Robb Wolf won’t train me



park planche 1
Robb Wolf won’t train me

“Vegetarian? Find another trainer, I will not work with you. You won’t make progress and all we will do is argue. Someone else can take your money and watch you not make progress.”  – Robb Wolf’s article on shopping

Define progress. At 21 years old I was 127 pounds with a bench press of roughly 85 pounds (squatting wasn’t even in the cards yet). Thanks to having a damn fine set of parents, I didn’t get dangerously caught up in gender roles, but being a skinny dude all throughout my formative years still leaves some emotional scars, and by the time I was 21, I had not just a few thoughts under my belt of wishing I looked a little less like a 12-year old girl.

My new employment at a crosscountry ski resort presented an opportunity to learn the new skill of traipsing across snow with some planks on my feet. I was initially thrilled with cranking out half a kilometer on my first outing, with only a few falls. I was fairly new to the meat-free lifestyle, but was learning more and feeling good about being an animal lover and having a set of ethics that reflected my actions, and vice versa.

2 years later I was regularly skiing 20K and had a couple extra pounds on me from the sporadic weight training I was indulging in.

Hop ahead almost a decade and I entered my first powerlifting meet. Although 1000 pound total at 175 pounds (staying within the same bodyfat range) might not impress everyone, how could anyone deny that as ‘progress?’ Plus I still had some ski skills to boot.

Add yet another half decade and our viewers at home will witness someone switching gears to prepping for yet another weightlifting comp this fall, and then planning on a strongman meet sometime in 2009. I also recently competed for the first time in couple years in a powerlifting meet and beat 2 of my three PR’s, and my own state record.

So it’s a bummer that Rob wouldn’t work with someone like me. Maybe my tree-hugging, animal-loving, hippy-bullshit is somehow less important than progress that apparently can only be made with meat consumption, but I’ll stick with it.


Here’s a collection of folks that will also disagree with Robb:

Vegan Strength and Power Forum

If someone isn’t making progress, don’t blame their lack of meat.



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13 Responses to Robb Wolf won’t train me

  1. Zac

    That’s bizzare…

    But then, I’m not too suprised by a Crossfitter/paleo-dieter being so dogmatic.

    That said, I’m not sure that someone *could* pull off a diet sufficient to support a strength athletics habit that satisfies Robb’s creed *without* eating some meat. I mean, even tofu and eggs should be excluded under a truly “paleo” diet (but seeing as Robb DOES tolerate eggs, I’m not sure why he thinks a vegetarian diet won’t work). If one were to NOT go “paleo,” but simply “pre-modern,” I see no inherent problem with doing strength athletics on a vegetarian diet. As for the vegains out there, I don’t know *how* they can pull it off, but looking around on Vegan Fitness is enough to convince me that they are indeed having success (3/4 overhead *for reps?” It’ll be a loooong time before I can pull that off, with a lot of weigh lost and a lot of strength gained).

  2. Kreiki! That whole shopping guide was tongue-in cheek (not vegan I guess!).

    In all seriousness, the problem I’ve faced in the past with vegetarians is that they simply do not take in enough good quality proteins and fats to survive training OR make the progress they desire. Obviously protein powders, tofu, seitan (although pure gluten) can prop this up and provide the same insulin/glucagon signaling as meat, fish, eggs etc.

    The commenter above was busting my balls for including “non-paleo” foods into the mix. That whole argument becomes a slippery slope that leaves us with nothing left to eat but crickets and bison heart. I could turn this around and make the same argument that vegans using protein powders are “doing it wrong” because of the processing necessary. How about an exclusively whole foods vegan diet? No tofu, seitan or concentrated protein powders? Arguments like this just become ridiculous.

    Then if we consider Prof. T. Colin Campbell’s work from the China Study the meat eating paleo-folks and the too-high protein intake vegans are all going to get cancer and die prematurely…I guess we are screwed!

  3. chip

    If there’s one thing my friends know about me, it’s my love of a good Bison heart. The other thing well known about me is that although I’m a vegetarian, I like to be treated like meat.

    I’ll never really present a nutrition argument, since I’m just a fan of keeping shit simple, and that’s the best argument I can come up with. But when Brent and I visit Chico someday to do a three-bar-of-death workout with you, Robb, I want to be recognized as the weak bastard who can’t hang, NOT the weak VEGETARIAN bastard who can’t hang.

    Me loves my proteins. But, except for human flesh, I won’t eat meat to get them. Now I must see if the blood has let completely from my last serial kill. It only took me a few episodes of Dexter to know my true calling.

