Vegetarian Muscle Building Advice

Where Muscle Grows From: The Vegetarian Powerlifting

Powerlifting is a strength sport that includes three exercises: squats, bench press and deadlift. Powerlifters are often confused with bodybuilders, but there is a fundamental difference between the two. In bodybuilding, body beauty is important, in powerlifting - strength indicators. Oleg Smirnov , European champion in army biathlon, champion of Russia in national bench press and winner of the Russian bench press cup, told the “Championship” about the features of powerlifting and training opportunities for vegetarians and vegans. Is it real to build muscle and improve strength without steak for dinner?

- Oleg, tell us what powerlifting is, how is it different from weightlifting?
- Powerlifting is a weight lifting competition. It consists of three exercises: the barbell squat, the barbell bench press, and the power deadlift. These exercises are performed one after another. Then the weight lifted by the athlete in all three exercises is summed up and the winner is determined. But there are various options. For example, you can only perform in one category (squat, bench, or deadlift). Powerlifting is a power sport like weightlifting, only it is easier technically, but heavier in terms of weight.

- How often do powerlifting competitions take place?
- Very often, but it all depends on the region. In Moscow, for example, various competitions are held almost every week. In powerlifting, like in boxing, there are many federations, and they all organize their tournaments. We have three federations in St. Petersburg, so competitions are held every 1-2 months. There is also a Federation of the Union of Powerlifters of Russia. The Powerlifters Union is a united federation of powerlifters that exists in all regions of the country. At the moment we have about 50 representations in Russia.

- When did you start doing powerlifting?
- I started competing in competitions six years ago, in 2011. Since childhood, he has been involved in various sports such as Thai boxing and wrestling. Powerlifting attracted me more than other sports. About 15 years ago, I wanted to get bigger, gain muscle mass. However, I was not attracted to bodybuilding, I did not like the competition. It seems to me that bodybuilding is a beauty pageant, not a sports competition. Although it is clear that the preparation is difficult, the work is great. And in powerlifting, real competition, like in weightlifting, and you look impressive at the same time. I periodically go to wrestling, but I only do powerlifting professionally.

- Have you ever had any idols in powerlifting?
- There are many good athletes, but it cannot be said that there was someone specific. Bodybuilders, for example, have the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger, in powerlifting this is nott.

- Tell us about your diet. How does your day start?
- I start my day with 200 grams of oatmeal with fruit. This is the norm. Almost every day I eat the same food and I don't get bored. For lunch, I usually have a side dish with tofu or soy meat substitute, or something else. In principle, there is nothing extraordinary in my diet. Eating right is not as difficult as it sounds. When you start doing something new, it is always difficult and incomprehensible. After a couple of months, you get used to it for years. It is the same with food. At first it seems that it is difficult, but then you realize that there is nothing difficult about it. All the food you need can be found at your local store.

- There are probably biases about vegetarians and vegans who do powerlifting. Have you encountered this?
- There are a lot of prejudices. Any new idea that goes against the traditional idea of ​​people about something is perceived by many with hostility. I am often asked questions not with the intention of offending, but simply because people are genuinely interested in how a vegan can do strength training. However, groups can sometimes leave an unpleasant comment. For example, they wrote that we are deceiving everyone, and we eat meat under the pillow. I can't even imagine why I would call myself a vegan if I ate meat under my pillow. I just can't understand this logic.

- How many hours a day do you train?
- Depends on the complexity of the workout. I don't study every day. Even professionals make themselves a weekend for a couple of days. I train three times a week. A hard workout can last four hours, a light workout 60-40 minutes. Of course, during the preparation for the competition, the diet and training regime change. The closer to the competition, the harder it is. Preparing for a tournament is like going uphill, competition is already the pinnacle. Preparation is a lot of work that starts in a couple of months and ends with a competition.

- You are a vegan and a powerlifter, what are the pros and cons of this during the competition? - Veganism in powerlifting doesn't help in any way. The main goal of our Vegetarian Strength community is to show people that vegetarianism and veganism will not stop them from doing strength sports. We want to prove that in powerlifting, it doesn't matter if you are meat eater or vegan. I never told anyone that if they stopped eating meat they would run faster or lift more. Many people think that vegans are sick and decrepit, we have proved by our example that this is not so.

- Tell us about your community. When was the Vegetarian Force organized?
- In 2012, that's when we performed as a whole group for the first time. Around the same time, they opened their gym. Initially, we opened it as a base for team training, then like-minded people - vegans and vegetarians - began to catch up. Some of them are on our team now, others are just coming to practice.

- How many people are on your team?
- Depends on the competition. For serious tournaments, we can put several people, and on city or regional more - 10-12. If a person trains well, then we can send him to regional or city competitions. If he liked it, then he continues to perform. Some after the competition understand that this does not suit them, others continue to speak.

- You are recording video tutorials, recently launched your channel. How did the idea to record training videos come about?
- We often lecture at various events. Each time after lectures came up to us and said that the information is very interesting. They also asked why we do not record a video, because it will be useful for many. Several times we were asked similar questions, after which we decided to record video lessons.

- Are there girls in your community?
- Yes, girls lot. Even probably more than guys.

- Tell me, classes for guys and girls are very different?
- In principle, not very different. Except for the weight they lift, of course. For girls, of course, it is less. However, everyone has the same preparation - auxiliary exercises, high-volume deadlifts.

- What do you think of girls who are involved in strength sports? Many criticize them.
- This is all subjective opinion. Someone likes skinny girls, someone fat. Some people like sports, others don't. If someone thinks that a girl without the use of male hormones will become like a man as a result of powerlifting, then he is very mistaken. In girls, muscles grow very poorly, slowly and little. Of course, it will be seen that she goes in for sports, but she will not look like men. All this is delusion. Only girls who use male hormones can become like men over time. Again, everyone chooses for himself, if she likes it so much, she feels so good, then this is her own business. I do not think that this is bad and unacceptable. This is everyone's personal business.

- What is important to consider for girls and guys, who decided to go in for powerlifting?
- Girls and guys should consider the same thing. The main thing is to find a good coach. This is the most important thing if you decide to take up powerlifting. If you find a normal coach and a gym, then nothing else is needed. My advice is to look for a dedicated powerlifting gym with good instructors and equipment. A good trainer will tell you how to exercise, eat, recover and breathe.

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