Vegan Athlete – A Conversation with Jon Hinds

Vegan + No Weights = BEAST

Even those who are not good at math would say that there is something wrong with the above equation, but I can assure you that when it comes to Jon Hinds, it is 100% true.  I always try to challenge myself by being exposed to new things, including exercises, philosophies on strength & hypertrophy, etc.  Keeping an open mind, especially in the World of Strength & Conditioning, will make you more well-rounded and better at your craft in the long-run.  I am a self-professed Carnivore who loves throwing around weights so, when Jon Hinds told me that he is not a fan of weights and that a plant-based diet is superior, it was definitely a shock to the system.

Jon started the Monkey Bar Gym (MBG) based in Wisconsin 10 years ago and it has since expanded to 9 locations.  At MBG, they focus on: 1) Restoration through Eischens Yoga 2) Training with animal movements – run, jump, crawl and climb (all w/o wearing shoes) and 3) Plant-based diet.

Jon Hinds in Action!!!

In terms of a plant-based diet, Jon referenced a book called “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. The conclusions of the study were that diets high in animal protein were strongly linked to heart disease, cancer, and Type 1 diabetes.  When asked about other books to look at for good info on a plant-based diet, Jon mentioned: “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn, “Thrive” by Brendan Brazier and “Skinny Bitch” by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

For some historical perspective, Jon mentioned that meat consumption has only been the way it is today for the past 100 years or so as a result of modern farming techniques.  Meat used to be a luxury.  As a point of reference, in Ancient Greece, they had a solely plant-based diet.  The “change” from a plant-based diet to one with more meat happened in the 1920’s.  Jon mentioned that this also coincided with a change in physical culture centers.  Physical Culture centers were gymnasiums from Europe where one would engage in exercises which almost exclusively featured bodyweight movements which a gymnast would normally perform.  The change which occurred was going from a focus on performance to appearance; hence the desire to train with weights and get big muscles overpowered the desire to be strong yet flexible.  Jon’s gym is in the style of these old Physical Culture centers from years gone by.

When asked if there were any supplements which he would recommend taking, Jon mentioned that vitamins B12 and D are the only 2 which cannot be adequately gained via a plant-based diet and need to be supplemented.

Jon’s philosophy is very simple and many of the tenets which he adheres to echo that simplicity.  Some of these include: “We don’t teach about muscles, only movements”, “Eat when you are hungry and until satisfied’ and “Follow what animals do”.  Do animals static stretch?  No, they do active stretching.  Do you train to failure?  No, because animals in the wild do not do something to failure.  [Don’t kill the messenger, I am just telling you what he said :)   I know, HIT, Doggcrapp and numerous other training philosophies just got thrown out the window with the “don’t train to failure” comment]

After all of this Earth shattering info, there was more!!!  Jon mentioned that the athletes he trains average an 8 inch improvement in their vertical jump over only 10-11 weeks, yes, you read that correctly!!!  Fortunately, Jon told us how :)   He uses the “2-1-NONE” methodology, with his power jumper.  2 bands, 8 jumps, rest 2 mins.  1 band, 8 jumps, rest 2 mins.  ZERO bands, 8 jumps, rest 2 mins.  There should be 4-5 inches b/w each jump level and if it is greater, there is too little resistance, if it is less then, there is too much resistance (adjust accordingly).  That is obviously an oversimplification, but you get the picture.  As a point of reference, Jon mentioned that the University of Wisconsin’s strength coach averages a 1 inch improvement in vertical jump per year!!!  Considering that Jon’s methods get 8x better results in about a quarter the time is impressive to say the least!!!

So, there you have it, a lot of very interesting information from a very unorthodox guy in the Strength and Conditioning industry.  All of the above was based on the notes which I took at Jon’s presentation at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, NJ on 10/21/10, any misrepresentations are unintentional and all of this was done using my notes and my ability to recall the information.  I had an awesome time meeting Jon and he definitely challenged a lot of my thinking.  Learn more about Jon and his gym here:  click here




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  • I have used numerous diets but only recently attempted to keep on the vegan diet program. I have to say that it is not simply a very beneficial way of eating but I have managed to lose roughly 10 pounds in one month! The weight loss was a extra since I went on the vegan diet plan because I kept on hearing about the main benefits of this diet plan, I would recommend it to anyone!

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