Division you will compete in: Powerlifting (Open/Raw)
Weight/Competition Weight: 168 lb. / 164 lb.
Current max lifts Bench/Squat/Deadlift:
Gym PRs: 285 / 420 / 460
Meet PRs: 275 / 412 / 457
City: Houston, TX
Years as a vegan: 12
Why you became a Vegan:
I realized being vegetarian wasn’t enough to live up to my principles of not wanting to cause harm to animals, people, or the planet in any way I can consciously avoid. Originally, punk and hardcore bands like Propagandhi and Earth Crisis introduced me to the idea of going vegan, but as a teenager I really wasn’t sure how to go about it, so I did what I could at the time by cutting out all meat except seafood.
I was vegetarian/pescetarian for over 7 years before I finally quit excusing myself for eating dairy and eggs, and sometimes seafood, and that really all came down to simply exposing myself, consistently, to enough information about the ugly truths of industries that use and exploit animals.
I used to think life without cheese would be too complicated or undesirable for me to become fully vegan, but after watching enough videos of dairy cows being abused and having their babies taken from them to be tortured and killed to become veal, I realized it didn’t matter how complicated I may have thought being vegan would be–I simply had to do it.
Fortunately, once I became vegan I quickly realized it wasn’t complicated or undesirable at all, and now I can say I only wish I did it sooner.
USPA Simply Fit Open, Austin TX, June 2015
1045 total, 4th place, 165 lb. Open Raw
USPA Houston Fall Classic, The Woodlands TX, October 2015
1070 total, 4th place, 165 lb. Open Raw
USPA Mainland Mayhem, Texas City TX, March 2016
1119 total, 2nd place, 165 lb. Open Raw
USPA Simply Fit Open, Austin TX, June 2016
1146 total, 4th place, 165 lb. Open Raw
USPA Houston Fall Classic, The Woodlands TX, October 2016
1130 total, 1st place, 165 lb. Open Raw
What drives you to compete:
On a personal level, I like to know my limits, and competing has taught me how to exceed my previous limits while also learning a lot of discipline in regards to eating and training. Having goal-oriented workout programs and meal plans are crucial to staying motivated and consistent. On a bigger, more important level, if I can be a part of a movement to steer people away from eating animals by helping to show that we sacrifice nothing–in terms of health or lifestyle fulfillment–by not eating them, then that gives me a greater sense of purpose to bring to the platform. I like to envision a world where people think eating meat is a crazy thing of humankind’s irrational past, and I think we’re only going to get there if enough of us step up to show the benefits of a more humane and environmentally efficient way to live.
What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete:
The biggest advantage I have experienced is in regard to my cardio-respiratory health. Back when I ate dairy I was plagued with sinus infections every few months, and within a year of going vegan I ceased to get them. I used to not be able to exert myself without hacking up phlegm constantly. It was nasty. Most people don’t realize how much dairy catalyzes mucus production which can overload your sinuses and lungs, and I certainly didn’t realize it way back then. Breathing better and not getting sick often were accidental benefits for me, because when I cut out dairy I originally did it for ethical reasons, but over time I learned that I breathed and felt better being vegan. If you still eat dairy and have chronic allergy or sinus issues, definitely try cutting out dairy for a month and see if it helps you at all.
What types of supplements if any do you use?:
Protein powder (3 shakes/smoothies a day. NitroFusion or PlantFusion are my favorites.)
Creatine Monohydrate (I typically get the generic brand at Vitamin Shoppe)
Glutamine (also the generic brand at Vitamin Shoppe)
DHA, EPA, and CLA fatty acids for fat metabolism boost to help me maintain my weightclass. I typically use DEVA or Spectrum brands.
Glucosamine: corn-based, Vitamin Shoppe generic brand or DEVA. After 5+ years of heavy lifting I have found that getting extra glucosamine helps me maintain my joints and tendons which have recently shown clear signs of stress and inflammation.
How would you describe your diet while preparing for a competition:
It’s actually no different for me leading up to a competition. On a regular basis I eat about 500-600 more calories a day on heavy training days than on light or off days. Of course, leading into a competition usually means no heavy lifting days for the whole week prior to a meet, so I just continue to eat my regular meal plan for my regular off days. I find that if I just exclude eating protein bars and leave peanut butter out of my smoothies I shed the 3 or 4 pounds I need to by the morning of the competition, since guys my size tend to naturally weigh anywhere from 2-5 pounds less on average when we wake up in the morning anyway.
Part of my competition strategy is to train at a bodyweight just slightly above my competition weight, maybe 3-4 pounds over my weight class limit, so that I don’t have to subject myself to the kinds of extreme calorie cuts that can cost hard earned gains in a matter of days. In my experience, cutting weight significantly just doesn’t work for powerlifting–you lose too much strength with the weight you shed.
Overall, on a regular basis, my diet is nearly about 40% protein, 35% fat, and about 25% carbs, and I have been eating that way since about six months before I began competing in 2015. I’ve shed weight and gained strength that way, and lately I have maintained weight while gaining strength.
Favorite food in your prep diet:
Heavy lifting day: Clif Builder Bar or Lenny & Larry Complete Protein Cookie (earn your carbs!)
Off-day: Gardein brand Szechuan Beefless Strips, or Gardein Porkless Sweet and Sour bites (only half the sauce packet though!)
How would you describe your training for a competition:
Whenever I begin a training cycle I focus on a lot of volume/high reps (sometimes up to 8 per set) with less weight, and as I get closer to the end of a cycle, namely to peak for a meet, I taper off the volume in trade for intensity (possibly just doing doing heavy triples or doubles once a week per lift). The heavier weight I lift, the less sets and reps I do, naturally. The week before a meet I may only do one set 2-4 reps of a deadlift or squat at 97% or so of my projected max. And that’s it. The closer you get to a meet the less frequency of work you put in, because at that point recovery is most important. Going into a meet, you want to be as close to 100% fresh and healed up as you can humanly be. That’s easier said than done though…
In order: deadlift, squat, bench. I’m a back and legs guy. Deadlifts and squats say more about your overall strength and play a bigger role in your total score than the bench press, so those lifts are my main focus most of the time, and I can be a bit obsessive about them, I do admit.
How many hours a week do you spend training?:
Honestly, only about 3-4 on average, about an hour per session. That’s the cool thing about powerlifting–you do a lot of damage and get a lot done in those 3-4 hours per week if you put in quality effort, and then you spend the rest of the week recovering.
Today I am most proud of: somehow avoiding major injury in the long process of getting my strength to where it is now. Practicing good competition form and listening to your body goes a long way.
Personal website or blog: http://www.facebook.com/veganxmeathead