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    Older articles from the original Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness website.
    On the cover of nearly every fitness magazine you'll see articles promising to help you gain muscle mass quickly - be it a huge chest, massive arms, or a great set of glutes. This is often presented as a well-kept secret or some tricky formula, when nothing is further from the truth! Gaining muscle requires the same basic inputs, regardless of who you are, what muscles you're trying to specifically build, or what kind of diet you follow. That's right, a vegan diet is at least as good (if not better) than an omnivorous diet for building muscle mass, and no matter what kind of diet you're on you need to concentrate on the same variables.

    First and foremost, you need to create a training stimulus - meaning you have to send a clear message to the body that it needs more muscle mass. This is accomplished thru progressive overload. When you're training and you push your body a little further than it is used to, it will respond by adapting to the new more challenging stimulus by getting stronger and more muscular. There are an infinite variety of ways to overload the body, but the variables you use when writing a program are Intensity (how much weight you use relative to your one rep max), Volume (how many sets and reps you do), Frequency (how often you train each muscle group), and the amount of rest you take between sets. If you raise the weight, do more sets and/or reps, train more often, Or shorten your rest intervals between sets you will overload your muscle and stimulate new muscle growth, provided the other points on this list are also covered. Some of the best exercises for overloading your body always have been and always will be compound free weight exercises. Build your program around presses, rows, deadlifts, squats and lunges and your body will have no choice but to adapt, and anything that is more than your body is accustomed to doing will generate a change, so don't be afraid to set small, obtainable goals almost every workout and dig deep for them!

    Once you're training for personal records, you need to let your body adapt to all these new demands you're placing on it. Recovery is every bit as important as training stimulus, so in order to realize your muscle-building goals, you need to be training hard, then go home and rest! Recovery needs differ for every individual, but a good rule of thumb is that everyone needs at least 1-2 days off from lifting per week, and intermediate to advanced lifters should schedule occasional deloading weeks where they intentionally train lighter (~60-80% of normal weights) to facilitate recovery. This keeps your skill and technique up, and can improve recovery by increasing blood flow to your musculature - just don't shoot for any records here! Factors that can affect your recovery rate are: Your training level (beginners are far from their ultimate potential and therefore do less strenuous workouts and recover from them faster; the opposite is true for advanced athletes). Your quality and quantity of sleep - more is better! Your nutrition (see the 3rd point) and your age (all else being equal, a middle aged athlete may be able to train just as hard as a teenager, but will likely take almost twice as long to recover). A typical bodybuilding split routine provides ample rest by splitting up the muscle groups of the body into separate workouts, so this is a great place to start for intermediate lifters and above, whereas true beginners can capitalize on their rapid recovery by doing 3-4 total body workouts per week.

    The last point on this list is at least as important as the first two: In order to make gains in the gym, you need to give your body optimal amounts of the best possible fuel. 'Bulking' is never a good excuse for binging on junk food - it's quite the opposite! When you are repeatedly striving for personal records on the major lifts you need to be giving your all the nutrients it can get. Base your diet around the four food groups (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) and strive for a modest caloric surplus (take in a little more calories per day than you need to maintain your weight - approximately 200-400 extra). Eating healthy foods with a moderate surplus of calories will ensure slow, sustainable weight gain with optimal performance and minimal fat gains.

    By covering these three bases in an organized and consistent fashion you can reliably build a stronger, more muscular body - it's that simple. So, the next time you're flipping through a fitness magazine, take any secret formulas with a big grain of salt and remember these basics!
    Derek Tresize

    Reflecting on more than twenty years that I have lived a vegan lifestyle is something I do throughout the year, especially around my December 8th vegan anniversary. I think about what the vegan movement and scene were like back in the mid-90s, what types of foods, restaurants, products, and levels of awareness there were when I first adopted the compassionate lifestyle. I think about who I was, who I've been, and who I've become, and I think about lives lost, lives saved, and lives influenced as a result of my role as a vegan member of society. When I look more specifically at the vegan bodybuilding movement, I have an entire career worth of experiences, observations, and lessons learned to reflect on.

    I was one of the early adopters of the vegan bodybuilding lifestyle. I don't claim to be the first, but I was certainly part of the original vegan bodybuilding crew. The late Robbie Hazeley from the UK, Kenneth Williams from California, and Alexander Dargatz from Germany were among the others who were competitive vegan bodybuilders during the same era as me in the early 2000s. Even in the mid 2000s the number of competitive vegan bodybuilders could be counted on one or two hands, though there were thousands of vegan athletes emerging among many sports disciplines. My website, www.veganbodybuilding.com, had a very popular interactive forum before the days of Facebook, and there, thousands of vegan athletes were members, and hundreds posted questions, comments, photos, and training journal entries essentially every day. We had an amazing global community comprised of individuals driven to change the way vegans were perceived. No longer viewed exclusively as hippies, or weaklings, or other associations that were common back then, veganism had a makeover and vegan muscle and strength were commonplace in our community. Male and female vegan athletes alike were blossoming in the spotlight, becoming champions in their sports. Over the years, it has been an absolute honor to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of my original website members over the course of my ten-year national tour, and my latest 2-year international tour. We bonded online in more primitive settings than the noise of today's social media platforms, and many of those friendships still remain today.

    In the early 2000s we used our success in bodybuilding competitions to get featured in mainstream magazines and newspapers to spread awareness about the vegan fitness lifestyle. We were outliers, scoffing at the notion that vegan bodybuilding was an oxymoron, and determined to give veganism a new look — one of strength and compassion rolled into one. The few became many, and when social media platforms like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more recently Instagram and Snapchat came along, vegans made a splash and vegan athletes came out of the woodwork in record fashion. When originally, only a few vegan fitness websites aside from my own existed in all the world, there are now more vegan athlete Instagram accounts than I could ever keep up with. When once it was a unique privilege to be a featured athlete on www.veganbodybuilding.com, social media provided a platform and an outlet for every person to have their voice heard, their vegan physique seen, and their reputation built through word of mouth, through clicks, likes, shares, favorites, and through hard work. I'm old school. I've been running my website for 15 years, yet I don't even have a Snapchat account, and I don't even remember how to post a YouTube video. I write books and articles, give lectures, and go on book tours, but I don't reach as many people as the young vegan athlete who is more tech savvy and has twice as many Instagram followers even if only arriving on the scene a couple of years ago.

    You could say I'm a bit stubborn, a little slow to keep up with the changing times, and possibly running the risk of becoming irrelevant if I don't follow where the audiences are moving to and engage with people on those platforms, and I'd probably agree with you. I admit I am slow to adapt, I am getting left behind in some ways, and I am being surpassed by a new generation who gets in front of more eyeballs. I hope I don't sound bitter, because that is not my intention. In fact, I am proud of those who found a way to make their mark on the vegan bodybuilding movement and have influenced a lot of positive change. I recently spent time with perhaps the top vegan bodybuilder today, Torre Washington. We attended the most prestigious bodybuilding competition in the world, the Olympia, in Las Vegas in September. We talked about the changing times and the passing of the torch. There was a time when I was the top vegan bodybuilder in the world as far as recognition, with an online presence that was likely greater than the other top vegan bodybuilders combined. But today I might not even be in the top five or ten anymore, and Torre is the new king of the vegan bodybuilding world as far as I am concerned at the time of this writing. We walked and talked, sat together, and discussed the changing landscape. He is a real star now, reaching heights I never reached, connecting with audiences I never got my message to, and building a physique that I was never able to sculpt. And along the way he has won 3 times the amount of competitions I ever won, and he's just getting started.

    It seems like every week I come across a new vegan bodybuilder with 100,000 subscribers on YouTube or 100,000 followers on Instagram (both well beyond my current reach), and those who have new books, products, programs, clothing lines, and online video channels that reach the masses. This is great for the vegan athlete movement, great for the animals, and great for the planet — make no mistake about it. I write not as someone who is envious, after all, I had my day in the sun that spanned a full decade before the emergence of the vegan bodybuilder of today, and I still get invited to the most prestigious vegan events in the world from Australia to Europe to Canada and around the US. But I write as someone who has seen this vegan bodybuilding movement grow from infancy to the powerful force that it is today. I write in awe of the amazing accomplishments today's popular vegan bodybuilders have achieved, and as equally in awe of their physiques that I so greatly admire. I write as a proud father who pioneered the movement, who retired half a decade ago, and who passed the torch to Torre Washington, Giacomo Marchese, Fraser Bayley, Derek Tresize, Vanessa Espinoza, and the new generation of vegan muscle. I write with gratitude and sincere pride.

    I don't know what my role in the vegan bodybuilding community will be in the future. Right now, vegan bodybuilders like Will Tucker, Ed Bauer, Mindy Collette, and Stephen Coote, among others, refer to me as The Godfather of vegan bodybuilding. I'll take it, and I'll figure out where to go from here, deciding whether to try to keep up with the young vegan bodybuilder entrepreneurs in the changing technology landscape, or to keep on keeping on, writing more books and move from The Godfather to The Grandfather of the movement. As long as we are genuine, authentic, and save lives with our compassionate actions, I believe there is room for all types of vegan bodybuilding activism. I've seen enough to know that our best days are in front of us, and I look forward to opening up new chapters in my career and in the vegan bodybuilding movement, reflecting on them years down the road. - 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 became vegan 13 years ago, gradually transitioning from an obese junk-food vegan to a fit whole foods vegan, losing 75 pounds in the process. At the end of that journey, as half of the Vegan Muscle and Fitness team (www.veganmuscleandfitness.com), weight lifting and good plant-based nutrition already played a large role in my daily life, and I looked perfectly healthy at around 17-21% body fat. I wanted to look leaner, especially in the legs, but my nutrition was already sound and I was working out twice a day with a lot of cardiovascular exercise and seeing no changes in my body as a result. I just sort of shrugged and accepted that cellulite on my thighs was a fact of life. There are worse fates!

