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“I eat around 4500 calories a day”

“I eat around 4500 calories a day”

Photographer:Fotograaf: Joey Roberts

The seven sins of powerlifter Tanno de Pender


  • Greed. I’m not materialistic. I only need the essentials; a belt, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, weightlifting shoes for squats, and a singlet for competitions. In powerlifting there are two big brands; SBD and Titan, but with shoes I want Nike. They provide the most stability. I am greedy when it comes to making progress, though: I always want to do better than the previous time.
  • Gluttony. I eat around 4500 calories a day, spread over five to seven meals. Before I go to the gym I always want to have had at least two meals, otherwise I don’t have enough energy. Protein is an especially important part of my diet; it’s great for muscle building and recovery. For breakfast I usually eat five fried eggs and oatmeal with cinnamon, stevia and a banana. Often my second meal is oatmeal and banana as well, but with two scoops of protein powder. Meals three, four and eventually five are meat or fish with rice and vegetables. The last meal is skinny kwark or Greek yoghurt with fruit.
  • Lust. Lots of athletes avoid sex before a competition. Not me. It might even be a good way of relaxing. If you’re too focused on the competition you put too much pressure on yourself. Muscles get you attention from women. I used to find that a lot more important than I do now. I’ve had a girlfriend for a while now.
  • Envy. I’m hardly ever jealous. It’s best not to compare yourself with others. My main motivation is to improve myself. At the World Cup in Minsk I saw someone squat 480 kilos. That’s an extraordinary amount; he’s in a different weight class, but I have a lot of admiration for that. I squat 255 kilos myself. I’m not really jealous in my relationship either. My girlfriend is fit and no doubt men look at her in the gym, but I have every confidence in her.
  • Sloth. I’m very focussed on my sport, but not at the expense of other things. Most of the times I start on my work from uni on time, but sometimes I postpone my work for a day. When I do get around to it, I do it properly. I can be ‘lazy’ when it comes to preparing food; instead of a proper hot meal, I’ll just make a few sandwiches on brown bread with avocado and chicken.
  • Wrath. I’m a calm person. After a bad training session I’ll be grumpy for five minutes and then I’m fine again. Proper training is a matter of making mistakes and then learn from them. That’s essential if you want to make progress. I usually listen to music when I’m training. It helps to keep me calm. I’ll listen to anything: mostly rock and metal, but also John Mayer, jazz, rap, and even classical music.
  • Pride. It’s nice to get recognition and compliments, or be asked to do things like this interview. But I’m not going to get too big for my britches. You have to stay yourself. I’m no more special than the next person. Everyone can powerlift, as long as you’re willing to work at it. Genes do play a role, but it’s mostly a mindset. I used to be one of those show-offs parading around at festivals in sunglasses and no shirt. Thankfully I’ve grown out of that. Now I train for performance, appearance is now only a nice by-product.

Tanno de Pender, 25, second-year student of Health Sciences, born in Dordrecht, lives in Maastricht

Trains around twenty hours per week, member of UM Sport and the Barbell Strength gym in Rotterdam, training for the Dutch Championships in December

Best performance to date: 12th in the World Cup 2016 and 6th in the European Cup 2016 (Bronze medal on the deadlift with 302.5 kg)

This is a series about students who sport at the highest level



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