Being a plant-based athlete, I am often asked how I train and what exactly I do so that I can remain quite fit at almost 50 years old. And being raw vegan on a top of it. People are curious, because they are tempted by the idea of eating this healthy plant-based diet, but they are not sure how they can train and how much energy they will have. Often they are just curious about my training so they can figure out for themselves what they need to do to get closer to their personal fitness (or health) goal.
And I tell them, I write them, I show them… often not to an exact detail due to time constrains. So I got this excellent (it is excellent, right?) idea that I will write a post and outline all the details. This post is a little bit more personal than normally and I hope that some of you will be totally inspired and motivated.
Plant-Based Athlete’s Tennis Fitness Training
For the last 8 or so years, I have been playing a lot of tennis. Almost every day and almost never having rest days. I did my fitness training maybe 3 times a week, about an hour. A lot of kettlebell training as I love the functional fitness, athleticism, power, strength and just plain skill to toss it and flip it around.
But the last several years I got a bit busy with writing and publishing my books, especially the latest one (The Athlete’s Simple Guide to a Plant-Based Lifestyle) because it took so much time and resources to get through all the research and collect all the data. I still played tennis, but I was cheating on my fitness training (yup, horrible, I know…).
And then in spring 2014 I realized with fear in my eyes that I got fat. Well, “fat” is relative. I do have high standards though, so I felt “fluffy” for my high standards. As obsessive as I am, I decided I had to do something more radical. For you who don’t know me so well yet, I don’t know the word “moderation”.
I decided to take off tennis for a week (a whole week! I don’t think I have ever taken off for this long!) and I was heading to the gym. One week turned into 3 weeks of consecutive weight training days. I was so sore all over my body, but I did’t stop. I just needed that kick in my behind and the jump start. However, I do not recommend this to you—unless you are a tough nut. Take your rest days, let your body recover. Unless you are a plant-based athlete! :-)
Current Training Schedule
After this torturous beginning, I have adjusted my training schedule (which I follow to this day) to
- 4 days of tennis, which is about 5.5–6 hours of tennis a week, mostly drills, so it is very intense, with no breaks, no changeovers…
- 4–5 days of weight training, which is about 6 hours a week
- I stretch and do myofascial release, but not as much as I should. It adds to maybe 2.5 hours a week.
- I also walk/jog with Zuzi (my super happy chocolate Labrador) every morning at 6 am for about 50–55 minutes. I haven’t missed this morning walk for 6.5 years! Actually, I did, once. When Zuzi hurt her paw and couldn’t walk.
- I also ride my bike to the tennis courts, to the gym, and sometimes to my clients. Not much, but it is still a movement.
Yes, I do have issues with fitting everything into my schedule.
Here is a sample of my week… Yes, I start with Monday, because I am European and I like to start my weeks with a workday, Monday:
- Monday: 90 minutes weight training
- Tuesday: 60 minutes tennis (lesson) and 60 minutes weight training
- Wednesday: 90 minutes tennis
- Thursday: 90 minutes weight training
- Friday: 90 minutes weigh training
- Saturday: 60–90 minutes tennis
- Sunday: 150 minutes tennis
I ALWAYS stretch 20–30 minutes after tennis. And I almost always roll (myofascial release) for a short time before bed. I used to roll for 20–30 minutes a day, and I need to get disciplined and get to that habit again. We should never EVER throw away good habits. (Click to Tweet)
Weight Training Sample
I don’t like to sit around between sets, so I often do two or three exercises in one little circuit. Each workout day, I have one main focus (say “back and biceps”) and I add to it some abs and booty. I am on a mission to refuse the laws of physics and gravity and I WILL have a perky, round bubble butt! (Click to tweet)
So every workout, I warm up with 4 sets of booty exercises, and I finish the workout with another 4 sets of booty exercises. Most often I do uni-lateral ones (aka one leg at a time), such as lunges, leg presses, butt kicks, etc…
- Monday: shoulders 16–20 sets (and abs 12–16 sets, and booty 8 sets)
- Tuesday: back 16 sets and biceps 8 sets (and abs 8 sets and booty 8 sets)
- Thursday: legs 36 sets (and some abs 4–8 sets) Yeaay, I love to train legs!!! I have no tennis on Friday, so I can really enjoy this workout.