    Pregnancy inspired me to find a solution. While I was fortunate to have a healthy vegan pregnancy with minimal weight gain, I had severe lower back pain due to torsion of my pelvis and scoliosis that kept me from lifting weight. That, and being a stationary food source for 8 months, left me fatter and less muscular than I'd been pre-pregnancy. Fortunately, the formation of Team PlantBuilt to represent veganism at a major bodybuilding competition gave me the motivation I needed to improve my body. There's nothing quite like the prospect of standing in the spotlight before hundreds of people in a string bikini to get your butt in gear! With 8 months left to prepare for the show, I was at 29% body fat and 125 pounds and, given my previous experience with being stuck in a fat loss rut, I had my doubts that I could ever reach the goal of 12% body fat and 110 pounds that Derek (my husband and personal trainer/champion vegan bodybuilder) set me for me! But with one week left before the show, I checked in at exactly 12.006% body fat and 110 pounds.
    So how did we do it? Why is it that I'd been on a whole foods plant-based diet for years already, which got me in excellent pre-pregnancy shape, but I hadn't gotten that coveted “ripped” physique in spite of all the good nutrition and frequent workouts? Before I explain our strategy, I want to point out that merely making the switch to a whole foods plant-based diet should be your first step! Reduce or eliminate refined flour products and processed foods. If you eat a variety of healthy whole plant foods and exercise regularly, you'll look great and will never need to scrutinize your calories, unless you have a rare medical condition of some sort. If you've already taken that step and find you want to look especially good for an event or a photo shoot, or just need to shed some resistant pounds as I did, you can implement some of the following strategies that competitors use to get lean. The details, complete with the meal plans used by both Derek and myself to prepare for our last contest, are available at the Vegan Muscle & Fitness online studio but here's an overview:
    Take the time to assess where you are now — you might need to increase your food intake and decrease your hours on the treadmill to lose fat. Counterintuitive, eh? This is what trips so many of our clients (and me) up, but Derek finally set me straight: keeping your calories low and your activity level high for an extended period is just going to put your body in starvation mode. You may need to take the time to convince your body that, hey, you actually aren't in the midst of a famine being chased by predators from dawn to dusk and can stand to let go of some of that fat. At 8 months out from my contest date, we determined that my maintenance calories were around 2500 and we planned to keep it that way for four months in order to stimulate my metabolism and allow me to gain muscle. During this four-month period, I lost 8% body fat — much to my surprise!
    Make small incremental changes and assess yourself often. Don't succumb to the temptation to make a drastic change in hopes of immediate results. Gradual changes leave you with somewhere to go if you stall, and the idea is to do as little as possible to reap the greatest results. Assess yourself visually or by measuring your body fat periodically, and don't change your diet until you stop changing. For the last month or two of contest prep, we dropped my calories by around 100-200 per week and increased cardio from three 20-minute sessions to six 60-minute sessions very gradually. This had the dual benefit, too, of “easing” me in and keeping my metabolism as high as possible throughout.

    Once you've achieved your goal, “reverse diet”. Once you've achieved your desired physique and no longer want to continue losing fat, it's important not to undo all of your hard work with crazed binging (see this article for more on that topic). However, you do want to get your calories back up to a level that will maintain you at a healthy body fat percentage — which, by the way, is not 12% for a woman, as I was at the end of my contest prep! My chosen off-season body fat is around 16% and I'm getting there by doing the reverse of what I did to lose the fat — increasing my calories by 100 per week. I hope these general guidelines will help you on your fitness journey! If you prefer the accountability that comes with hiring a coach, Derek and I also offer contest prep and personal training services! You can learn more at our website www.veganmuscleandfitness.com or contact us at [email protected]
    Marcella Torres

    The Ecological Wisdom of Enjoying Raw Foods
    by Don Weaver, January 5th, 2005

    “Then what is the answer? ... Integrity is wholeness, the great beauty is Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his days darken.” --Robinson Jeffers

    “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” --Seneca

    “Beauty will save the world.” --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    At age 17, my life was focused on playing basketball to experience exciting fun, a socially-admired external identity (“basketball star”), and a possible pro career. At 18, attending U.C. Berkeley on a basketball scholarship, I was stunned to see how unhealthy and unhappy most of my 30,000 fellow students appeared, so I was compelled to begin a study of the causes of health and disease. This naturally led me deep into nutrition, agriculture, ecology, psychology, philosophy, religion/spirituality ... all of them revealing that first law of ecology noted by John Muir and others: “Everything is connected to everything else!”

    By 19, I'd understood the personal-and-planetary tragedy of animal-exploitive agriculture and drug-oriented disease-treating industries, thus I followed my conscience to become vegetarian and then vegan within the year. Accelerated by some fasting and the natural desire for fresh, raw, organic produce, my health and mental clarity improved dramatically, and simultaneously my heart expanded in concern for the plights of humanity, other animals, and the whole natural world. I'll never forget the amazing experience of walking the streets of Berkeley while fasting, and beginning to spontaneously see not mere superficial human egos, as I'd been accustomed to seeing, but unique and sacred human souls struggling to remember who they are. I felt deeper compassion than ever before. Not long after, a friend invited me to view “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” on campus. Franco Zefferelli's powerful, moving film on the life of St. Francis — “patron saint of the animals” — pulled my heart wide open and left me deeply inspired and convinced that human beings can remember, awaken, and transform their lives and the world.

    In my ongoing search to find ways of living, and eating, which might be optimal for human and total ecological health, I discovered the brilliant health educator Herbert Shelton and his great books elucidating the art and science of health called Natural Hygiene. It is about the simply revolutionary practice of “health by healthful living,” and describes the natural, healthy relationships we have to all parts of Nature: food, water, air, sunlight, soil, plants, trees, animals, our bodies and total living environment, and our fellow human beings. It encourages positively embracing -- in balance-- all the causes of health, while avoiding and &aps;boycotting' all the causes of disease, whether mental, emotional, physical, environmental, or other.

    In Superior Nutrition and other books, Shelton points out that the already “Sun-cooked” perfection of fresh, whole, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can supply all our nutrient needs abundantly when they're grown on pure fertile soils enriched with natural rock powders and plant-based composts. Like the legendary “Healthy Hunzas,” Shelton knew that the full spectrum of rock-borne minerals are a key to growing real food which can support the truly healthy human mind-body-spirit! Like Julius Hensel and Sampson Morgan before him, he taught us we didn't need to depend on animal manures or slaughterhouse byproducts to grow the best foods, and like J.I. Rodale and John D. Hamaker, implored us to begin remineralizing soils everywhere with finely-ground rocks like the Hunza people do twice a year, using the silt-rich glacial meltwater coming from that huge Himalayan rock-grinder, the Ultar glacier.

    I was thrilled to realize that human society truly had the viable option to move away from planetary destruction and “back to the Garden” or, really, forward toward an enlightened, compassionate, Earth-regenerative Garden Culture where health, happiness, and the beautiful gifts of Nature are nurtured, propagated, revered, and treasured. While many world religions seem pre-occupied with “the hereafter,” it is good to imagine and better to bring forth “Heaven on Earth” here and now, don't you agree? To help do my part, at age 21 in 1977, I became one of the rare raw food and veganic/Hygienic gardening “pioneers” of the time. Having enjoyed great health on 100% raw plant foods in the 26 years since, I'm heartened to see the apparent exponential growth of raw foods and eco-health appreciation, blossoming forth in numerous websites, books, periodicals, raw cafes and restaurants — even “celebrities” like Mel Gibson, Demi Moore, Woody Harrelson, Sting, Daryl Hannah, and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) are embracing a raw foods diet and more ecologically-responsible lifestyle. Should vegan presidential candidate and organic agriculture advocate Dennis Kucinich (www.kucinich.us) adopt a raw vegan diet and be elected U.S. President, that would definitely be a first, and probably just the kind of miracle this world needs to reverse its ecocidal course.

    I don't mean to criticize anyone for whatever diet they may be on now; I do intend to encourage awareness of the vegetarian, vegan, and raw vegan options, and of Natural Hygiene and Earth Regeneration needs, so we might all gain clarity on how we can best create personal-and-planetary health, for Heaven-on-Earth's sake. Having given Natural Hygiene and raw-veganic gardening and eating a fair 26-year trial, I'm grateful to report I'm feeling younger and far healthier than when I started (our body does replace itself every 11 months, although the bones are said to take 7 years), and to know I'm making a contribution to solving global health and environment problems, now at Crisis/Opportunity stage due to 6.3 billion people being too out of touch with Nature's ways of creating health and abundance, and being parasitic “Takers” rather than symbiotic “Leavers” and “Regenerators.” As the parasite typically kills the host, we are killing the Gaiasphere — our global life support system. You may learn much more about this Crisis/Opportunity for the cost of your study time by downloading my free Web-books at www.remineralize.org. They are The Survival of Civilization by John Hamaker and me, and my new book, To Love And Regenerate The Earth. (Invitation Letter available on request.)

    To learn more of the diet-environment connection, I recommend Earthsave founder John Robbins' Diet For A New America and The Food Revolution, and Mad Cowboy: plain truth from the cattle rancher who won't eat meat, by Voice For A Viable Future founder Howard Lyman. These books include many powerful statistics on the contrasting ecological “footprints” of animal-based, vegetarian, and vegan diets which I haven't room for here. You may begin now to note the still greater lifting of ecological burden which occurs in the transition from mainly cooked vegan to raw vegan diet and agriculture/orchard culture/permaculture. I've written of the benefits of tree crop-based raw-veganic agriculture and soil remineralization in other articles you may request from me. Earthsave recently added Natural Hygiene/raw food educator Doug Graham to their Board of Directors, in recognition of the vast potential this body of knowledge and practice offers to help save the Earth.

    “Lack of heart, lack of generosity, is the real disease of our world.”
    --Bernard Moitessier

    Why not use your brilliant vision to see which of the following local/global problems can be alleviated or eliminated by our transformation into a healthy, generous, conscious, compassionate, raw-vegan species, one naturally fitted for continued life within this Biosphere: Human Insanity/Disease/Degeneration/Violence, Soil-and-Food Depletion, Malnutrition/Famine, Animal Abuse/Killing, Deforestation/Dieback/Desertification, Species Extinction, Toxic Waste, Air Pollution, Global Climate Chaos....

    I encourage you to explore these challenges and relationships in your life, and consider well the ecological wisdom of simpler, more natural living, enjoying the fantastic variety of beautiful, delicious, perfectly nourishing plant foods we can grow and eat without vast expenditures in processing, packaging, refrigeration, burning fossil fuels, cutting more trees, wrecking our climate, etc. I invite you to join the great work of giving back to the Earth more than we take, so that we may all survive, thrive, and continue a conscious evolution of Life on a small planet! May the wonderful words of Phillip Brooks inspire us all: “Be such a person and live such a life, that if every person were such as you, and every life such as yours, this Earth would be God's paradise.”

    Don Weaver is a gardener-ecologist-writer-educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is on the writing staff of Living Nutrition magazine, and is currently focused on inviting the world to read the free online books by him and John Hamaker, and helping create new Earth Regeneration gardens, orchards, farms, centers, and communities worldwide. Contact Don via [email protected] or POB 620478, Woodside CA 94062. Don Weaver

    The History of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder,November 29th, 2005

    Growing up I was always playing sports and was a pretty gifted athlete. I was fairly small but had a huge interest in Pro Wrestling. I always wanted to be bigger and stronger.

    In 1995 I became a vegetarian and in 1996 became vegan, as a result to my older sister Tanya's influence.

    In 2000 I started taking weight lifting seriously and competed in the 2000 Body-for-LIFE challenge.

    In 2001 I was inspired to take up competetive bodybuilding by my childhood friend Jordan Baskerville. I moved out to Arizona and met up with Mr. America Troy Alves, who became my personal trainer. In 2001 I entered my first bodybuilding contest. Unfortunately just before the contest I got mononucleosis and was unable to compete on stage. I watched from the audience and probably would have finished 2nd place.

    In 2002 I started my business Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness in hopes to become well known in the fitness industry and promote veganism on a world-wide level. My goal was to make money running my company full-time and donate most of the money made to help animals and live simply with any extra. Why make a business out of it? I wanted to focus all of my attention on promoting veganism and make enough money to do so, and avoid having a standard job that would take time away from my passion; saving animals.

    Also in 2002 I attempted to buy the website domain for www.veganbodybuilding.com. I had planned on it for about a year prior to buying it. I was out on a cruise ship working in the Caribbean for 7 months during this time. When I decided to buy the domain, it had already been purchased 3 weeks ahead of me by someone in the UK. I settled for www.veganbodybuilder.com.

