If God loves a trier, then he must be over the moon with Ryan Terry. After no less than eight unsuccessful attempts, Terry finally captured the 2023 Mr Olympia Men’s Physique title in Orlando last month. It was a fairytale like journey from one of the sports most beloved athletes, coming a long way since working three jobs to support his single mum in Nottingham, England. He’d be forgiven then, for riding off into the sunset with his well-earned trophy, and yet, this epic victory has breathed new life into one of Olympia’s most enduring competitors. In a recent interview, Terry explained how he changed his tactics to finally bring the gold home, and why he’s just getting started at age 35.
“I like being the underdog,” Terry told the YouTube show; Unfiltered Extra, speaking on 28. Nov, 2023, with host Joel Warner. Having taken second place in 2016, the Men’s Physique competitor had failed to equal or best that position, coming seventh in 2022. His failure to crack the top five last year meant that despite amassing more than 40 international fitness titles, Terry felt discounted by the bodybuilding media in Orlando, but their underestimations of him only provided fuel for the fire. “I’ve always loved training as an underdog or being in that position, which is not necessarily the right thing to be as a champion, but it’s always driven me on really,” he continued. “And, it just felt like I was there to fight, especially in peak week. So, as I got closer to it, there was no nerves that came into it. It was strategically planned in my head; what I was doing next meal, when I needed to rest, when I needed to train, when I needed to do my posing and it was just military, and I just went in and yeah… it felt amazing, best I ever felt.”
What tactical change did Ryan Terry make to win the 2023 Mr Olympia Men’s Physique title?
Having taken up bodybuilding in order to dispel his own feelings of physical inadequacy, Terry has always wanted to train to his fullest all year round. It was an approach that had earned him countless fitness magazine covers and competition victories, but never the hallowed Mr Olympia title. Going into the 2023 Olympia, he felt that this might be his last shot, and finally decided to switch things up. “So, I always found it hard to get my head around ‘off season,’ trying to grow massive for the next year. It didn’t resonate with me,” said Terry. “I didn’t like doing that sort of thing. But … because I felt like this was my last year I thought; you know what? I’m going to conform to everything they (the judges) want of me and see if that was a missing piece or I’d forever be kicking myself, retired, not knowing I’ve done everything I could have done for that title.”
After the devastation of placing seventh in 2023, Terry started to listen to experts such as the NPC and IFBB Vice President, Tyler Manion. “He said; ‘from the front you’re Mr. Olympia, from the back you drop places,’” explained Terry of the feedback that he received. “And, you can see in any of the footage, you can always see that I’m always fighting in the top three. And then, as soon as I turn to the back, I start to lose places. So, I was like, ‘right!’ So, I put a plan together … ‘I’ll hit my back twice a week. I’m going to grow, I want to grow, I want to put some muscle tissue on, I’m going to get uncomfortable. I’m going to cover up for a year and get into that realm of being uncomfortable, getting bigger.’ So, we over-ate, we had an off season, we did all this stuff possible. I keep saying ‘we’ as a team, but it was me, myself and I!”
Terry also competed ahead of time in the New York Pro, meaning that he was able to gain and learn from the feedback of judges stateside rather than being an unseen quantity back in the UK. “I maybe could have won this title a few years ago if I’d have done this,” reflected Terry. “But, I just never saw that as an option to go to the judges and start really asking for feedback, going to New York and to Pittsburgh to see Tyler Manion … to see Steve Weinberger, who is the (Olympia) head judge, and get actual one-to-one feedback.” Finally taking the title home this year, Terry understandably cried on stage.
Is Ryan Terry set to retire after his 2023 Mr Olympia Men’s Physique victory?
“So, every injury I’ve ever had, so my three hip surgeries, my back surgery, my shoulder injuries, just all these social things that I’d missed, because I was competing for a title at the time, or I was in prep, all of these things just came rushing in all at once, which was really weird to think my career resume is complete now. I’ve completed every single title that I can, and that I wanted,” said Terry on Unfiltered Extra. So, after striking it ninth time lucky, is that the end of the road for our man? “This (2023) was going to be my last Olympia,” he said. But now, with his fresh outlook on competing, Terry refuses to make a snap decision on retirement. In many ways, he is just getting started.. “So yeah, I don’t like to put a time on it,” he concluded. “it’s just, I’m enjoying it, and whenever I’m enjoying it, and whenever it’s providing a good life for my family, I’ll carry on.”