split and what factors determine how you
    select your training schedule?

    Right now I am following a four-day training split. On this website I focus on training five days per week, but because of other factors I currently follow a four-day split to allow more recovery time.

    My schedule looks something like this:

    Day 1 Back and calves
    Day 2 Chest and biceps and abs
    Day 3 REST
    Day 4 Shoulders and triceps
    Day 5 Legs and abs
    Day 6 REST
    Day 7 Cardio (no weights) 25-60 minutes and abs

    I believe that outside factors can affect how many days a week you train. I am perfectly comfortable training five days a week when I am not doing a lot of physical work outside of weight training. At the present time, I am doing construction work, manual labor, massages, and other physical activities that interfere with my recovery time. If I were to continue training five days per week with my outside activities, I would end up overtraining, inhibiting muscle growth and maximum results.

    I often train by myself but I think a partner can be beneficial. When possible I train with Jordan Baskerville, the friend who introduced me to bodybuilding years ago. Like most people, we both have very busy schedules, commitments to non-bodybuilding events and activities, and don't always end up at the gym together. Training partners can assist in your ability to perform extra reps and going to complete muscle failure, motivate you to train harder, and share their training philosophies with you. By no means is a “bodybuilding” gym a place to socialize, so make sure your training partner is there to “help” you and not just to talk about current events.....save that for your wellness club sauna room.

    As I am currently preparing for some summer contests, my nutrition program is more important than my training. I'm still performing the same style of training as I am in the off season, but instead of resting for a minute or so between sets, I complete a set of abdominal exercises like sit-ups on a nearby bench. I also warm up for 25 minutes instead of 5-10 minutes. As I get closer to the contests I will increase my cardio significantly, adjust my nutrition program and alter my training program slightly. I will begin to do more reps with a little bit lighter weight and in the final days before the show I will perform total body workouts, rather than my typical one or two muscle groups per session.

    That is my current routine. These are some things to keep in mind in general. Determine what your outside of training activities are, and if you are getting enough sleep and rest. Avoid training with weights for more than three days in a row without a full day of rest, and be sure to follow a sound nutritional program to gain the most out of your hard work in the gym.

    Big Rob
    Robert Cheeke

    How I Got Started in Bodybuilding
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th 2004

    Ever since I was a little kid, I was fascinated with larger than life muscle Gods like He-Man and professional wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior. I was always small and skinny. Genetically, my little brothers, my older sister, and I were all tiny. I was often the smallest guy in my class in grade school and at the age of 14, I only weighed 89 pounds.

    Since the age of eight, all I ever wanted to do in my life was to become a professional wrestler. I absolutely lived for pro wrestling and was determined to work for the World Wrestling Federation. By age ten, I started wrestling through a program at Oregon State University. I walked into my first Gold's Gym at age 14 and lifted off and on in high school. I picked up wrestling again in high school, and at age 17, I weighed 133 pounds. I always had lots of muscle definition and vascularity but no size at all. I graduated high school weighing 153 pounds. I was so into muscles that my senior picture in the yearbook has me with my shirt off hitting a "most muscular" pose.

    After high school, I competed in Bill Phillips' Body-For-LIFE Challenge and gained 19 pounds over 12 weeks. I finished at a solid 176 pounds. The main reason why I experienced gains were because of my meal frequency combining protein, carbs, and water with each meal, number of total meals, grams of protein, calories, supplementation, and intensity & consistency of my workouts.

    After I completed the Body-For-LIFE program, I moved back to Oregon and met up with one of my best friends, Jordan Baskerville. He introduced me to my first FLEX Magazine. He showed me images of guys I had never heard of: Shawn Ray, Lee Priest, and others. I decided that bodybuilding would help me get a job with the World Wrestling Federation so I began training again. I got as close as you can get to being hired by the WWF (now WWE). I had phone calls from their corporate office saying they were really interested in hiring me, etc....but at the last minute it didn't work out. Therefore, I decided that I would put wrestling behind me and focus on bodybuilding, my new passion.

    I moved to Phoenix, AZ and I met Troy Alves, now IFBB Pro Bodybuilder. Troy was a really nice and outgoing guy and he became my personal trainer. In March, I flew Jordan out from Oregon to Arizona and we had a training session with Troy. The next day we headed to Columbus, OH for the Arnold Classic. We arrived at the airport and met Jay Cutler and Aaron Maddron when we got off the plane. The three-day fitness festival at the 2001 Arnold Classic was perhaps the greatest event I had ever been to. I had the opportunity to meet: Arnold Swartzenegger, Frank Zane, Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Lee Priest, Nasser El Sonbaty, and everyone else I was hoping to meet. Over the three days, Nasser became my favorite pro bodybuilder. He was the most fun person to hang out with, would talk to Jordan and I for a long time, sign many autographs for us, and took many photos with us. Other people I really enjoyed meeting were Mike Matarazzo, Gunter Schlierkamp, Flex Wheeler, and Jay Cutler.

    After the Arnold Classic, I decided I wanted to be a bodybuilder too. I told Nasser that he would see me on the big stage in seven years. The next time I saw him at the USA Championships in Las Vegas, he reminded me that I had 6.5 years left. After the USA Championships, I went to lots of amateur NPC and INBF shows. The next pro show I went to was the 2002 San Francisco Grand Prix. I continue to follow the pros as well as any amateur show that is within driving distance.

    I have done well in my short time with bodybuilding, including media exposure in FLEX Magazine and Natural Bodybuilding & Fitness Magazine. After my magazine articles came out about Vegan Bodybuilding, I knew it was time for me to start my own company called Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. Everything is going well, I look forward to a bright future in bodybuilding, and hopefully someday I will be able to write to the World Wrestling Federation and ask them, "How do you like me now?"
    Robert Cheeke

    How much do Mental Factors
    play into achieving a Great Physique?
    June 30th, 2003
    I understand that nutrition and training are the most important factors in achieving a great body, but how much do you think the mental aspects like dedication, discipline, and hard work have to do with giving someone an extra edge?

    Shawn M.
    Victoria, B.C. Canada

    Great question Shawn, and you're asking the right person. I am a huge believer in the mental aspects of training to set myself apart from other bodybuilders.

    My first experiences with the mental power approach to training were back in 2000 when I competed in the Body-for-LIFE Program designed by Bill Phillips. Bill suggested that we aim to achieve "high points," the point at which you cannot do another repetition no matter what. I remember achieving great results using that method as well as creating memories in the gym of some of my "best lifts." Those are accomplished when you know you've given everything, more than 100% and you got that last rep up even if it took 20 seconds in the ascending portion of the movement.

    When you accept the "never give up" or "need to succeed" mental approach to training it gives you an edge because you will push yourself harder than others. Therefore you will recruit more muscle fibers as you complete the final reps of the exercise, and stimulate more growth. If getting lean is your goal, you will do more cardio with more intensity and purpose than others just going through the motions to burn off a few calories (when they're going home to eat cake anyway). You will also have the ability to stick to a strict diet, understanding the sacrifices necessary to be the best.

    I remember that the most dedicated and mentally focused time of my bodybuilding life was in 2001 when I lived in Arizona. I was determined to accomplish goals I had set for myself. I used every tool that I talk about all over this website. I got up early in the morning and trained before work. I wrote down everything that I ate to calculate what I was bringing into my body. I rejected invitations to hang out with friends in order to stay home, consume food, and get enough sleep. When I trained in the gym, it was with an intensity that left me almost crying when it was over, and vomiting on occasion from leaving absolutely everything I had in the gym. I sought advice from other bodybuilders who had achieved what I was still working hard for. I took criticism and used it as fuel for motivation. It was a time when I wrote 82 of my own motivational quotes. It was the first time that I contacted magazines to feature me as a vegan bodybuilder. It was a time when I achieved many high points and some of the best workouts I ever had. It was also a time when I met bodybuilders for the first time. Troy Alves was the first and became my trainer. Jay Cutler was next and became my friend. Nasser El Sonbaty was the one who encouraged me to become a successful bodybuilder, and many other memories were creat ed that year with Mike Matarazzo, Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman, and other pros that influenced the life changes that have made me the Most Recognized Vegan Bodybuilder In The World today.

