The Shredded Winner Of The Arnold Classic Reveals Why Consistency Is The Secret To Washboard Abs

You might imagine a Mr Olympia runner-up would be ruled by a strict workout plan and rigid nutrition schedule, but as Ryan Terry reveals to RISING, he takes a ‘see how you feel’ approach

RISING You won the Arnold Classic and were 2017’s highest placed British competitor in Mr Olympia – how does that feel? RYAN TERRY, BODY ATHLETE ‘To win the Arnold Classic was a dream come true for me – it’s the second biggest show in the world. I always set goals every year to see if I can achieve what no one else has. I wanted to be the first person to win it as both an amateur and then a pro in the Men’s Physique Division, which I did. I also got to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was another dream come true. I was disappointed not to win Mr Olympia because I dropped from 2nd in world in 2016 to 6th in the world this year. Even though that’s still a great achievement, it hurts at the minute.’

RISING Do you use any training techniques or routines that might surprise us? Got any tips? RT ‘My first tip would be to keep your training varied. My training is very sporadic, unlike a lot of people these days who are quite specific and uniformed. I always train based on how I feel on that day. If I’m feeling a bit weak, that’s when I will train sensibly and do some muscle connection training. But if, for example, I have had extra calories that day, then I will attempt heavier compound exercises.’

RISING It’s a hugely competitive sport, so what’s been the most challenging part of your journey to achieve your goals? RT ‘The toughest part of the journey was probably the impact it had on my immediate family and my girlfriend. It’s a very selfish sport and everything has to evolve around you, and you see what people have to sacrifice. It is very difficult to juggle pleasing everyone. It’s hard mentally when you’re dieting as well, but the positives do outweigh the negatives.’

RISING In terms of nutrition, beyond protein supplementation, what has been the most powerful thing you have done to support your training goals? RT ‘Apart from using USN products to supplement my diet, it’s about finding something that works for me, finding the food sources I enjoy and look forward to, and working my macronutrients out. To do that I work out my maintenance level, which are the calories I consume in one day for me to not lose weight. Then I put a nutrition plan together around those. When I’m bulking I will be above that maintenance level and then if I’m dieting I will be below that maintenance level. It really is as simple as that.’

When dieting, a full-body weighed circuit will condition your body and help to maintain muscle

RISING It’s hard to cut calories and body fat, while maintaining muscle – what would your advice be to people trying to achieve that? RT ‘You need to find a nutrition plan that you can sustain 365 days a year and that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy what’s in your diet, that’s when you will cave and it gets tougher. When you’re dieting doing a full-body, weighted circuit is a great way to condition your body, and it helps you to maintain muscle volume.’

RISING What’s more important for you – training volume, intensity or consistency? RT ‘Consistency is the key in bodybuilding. It is the word that is circulated over anything. If you’re consistent with training and nutrition, that’s when you’re going to see the best results.

RISING You’ve been injured in the past – how have you dealt with setbacks to return to winning ways? RT ‘I had quite a serious injury in 2010 when I slipped two discs in my lower back – now I have to train around the injury. On reflection, it was me being naïve and I trying to lift too heavy, too young. So now I have to train smart. Every so often it reminds me it’s still there if I get too carried away with weights. I have treatment every week on the muscles around my disc so they aren’t too tight. I’m experienced enough now to know what to do in the gym in order not to aggravate it, and I do specific exercises that strengthen it.’

I often make it up as I go along – I write every workout down so that I don’t do it the week after

RISING How do you keep your workouts interesting and effective at the same time? RT ‘I often make it up as I go along. I look at trying to do different exercises in different orders; different rep ranges, different tempos and different styles like drop sets, and supersets from week to week. Any form of variation I try to do differently than the week before. In terms of preparation for an event, I write every workout down and make sure that I don’t do it the week after to keep the enjoyment there.’

RISING Who are your greatest inspirations in the world of lifting? RT ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger because of what he has achieved in the industry and his bodybuilding. Steve Cook is another inspiration of mine as well because he’s quite a humble and personal guy who is very current, and always varies his workout. It’s not all about the competition though, it’s about a lifestyle, which I relate to.’

RISING What has competing taught you about other people, and performance? RT ‘You should appreciate what other people have gone through. In this industry it’s very image conscious, but once you’re on that stage and you have been in the same struggle as everyone else, that’s when you appreciate other people who do it.'

WHAT NEXT? Want to see what Ryan Terry would call an abs-shredding core workout? Then watch this – but only attempt to copy it under PT supervision…

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.

Ryan Terry is an ambassador for sports nutrition brand USN, who have launched a search to find the next male and female Face of USN.