Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Karina Inkster. I’m a fitness and nutrition coach, author, and podcast host. As a 17-year vegan, I work with clients who are plant-based (or currently making the transition to a vegan diet).
I’m the author of two books (Vegan Vitality: Your Complete Guide to a Healthy, Active, Plant-Based Lifestyle; and Foam Rolling: 50 Exercises for Massage, Injury Prevention, and Core Strength), with a third book on strength training with resistance bands coming out in Spring of 2020.
I write for several magazines, and host the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast. I completed my Master’s degree in Gerontology, specializing in health and aging.
My training is primarily strength training, using an upper body/lower body split (two of each, plus one full-body workout each week). I swim twice a week, and do jump rope conditioning about once a week.
When I’m not working with my clients, writing, or strength training, I play accordion, Australian didgeridoo, and piano.
Describe a typical day of training
I train six days a week for about an hour, completing a morning and evening session on some days for a total of 7 or 8 workouts per week. 5 or 6 sessions are strength training, and 2-3 sessions are cardio (mostly swim workouts). In my strength sessions, I prioritize compound lifts like chin-ups, push-ups, overhead presses, squats, lunges, etc.
I think it’s important for coaches to have coaches, so I’ve just signed on with a new one. She’ll be programming three of my strength training workouts each week, focusing on pistol squats, kettlebell overhead pressing, and weighted tactical pull-ups.
To make sure I stay consistent with my training, I have two training/accountability buddies. Three days a week, my husband and I head to our town’s rec centre. He lifts while I swim on two of those days, and on the third day we both lift (but we do our own workouts). Another three days a week I train with a friend, where we both perform the same workout.
For me, training provides just as much mental benefit as it does physical. It keeps me focused, offers excellent stress relief, and ensures I keep up with all my clients’ ridiculous levels of badassery!
How do you keep going and push harder?
As mentioned, six of my weekly workouts involve accountability to someone else. This has worked wonders for my training consistency.
I truly believe that it’s not about changing how your brain works. Rather, it’s about outsmarting it! I love getting up early and getting my training done, but the only reason it happens is because my alarm is on the opposite side of the room and I have to get out of bed to turn it off.
My goal in being consistent with my training is to not rely on motivation. It’s not realistic to feel motivated 100% of the time, so we need to train ourselves to operate without it.
Author and weight lifter James Clear has some excellent wisdom on this topic in his book, Atomic Habits:
“Really successful people feel the same lack of motivation as everyone else. The difference is that they still find a way to show up despite the feelings of boredom. If you only do the work when it’s convenient or exciting, then you’ll never be consistent enough to achieve remarkable results.”
I have a lot of very unique barriers to training and eating the way I’d like to. I deal with a life-threatening allergic condition that prohibits me from exercising after having eaten within eight hours, in case a food triggers a serious allergic reaction when coupled with exercise. I also face severe seasonal allergies and asthma for half the year, and I get weekly allergy shots after which I can’t train – again due to anaphylaxis risk.
Oh, and did I mention I’m allergic to raw fruit, corn, raw carrots, and all nuts except peanuts? As a vegan, that’s a little challenging, to say the least!
As a big “screw you!” to all these barriers – and because I gotta walk the talk – with careful and consistent planning I’m physically active six days per week – even through grad school while working three jobs and planning my wedding! With very limited time for cooking, I’ve learned to prepare healthy and delicious meals quickly (and even wrote a book with more than 100 of these recipes).
With this experience under my belt, I help my clients to conquer their barriers and start getting the results of their dreams.
As I always tell my clients, the people who get the results they want are not the people who have been on the bandwagon the whole time. That doesn’t exist. Everyone falls off once in a while. The people who achieve their goals are the ones who kept getting back on.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
One of my bucket list items is to perform the kettlebell Iron Maiden challenge (for guys, it’s called the Beast Tamer). You have to perform a strict tactical pull-up, a single arm overhead press, and a pistol squat – all with a 24 kg (53 lb) kettlebell (48 kg / 106 lbs for men). I start my official training next week!
My vegan coaching business continues to grow, and I can see myself adding additional team members in the next year or so (right now I have a podcast editor and a Communications Head Honcho). I’d also love to get into digital products. But first things first: the release of book #3 in Spring of 2020!
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Getting enough sleep is my main recovery priority, so I make sure to get at least eight hours per night. I also foam roll for about 20 minutes about three days per week (usually in the living room while watching Netflix), and get monthly massage treatments.
When it comes to injury prevention, especially as someone who has a funky low back, I focus on movements that don’t require me to load my spine, and I don’t often do one rep max lifts – unless it’s weighted chin-ups!
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I’ve been 100% vegan for 17 years so I don’t consume any animal products. I focus on consuming high-quality plant-based protein sources daily (like edamame, seitan, tofu, tempeh, hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc.), supplemented occasionally with brown rice protein powder (whatever brand is currently on sale on Amazon).
I’m not a strict “whole foods only” vegan, but I do try to make the majority of my food sources nutrient dense, whole foods.
I’m “straight edge” as the kids these days call it: no drugs, no alcohol, no caffeine.
I don’t currently track my calories or macros, but when I trained clients in person (which I did for seven years before moving online), I used to track my food occasionally to ensure I was getting enough calories.
I had to aim for between 3000 and 3300 calories per day, which is a lot of vegan food! I now eat closer to 2500 calories per day.
As a vegan, there’s one non-negotiable supplement: B12. I do consume B12-fortified foods on a regular basis, but a supplement is a good insurance policy. I use sublingual tablets, but sprays and liquid supplements work well too. I also use brown rice protein powder and creatine.
Since I’ve never been interested in pure bodybuilding, I don’t “bulk” or “cut” – I eat (and train, and look) the same year-round.
What has inspired and motivated you?
I’m inspired by my amazing vegan clients all over the globe, and by showing the world what plant-powered athleticism is all about! When it comes down to it, though, long-term training is not about being inspired or motivated.
It’s about putting in the work even when you don’t feel inspired or motivated.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Five things I’d want every fitness newbie to know:
- A “transformation” might take longer than you think. In an industry rife with ads for jaw-dropping, clickbait-worthy physique “transformations” that supposedly take only a few weeks to accomplish, keep in mind that most real, lasting results (that don’t involve unmaintainable, drastic, and/or unhealthy dieting or training plans) generally take a long time to achieve. Longer than you might think when you first start out. That’s not a bad thing; it’s extra incentive to make healthy, active living a lifelong habit.
- Consistency, consistency, consistency. It ain’t sexy and it doesn’t sell, but it’s the only thing that works. Slow ‘n’ steady really is the way to win the [proverbial] race. Focus on making your lifestyle enjoyable, sustainable, and life-enhancing – all in the name of consistency.
- Your training and nutrition need to be a part of your life, not something you do in order to get the life you want later.
- Most people who fail to achieve their physique and strength goals weren’t on the wrong program. They just didn’t stick with a program long enough to see results.
- Don’t over complicate things. The foundation of building a physique and level of strength you can be proud of is really simple: Lift heavy shit. Sleep. Don’t eat like an asshole.
Are you taking on clients right now?
At any one time I have only a few spots available for new clients, but I’m always looking for vegans (or wannabe vegans) who want to get strong AF! I work exclusively online, so location is no issue.
Prospective clients can apply to work with me at www.karinainkster.com/apply.