    My life was full of motivation, inspiration and a mental edge that kept me training hard and following a sound nutrition program.

    I talk about 2001 as being my most mentally focused time in my bodybuilding career. It probably was, but don't get me wrong. I am very mentally alert, aware, and driven today; I'm just a bit smarter. I mentioned the great things about 2001, but I didn't mention the injuries and illnesses that came with pushing myself beyond 100% of what I was capable of doing. I suffered multiple injuries to my back, shoulders, and biceps from over training. I was almost too determined back then and even ended up in the hospital one day.

    I learned many things from that experience. I learned a lot about myself and what I'm capable of doing when I set goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them. I met and exceeded many goals in 2001 that I am very proud of. I also learned to set limits on what is too extreme and could be counter productive. For example, I would often stay up very late at night just to consume extra amounts of protein and calories. I would eat until it hurt and I could not eat anymore. That affected the amount of sleep I was able to get, in a negative way, as well as upset my stomach and my mood. I would get angry with myself if I didn't consume a pre-determined amount of food that day. I learned that bodybuilding is just one aspect of life. I ended relationships to focus more on bodybuilding and lost contact with friends because I was "married to the gym" and did not want any outside distractions.

    Today, I am very determined, motivated, and ambitious. I use my mentally tough ability to push myself hard in the gym, and my understanding of dedication to follow a great nutrition program, but I am logical and realistic about other aspects that can become obsessive and counter-productive. I train hard, smart, and believe that this year I'll be in my best shape ever.

    The most successful bodybuilders in history were the ones who knew exactly what they wanted and did everything right to get where they wanted to be. Jay Cutler is one of them. Refer to my Cut Above article to see what separates Jay from the rest of the crowd.

    In conclusion, I'd like to say that you should challenge yourself to take accept the "never give up" attitude in the gym and experience what it feels like to give 100% into each rep, each set, of each workout. Just don't go beyond 100% or you could end up in the hospital, and no goal is worth achieving, if that is where you'll be after attaining it. Use the discipline to know that you need to eat a certain amount at certain times but don't lose sleep over it and don't let it affect your attitude and your relationships with people.

    Good luck with your training, try new things, and when you get frustrated or feel like giving up, find an inspirational quote and a body you dream of having and post them on your wall. Look at them and ask yourself if you're willing to make the sacrifices it takes to drive you to the next level and separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

    Thank you for your question. I hope you got something out of my response.

    Big Rob Robert Cheeke

    How to be a good nutritionist
    by Amanda Clary 2010

    There are good schoolteachers and bad schoolteachers; there are goodpolice and bad police; and there are good nutritionists and badnutritionists. Before you set out on a career as a nutritionist, considerthese tips for becoming one of the best and most respected nutritionistsin your field.

    1. Get the right education. Don't be fooled by sub-standard schoolsoffering degrees that are basically worthless. Since the first step inbecoming a nutritionist is to earn a Bachelor's degree in dietetics or nutrition, start by finding a reputable schools.

    The first thing to check when investigating a school is its accreditation.
    To earn a degree that will lead to a successful career as a nutritionist, you need to find a school accredited by an organization recognized by theUS Department of Education.

    2. Pursue an advanced degree. After you've been working in the field for acouple of years, consider going back to school to earn a Master degree oreven a Ph. D. in nutrition. An MS or Ph. D. will broaden and deepen yourknowledge, and it will also open doors for you leading to greater careeropportunities.

    3. Keep expanding your education. Whether you pursue an advanced degree ornot, a good nutritionist needs to stay on top of the latest research andnutrition theories.

    Since taking continuing education courses is generally required to
    maintain your nutritionist's license, take courses that will help you to
    continue to grow professionally.

    4. Keep an open mind. Science is finding out new things about the humanbody, the human mind, and the interaction between the quality of life,diseases, and mood with diet almost every day.

    As such, the paradigm for what constitutes the healthiest diet, or the
    best foods to heal diseases naturally, is changing constantly. Keep an
    open mind as you work in the nutrition field, and explore these new ideasso that you can bring what you learn to your clients.

    5. Practice what you preach. A great irony in the health field is that
    health care workers are notoriously bad about taking care of their own

    Respiratory therapists sometimes take cigarette breaks between caring forpatients with emphysema; cardiologists are sometimes overweight, evenwhile they advise heart attack victims to change their lifestyle habits.

    If you really want to help the clients that you work with, put your ownnutrition advice into practice. Then your advice will come from your ownexperience, and you will be far more likely to really make a difference inthe lives of the people you advise.

    About the Author

    Amanda Clary writes a non commercial blog focused on her experience onhelping her family and friends to eat healthy. She is a "Nutritionist forHobby" and writes on the holistic nutrition certification blog to help people learn how toget certified and learn all the aspects related to this job (Skills,requisites, everyday problems, upgrading, etc...).
    Amanda Clary

