Standing at 5’4”, WWE Superstar Zelina Vega is outsized by the majority of women on the pro wrestling circuit but when it comes to her presence and charisma, she’s more than able to cast a shadow over her opponents. The 2021 “Queen’s Crown” tournament winner, and challenger for Rhea Ripley’s WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship; at the upcoming BackLash event on May 6, says that she would “lose her mind” if she couldn’t find time to workout. Fortunately, as M&F learned in this exclusive chat, Vega is able to draw on the influences of her husband Malakai Black, and even The Rock, as she trains for the biggest match of her life.

“…I workout probably, like, six days a week,” Vega tells M&F, noting that many of her workouts are High Intensity Interval Training based, in order to improve her cardiovascular conditioning. Still, the proud Latino World Order member loves to lift heavy, and her husband Malakai Black, who is currently on the AEW roster, has proved to be a great gym partner as well as life partner in this regard. “My husband likes to make these, like, powerlifting routines for me and then we also mix it up with Muay Thai. So, it’s a lot of different things that I feel like helps me a lot in the ring, whether it’s strength wise, speed wise, so yeah, it’s tough but you gotta fit it in.”

Zelina Vega structures her training around her work in the ring

Vega, 32, invests a great deal of time and energy in structuring her training around the demands that are placed on her between the ropes, explaining that she will try to plan leg day so that she has a couple of days of recovery afterwards, before her next big match. “Especially now, being a babyface (the pro wrestling term for a “good” guy or girl in the eyes of the fans) and doing all of these more highflying style moves, like, I need [my legs].”

“I’m also a vegan,” says Vega. “So, [that’s] an added annoyance as far as traveling goes, but I always come with my meals prepared.” The championship contender has all her meals crafted by “Get Fueled,”  in order to take the guesswork out of finding healthy foods on the go and tracking macros. Without her cooler bag full of food, Vega jokes that she would be a “very angry, tiny woman!” The Queen of WWE understands that failing to fuel-up will cost her the gains that she is making in the gym and also limit her strength and energy in the squared circle. “For me, I like to know exactly what I’m putting in my body,” she says. “So, I make sure that I do bring the meals with me.”

WWE Backlash promo with female wrestler Zelina Vega

Zelina Vega discovered a great nutrition tip from ‘The Great One’

“It is very difficult to eat though, I will say that, because you are just so busy running around all the time,” shares Vega. “Like even with [media calls], I completely forgot to eat, but I learned this from Dwayne Johnson: He had a timer on his phone that showed ‘OK, it’s time to eat’ and he would stop what he was doing and he’d make sure he gets his meals in, and then he would continue doing what he was doing.” Vega, who has a huge online following for her cosplaying skills, says that she observed from DJ that making time for what’s important for your progress is how a professional works, and took that tip on board for herself. “Because, you know, you want to be just as good. You want to raise up your game just as much.”

As any elite athlete knows, eating clean is just part of the process of becoming the best, but Vega does take time out from the grind every once in a while. “I have a big sweet tooth… like big!” she says, adding that gummy worms and Haribo are definitely some of her favorite cheat indulgences. “I sneak a few in there, depending on when,” shares Vega. The Queen says that she likes to do cardio while fasted, but explains that this is a real challenge to execute because her life on the road involves a lot of other demands on her time. Even hair and makeup can shave hours off her day. “But now, it’s like ‘ok,’ how can I combine (tasks) to make sure I can the most out of (my time) and still reach that goal.”

Zelina Vega will have the chance to put all her preparation and commitment to the ultimate test, against WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley live on Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else on May 6.