Most of us think of bodybuilding as a means of self-improvement, but it can also be a way to repair damage, to restore oneself. That certainly was the case with Bodybuilding.com customer service representative Kyle Shirley.
The product of a broken home, Kyle trekked throughout Northern California and Oregon with his mother before they landed in Boise, Idaho, when Kyle was in seventh grade.
"We really didn't have nice things, so we learned to take care of what we had," Kyle remembers. "I never had friends over or went to friends' houses. I never went to birthday parties."
Kyle struggled to carve out his own identity as a teen. He didn't enjoy sports or socializing with his peers and became introverted. All that changed in eighth grade when he saw the blockbuster hit "XXX", starring Vin Diesel. Kyle bought the movie's soundtrack and listened to it day and night. It became his personal soundtrack.
He needed to train to mimic Vin, so his uncle hooked him up with some rusty, outdated dumbbells. Kyle started repping curls in front of the bathroom mirror. When that got old he began doing dips on the bath tub, along with sit-ups and push-ups. "That was my gym," Kyle said. "I started doing it because it was the one thing I could finally control. Just gripping the cold steel bar and holding onto it and testing my strength."
Backyard boxing was quickly gaining popularity at his junior high, and it proved to be Kyle's calling. The scrawny boy with a negative self image punished kids any chance he got until the school's staff shut it down. But it didn't matter. Kyle had asserted his dominance on the playground. For the first time in his life, people knew who Kyle Shirley was.
During his junior year, Kyle took biology and started listening to the teacher and taking in the material. He was hooked. Craving more and more insight about the human body, Kyle enrolled in anatomy and physiology as a senior. "My mind was blown. It was the most intriguing thing; anatomy and how the human body worked. From then on, I knew I could apply this science to working out."
When Kyle graduated from Timberline High School in 2005, he was a tall and limber 17-year-old, standing 6-foot-1, weighing 153 pounds.
After high school, Kyle began taking classes at Boise State University. He moved into an apartment with a few friends and started honing his future, but college came with consequences. Kyle started partying, fell out of bodybuilding and regressed back to square one. He forgot what was important to him.
Then he got his hands on The New Encyclopaedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He read it front to back, highlighting everything that spiked his interest. Kyle found his passion again and started taking higher level biology classes at Boise State. He applied science to Schwarzenegger's book and started working out smarter than ever.
Craving more knowledge, Kyle combed the web, typed 'bodybuilding' into a Google search and discovered Bodybuilding.com.
"Guys in high school used to talk about how they got creatine from [Bodybuilding.com]. I didn't think twice about it back then. When I found it on the Internet I was like, 'what the hell is this place?' It had everything I was missing. That's what accelerated my enthusiasm and interest in the sport of bodybuilding."
Kyle wanted to use his knowledge to help others and became a certified personal trainer. But it wasn't what he thought it would be. He felt pressure to sell products to clients who didn't need them and felt dishonest. "It drove me nuts. It was no better than selling illegal drugs, in my opinion," Kyle said.
Ashley, his girlfriend at the time, had friends who worked at Bodybuilding.com in Meridian, Idaho. She told Kyle he could probably land a job there and called in a favor for her boyfriend. "I got an interview and then I got my dream job. This literally is my dream job. I don't want to do anything else."
"KoncreteKyle" was born and there was nothing that could stand in his way.
Life at Bodybuilding.com
Kyle started as a customer service representative. He quickly realized he didn't know as much as he thought and made it his mission to get educated on the supplements he was selling.
"When people ask you questions, you better be able to give them an answer," Kyle said.
It escalated quickly. Kyle taught himself the finite mechanisms of the body by reading and researching online whenever there was down time at the call center. It overwhelmed him at first. Kyle questioned if he could handle it, failed to realize he was becoming a supplement expert.
"I ended up becoming a product guru, which was really nice because everyone started saying, 'Ask Kyle. He knows.'"
Every day presents unique circumstances that arrive from customers through customer service reps. Kyle, now 24, is a model figure for employees. They confide in him about everything from new supplements to their personal lives.
"I take it personal whenever a customer emails or calls us with a problem. I feel like we let them down because they shouldn't have to experience that in the first place. It's my mission to make sure this person gets their supplements. I want them to get jacked!
Tell Ryan DeLuca (Bodybuilding.com CEO) to step down so I can step in! Just kidding. I don't care if I become a rock star or a famous artist, I'll always have a job at Bodybuilding.com.
Whatever I can do for the company, as long as I remain true to myself and remember why I got this job in the first place, which was to talk about the supplements and help the customers.
My buddy at the call center asked me to draw him a picture once because he knew I was a good artist. I drew it for him and he wouldn't accept it because he said it was too good. I put it on our Bodybuilding.com forums and people have been requesting more.
I usually drop like 12-18 hours at a time [on my art]. It's hard because you can't walk away from it. Seven hours will pass and you don't even think about it. The hardest part is getting overzealous and excited to see the end. When you step back and look at it you're like, "Oh my God, I can't believe I just drew that."
Ashley and I took our honeymoon to the Olympia and I had them autographed by Evan Centopani and Frank McGrath. McGrath is my favorite bodybuilder of all time, so I was totally star struck when I met him and he signed the drawing.