    When many aspiring bodybuilders and athletes think of bulking up, countless hours in the gym and lifting max reps of heavy weights come to mind. Little do they know that nutrition is equally important in the mass building equation and that foods consumed directly correlate to muscle gains from intense workouts.
    Whether you're a meat-eater or a vegan, the process of building muscle is essentially the same in terms of nutrient and caloric intake. It all boils down to determining your optimal macronutrient ratios based on your fitness goals and balancing your diet with the appropriate amount of protein, carbs, fats, and calories.
    Here we break down the basics of how to build mass on a vegan diet to eat healthier than ever before and get in the best shape of your life.
    The Basics of Building Mass
    In theory, building mass is simple: take in more calories and protein than you burn metabolically and during workouts. Through intense weight training, you create a demand for more muscle. Bu then you actually start to get bigger and stronger during rest periods when you allow your body to fully heal and recover.
    Researchers who conducted a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that resistance training creates larger increases in skeletal muscle size than in fat free mass; however, muscle size does not occur uniformly in the body. The conclusion was that the distribution of muscle size and total muscle mass are important for evaluating the effects of total body resistance training on muscle size. A separate study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology confirmed that resistance training is required for any training program aimed at building muscle mass and it is most effective for lean body mass gains.
    All About Macros
    Many people are confused by macros and especially how athletes can get their macros on a vegan diet. Bodybuilders and physique competitors have perfected the math of counting macros, which just means tracking the grams of protein, carbs, and fats consumed each day. Proteins, carbs, and fats are all macronutrients, and each has a crucial role in the body.
    Protein helps build muscle and prevent muscle loss, while carbs are stored in the muscles, liver, blood, and brain for energy. Contrary to popular belief, fat is not the enemy because this essential nutrient facilitates vitamin absorption, hormone regulation, and even brain function.
    Meanwhile, calories fuel the body with energy, but that's a separate calculation entirely. Counting calories may help you lose weight but not gain mass, and that's where macros come into play.
    Factors that affect your macro calculation are your age, gender, weight, BMI, and activity level. The macronutrient breakdown for a bodybuilder or anyone looking to gain mass should look something like this: 50 percent of calories from carbs, 30 percent of calories from protein, and 20 percent of calories from fats. Compared to an average active person, this breakdown has more calories coming from protein and fats and fewer from carbs. If you want to build muscle on a vegan diet and bulk up from 210 pounds to 220 pounds, for example, start with one gram of protein per pound of body weight and try to consume 220 grams of protein each day.
    Meeting Protein Needs with Plants
    Not only do dietary proteins help build mass, but they also support the growth of body tissues, synthetize enzymes, repair muscle damage, and provide energy. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, determined that eating three to six meals per day with each meal containing 0.4-0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight before and after weight training maximizes gains at the gym. Another study from researchers at McMaster University found that the test group consuming more protein experienced greater muscle gains by about 2.5 pounds, while the lower protein group did not gain muscle mass.
    Vegan alternatives to whey protein are pea and soy proteins. Some plant-based nutrition companies produce customized mixed plant and grain proteins designed to build mass. A Sports Medicine study determined that protein supplementation can enhance muscle mass and performance when paired with frequent workouts and when paired with adequate nutrition balance through food.
    It's easy to get wrapped up in protein needs when you're trying to bulk up, but a balance of carbs, fats, and calories is just as important. Vegans sometimes have trouble getting enough calories to compensate for calories lost in intense workouts. But to build mass with vegan macros, you have to pay special attention to calorie intake.
    Try experimenting with the number of calories that you consume, because this will be a major factor in terms of mass gain. Ultimately, fewer calories equals reduced mass gain, but increased calories could mean an increase in body fat if you're not eating the right macro/calorie ratio.
    Meat-Free Foods to Build Mass
    With the right knowledge and a little guidance, it's easy to add mass-building foods to your training diet without meat. There are many plant-based foods packed with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates that can help you bulk up. Athletes can be more efficient with their meals by choosing foods that contain multiple macronutrients.
    One great example is quinoa, which contains nine amino acids that the body can't produce on its own and complex carbs for enhanced energy. Legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils, are rich in protein, fiber, potassium, iron, magnesium, and folate. An added bonus is that legumes boost insulin response and enhance nutrient absorption, which are both essential for muscle growth.
    Nuts are another important part of a vegan diet because they're packed with protein, calories, fiber, and healthy fats. Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach contain vitamins, calcium, and folic acid to enhance muscle concentration, and fruits build muscle with a nice mix of complex carbs, fiber, and minerals.
    Supplementation is a way of life for many athletes and bodybuilders looking to gain mass, and there are some great plant-based protein powders on the market that are perfect for vegans. With an optimal mix of protein and carbs, pre-workout protein shakes support muscle growth, prevent muscle weakness, and lessen the risk of muscle breakdown.
    Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies
    One thing that vegan athletes and bodybuilders need to be especially careful of while training is nutrient deficiencies. Vitamin B-12, which is needed for blood formation and cell division, is a cause of concern because plant foods don't contain it except when contaminated by microorganisms or are fortified with vitamin B12.
    Fortunately, vitamin B12 is added to many vegan products, like nutritional yeast, and vegan-friendly supplements are available too. Other common deficiencies among vegans include calcium, vitamin D, and iron, but these can typically be remedied with natural vegan foods like broccoli, spinach, kale, almonds, and fortified oatmeal.
    Sample Vegan Meal Plans
    The creator of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, Robert Cheeke, has put together some no-nonsense meal plans based on his experiences and observations as a competitive and champion vegan athlete. Six meals spaced out over the course of the day is the best way to continuously fuel your hardworking body with the macros it needs to be competitive.
    One of Cheeke's meal plans, for example comes out to 4,300 calories, 175 grams protein, 675 grams carbs, and 100 grams fats. This is a nice macro ratio for an average 180-pound man looking to build mass; however, the percentages per day should vary depending on how intense your workout is and the meal plan you chose for that particular day.
    No one ever said that building mass was easy, but it's just as easy on a vegan diet as a meat-based one if you have the dedication, focus, and commitment.

    Chris Willitts is the founder of VegetarianBodybuilding.com and a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness, Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine, and Natural Muscle Magazine.

    Chris Willitts

    Over the twenty years that I have been a vegan athlete, I've realized that many people know what foods they want to avoid when they decide to become vegan, but they're often unsure about the foods to eat to thrive as a vegan athlete. An obvious first step is to avoid eating animal products, but what to replace them with becomes the mission to conquer. Many animal products are made up of 1500-3000 calories per pound, whereas most plant foods contain 200-600 calories per pound. Naturally, there will be questions about what to eat to replace animal foods in order to maintain your current weight, build muscle, and burn fat on a vegan diet. My goal here is to provide many answers, listing specific types of foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, while also sharing what a typical day of plant-based eating looks like for me.

    Furthermore, I'll explain why animal-based foods are not the best sources of protein, calcium, and essential fats, and reveal why they are not really even very good sources of nutrition. For example, plant foods contain 64 times more antioxidants than animal-based foods, fiber is only found in plants, cholesterol is essentially only found in animal products, and leafy green vegetables are pound-for-pound the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat. Plant foods are vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant-rich, as well as hydrating and mostly alkaline-forming. Animal foods tend to have a lot of baggage besides all the environmental destruction, pain, suffering, and slaughter that come along with them, such as cholesterol, often saturated fat, acid-forming protein, and the ability to damage our artery walls and create plaque build-up inside our blood vessels.

    As you're creating a nutrition program based on your individual health and fitness goals, you will be happy to learn that plant foods contain the best sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, fatty acids, and hydration, coming from fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, and legumes. This reality puts you in a position to be successful, so now you just need to know how to put the meal plans together.

    The following will provide some helpful direction as you solve the puzzle of what to eat, in what quantities, and when to eat it. A general rule to follow is to consume six meals a day, eating every three hours or so. This will keep your body constantly nourished and will help you avoid under-eating, overeating, and help you maintain a productive metabolism. It will also ensure you are fueled to workout essentially anytime. Plan this into your meal preparations so you have meals prepared in advance and have access to high levels of nutrition any time of day, regardless of where you are. Keeping whole fruits and vegetables and nut and seed bars with you is an effective way to have healthy fast food while living a busy life on the go. I rarely go anywhere without packing snacks to take with me, consisting of bananas, apples, oranges, berries, fruit and nut bars, and other whole foods. Even while eating six meals a day, approximately every two to three hours, your digestive system will still get a break while you rest and during sleep. I tend to go 10 to 12 hours without eating anything between my last meal of the night and my first meal the following day. I also only eat about three large meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and three snacks, so those smaller snack meals are digested much more quickly and easily. The whole idea is that you don't go hungry and you have enough energy to get through your day, including your workouts, with enthusiasm, feeling energized and fueled, and not tired, hungry or lethargic.

    If you consume adequate caloric quantities based on your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), you should be able to put on mass, increase muscle, and build strength. You can also get shredded by knowing the proper nutrition approaches to follow, and by implementing them. A low-fat nutrition program will likely keep your body fat low. A high-energy nutrition program will keep your energy high. A diverse and calorically sufficient nutrition program will help you recover from exercise efficiently and build muscle. It really can be that easy. I've been doing it for twenty years and knowing that you essentially have control of your health and fitness outcomes, based on the actions you do or do not take, is empowering.

    First, you'll need to establish how many calories you are burning per day by using a Harris-Benedict calculator (search for it online). Based on your age, gender, height, weight, and (very importantly) activity level, you will find out how many calories you'll need to consume to maintain weight. Given this data you can figure out how many calories you'll need to consume to lose weight, gain muscle, or stay the same. By doing so, you can construct your meal plans according to your goals, based on real, tangible data designed to support your endeavors in a measurable way.

    Some categories of foods to consume based on their nutritional impact include:

    Fruits — Great for snacks and pre-workout fuel and for energy in general

    Greens — Excellent for micronutrients, fiber, and for overall nutrition

    Vegetables — Great for snacks, for main courses, for overall nutrition and variety

    Legumes — Heavy base for filling meals, satiating, and calorie dense

    Grains — Filling and calorie dense, especially good with legumes

    Nuts/Seeds — Great source of calories and essential fats; quick easy snack

    Starches (certain dense vegetables, grains, legumes) — Great as main courses A helpful tip is to prepare large quantities of specific staple foods to last for multiple days. This will save you time and money in the long run and allow more time for exercising, stretching, working, spending time with family, or whatever activities you prioritize. Some of those staple foods include:
    Brown rice
    Nut and seed trail mix
    Having some of these prepared staples, plus lots of fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, makes it easy to prepare filling meals any time.

