Joining us today we have six times Men’s Health cover model, personal trainer, fitness model and all round top bloke Olly Foster!
Men’s Health was one of the magazines I bought when I was starting out and I still recall buying the issue with Olly on the cover in 2005. Olly’s cover made an impact on me at the time and I decided that was what I wanted to look like.
It turned out Olly wasn’t a fitness model at the time, just a reader who entered the cover model competition and won. This motivated me big time and it’s why I’m so excited to be joined by Olly today!
Let’s find out what Mr Foster has been up to since gracing the cover of Men’s Health…
Skye: Olly, firstly, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us today.
For the benefit of our international readers who may not be familiar with you, give us the Olly Foster story from before the cover model competition to where you are today.
Olly: Having been quite an inactive child with an appalling diet, I took up sport at the late age of 15. I went along with a friend to a Rugby League training session in Carlisle where I was living at the time.
Quite rapidly I picked the game up and in order to build strength and size I joined my local gym Bodytek. Under the guidance and my mentor Mike Smith, I learnt everything I needed to in order to build a powerful physique not only for the game itself for but everyday activities.
I played at a semi pro level both in Cumbria and New Zealand and after a series of injuries I stopped playing and focused on education. I went to Sheffield Hallam University and studied Nutrition focusing mainly on the Sports & Fitness related topics, to couple this; I did my gym instructor qualification and worked part time at the Uni gym Sport Hallam.
After a couple of years out of the game I started to get the itch to play rugby again, the body felt good and my training was going extremely well. So I joined my local club the Sheffield Eagles and was soon selected to play for England students. Once my degree finished and I got my qualifications I got the opportunity to play over in Sydney, Australia for the Manly Sea Eagles.
This turned into a more social visit than a career orientated one and after a year I came back to the UK. I carried on playing for another year for a club in Leeds and for England amateurs but I was blighted with injury after injury. Finally after my 9th operation I gave the game up and re-evaluated my goals.
This was when the Men’s Health Cover Model Competition caught my attention. After a 4 week diet I was selected to attend the final and in Sept 2005 it was announced that I had won.
From this I’ve had several more covers UK based and many more worldwide. I never took up fitness modelling on a serious basis until recently. Now it is, along with my Personal Training business, my main focus. It gives me a purpose, a goal and a reason to train and stay healthy.
Balancing A Busy Schedule
Skye: You’re a busy guy. How do you balance your personal training work, your modelling career, writing for Men’s Health and still stay in such amazing condition?
Olly: It’s all about discipline and self control. You have to be so regimented and organised in order to get through one day let alone a week.
Learning to eat clean and seeing how well prepared I needed to be taught me how to adapt these skills into my work ethic. My days are planned, my gym clothes laid out, my meals cooked and packed and my to-do list set the night before any day.
Seriously if I had known I could be so organised and regimented I would have joined the forces!
The Cover Model Competition
Skye: What would say to guys reading this who want to enter the Men’s Health cover model competition? What can they do to be in with a chance of winning?
Olly: Obviously you need to be in great shape, keep your body in proportion but don’t be too vascular and ridiculously lean. Men’s Health sell to the average Joe Public male reader so the person on the front covers needs to have an attainable physique.
If they are fortunate enough to get to the final then they need to stay relaxed and enjoy it, too much tension will show and you will look like a rabbit in the head lights behind a camera.
Trust the photographer, they know what there doing.
Skye: The lean, athletic Men’s Health cover model physique is a good role model for most natural trainees compared to the 250-300 lb at 5% body fat that the muscle magazines promote. Do you think following the advice in the muscle magazines hinders a lot of youngsters when they first start training?
Olly: I don’t think it hinders them; the information provided is very useful and applicable to most who train. It does however set unrealistic time scales for results which unfortunately can lead to unhealthy and unethical approaches when they don’t get the results promised…
Photo Shoot Prep
Skye: You always stay 2 weeks out of photo shoot shape, what changes do you make to your diet and training in preparation of a shoot?
Olly: My diet will stay very consistent, I will drop my carbs slightly and throw in a few morning pre-breakfast cardio sessions and maybe introduce a fat burner into my supplements.
My training will become much more intense with a lot of supersets and multiple joint moving exercises. Usually I will split the body parts into 2 sessions, train them followed by a HIT day and then go again. Very rarely taking a day off, even though I know I should.
Skye: Before a shoot some guys try to manipulate water levels and sodium balance to ensure they look as lean as possible. Do you deplete carbs and carb up or do anything in particular to ensure you look lean but muscular for the camera?
Olly: I do, we pretty much all do unless you’re a genetic freak.
I will drop my carbs and reintroduce them the night before. 3-4 days out I will up my water intake by double, taking in around 7-8 litres a day and then 18 hours out I will cut all fluids from the diet.
This is the worst part, very quickly you become extremely dehydrated but your body will be tricked into thinking it will be getting a consistent supply of water, so you will continue to pee like a race horse and shed all excess water to create a lean, tight dry look.
Add some sugars into the body about an hour before it’s “click-click” time and this will give you the vascular look.
Skye: You’re a personal trainer at the famous Third Space gym in Soho, London. How’s that working out for you?
Olly: To be honest I’ve only just joined the club and I’m a new face on the London PT scene, but there a few things in the pipe line which unfortunately I can’t reveal just yet, but watch this space
Skye: As a personal trainer, do you find that women are reluctant to lift weights because they think they’ll get too muscular? How do you convince them otherwise?
Olly: Very much so and it’s a constant battle convincing them it really is the best way to get the majority of them to reach their goals.
I develop a very trusting relationship with my clients and assure them that I know what I’m doing; I have many testimonials to prove my point and I’m a very successful results based trainer.