Absolutely! I'm planning to compete on April 28, but we'll see. The training is very taxing on my marriage, so I have to realize what's important to me. It becomes your life. We both work at Bodybuilding.com, and at this time in our relationship, we're still young and want to focus on each other. When the time's right bodybuilding will be there.
I started the challenge at 230 pounds with 15 percent body fat. Now, I'm down to 210 pounds with 9 percent body fat. Ideally I'd like to be at 240 pounds with 9 percent body fat. Realistically, if I could be 215 to 220 at 9 percent, I'd be very happy with it.
Legs! I have this newfound desire to always work out my legs. I never worked them out that hard until I started this competition. I'm seeing incredible results from it and can't get enough.
A burger from Five Guys Burgers And Fries. It's cool because they're close to the macros I need to take in, so it's not that bad of a cheat if you exclude the fries.
Frank McGrath is my bodybuilding idol physique-wise. Ryan DeLuca is a great example of a motivational person because of his level of achievement and success.
Ryan is the most humble person I've ever met. That's the biggest reason why I love this company. It's run by someone who cares deeply about this and it shows.
The diet plan is much more thorough and methodically planned out. The training is meticulous and thought out. The use of the mind … this is going to sound strange … but Arnold (Schwarzenegger) talks about how the mind creates the body.
Everything is locked in your brain like muscle memory. It's not the muscle that remembers, it's the brain that remembers how to grow that muscle to get back to where it was. The brain creates everything you have.
If you can train your brain to think that your arms are getting as big as the mountains, like Arnold said, and you can visualize it, then it's physically possible.
I have a tackle box. Not kidding. I went to Home Depot and they had this big tackle box kit for finishing screws and stuff. I bought that and I use it for all my supplements. I take so much stuff now, the sky's the limit.
I take in about 80 grams of BCAAs per day to stay anabolic. It's my foundation and the one supplement I will not get rid of. I notice enhanced recovery, especially during this cut. I've lost no muscle and the fat has been dripping off. It's keeping me 100 percent anabolic and I'm actually gaining muscle.
Total Calories: 209 | Fat: 3g | Carbs: 6g | Protein: 60g
I just graduated (college), got married and bought my first house. In 10 years, I'll have a family started and I hope to still be at Bodybuilding.com. Wanting to be better than the day prior drives me. I never want to take a step back or be weaker than I was.
Looking back, I remember growing up and just wishing somebody would come rescue me because I was drowning and I couldn't talk to anybody. After I figured it out and got direction with stability, I was set.
I've learned so much and become so connected with who I am as a person. I'm not even a shell of my former self. I was frail and had no personality with zero confidence. I know there are people out there who are afraid to take a chance. You have to take that step and realize there's more to life. You have to do it and only you can do it!
Kyle's Top 5 Motivational Tips
Arnold Schwarzenegger summed it up best:
- Trust yourself: No matter what you do in life, you won't excel and be the best unless you want to give it your all. Figure out what YOU want to do, not anyone else but YOU.
- Don't be afraid to fail: Failure is a good thing. If you fail, that means you pushed yourself to the edge and beyond what you were capable of. Without failing, we never learn just how capable we truly are. Every day I try to fail at something so I can become that much better.
- Avoid the naysayers: People are always going to tell you that you can't do something, you shouldn't do something, or you're not good enough to do something. These are the people who quit after they have failed.
- Work your butt off: Self explanatory. You never want to fail because you never worked hard enough.
- Give something back: Whatever path you take in life, you must always find time to give something back to those who supported you, the community which is directly involved, and give something back to those who need your help most.
Kyle's Sample Leg Workout
When it comes to legs, Kyle's a big believer in pre-fatiguing techniques. Utilizing these techniques had dramatic results in only a few months. Pre-exhaustion methods start with an isolation exercise and transitions into training with compound movements. Kyle starts with a focus on quads then moves toward hamstrings or vice versa by alternating the starting muscle every other workout.
Going heavy on the ATG (@ss-to-ground) Squats is absolutely essential. Since you have already pre-fatigued the quads and hamstrings, neither muscle group is able to overpower the other. The biggest benefit to this method is that your body is less likely to cheat given the lighter load (even though it feels incredibly heavy from pre-fatigue).
A majority of the aerobic red muscle in your legs is already worked and depleted of glycogen, causing more motor-unit recruitment to take place in the denser white muscle … resulting in faster growth!
5 working sets of 12-15 reps
Hack Squat (pseudo-sumo stance)4 sets of 12 reps
3 working sets 12-15 reps
Kyle's Updated Supplementation
Incredible multivitamin and comes with extra glucosamine!
One of the best-tasting amino acid drinks. On top of that, the BCAA blend is ideal for what I need.
Taking in such high amount of protein, you need something to aid in the breakdown to avoid any gastro-intestinal bloating.
Tastes incredible and the blended protein for multi-hour digestion helps when I don't have the ability to eat each meal correctly.
My little secret tool for cutting. It's easy to take down and gets my protein intake up.
Kyle's Updated Nutrition Regimen
Calories: 3049 | Fat: 93.5g | Carbs: 253.5g | Protein: 319g
Calories: 219 | Fat: 3.5g | Carbs: 27.5g | Protein: 42g
Calories: 574 | Fat: 2g | Carbs: 74g | Protein: 60g