    Additionally, having accessory foods such as avocado, hummus, olives, mushrooms, spreads, dips, and other foods that often get included into snacks or main courses, will help enhance the variety and flavor of meals you prepare. You'll want these items to be oil-free when possible since oil is pure fat at 4,000 calories per pound!
    Good Breakfast Options
    Green smoothie
    Fruit smoothie
    Miso soup with greens
    Steamed greens
    Brown rice
    Breakfast burrito
    Breakfast wrap
    Good Snack Options
    Flax crackers
    Dried fruit
    Prepared food leftovers
    Avocado rolls
    Fresh vegetable wraps/soft spring rolls
    Almond butter or other nut butters
    Fruit, nut and seed trail mix
    Homemade whole-food bars
    Green salad
    Fruit salad
    Good Lunch Options
    Starches (beans, lentils, brown rice, potatoes)
    Green salad
    Fresh salad rolls
    Avocado rolls/plant-based sushi
    Hummus wrap
    Burrito bowl
    International foods including plant-based friendly options from Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mexican, Japanese, North African, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisine
    Good Dinner Options
    Starches (beans, lentils, brown rice, potatoes)
    Green salad
    Stuffed bell peppers
    Portobello mushrooms
    Plant-based burgers, wraps, burritos, or other whole foods
    All-you-can-eat plant-based buffets (Indian, Mediterranean)
    International foods including plant-based friendly options from Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Japanese, North African, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine

    Sample Meal Plans
    The following are sample meal plans from my personal experiences. All of the meal plans are made up exclusively from whole plant foods and are primarily common allergen-free as well. They are nutrient-dense focused on high net gain nutrition, not total calories at all costs, like many athletes are used to consuming.

    These meal plans are designed to be guidelines and examples. Chances are good that these meal plans will yield more nutrition than you are currently consuming because they don't have refined or processed foods, fillers, or empty calories and are very nutrient-dense. You can follow them exactly, or you can alter them based on your own food preferences, the foods you have access to, based on your own unique health and fitness goals. You may require more or fewer calories based on your BMR, and ultimately based on your very specific goals, which you established when you determined your total caloric expenditure using the Harris-Benedict calculator. You are also advised to consult your own nutritionist, physician, or health expert before starting a new nutrition program inspired by the suggestions in this article.

    There will be numerous samples containing a variety of foods from international entrees to exotic fruits, to very common foods you'll find in essentially any major metropolitan grocery store worldwide. I hope you find some meal plans that resonate with you, and that provide a baseline from which to work as you formulate your nutritional approach to achieve your goals. Be forewarned that some meal plans are deceptively simple. That is by design. Good nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. It can still be exotic, full of flavor and incredibly satisfying, but it can also be amazingly practical, simple, and effective. I tend to focus on the latter. I am not a chef, I am not a foodie, and I am not a culinary expert, but I do know how to fuel my body to achieve the results I am looking for, be it fat-loss, muscle gain, or something else like strength gain, or incredible endurance. It doesn't mean I don't appreciate plant-based culinary delights, but that is not the foundation for which my nutritional desires are based, and I am going out on a limb to assume it's not for most of you either. Whatever your nutritional desires, I hope you find some of the following sample meal plans to be helpful, even if they are deceptively simple.
    This is what a typical day looks like for me:
    Sample Meal Plan #1
    A few pieces of whole fruit
    A bowl of oats with berries and walnuts
    A few pieces of whole fruit
    Vegetables and hummus
    International cuisine such as Thai, Indian, or Mexican
    Small green salad
    A few pieces of whole fruit
    A fruit, nut and seed bar
    Potatoes, lentils, beans, brown rice, quinoa or other starchy complex carbohydrate food
    Green salad
    International cuisine
    A few pieces of whole fruit
    A fruit and nut bar
    Sample Meal Plan #2
    A green smoothie made from green leafy vegetables, water, and fruit
    Bowl of oats with berries and walnuts
    2 whole-food snack bars
    Plant-based sushi (avocado and vegetables rolls)
    Cucumber salad
    A few pieces of whole fruit
    Sweet potato wedges
    Burrito bowl: Brown rice, pinto beans, black beans, avocado, lettuce, tomato, olives, peppers, salsa
    Green salad
    Bowl of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries
    Banana dipped in almond butter
    The usual variations include more salad greens as snacks, foods such as potatoes as snacks or primary meals, a variety of nuts and seeds, exotic fruits, and additional types of international foods, which tend to be a favorite, especially for dinner. I traditionally keep potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, brown rice, and quinoa as my foundational staples and include salad greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds and complimentary foods that add flavor, texture, variety and nutrition to the main courses of my meals. Most of my snacks are fruit-based, comprised of the following: Bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, melons, tangerines, pears, mangos, and whatever is in season at the time. Cherries are an all-time favorite fruit of mine, with lychee, mango, watermelon, and persimmons all making my list of preferred fruits when in season. For convenience sake, I often snack on fruit, nut and seed bars for quick dense calories before, during or after workouts, and when traveling.

    Ultimately, I want to eat nutrient-dense foods as often as possible, therefore salad greens are added to most of my main courses and fruits are consumed throughout the day, including pre, post, and often during muscle-building workouts. Starchy complex carbohydrates always provide me with the most fuel. Those are the true staples of my diet, with fruit and yams and potatoes being favorite foods, and Thai, Indian, and Mexican being my absolute preferred foods based on diversity of nutrition, overall taste, flavor, enjoyment, and the satiation that comes from these amazing meals.

    I hope this gives you some helpful tips to create your own plant-based athlete meal plans. For additional meal plans, dozens of recipes, and detailed chapters on precisely how to build muscle and burn fat on a whole-food, plant-based diet, please referto my book, Shred It!, available on www.veganbodybuilding.com.

    As always, train hard, eat well, smile often, and pursue your goals with passion, consistency, accountability, and transparency. I wish you all the very best in health and fitness. Let's get shredded!
    - Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — www.veganbodybuilding.com.

    Robert Cheeke

    I was disheartened at first by the limited menu when Derek and I started dieting for our recent contest because I like to experiment when I cook and hated the thought of being restricted in my ingredient choices. Ultimately, though, I found that limiting the main ingredients actually inspired me to be more creative...sort of like writing a haiku: the structure is always the same but the infinite possible combinations of words available to you give you all the creative freedom you need to tell an interesting story! Just as using a standard structure frees you from the drudgery of building one when writing, having a basic meal plan makes grocery shopping less of a chore - you already know how much of each of your few staple items to put in your cart and can spend the rest of your time and energy on the more enjoyable task of picking the fresh produce, herbs, and spices that catch your eye that week! Another unexpected boon was never having to agonize over that eternal question "What's for dinner tonight?"

    The greatest benefits of embracing a simple, repetitive menu, however, are that routine helps build good habits and that it's easier to stick to an existing plan than to consistently make healthy choices on the fly. For example, if every day for lunch at work you bring bean soup and a salad and you already have it waiting for you in the fridge at lunchtime, you're less likely to be tempted when your coworkers decide to order in Chinese. The key to outwitting temptation is to have made the healthiest choice the easiest one and to make it automatic through habit. That's why bodybuilders are known, and mercilessly teased, for their boring meals and obsessive advance meal prep!

