FOLLEY'S FIGHT TO THE TOP PART 2
DAWN has barely broken. The streets are silent besides a few birds singing in the distance. But one man is awake, staring encouragement to his reflection. “No, you won’t be beaten. You will not be beaten,” says Richard Folley, as another cardio session starts to take its toll on his chiselled physique.
This is what it takes to become stage ready. Many want to be, only a few actually achieve it. It requires discipline like no other sport. The ability and drive to put your body in a place it fights you every step to avoid going.
Folley has competed six times. This year, aged 34, an IFBB Pro Card is on his wishlist at June’s Amateur Olympia in Alicante, Spain.
He has been there before, of course, placing fourth last year. This time, he says, things will be different.
“The judges said I needed more size but my condition was good,” explains Folley. “The one thing I didn’t want to hear was size – because that is something that takes time.
“If a judge talks about your condition or posing, that can be rectified. But I knew I wasn’t big enough. These guys were just a lot bigger than me. Now I’m just trying to eat and eat and get the meals in – but it [eating so much] gets tedious.
“People see me now and they say, ‘you’re huge – it’s the best you’ve looked’. Well, it’s the biggest I’ve looked but condition wise it’s not.
“Once you get your pro card, however, it’s a whole different league. The men’s physique guys – they’re like bodybuilders. They’re huge. The muscle mass is crazy.”
Folley, who trains many people across Ab Salute Gym, coached himself for his first few competitions. Now under the wing of former IFBB pro Eddie Abbew, he reveals how his preparation has seen him become a little obsessive.
“When my coach gives me a plan I follow it to the T. I’m OTT. If he says 100g of oats and it goes over to 103g, I start putting some grains back.
“My thing is, you’re my coach, I believe in what you’re saying, so I’m going to follow that process. So when I come to the stage, if things don’t work out, I can look myself in the mirror and say I’ve done everything I could.”
Everything including resisting the temptation to splurge on chips when under pressure from his daughters.
“I remember I was prepping for a show and we [my family] went to Weymouth and I had to eat my meal preps,” he says. “And we’ve gone down to the seaside and they [wife and kids] are all eating fish and chips. And that was a bit painful because I was out of routine.
“So they’re eating and they want me to participate and I’m like, ‘well daddy can’t because I’m on prep’. But they’re still young and going, ‘dad, just have a chip’. I’m like, ‘no thank you I don’t want a chip!’ For me, I know that one chip is not going to anything but that means I’ve been broken. And I will not be broken.
“Even when I’m doing my cardio, sometimes I can’t be bothered but I end up having conversations with myself where I’m saying, ‘no, keep going, you won’t be beaten’. But I do love it at the same time. It’s just channelling myself in slowly. Once I’m in it, I’m in it but once I’m out of it I’m like, ‘how the hell did I do that?’ It is a question often asked. Either beforehand by others – how do you do it – or, much like Folley, in reflection to yourself afterwards.
Everyone wants the secret. But the secret is that there is no secret. It is extreme discipline applied consistently over time. Competition is not for everyone. You have to want it with a rabid desire.
“When I first started training, I wanted to look buff for the girls,” says Folley. “But then it gets to a point where the gym is very therapeutic and helps me mentally.
“It’s not vanity – I’m passed that now. What we put our bodies through to get on stage, it’s more than vanity. You have to be messed up to a certain degree. Everyone wants to look good but few want to really put in that work that we put in.”
Folley’s competition history:
2017: Bodypower Fitness – 3rd
2018: 2 Bros Physique – 2nd
2018: UKBFF National Physique – 3rd
2018: UKBFF British Final Physique – 1st
2019: PCA Hampshire Physique – 1st
2019: Amateur Olympia Physique – 4th
If you are interested in getting coached by Folley, please contact him on instagram: @Folleyfitness
Meal prep: Prep2urstep.co.uk