    I was in contact with the owner of www.veganbodybuilding.com and he featured me on his website. He was a nice guy and had a site featuring many different vegan strenth athletes. A year later that site switched to www.veganbodybuilding.org. Since www.veganbodybuilding.com was my original plan for my site and was available again, I bought the available domain name.

    This site as been registered on both www.veganbodybuilder.com and www.veganbodybuilding.com since sometime in late 2003 or early 2004. Since the switch to www.veganbodybuilding.com we incorporated many new athletes and now our site features some of the best vegan athlets in the world.

    In July of 2003 I entered another bodybuilding competetion since I was off the ship and back on land. I placed 4th out of 7 in the INBF contest and enjoyed the experience. From October 2003 to August 2004 I was out on a variety of cruise ships in Mexico and Northern Europe on my "Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness World Tour." I promoted my website and company in over 15 countries.

    In April 2005 I competed again and won 1st place at the INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Championships. In October 2005 I was runner-up at the World Natural Bodybuilding Championships from Sacramento, California; the same city I placed 4th in my show in 2003.

    Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness has grown over the years. When we first started we had a forum on the website in 2003 but it wasn't used very often. Then we upgraded in 2004 and it still wasn't used very often. In May of 2005 we started a NEW forum and it has had over 15,000 messages and over 500 active users in the 7 months it has been online. Needless to say, it is now being used more often.

    We've also had some success with our products. After all, we are a business. We provide hundreds of pages of free information and answer questions and inspire others, but we also sell fitness clothing, movies, calendars, gloves, and in the future, books and supplements too.

    Currently we have our Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness clothing in 23 different countries and nearly every US state. Our standard Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness shirt is by far the best-selling vegan fitness shirt in the world. We've been featured in many magazines, newspaper articles, TV shows and commercials, and nearly 100 websites.

    We sell both Vegan Bodybuilding and Vegan Fitness clothing and a combination of the two, our company name; Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness. All current clothing items are Made in America material. Current products can be viewed on www.veganbodybuilding.com/products.html

    Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness was created to promote veganism through sports and that is what we've done. Some vegans may not like celebrity culture but we feel that it is important to get veganism in mainstream media to reach a greater audience. We will continue to promote Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness in many avenues of media.

    We appreciate all the support over the years and we will continue to promote Veganism through sports the best way we know how to.

    As a personal thank you....After all these years of hard work and dedication to a greater cause of saving animal lives, I'm finally close to being able to live out my dream of having Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness sustain my life and I will be able to devote even more time to promoting veganism. Robert Cheeke

    Do you want to get bigger? Do you want to get leaner? Do you want to havethat muscular, ripped physique that more and more vegans are achievingnowadays? Well, what is the root to acquiring any of these goals? Anyguesses as to what I may suggest? To achieve larger muscles, you need to getstronger. To get leaner, you have to burn fat. A fantastic approach to doingthis is to build more muscle to stoke your fat-burning engine, which meansyou need to get stronger. In the end, strength will be the underlyingadaptation which must take place for that ripped look. Without strength, youwill lack lean mass, and following a cutting diet protocol will only makeyou look skinny and undernourished, which is not what you want. Regardlessof who you are, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so let’s lay out thissimple plan that will get you stronger and increase lean body mass. Here arethe three easy steps.

    Step 1: Program Design
    Now this is a simple approach I picked up from a strength coach named JimWendler. It is called the 5/3/1 Program. I recommend you go here to read allabout it. The program is simple enough, and it is based on percentages ofyour 1 repetition max for four basic compound lifts. These exercises are theBack Squat, Bench Press, Dead Lift, and Standing Shoulder Press. This willbe the first portion of your workout and will be solely based on liftingmore weight for more reps over time. It is set up in 4 week durations. Theweight increases for 3 weeks, but then on the fourth week, weights get muchlighter for a deload week. This prevents burnout and allows the body torecover for the next round. After every four week cycle, the upper bodyweights are increased by 5 lbs., while the lower body weights are increasedby 10 lbs. So in other words, over the course of 6 months, you will beworking with 30 lbs. heavier on the bench press and shoulder press, and 60lbs. more for the squat and dead lift. Now let’s be honest, have you seenthat fast of an improvement beyond your first year of training? Mostpeople’s 1 rep max doesn’t increase 10 lbs. over the course of a year.
    This program is really simple and easy to follow. Just estimate your 1 repmax for these four lifts and use percentages for the programming. So here isa quick example of how Squat programming would look: If my 1 rep max was 300lbs., I would use 90% of this number for calculations, so 270. Then for week1, I would perform 5 reps (or more) with 65%, 75%, and 85% of 270 lbs. Week2, I would perform 3 reps (or more) with 70%, 80%, and 90% of 270 lbs. Week3, I would perform 5/3/1 reps (or more) of 75%, 85%, and 95% of 270 lbs.Then for the 4th week, I would perform 5 reps of an easy 40%, 50%, and 60%of 270 lbs. After the first 4 week cycle, I would add 10 lbs. to myestimated number. In other words, for week 5, I would perform 5 reps (ormore) with 65%, 75%, and 85% of 280 lbs.! With patience and persistenteffort, this program pays off with huge gains in strength over time.
    Plus, another great part of this program is the main lift is only performedfor 3 sets. You will have time to follow the program up with whatever typeof training you prefer. For example, perform your 3 sets of squats, and thenfollow it up with assistance work for Bodybuilding, CrossFit, Power Lifting,Olympic Lifting, or for any other goal you may have. I have used thisprogram for the last 8 months and have had significant strength gains. Okay,now let’s move on.

    Step 2: Nutrition
    I like to recommend people eat 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 150 and your goal weight is 165, eat 165grams of protein daily. As another example, if you weight 230 lbs., but yourgoal weight is 180, then eat 180 grams of protein daily. This is a simplestrategy that ensures you are giving your body enough amino acids to buildmore lean mass. A few easy vegan protein sources are:
    Kidney Beans
    Black Beans
    Chickpeas (AKA Garbanzo Beans)
    Pumpkin Seeds
    Hemp Seeds
    Peanut Butter
    Tofu (Soy or Hemp)
    Sprouted Grain Bread (Wheat)
    Protein Powder (Rice, Pea, Hemp, Savi Seed)
    Analog Meats such as Tofurky or Beyond Meat
    Leafy Greens
    Beyond meeting your protein goal, calculate your daily intake, based on whatyou have been eating for the last few weeks on average. If your weighthasn’t changed over this course of time, it is safe to say this is yourmaintenance calorie intake. If your goal is to increase weight, simply addin an extra 400 calories per day. The easiest way to do this is to add inone Protein shake with a scoop of protein, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter,and a banana. This will add approximately 435 calories, 29 grams protein, 32net carbs, and 18 grams of fat. At this rate, you will add about 1 to 1.5lbs. every two weeks. Anything faster is surely fat gain. If your goal is tolose fat, then reducing calories by about 300 calories per day would be agood place to start, while increasing calories burned through exercise.These calories should be reduced from net carbohydrates or fat, but not fromreducing protein. Now let’s go over the final step.
    Step 3: Recovery
    After intense bouts of weight lifting, it is essential to recover properly.This can be done by proper rest and supplementation. For starters, getenough sleep at night. Aim for 8-9 hours per night. Also, if you can, takenaps sometime during the day. After workouts would be an ideal time fornaps. Make sure to take in protein at crucial recovery times. These twotimes are immediately following a workout and right before you go to bed.After workouts, your body is ready to start repairing all the muscle damagethat just happened. If you do not feed your body at this crucial time, youwill heal much slower and likely no stronger than before. This time periodof 1 hour after a workout is also known as the “anabolic window.” Your bodyalso rebuilds itself while you rest, so by consuming protein right beforebed, you give your body crucial amino acids to help you heal and growstronger as you sleep. A few supplements I recommend for better recovery areL-Glutamine powder, Zinc, and Magnesium. L-Glutamine is shown to boostimmunity, help protein synthesis, and boost growth hormone levels – allvaluable components of gaining strength. Zinc and Magnesium taken before bedcan improve overall sleep quality by helping with muscle relaxation, and thedeactivation of adrenaline. This allows for a better quality of sleep withbetter recovery.

    Info on Glutamine
    Info on Magnesium

    Ed Bauer

    Follow Mindy on Facebook

    It's commonly said that "abs are made in the kitchen", "abs are 80% diet, 20% exercise," and so on and so forth. But, what does that really mean? What are actual, tried and true steps that will help define and strengthen your core to develop those 6-pack abs? While I may not have all the answers, here are the steps I took (and am currently taking), to get that commonly sought-after 6-pack.

    The 6-pack abs can be a really fun challenge, whether you intend on showing them off often or not. It's such an interesting journey to slowly watch them emerge after working hard in the gym and at home in the kitchen. The main key, though, is not the hours put in at the gym, so much as it is consistent and clean lifestyle eating. Let me preface this topic a bit before we get too far ahead: I believe the word 'diet' often suggests a short-term, non-committal way of eating that will bring about short-term, non-permanent results; thus the reason for saying 'lifestyle eating'. Lifestyle eating is a daily diet where we can thrive and live optimally. So, what exactly does that entail? It's a well-balanced, healthy, plant-based daily regimen. Does this mean you will never have variation? Absolutely not! It just implies making a commitment that is kept, not for a week, or a month, or a few months, but (you guessed it) for life!

    Well-balanced food intake does not equate to starving oneself, or never allowing carbs, or fats, etc., but actually quite the opposite. Instead of depriving yourself of these, there must be a harmonious blend of the healthiest, natural types of fats and carbohydrates. For instance, complex carbohydrates vs. simple carbohydrates; unsaturated, unprocessed fats vs. partially hydrogenated oils; and, of course, the constant topic of debate: proteins. What are the optimal choices for these categories? Complex carbohydrates include foods such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa, and healthy fats are found in delicious foods like nuts and avocados. While protein is present in every plant food, the most commonly known high-protein, plant-based foods are tofu, seitan, tempeh, nuts, seeds and legumes. There are also plenty of protein shakes available made from some of these protein-rich foods. A balance of foods from these groups will help our bodies run smoothly, gain muscle, and recover faster.

    Taking the information from above and applying it to every day life need not be daunting. In fact, it can be both relatively simple and even fun. Now, the cleaner the diet, the leaner the abs; however, a diet that is too strict, for too long, can be extremely unhealthy. This is where balance must come into play! Here is a general example of daily clean eating that can be consistently followed:

    Quinoa or oatmeal with fruit and a protein shake

    Veggies and/or fruit

    Brown rice with seitan, kale, and Brussels sprouts

    (If training heavy and are hungry) Rice cakes with nut butter and fruit, then veggies and protein as an additional snack

    Sweet potato, tofu, and kale

    This is just one of many examples for a healthy daily meal plan that will allow your body to utilize the fuel you are supplying it. Change it up, make it fun, be creative, and make sure to consume quality protein immediately post-workout to start the muscle recovery process!

