Inspired by bodybuilding magazine Muscle and Fitness, a 14-year-old David Rylah dreamed of some day becoming a top bodybuilder and achieving fame on an international stage. Today, at age 32, he is internationally recognized as the new face of the bodybuilding/fitness world, having appeared on the cover of the publication that first attracted his attention to the iron game, Muscle and Fitness, as well as major bodybuilding reads Iron Man and Musclemag; major achievements for any bodybuilding/fitness model.
As a bodybuilder, David, an Australian who currently lives in his home country, has worked his way up the Australian National level rankings to where he is poised to win it all this year, after which he will again make the journey to the USA to model for several major publications.
David's physique is considered to be one of the more marketable in the bodybuilding/fitness industry as he is thought to have the ideal combination of mass, cuts and proportion - good size and aesthetics, which have made him a sought after model in the industry.
At 5.11 and around 225lbs of solid muscle, David, a proponent of the heavy-duty, blood and guts Dorian Yates style training method, hopes to firmly establish himself on the US scene as an athlete in and spokesperson for the fitness/bodybuilding lifestyle.
With his recent exposure he is well on his way to achieving this aim. In the following interview David explains how he has achieved major publicity as a model and how he intends to further his career.
[ Q ] Hi David. You are one of the worlds most sought after male bodybuilding/fitness models. What got you started in this industry?
From the age of about eight I always knew I wanted to have muscles. I didn't really know how I would get them, but being around sporting clubs I'd see muscular men and want to be like them. Then at age 14 I picked up my first bodybuilding magazine (Muscle and Fitness) and knew straight away that I wanted to be a bodybuilder.
[ Q ] What is it about your look that makes you so marketable do you think?
I guess it's because I have good proportions and shape. I look athletic and healthy, while still carrying a decent amount of muscle; most people seem to be able to relate to my physique as apposed to the misshapen mass monsters.
[ Q ] Tell me more about your background in bodybuilding. What titles have you won, and what has been your greatest moment in the sport?
My first competition was the IFBB Queensland juniors. I placed second and didn't really know what I was doing. Everything I had learnt at that stage was out of magazines, and from trial and error.
My next competition was the open IFBB Queensland novice where I placed 5th out of 11 - I was young so felt that was good for me at the time.
I then won the IFBB Gold Coast light heavies in 2000.
I went on to win the 2002 IFBB Queensland light heavies and placed 4th at the nationals the same year. In 2003 I placed second in the IFBB Queensland heavies. I then gave NABBA a go and won the Queensland 2004, Class 2.
I'd say my greatest moment would be a toss up between the 2000 Gold Coast title, the 2002 Queensland title and appearing on the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine.
The 2000 show had the toughest lead up as I was on the road touring with Manpower (Thunder From Down Under), but the 2002 win I was hoping to place top three but ended up winning, and of course a state title is more prestigious than a city title. And I'd wanted to be on the cover of Muscle and Fitness since that day I picked my first one up at age 14. It's hard to pick one stand out experience out of these three.
[ Q ] Are you training for anything right now?
Yes, I'm filming a training DVD in early October: it's an A-Z of what it takes to build a physique that can win bodybuilding shows, as well as appear on the cover of international bodybuilding/fitness magazines. Not only will it have training and nutrition footage and advice, but also behind the scenes footage at bodybuilding competitions and magazine cover shoots.
I'm also in training for the Queensland and Australian IFBB heavyweights, which take place on the 15th and 23rd of October respectively. I will be better than I've ever been by a noticeable margin this year. After these competitions I'll be travelling to the U.S. for more magazine cover shoots. It's a big year this year - training and preparation are at 110%.
[ Q ] Judging by your popularity, you have a physique that is in demand. How do you work on improving it? Describe your current training program.
As mentioned I'm in full competition preparation mode right now - About 13 weeks out. My training is modelled after Dorian Yates, very hard, very intense, and very focused using only one to two sets per exercise with two to four exercises/body part. It's very brutal but I love it and I get great results from it.
- Monday Morning: 40-45 minute power walk.
- Monday Evening: Chest and biceps.
- Tuesday Morning: Hamstrings and calves.
- Tuesday Evening: Quads and abs.