    The good news is that, on a whole food plant-based diet, eating a simple, clean diet doesn't have to be boring. When you're not accustomed to the bland fare of the standard American diet you can draw on all the variation available to you in the form of herbs and fresh produce to augment your meal mainstays! For example, here are some variations on the basic theme of broccoli, tofu, and brown rice that formed the base of our menus for many weeks pre-contest:Stir-fried broccoli, tofu, and edamame with Thai seasoning and fresh Thai basil served over brown rice topped with toasted unsweetened shredded coconut and a dash of Korean hot sauce Finely chopped broccoli, black beans, and diced tofu sautéed with diced peppers and onions and seasoned with Adobo or chili powder. Serve with a side of Spanish style brown rice simmered with diced tomatoes, green olives, and vegetable broth and top with salsa, chopped cilantro, avocado chunks, and Sriracha. Broccoli florets, chunks of roasted eggplant, zucchini, tofu, and cannellini beans stewed with diced tomatoes, brown rice, capers, tarragon, and red pepper flakes. Sort of a ratatouille! Shredded cabbage, tofu, fava beans and brown rice topped with sauerkraut and horseradish mustard with steamed broccoli on the side. Kind of a weird-sounding combo but it satisfies a craving for veggie dogs with all the fixings! Chances are you're not in a situation that requires a steady diet of, for example, four main ingredients but keeping it simple is an interesting challenge to consider. After all - it's how most of the world eats! I hope the above examples illustrate just how varied and healthy a simple diet can be and inspire you to create some menus of your own!
    Marcella Torres

    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%):Spinach Kale Mushrooms Broccoli Tofu Tempeh Seitan Carbohydrate Sources (40-45%):
    Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes Sprouted Grain Bread Quinoa Bulgur Brown/white rice Fats (30-35%):
    Avocado Almonds Walnuts 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!
    Torre Washington

    As a plant-based athlete for the past twenty years, ten of which were spent as a competitive bodybuilder, I have learned a lot about building muscle size and strength. I started out my plant-based journey as a 120-pound, five-sport high school athlete. At age 15 I decided I no longer wanted to contribute to animal suffering and I became a vegan, but I also wanted to get bigger and stronger. I wasn't sure that combination was possible. Vegan and bodybuilding didn't really go together. This was back in 1995, before the Internet came of age and there weren't many, if any, role models I could look to for guidance in my specific quest. So, I decided I would pave my own road and figure things out on my own. Years later I narrowed down the sport I wanted to pursue as my teenage years came to an end, and weight lifting took over as my primary athletic interest.

    By age 21 I weighed 185 pounds and I embarked on my bodybuilding career. By age 23, I was up to 195 pounds, lifting heavy weights, and I had been featured in FLEX Magazine three times. My website, www.veganbodybuilding.com, was in its second year, and I had sufficiently learned how to build muscle size and strength on a plant-based diet living a vegan lifestyle. When I won some bodybuilding competitions and gained a little more credibility, I decided I would go out on tour to share with audiences what I learned in my areas of success as a plant-based athlete. I hit the road to share my message with others in 2005.
    Over the years my training styles would change, and I tried numerous programs to discover what would resonate with me and what would create the greatest return on investment. And like I did with my initial approach to plant-based fitness, I created some of my own approaches to building muscle, one of which is an approach I am currently following today.
    In 2010, at age 30, I retired from competitive bodybuilding and spent the next year writing the book, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. Since that publication, I have continued to evolve my training, even though I don't train full-time for any specific sports interest. I released a new book, titled, Shred It!, in 2014, and these days I exercise to stay in shape for book tours, following the advice in my latest book. I simply train for the fun of it and I experiment with different styles that yield the best ROI. Though I retired from bodybuilding five years ago, and spent eight months without stepping foot inside a gym during a period in 2012, I am stronger now than I have ever been. I weigh 20 pounds less than in my prime as a bodybuilder, and I don't train as often since I am frequently on the road touring with my new book, yet I find ways to maximize my experience each time I do make it to the gym.
    My current training philosophy looks like this: I select one or two muscle groups to focus on for a given workout, and I choose the exercise that is the most strenuous, to perform first. Once I determine what the initial exercise is, I create a pyramid to perform as many as 8-12 sets on the beginning exercise. Depending on the muscle group or specific exercise, I might spend a full hour just on my starting exercise. What's the point of all of this? The way I see it, each exercise provides an estimated ROI, and I want to pick the exercise that provides what I determine to be the best ROI first, when I am at my strongest. I warm-up with light weights and high repetitions and then move on to working sets. I pyramid up, increasing weight and decreasing repetitions and then I pyramid back down. Let's take decline barbell bench press, my current favorite exercise, for example. My first exercise completing a chest workout would look like this:
    Numerous sets of push-ups to warm up (I am now up to more than 700 consecutive days performing at least 100 push-ups per day)
    Decline Barbell Bench Press
    135 pounds x 20 reps (50% effort)
    135 pounds x 20 reps (50% effort)
    185 pounds x 12 reps (60% effort)
    205 pounds x 8 reps (70% effort)
    225 pounds x 5 reps (80% effort)
    245 pounds x 4 reps (90% effort)
    275 pounds x 3 reps (100% effort)
    300 pounds x 1 rep (100% effort)
    245 pounds x 3 reps (90-100% effort)
    225 pounds x 5 reps (90-100% effort)
    185 pounds x 12 reps (90-100% effort)
    135 pounds x 25 reps (90-100% effort)
    This type of approach allows me to warm-up with light weights which prepares my muscles for a heavy and high volume workload. I then pyramid up in weight until I hit a 1-rep max, and then I pyramid back down to where I started, and I do a burn-out set to failure, performing as many reps as I can on my final set. Once I have completed a dozen or so sets on this pyramid for my primary exercise, I move on to additional exercises. For subsequent exercises I only perform four sets, pyramiding up in weight, and I aim to target the muscle group from different angles (incline versus decline, for example). Sticking with this chest workout example, the remaining exercises for my workout might look like this:
    Incline Barbell Bench Press
    135 pounds x 10 reps (70% effort)
    155 pounds x 6 reps (80% effort)
    165 pounds x 4 reps (90% effort)
    175 pounds x 2 reps (100% effort)
    Dumbbell Flys
    50s x 12 reps (70% effort)
    60s x 8 reps (80% effort)
    70s x 6 reps (90% effort)
    80s x 4 reps (100% effort)
    I often perform four sets of dips or cable cross overs or cable flys at the very end to develop a pump and to work on range of motion and flexibility, and that would conclude my chest workout. Even with all this volume, my chest workouts are usually completed in just a little over an hour. As you can see, I spent the majority of my time during my chest workout performing the exercise in which I can move the most weight. By using this approach, I ensure that while I am at my strongest, I am lifting the most weight that I can handle. As my energy dwindles throughout the workout (even if I snack throughout the training session, which I often do), I perform the exercises that require smaller amounts of weights, such as dumbbell, bodyweight, cable, or angled exercises that are more difficult to use heavy weights to complete.
    This is the approach I take for essentially every workout. Some of my favorite initial exercises to set the tone for my workouts include:
    Back = T-bar Rows
    Shoulders = Seated dumbbell overhead press
    Biceps = Dumbbell hammer curls
    Triceps = Dumbbell overhead extensions
    Legs = Leg press
    Abs = Hanging leg raises
    With this approach to training, my goal is to build up strength by being at my strongest doing the heaviest or most strenuous exercises, while also stimulating the most muscle growth. Following this style of training for the first five months of 2015, with only a casual training approach when it works in my schedule, has made me the strongest I've ever been in most exercises. At a bodyweight of 175 pounds I recently performed a 900-pound leg press, 315-pound decline barbell bench press, and I shoulder shrug hundreds of pounds for many reps. I continue to gain strength in all muscle groups and sometimes I only complete one or two exercises during an entire hour-long workout.
    What I like best about this approach is that rather than performing a bunch of isolated exercises for a single muscle group on one joint axle, I perform compound, multi-joint lifts that are fun, challenging, and yield the best results when made a priority in a training program. I encourage you to give this approach a try. Select your favorite compound free-weight exercises and spend some quality time with them. You'll be glad you did. Here's to a stronger you.
    - Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — www.veganbodybuilding.com.