    Now that we have a guideline to follow for healthy eating, let's discuss cheating. A cheat meal once a week, or even a day of cheating once a week, will not make or break abdominal definition, per se. But, as we all know, if you're eating dirty all week, for weeks on end, that's when it'll really start to make itself visible. When you cheat continuously, your body displays it. The opposite, however, is JUST as evident! Eat veggies for a snack instead of a muffin, cookie, or a donut, and you will see the results! Our bodies are fantastic machines with the ability to externally project what is taking place inside. So, what could a cheat meal be? Really, anything, but if you're the type of person that loves fun food, be sure to plan it out. I personally love foods like curried tempeh, coconut water, and sweets, so I decide early in the week what it is I intend on having for my cheat meal. Then when that day rolls around, I'm not just scrounging around for junk to put in my mouth or skipping my cheat meal; I have a plan. The primary importance here is, regardless of your workout goal: make a plan and stick to it!

    Here are a few of my favorite ab exercises:

    Hanging Leg Raises: (click to enlarge)

    Bicycle Crunch on Bosu Ball: (click to enlarge)

    Lying Leg Raise with Hip Lift (Holding Weighted Bar): (click to enlarge)

    TRX Pikes (Upper Body Balance on Bosu Ball): (click to enlarge)
    Mindy Collette


    Oats are an excellent breakfast choice because of their high amount of complex carbs which provide sustained energy. Oats are between 10% - 15% protein and provide a good source of fiber as well as a mixture of B Vitamins. It's a good idea for active vegans to supplement with a B complex vitamin because they support a healthy nervous system, support the adrenal glands and assist in managing stress and weight loss. B Vitamins are also known for their mood-boosting properties.
    Beans are a staple in the vegan diet and a perfect combination of protein and starch. They are low in calories, low in fat, a good complex carb and high in fiber. They are also an inexpensive protein source, at an average $3 per pound compared to eggs at $6 per pound and meat at $12 per pound. Who said being vegan was more expensive?
    Tofu is an excellent source of vegan protein but I try to always eat the organic kinds because the soybean (the source of tofu) is considered to be very genetically modified. Consuming GMOs (genetically modified organisms) can create health complications. Tofu is also best consumed in moderation for vegan body builders especially because it contains a lot of estrogen which can make “hard” muscle appear softer. For this, I consume a lot of organic tempeh instead. Tempeh is also made from soybeans but fermented therefore provides considerably higher quality nutrition.
    Squash is an amazing source of vegan superpower! It's high in complex carbs and fiber, and the winter varieties are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium (an essential mineral especially important for those with a high activity level.)
    Yams are also high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, Vitamin B6 and potassium, while being low in saturated fat and sodium. Yams are crucial to a low carb diet because they provide a nice, slow-burning, sustained form of energy, while providing beneficial nutrient dense carbohydrates.
    Plant-based protein powder is an excellent way to increase your intake of muscle-supporting protein. Protein isolates tend to be heavily processed, so if you find an increase in farting and bloating, processing could be the issue. Some of the more preferred varieties are hemp (also very high in fiber), brown rice and yellow pea protein, a fave among one of our heroes, Brendan Brazier!
    Quinoa is not only a fantastic complex carb source but it's very high in protein too. Quinoa is considered a whole plant protein and includes lysine, an essential amino acid which helps convert fat into energy.
    Brown rice is far superior to white rice in terms of nutrition. Another great complex carb, it has high levels of manganese, selenium and magnesium (a mineral which acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes) as well as high fiber content. It's a quick staple that can be kept in the fridge for easy preparation, and provides sustainable energy for workouts.
    Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber, iron and protein. It's low in calories so if you're going to pig out on any meal, make a giant salad as big as you want with plenty of spinach. It's also such a versatile vegetable. It tastes great in salads, smoothies, steamed, sautéed, in wraps or sandwiches — the possibilities are endless!
    In the holistic health realm, one of ACV's primary uses is as a digestive aid. It can help to boost digestive juices in the stomach, and claims have been made that it increases fat burning. Apple cider vinegar helps your stomach in the breaking down and absorption of essential protein and nutrients. It also helps to alkalize the body.
    According to NutritionData.com, balsamic vinegar is a source of calcium, iron, manganese and potassium, which improve the body's functioning and weight loss abilities. As with all foods, make sure you check ingredients, as some balsamics contain corn syrup and nasty flavourings which can negate any benefits.
    Grapefruits are used in many diets to reduce the appetite and to help digestion and utilization of foods. They are low in calories, and are considered an excellent weight loss food. They are high in antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, which will help to boost your immunity during times of heavy training; times that are known to tax the system.
    Lemons and limes are another great, natural digestive aid. Like all citrus fruits, they're also jam-packed full of antioxidants, Vitamin C and limonene, which is thought to inhibit breast cancer. Lemon or lime juice adds a fresh, sharp flavour to anything — a definite staple ingredient in competition diets.

    For more nutrition ideas and recipes for vegan athletes, check out my e-book "Jacked on the Beanstalk: Plant Based Fuel for Vegan Athletes" at http://bit.ly/1dQhYZY
    Samantha Shorkey

    Torre Competes Pro!
    by Torre Washington
    First I would like to say thank you to Vegan Bodybuilding.com for your support and a great website.

    I did my first Pro show with SNBF after gaining Pro status in my 2nd show with them and after having ACL surgery over a year ago, great healing with a Vegan diet.

    I placed 3rd against great competition and men who outweighed me by 15-25lbs. (www.snbf.com) it was in Montgomery, AL on May28th, pics below.

    On June 16-17, I competed in Musclemania Universe in Miami, FL.

    This show was HUGE with 500 competitors from all over the world, and it was televised live on ESPN3, it can be replayed right now at www.espn3.com under (Fitness part II), and our part is about 5hrs in as the show started at 3pm.

    What an amazing experience, when people look at me in clothing, I seem just small and inconspicuous , but I do like that being the case, I was able to train with an IFBB Pro Paul Baker, who was just amazed at the level of conditioning that I had in my body, with clothes off.

    I was able to discuss my lifestyle with a few people and photographers at this event, and they were just taken aback that I am a vegan, alot of the competitors can be rather "competitive" as in wanting to seem tough and I am going to beat you mentality, but I always go to have fun, so alot of the other athletes wanted me to disrobe soon, and once I did, it was amazing at the response, they could not believe the level of definition and symmetry, so much so, that some of them started to not speak to me and others were calling me the champion in my class, the Korean team enjoyed taking pictures with me.

    Overall it was an amazing experience, one that I will continue to do and get better, I placed 3rd in this show as well, and after talking to the judges, they all said I have it, just need a little more size, so VEGA products here I come!!, time to pack on some quality muscle.

    Now I am looking for some sponsorships and some photo shoots.

    Torre Washington

    Total Body-Mass Routine
    by Derek Tresize
    Some of the most frequent questions I get as a vegan trainer are about how to gain muscle. My first answers are always diet related, since as much as two thirds of any achievements you make in bodybuilding will always be diet related, but there are many tried and true training techniques used to help your body lay down more muscle as efficiently as possible as well.

    When most trainers shift their focus to gaining muscle, they continue following their same split-style routine (such as chest/tris on day 1, back/bis on day 2, etc). Wanting to change things up in the past, I decided to try a total body training program like the one listed below during one of my mass gain phases to see what would happen. What started out as an experiment ended up being my go-to method of gaining muscle quickly. During my first attempt at such a routine my weight jumped 10 lbs in only three weeks! I saw similar results when I tried a total body mass gaining routine with clients, so I knew I was onto something.

    Example Routine:
    Day 1: Squat, Bench Press, Barbell Row, Dumbbell Shrugs
    Day 3: Clean, Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, Dumbbell Row, Romanian Deadlift
    Day 5: Weighted Pull Ups, Decline Dumbbell Pullovers, Push Press, Deadlift
    In Between: Arms, Calves, and Abs
    Two days OFF per week

    In reading into the physiology of muscle gain and looking over programs used by top body builders, the common denominator is always heavy compound barbell exercises. Robert Cheeke even devotes an entire chapter to these exercises in his book, Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness. Simply put, heavy compound barbell exercises like squats and deadlifts allow you to move more weight at once, stimulate more muscles at once, and produce more anabolic hormones as a result. All this leads to speeding up muscle gain, especially when supported by a healthy high calorie diet.

    The change I made to your typical compound barbell exercise based routine was to scramble it, hitting each major muscle group (chest/back/shoulders/legs) every workout with one exercise rather than devoting a single workout per week to each muscle group. This meant I was stimulating each muscle group 3-4 times more often, and still from a variety of angles, but (hopefully) avoiding overtraining by limiting it to one exercise per workout. This also allowed me to go completely all-out on that one exercise, since it was the only one I'd be doing for that muscle group that day. Another benefit I considered in training this way was increased hormone release. If compound moves help you grow by stimulating more muscles during a workout and thereby releasing more hormones, why not take that concept one step further by hitting ALL the major muscle groups in a single session? I have no idea if this actually was responsible for the gains I've witnessed, but the logic seemed to fit.

    The one downside I came across using this style of routine has been overtraining. The benefit I just mentioned above about being able to go all out on a muscle every session really leads to wear and tear over time. That is why I've learned the hard way that a program like this should only be followed for 4-6 weeks before taking a few days off and then returning to a normal split routine so your body can recover. This allows you time to shock your body with a out of its status quo enough to produce some impressive gains, while still being brief enough to avoid the accumulated damage you take from such consistent heavy duty training. If you're looking to shake things up and want to try something that has help me and several of my clients gain muscle quickly, give this training concept a try!
    Derek Tresize
    ACE Certified Personal Trainer
    T. Colin Campbell Foundation/Cornell University Certified in Plant Based Nutrition

    Derek Tresize

    In the bodybuilding and fitness world there are an infinite number of ways to structure an exercise program and achieve results. There are dozens of variables you can manipulate, such as weight (as a % of your max), reps, sets, exercise selection, rest intervals, rep tempo, exercise order, time under tension, and the list goes on. There are also even more sophisticated concepts you can utilize such as periodization, overreaching, and deloading, to name a few. So given this bounty of options, why is it that we virtually always see the same program being utilized by every athlete, from the novice all the way to the competitive bodybuilder? If you look at 99% of lifters' training plans, they will consist of training each muscle group once per week, and using 3-4 sets of 3-4 exercises for each muscle group, with a rep range of 8-12 (5-15 if you're dealing with a mold breaker!). One can argue that this is a tried and true method that will yield the greatest results for the most individuals, which may be valid given its prevalence, but I would argue that it's more a matter of convenience and lack of creativity. Bodybuilding magazines have provided these kinds of routines since enhanced athletes have adopted them in the early nineties, but I would argue that there is a better way, and that is by utilizing the variable Frequency.

    Frequency, or how often you train a given muscle group or movement, is an extremely powerful tool for stimulating your body to adapt. Think about it in the context of anything else you'd like to excel at: if you want to be a skilled musician, do you practice once a week or for hours every day? If you want to be a fantastic dancer or martial artist, do you train and drill a few times a month or as often as possible? Now if you want a muscular, ripped physique, shouldn't you remind your body of that as often as you can? Absolutely! Yes, a major difference between weight lifting and these other activities is that your body needs more time to recover from each session, but that doesn't mean you need to confine yourself to training each muscle group only once per week!