- Wednesday Morning: 40-45 minute power walk.
- Wednesday Evening: 30-minute power walk.
- Thursday Morning: 40-45 minute power walk.
- Thursday Evening: Shoulders and triceps.
- Friday Morning: 40-45 minute power walk.
- Friday Evening: Back and abs.
- Saturday Morning: 40-45 minute power walk.
- Saturday Evening: Maybe a 30-minute power walk depending on how things are going and how I feel.
- Sunday Morning: 45-minute bike ride.
- Sunday Evening: Maybe a 30-minute power walk depending on how things are going and how I feel.
[ Q ] How would you describe your diet?
I'm a big believer in a diet that is as balanced and healthy as possible, even when dieting for a competition or photo shoot.
Here is a typical days eating for me:
- Upon waking: Glutamine, arginine, free form aminos and a fat burner or strong coffee.
- Power walk.
- Breakfast: Either 8 eggs (2 yolks) and oats or a protein drink and oats.
- Mid morning: Chicken, rice and veggies.
- Lunch: Protein drink.
- Mid afternoon: Steak, rice and veggies.
- Pre-workout (60 minutes prior): Protein drink with creatine and 40-60g medium release carbs added.
- 30 minutes before training: Fat burner or strong coffee.
- Right before training: Glutamine, arginine and free form aminos.
- Straight after training: protein drink with 60g fast release carbs and 60g medium release carbs, creatine, glutamine.
- Dinner: Fish and salad or fish and veggies.
- Before bed: Either a casein based protein drink or glutamine.
[ Q ] Do you stay in shape year-round? As a model, what is required of you as far as maintaining a certain appearance?
Yes normally I stay in really good shape year round. This year though I added a little extra body fat so as to try and gain some extra muscle for the upcoming competitions and photo shoots, but I didn't go above 10%. Normally I wouldn't go above 7%, I like being ripped.
As models we are required to be in peak condition for every photo shoot we do. If you turn up out of shape it's very bad. First the photographer won't get the shot he's looking for, which is how he makes a living, and then I'd get a bad name and lose out on future work.
I treat photo shoots very seriously and turn up as polished as I possibly can. If I'm asked to do a photo shoot and I don't feel I'm in good enough shape, I just say so and ask for extra time or suggest they call someone else who is in photo shoot ready shape - this is better that than turning up out of shape and getting negative feedback and a bad name amongst the magazines or photographers.
[ Q ] What weight and age were you when you started training for bodybuilding? What are your current statistics?
I first picked up a weight at age 14 (just a home set) I think I weighed about 65kg or 143lbs. I joined my first gym at age 16 weighing about 75kg or 165lbs. I'm currently 32 and weigh 102kg or 225lbs.
[ Q ] What training and nutrition methods gave you the greatest bodybuilding results?
As for training it would be heavy, hard and basic exercises with no mercy intensity and never missing a workout regardless of how sick I am or if I have an injury. Not being a wimp and still getting to gym, but just training around it the best I can. I once had a knee reconstruction and as soon as I was given crutches I drove myself to gym using my left foot on the pedals to train upper body.
There was also the time I broke my hand and just strapped my broken hand to the bar so I didn't have to worry about hanging on (laughs). Too many times I see people with a sore something or a bit of a cold using it as an excuse. They are the ones that never reach their potential. I'm still alive and I'm not maimed, so it's not going to do permanent damage.
A balanced healthy diet has always given me best results because not only am I supplying my body with clean foods for muscle growth but my body is healthy and running at it's optimum, so all the processes that go on within my cells are happening more efficiently and at a faster rate. Just like giving a performance car the best oils and fuels - it's going to run at its optimum and get the best performance.
[ Q ] The fact you trained through all this pain is inspirational. Do you consider yourself strong-minded? How does this mindset influence your life?
Yes I consider myself very strong minded. Not sure where it came from except maybe my father teaching me when training me for rugby that the harder I work, the more I will achieve. Then I took this a step further where if I knew I wanted something very badly and I worked as hard as humanly possible, then there's nothing stopping me getting what I want.
When I get what I want it's all worth it. Knowing you can have whatever you want in life, if only you work hard enough to get it, makes it easier to push yourself to the brink constantly to get it.
