A few years ago, Ryan Terry was just an ordinary plumber harbouring a secret dream of one day ditching his day job to pursue his other burning passion: fitness.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Ryan is living that same fantasy.
A full-time fitness fanatic, he’s emerged as the UK’s most successful bodybuilder and a serious contender in the annual Mr. Olympia competition.
It’s taken focus, dedication and a hell of a lot of gym work.
And with today’s modern man increasingly keen to get in shape, he’s perfectly placed to offer some advice and guidance on how to go from couch potato to fully-fledged beefcake.
Here’s what the man mountain had to say.
loaded: When did you first get into fitness?
Ryan: I first started bodybuilding when I was 14. I was into a lot of sports before that including football, gymnastics, and swimming. I had an injury which meant I gained a lot of weight – essentially, I’d carried on eating as usual. Eventually, it’s what spurred me into starting up the gym. From there I did have a brief stint where I transitioned over to football again but from there onwards it was bodybuilding and I’ve never looked back really.
loaded: What’s the easiest way to get into fitness?
Ryan: Find something that you enjoy! If it’s a sport and you choose to go down that route, then start off at a basic level and try to get better and better and put that into your everyday life. If it’s the gym, then I would suggest going into the gym and speaking to a personal trainer. That will help you ascertain the kind of fitness you might want to get into whether it be bodybuilding and the sculpting and shaping of your physique, CrossFit as more of an endurance-based goal with those speed and agility focused elements or whatever it may be. Really, it’s about working towards those individual goals with the support of others!
loaded: What are the main benefits of being super fit?
Ryan: For me, it’s my health first and foremost. I look after my health and love being fit. I can do most sports as a result and of course, it’s also good for confidence. Self-confidence was the reason I got into fitness in the first place, to feel more comfortable in my own skin, so I would say that’s the main thing!
loaded: Do you get more female attention as a result of your physique?
Ryan: Personally, growing up I was quite chubby when I first put the weight on and so I guess yes when I first started sculpting my body I did get more attention! I wasn’t a confident person that would go up and speak to girls when I was growing up. It helps in some respects!
loaded: What advice can you give to any couch potatoes looking to go from flabby to fit?
Ryan: Gaining consistency and getting into a routine that you sustain over a long period of time is the most important thing. When you’re a couch potato, you’ve got to get up and get into fitness pretty much – it is going to be hard, it is going to be difficult but after the first few weeks, you’ll start to get into that routine and see change. Setting short-term goals instead of long-term goals means they’re more achievable. Have a date. For me, I have a 12-week preparation date, so I know on that day I have to be ready. For someone that isn’t used to it, it’s something to work towards – when you see the weight begin to drop off, getting healthier, fitter etc., that’s a real motivator! If you look at it and think “I’ve got a year of this” or “I’m never going to get it off”, then you’ll stay a couch potato!
loaded: Gyms can be intimidating places for people that are out of shape – how can they combat this?
Ryan: For me, I think it’s about going in there with the right mentality. Everyone is in there to get more self-confidence and better themselves. At some point, people might have been at their lowest before going to the gym. I was chubby and not very confident, but everyone’s in there for the same reason. Unless you’re in a very pretentious gym, most gyms are quite respective of the fact that no matter how big you are or unfit you are going in the door, you’re trying to make a change. If it’s not a supportive environment, then go to a different gym. You shouldn’t change the way you feel going to a gym.
loaded: What are the easiest exercises and routines to get into if you are out of shape?
Ryan: I would focus on compound lifts. Think your basic squat, deadlift, shoulder press etc. That’s a big exertion of calories – if you’re overweight or haven’t been in the gym, those 3 exercises are a staple for using all parts of the body. By using more than just one isolated muscle group, you’ll burn calories at a higher rate and therefore lose weight quickly while getting stronger in the process! Compound lifts will help improve those weaknesses you might have in particular areas, so you should never neglect them when putting a training plan together.
loaded: What are the best foods to eat when getting fit and which are the worst?
Ryan: I would look at complex carbs, so white rice, sweet potato, brown rice, oatmeal and such. In terms of protein, it’s important to make sure these are clean sources. So, for example, organic chicken, turkey, white fish, salmon and steak, eggs and a good whey protein like USN Blue Lab. This applies to fats as well, so good clean sources such as avocado, walnuts, almonds, and mackerel. The bad calories will be your fast food – processed meats, sugars etc. They’re just high dense bad calories.
loaded: Talk us through your daily exercise and diet regimen?
Ryan: I do fast cardio first thing in the morning before my breakfast, which is one hour low intensity – could be biking or walking/jogging on a treadmill. I then have four big carb meals before doing a weighted session in the evening. That’s in isolated muscle parts, so each day is allocated to a specific muscle group. It’s 5 days a week and known as the ‘Old School Bodybuilding Split’. The sixth day I’ll focus on one of my weaker muscle groups, hitting that twice during the week.
loaded: When did you realise you could make a career out of this?
Ryan: I was a plumber and didn’t realise at all until I won Mister Great Britain and Mr. International in 2010. A lot of opportunities started opening up including modelling jobs and TV work. Initially, I still stuck to plumbing and was doing the odd modelling job on the side. In 2010, I made that transition to go into bodybuilding full-time. I now travel the world with it. In 2013 the focus was commercial modelling and sports modelling, to now more bodybuilding and sports modelling. I’m a bit bigger that way. Among my biggest achievements are having won the Arnold classic twice, most recently last year, as well as having finished as the runner-up at Mr. Olympia last year. My big goal for 2018 will be trying to win that in November for the first time. They are the two most prestigious bodybuilding competitions in the world.
Ryan Terry is an ambassador for leading sports nutrition brand USN who have just launched their brand new Blue Lab Whey protein. To find out more visit www.usn.co.uk.