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Bodybuilding The Vegan Way, Part I: The Workout

Vegetarianism, more specifically a vegan lifestyle has gotten more attention recently and I am writing this article to show how it is possible to adhere to a vegan lifestyle and still make great gains as a bodybuilder.

Part 1 | Part 2

I would first like to apologize for the long layoff between articles. I have been busy in the past few months working on getting my modeling career started, dieting down for a couple of photo shoots with the most notable for the January issue of Muscle & Fitness Magazine and signing with an agency.

Vegan Lifestyle

Vegetarianism, more specifically a vegan lifestyle has gotten more mainstream attention in recent years and I am writing this article in an effort to show how it is possible to adhere to a vegan lifestyle and still make great gains as a bodybuilder.

Different Kinds Of Vegetarians

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarianism: Lacto-ovo vegetarians are people who do not eat meat, but do include dairy products (lacto) and eggs (ovo) in their diets. Lacto-ovo vegetarianism is sometimes recommended as a dietary therapy for a variety of conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, high cholesterol, obesity, osteoporosis, hypertension, gout, gallstones, kidney stones, ulcers, colitis, hemorrhoids, premenstrual syndrome, anxiety and depression.

Lacto Vegetarianism: A lacto vegetarian diet is a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream, and kefir. Unlike a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, eggs are excluded. This diet is popular with many followers of Eastern religious traditions, such as Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism. It has also been popularised internationally since the 1960s by the Hare Krishna movement.

Ovo Vegetarianism: Ovo vegetarians are vegetarians who eat eggs but not meat or dairy products.

Veganism: Vegans (pronounced vee-guns) are vegetarians who do not eat any foods (eggs, dairy products, meat, etc.) derived from animal sources. Most vegans also do not use products that require for their production the death or suffering of animals, such as leather, fur, wool and certain cosmetics.

It is my goal to show how a vegan lifestyle can still help bodybuilders make great gains but in no way am I attempting to push my beliefs and lifestyle on anyone. This article is for anyone who is interested in a vegan bodybuilding lifestyle and those who would like to know more about being a vegan bodybuilding.

This article is the first of many installments that I will be writing over the course of the year. In this first part I will highlight workouts that will help vegan bodybuilders build muscle.

Vegan Vs. Regular Capsules

Regular capsules use animal gelatin (or animal 'jelly' - made from boiled bones, skins and tendons of animals) while Vegetarian caps are all natural non-gelatin based.

Vegetarian caps can also be made from Agar-agar, which is derived from seaweed, (but expensive). It can also be made from Kazu.

Products like Jello, gum and snack pack can potentially have gelatin in it, but there are variations of each of these products made by the same companies without gelatin.

So, if a product has 'gelatin', it cant be vegan

Vegan Work

It is tempting to try the workouts that are listed in many of the muscle magazines. However, it is important for vegans to realize that their lifestyle and nutrition programs do not support the recovery necessary to train with high volume and frequency. I can vouch to this from experience.

It does not take much to stimulate muscle growth, heavy weight and low reps will get the job done. It is important to keep workouts under 45 minutes. Most of my workouts last only 30-to-35 minutes. Later on in the year toward "beach season" I will highlight workouts and routines to help shed body fat and cut up but the main point of this article is to build muscle.

How much, if any cardio to be done is based on the individual. When I bulk up I do not do any cardio at all, but I would say that those who would like to do cardio, do 2-to-3 sessions of 15-to-20 minutes at a low intensity per week. The bike, elliptical or walking or jogging on the treadmill are great choices.

Keep the intensity, frequency and duration low. Also, make sure to have a vegan-friendly protein shake (soy, rice, hemp) 20 minutes before doing cardio to prevent any muscle loss during the cardio workout.

Weight Lifting Guidelines

  1. Work each body part once per week.
  2. Keep workouts under 45 minutes.
  3. Lift heavy weight and low reps.
  4. Perform 3-to-4 exercises for large muscle groups and 2-to-3 exercises for smaller muscle groups.
  5. I keep my repetitions between 4-and-6 for core lifts (Bench Press, Deadlift and Squats) and 6-to-10 for all other lifts.

The Workout Split

The following is the way that I split my workouts up. If I have time and my schedule allows for it, I do two separate workouts with a workout for the first body part of the day in the morning and the workout for the other muscle group to be worked that I perform later in the evening.

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Chest & Triceps
  • Tuesday: Back & Biceps
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Legs & Abs
  • Friday: Shoulders & Traps
  • Saturday: Off

The Work

I used to have workouts set in stone and I never varied from them, but after having seven years of training under my belt, I have become more aware of my body and in-tune to how I feel. Now I go into the gym with a plan and goal of what I want to achieve but I listen to my body and adjust the sets, reps and exercises that I perform based on how I feel on that given day.

For example with chest I may have planned to do the barbell bench press, incline dumbbell presses and dumbbell flyes, but for some reason my body tells me that the flyes are not going to happen today, I switch to the cable cross-over or pec-deck flye instead.

With all of that said, here are my typical workouts with each body part with the substitutions that I use for certain exercises.

Monday: Chest & Triceps
Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip


Incline Dumbbell Press

3 sets of 6 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press Incline Dumbbell Press


Dips - Chest Version

3 sets to failure
Dips - Chest Version Dips - Chest Version


Cable Crossover

2 sets of 10 reps
Cable Crossover Cable Crossover


Lying Triceps Press

3 sets of 8-10 reps
Lying Triceps Press Lying Triceps Press

Standing Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension Standing Overhead Barbell Triceps Extension

Tuesday: Back & Biceps

Barbell Deadlift

4 sets of 10 reps
Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift



50 reps
Chin-Up Chin-Up
Note: I do as many sets as it takes to get in 50 reps which usually amounts to 4 sets of 12 to 15.


Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

3 sets of 8-10 reps
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Row Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Row


Barbell Curl

3 sets of 6-10 reps
Barbell Curl Barbell Curl
Note: I will do 21's as an "shock" technique but no more than twice per month. Also, the other thing I do with barbell curls, is to do 2 sets of 6 to 10 reps and then do 21's for my third and final set.

Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl Dumbbell Alternate Bicep Curl

Thursday: Legs & Abs

Barbell Squat

4 sets of 4-6 reps
Barbell Squat Barbell Squat


Barbell Lunge

3 sets of 6 reps
Barbell Lunge Barbell Lunge


Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 5 reps
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift


Standing Leg Curl

3 sets of 6-8 reps
Standing Leg Curl Standing Leg Curl


Cable Crunch

3 sets of 10 reps
Cable Crunch Cable Crunch


Hanging Leg Raise

3 sets of 10 reps
Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

Friday: Shoulders & Traps
Machine Shoulder (Military) Press Machine Shoulder (Military) Press


Push Press

4 sets of 6-8 reps
Push Press Push Press


Front Plate Raise

3 sets of 10 reps
Front Plate Raise Front Plate Raise


Side Lateral Raise

3 sets of 10 reps
Side Lateral Raise Side Lateral Raise

Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise Seated Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise


Barbell Shrug

2 sets of 8 reps
Barbell Shrug Barbell Shrug


There you have it. This is how I work out and this workout will definitely help you to maximize your gains, minimize your time in the gym and maximize your recovery potential which leads to the growth of new muscle tissue.

Part 1 | Part 2