    Let's look at some examples. Even in the field of chemically enhanced bodybuilders, higher than once-a-week frequency training has played a major role in producing champions. What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney, and Ronnie Coleman all have in common? They've each won the most prestigious bodybuilding title, Mr. Olympia, 7 or 8 times (far more than any other competitors), AND they all trained each muscle group 2 to 3 times every week. Other famous past bodybuilders to utilize high frequency have been Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and Sergio Olivia (notice this is virtually every top bodybuilder from the golden age - when most believe bodybuilders looked their best). And a modern bodybuilder who utilizes twice per week frequency is none other than 3-time Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath. In addition, many top natural bodybuilders train with higher than once-per-week frequency for certain muscle groups or their whole body such as Marin Daniels, Doug Miller, and Dr. Layne Norton. Even the Godfather of Vegan Bodybuilding, Robert Cheeke, lists multiple daily sets of pushups and crunches as one of the secrets to his bodybuilding success. And as for myself, I've seen by far the greatest gains when I train each muscle group 2-3 times per week. In fact, a program that has consistently yielded the greatest mass gains in my clients is a total body program that trains every muscle group several times every week!

    Now, why does high frequency training produce such excellent results? It's the same principle at work as the other examples I listed above such as music dancing or martial arts: if you want your body to adapt to something, provide it the signal to do so as often as possible (i.e. practice). A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated this when it compared two groups performing the same total volume of the same exercises either during one session per week or divided over three sessions, and the more frequent trainers made greater gains in muscle size and strength; they performed the exact same amount of work, but they gave their bodies the message to grow three times a week rather than once. Another factor at play is illustrated by a quote from the Exercise Science Department of Florida Atlantic University: "Strength and growth are related to total training volume, not exercise-induced muscle damage". By training more often, your volume over time will be much greater. For example, if you train shoulders once per week, you may do a high volume session of 24 total sets, but if you train them twice per week you might only get in 15 sets per workout before you have to move to another muscle group, but over the week you will have done 30 total sets, and I guarantee you will be able to go harder for 15 sets than you will for 24. And imagine how many extra sets that amounts to over a year! If the same volume spread out more yields superior results, imagine what more total volume and a higher relative intensity can do! And this is also why being consistent with your training over the long haul is so important for your results.}

    There are limits to how frequently you should train, of course. You can't train every muscle group with brutal intensity every single day or you'd never be able to recover and adapt, and you'll likely become injured. And that is the one drawback I've found with high frequency training - you are more likely to get injured unless you keep your intensity in check and ensure optimal recovery. Nothing will derail your progress like an injury. So, how much frequency is too much? That is very much an individual question, but as a general rule, I wouldn't recommend anyone train a given muscle group more than three times per week. In addition to this, the more often you train a muscle, the more you should err on the side of training short of muscle failure and doing less volume at each session, or at least alternate between brutal sessions and easier ones. Bodybuilding is a sport of recovering from weight training, not just weight training, so you need to ensure you are recovering as much as possible between sessions. To do this, don't train to failure on every set or even every workout, and if you've been training intensely and consistently for 4-6 weeks, don't be afraid to take a deloading week and hit everything at 30-50% less than normal weights. Optimal nutrition will also go a long way towards faster recovery times, so be sure to get plenty of calories in the form of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

    There are many ways to structure a high frequency program, but some tried and true versions are as follows: Three day splits such as push/pull/legs or chest + back/Shoulders +arms/legs, Back + hamstrings/Chest + arms/Shoulder + Legs, or for a powerlifter, squat/bench/deadlift
    Two day splits such as upper/lower or full body push/full body pull

    Total body workouts In using any of the above splits, be sure to train no more than 3-5 days per week, with ideally at least one full day off per week even from cardio. Another great tactic if you have the schedule flexibility is to break workouts into AM and PM sessions (for example, Chest AM and Back PM). As the study mentioned above, the same amount of work spread out more will elicit superior results, and if that isn't enough evidence, Arnold Schwarzenegger credits twice per day training as earning him some of his fastest mass gains!

    If you've never followed this kind of program before, I encourage you to give it a try over the next 6-8 weeks and see how it works for you. Good luck!

    Derek Tresize

    Training for Muscles by
    Bodybuilding Champion Alexander Dargatz
    February 18th, 2006

    My thoughts on training:

    I've been working with weights for around 10 years now, and i had my deeps and ups in this time.

    So, i want to present you what I personally think is important when you want to get bigger and/or stronger. I'll keep it on a general base, at least at first, and won't go into details of my workout, as i believe that everyone is different. That's the first important point in this thread *lol EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! That means, everyone has to find the perfect way to train for her/himself.
    BUT i do believe that there are some principles that apply to everyone, the laws of weight training you could say. I'll try to lay them out to you, please feel free to comment or contradict if you think i'm wrong.

    1. Progression

    I put this as the first principle, because i think it's the most important as well as the most evident. Progression means that you increase your ability to lift weights over the time. That can be done in several ways, i'll come to that later, but the thing is:
    If you're doing 12 reps with 60kg now and 10months later you can do 60kg for 12 times, you have not improved, you're not stronger and i'll wager that you haven't gained an ounce of muscle.
    The whole thing about bodybuilding is HOW you can continue to improve. All systems and theories have this point in common.

    I recommend to keep a training log, so you can check if you're really making any progress. When i started lifting weights, i had no clue of training theory or anything, but i had a log, and every session i aimed to improve on the session before. At that time i made good progress, although i violated almost every "rule" i learned about BB later in the gym.

    When i started training in the gym, i changed many things, but i also stopped writing the log, because nobody there did it and it was kinda "uncool". The gym owner told me he knew exactly what he did last week so he didn't need a log. He made it sound ridiculous to use a log. But now, i know that a log truly is one of the keys to progression. You may remember last workout, but what about last month's? Everyone has bad days, but if you don't increase your strength after a month, you're definitely doing something wrong!

    So, now, what ways are there to ensure continued progression?

    2. Change

    In the past years i've always worked out, sometimes with greater effect, sometimes with less or even while declining. But i've noticed that one key to progression is to change your routine every now and then.
    As a beginner, you can stick to your basic program for quite a long time without negative effects on your progression. As an advanced bodybuilder, however, i recommend to change your plan completely every 4-8 weeks. By doing so, you force your body to adapt to the new situation by growth.
    Personally, i feel that following a plan for 6 weeks is the best, but that might vary for others. After 6 weeks of one program, the progression slows, eventually comes to a complete stop.

    I want to make myself clear, perhaps it could be misunderstood.
    I don't suggest that you change a program you're getting good results with after 6 weeks into another program (which might give you inferior results). What i was trying to say was, that usually after 6 weeks the adaption to a program begins to slow, the gains get smaller. One way to counter that without changing the program would be to take 1-2 weeks off and train only light in this time (or even no weight training at all, just cardio).
    The change has another reason: motivation. Beginning a new program can bring great motivation into your workout.

    3. Often is better

    There are several factors in your training that need to be balanced to ensure progression: frequency, volume, load and intensity. Both, too much or not enough of any of those can jeopardize your gains.

    Frequency: i don't mean the number of workouts per week, i mean the frequency regarding every muscle. Too often, and you risk overtraining. Not often enough, and the muscle will begin to adapt to the rest again, in the worst case with atrophy. Of course, the frequency depends on the other factors, too. A high intensity training can't be done as often as a low intensity one.

    I used to workout like most guys do in the gym: a split-program, every muscle once per week, 3-5 exercises, 3-5 sets per exercise, and that's it.
    I wouldn't say that's complete bullshit, but it comes close

    A principle i learned while reading (and later trying) the Doggcrapp (DC) system, was "often is better". DC is a variation on the HIT training system. DC states that if you can bring a muscle to grow two times per week instead of only once, you will grow 104 times per year instead of 52. He's got a point there, myladies!

    At that point i realized that every time in my life that i made fast improvements, i was working every muscle more often! In the beginning, when i was training at home in the basement, i used to workout every day for approx. 3-4 hours. In this time, i made a lot of mistakes, but i worked the whole body every day. I made a very fast progress then.
    Of course, beginners always make fast progress. But while i was using light weights, high reps, high volume, high frequency and did exercises that would cringe the toenails of most bodybuilders, i still grew. Actually, looking back, i instinctively followed at least two of the principles: progression and "often is better".

    Later in the gym, i "learned" how a real bodybuilder should work out: the above mentioned split. I still made good progress, but eventually i came to a plateau.
    After years of ups and downs (competitions diets, injuries and other distractions) i found out, that i had the best results with a 2-split or better, a whole-body workout. I didn't know why, but i noticed the fact. Now i know it's because of the third principle.

    4. Intensity and volume

    That's a difficult point, but an important one.
    I used to work out as hard as i could, to muscle failure and beyond every single set, using intensity techniques all over, believing that the msucles wouldn't grow if i didn't show them that they were too weak for the requirements i set. I wanted to force them to grow!
    The problem is, that you can easily overdo it. High intensity has it advantages, but feeling the muscles burning, aching or being pumped up has about NOTHING to do with growth. High intensity doesn't go well with the other factors, also. If you do high volume or high frequency, you can't (okay, you can, but it wouldn't be advantageous) do high intensity also.

    Therefore, i advise to either do high intensity OR high frequency OR high volume!

    If you think of it, it's obvious that when you work your chest on monday with 3 exercises, you're not as strong in the second or third exercise as you're in the first. If you did the first exercise on monday, the second on wednesday and the third on friday, you'd be stronger in those and work the chest more often without increasing the total volume.

    The DC program for instance recommends to work every muscle with only one exercise and one set per session! That seems to be too few at first glance, but of course, this one set is to be done with the maximum intensity. (After that, you do loaded stretching for that muscle and move to the next.) You split the body in two and workout 3 times per week, so every muscle is trained 3 times in two weeks.

    On the other hand, the HST program says that you should workout every muscle AT LEAST every 48 hours! That means, doing a whole body routine at least every other day, or a 2-split every day! But often is better in this system, so you could do a 2-split every day, one part in the morning, the other in the evening Wink

    I tried both systems and had good results. How comes that? They are opposite, one claims max. intensity, one claims max. frequency.
    But they're both balanced in what counts:

    5. Regeneration

    One key to progression is the proper amount of rest. Too much, and you can't call your training training, as it will show no results
    Not enough on the other hand will lead into overtraining, not exactly what anyone wants, as it prevents further results and can be dangerous to your health.
    So how much training is too much?
    I'd say, if you don't make progression from workout to workout (counting in bad days, you might say at least every third workout), you're probably doing too much/have not enough rest. It could be that you're doing not enough, but that's a rare case.
    The muscle needs to be confronted with a stress new to him during the workout, to make him adapt to that. After that, it needs to regenerate and then it can grow.
    The DC program ensures the proper regeneration by doing only one set, so that the muscle is not worked more than needs to be done. By doing an extreme intensity, however, it's made sure that it has to respond with supercompensation!
    On the other hand, the HST system claims that overtraining has nothing to do with the muscle itself, but that it takes place in the CNS. By avoiding muscle failure, it makes it possible to workout much more often. It sounds easy at first, no muscle failure, but believe me, it's not easy! HST means doing squats and deadlift and everything else at least every other day!

    This text is not about HST or DC, but if you're interested, i can write a summary on each of these systems in another thread sometime.

    So, proper regeneration means that you can do more than you did last time EVERY TIME when you enter the gym!

