What does it mean to be a natural bodybuilder?
For the uninitiated it sounds like an individual who takes to building muscle with ease. But being a natural bodybuilder entails so much more than that. To be a natural bodybuilder is to live by a certain code, to refuse enhancements and stick to the ideology that a great physique can be achieved purely with hard work and dedication.
Two-time Natural Mr. Olympia Rob Terry has lived by that code.
The Generation Iron 4 star has worn many hats in his day. From being a natural bodybuilder all his life to being a professional wrestler, Rob Terry has lived the fitness lifestyle for as far back as he can remember.
Generation Iron’s own Edwin Mejia Jr conducted an exclusive interview with Rob Terry, the natural bodybuilding champion and former WWE and Impact wrestling star spoke about his fitness journey and more. Terry touches on how to burn fat, build quality muscle, and excel at bodybuilding without using enhancements.
Edwin Mejia Jr: Why did you start natural bodybuilding?
Rob Terry: My Bodybuilding journey started way earlier then my physical transformation. Born in the 80’s and being surrounded by larger than life action movie stars, WWF Wrestlers and British Gladiators all had one think in common. They all had incredible physiques that I admired immensely. Even the He-Man toys that I played with as a child were extremely JACKED!!!
At the age of 13 I visited Orlando Florida with my parents. It was at our hotel where I worked out for the very first time in a gym training legs with my Dad. After a very short time working out on the leg extension I experienced a pump in my legs and immediately thought this would get me one step closer to all the people I looked up to by building my body up.
Soon after this and falling in love with the process of lifting the iron I became hooked and absolutely immersed in the idea of building my body and becoming stronger.
I was very determined what I wanted to accomplish and how I wanted to do it all naturally.
At age 8 I had a condition called Hydronephrosis which lead me to have my left kidney removed. Having the operation reinforced my path and journey to be a lifetime natural bodybuilder.
EM: What percentage of fitness models, bodybuilders, physique competitors, trainers, etc. do you think are natural vs. “enhanced?”
RT: That’s a great question and one that would be very difficult for me to answer accurately.
I get a hard enough time with people making an incorrect assumption that I am enhanced.
In the world that we live in today the choice to be enhanced is very accessible. I do feel many fitness models, bodybuilders, physique competitors, trainers are enhanced in today’s industry.
To be enhanced is a choice, just like it is a choice that I make to be life time natural.
EM: How fast can natural trainees realistically expect to gain muscle and/or lose fat? And what are the maximum rates of fat loss and muscle growth you believe to be possible for most people naturally?
RT: As a natural trainee bodybuilder you can expect to loose fat just as effectively as anyone else that has a solid and well rounded nutrition plan designed to reduce body fat.
The hard part as a natural trainee bodybuilder is the ability to sustain the muscle tissue during the process. Additionally to build quality muscle takes a lot of time and patience and really is dependent on the variables such as consistency, intensity and off season nutrition.
EM: How do you determine the training fundamentals — volume, frequency, intensity, rest periods — for natural trainees?
RT: Training fundamentals are always going to be different from one person to the next and their ability to adapt and recover.
Personally for me intensity & volume are extremely important.
When in competition prep resting periods play a big part in the aid to reducing body fat by shortening the time in between sets and exercises to raise the heart rate.
EM: Are there any particular training techniques you use that aren’t very well-known?
RT: The training techniques I employ are those that promote longevity and the ability to continue my fitness journey for as long as I can. One of my favorite techniques I use in almost every body part workout is (TUT) Time Under Tension.
This has proven to be very effective in breaking down my muscle tissue while saving joints, tendons and ligaments from damage and stress.
EM: What does a typical diet look like? How does your approach to dieting differ from most people’s?
RT: My off season diet is not as regimented as my contest diet would be. In my off season I fuel my body with protein sources to support my muscle structure.
I implement many different sources of carbohydrates, vegetables and fats. It is also not a big deal for me to eat foods that wouldn’t necessarily be on my food plan. AKA cheat meal.
During contest prep, it’s game on! I select the best and highest quality organic foods for my nutrition. The foods I select in my contest food nutition plan are those that boost and support my bodies natural health systems. Instead of choosing foods that may make the diet and my taste buds more favorable.
Everything is measured out on a scale when I am prepping for a show and cooked personally by myself so I am accountable for absolutely everything.
EM: What dietary supplements are worthwhile for a natural trainee who is otherwise eating very healthily, training hard, and living a very healthy lifestyle? Which are the biggest wastes of money in your opinion?
RT: I think a really great protein powder is a supplement staple to get the protein into the muscles easily and fast after a workout for recovery. Creatine is also another supplement that I have been using for many years to create muscle fullness and faster recovery. I am very thankful to have a sponsor with Gains in Bulk who cater their supplement line towards natural athletes.
There are many supplements on the market today that offer that quick fix of burning fat and building muscle that are just a scam and total waste of money. There is absolutely no substitute for the power of good nutrition.
EM: What are the main challenges that natural trainees face, and how does that change if you’re talking about, say, novices, vs. people with 2–3 years of training under their belt vs. a fitness pro or physique competitor?
RT: Firstly being a natural trainee bodybuilder just starting out I would say it can be easy to get unmotivated and discouraged at times. The trainee may expect to see results straight away. However being natural it takes time to get physical results.
The more advanced you get as a natural bodybuilder and see results and feel healthier along with the consistency of the training and nutrition is an amazing feeling.
I feel that whether you are a trainee novice or pro the process is a long one. One that really does test you mentally as well as physically. Once you have the foundation of muscle and build on it, it’s very hard to knock it down. Ultimately in bodybuilding you are growing the human body and doing so takes time and patience.
If you are a trainee, novice or pro you are always competing against yourself to constantly improve from your last show, the previous year.
It’s a long road but what comes easy won’t last long, and what lasts long won’t come easy. The battle will always be you versus you!
Catch more of Rob Terry and the other stars of Natural and mainstream bodybuilding in Generation Iron 4 out now!