- Friday: chest 12 sets and triceps 8 sets (and some abs 8 sets and booty 8 sets and shoulders 4–8 sets that need extra love too)
- Saturday: sometimes I may add this day, do some extra abs 12 sets and booty 8 sets or shoulders 4–8 sets, and flip the kettlebells around
Plant-Based Athlete’s Training Day Example
Monday. It’s the first day of the week after all, so let’s start it with fun stuff.
- I start with lunges in the Smith machine. I do 15–20 reps on each leg, then I may do one set of 12–15 of shoulder front raises, followed with 20 reps of abs knee-tucks. No rest in between, just a sip of water and dry the sweat drops, then back to the Smith machine. I repeat this for 4 sets.
- Then I move on rear delts, 12–15 reps and in the break I do lateral raises for 12–15 reps. Four rounds.
- Next I move on shoulder presses 12–15 reps, in the break I do 20 reverse crunches in the machine. Four rounds. You get the idea, right? No rest in between other than super slow drinking toward the end of the workout, ha ha…
All the other days are similar, just the muscle groups (besides the abs and booty) are different.
Plant-Based Athlete’s Diet Sample
I am a raw vegan (aka I don’t cook my foods). I love the simplicity of this lifestyle. A lot of fresh produce, fruits and vegetables. Yum. Now the persimmons are in season and I have realized that I am a persimmon freak. I’ve been eating at least 5 pounds a day for the past week.
Ok, now back to my “normal” eating sample:
My day starts with 16 ounces of water to hydrate and clean up the insides, if you know what I mean. After my Zuzi walk, I may have a cup of coffee or tea. I am sporadically quitting and re-starting my morning coffee. If I drink it, it’s only this cup.
Then I do my training, tennis or weights, and afterwards, if I have time I make a HUGE (yes, really mean it, it’s about 5 pounds) salad. I just cut anything I find in the fridge in all possible combinations. Spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, etc. I often add sprouted lentils (remember, I don’t cook my food, and besides, sprouted legumes or grains have so much more nutrition and easily digestible proteins). And for the flavor I add a tiny bit coconut milk, lemon juice and stevia (that’s my dressing that I am too lazy to prepare separately). I just “dump” everything in a large bowl and blend. I also put one sweet fruit, such as a pear or apple (or persimmon!)… or raisins. It creates a beautiful combination of all flavors.
If I don’t have time for lunch, because the salad takes at least an hour to ingest and chew, then I make a smoothie with added pumkin seed protein so I can nourish myself after training. Then I go to work “torturing” my clients and when I get home, I have that huge salad for dinner. If I had it for lunch, I still may be full, so I have just something light. Maybe some persimmons?
I am not a picky eater, so I eat seasonally. Whatever is in season and I can buy cheaper, I buy tons of it and then I eat it for days. The combinations are always slightly different, but the style is similar.
In the evening, I may sip on hot tea or dandelion root beverage (tastes like a coffe/hot chocolate combo, but no caffein and very healthy). I do have sweet tooth, especially in the evening when I should be writing and being productive in my non-training business. I like to procrastinate and visit the kitchen many times to search for something to snack on. I only keep healthy foods in my house, so I cannot sin.
When I snack, I either have dried (nicely crunchy) chickpeas or freeze dried peas, or sweet raisins or goji berries . And of course, winter season, I have more persimmons!
So this was a little bit more detailed week of my training and eating for all the interested who’s been curious how I can be a plant-based athlete, raw vegan, strong, and lean, but mostly, with limitless amounts of energy. If you are tempted to try a few weeks of going plant-based, my Simple Guide would definitely help you. Yes, I know, a shameless plug again! I do have a section of simple recipes there (which I call non-recipes) that you customize to your taste buds and liking. It makes it all easy.
If you decide to go for it and try to go plant-based, share your experience in the comments. It would be fun to read! And if you have any other questions about my training or eating habits, comment as well.