    6. Load and reps

    What exactly is an increase in strength?
    When you have the same weight on the bar than last workout, and do more reps with it, that's an increase. When you have more weight on the bar and do the same number of reps, that's also an increase, obviously. But what if you put more weight on and do less reps? Is that an increase?
    And what is better, more load or more reps?
    Any source i have read and my personal experience tell me that increasing the load is the key to muscle growth. Actually, that's another point where DC and HST don't contradict

    BUT increasing the number of reps also has advantadges:
    - I find it easier to increase the number of reps i can do with a certain weight than increasing the weight. Moreover, it's easier to increase the number when you're doing high repetition sets: it's easier to improve from 20 to 25 than from 2 to 5!
    - High reps improve the vascularisation and the endurance of the muscle, both not unimportant factors for growth.
    - Lower load is more sparing for the joints.
    The very start for me into BB was doing push-ups and sit-ups every evening. Obviously, i increased the number of reps, not the load. I made good progress (in that time, i also worked out every day, and i did not go to muscle failure. Instead, i did several sets coming near muscle failure. *pat myself on the shoulder* i have good instincts *lol* i did the right thing )

    Having said that, i think that increasing the load has priority to increasing the reps when your goal is muscle mass and strength. After all, we're no long distance runners, are we?

    To conclude this for today:

    - Keep a training log.
    - Change your plan every 4-8 weeks.
    - Work out often and heavy.
    - Don't blend high intensity with high volume or high frequency.

    The workout

    Yes, that's what it's all about! Don't you just love it?

    One general thing i'd like to mention: pre-workout-nutrition.
    Most people i know claim that they are stronger when they eat something right before the workout, usually carbs 30min or an hour before. Some go for cereals, others for cake or meat Sad My girlfriend even told me of this guy who was eating rice and meat DURING the workout, between the sets! Shocked
    Physiologically, this makes not much sense to me. My experience is that i'm stronger when i don't eat anything at least 2 hours before the workout. Of course, you have to be loaded, but it's better to do that another time, not right before you train. A full belly consumes a lot of the body's energy and blood. I couldn't do squats while digesting!
    The body is ready for performance when it's hungry!
    I time my meals so that i go to the gym hungry. During the workout i'm not hungry anymore, i wouldn't want to think of food at all. Of course, you should provide some calories after the workout as soon as possible. I usually go for fruits (sometimes juice), or if the time to the next full meal is too long, soymilk instead.
    If the time i ate nothing before the workout gets too long, i eat fruits, as they provide my body with quick energy and are easily digested and i can train with an empty stomach.
    Actually, after doing this for quite some time, i read an article by Shawn Ray called "Stay hungry" where he recommended exactly the same thing Cool Hey, cool, Shawn Ray was my favorite Pro at that time!

    The exercises

    Okay, now, let's get to the point.
    It's nothing new what i'm gonna tell here, but it's so true that you can't say it often enough:
    Do squats, not leg press. Bench press, not cable flies. Pull-ups, not lat machine. Dead lift, not one armed cable curls!

    It's easy to get carried away with doing isolation exercises that pump your muscle up and let it burn. I like it, you like it, everyone does it. But it doesn't help you grow.

    Another thing widely done is to work the smaller muscles far too much in relation to the big ones. I've done this mistake myself for many years, wondering why my arms where my weakest part, though i trained them the hardest.
    Think on it: what muscles are used in the bench press? Chest, right. But shoulders and triceps do a big part of the work, too, along with other muscles. When you do bench press with, say, 70kg, your triceps has to contract against that weight. It's a far better exercise than cable push downs with 25kg! So, after having worked the chest with bench press and incline bench press, you don't need to work the triceps with another 2 exercises that exclude the bigger pectoralis (chest muscle)! Why would you want to work the smaller muscle more?
    Concentrate on the main movements.

    Depending on the program, i concede that some isolation exercises can be useful IF USED WISELY. Mainly, that means exercises in the stretched position, to add a different kind of stress to the muscles than they get in the main exercises.

    Here's a list of movements i recommend:

    - Squat: obviously. Works the whole body, mainly the legs and the back.
    - Deadlift: similar to the squat, but also works the traps, the forearms and concentrates more on the hamstrings, the glutes and the back. Stiffed leg deadlift is great for developing thick hamstrings.
    - Bench Press: not only for the chest, but for shoulders and triceps as well. The inclined bench is good, too, actually i think it's even better than the flat. Dumbell presses are great exercises for the stabilisation muscles and hepl build power.
    - Pull-ups: Lat, serratus anterior, middle back, biceps, forearms. I hate them and i love them, the best for your back, arms, shoulders.
    - Dips: chest, triceps, shoulders. One of my favorite exercises.
    - Military press: shoulders, triceps.
    - Barbell row: Lower back, middle back, lats, biceps. Dumbell row is similar, but easier on the lower back and harder on the rest, including forearms.
    - Upright row: some people have problems with it, i love it. It's great for the delts and traps. Never mind lateral raises anymore Smile
    - Pullovers: I do this mainly for the lats, serratus, and triceps, so some people claim it's a chest exercise.
    - Front squats: They put more stress on the lower back and as you take less weight, less stress on the legs. When i do them, i do them after the normal squats, when the legs are already tired, or on an easy leg day.
    - Overhead squats: This is actually a shoulder exercise! It's a great whole-body-movement that requires strength and balance.

    Okay, those should be enough to make a program of it
    There are many others, i didn't bother to mention all those triceps and biceps exercises. And crunches for the abs.
    A whole body program doesn't need extra arm exercises, but if you wish, you can include one for your psyche

    Routine for beginners

    Here is a strength routine for beginners. Most people will benefit from it.
    It requires not much time, focuses on the main movements and on getting stronger.

    Day 1

    Warm-up: 10min cardio.
    2 sets each:
    - Dips
    - Pullups
    - Squats
    1 set each:
    - Crunches
    - Calves

    Day 2

    Warm-up: 10min cardio.
    2 sets each:
    - Barbell row
    - Barbell press
    - Deadlift
    1 set each:
    - Crunches
    - Calves

    Alternate Day 1 and Day 2, with 1-2 rest days in between. After cardio warm up, do easy sets of each exercise until you feel warm. Do 2 sets of every exercise , concentrate on perfect form and use a weight you can do for at least 10 clean reps without reaching muscle failure.
    Try to increase the number of reps each workout, but don't go to muscle failure (except for abs and calves)!
    When you reach 15 reps in both sets (20 for squats), increase the weight a bit.

    Do this for 2 months and then analyze your logbook.
    Alexander Dargatz


    Triceps Workout

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Triceps Workout
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004
    As usual, when I get to the gym, I hop on the stair stepper or stationary bike and do a bit of cardio for 5-7 minutes to get some blood flowing and warm up the muscles. As soon as I'm done there, I continue to warm-up with some triceps extensions and push-ups with stretching in between. I do light weight, high reps to get the triceps moving before start my working sets. Remember that this is just one workout, exercises change each time. Let's get to it.

    Triceps Rope Extensions
    100 pounds 20 reps
    110 pounds 15 reps
    120 pounds 12 reps
    130 pounds 10 reps
    140 pounds 8 reps
    150 pounds 6 reps

    Upright Dips
    20 reps
    18 reps
    16 reps
    15 reps
    15 reps

    French Press (Skull Crushers) 50 pounds 12 reps
    60 pounds 10 reps
    70 pounds 8 reps

    Narrow Grip Triceps press using EZ-bar or short bar
    100 pounds 12 reps
    120 pounds 10 reps
    140 pounds 8 reps

    One-Arm Cable Triceps Pull-Downs 50 pounds 12 reps
    60 pounds 10 reps
    70 pounds 8 reps

    Triceps Rope Extensions
    100 pounds 20 reps

    End of workout Robert Cheeke


    True Intensity

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    True Intensity
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, July 21st 2004

    Whenever I hear someone say, "My workout today was really intense," In my head I'm thinking, "Yeah right." We all have our own perception and ideas about measurement of intensity. What is intense for one person may be a walk in the park for another person. I can imagine that walking up a steep hill for 30 minutes would be quite intense for
    someone who is overweight, and it would just be an ordinary stroll for
    a trail runner.

    I think the word "intensity" gets thrown around too loosely. Just like the words, "great, excellent, and awesome," which are all way over-used. Right here and now I want to explain what "True Intensity" is.

    Allow me to tell you a story. When the moment came that I decided to take bodybuilding seriously I had to start training seriously; and that is precisely what I did. In 2001 I was preparing for a bodybuilding competition and learned first hand what True Intensity was all about. Before leg workouts I would be nervous and have butterflies in my stomach. This is typical of sports competitions, games, and some practices, but not so common for a simple workout. The problem was, it wasn't just a simple workout; it was a test of my own courage and strength. I was walking into the gym knowing in the back of my head, that I might not be walking out under my own power. I pushed insane amounts of weight for my size and bodyweight. If you were to look at me, you'd think my eyes were about to pop out of my head or you'd think to yourself, "is this guy crazy?" I would often weep from the pain of training with this kind of intensity and occasionally vomit during or after the leg workouts. Is this normal? Not for average people, but for elite bodybuilders it is very familiar

    There is nothing like pushing your body beyond its normal physical limitations. When your mind takes over and you convince yourself togo harder than you ever thought possible, it is one of the best and most powerful feelings you can ever experience. When you scream through the pain and tears roll down your face, and upon completion of the last rep all you can do is lie there motionless trying to regain your breath and control of your body; you know you are training with True Intensity.

    When people tell me that they are training hard but are not achieving their desired results I know they are not training with intensity, or perhaps their diet is lacking. I believe people when they say they train hard, anyone can do that. But when you step into the world of intensity you will see results; you have to. If you aren't than you need to take your nutrition program seriously and make the dedication to nutritional excellence just as intense as the workouts. In 2001 when I started this intense odyssey I achieved great results and was pleased with what I was able to accomplish. In a short time I made huge gains because I wasn't satisfied until I was certain that I was the hardest working person in the gym.

    There are a few limitations with true intensity as there are with anything. To take your training to the next level requires an accurate evaluation of what your body can handle. On a few occasions I had to learn the hard way. I have collapsed under the weight while doing squats, I've been crushed by the hip-sled leg press more than once, and I've hurt my shoulder and biceps from taking the intensity a little too far. Recognize the difference between pain from the quality of intensity and pain from muscle injury. This is very important and should be taken seriously. It is all a waste if you work really hard in the gym achieving results only to have it all go away from a careless injury.

    If True Intensity is controlled it can lead to the greatest workouts of your life, respect from others in the gym afraid to give it their all, and bodybuilding results you only dreamt about before discovering this method of training. I don't mean to suggest that you throw up after each workout or have to be helped out of the gym to get home, but push yourself harder and harder each time until you feel that you are truly training with intensity.

    True intensity does not only refer to training but encompasses your entire lifestyle. When it comes to intense nutrition this includes drinking a gallon of water a day, eating enough calories and protein to compliment your workouts and put on muscle, and taking advantageof
    supplements that may assist your bodybuilding progress. This also means preparing meals so you don't miss an opportunity to eat during the day and carrying supplements with you. This also means that you take care of yourself and get enough rest and sleep and stay away from things like alcohol, smoking and things that will inhibit your
    progress and not allow you to reach your full potential.

