Meet the seriously strong WWE superstar who is completely vegan
At the age of 19, Tyler Bate became the youngest singles champion in WWE history when he lifted the UK title
The Dudley-born WWE superstar also stands apart from the rest of the roster as a vegan competitor. Although rare in the wrestling world, plant-based lifestyles are becoming increasingly popular among athletes.
Bate spoke exclusively to JOE about the motivation behind his vegan diet.
"The biggest thing for me was making the connection between pets and other animals. I'd never eat my cat", says Bate, now 22.
"So what makes it ok to eat other animals, when they have the same level of sentience as a cat?"
The health benefits of being vegan
Although the ethical aspect of veganism was the initial attraction, Bate went on to feel a distinct physical benefit too.
"I didn't really think of it at first, but then when I looked into the health benefits I found out so much more.
"Dairy and meat are awful. When an animal is killed, they release stress hormones such as cortisol. When you eat these same animals, you consume the same hormones. And it definitely has an effect on people."
The WWE superstar feels his health has progressed no end since ditching animal products.
"My quality of sleep has improved - I'm getting a much better quality of sleep. People don’t think about it very often, but it's the most important aspect of recovery.
"Other than that, general energy levels and digestion have also been much improved."
One of the frequently asked questions surrounding a vegan diet is "how do I get enough protein in my diet?", but Bate doesn't get too hung up on this issue.
"I eat a lot of chickpeas, but I don't really worry about protein intake that much.
"I am far more conscious of vitamins and minerals in my diet, they make the real difference. For this, I eat a lot of nuts and seeds - and they are very high in protein too."
You would be forgiven for thinking the macho world of wrestling would pour scorn on a mostly plant-based diet plan, but Bate says it hasn't been that way.
"A lot of wrestlers ask about it. Some try to catch you out, but most ask about things like protein intake."
While the Ultimate Warriors of yesteryear may have trained like bodybuilders, the workout regime of a WWE superstar now takes a different focus.
Bate says: "The difference between wrestling and bodybuilding is that there's no offseason. We can't afford to build up to big one rep maxes and then a deload."
This also sets WWE superstars aside from other seasonal sports, such as football and rugby. WWE training plans are largely the work of strength and conditioning coaches Sean Hayes, and Triple H's personal coach, Joe DeFranco.
What a WWE superstar's workout looks like
Under the direction of coaches Hayes and DeFranco, training is aimed at maintaining performance - not to peak like a sprinter's would, for example.
"We train to keep a consistent level where we're always able to perform," Bate says.
"Triple H is still in better shape than most guys now in his early fifties. This shows what Sean can do."
Pushing for a one rep max just isn't feasible when your workload consists of in-ring impact and a gruelling travelling schedule.
"I started going to gym when I was 15 or 16, and I'd eat as much as possible," Bate says.
"Meals would include really high calorie beef and rice, I did this for three years. I also lifted as much as I could all the time, but it eventually got to the point where general movement was hard and affected me as a wrestler."
A lot is made, in the fitness world, of the need to 'leave your ego at the door'. While this has become quite the cliche, for Bate it really rings true.
"I'm able to lift and move more now, with a lot of time spent stretching - not just lifting weights for my own ego," he says.
This is particularly important when travel is taken into account.
Bate says: "When we travel, it tends to build up a load of tightness, so my training tends to be a bit more about maintaining movement. Not so much about lifting as much as possible, or getting massive.
Tyler Bate's typical workout
- Start with myofascial release: lacrosse ball or foam roller (on areas to be trained)
- Dynamic stretching and mobility work (this follows a circuit, so each drill gets you through the session faster)
- Central Nervous System (CNS) exercise: to fire up nervous system, use an explosive movement that relates to the area you're training (for legs, box jumps are used)
- Main lifts e.g. box squats: these must be specific to wrestling work, so we work up to a 3-4 rep max
- Other muscles are then targeted individually with a hypertrophy (muscle growth) rep range of 8-12
- The workout is finished off with a high-intensity exercise that isn't very heavy, such as sled pushes
Bate's upcoming NXT show is held in Cardiff, on the same night rival promotions NJPW and AEW stage events. However, Bate doesn't feel any extra pressure to perform.
He says: "Whether there are any of those shows on, we still always go out to put on best show that we can do. But it's always good that there's competition as it keeps us on our toes."
NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff will stream LIVE on the award-winning WWE Network, August 31. Tickets are available here.