    Robert Cheeke

    by Robert Cheeke, author of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — The Complete Guide to BuildingYour Body on a Plant-Based Diet — plant-based nutrition certified- Cornell University

    All photos are of Ed Bauer

    By far the most common question I get asked as a vegan athlete is, “where do you get yourprotein?” Almost as frequently, when I ask people about their training progress, the mostcommon excuse I hear for not exercising is, “I don't have time.” This answer is a form of willfulself-delusion and a poor excuse. Every person has the same 1440 minutes each day. It is up tous to determine what we'll do with our time. Saying you don't have time to exercise (or eatproperly) is to wipe your hands clean of responsibility, to put the blame on external factors anddelude yourself into thinking that 1440 minutes (or 24 hours) in a single day just isn't sufficienttime to fit exercise into your schedule.

    Cleary there are aspects of our lives we have more control over than others. Many of us believewe require eight hours of sleep each night, yet many people get by with seven or even six hoursor less per night. Others may get more. There are various factors at play determining how muchsleep we really need, including stress, work schedule, our children's sleep or school schedule,our nutrition programs that make us either more or less energized or tired, and so on. Sleep isnecessary but is not an excuse not to set aside time to exercise.
    The amount of sleep we get, and our ability to adjust it to create more time for exercise, isonly one area of life we have to manipulate to create more time. Our daily lives are broken upinto three eight-hour categories: sleep, work, and leisure time. As discussed, sleep can only
    be adjusted by an hour or two for most people to maintain health and to feel properly rested.Work may not be able to be adjusted without changing vocations or working for yourself. Withthat in mind, let's focus on what we tend to have a whole lot of control over, our leisure time.Leisure time is usually spent commuting, preparing food, eating, socializing, running errands,relaxing, spending time with friends and family, exercising, watching TV and wasting time.

    Unless our work is physical labor, leisure time is when 90% of us exercise. Since our leisure timeis probably adjustable, let's examine what we're doing with it and create ways to improve ourtime management. Consider preparing food that will last for days, making larger portions ratherthan making something new each day. Keep fruit, nuts and prepared foods on hand at all times
    so you always have quick, accessible, healthy snacks available at home, in the car, at work andat the gym. Plan ahead so you can spend time focusing on what is important and spend lesstime on the activities that are less important — those that keep us from achieving our healthand fitness goals. Realize that exercise can be performed anywhere, anytime. Consider thefollowing suggestions for improved use of time based on your desire to include exercise in yourdaily life.
    A few tips to create more time for yourself are the following:
    Watch less TV
    Spend less time surfing the web including (but not limited to) Facebook, YouTube, Twitter andother time consuming sites
    Find ways to incorporate physical activity at work
    If you work at a computer, get up and move around every 15-30 minutes, or when appropriate
    Plan your day with exercise as a priority so it doesn't get put on the back burner or missed
    Don't waste time
    Some general tips to include exercise into your daily routine are to:
    Recognize that exercise is not just in the form of weight training or sports, but physical activity(moving, lifting, pulling, pressing, carrying, etc.) — Many random chores and activities we doaround the house are forms of exercise
    Take the stairs rather than elevator or escalator
    Park farther away than usual and walk greater distances
    Play games and sports with your children or pets
    Join a sports team
    Go for a walk first thing in the morning
    Go for a walk after dinner, before winding down for the evening
    Gather with friends for a weekly visit to a park or hike
    Train for a local 5k run
    Care about your health and fitness and act accordingly

    Now that we've determined why many of us don't make time for exercise and have some ideashow to manage time and create fitness opportunities, let's look at some exercises that can beperformed almost anywhere, anytime. You certainly don't have to be a member of a gym orclub to achieve high levels of fitness and be happy with your results. The following exercises canbe done nearly anywhere, anytime:
    (If you are unfamiliar with one or more of these exercises by name, search them on theInternet to get a description of what they are.)
    Endurance and Lower Body Exercises:
    Body-weight Squats
    Wall sits
    Stair climbing
    Box jumps
    Jumping rope
    Lateral side-steps
    Martial arts
    Upper Body Exercises
    Static holds
    Hand stands
    Wall push-ups
    Incline and decline push-ups
    Lifting heavy objects
    Bouldering and rock climbing
    Pushing or pulling movements
    Shadow boxing
    Core Exercises
    Leg lifts and leg raises
    Bridge static holds
    Yoga poses
    Pilates exercises
    Total Body Exercises
    Jumping jacks
    Star Jumps
    Mountain climbing
    Sequence of a squat to a push-up to a jump, repeated
    Cross-Fit exercises using body mechanics only
    Any kind of martial art
    Examples of various workouts
    Total body workout without any gym equipment
    Warm-up with 10 minutes of aerobic activity (running, jumping jacks, box jumps on a bench,
    stair running, etc.)
    Three sets of push-ups of 10-20 reps to warm up the upper body
    Run for 3 miles at a moderate pace
    Push-ups 1x20, 1x20, 1x20, 1x20, 1xfailure
    Sit-ups 1x30, 1x30, 1x30, 1x30, 1xfailure
    Squats 1x30, 1x30, 1x30, 1x30, 1xfailure
    Yoga poses or static holds for upper body for 10 minutes, with rest between sets
    Stretch after workout
    Upper body workout without any gym equipment
    Warm-up with 10 minutes of aerobic activity (running, jumping jacks, box jumps on a bench,
    stair running, etc.)
    Three sets of forward arm circles to warm up the shoulders
    Three sets of backward arms circles to warm up the shoulders
    Three sets of push-ups of 10-20 reps to warm up the upper body
    Decline push-ups (feet up on a bench) 1x20, 1x20, 1x20, 1xfailure
    Narrow hand position push-ups 1x20, 1x20, 1x20, 1xfailure
    Chin-ups 1xfailure, 1xfailure, 1xfailure, 1xfailure
    Dips 1xfailure, 1xfailure, 1xfailure, 1xfailure
    Stretch after workout
    Lower body workout without any gym equipment
    Warm-up with 10 minutes of aerobic activity (running, jumping jacks, box jumps on a bench,
    stair running, etc.)
    Bodyweight squats 1x30, 1x30, 1x30, 1xfailure
    Lunges 1x30, 1x30, 1x30, 1xfailure
    Box jumps on a bench or stairs 1x20, 1x20, 1x20, 1xfailure
    Find a hill and run 200 meter hill repeats — Sprint up the hill, walk down, sprint back up. Repeat
    3-5 sets
    Wall sits — 3 sets to failure
    Stretch after workout

    The “I don't have time” excuse looks a little silly now, doesn't it? Given all the tools providedabove, you have a list of exercises, some sample workouts and tips to manage time and fitexercise into your daily schedule. Aim to exercise for 30-60 minute sessions 3-5 times a week,and include some form of exercise in your life every day. I wish you all the very best with yourhealth and fitness.
    More workouts and meal programs on www.veganbodybuilding.com
    Robert Cheeke

    One of the hardest things to do is to stay on track. Think about it: whether we're talking about developing positive daily habits, or just getting all of our errands completed during a given day, checking off all the boxes on our to-do list is a daunting task, rarely completed with total accuracy. We prioritize our lives based on the perceived importance of a given deadline and stack up all of our action items accordingly. Where do healthy eating and exercise fall on the list for you? It likely varies based on the nature of your activities, other deadlines, work, family, stress, and of course, the holiday season.
    Perhaps you typically eat healthy plant-based whole foods and usually exercise four or five days a week, but those holidays just keep coming and throw a wrench in your routine. What would normally be a healthy and active week could quite easily turn into an overindulgent, inactive, high-stress week, month, or months. This not-so-healthy outcome can be avoided if addressed head-on. What's the number one reason for not doing something? You guessed it: “I don't have time.” Well, we all have 1,440 minutes in a day, so the time is there, but the priorities might not be. One sure way to include exercise on a regular basis so it doesn't get missed during the holiday season, is to complete some form of exercise as soon as you wake up to start your day. Before your list of things to do gets too long and time gets squeezed, check off that box by performing some morning exercise. Go for a walk, a jog, or hike in your neighborhood. Head to the gym, or hop on a stationary bike in your basement, garage, or home gym. Join a team, a league, a running group, or other athletic community. Get your family and friends involved if they are willing, and bond through health and sport.