    Train with intensity, passion, desire and purpose and I have no doubtthat you will see your physique transform the way you've always hoped it would. Leave everything in the gym, go home, eat and be proud of your efforts. Then go to sleep. You deserve a nice rest because you know that tomorrow is going to be a big day and you might even have butterflies in your stomach before your workout. Then you know you are training with True Intensity. Robert Cheeke

    We've all had bad workouts — days when our energy is down from lack of sleep or a hectic schedule, our motivation isn't there, and we just don't feel like pushing ourselves with maximum intensity. Ilove training, I mean I really love it, and this still happens to me at least once a month. While there is no secret pill or powder that will help you get a good hard workout in, and there's no way to click your heels three times and be done with it, some recent experiences in the gym have given me a couple of tricks that have helped me turn lackluster workouts around into some of my best workouts.

    One day, I was training chest and back, and it was a really mediocre workout. A stubborn shoulder injury was holding me back on pull-ups, and I hadn't gotten enough sleep all week, so I was on the verge of calling it a day and heading home when a seemingly unrelated and trivial thing happened. I received a message that I needed to wrap things up and head home within the next 10 minutes or so. I thought to myself, "OK, two or three more sets to get the job done!" and then hit my next set of dumbbell incline presses, and suddenly it was like I was doing a whole new workout! I was able to complete twice as many reps as I had with the previous set! I wound up increasing the weight I was using and getting in two more solid sets, with minimal rest, before heading home. As I was leaving the gym, I had a great pump and I could tell I was going to be sore. So what happened here?
    I was having a lackluster workout, feeling tired, annoyed about my injury, and generally unmotivated, to the point that I wanted to cut my workout short. Unexpectedly, my remaining workout was limited to 10 minutes, so I was forced to decide what I could get in to complete my workout in that amount of time. Having made a decision about what I would get done, I trained with focus and intensity, and the final 10 minutes of my workout were much more productive than the first 40 Here's another example from my recent training:
    A few weeks ago, I was headed to the gym at 5:00 a.m. for my heavy leg training day feeling half-asleep, unmotivated, and apprehensive about the amount of weight I'd be able to handle on squats and lunges that day. When I got to the gym, I saw that my lifting partner wasn't there and, after waiting another 10 minutes, decided I'd be going it alone that day. By now I was feeling less motivated than ever, and less confident about handling heavy weight since I'd be lifting sans-spotter. I also now only had 50 minutes until I had to get changed and be ready for my first client of the day. Not a good scenario for an awesome workout.

    Knowing how little time I had, I made a mental plan. I decided on what exercises I would get in and which I'd skip that day and exactly how many sets of each exercise I would do. And given the strict time limit, I was then able to know exactly how much time I had for each exercise and at what time I should be moving to the next one. For example, I knew that at 5:35 I needed to be starting my first set of lunges. I normally have only a general plan for my workouts and leave myself free to change up the number of sets and the rest intervals as I go, but now I had an exact plan down to the minute. With this plan in place I trained without any music, watching the clock between every set to make sure I wasn't getting too much rest and falling behind, and starting my next set on time no matter what. I wasn't able to train my heaviest that day with the short rests and no spotter, but the workout was brutally hard and I was very sore the next day! So what happened this time?I was feeling tired and nervous about training heavy and my spotter no-showed, so things were looking bad for my training that day. Because of an upcoming appointment, my workout was limited to less than an hour, at least 20 minutes shorter than usual. I made a very strict plan using only the most important exercises and stuck to my time limits militantly. My workout was brutally hard and, judging by my soreness the next day, extremely effective. Spot the pattern yet? It took me a few instances of this scenario happening before it clicked, but the recurring theme for turning bad workouts around was having 1) a strict time limit, and 2) a precise plan. And both have to be ambitious to really turn the workout around, so the time limit needs to be short and the plan needs to fill it completely with only the most essential moves.

    Making a precise plan with a strict time limit will increase your training density (the amount of work done within a period of time), which makes the workout more intense overall without changing anything else. Don't believe me? Ask anyone who trains Crossfit about how time limits change the intensity of their workouts. Another benefit is what I call the "Finish-Line Effect": by having strict time limits and knowing when each exercise and the entire workout will be finished, you are always within sight of the finish line. And when the end is in sight and you know you're almost done, you're much more likely to dive in and give it your all. I've witnessed this effect thousands of times with clients and training partners, and I know it to be true for myself. On normal days, when you're feeling great and looking forward to a long, heavy workout, by all means go ahead and get your regularly scheduled program in. For those days when you'd rather be anywhere but in the gym, however, try setting yourself a time limit so strict you won't be able to glance away from the clock (much less at your phone), and make a workout plan pared down to the essentials that will get the job done. Try these two tricks and I guarantee you will have a much more productive training session than you would have otherwise! Derek Tresize

    Vegan Bodybuilder's Pre-Contest Diet
    by Vegan Bodybuilder Robert Cheeke January 7th 2007

    In competitive bodybuilding, we typically have different 'seasons' just like other athletes. We have our competitive season where we spend as long as 16 weeks preparing for a single competition; and we may compete multiple times throughout the year. During our off-season we bulk up, add mass, eat more of a variety of foods and we don't get near a stage or bright lights (unless we're guest posing or presenting awards at a contest.).

    In the off-season, I eat pretty much whatever I want. I consume vegan ice-cream, chips, bagels, as well as more quality foods such as tofu, stir-fried vegetables, sandwiches, lentil soups, burritos, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, bars, and shakes. I don't count calories, grams of protein, carbs, or fat. I just eat about 8-12 times per day (not necessarily meals, but times) and drink around a gallon of water each day. I like to eat as much as possible, train as hard as I can and add a significant amount of size when I'm not cutting fat to compete. In the off season I'll typically eat about 5,000 calories a day, including around 300 grams of protein daily.

    The pre-contest diet is designed to reduce body fat, is focused on eating clean foods, and is the preparation period leading up to competition. The diet is altered, the training is altered, and the focus turns to new goals of getting ripped and shredded for competition. The time a bodybuilder spends preparing for a contest is determined by many factors including the date the last competed, their genetics, their shape in the off-season, and general life factors such as work/school or family schedules.

    I start my pre-contest diet about 12 weeks away from the competition. Some bodybuilders start 16 weeks away, and some maybe only 8 weeks away. Due to my genetics and training/eating history, I never get 'out of shape' or have high body fat percentage so I can get away with dieting for just 12 weeks or even less.

    At the 12-week mark, I cut out all pastas, breads, chips, and other junk foods. I also cut down on processed foods like canned soups, energy bars, and cereals. I also begin to incorporate some form of cardiovascular exercise at this point to help burn off some fat and shed some calories. It also gets my lungs and heart prepared for a change in training that takes place as I approach the contest. I ease into the cardio because it's not my favorite aspect of training so I typically start small with walking/jogging, stair climbing, and cycling.

    At this point I'll eat oatmeal and fruit in the morning, fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, tofu and tempeh for afternoon and evening meals, and a variety of supplements throughout the day. Some of those include protein or meal replacement powders, multivitamins, vitamin E, C, and B-12, Flax Oil, and some amino acids like L-glutamine. My total caloric intake will begin to reduce to around 4,000 calories a day. I keep my meal frequency up, eating 8-12 times a day to keep my metabolism (the body's ability to burn fat) fast and active, which helps me reach my goal of dropping body fat.

    When I hit the 8-week mark, I start changing my weight training routine. I train with less rest periods between sets, higher intensity, and start doing cardio 3-5 days a week. I don't lift quite as heavy because I have less amount of rest time between sets. I'll still have some heavy lifting days in there, but in general, my intensity is increased to really get a good sweat and pump going during each training session, and the weight I use is slightly decreased.

    My cardio training usually consists of riding a stationary bike for 20 minutes before my workout and for 30 minutes following my workout. I feel that the time immediately after a weight training session is one of the best fat-burning opportunities for cardio. In addition to the bike, I also use the stair-stepper and elliptical equipment inside the gym. If the weather is nice, I prefer to do cardio outdoors in the form of cycling, running (especially on trails in the woods) and playing sports such as basketball and soccer. For me, cardio has to be enjoyable, so I pick something fun and it is a great way to shape up while really enjoying the calorie-burning activity. Intense sports are a great way to accomplish this.

    At 8 weeks out, my diet is similar to what it is at 12-weeks out. I'm focused on eating clean foods; mostly raw, unprocessed fruits, veggies, nuts, grains, seeds, beans, tofu, tempeh, and protein powders. At this point I may drop my intake down to about 3,500 calories a day and my protein intake will still be very high; between 200-300 grams a day.

    When I get down to 6 weeks before the contest I cut out most high carb foods and I completely cut out anything that could be considered a 'junk food'. I continue to eat oatmeal in the morning to start the day with some long-lasting energy, and the rest of the day is filled with tofu, beans, rice, yams, potatoes, spinach, tempeh, protein powders and supplements. I also bump my cardio up to 5 days a week for the final month and a half. My cardio sessions usually include riding a stationary bike, jogging outside, or playing competitive sports like basketball. I may bump my post workout cardio session up from 30 minutes to 40 minutes depending on how my body is progressing toward my contest-shape goal.

    With 2 weeks left I cut out all packaged and flavored tofu and other processed foods. I buy blocks of plain tofu and bake it myself and use salsa to add some flavor and eat it with spinach, yams or other veggies. I totally focus on raw, alkaline, enzymatically alive foods to fuel my workouts and nourish my body. I still eat some cooked foods but the bulk of my diet is raw, unprocessed foods. I focus heavily on green vegetables for nutrition and immune system boosting effects they have on the body. I will also take in small amounts of berries for antioxidant benefits and to enjoy the "sweet" sensation that I am not getting from other foods. This is when the body will begin to crave certain foods and it is important to have a strong will and stay focused on the goals I set for myself.

    At the 2-week point, my diet consists of oatmeal and fruit in the morning, hemp protein powders, baked tofu, yams, broccoli, spinach, beans and rice in the afternoon and evening, and supplements throughout the day. My calorie intake will most likely be around 3,000 calories a day at this point. I may go slightly lower if I feel I need to, but I still want to take in high amounts of protein to feed my muscles and help the repair and grow after intense weight training sessions.

    In these final 14 days I boost my cardio to 2-3 times per day for 30-min each time, 5 days a week. My goal is to burn off any remaining body fat and get shredded. I'll alter this based on how I'm progressing and how I'm feeling. If my energy is low, I may not push it too hard, but I'll be sure to get some solid cardio sessions in when needed. The more cardio I do, the more I can eat, so I don't have to 'starve' as I get down to the final weeks before the contest. A lot of bodybuilders feel like they are 'starving' as they get down the final few weeks before a show. I feel great leading up to a contest because I allow myself to eat foods I enjoy as long as I do enough cardio to balance it out.

    In the final week, I cut down on my sodium intake as I near the contest because it causes me to hold water and not look as hard or conditioned when I'm on stage. It can be very difficult to get this just right, but I experiment each time and learn from my trials and errors and improve each time.

    My goal is to be hard and tight and have lots of muscle definition and vascularity. In this final week I will also focus on total body workouts with high intensity, short rest periods, making workouts as aerobic as possible.

    Nutritionally, the final week is very similar to the diet the week before. I eat the same foods, but I cut down on the ones that contain traceable amounts of sodium.

    I will go very low on carbs at the beginning of the final week, cutting down on some fruits and rice. I'll also have smaller servings of oatmeal in the morning. If the competition is on a Saturday I will most likely reduce carbs on the Sunday leading up to it and go low carbs Sunday through Tuesday and then carb-up Wednesday through Saturday.

