Anastasia Zinchenko, vegan powerlifter and bodybuilder
Anastasia Zinchenko has been competing in powerlifting for several years, recording some high profile placings and impressive totals. She’s competed in the 63kg and 72 kg weight classes, and taken regional UK titles, national placings and competed internationally.
In 2014 she won the BDFPA All Midlands Championships 72 kg weight class and took second in the 2014 British Universities Powerlifting Championship 63 kg class.
She won the Anglian Open Powerlifting Championship 72 kg weight class in 2015, and went on to place 6th at the GBPF British Classic Powerlifting Championships in the 63 kg class.
Anastasia took 2nd at the 2015 GBPF East Midlands Senior Powerlifting Championship (72 kg) and the 2016 national British Classic Bench Press Championships (72 kg). She’s also placed 3rd at the 2017 USPA Naturally Fit Games (67.5 kg).
2016 also saw Anastasia compete in the Bench Press World Championship in 2016, which she describes as her greatest achievement. She also competes in bodybuilding – so obviously has no shortage of muscle!
Her best lifts in the 63 kg weight class are a squat of 115 kg, bench press of 75 kg and a deadlift of 140 kg.
In the 72 kg category Anastasia’s recorded a 117.5 kg squat, 75kg bench press and a deadlift of 142.5 kg.
In 2013, Anastasia turned vegan. “Initially, my interest in was coming from the health perspective” she told us. “I was curious of how I would feel eliminating all animal products (I was vegetarian at that time). However, the more information I gained about the negative impact of factory farming, the more my decision of living a vegan lifestyle became motivated by morality. I don’t want to support something and contribute to something I consider as being wrong or unnecessary. For me, veganism is about doing the least harm possible, to respect all living beings, the environment and ourselves.”
Now she’s committed to veganism. This raises few difficulties in her usual settings, although there are some issues including when travelling.
“The major difficulty I see with travelling is that I often travel to counties in which I don’t speak the language. For this reason, it is often difficult to get reliable information if the food I order is really vegan. In such cases, I do my best possible and try to explain what exactly I need and which precise ingredients shouldn’t be added to the dish. Every time I travel I have vegan protein sources with me and get lots of veggies when I eat out or buy something in a store. This way I reduce the risk of accidently eating something that is not vegan.”
Fuelling the lift
Now she enjoys a diet which is also nutritious. “I love home-made protein bread, protein pancakes, seitan, tofu, tempeh, avocado, chia seeds, eggplant, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes. When my diet is less strict (I am preparing for a bodybuilding competition now) then I add more legumes, particularly chickpeas as I love the taste, to my diet.”
Usually training herself, Anastasia unsurprisingly focusses on larger weights.
“My training consists mostly of heavy lifting. Depending on what competition I prepare for also my training changes. When I train for powerlifting I prioritize squat, bench press and deadlift in the lower repetition range. When I train for bodybuilding I focus mostly on hypertrophy work (whole body workouts every day) in lower and medium rep ranges (up to 12 repetitions). In addition, I increase my activity and walk more and do posing training every day.”
“Often people I meet in the gym are surprised that I am vegan. Then I explain to them using scientific arguments (I have a PhD in biochemistry and all the programs I design for my client and myself are science-based) that it isn’t a problem to build muscle and strength on a vegan diet.”
Still planning to compete in lower weight classes, Anastasia is focussing on relative strength. She also feels that training in powerlifting has lots of overlaps with other areas of life.
“Living the life you want is a skill. Being happy, managing stressful situations, lifting weights and sticking to a healthy diet that supports your goals. All these are skills and you need to learn and practice them. You need to put in time every day to make them to a habit and then it will become much easier to reach your goals.
Consistency is the key to success.”