Robert Cheeke

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Name: Robert Cheeke

Division you will compete in: Men’s Physique

Age: 33

Height: 5’ 11”

Weight/Competition Weight: 175 lbs

City: Nomad – Always on the move

Years as a vegan: 18

Why you became a Vegan: I became an animal rights activist in 1995 and have been vegan ever since.

History Competing: 2003-Present

Highlights include:

2005 INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Champion
2006 INBA Natural Bodybuilding World Championships 2nd place
2009 INBA Northwestern USA Natural Bodybuilding Champion

What drives you to compete? I have been competitive my whole life, from areas such as sports to academics to business. I enjoy a challenge and having a goal to work toward. Having something meaningful to strive for everyday is a great motivating factor for me. Bodybuilding provides a unique opportunity for me to challenge myself to improve and be better than I was before. Having others to compete against makes it fun, but at the end of the day, for me, bodybuilding and fitness is about self-improvement.

What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete? It is probably cliché at this point to mention the benefits of a plant-based diet being increased energy and faster recovery. These are two common outcomes vegan athletes report to experience on a regular basis. I would probably list those same reasons as the primary “advantages,” but there are plenty of other benefits, especially from a health standpoint and from a moral perspective that make a vegan lifestyle desirable for athletes. High net-gain nutrition, ease of digestion and absorption of nutrients, and a sense of peace and compassion are among the common advantages of living a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle.

What types of supplements if any do you use? I don’t use any supplements aside from Vitamin B-12. I believe Vitamin B-12 should be recommended for everyone because it is an essential vitamin and it is hard to find in our sterile food and water supply. I believe a whole food plant-based diet will supply every person, including athletes, with what they need to achieve high levels of health and fitness.

How would you describe your diet while preparing for a competition? My diet has a foundation of plant-based whole foods. I still consume other vegan foods, including various ethic meals throughout the year, but the overall foundation of my diet is made up of whole foods. As I prepare for a competition, I aim to eat exclusively whole foods as much as possible. I believe this method helps me get the most nutrient density and the greatest return on investment from food consumption. This approach will allow me to stay lean, revealing more muscle definition by not storing excess fat, which is commonly associated with eating processed foods.

Favorite food in your prep diet: The foods I enjoy eating the most in my competition preparation diet are yams, sweet potatoes, and other types of potatoes. Lentils, beans, brown rice and other heavy complex carbohydrates are personal favorites. Starchy vegetables, legumes and grains are common staples in my diet as well as fruits. Many bodybuilders are afraid to eat carbohydrates during contest preparation, but I embrace them. I believe many high carbohydrate foods are also the healthiest foods, and healthy foods should be part of a bodybuilding diet and aid in athletic performance.

How would you describe your training for a competition? Like many athletes, I train year-round but I have a bodybuilding preparation period that is about twelve weeks long. During the twelve-week preparation period, it is not just my diet, but my training that is altered too. I primarily focus on compound, multi-joint lifts, but I also use machines and cables as I get closer to competition to engage in higher repetition training to build up a “pump” during the workouts. Additionally, I incorporate cardiovascular training on an empty stomach first thing in the morning to get into an effective fat-burning zone during the final six weeks before competition. I will likely engage in a morning aerobic workout for 20-45 minutes four or five days a week in addition to weight training five days a week.

As I get even closer to competition, say the final three or four weeks, I will also perform some sort of aerobic exercise immediately after my weight training workout for twenty minutes or so. This is to burn fat as fuel after stored carbohydrates are used up as fuel during the weight-training workout. It is another effective way to burn fat. I don’t believe in restricting carbohydrates, I believe in eating whole foods to supply energy (and other nutrients) to support an active lifestyle. My philosophy is, if burning fat is the goal, simply train more in effective fat burning zones rather than depriving oneself of necessary carbohydrates and calories.

Favorite exercises: I think our favorite exercises are revealed by our actions, based on which exercises we do the most. This isn’t always true, as sometimes we consciously focus more on weak areas to improve them, or have a specific routine a coach created for us to follow which dictates our exercise choices. But I do believe it is often true that what we do the most represents our favorite exercises, and consequently, what we do the least often accurately represents our least favorite exercises.

Some of my original favorite exercises are ones I no longer do after a decade of weight lifting and sustaining some injuries. Squats and deadlifts probably would have made my current list if I didn’t have a history of back injuries. Therefore, based on my real actions, my current favorite exercises are:

Decline barbell bench press
Dumbbell hammer curls
Triceps rope extensions
Leg extensions
Overhead shoulder press
How many hours a week do you spend training?

I train for about one hour per day four days per week at the moment. As I get closer to competition (when I start a preparation period twelve weeks from the contest) I train five or six days a week for about 90 minutes per day. When I incorporate morning cardiovascular training coupled with a weight training workout and post-weight training aerobic conditioning, my total daily workout sessions might exceed two hours.

Today I am most proud of: I am most proud of the community my Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness brand has built. We started more than a decade ago with a community of one. Now we have online communities exceeding 100,000. We have been able to bring thousands of people together, and have saved thousands of lives, and that is what I am most proud of. My website is www.veganbodybuilding.com.