    In those final 2-3 days I will increase my carbohydrate intake to fill my muscles and satisfy my hunger, while providing me a lot of energy and a psychological lift I need to compete. I carb-up with potatoes, other veggies, rice, fruits, and juice. I also alter my water intake and cut down from a gallon a day to ' a gallon a day on Wednesday, 1/4 of a gallon of water on Thursday, just sipping water on Friday and on the day of the contest I may sip some before going on stage and then drink ' of a gallon after posing.

    On the day of the competition I eat fruit in the morning along with rice cakes, and high sugar foods for an insulin spike and for much needed energy. I eat pretty light because I don't want a full stomach when I'm posing on stage.

    My hope is that all my preparation goes as planned and I'll be in good shape on stage and feel good about the physique I'm presenting to the audience and the judges.

    An overview of my pre-contest diet would look like this:

    Off-season: A variety of foods are consumed without concern of fat content or amounts of carbs or sugars.

    12 weeks to go: Cut out breads, pastas, and junk foods. Start some form of cardio training.

    8 weeks to go: Eat high protein, low fat and low carb foods. Start to cut out processed foods. Pump up the cardio a notch.

    6 weeks to go: Cut out most high carb foods, increase vitamin supplementation, and protein powders. Eat quality protein foods to maintain muscle mass during a cutting phase. Increase the length of cardio sessions if needed.

    2-3 weeks to go: Cut down on sodium, cut out processed foods. Eat raw foods, baked tofu, fresh green veggies to boost immune system, high protein-low carb powders, yams, nuts, and seeds. Intense workouts with intense cardio sessions are done to burn off body fat.

    Final week: Cut out sodium intake for a few days, high vitamin consumption, high protein from raw sources, carb-deplete at the beginning of the final week, carb-load in the final days of preparation.

    Step on stage and hope everything went as planned.

    Enjoy myself and have fun! Robert Cheeke

    Vegan Bodybuilding is NOT an Oxymoron
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, January 7th, 2007

    If there is a question vegans hear more than any other, it is, How do you get your protein? I often respond by asking the individual if they know anyone with a protein deficiency. Protein is found in nearly all foods and they are abundant in seeds, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods.

    In North America, we are taught from a young age to believe that the only good sources of protein come from animals. This is simply not true. In fact, it is proven by scores of scientific studies that plant-based sources of protein are easier for the human body to digest and absorb. Plus plant-based foods do not come with many of the negative health implications associated with a diet rich in animal protein such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

    Another advantage of plant-based foods is that they help promote an alkaline environment in our body. All animal protein is acid-forming whereas most plant protein is alkaline forming. Essentially, an alkaline diet is the exact opposite of the high protein, high fat, low carb diets that have recently been in vogue. Because our body's ideal pH is slightly alkaline, our diet should reflect this and also be slightly alkaline. A diet high in acidic foods such as animal protein, sugar, caffeine, and processed foods tends to deplete our body of alkaline minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, making us more susceptible to chronic and degenerative disease.

    Though a vegan diet is often a topic of concern when it comes to athletic performance, those concerns are unwarranted. As a vegan bodybuilder, I compete in a sport dominated by meat eaters, most of whom scoff at the idea that one could get sufficient protein from plants to be competitive. I do not consume any animal products whatsoever, not even dairy or eggs. Instead, I focus on eating a wide variety of plant-based whole foods. My protein comes primarily from hemp, tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, seeds, grains, rice, fruits and vegetables. By getting my protein from a wide variety of sources, I am ensuring my body receives a balance of essential amino acids.

    Though I try to get as much protein as possible from whole foods, I often supplement with plant-based protein powders to help me meet my target of 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight for building muscle mass. My favorite protein powder source is hemp. In addition to being rich in complete protein, it is also a great source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and chlorophyll.

    Hemp protein is a quality source of arginine, histidine, methionine and cysteine and also contains all the branched-chain amino acids crucial for repair and growth of lean body mass. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of hemp protein is comprised of edestin, a protein found only in hemp and the form of protein most similar to that of the human body. Hemp protein is also very easily digested and assimilated, making it one of the finest sources of protein in the plant kingdom.

    Other great commonly available plant-based protein powders include yellow pea, brown rice and soy. Though soy protein has been a staple in my diet for years, I have recently reduced my consumption of it because I am concerned about developing food sensitivities and/or allergies. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to overall health and my feeling is that soy is becoming overly pervasive in vegan and vegetarian diets. There are so many good alternatives such as hemp, pea, rice and flax that I feel I dont need to rely on just soy protein powder anymore.

    When I am on the run and dont have time to prepare a meal, I take a complete plant-based whole food meal replacement called Vega. Formulated by Brendan Brazier, a professional Ironman triathlete and fellow vegan, Vega is a quick and easy way for me to get quality nutrition. It contains many of my favorite foods, including hemp, pea, flax, rice, chlorella and maca and I especially like the fact that it contains five sources of quality protein, ensuring a balanced array of essential amino acids. I also snack on Vega raw energy bars before and after workouts for an extra boost.

    Keep in mind that a high protein diet can be taxing on the liver and kidneys so it is important to drink a lot of water (I personally drink over a gallon a day) to help the bodys organs process the large amounts of protein. The great thing about plant protein is that it is much easier to digest and assimilate than animal protein, making the bodys job easier and providing a greater nutritional yield. I also recommend eating smaller meals more frequently to ensure your muscles will always be fueled and nourished, providing the best opportunity for recovery, growth and achieving your desired results.

    As a vegan bodybuilder, I want to show others that it is possible to gain significant muscle and strength on a vegan diet and I want to inspire others to follow this lifestyle. I love being vegan and knowing that I am having a positive impact on our society. I believe that a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health, and the well-being of our environment.

    Robert Cheeke is a competitive bodybuilder and the 2005 INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Overall Novice Champion. He is also President and founder of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, an organization dedicated to supporting natural vegan bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts (www.veganbodybuilding.com). Robert Cheeke


    Vegan Dating

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Vegan Dating
    April 30th, 2006
    I have recently started dating a very vegetarian girl, and I was a bigmeat eater. She made things pretty stressful anytime I ate meat, evenwhen it wasn't in her presence. She hasn't asked me to stop eatingmeat, but I think I want to do it for her. Do you have any tips forbecoming vegetarian when I really like meat? I don't feel like oneperson switching to veg really makes a difference, so the guilt ofpoor animal treatment doesn't motivate me (maybe it should, but itdoesn't).

    Thank you for writing and taking the time to ask questions about this issue. By asking the question and having a genuine interest in supporting your girlfriend, it shows that you are a caring and compassionate individual and I respect you for that.

    Not everyone is interested in becoming a vegetarian or vegan because of the animals. For some it is because they are concerned about their health, the environment, or because they don't like the taste of meat, or in your case, to show respect for, and accommodate someone you are in a relationship with. Again, I commend you for taking the time for expressing interest in supporting your girlfriend's lifestyle.

    I've been vegan for 10 years and I have dated some non-vegans and non-vegetarians in the past. Here are a few tips that come to mind:

    Whenever possible, avoid eating meat in the presence of your girlfriend. She will feel so much more appreciated and respected if you choose to eat vegetarian foods around her.

    Try to avoid teasing her about her lifestyle. Joking and teasing is fine to some extent, but because vegans and vegetarians tend to be really passionate about their lifestyle, they can be offended easily.

    Surprise her with something vegan or vegetarian, whether it is a food item, or a non-leather belt, or a t-shirt that says "vegetarian" on it, or something along those lines that shows you support her lifestyle. You don't have to spend money on this; that is not the point. The point is to show respect, appreciation and support of her vegetarian lifestyle in some way. A great way to do that is to eat vegetarian foods when you are together. Sometimes actions speak much louder than words when it comes to this lifestyle.

    As far as foods go, there are plenty of foods these days that are designed to taste like meat but not cause any harm to animals. These foods are great for those who like the taste of meat but for whatever reason, (animal rights, health, or respect for another person) don't want to cause harm to animals. You can find these foods pretty much everywhere. Most of them are soy based, such as soy burgers, hot-dogs, "chicken" paddies, ice cream, yogurt, jerky, and countless other vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods that "taste" like meat, milk, or other animal foods they are replacing.

    I am not partial to any brand, but a few brand names that come to mind are: Yves Veggie Cuisine, Lightlife foods, White Wave Inc, Turtle Mountain, Turtle Island, Morningstar farms, and many others. Some stores that you can find these products include, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, Safeway, Trader Joes, and pretty much any major grocery store in the United States, such as Smiths, Fry's, Kroger's, Fred Meyer, Albertson's, and the list goes on and on.

    I don't think your body will go through too many changes as you start to eliminate meat-based foods. As long as you continue to take in amino acids and protein sources from a variety of foods, your body shouldn't know the difference, and you will probably have increased energy on vegetarian/vegan foods. Some good non-meat protein sources are tofu, other soy products, beans, nuts, lentils, broccoli, spinach, hemp, seeds, tempeh, seitan, protein bars such as Vega, Clif, or Odwalla, protein powders from hemp, soy, or pea. Eating a wide variety of foods throughout the day will add not just protein, but amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, which are all important for everyone.

    Thank you again for taking the initiative to support your girlfriend by leaning toward a vegetarian/vegan diet. For more information about what foods to eat and which foods are considered vegetarian or vegan, visit www.veganbodybuilding.com and feel free to contact me anytime.

    All the best and much respect to you!

    Robert Cheeke Robert Cheeke


    Vegan Diet

    By Guest, in Articles, from legacy VBBF website,

    Vegan Diet
    by Robert Cheeke, Vegan Bodybuilder, February 28th, 2004

    A vegan diet is not too much unlike a non-vegan diet; they both come down to proteins, carbohydrates, fats, non-essential amino acids, essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and total Calories. Like any diet, you need to decide how much of each one to consume. Meal frequency is also something that has to be discussed. So many people eat only a few times per day. I even know people who eat one meal a day, and that is it. Luckily, they are not bodybuilders. You will find greater results if you consume 6-10 meals per day, with each meal containing a smaller quantity of food. I know 10 sounds extreme but that is what I was doing when I had some of my best results. I think 6-8 is probably the most realistic and most beneficial. When you eat the smaller meals, make sure they all consist of proteins, carbohydrates and water. Fats are important but you will probably get enough fat just as a by-product of the proteins and carbs. For extra fats and essential fatty acids, you can consume flaxseed or primrose oil, nuts, or sources of good fats. Drinking water frequently is important, even a gallon a day if possible. Supplementation is another way to cover all the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. They are important to any diet, not just specific to a vegan diet. You may be thinking that many people you know do not use supplements. Ask yourself if they have a pleasing looking physique, if they seem healthy, or if they are following a fitness regimen (which requires greater nutrients, than a sedentary person does). I use "protein" powders that do not just contain protein, but carbs, fats, and near 100% RDA of many vitamins, minerals, and contains all essential amino acids and many non-essential amino acids. Multivitamins, Glutamine, Glucosamine, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C are also good bodybuilding supplements. You do not have to take them all individually by any means; many products will contain multiple vitamins or minerals in them. A good balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and supplementation should set you on your way. Try to break up your food intake to 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates, and 30% fats. I will break down the specific importance of each element and the quantity and frequency of use in my book coming out in 2003. Robert Cheeke

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