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Unbuttoned with Terry Hollands: Part 1


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Welcome to our Terry Hollands blog series! Join us as we explore the incredible transition of Terry Hollands, a legendary strongman who has now embarked on a new journey in the world of bodybuilding. After capturing audiences attention worldwide with his immense power and extraordinary feats as a strongman, Terry has left many curious and intrigued by his decision to swap his strongman equipment for dumbbells and barbells.

In this series, we look into the trials, triumphs, and untold tales behind Terry’s shift in career. Discover what drives one of the world’s strongest men to step into the territory of bodybuilding. Whether you’re a fan of strength sports, a fitness enthusiast, or simply intrigued by Terry Hollands, this journey promises to inspire you.

Transitioning from strongman to bodybuilding – what’s the journey been like?

It’s been good transitioning from strongman to bodybuilding, although you are lifting weights its in a very different way, for strongman it’s about the amount of force you can produce and the amount of weight you can lift, bodybuilding is about focusing on contracting muscles and how you move instead of shifting as much weight as possible, it’s been good and a real learning experience, the nutrition side is very different. For me I always need to focus, so moving from strongman, bodybuilding is something that does interest me, it’s something I can really focus on until I decide to do something else.

Dietary requirement changes

Since I started bodybuilding my weight has been up and down, been on a bulk in a surplus of calories, the actual training doesn’t change that much through the sort of nutrition, most of the changes are through my physique, yes I am in a surplus of calories to build muscles and when I diet down you have to hope it stays. Managing the diet is trying to retain as much muscle as possible whilst losing weight.

One of the only competitors to compete in the Arnold’s as a strongman and as a bodybuilder – has there been any real challenges?

At the stage I’m at in life now, bodybuilding training suits me more than the strongman. It’s not so taxing on the joints or tough on your body in terms of actual real pains, you get the normal aches but no joint pains – as much because you’re not focused on lifting as much weight as possible, you’re almost trying to make the lifting harder for yourself rather than adding more weight. You can do things like slow the tempo or movement down and doing extra reps so you don’t have to increase the load which helps me manage old injuries I’ve had.  Biggest thing is having to unlearn a lot of the ways I’ve lifted instead of creating as much force I’ve had to programme myself to not do that as that’s not the best way to build muscle

How long did you strongman for?

Strongman for 17 years, you judge every training session on how much weight you’re lifting on every exercise. The most important thing to focus on during a session is you’re doing a movement for x amount of sets and reps, if you lifted more weight than last session its an obvious progression, with the bodybuilding it’s about how you feel it’s about how the muscle feels after the session, if you feel like you’ve worked it hard enough. Because sometimes with the strongman you might have bad knees but in terms of the muscle pain you don’t actually feel any different, but with the bodybuilding its focusing on the muscles you need to train and making sure that they’re worked hard. Also another thing is about losing the ego, because everyone expects me to be lifting big weights whereas now when I go into the gym i’m not lifting big weights, they’re still moderately heavy but not what I used to lift, so its getting that out of my head of people are going looking and thinking he’s not as strong as he used to be, it’s not about that its about how it feels and working the muscle rather than lifting as much weight as possible.

What made you think this isn’t me anymore? And changing your physique

A lot of it was the statistics, you know it’s a harsh reality. It was for a purpose and a goal, but you do get to a point in life where you start thinking it’s not about the now it’s about the future, a big change in that was when my son was born, prior to that I only had to focus on myself and my partner at the time and I was probably a bit selfish to be honest. When Zak came along all of sudden everything changes and you think I now have to do right by him, it’s not just about me so, the initial weight loss down 200kg to about 150kg which I was roughly competing at in the end, it was mainly for health reasons, I want to go and play basketball with Zak in the park or play football not that i’m very good at it but you know, if he wants to do that and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to do that at the stage that I was at, as he was getting older i was like this has to change, in terms of quality life everyday tasks have become a lot easier, you know I’m still very large about 24 stone or whatever I am at the moment I’m still a big person, but my life is not as difficult as it was when I was 200kg.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?

I know it sounds a bit cheesy and a bit cliché but the fact I’ve been able to inspire the next generation of strongmen that’s first and foremost, I’ve also been able to help people on their journeys in terms of changing their lives around a little bit, I don’t think necessarily what I was doing in my life when I was bigger, doing strongman and when I was at my heaviest wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as I was chasing a goal, and I think to get the most out of yourself in life, you’ve got to be able to push yourself at something and I think that’s where you really learn about yourself as a person and helps you improve in other areas of your life if you’re determined in one thing. The fact that perhaps I’ve been able to inspire people to get on their journey no matter what it is, I was big into reading lots of sports stuff when I was younger it wasn’t just inspired by strongmen it was rugby players and athletes and you can get a lot of inspiration from people that have really pushed themselves at something and i’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to do that, and that’s probably the biggest positive thing that’s come out of my journey

Most people might not know but you played a bit of rugby back in the day, how far did you get with that before you changed to strongman?

So I was playing local rugby as a kid and for my school, I then signed for Harlequins when I was 18, I spent just over 2 years there on a development contract, it didn’t work out came to an end, I moved to new Zealand and played 2 seasons there and then came back and jacked it all in and started doing strongman, you know it wasn’t my path, it wasn’t my journey, although I was a pretty good rugby player, when I was at harlequins I never actually made it into the first team but I played in the second team, in the A league, I didn’t quite make it to the top team of the club but I was playing U21’s and second team games I was nearly there. I feel like everything happens for a reason and I found my calling in strongman.

Is there any advice to young strongmen or aspiring bodybuilders?

Probably my biggest advice to anyone is if you’ve got a goal of some kind whether that be strongman, bodybuilding, rugby, whatever it is, it doesn’t even have to be sport related, is just chase it and don’t be scared to change that goal along the way, for me my whole aim in life was to play rugby for England ,and I had to go on a different path because that wasn’t where my journey was meant to end but it was the best thing to ever happen to me, me not getting my dream actually turned out to be the most positive thing that happened in my life, that’s probably the biggest thing chase your dreams, aim towards something and don’t be scared to diversify along the way 

Thank you for joining us on this first blog instalment with Terry Hollands. Stay tuned for our next, where we’ll delve into the unique experiences and challenges faced by Terry living life as a big and tall man. Until then, stay strong!

See the landing page here for everything Terry related. For more audio friendly audiences you can check out the first instalment of the interview on our YouTube channel.

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