Plant Based Bodybuilding Transformation

Month 3 – Starting Point

You can read the full reason for why I am doing and documenting my vegan bodybuilding transformation here, but part of the reason is to challenge myself. I’ve been lifting weights consistently now for nearly 20 years and would like to see if my body has what it takes to compete. 

If this is your first article then you should also read about Month 1 and Month 2 

Major Changes During Month 3

Month 3 didn’t bring as many changes as it did challenges. The main change to month 3 was Diet. 

Diet

Coming off Month 2, I was eating 2,600 vegan calories a day on workout days and 2,300 vegan calories on non-workout days. Over the course of the 4 weeks of Month 3, I cut my calories all the way down to 1,900 on both workout and non-workout days. During week 1 of Month 2 (December), I started eating 2,300 calories on both workout and non-workout days. I then moved down to 2,100 calories and day and then finally down to 1,900 calories a day. 

Incorporating a plant based diet cut down to 1,900 took very keen food prepping. To ensure I wasn’t overeating, I had to cut down, or out, the following foods that I was used to eating on a daily basis: peanut butter, whole wheat bread, bananas (in my smoothies), dates (in my smoothies) and all processed, nut based cheeses.  

As you can see, the foods that were cut, with the exception of the fruit, probably should be making up the bulk of a healthy diet anyway. 

The next item to hone in on was protein. My Month 2 protein intake was 180g on 2,600 calories. The goal was to keep the protein count the same, while dropping calories. This was no easy task, and involved taking large amounts of protein powder to sustain the 180g intake. 

Most plant based athletes will tell you that you don’t need to consume as much protein as I was consuming. However, this was at the direction of my non-plant based coach, and I wanted to first follow his advice and then be in a position to alter the advice and be able to track the changes. 

Below is a snap shot of the types of foods I consumed during month 3 of my plant based body building transformation: 

Challenges

The main challenge was cutting weight during the holiday season. In December I hosted a Christmas party, attended 3 other Christmas parties, hosted Christmas brunch and dinner and attended a New Years Eve party. These 6 events all represented an opportunity for me to break my dietary guidelines and the stress that came with eating healthy, and not drinking alcohol, was higher than I would have liked. 

In the end, I won’t be performing another cut during the Holiday season. This was just too much to worry about, during a time that should be spent celebrating the season with family. If you plan to undergo a cut during this time then you need to have your food planned extremely well and be willing to not partake in all activities. 

Workouts

Nothing changes for me in terms of workout program or set up. 

Cardio / stretching: both remained constant 

Weight training: The main change was to work on increasing weights for each workout. Also, you’ll notice that bench press is in my workout plan. I started bench pressing again in Month 2, but prior to that, I really haven’t bench pressed in 4+ years. I’ve had three shoulder surgeries to repair a re-occurring labral tear and bench pressing was bothering my shoulder so I just stopped doing it. 

However, with a change in form, I’ve been able to get back to bench pressing again. Instead of allowing the bar to come down all the way to my chest, before pressing it back to the top. I now stop the bar in the eccentric portion of the lift about 3-6 inches before the bar touches my chest.

This change in bench press mechanics has allowed the focus to remain on the dominant muscle group of the exercise (chest) while not activating the synergist (shoulder). This type of bench press will force you to drop the amount of weight you do, because you’re incorporating less muscles with the exercise.

I’m still nowhere near my 335lb bench press max, but I’m excited to just be able to perform this exercise again.  

Below is a snapshot of my vegan bodybuilding Day 1 Upper Push – this hasn’t changed since Month 2

Recovery

Recovery is super important. On the nights that I don’t sleep well, I can feel it the following day in the gym. Those gym workouts are just a grind to get through and my numbers usually aren’t as strong as they should be.

My Fitbit tracker broke mid-way through the month so tracking was a bit unstable. However, I did have a new tracker by months end. Below is a snap shot of what my sleep patterns where in Month 3: 

Metrics

Below is an updated snapshot through month 3 of how I am trending.  

As you can see, I decided not to track my weight through the week of Christmas and New Years. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to know! 

Even with my sub-par performance in December, I was still able to shed a couple pounds. With December being my first full month of a cut, and even with all the holiday meals scheduled, it primed by body to start cutting weight. 

Key Learnings

As I already stated, I won’t be cutting during the Holiday season again. It was just too much mental and physical stress during a time of the year when one should be de-stressing and spending time with family. 

I wish I started my cut in September, not late November. I would have likely put myself in a better position to succeed. However, my goals haven’t changed and I am still working to get into physique level shape by April, 2020.    

I’ll keep everyone informed of vegan bodybuilding transformation on a monthly basis! Please feel free to reach out to me with any specific questions or comments!

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