  4. Zac

    I wasn’t so much intending to bust your balls, Robb, simply trying to concieve of a scenario in which paleo-veg would NOT work for strength athletics. And trying to scrounge up enough protein from nuts & veggies is exactly that scenario.

    Thinking on the whole issue of diet, I have to wonder if “supplementing” for protein (with processed dairy proteins, egg albumen, soy, and/or grain proteins) might be more “problematic” than the actual eating of animals (note that I’m saying all this as one carnivorous bastard). Yes, some vegetarians and most all vegans arrive at their dietary code through an ethical frame (killing animals = bad), but I’m there are some ethical imperatives that I may hold higher.

    Eating processed dairy involves the imprisionment of animals (if y’all have driven south through the valley, I’m sure you’ve seen the cow Dachaus down there that pass for industrial dairy plants), massive scale petroleum-supported industry, massive amounts of corn to feed the cattle (another massive petroleum-supported industry), more petroleum to transport the dairy and to process it into a refined powder of protein. That’s a lot to swallow every time I suck down a shaker of whey or casein.

    What about soy? Another huge, government-subsidied, soil-depleating, petroleum-supported industry. Egg albumen? You trade cow Dachau for chicken Auschwitz. Gluten? Well, that comes from big wheat, which is almost as bad as big corn and big soy. And it’s not just protein powders… Lightlife’s soy breakfast sausage? Those weird faux-chicken soy concoctions that I always see my vegetarian co-workers eating? All super-processed and petroleum-dependant.

    So I suppose my question is, is eating “processed vegetarian” or “processed vegan” more ethical than eating animals when one incorporates the full impact of every aspect of the food production? But then, how can one quantify the “price” of animal suffering? Obviously, if the meat I’m eating is a Tyson chicken breast or a fast-food beef patty, I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of bad juju in the history of my meal. But what about some grass fed beef from a small scale operation? Some chicken from a small, local producer? Eggs from the farmer’s market? But then can I afford to eat the “recommended” amount of protein that way?

    To sum it up, it seems it’s all a massively depressing situation. One that makes me want to just leave all this and go start my commune. I’ll make sure I have some laying hens there…

  5. chip

    You’ll be doing WHAT to hens on your commune?

  6. Zac

    Eating their unfertilized young.

  7. Ok guys, I’m adding the “Chip Conrad Adendum” to the shopping guide. Something to the effect: “If said vegetarian is willing to consume adequate dense protein and fat from mutually agreed upon sources, Robb will train you and all parties will have a great time.
    Undue flatulence makes nul-and-void all aforementioned agreements.”

    I’ll update the document tomorrow!

    That scree was the result of some serious frustration from a group of 7th day adventists we were training. Great folks but they all follow their fathers recommendations and HE is a devotee of T. Colin Campbell. Not only did all of these people have gluten intolerance (my opinion) they had a terrible time surviving the training and made little progress with regards to body comp shifts. Campbell, John Mcdougal and some of the other vegan notables decry the use of protein powders…it makes it damn hard for these folks to survive tough training.

  8. This is something I have worked with/struggled with since I really started using KB’s 2+ yrs ago and in the last year really stepping up my attempts at making my body truly ready for whatever life could throw at it.

    I was vegan for 8 years. For the last 4 years I have been vegetarian. I eat eggs and dairy products now (though I still cannot drink milk or eat cereal with it, doesnt work with my system). That being said I always wonder if I am cheating myself by not eating fish or chicken or whatever. Then I look at people like Mike Mahler (who’s diet and lifestlye I hoenstly don’t think I could mimic, I am not a professional trainer) or the people on Vegan Fitness and correct my thinking.

    I really don’t have much else to add content wise. I just wanted to throw my voice out there on the topic as it is something that presents itself in my training about every 2-4 months as a question I ask myself.

  9. chip

    Robb, being that your article was in a word doc, I’ve already altered my own version. I can’t tell you what it says, but it sure represents me in a wonderful new light.

    I’m in Austin, folks. Anyone want BBQ?

  10. Zac

    “I’m in Austin, folks. Anyone want BBQ?”

    My carnivorous self is jealous of the delicious opportunities available to you right now. (Though all the music at SXSW would be cool too, but I like me some Texas brisket)

  11. Veronica

    Why can’t all folks disagree so agreeably as Robb and Chip?

    Anyone want some “organically” grown eggs? I’ve got them coming out my….err…hens.

  12. chip

    Out of your hens what?

  13. Veronica Carpenter

    My hens’ nests. 🙂

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