Here's what has changed, and what has been learned.Read article
IFBB Pro League Men’s Physique star Ryan Terry has already made a name for himself in the fitness industry, with a decade-long career of sponsorships, modeling gigs and magazine covers—including Muscle & Fitness. He’s also placed in the top six at the past five Men’s Physique Olympias. In fact, the only spot he’s yet to take in that top six is first.
Those top placings are no small feat considering the increasing popularity of the IFBB’s Men’s Physique division. Terry, who’s known for sporting a six-pack that appears to be chiseled out of stone, has also built an Instagram following of more than 1.5 million along the way.
The five-time Men’s Physique Olympian and social media sensation sat down for an Instagram Live Q&A with the Olympia’s Cayden Riley to talk training in Covid-19 quarantine, his diet, advice for aspiring competitors, and some tips for killer abs. Keep reading for the ins and outs of his training.
Terry lives in the U.K., where most of the country is still in Covid-19 lockdown. He and his wife started their quarantine even earlier than most because they have a baby on the way, so his typical gym training has been on hold for nearly 5 months now.
“I knew that was gonna happen, and I’ve basically built a home gym,” Terry said. “Luckily, I managed to finish it before complete lockdown.” Even so, it hasn’t been ideal. His home gym was initially meant to serve his morning cardio and ab workouts, not his full routine, so free weights weren’t in the plan until quarantine was looming. Fortunately, he was able to add a barbell and dumbbells at the last second, and he’s been able to maintain his weight and get creative to make it work.
“It’s been difficult, but at the same time, it’s taken me back to my roots,” he said. “When I first started, it was a set of dumbbells and a barbell in my room.”
Even when there isn’t a global pandemic, Terry still prefers a more sporadic training style, often deciding how to train based on how he feels on any given day.
“If I’ve had enough sleep, if I’ve eaten enough food and I’m feeling strong, I’ll touch heavier weights,” Terry explained. “If I’m in the latter part of prep or haven’t had a good night’s sleep, things like that, I’ll do time under tension work, supersets, triple dropsets. Put the intensity there rather than loading and risking injury.”
His rule of thumb is as long as he feels a good pump then gets fatigued, it’s a workout well done. And in regard to heavy weights, he takes inspiration from athletes like Dexter Jackson, who say that maxing out isn’t what it’s all about.
One look at Terry, and the first question that pops into many a gym rat’s head is probably how he manages to sculpt abs that could seemingly be used to grate parmesan cheese.
Fortunately, he has some solid tips that lifters at any level can heed. Keep in mind that he’s been working on his for over a decade now.
“I was naive in the early days, thinking I had to train [abs] every day for a six-pack,” Terry said. Once he realized that they need recovery time like any other muscle group and switched to every three or four days, he saw serious changes.
These days, he hits abs twice a week, dedicating full workout sessions to them. In the first session, he’ll focus about 60 percent on heavier exercises for upper and lower abdominals, then about 40 percent on obliques and general core work. In the second session—again, after giving them three or four days’ rest—he’ll do just the opposite.
“With abs, it’s important to not shy away from boring monotonous work. Just some crunches, holding poses, core work, vacuums, planks, static movements,” he said.
If he had to choose just one move for abs, it would be the one he starts every ab workout with: hanging leg raises.
“That hits everything in one movement, so you’ve got upper and lower abdominals having to stabilize, to not swing and use your core. And you’re lifting half your bodyweight. It’s fantastic—[feels] horrible, but good.” He does four sets to failure, and cautions that going for a specific number might make your form suffer. Instead, focus on each rep individually and make sure you’re doing this deceptively technical move properly.
Terry is a self-proclaimed hardgainer who struggles to get bigger, and his diet reflects that. He eats carbs at every meal, and eats around 4,500-5,000 calories daily in the offseason. It can be tough to manage, but he keeps his diet mostly clean, simply because he feels better when he does.
In the offseason, Terry eyeballs most of his meals, but still sticks to the classic six meals per day structure popular among competitors from all divisions.
Once Olympia prep rolls around, Terry has a lot of room to cut, but his body still functions best when he gets at least about 180 grams of carbs in, compared to 500 grams in the offseason. He tweaks the numbers daily depending on his training, adding carbs and calories on days when he trains bigger muscle groups.
One of the muscle groups Terry strives to improve upon ahead of the 2020 Olympia is his arms. While he’s happy with how they look flexed, he’s working to get them looking fuller while relaxed and in certain poses where other muscle groups outshine them.
To reach that goal, he’s hitting arms twice a week with a combination of strategies, making sure they’re fully recovered before each workout. One constant is that if he wants to bring up a muscle group, he doubles down on workouts for that group.
“The first session is putting [my arms] under load—heavy weight, low reps, long rest periods,” he said. “The second workout is more blood volume—supersets, giant sets, cluster sets, keeping the intensity up with short rest periods. I always feel that session more, to be honest.”
But in the end, he focuses on his strengths.
“I always have to focus on condition and shape,” he said. “The two times [at the Olympia] I tried to focus on size, I dropped place. So it’s about working into my strength, which is condition.”
Over the course of his career, Terry has built a name for himself in a way not many competitors manage to accomplish. His main advice for those who want to follow in his footsteps is simple: be patient, and be passionate about competing.
“I speak to young teenagers who are quick and eager to bypass the whole career side of it and be on the Olympia stage. But it’s a journey, it’s enjoying the whole of it,” Terry said. “If I were to go straight to the top five and not have all the sweat, blood and tears going through it, it wouldn’t have the same effect on me.”
If you’re not familiar with Terry’s story, he worked as a plumber and was into fitness purely as a hobby before his fitness career took off about 10 years ago. It didn’t happen overnight.
And with the standards for Men’s Physique (and every other category) getting higher by the year, Terry stresses the importance of keeping an eye on your competition. But in the end, it’s about putting your heart into it and doing it for yourself.
“You want to build a name for yourself away from brands as well—that’s something not a lot of people talk about,” Terry said. “Build yourself up and just enjoy competing for you rather than thinking it’s gonna be a money thing. Focus on you and the enjoyment of the sport, then all that can come alongside it.”
Watch the full interview here, and follow the Olympia on Instagram at (@mrolympiallc) for athlete interviews, 24-hour takeovers, and the latest updates on the 2020 Olympia. Buy tickets to the 2020 Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend HERE.