In this edition of Natural Freak Spotlight I bring you one of the best drug free pro bodybuilders in the country, as well as one of the finest human beings I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know... Mr. Kyle Harris. I “met” Kyle in 2004 on an Internet bodybuilding discussion board and we instantly made a connection that led me to first become his contest prep coach, and later his close friend. I made a promise to him that I would help him earn his natural pro card, which we accomplished together just four years later. Kyle quickly became one of the greatest representatives for POWER-REP RANGE-SHOCK and FIBER DAMAGE/FIBER SATURATION training systems, and even co-starred with in the best selling P/RR/S DVD. This man is a huge inspiration for many reasons, and has a lot to teach, so let me not waste any more time and jump right in...
K: First I have to say thank you for considering me for an interview. It's truly an honor. I am 31 years old, live in the outskirts of the small, rural, and wonderful town of Clyde, Ohio. I have been married for seven years to the most wonderful woman I have ever met and we have two daughters - Jaidyn who is 3 and 1/2 and Lexi who at the time of this interview is literally eight days old! I have been weight training seriously since 1999 and strictly “bodybuilding” since the end of 2004. I have a bachelors of science in education with a specialization in health and physical education, grades Pre K through 12. In addition I have obtained a Masters Degree in Leadership and Administration. I currently work as a High School Health and Physical Education teacher and head varsity baseball coach. I also do some personal training and do both pitching and batting lessons at my father's baseball school. On top of that I am a sponsored athlete and rep for ALR Industries as well as an IFPA/NGA Pro Bodybuilder.
K: When I was a child I always wanted to be He-Man or Superman and I remember thinking how "cool" their muscles were. As I got older I would watch Lee Haney on ESPN and I was just in awe of his physique. I started playing competitive sports and in high school I dabbled in the weight room a little bit. Through this time I always had a poor self-concept/esteem in terms of my body. I wasn't fat, but I definitely wasn't lean. It always bothered me, but I never really thought I could do anything about it. In college I put on the dreaded “freshman fifteen” and my baseball coach basically told me that I had better lose some weight and get faster. That summer, beginning in May of 1999 to be exact, I began researching and reading anything and everything that had to do with weight loss, sport specific training, and speed training – and armed with this knowledge I went to work! I ended up losing 30 pounds and taking my body fat level down into the 5% range while decreasing my 40-yard dash time from over five seconds to just less than 4.6. After that I was hooked on what you could get the body to do from a training and nutritional standpoint. I continued reading journals and studies about training, which then boiled over to magazines like Muscular Development and Flex. I kind of inadvertently started following the careers of guys like Flex Wheeler, Kevin Levrone, Dexter Jackson, Ronnie Coleman and the like. Naturally, after I was done playing college baseball I needed something to quench my competitive thirst and at the very first Arnold Classic I met a man named Troy Johnson (editor’s note: Troy is a good friend of mine and himself a natural pro bodybuilder) who talked me into competing in bodybuilding. From there Troy introduced me to you and many other great people that have allowed me to continue to forge my way into the fitness/bodybuilding community.
K: There are so many reasons. First and foremost I was raised by amazing, loving, and caring parents who would truly be disappointed in me if I turned to drugs of any kind. Disappointing people that have provided me with so much is just not an option on any level. Secondly, my initial changes in body composition, strength, power, and speed were all done drug free and I proved to myself I could do amazing things without any help from drugs. Another driving force behind staying natural is that I'm an educator and coach and I take my job very seriously. I care deeply for the children I am blessed to be able to educate and I pride myself on carrying myself in a positive light. I want to always set a good example and feel a deep responsibility to do so for all I teach. For me to preach abstinence from drugs and then use them myself would be hypocritical. There are many other reasons I could get into relating to health, cost, and legalities but the aforementioned reasons dealing with my conscious, ethics, and character are the foundation of why I have chosen, and will continue to choose, to be drug free.
K: I typically try not to even think in those terms because I think it can lead to the belief that one may have a "ceiling" in terms of their physique and I feel that can hold you back. However, there is no doubt there are some challenges. Obviously enhanced athletes will recover at a much higher rate which will allow them to do more work and subsequently build more muscles and burn more calories when needed. Increasing testosterone above supraphysiological levels does amazing things for muscle hypertrophy. Enhanced athletes don't have to worry as much about overtraining or over-dieting because they use chemicals that allow them to build or maintain muscle mass almost no matter how hard they push themselves. I think this is huge advantage when you are prepping for a show. As a drug free athlete trying to get into peak condition you are going to sacrifice much more muscle than a bodybuilder that is using anabolic steroids. It's also harder to tap into those stubborn fat stores without some of the banned stimulants that enhanced athletes use.
K: I won my pro card in April of 2008 and even today it's hard for me to put into words. Since I was a small boy I wanted to be a professional athlete. All the way through college I believed I would be a professional baseball player and it just didn't work out. When I started bodybuilding I never thought I'd turn professional in the sport. When it finally happened I was overcome with a euphoric sense I still have trouble describing. It was exhilarating and surreal at the same time and what made it even better is that my entire family was there; both of my grandmas, my parents, my wife, my sister, her husband, my nephew, and my first daughter Jaidyn, who was just 3 months old at the time. The best way I can describe it was that I just felt extremely blessed.
