Daniel Zimmermann
I’m a Vegan Strength Athlete. This Is How I Will Achieve a 300 Kg Deadlift Without Eating Animal Products


We talked with Daniel Zimmermann in November, 2019. Follow Daniel on Instagram
Country:
Germany
Age:
25 years
Weight:
96 kg
(212 lbs)
Height:
184 cm
(6')


Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hello! My name is Daniel Zimmermann. I was born in December of 1993 and grew up in a small village in the Palatinate Forest (Germany).

Nowadays, I live in the beautiful city of Tübingen where I study Philosophy and General Rhetoric and do work as an auxiliary scientist, as well as a wrecker, declutterer and crime scene cleaner.

Early on my academic journey, I began to focus on normative ethics and animal ethics, which lead to me living vegan since late 2016.

In 2010, two strangers nearly beat me to death while I was unconsciously lying around. Alcohol intoxication. Why? At this time my life felt not worth living and alcohol was my chosen method to kill myself temporarily.

But when I woke up in the hospital, felt pain all over my body and saw my bloody face in the mirror, nose broken, lips crushed, blood everywhere: I was shocked. Clueless, about what happened. Yet, fervently dedicated to never let this happen again – and thankful to be alive.

So, even though I disliked sports, I began to workout. Six times a week. Thereof, three times over five hours each. Motivated by fear and hatred of gratuitous violence I went wild on those weights.

However, over the course of the last nine years my motivation changed. From 0) fear and hate to 1) love for myself and getting stronger and finally to 2) the injustice that non-human animals must experience for no ethically justifiable reason.

As soon as I had the ethical insight, I did no longer workout only for myself, but primarily to show people that you can, indeed, be big and strong without animal products.

My current bodyweight is 96 kg, at 184 cm height and my deadlift PR is 250 kg. For now, my biggest goal is to achieve a 300 kg deadlift, vegan and natural.


Describe a typical day of training

My typical day of training begins with eight hours of sleep, water, supplements, oatmeal and coffee. After work or university I’d go home, watch videos such as “Hardcore Motivation – BE VICTORIOUS!!” (generic title) and then cycle to the McFit (gym).

Following the classic gym-maxime “Go hard or go home” I’d have a personal war: Me against myself, my limits, my weaknesses. This is why I am very serious and focused when working out. For me, it’s a fight – and I am there to win.

For now, I work out five times a week for around 2,5 hours. Following a workout plan that focuses on increasing my deadlift max. When working out, I listen to loud, encouraging music and drink around two to three liters of water with added BCAAs.

When coming back home, I have a protein shake with bodyweight*2g of Protein in it. Afterwards, I will have my main meal of the day. Consisting of as many calories as possible – with high amount of carbs from potatoes, rice or pasta, protein, e.g. from mock meat and vitamins from greens (such as broccoli!).

Before going to bed, I’d snack some nuts or have a high caloric shake (e.g. consisting of banana, oatmeal, soy milk, almonds & peanut butter). 


How do you keep going and push harder?

I am working out since 2010 – so, nowadays, 95% of the time, I don’t necessarily need motivation to work out; for it’s my central habit and not just that. It’s the air I breath. It calms my mind and soul and it enables me to be a more balanced person.

Many people get “hangry” when being hungry for too long. Metaphorically speaking, I get “hangry” when being hungry for the gym for too long; and this is to be avoided.

However, going to the gym is not equal to “pushing harder”. In order for me to “push harder” I established a certain mindset, years ago. In every workout, I want to be better and I will push as hard as possible to achieve this goal.

Most of the time, this is focused on the first and most important exercise of the specific workout day (e.g. deadlift or bench press). However, “being better” isn’t solely about using more weights and doing more reps.

It’s also about having less rest time, or having more control, or having more time-under-tension. There are many factors which indicate success in the gym.

Over all those years, I might have missed 20 workouts at max – because it was and is my priority. I’d recommend everyone to prioritize the activities you want to do in your life – and then simply follow your own priority-system. No more thinking needed – just doing.

You will save much energy this way and will work constantly on your important goals.


How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, I am doing great. Three years after going vegan, I am the biggest and strongest I have ever been. Also, I have not a single health issue – even all my joints are healthy.

As mentioned before, my big gym-goal is to hit 300kg in the deadlift. All vegan and natural – and I am willing to put on more mass (and probably lose some aesthetics) to achieve this goal.

