“Being part of Team Plantbuilt is a huge honor as it allows me to be part of a much larger group of athletes who share a common goal, to show that you can be strong, athletic and build muscle on a vegan diet plan and most importantly to support animal welfare.”
In my last blog I talked about the dramatic changes in health I experienced when I switched to a plant-based diet. After getting healthy, I started getting that competitive itch again, only this time my motivation was different. I wanted to see how I could stack up to my old competition results as a vegan with much less body-weight.
Prior to going vegan I achieved personal bests in the following powerlifts: 450 lb. squat, 315 lb. bench press, and a 463 lb. deadlift; and in kettlebell sport, my event is the long cycle (or clean & jerk of two kettlebells for 10 minutes without setting the bells down for as many reps as you can perform), I had personal bests of 71 reps in training and 65 reps in competition with two 20kg (44lb.) kettlebells. All of these were achieved at a body weight of about 220 lbs.
I had competed in powerlifting from 2005 to 2007 and kettlebell sport from 2008 to 2009.
I decided to try my first competitions in 2013 and 2014 by competing at the Punch Gym Sarasota Kettlebell Sport Championships. I hit all-time personal bests of 72 reps in training and 67 reps in competition weighing under 187 lbs. In addition I won my individual division as well as the overall title in the long cycle competition both years.
Halfway through my training cycle for the 2014 Florida kettlebell meet I was contacted by my friend Giacomo Marchese. Giacomo is an amateur natural bodybuilder and co-founder of Team Plantbuilt, an all-vegan team of strength and physique athletes. In 2014 they were recruiting members in sports other than bodybuilding. Since the event they were competing at did not have kettlebell sport, I had the choice of powerlifting or CrossFit. Due to my history in powerlifting, even though it was 7 years prior, I agreed to join Plantbuilt to be part of their first ever powerlifting team in 2014. I had exactly 12 weeks to prepare following the Florida kettlebell sport meet. Due to the limited prep time and a nagging shoulder injury I opted to compete in the deadlift-only division instead of the full meet.
Powerlifting is a total of your best squat, bench press and deadlift done in a single competition. They usually offer single lift events in the bench press and deadlift at meets as well.
Even though I hadn’t pulled a heavy deadlift in training since late 2007 I managed to make a 425 lb. deadlift during my training for the 2014 Naturally Fit Games powerlifting competition and weighing in at 193 lbs. I made a 402 lb. deadlift at the competition, just 61 lbs. under my best all time lift and now at a much lighter bodyweight.
For 2015 the Naturally Fit Games added kettlebell sport to their event line-up and I switched back to training for that event. Unfortunately about 10 weeks out from the event, which was just held on June 6, my shoulder injury started to come back and I made the last minute decision to compete in the deadlift again and with only 9 weeks of training managed to lift a personal best of 407 lbs. in the 198 lb. weight class, just like 2014 I weighed in at 193 lbs. Unfortunately my 407 lb. lift was turned down by two of the three judges, even though I lifted it, whether or not my knees were fully locked out was questioned by the judges so two of the three turned it down and I only received official credit for my 385 lb. second attempt. I had numerous other lifters tell me they couldn’t see anything wrong with the lift, so if it was a technicality it was a minor one but regardless, it felt great!
Being part of Team Plantbuilt is a huge honor as it allows me to be part of a much larger group of athletes who share a common goal, to show that you can be strong, athletic and build muscle on a vegan diet plan and most importantly to support animal welfare. The money we raise as a team through our fundraising events goes to support animal welfare organizations and vegan outreach.
Looking forward I plan to continue to compete and represent Plantbuilt with my goal of ultimately exceeding my best powerlifts from my days as an omnivorous lifter. As a collective, all of the vegan athletes on Plantbuilt are proof that you can not only thrive, but you you can kick butt athletically as a vegan, just look at the numerous top 3 placings and overall wins our athletes are racking up every year!
If you would like to learn more about Team Plantbuilt and our mission, visit us on the web at www.plantbuilt.com and follow us on social media. Since our 2015 event just happened updates are rolling in daily on Plantbuilt, and our individual athlete social media pages.
I hope my personal experience in regaining both my health and my strength shows you that you can build strength, muscle, and most importantly your health by adopting a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle. I wish you nothing but success as you begin, or continue, your journey on the plant-based path!
For the Animals,
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