K: It's hard for me to state what's wrong because the sport has been great to me. I've met so many wonderful people and made amazing friends, however there are things I'd like to see changed. I'd like to see the drug free organizations come together a little more. For years the WNBF has not allowed any of their athletes to compete in any other natural organizations and I think that kind of puts those men and women in a tough place. The IFPA and NGA have been a little more lenient and I think that leads to some amazing contests and camaraderie built between competitors. A perfect example is what Jason Powell did with the “Cronus” bodybuilding competition this year. Nine of the world's best drug free bodybuilders represented multiple drug free organizations and competed on the same stage. I thought that was awesome! Another thing I think needs to change is the exposure, sponsorship, and prize money. Some of the drug free pros are incredible bodybuilders; however, almost all of the large supplement and fitness companies support only the NPC. Because of this it's hard for promoters to get enough money to properly compensate these amazing natural pros. I truly feel that if the organizations would work together (while remaining independent) we could reach more people and start to really grow the natural side. I mean, seriously, poll 1000 men and 1000 women and show them a good natural pro’s physique compared to any IFBB physique and I guarantee almost all of them will say they like the drug free physique better. If everyone got on the same page and worked together we may be able to mainstream the sport more, which would not only help the natural bodybuilders, but also help our entire society in helping push a healthy lifestyle.
K: Our main goal with the ONBF (Ohio Natural Bodybuilding Federation), which is associated with the NGA, is to make it a fun, family experience that is all about the competitor. Our shows have garnered a reputation of being very enjoyable and friendly. They are also extremely competitive. Our last show had an overall pose down in which at least four of the men truly deserved to win a pro card. However, all of these gentlemen respected each other and our organization by showing the utmost in sportsmanship. We want to continue to provide our competitors with a unique experience that centers everything on them. Another thing we pride ourselves on doing is running a well organized show that moves along fast, but with a judging system that truly takes into account each and every facet of bodybuilding. We score each of the four rounds separately so that every competitor gets a completely fair shot at displaying their physique.
Other things we are working on in the future include having a small “expo” at some of our competitions. Our goal is to do a mini "Arnold Classic" type event at our fall show where we will have multiple sports represented, including bodybuilding, power lifting, MMA, BMX, 5K Runs, and more. Our spring show will include now include both an NGA amateur and pro event each year. Our most exciting idea deals with philanthropy. I'm really excited about this. We want to begin raising money for different charities through our organization. We have not decided what or which organizations we want to donate too, but I want them to be organizations that focus on the welfare of children.
We also want to continue to spread the word of the fitness lifestyle and help people become as healthy as possible, whether they are fighting a disease or just trying to maintain their current health. As you can see we have so many ideas and our vision continues to grow.
K: Muscle Confusion as per the POWER-REP RANGE-SHOCK training system! I've been using the P/RR/S method for about six years now and love it. Not only does it keep every workout fresh because you're constantly changing the workouts, but you also attack your muscles in a completely different manner each week. By doing this your body is never able to stagnate or plateau, keeping gains steady and continuous. Nutritionally I try to focus on whole foods. My diet is pretty simple. In the off season I keep my carbs between 1-2 grams per pound of body weight... my protein around 1.5 grams per pound of body weight... and add in some EFA's from almonds, natural nut butters, olive oil, or fish oils. My largest carb meals are always at breakfast and post-workout, while my pre-workout meal will also contain a significant amount of carbs. After that I taper my carbs throughout the day. Pre-contest I usually keep protein levels about the same throughout the weeks and will gradually decrease carbs as needed depending on how my conditioning is progressing. At this time I'll typically “carb cycle” by taking in fewer carbs on days I don't lift weights since I don't need the post-workout carbs or the extra energy for training. Some of the most important nutritional points I think natural trainers need to consider are keeping protein high, adding in some essential fats and also timing carbs properly. Creating an increase in insulin in the morning and post workout is important, but other times during the day we want to keep insulin at bay in order to prevent gaining excessive body fat. By taking in higher carb meals at breakfast/post-workout and lowering carbs at other meals we can do this effectively. As far as training, I think you need to be a little more creative when you are drug free. We need to tap into every possible mechanism that helps to build muscle. This means targeting all muscle fiber types, training to optimize growth hormone and testosterone release, and creating a muscle pump to fill muscles with nutrient rich blood. Naturals must also be cognizant to stimulate the muscles without overdoing because recovery is absolutely essential.
K: There are some basic building blocks I think everyone should take, such as a good multi vitamin/mineral formula and fish oils, which are rich in omega-3 fats. For serious athletes, I call it “THE BIG 3 + C!” These are the three tried and true supplements that have worked for years - creatine, beta-alanine, BCAA's and caffeine. I make these staples in my supplement regime. I do want to caution teenagers, pregnant/breast feeding women, and those sensitive to stimulants to not use caffeine, but for most it is a proven and safe ergogenic aid when used intelligently I use BCAA's year round and will cycle on and off creatine and beta-alanine. I'll also use a quality fat burner during contest prep. There are many on the market that have proven to be very effective. Another supplement I'd recommend is a quality protein powder, although I'd much rather get my protein from whole food and recommend all my clients and athletes to do the same.
K: Wow, there are a lot. I apologize but I have to give you four! Winning my pro card, getting recruited by ALR Industries, being invited to compete at the very first “Cronus: God's of the Stage,” and meeting you and becoming friends. Without the help and knowledge I have gained from you none of those other three things would have happened.
K: So many things! I'm a busy body, LOL. You can bet I'll be back onstage, probably at the NGA Pro Universe and other NGA Pro shows bringing a physique better than anything I've ever had before. I'd also love to someday compete at the NPC Team Universe. There are so many visions and goals that I have I couldn't possibly share them all, but I guarantee that I'll be waking up and living each day to the fullest, with the goal to be the best father, husband, son, friend, teacher, coach, bodybuilder, fitness ambassador, and person that I can truly be.