The retired hurdler tells AW about his new challenge of becoming a fitness model
After retiring from athletics last year, Andy Turner wanted something to fill the gap in his life. Motivated by his desire to “fill out” a bit, no longer needing to be as light and nimble as in his 110m hurdles heyday and also inspired by his brother who is a fitness model in Australia, the 34-year-old hit the gym.
In collaboration with his sponsors, PhD nutrition, they put in place a plan to use nutrition to transform his body, the aim being to hit peak form for the Miami Pro physique model competition in Hertfordshire this month.
Speaking of his target event, the 2011 world bronze medallist explains: “You perform poses and it is all about aesthetics and everything being in proportion. For me it isn’t about winning it. I just want to tick a box and see if I can get in that type of shape.”
So far, Turner feels it is going well. Within the first six months he had increased his bodyweight by 10kg while maintaining the same level of body fat. Now, having hit 97kg, he is halfway through the transformation and bulking phase, before he moves on to a three-month cutting phase, where the aim will be to shed body fat to reveal the muscle.
“It is very scientific,” reveals Turner. “Athletics could gain a lot from understanding some of the training principles. I have learned a lot about my body and how nutrition and exercise go together,” he adds.
On a typical day Turner consumes 5000 calories, most of which is in the form of oats, lean protein and rice. Therefore, Turner makes no secret about the fact that he is not particularly enjoying the process.
“It feels really unhealthy,” he said. “I’m not being active. I usually go to the gym twice a day, but it is all lifting work, moving around different muscle groups.
“I am eating all the time and feel like I have to force feed myself, so I often blend the foods into a powder. It is not like I can go and make up my calorie intake by eating a pizza.”
“It is very scientific … Athletics could gain a lot from understanding some of the training principles”
However, the beginning of August marked the start of a shift to the cutting phase and this is something which Turner had been looking forward to. “It should improve in the next phase, as it will be about getting as lean as possible,” he says.
So what is Turner’s motivation? Does he have ambitions to become Britain’s next strongman? “Definitely not,” he says, laughing. “I don’t want to be massive.
“As an athlete I was always slim and didn’t really hold on to much muscle, so I always intended to try and bulk up a bit when I retired.
“As a personal trainer I knew certain things about training, but it has been really interesting to have an in-depth programme from nutritionists and I am learning all the time. It is a whole new world.”
Turner’s real motivation for putting himself through the daily grind of weight training and consuming huge amounts of bland foods is the loyalty he feels to his sponsors. He says: “PhD are professional physique models. I am doing it for them as I am their work. If I fail, it won’t look good on them, so I really want to show that I can get into that kind of shape and consequently showcase the good work they are doing.”
The transformation is already taking shape, with Turner having massively increased his PBs in the gym. “As an athlete, I would benchpress 110kg, whereas now I am doing five reps at 140kg,” he explains.
He trains once a week with his coach, Chris Spearman, a former sprinter turned rugby player turned fitness guru, and they video his work for the PhD website. The rest of the time Turner fits his training around his personal training work and completes much of his work at the gym at his house.
“As a personal trainer I knew certain things about training, but it has been really interesting to have an in-depth programme from nutritionists and I am learning all the time. It is a whole new world”
As an athlete, Turner claims that one of his hardest sessions was lactic endurance training. For example, he would sprint 500m, 400m, 300m, 200m off 10 minutes’ rest and turn round and sprint immediately for 100m. Now he names leg sessions as among the hardest. He tries to go as heavy as possible for deep squats, usually for five sets.
He says: “Once my legs are fried I’ll do four sets of 10 or 12 reps on the leg press and the same on leg extensions followed by hamstring exercises. One session will involve nearly 20 sets and include every muscle in my legs.
“It is a completely different feeling to when I was an athlete and running at 50-second pace for 400m. Then the lactic endurance side of it is absolute murder – your legs are on fire, your chest is on fire. At the moment I am not doing any running, but when I come to the shedding phase, I hope to get back on the track a bit.”
So does Turner feel his new found challenge is satisfying the gap in his life since his retirement? Turner is quick to
put things straight. He says: “I don’t miss being on the startline for a hurdles race, as I feel finished with that. However, I loved my time in athletics and I don’t get anything like the same buzz that I got from hurdling. Crossing the line first is the best feeling.
“This is more of a process, to take on board what I have learned and see if I can reach an aim. I am not hooked on it for a career.”
After the Miami Pro competition, Turner hopes it will be a case of “box ticked” on the fitness modelling front and he will move on to some other new challenge. Tongue- in-cheek, he names golf as a possibility. “Let me tell you, I am absolutely rubbish at golf, so it would certainly be a challenge,” he laughs.
More seriously, Turner does not know what the future holds in relation to a career. He says: “I’m really enjoying doing bits of infield presenting for television at athletics meetings so it is just a case of waiting to see if more opportunities come along. I would love to do more television work.”
A TYPICAL DAY’S NUTRITION PLAN
During Turner’s ‘bulking phase’
6.30-9am: Five whole eggs, two slices of toast, PhD advanced mass flapjack, 150g oats and a scoop of protein powder
Pre-training: PhD flapjack.
Post-training: Advanced mass protein shake
30 minutes later: 150g oats and two scoops of protein
3pm: Tuna steak and 250g rice
6pm: 250g steak and 250g rice
9pm: 150g oats and scoop of protein