    When it comes to the food, eat healthy whole foods to start your day, such as a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts following your morning workout. The more plant-based whole foods you consume, the less room there is for unhealthier options. Of course, it is the holidays, and you likely want to celebrate the season of harvest and bounty, and you certainly can. As long as you engage in regular exercise without having a significant drop in activity level, and make a solid effort to have the foundation of your diet comprised of plant-based whole foods, there is plenty of room for holiday cheer in the form of a vegan cupcake or some chocolate vegan fudge, or whatever suits your fancy.
    Every year I write about how January 17 is the most common day for people to give up on their New Year's Resolutions. And every year I encourage readers to not wait until the New Year to set goals, but to find meaningful reasons to pursue goals right now. The best way to avoid January 17 happening to you, is to develop positive, consistent habits that compound, leading to desired results. Our actions and inactions compound and develop into behaviors and habits that define our success or lack thereof. If we exercise every morning most days of the week, and build a nutritional foundation of whole plant foods, those actions compound leading to positive health results. If we skip out on exercise for days or weeks at a time because the holidays are too busy or stressful for us, and we resort to eating high calorie/low nutrient foods, those actions compound too. And we know what that can result in: a mid-January exit from our goals, and an 11-month hiatus from setting new ones.
    This year, my advice is simple: pick one new healthy food habit and one new exercise habit to develop into consistent behaviors. Determine your level of consistency to engage in each activity, be it daily or a few days a week, and document your progress. An example would be to eat three different types of fruit each day and to try one new exercise a week that you've never done before.
    You don't want to miss out on the goals you didn't set, because of the time you didn't have, because of the priorities you didn't make, because of the holidays that didn't need to be quite so stressful. Start your day off on the right foot with a nice morning stroll and a bowl of whole foods for recovery so you can do it all over again tomorrow. Happy Holidays!
    - Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness — www.veganbodybuilding.com.
    Robert Cheeke

    Leg Workout 1: Quadriceps and Calves
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004
    When I workout my legs I warm up for 6-10 minutes, just a little bit longer than I do when I train other muscle groups. I want to make sure that my legs are ready to do some serious lifting. After I use a stair stepper or bike, I'll do a few light exercises to engage the quads. I typically do standing squats with no weight, leg extensions, and hamstring curls, for about 20 reps each, stretching in between exercises. I usually rest a little longer between sets when I train my legs as well. Anywhere from 1-5 minutes, depending on how heavy the weight is, how my muscles feel, and which set I'm on for that exercise. I also stretch and drink a lot of water during my training session that will last just a little over an hour total. Let's get down to business.


    45 pounds 20 reps
    135 pounds 15 reps
    225 pounds 10 reps
    315 pounds 6 reps
    335 pounds 3 reps

    Leg Press
    270 pounds 15 reps
    360 pounds 12 reps
    450 pounds 10 reps
    540 pounds 8 reps
    630 pounds 6 reps

    Leg Extensions
    170 pounds 15 reps
    210 pounds 12 reps
    230 pounds 10 reps
    250 pounds 8 reps
    265 pounds 5 reps


    Standing Machine Calf Raises 200 pounds 15-25 reps
    220 pounds 15-20 reps
    240 pounds 12-15 reps
    260 pounds 10-15 reps

    Leg Press Toe Presses
    270 pounds 15-25 reps
    320 pounds 15-20 reps
    370 pounds 12-15 reps
    400 pounds 10-15 reps

    End of workout Robert Cheeke

    Leg Workout 2: Hamstrings and Calves
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004
    When I workout my legs I warm up for 6-10 minutes, just a little bit longer than I do when I train other muscle groups. I want to make sure that my legs are ready to do some serious lifting. After I use a stair stepper or bike, I'll do a few light exercises to engage the hamstrings. I typically do standing lunges with no weight, seated or lying hamstring curls, and leg extensions, for about 20 reps each, stretching in between exercises. I usually rest a little longer between sets when I train my legs as well. Anywhere from 1-5 minutes, depending on how heavy the weight is, how my muscles feel, and which set I'm on for that exercise. I also stretch and drink a lot of water during my training session that will last just a little over an hour total. Remember that this is just one workout, each time exercises change, weight changes, number of sets and reps could change, etc. Let's get down to business.


    Dumbbell Lunges
    100 pounds 12 reps each leg
    120 pounds 10 reps each leg
    130 pounds 8 reps each leg
    140 pounds 6 reps each leg

    Hack Squats
    110 pounds 15 reps
    200 pounds 12 reps
    290 pounds 10 reps
    380 pounds 8 reps
    430 pounds 5 reps
    200 pounds 12 reps

    Straight-Leg Dead Lifts 95 pounds 12 reps
    135 pounds 10 reps
    185 pounds 8 reps

    Seated Hamstring Curls
    80 pounds 15 reps
    100 pounds 10 reps
    120 pounds 8 reps


    Seated Calf Raises
    100 pounds 15-25 reps
    120 pounds 15-20 reps
    140 pounds 12-15 reps
    160 pounds 10-15 reps

    Standing Machine Calf Raises
    200 pounds 15-25 reps
    220 pounds 15-20 reps
    240 pounds 12-15 reps
    260 pounds 10-15 reps

    End of Workout Robert Cheeke

    Dear Friend,
    It has been a long time since our high school days of playing basketball every afternoon duringlunchtime and our involvement at the Boys and Girls club after school. We were pretty active back then,played the sports we enjoyed most, and kept ourselves healthy and fit. Of course, that was then, and asour lives got busier, we changed in a number of ways. In some ways these changes have been positivefor you, such as the opportunity for feeling settled, with a house, family, job and all that comes withthose important areas of life. But these changes to your life situation also led to a less physically activelife, and one of frequent consumption of unhealthy foods.
    This brings us to the present. As you've told me, your weight has ballooned to over 300 pounds andyou've been diagnosed with diabetes in your early 30s. You don't feel as well as you used to and youhave numerous aches and pains, especially on-going issues with your lower back. You have early stagesof heart disease, which is the most dangerous disease we face and is our nation's leading cause ofdeath. Your doctor has been honest with you saying you've got some serious health issues that need tobe addressed immediately. Enter Robert Cheeke, the Best Man in your wedding. You came to me notjust because I was the best man in your wedding or that we've been best buddies since our high schooldays, but because I live and work in the field of health and wellness. Though our lifestyles are vastlydifferent, you've been one of the biggest supporters of my vegan bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle.Given my occupation in the health field, I have had the unique privilege to spend time with some of theworld's leading doctors, scientists and authorities on health and wellness.