I just want the best in my life I guess.
[ Q ] What other qualities do you have, that have helped you to reach your goals?
I guess the patience to go out and learn what I need to do to get to where I want to go. No one is born with the knowledge of how to get from A to B, so those who simply learn everything they can to get to B seem to get there.
[ Q ] What separates a champion from a non-champion in your view, and why?
I think a champion is the one who is willing to push the hardest over and over without giving up, always having his or her eye on the goal. And also a champion is the one who wants the goal more then anyone else. Pretty simple really, but it does take guts.
[ Q ] Speaking of champions, who do you admire in the world of bodybuilding/fitness and why?
Arnold, of course - he is always going to be King. He came from a small town in Austria and made it to the very top because of his superior mental strength and desire. Also, Dorian Yates for his brutal intensity and mind set. Guys like Mike O'Hearn and Frank Sepe for building such great looking physiques and making a success of bodybuilding/fitness modelling. I also admire Shawn Ray and Flex Wheeler for building such perfect looking physiques.
[ Q ] We touched on nutrition a moment ago. Are you a believer in supplements? What ones do you use, and what results have these given you?
I use protein powder of course. This helps me get extra protein in what would otherwise be difficult when trying to get it all from food. It's also priceless for post training as you are going to get the nutrients needed for recovery and growth into your system much faster than solid food, and post workout is when you need it most.
I use arginine as it, amongst other things, helps the body release growth hormone.
Creatine is used in my program for cell volumization and extra strength and power during training sessions.
Basically combining all of the above at different times helps me grow and recover from workouts and well as give me extra oomph during workouts.
[ Q ] I imagine training and work take of a lot of your time. What hobbies and interests do you have to balance out your life?
Outside of bodybuilding I like to live a somewhat normal life. I love the beach and get there as much as I can. I have a surfboard but right now all my energy goes into training and recovery, so that is out until after the comps. I took up go-kart racing a little over a year ago, they are only little but you still go as fast as you can, and feel like a racecar driver (laughs).
I go for a bike ride every weekend. Also love going out to dinner but that's limited right now. I also like boxing or kickboxing but they are out for now as well. Then there's the movies and my XBOX, but I haven't played the XBOX for months as I've been to busy. I love bushwalking to. And of course I enjoy hanging out with my girlfriend.
[ Q ] You have worked as a dancer for Manpower Australia. Tell me more about this? How seriously do these guys take their training?
Most of the time it's very serious. I think when I joined I took it to another level as I'd already done a couple of bodybuilding competitions, and had more knowledge about it than the other guys, but they weren't novices. When there was a calendar shoot or a big tour coming up we all trained nearly as seriously as if we were getting ready for a bodybuilding competition, but then there were other times we took it a bit easier and lived it up - never let ourselves get out of shape though.
[ Q ] What did you enjoy most about being in Manpower?
I think the best part was the travelling, seeing so many different parts of the world and different ways of life. It's made me feel wiser and more at ease with my own life. Being a semi celebrity was fun to.
[ Q ] What are your immediate goals?
To win the 2006 IFBB Queensland heavyweight title and place top three at the nationals. To get the big three covers in the U.S: Muscle and Fitness (again), Musclemag and Iron Man. To film the training DVD and have it ready to go by the time my covers start hitting the stands. And I would also like to continue to be successful with my Personal training business, Diggsfit.
[ Q ] What would you like to achieve in fitness/bodybuilding long term?
Long term I'd like to become a role model and produce more DVD's and write some books. I'd also like to do some public speaking courses and possibly go into motivational speaking. I've been doing acting courses the last two years and would some day love to have my own fitness/body image TV show.
[ Q ] Motivational speaking is becoming big. What messages would you hope to impart to your audience?
I'd like to empower people to go out there and give their dreams a shot, try to create a better life for themselves and not settle for anything less than the best for themselves. As well as teach them how to achieve a better looking body and a healthier body.
[ Q ] Thank you for you time David. I'm sure you will achieve all your goals. Would you like to thank anyone for helping you in your career?
Yes, I'd like to thank my beautiful girlfriend Simone for all her support and belief in me, and also my sponsor GEN-TEC NUTRITION.