In today's Oct. 15, 2011 newsletter . . .

  • Can Weightlifters and Bodybuilders Thrive on a Vegetarian Diet?

  • EDT (Escalating Density Training) for Boomers and Seniors

Can Weightlifters and Bodybuilders Thrive on a Vegetarian Diet?

The question about weight training and vegetarians comes up often. But before going any further, I should explain that I am not a vegan or vegetarian, so I'm not trying to convert anyone. However, were it not for the fact that I eat fish and, once in a while, poultry, I would be classified as a lacto-ovo vegetarian (vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs). By choice, I do not eat beef or meat from pigs.

Ethics, religion, or health concerns are the usual reasons people give for choosing to be vegetarian. I have my own reasons for not eating beef or meat from pigs. But my purpose here is a narrow one. It is to answer the question: Can a serious weight trainee get enough protein and sufficient micro-nutrients on a vegetarian diet? The great strength athlete and former (pre-steroid) Mr. America, Roy Hilligenn, is one example of a super strong man who did not eat meat. There are many others.

So the answer is a definite yes. There are plenty of strong men and women who prefer the vegetarian lifestyle and claim to function better following it. Yet this does not in any way mean that you cannot have a healthful diet that includes meat. It is a matter of personal choice. Though I personally choose not to eat beef, it has been pointed out to me that grass-fed beef contains healthier fat than meat from so-called factory farmed cattle.

So a well balanced vegetarian diet is a healthful diet, but so is a well balanced diet that includes lean meat from grass fed animals. The key words, in either dietary practice, are well balanced. Human beings, including strength athletes, have the ability to function quite well eating many different combinations of foods. Still, most doctors today are in agreement that fruits and vegetables should play a major role in everyone's diet, and often they do not.

If you would like to know more about a vegetarian diet and well known vegetarian athletes, please go here.

For general nutrition guidelines, go here.

* * *

On the subject of nutrition, you've probably noticed recent news about studies indicating many nutrition supplements are worthless, and some perhaps even contribute to acquiring diseases they are supposed to protect against. As usual, there are other studies that contradict these findings. Whom do you believe? It can be confusing. My own personal view regarding supplements is here.

The Kettlebell Boomer How to Defy Aging and Be a Human Dynamo Throughout Your Senior Years—Thanks to Kettlebells

EDT (Escalating Density Training)
for Boomers and Seniors

Full disclosure: Escalating Density Training is not my creation. Wish I could say it was, but the great trainer/coach Charles Staley figured out this one. And it's a good one -- meaning it gets results!

I'm paraphrasing now, but Staley explains it this way: Select a body part, let's say arms, and work them exclusively for 15 minutes. Nothing new in that, of course; but here's the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.

  • Superset two opposing muscle group exercises.
  • For example, select a weight you can curl for 10 good, clean reps. Do the same for triceps extensions.
  • Use a stopwatch. For 15 minutes, superset the two exercises, doing 5 reps (not 10) in each set. If you reach a point where 5 reps are not possible, do 4 or 3.
  • Rest as needed, but do as many sets as you can.
When you've finished, record your total reps for the 15-minute period.

Now here is the challenge: At each subsequent workout, keep doing sets of 5 reps, but try to achieve a higher total during the 15-minute period. How do you do that? Your rest periods must get shorter. When you have gotten so you can do 20% more than your beginning workout total, increase the weight by 5% and start over.

Anyone wanting to do EDT in its purest form should read Staley's material. My adaptation is for people over 50. In Staley's original, you rest 5 minutes after the first EDT session, and then do another 15 minutes, working the same body part but using different exercises. Once around the block, I think, is enough for most people over 50.

Follow EDT twice a week for a month or so, and I'll bet you see nice gains in the size and strength of your targeted body part. If you are doing a total body workout on the EDT days, don't be heroic. Consider the remainder of the workout maintenance only. Overtrain and you shoot yourself in the foot. But give it your all during your 15-minutes of EDT.

Note: EDT is for people with weight training experience. Beginners should first establish a strength and fitness base before using EDT.

You've probably heard about the tremendous benefits of weight training and how you can retain -- or even reclaim -- the attributes of youth . . . Discover the way with . . .

Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

Newsletter Policy

The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to subscribers. The purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

I have never been paid or received compensation of any kind to write a positive review or endorse a product. If I say that I personally use a product or service, it is because I find value in it and have paid for it with my own money.

Like newspapers, magazines and television, this newsletter and my web site contain advertising and marketing links. Naturally, I am compensated for these.

The newsletter and web site provide information to help users establish and maintain a fitness lifestyle. But fitness information is not the same as fitness advice, which is the application of exercise and dietary practices to an individual's specific circumstances. Therefore, always consult with your physician for assurance that fitness information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate for you. Your comments and questions are always appreciated.


Logan Franklin
The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter