Published On: Thu, Jun 13th, 2019

How weight training on a plant-based diet can transform our bodies

Adam Stansbury shows us how weight training on a plant-based diet can transform our bodies more effectively to become a lean, green muscle-building machine. 

weight training on a plant-based diet

Studies have shown that lifting weights helps increase the density of our bones and maintain muscle mass, preventing muscle wastage and our ability to move and perform many simple tasks into our old age. As the saying goes: if you don’t move it, you lose it and may well suffer moblity problems in later life.

A common misconception is that if you pick up a dumbbell you’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger – millions of men around the world including me wish it was that easy! Cardiovascular training trains your cardiovascular system and not your muscular system, so you will get fitter and you may indeed lose weight, but with the fat you will also lose muscle tissue. This muscle tissue is critical for giving your body a lean athletic shape, with bumps in all the right places and for maintaining a healthy metabolism. Running on a treadmill won’t give you a pert bum or a solid chest. But how can a plant-based diet support weight training?

Plant-Based Protein

Protein is made of amino acids and it’s the essential amino acids in your diet that contribute to building muscle. All essential amino acids can be obtained from a plant-based diet – they are the same amino acids eaten by animals in the first place when they are fed plant-based feed on farms, so just cut out the ‘middle man’ and go straight to the plant-powered source! Many athletes are now adopting a plant-based diet due to the benefits of recovery it offers. Intense exercise causes stress and inflammation in the body so the natural anti-inflammatory effects of plants and increased levels of antioxidants in a vegan diet are a real benefit. Those antioxidants help with recovery via the removal of toxins created by exercise and tissue breakdown.

Get Started

Today’s workout is going to be based around improving CV fitness, muscular endurance and body composition (the ratio of bodyfat to lean muscle tissue) using the lower and upper body superset technique. This style of exercise arrangement will also give your body good structural balance. This workout uses basic exercises that most people with a reasonable level of mobility and body awareness should be able to perform. To get the most out of the workout, ensure you’re lifting the correct weights for your ability, and reduce the rest periods between exercises as you become fitter. 

The workout

Perform each of the following sections in pairs – so, for example, perform A1 then rest and then perform A2, repeat this for 3 total sets before moving onto the Bs and so on.

A1. Walking Dumbbell Lunges

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

A2. Dumbbell Renegade Row

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

B1. Romanian Deadlift

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

B2. Incline Dumbbell Press

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

C1. Dumbbell Goblet Squat

  • 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

C2. Incline Dumbbell Row

  • 3 x 20-24 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

D1. Kettlebell Swing

  • 3 x 20-25 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

D2. Standing Dumbbell

  • Press 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 30-60 seconds rest

weight training on a plant-based diet

Tip: After a workout like this replenish your energy stores and help with recovery by having a plant-based protein smoothie. I love two bananas, a hand full of spinach, 1 scoop of vanilla flavoured vegan protein powder and some coconut water.


Adam Stansbury is currently crowdfunding to publish his book; Plant Powered: Transform Your Body and Our Planet. Please visit unbound.com/books/plant-powered to support his book and get 10% off when you use the code ‘plantpower’. Adam can also be found on Instagram @theplantpoweredpt or at theplantpoweredpt.com.

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