Professional arm wrestler Rob Bigwood spends his days slamming down opponents’ hands in victory. Learn how his vegan lifestyle has improved his game, discover his go-to power foods, and find out about his dream arm-wrestling match. On Tuesday, March 18, he's the featured arm wrestler on AMC's Games of Arms.
In less than a minute, it is all over.
But first, Rob Bigwood saddles up to the table, grabs his opponent’s left hand and, using the weight of his entire body, begins to slowly force the arm to the mat. After a moment of steady tension, his arm muscles switch gears. The opponent is pinned. The crowd cheers, “Go Bigwood!” And it is another victory for the professional arm wrestler.
At first glance, Bigwood looks just like his fellow competitors: tattooed, muscled arms that defy logic (his biceps measure 18.25 inches and his forearms 15.75 inches). But underneath the surface, his lifestyle is much different.
His standout frame and slew of championship wins were earned on a vegan diet. That means he abstains from all animal products. His vegan lifestyle also earned him a spot on the AMC show Game of Arms
, which follows five teams of professional arm wrestlers across the US as they train and compete for bragging rights.
We caught up with Bigwood and he shared how his vegan lifestyle has improved his game, his go-to power foods, and his dream arm-wrestling match.
Groupon: What are the staple ingredients in your diet?
Rob Bigwood: I eat super simple. Oats, grains, veggies, beans, fruits, nuts, tofu, seitan, tempeh, and occasionally some vegan protein supplements.
G: How/why did you get into arm wrestling? How many hours a week do you work out to stay in shape for competitions?
RB: One of my friends competed during high school. He was a smaller guy that convincingly beat the entire football and wrestling teams. We started training together and after a few months decided to travel to North Carolina for a competition. I haven't stopped since.
I work out just as hard as any other professional athlete. I'm in the gym every day doing some sort of arm-wrestling-related exercises.
G: I see you have worn a PETA shirt during a number of competitions. Is this your go-to uniform?
RB: I used to but my buddy "borrowed" that shirt and hasn't returned it in years. I usually just stick to my uniform of a black shirt and jeans.
G: What do you usually eat before a workout or match? How about to celebrate a win?
RB: A banana or two and mix it with organic almond butter and a variety of nuts. I also drink plenty of coconut water. But after a win I usually celebrate with beer and junk food. My diet is far from perfect.
G: Why/when did you go vegan?
RB: I’ve been a vegetarian for seven years and vegan for four. I think it’s extremely hypocritical calling oneself an animal lover while eating a slice of bacon or a cheeseburger. All animals have the same feelings and emotions and should also have the same rights and respect. A vegan lifestyle is beneficial for our environment, our health, less fortunate people and countries, and especially the millions of innocent animals murdered each and every year.
G: What physical differences have you noticed, both right after going vegan and over a longer period of time?
RB: I used to weigh 285 pounds, felt sluggish and relied too much on coffee. I’m down to 235 pounds, have more energy, and overall feel like a new person. I wasn't successful my first few attempts, but once I got my head straight the transition was easy. I eat the same types of foods but simply replace meat with tofu, beans, or seitan. I switched to almond milk and cut out the eggs and cheese.
G: I watched the video on your blog where you took on your brother and father at the same time—and won. It was insane. If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to arm wrestle, who would it be?
RB: That’s easy. Any one of the guys from Workaholics
only because I love that show!
G: How many tattoos do you have? Did you design any of them yourself? Do any of them represent your vegan lifestyle or passion for arm wrestling?
RB: I have two full sleeves and both of my thighs are done. Seth Wood has done all of my work other than the skull and castle on my right thigh, Deno from Circus Tattoo worked on that in Spain. I didn't design any myself but rather enjoy "collecting" the art from the tattooers. Nothing on my body represents veganism or arm wrestling.
G:. What tips would you give someone who wants to get into the sport of arm wrestling?
RB: Check out the NortheastBoard.com
for some guys to train with, there are tons of teams around the country. Also check out the newest and baddest arm-wrestling league, WALUnderground.com
. The next event is June 7, 2014, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
G: Can you tell me about your experience filming Game of Arms?
RB: It has been one of the absolute best and most challenging experiences of my life. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Being filmed week after week was literally a second job, training, traveling, and having complete strangers invade your personal life wasn't easy for me.
Action photo courtesy of David Moir, AMC; portrait shot courtesy of Thieves