Justin Karstetter

Justin KarstetterName: Justin Karstetter

Division you will compete in: Men’s Amateur 24Kg

Age: 38

Height: 6’0″

Weight/Competition Weight: 181/85Kg

City: Chicago

Years as a vegan: 8 years

Why you became a Vegan: Originally, I went vegan for health reasons. In 2006, I met Robert Cheeke, joined Vegan Bodybuilding online, he emailed me advice (along with great help from others from the site) and he also sent some Vega samples. I made the switch to a 100% plant based diet in just two weeks. Two months later, I was really happy to get back down to my normal 220Lb off-season weight; I was up to 270 previously. I made the “connection” later while I was volunteering at local Bully Breed rescues. I rescued my boy and it was like a match made in heaven! He would hardly ever come out of his crate even for his caretaker, but he joyfully followed me around their yard and just jumped into my car!! 🙂 I had to drive 5 hours each way to the rescue site. I realized on the return trip back to Chicago, as well as in a reflection in my volunteer work at other shelters and various activism rallies; that no animal should have to suffer. I grew up in a predominately agricultural environment, but I was really shocked to learn about mink farms, the electrocution process, and baby seal industry. In my early activism days, I was actively involved with the Foie Gras Ban of in the City of Chicago, Seal demonstrations, and we as the Fur Free Friday protests. I soon realized that all animal suffering is the same and all meat is the same.

History Competing: 

2015 will be my first year in competing in Girevoy Sport – 24 KG Long Cycle

Forest City Natural Classic 2003

Novice Men Medium-Tall 3rd Place

2003 NANBF Midwestern Natural Classic

Novice Men Medium-Tall 2nd Place

I have been competing in Bodybuilding shows for 16 years. In 2008, I competed as a Vegan. I sustained some serious injuries just weeks before this show; however I still got up onto the stage despite the agonizing pain. Although I was not “successful” at this competition, however I was better condition than ever before, despite the setback. The next year after this competition, I wanted to change gears a bit and move more towards my strength development. I suffered a torn tendon in my right knee later that year while working on a technical job. It took a good amount of time to recover from this setback. Once properly healed, I returned to the gym once again in 2010 but focused on bodyweight and kettlebell conditioning; as well as some Strongman training. Kettlebells were such a profound instrument that contributed to my full recovery and greatly increased my overall conditioning; in addition to a higher percentage of raw fruit and greens-based to my diet. In about 10 months, I dropped from 235lbs @ 26.5% to 13% Body fat to the weight class that I am currently in now.

What drives you to compete: In my early competition days (as well as now too), I have always enjoyed just the camaraderie of fellow athletes and the spirit of competition in general. Currently, I am honored to be able to compete and relate with other Vegan athletes in order to destroy the myths of being Vegan.

What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete: I continue to set PR’s for myself and continue to improve my overall conditioning despite my age increasing. I immediately noticed that my endurance capacity improved substantially even from when I was 18 and in the Army. Later, my strength improved immensely; even at a much lower bodyweight, and I easily surpassed all plateaus that I have had in the past.

What types of supplements if any do you use: DEVA multi-vitamin, B-12, ZMA, raw Maca powder, Glutamine and Clean Machine BCAA’s (mainly); Plantfusion protein powder and their MRP-Plant-Phood. VEGA bars, MRP, and their Smoothie infusion. Vega Sport and Vega Sport energizer.

How would you describe your diet while preparing for a competition: I intake a lot of different greens, beans, seeds, fruit and hemp. I eat Jasmine, brown/black rice, and quinoa. My diet is about 70% raw, but I will use a slow cook crockpot with a lot of different Veggies in the soups/chilies that I make.

Favorite food in your prep diet: Greens/Fruit smoothies with hemp or chia seeds!!

How would you describe your training for a competition: I am currently incorporating more high intensity interval Kettlebell training with a higher amount if repetitions and a very short amount of rest time in between the sets. I will do this with my heavier kettlebells three days a week MWF, followed by box jumps or hill sprints. In the evening, I will do a second workout consisting of core training and some bodyweight workouts. Tues/Thurs: I will do circuit training with kettlebells, then back Squats/rows and deadlifts/front squats for higher repetitions, followed my Ashtanga Yoga in the evenings. On some Saturdays, I’ll try to get some people together for Strongman/powerlifting training at a local Hardcore gym. I don’t do much cardio, not because I don’t enjoy it, but I ride my Fixie bike to work and back; which is about 16 miles total, 5 days a week. I also ride my Fixie around to the City for general commuting purposes.

Favorite exercises: Tie: Kettlebell Snatches and Log overhead presses. Double Kettlebell presses, Farmer carries, tire flips, battle ropes and Deadlifts.

How many hours a week do you spend training: I would say about 10 hours max per week with pre/post warm-ups/cool-downs and general stretching included.

Today I am most proud of: Overcoming adversities in my own life, and more importantly, gently assisting others to overcome their adversities in their life as well.

Personal website or blog: I just have the Facebook account at the time being