Besides that, I want to continue to lift heavy, expand my Instagram community and help people transition to a vegan power diet.

Beyond the gym, I will get my bachelor’s degree in philosophy and rhetoric and will then begin my master’s degree, which might be followed by a Phd. in philosophy – Focus: Normative ethics, practical ethics and animal ethics.

How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?

Technique is the most important thing when lifting. I wish that I would have paid more attention to the right technique. But I didn’t always do and got punished. I had both wrists, knees, elbows, shoulders and hip hurt. The last-named forced me to pause my training for over 6 months. The biggest setback on my journey.

However, due to experiencing all of those injuries, you can tell that I know how to recover and deal with setbacks.

Nowadays, I optimized my technique in all lifts. Having control over the weights is very important. Further, I use e.g. wrist wraps or a lifting belt when going heavy.

Whenever I feel discomfort in, say, the elbow joint, I wear a compression sleeve for the next days and use joint-crème to recover faster.

Also, many injuries do not force you to pause training. In those cases, it is recommended to stay on track, only skipping those exercises that hurt. Even when having a wrist injury, it makes sense, to train the healthy arm while skipping the injured one.

Always remember: Injuries are part of this battle – and you don’t lose the battle when being hurt. You lose the battle when giving up. Keep fighting! Do not give up.


How is your diet and what supplements do you use?


I get 80% of my protein from protein powder.

As mentioned, my diet is all vegan since 2016. In order to have the most power for my workouts, I simply strive to get as many calories in as possible while also sticking to the Schwarzenegger formula of protein: Bodyweight in kg * 2 = amount of protein per day.

Since I began to workout, I get 80% of my protein from protein powder. Today, I also use weight gainer, creatine, beta alanine, zinc, B12 and vitamins – which are scientifically well backed supplements.

My favorite brand is Nutri+ (check www.nutri-plus.de), for all of their products are vegan, developed by nutritionists, made in Germany and they even spend 10% of their income to non-profit organizations helping animals. A truly inspirational brand! 

What has inspired and motivated you?

The book “Tiere denken” (engl. “animals think”) by german philosopher Richard David Precht inspired me do research on animal ethics, which finally lead to me becoming an ethical vegan.

Even though I had some concerns about veganism and athletic performance, I could clearly recognize faster recovery times and less muscle soreness – and to this day, after training for over nine years all natural, I am still building muscles and gaining strength. All vegan.

Also, with veganism my motivation changed. Being an animal ethicist, I want to make the world a better place for every sentient being, but rational argumentation isn’t convincing for most people. So, I chose a more pragmatic approach: Demonstrating vegan muscles and strength; and I am happy to say that this approach has changed the minds of quite a few already. 

Lately, the documentary “The Game Changers” was released – and I am delighted! And very inspired to push even harder since watching it. Shortly after, I got in contact with the vegan strongman and game changer Patrik Baboumian (greetings to you!) and am now more dedicated than ever before to spread the vegan message – for the animals!


Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

If you want to improve in the gym, I recommend you to follow these advices:

  • Have a clear vision of where you want to go.
  • Learn and execute proper technique on all of your movements.
  • Consistency is key, so get yourself a workout plan, stick to it and have patience.
  • After a few weeks of working out it will be a habit, established in your brain – and much easier to execute. Remember that when struggling in the first weeks.
  • Your muscles don’t grow in the gym, but when resting. So, don’t party & drink alcohol too often but regularly get enough sleep, eat healthy and minimize your stress.
  • Don’t train a muscle when it’s still sore. Recover first.
  • Muscles need roughly 48 hours of recovery – so you can >e.g.< train your whole body 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or do an upper-lower-body split and train 4 times a week (Monday: upper body (ub), Tuesday: lower body (lb), Thursday: ub, Friday: lb).

Are you taking on clients right now?

Since I have two jobs and study, I am not enabled to take on clients. However … (check next question)

Where can we learn more about you?

… everyone is invited to contact me via my Instagram profile @veganmuscle.daniel. I am gladly answering all of your questions regarding training, veganism and ethics.


Ready to get really fit and inspired?

I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.

Here on Bulk Hackers we interview bodybuilders, personal trainers and fitness heroes. We ask them to share their stories and all their greatest hacks!

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