Skye: Your cardio of choice is High Intensity Training (HIT) done in the morning. Do you favour HIT because of the short duration or do you feel it’s more effective compared to longer duration, Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio?
Olly: It is much more effective and there are more and more studies out there proving this fact.
Not only will it aid in burning a higher ratio of fat stocks but it raises your metabolic rate for a much longer periods post workout, thus in essence you burn more calories doing nothing.
Skye: You train six days per week, are shorter workouts the key to training this frequently?
Olly: For me yes, short and sweet, in and out. I have much better results doing it this way and it also makes my sessions more manageable with my hectic lifestyle.
Over 45 minutes my energy levels are massively depleted and I begin to step into the overtraining zone, creating a much higher risk of injury and I really can’t afford to be injured.
Skye: Your leg day has you doing 4 sets of leg extensions before 3 sets of 20 rep squats. OUCH!Do you find pre-exhaustion techniques productive as well as painful?!
Olly: Extremely productive, especially for legs. My leg sessions are designed to hit my glutes and hamstring more than any other part. Pre-exhausting the quads will result in this effect, painful but I do what I need to do.
Dorian Yates was a key player in this method of training, I adapted and like it. But just because it works for me it doesn’t mean it will work for all, trial and error and years of training has lead me to where I am.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, remember shock is the best way to stimulate muscle growth.
Skye: If you could only do 3 exercises for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Olly: Honestly, I couldn’t narrow it down to 3; I have such an array of exercises at my disposal that one very rarely favours over another. Sorry!
Skye: You started weight training at 15 years old, how did you train back then and where did you get your training and diet advice from?
Olly: As mentioned earlier I learnt most of my information from a guy in Carlisle called Mike Smith. The guy is a legend, knows everything and anything about diet and training and is more than happy to share his knowledge.
When I first started training I did split single muscle groups as I guess the majority of bodybuilders did back then and do nowadays. I will still incorporate this style of training but only when I have a clean gap of around 6 weeks and am looking to add a few extra kilos.
Skye: You have a degree in nutrition, so you know what a healthy; balanced diet plan should look like. What are the most common diet mistakes people are making before you tweak their diets for them?
Olly: People’s diets vary massively, either eating way too much or not enough or eating a typical western diet which is overloaded in carbs with the majority of them being at the wrong time of day.
I find most people really are uneducated when it comes to knowing what a healthy diet really is. This is a massive problem worldwide and we need to tackle it at a young age to reduce us as a society becoming obese.
Skye: Your diet is very clean, do you agree with the “diet is 80% of any possible results” mantra?
Olly: Religiously, and I try and emphasis this mantra onto all my clients. Without a clean healthy diet you may as well give up your dream look because you will never achieve it.results” mantra?
Skye: You wake up at 05:30am for a quick meal of egg whites and then go back to sleep. What’s the thinking behind this?
Olly: None really I’m just so hungry that I do it. I’m now trained to wake up regardless and I like to try to fuel my body every 2.5 hours other than between 11pm and 5.30am.
Saying that I always have a protein bar or casein protein shake by the side of my bed so if I do awake between 2 & 3 am I can have a quick feed.
Skye: You don’t count calories as you prefer to focus on macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat, sugar) instead. Is this because you know how much you need to eat to maintain your peak condition?
Olly: Yes that’s exactly right. Over the years you learn to know your body inside-out and know what has what affect on it and what’s good or bad for you.
Like I mentioned before you have to be extremely self disciplined. You only get one body and I want to look after mine and keep it in peak condition until my time in this industry is up. Then look out all you can eat buffets because I’m coming for you in my elasticated pants!
Skye: Would you recommend beginners get busy with the calculator and the scales until they know roughly how much they need to eat?
Olly: I would recommend that they start reading nutritional values of foods.
Do some research and learn about different food groups, what purpose each one serves and what percentage they should be trying to consume.
Diet is all about knowledge and application, the old saying is true “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”
Year Round Low Body Fat Secrets
Skye: What’s the secret to maintaining low body fat year round?
Olly: Diet, diet, diet. No question about it.
Skye: I imagine keeping your body fat down around Christmas and holidays is tough. What strategies do you use to keep fat at bay?
Olly: I don’t really have one. I will still train consistently over the holiday periods but I will allow this time to enjoy my food.
If I gain weight I gain weight. I know exactly what I need to do to bring it back down in time for any up and coming events. This is based on years of experience and not being afraid to try new things. Remember, trial and error.
Skye: I know you’re sponsored by Reflex Nutrition so I’m sure you’ve been able to sample the entire range.Which supplements do you use and why?
Olly: I use many of Reflex’s supplements and am extremely fortunate to be sponsored by them. I think myself extremely lucky in that respect.
My core supplements are Instant Whey; used as a shake by itself or mixed with my oats in the morning to keep my protein levels high and I know it has the highest biological value of all its competitors.
I use BCAA as these are the foundations blocks for any muscle / protein re-synthesis alongside L-Glutamine.
I take the Nexegen Multi Vitamin as all gym goers should as we put a higher demand on our bodies we need a higher level of RDA than the average Joe.
Post work I now use One Stop Extreme, it really is all you need and provides your body with the right dosage of protein / carbs that are essential in that window of opportunity after a session.
I will also, as I mentioned before, use a casein protein shake for night time consumption so I can basically drip feed my body throughout the night. I will also always have protein bars or meal replacement sachets with me for that “just-in-case” scenario where I may be stuck with no healthy options around.
Keep In Touch With Olly!
Skye: Finally, how can readers find out more about you and get in contact with you?
Olly: They can follow or contact me through the following social and media sites:
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