DANIEL AUSTIN

Vegan since 2005, Powerlifter since 2015

 

ACTIVISM THROUGH SPORT

Strength to Help Animals

The sport of powerlifting is comprised of three lifts–the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Powerlifting has nothing to do with how you look (it's not bodybuilding), and everything to do with how much you can lift (relative to your bodyweight).


At a sanctioned powerlifting meet, you get three separate attempts at each lift, and the goal is to lift as much weight as possible for one rep. It sounds simple enough, but to facilitate efficiency of muscular recruitment and neural adaptation to handle maximum weight, you must engage in months upon months of movement-specific exercise that gradually acclimate to higher intensities of weight, all for what amounts to less than nine minutes on the platform.


It becomes an obsession, especially if you aim to be even halfway decent at it, and even more so if you aim to deliver big numbers on command in front of judges and an audience. As more people become obsessed with testing their max strength, the sport of powerlifting continues to grow worldwide. 

I went vegan in 2005, at the age of 23. I didn't start regularly lifting weights until late 2010, while touring as a full-time animal rights activist, but I hadn't quite landed on a specific style of training, or a specific sport interest. I simply wanted to be fit, so I did a lot of cardio (bikes and running) as well as some basic bodybuilding lifting templates. I did feel better and look more fit, even if only slightly, but once I tried my first powerlifting program in mid-2011 (a "Madcow 5x5" template a friend emailed me), my outlook on fitness changed for the better. I became obsessed with chasing max strength via the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Strangely, I found that training for max strength did more for my aesthetic transformation and size than the isolation movements of a bodybuilding regimen ever did.

Granted, I didn't begin competing in powerlifting until mid-2015, at the age of 32. Most people would assume I'd be at a disadvantage in strength sports for starting so late, and for being vegan, but fortunately I've done well enough to win some meets, place in the top three at many, and even qualify for national championships (for record-keeping sake, I have posted my competition results below). Along the way, I have aimed to do a decent job of representing Vegan Power for the cause of Animal Liberation. I have competed in both major American powerlifting organizations, the USPA, and the USAPL, and I have qualified for national championships in both.

My goal as a vegan in strength sports has always been to demonstrate that veganism is no limitation to gaining max strength, and I am proud to be part of a growing movement of athletes utilizing sport as a form of activism for animals. The world needs to see that vegans are gainers and winners.

In 2016, I was formally invited to become a member of PlantBuilt, the world's largest international all-vegan athletic team–as a member of their powerlifting subteam. In 2017, we crushed weight at the Naturally Fit Games in Austin, TX. All eight PlantBuilt powerlifters placed in the top three of our respective weightclasses, and we took home a total of thirteen medals (mind you, there were eight of us vegans competing alongside roughly ninety other non-vegans that day). It was one of my proudest moments as a vegan athlete so far.

I await the next time PlantBuilt assembles to compete (I am hopeful for a 2020 meet-up), but in the meantime I have stayed busy competing on my own. In 2018, I was the only male vegan who competed in the USAPL Raw Nationals in Spokane, Washington. In 2019, I was one of two vegan men who competed in the IPL Drug-Tested World Powerlifting Championships in Ireland, and there I placed second in my my weight class. 

I plan to keep lifting into old age, as it brings me mental and physical health, strength, discipline, purpose, and I believe it has made me a better advocate for animals as well. I hope to see other vegans join the movement via athletics, especially in strength sports (where vegans are sorely under-represented). 

My book, The Way of The Vegan Meathead: Eating for Strength, documents my tips on how I eat to train as a vegan powerlifter in great detail. If strength training as a vegan is an interest of yours, I believe my book can be a valuable resource to help you on your path.


I also have a summary of my recent training regimen on BulkHackers.com.

______________________

NEXT MEET: June 13, 2020

USPA Drug Tested National Powerlifting Championship

Columbus, OH
______________________

Here are the results from my competition history so far:

February 8, 2020
Drug Tested Arkansas State Powerlifting Championship (Springdale, AR)

Bodyweight: 165 (24-hour weigh-in)
Squat: 408 / Bench: 188 / Deadlift: 496 (State Record)
*I competed in this meet with a broken hand (hence the laughable bench–the injury affected all of my lifts, but I simply needed this meet to qualify for Nationals)
Total: 1092
1st Place 
165 lb. Open Raw
1st Place 165 lb. Submaster Raw

October 26, 2019

IPL World Powerlifting Championship, Drug Tested (Limerick, Ireland)
Bodyweight: 166.7 (24-hour weigh-in)
Squat: 419 / Bench: 292 / Deadlift: 507 (Total: 1218)
2nd Place 181 lb. Open Raw

April 20, 2019
USPA Arkansas Powerlifting Championship (Cabot, AR)

Bodyweight: 163.5 (24-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 419 / Bench: 292 / Deadlift: 491 (Total: 1202)
1st Place 165 lb. Open Raw
1st Place 165 lb. Submaster Raw

October 11, 2018
USAPL Raw Nationals (Spokane, WA)

Bodyweight: 162.8 (2-hour weigh-in)
Squat: 413 / Bench: 275 / Deadlift: 462 (Total: 1150)

May 26, 2018
USAPL Central Texas Classic (Leander, TX)

Bodyweight: 162.6 (2-hour weigh-in)
Squat: 430 / Bench: 281 / Deadlift: 480 (Total: 1191)
3rd Place 163 lb. Open Raw

November 18, 2017
USAPL Longhorn Open (University of Texas, Austin, TX)

Bodyweight: 162.7 (2-hour weigh-in)
Squat: 419 / Bench: 281 / Deadlift: 457 (Total: 1157)
2nd Place
163 lb. Open Raw

June 3, 2017
USPA Naturally Fit Games Austin Open (Austin, TX)

Bodyweight: 163.5 (24-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 419 / Bench: 292 / Deadlift: 485 (Total: 1196)
3rd Place
165 lb. Open Raw

October 15, 2016
USPA Houston Fall Classic (Spring, TX)

Bodyweight: 165 (2-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 408 / Bench: 270 / Deadlift: 452 (Total: 1130)
1st Place
165 lb. Open Raw


June 25, 2016
USPA Naturally Fit Games Austin Open (Austin, TX)

Bodyweight: 165 (2-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 413 / Bench: 276 / Deadlift: 457 (Total: 1146)

March 5, 2016
USPA Mainland Mayhem (Texas City, TX)

Bodyweight: 164.1 (2-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 408 / Bench: 259 / Deadlift: 452 (Total: 1119)
2nd Place
165 lb. Open Raw


October 3, 2015
USPA Houston Fall Classic (Spring, TX)

Bodyweight: 159.3 (2-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 369 / Bench: 265 / Deadlift: 446 (Total: 1080)

June 6, 2015
USPA Simply Fit Open (Naturally Fit Games, Austin TX)

Bodyweight: 161.7 (2-hour weigh-in)

Squat: 353 / Bench: 253 / Deadlift: 441 (Total: 1047)

 

©2019 by Daniel Austin.