Have you ever wondered, “Can a vegetarian gain muscle?” It’s a legitimate question given that animal products (like meat and milk) contain all of the essential amino acids needed by humans. There are 8 to 10 essential amino acids that your body does not make on it’s own, and that’s why we eat protein! These essential amino acids, also called complete proteins, are not found in plant foods (with the exception of soy), so can a vegetarian gain muscle? You have to have protein to gain muscle right?
Keep in mind that nobody ever said vegetarians don’t get protein from plant foods, it’s just that 99% of plant food isn’t considered a complete protein by itself. As long as the vegetarian is finding the proper combination of incomplete proteins to form complete proteins, they are getting all the protein they need! And don’t you think that vegetarians choose to be vegetarians because of strict adherence to a specific diet? This would leave no reason to believe they wouldn’t know all about how to eat a vegetarian diet and find complete proteins.
So when it comes to gaining muscle for a vegetarian, they have as much freedom to train as others who eat animal protein. If you are a vegetarian, keep these tips in mind when trying to gain muscle:
Eat Enough. Find a good balance of carbs, protein, and fat. Your carb and fat intake will not be as high as others, so pay attention to your energy level during exercise so you always have enough to power through when it gets tough. Monitor your protein intake closely to assure you have enough to gain muscle.
Keep Progressing. It will be very important to push yourself or find a personal trainer to really keep your weights progressing.
Try Compound Exercises. Working out with compound exercises is a great way to build muscle mass. When you hit a bunch of muscle groups at once, you are fatiguing more muscles and making huge strength gains.
It may help to get the guidance of a personal trainer at the beginning, especially if you’ve never tried compound exercises. Power moves like the bench press, squat, deadlift, and Olympic-style lifts are a great way to max-out your strength. Some Olympic lifts include the clean and jerk and snatch.
You can also combine lunges with a shoulder press and wall squats with a shoulder press. Add some bodyweight exercises to your workout regimen like pullups, dips, and burpees.
However you choose to workout, remember that you can gain muscle. Don’t focus on just isolation exercises that work one area. They are OK, but mix in some compound exercises and enjoy your new muscle gains!