    One of those authorities happens to be a friend of mine, Dr. Esselstyn, who specializes in preventing andreversing diseases, such as the ones you face today. He has had incredibly high success rates withpatients who have reversed their heart disease. Nearly everyone who follows his unique (but shouldsomeday be standard) approach to halting disease, does indeed halt the progression of the disease.Furthermore, he has many cases of disease regression (reversal of disease) as well. What is his uniqueapproach? It is simply one in which he requires his patients to stop the behaviors that cause andperpetuate their diseases. Namely, when patients reject animal-based and processed foods (includingoil), and adapt a complete plant-based whole foods (unrefined — unprocessed) diet, they strengthen thebody's capability to fight off disease, while not consuming the foods that foster and grow disease.
    Simply, what we decide to eat, and more importantly, what we decide not to eat, can and will make thedifference between having a serious life-threatening condition such as heart disease, and not having oneat all. I can meet with you soon to discuss more thoroughly how this works, as it is something I've beenstudying over the years. I've spent time not only with Dr. Esselstyn but other leaders in the healthmovement. In a nut-shell, here is what happens in the body: when we consume animal-based andprocessed foods, we damage the cells that protect us and that allow blood to flow smoothly in the body.The consumption of these acid-forming animal foods creates plaque within the arteries and thatnaturally slows blood flow, like when you step on a hose when watering the garden. The componentwithin the body to keep blood flowing smoothly is nitric oxide which is a gas and dilates the bloodvessels, such as, when you step off the garden hose and let the water flow again. Nitric oxide is found inabundance in green leafy vegetables. When we fail to consume the foods that are comprised of nitricoxide, and we eat the foods that create the most plaque (and damage the endothelial cells which
    protect us), what we have is a situation where the blood cannot flow smoothly and it begins to clot. Thiscuts off blood flow to major areas of the body such as the heart or brain and we can have a heart attackor stroke as a result.
    Your doctor has suggested various medications you can take, but I want you to know that research byDr. Esselstyn shows medications only treat the diseases on a superficial level and do not address theunderlying causes. With my brief description of how heart disease is produced in the body, you can seehow important it is to address the causes, not just the symptoms. A change in lifestyle is not an easyone. Sometimes we're tempted to ease into it, taking slow steps in our effort for change. Think of this asyou would think about someone who is smoking or drinking. If they were to take steps, slowly cuttingback, we can easily see they are still damaging their lungs or their liver with even moderateconsumption. This is also true for those who continue to consume foods that cause heart disease, evenat a moderate pace. A simple approach to positive change is to begin adding more plant-based wholefoods into your diet. This will naturally fill the stomach and provide required nutrients and as a resultthere won't be as much room for animal-based and processed foods. The diet doesn't have to be blandor boring, and I can give you a variety of tips and resources to get you started. It can seem a bitoverwhelming, but if you can start with one change, which is to eliminate the consumption of animalproducts, you will be inspired by your health improvements and may be inspired to also add exerciseback into your life, like the old days. Since nutrition is the greatest factor in determining levels of health,that is where we will start.
    You have a wife and three young children and I would love to see you grow old with them. Heart diseaseand some of the other health issues you're facing are controllable and reversible. Let's tackle this like weused to tackle our opponents on the basketball court and on the playing field. Let's give it everythingwe've got. As a championship coach, I know you're in it to win it. Let's get out there and win this battle.Not for our school, or city or for our coach, but let's win this for your family, your friends, all those whocare about you, and for you and your bright future. You can beat this, and as your best friend, I'll be thebiggest cheerleader in your quest to win in the game of health. It's go time.
    For more information about the T. Colin Campbell Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Course, please visit www.ecornell.com/robertcheeke
    Robert Cheeke

    Here we are, less than one month away from the 2014 PlantBuilt Vegan Muscle Team Competition! This is happening on July 26, 2014 at the NaturallyFit Games in Austin, Texas. The NaturallyFit Games used to be called the Naturally Fit Super Show. You can find out more about the competition at www.naturallyfitgames.com. This is a large fitness event with many events happening within it, including a car show, a charity auction, a fitness expo, bodybuilding, women’s figure, men’s physique, a model search, bikini competition, Jiu Jitsu, transformation, mixed martial arts, powerlifting, roller derby, Olympic weightlifting, and CrossFit.

    This is only the second year of the PlantBuilt Team’s existence. We are a group of ethical and compassionate vegans looking to break the stereotype of the weak and scrawny vegan. We compete in fitness events among athletes who follow and promote a meat heavy dieting approach. You can find out more about us at www.plantbuilt.com. In 2013, we had 15 competitors; this year, we have 34! We will be competing in bodybuilding, men’s physique, figure, bikini, transformation, powerlifting, and CrossFit.

    I myself competed in Men’s Physique last year, but will be competing in CrossFit this year. I have been into CrossFit since 2011, but I can’t help wanting to look the part of a lean and strong vegan athlete, too. Luckily, CrossFit training supports aesthetic goals as well. Last year the CrossFit event didn’t seem up to par, so I went with Men’s Physique as a focus instead. I took 2nd Place out of 29 competitors last year. Not bad for my first time in that division! This year, the CrossFit event is being put on by Wodapalooza, and they are sure to bring an awesome challenge. Besides me, there are three other vegans competing in the CrossFit competition. We have two men and two women. Each division is only 30 people so we are aiming at dominating our divisions and showing that vegans can excel at any challenge.

    My training for this is getting pretty intense, and I have the standard pre-competition jitters. Of course, I hope to do a great job and be a strong example for vegans, but going against 29 other athletes, who knows how the cards will fall? All I can do is focus on my training and bring the best me that I can to that competition. Once Saturday, July 26th rolls around, all the hard work has already been done. Then it will be time to throw down and have a blast competing with the PlantBuilt Team and changing the face of athletic challenges as we know it. Stay tuned guys, this is going to be an amazing adventure!
    Ed Bauer


    Male and Vegan

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Male and Vegan
    Traditionally there has been a pretty big association with eating meat andmasculinity; making a man! I reckon this can be seen in Homer's book'The Odyssey', big meat based meals and plenty of animal sacrifice.Don't know about you but I don't do much animal sacrificing these days,either for Gods or for myself. But it still happens a lot (the meateating...), pop along to the local family barbeque and you'll probablyfind a whole water buffalo slowly cooking away on the spit. It's an occasionfor men to gather round with a beer and chat about 'male things'. What'sall that about? Where'd this meat centered culture come from? Why thisobsession with eating dead animals? It isn't particularly good for you,the environment (stretch your mind a bit there) or for what you'veeaten, especially where factory farming is concerned.

    In contemporary culture animals are treated as objects that can bemanipulated for our perceived 'needs'. The manipulators in chief are(surprise, surprise) the industry profiteers, but there is nothingparticularly manly about supporting this industry. I personally reckon(as I would being vegan) that making a stand against animal cruelty is
    far more in tune with what we should be about, some people see a refusalto take part in this morbid industry as weakness, that a person cannotstand to see death or suffering. Personally, I'm against the notion ofunnecessary suffering and it's a show of strength to stand up and openlydemonstrate this, to move against the current that most people are happyto float on. If you believe in compassion for fellow sentient beingsthat cannot stand up against rampant human exploitation, then give upcow's milk, cheese, eggs and meat. Show that every day you can live alife that is different, compassion in action. The vegan argument is hereto be won. If you want to live in a better world, practical stepsneed to be taken.

    Be a man, be vegan.

    Kevster - UK

    Mass-Building Nutrition Plan
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004

    Here is a menu and eating schedule for a bodybuilder looking to gain mass.

    2 cups oatmeal
    2 vegan pancakes
    soy protein drink
    8oz soymilk
    multivitamin supplement

    soy jerky
    soy protein smoothie (soymilk, protein powder, strawberries, banana, ice cubes)
    4 soy yogurts
    8oz orange juice with glutamine powder

    4 slices of vegan pizza
    soy protein smoothie (soymilk, protein powder, strawberries, banana, ice cubes)
    tortilla and hummus
    mixed nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts)

    soy crisps with almond butter
    3 bananas
    8oz soymilk

    Baked tofu wedges
    summer squash
    refried beans
    8oz pineapple juice with glutamine powder

    soy protein smoothie (soymilk, protein powder, strawberries, banana, ice cubes)
    2 soy yogurts
    vitamin and mineral supplements

    *Note..drink water between meals* Robert Cheeke

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