- Created on Sunday, 19 September 2010 11:00
- Written by Leigh Penman, Photography by David Paul
"Life is full of fun fulfilled adventurous avenues some of us tend to locate our niche others take a lifetime wondering when will it happen all to find out later that it doesn't.. We need to keep life as simple as repeating our own name... That's the game I play.... I'm a smooth sailing symbol of pride, dignity and mobility a definite leader with a desire to be the center of attention. I'm very proud of who I am graceful, creative dramatic, determined, extremely generous, enthusiastic and forever direct on all levels..." Iris Kyle, 6x Ms Olympia
Iris Kyle is about to return to the stage she has made her home for over a decade as she once again competes for the prestigious title of Ms Olympia. A true phenomenom in women's bodybuilding, Iris is like a runaway train....formidable as it approaches and totally unstoppable. Will she successfully defend her title against probably her toughest competition to date? Competition aside, the following paragraphs review her life, her loves...and of course for those of you dying to know...her crazy intense back workout!
First of all, just how did you get involved in bodybuilding?
"It all started when I moved to California about fifteen years ago. Out there I was surrounded by fit people with great bodies. It got me thinking that I might be able to obtain a similar look. I got up the courage to join a gym and when I saw all the machines they had I felt sure that I could obtain the body I wanted...after all I now had the tools.
I could see it was definitely within my grasp. I began reading all the muscle mags and became a sponge for the information they contained. I was inspired by the photos of muscular women....I mean I was never the curvaceous type who wanted big boobs and a round butt. I wanted something completely out of the norm....something that only a few could achieve.
"Around that time I saw photos of Lenda Murray and was in complete awe. I remember pasting her photos on the refrigerator door... I wanted a body like hers!
So what made you decide to start competing?
"I met this guy called Butch Dennis. He was a promoter and urged me to enter a show he was putting on. Ten weeks later I entered and won the entire show!"
I guess at this point we could say ‘the rest is history'...but out of all the contests you have done I am curious to know which one holds a special place in your heart?
"That would have to be the 2004 Olympia where I won against Lenda Murray. I mean back in my amateur days, as I have said, she was my inspiration and to be competing against her was very surreal. It will remain my fondest memory. As for actually beating her...there is not a word in the dictionary to begin describing how that felt."
Getting down to the ‘nuts and bolts' (for want of a better expression) of your physique....what would you consider to be your strongest body part?
"I would have to say my whole body is strong! Now I know that sounds a little arrogant but I just have a lot of confidence! Other people have always found my legs, calves and butt to be standout features..."
You also have a pretty impressive back. Could you outline one of your back routines for the curious?
“Yes…a lot of people ask me about my back. I guess I am genetically gifted in that area but, having said that, I still have to work it hard.
In the off season I like to warm up with chins and do 4 sets of 10-15 reps. I think some women shy away from chins and prefer to do lat pulls, but I honestly feel that you can’t develop significant back width without chins. They are much more challenging and great metabolic activators.
Pull downs are of course added as a supplement and I usually do 4 sets of 10 – 15 reps and always to the front. I often see people doing them to the back and personally I think that is just asking for an injury to happen!
Next I go for another great all round back builder…Deadlifts. Once again I go for 4 sets and this time keep reps in the 8-12 range. I think deadlifts are another exercise some people shy away from thinking that they are ‘old school’ but along with chins they should be a part of EVERY serious back workout. I know it is all too easy to be hypnotized by all the fancy machines in the gyms these days but take it from me…the basics are what build a champion back!
“Next exercise for me is Rows with Dumbbell, Barbell or machine…depending on my mood. These I keep in the 10-12 rep range. For me rows are great for adding detail as well as thickness to the back. Then I usually finish up with pullovers to get a good stretch out of the lats – although I have been known to substitute straight arm pull downs. I go for 4 sets again and keep the reps in the 10-15 range.
Another point worth adding here is that when it comes to my pre contest back training I add several cable exercises and go for 15 -25 reps. This really captures the fine details that can make all the difference when you hit the stage.”
Chin ups - 4 sets, 10-15 reps
Pull downs to front - 4 sets...10-15 reps
Deadlifts - 4 sets...8 -12 reps
Rows (dumbbell, barbell or machine) - 4 sets...10 to 12 reps
Dumbbell pullovers or straight arm pull downs - 4 sets...10 to 15 reps
Do you generally prefer to train heavy or light?
"Well I am pretty strong but the way I see it I am not a man so when it comes to noting how much weight I actually lift it's just not my thing...."
How does your off season weight differ from your contest weight?
"Off season I try and go no higher than 180lbs...preferably 175lbs. Contest weight is usually around 160lbs."
How do you prefer to split up your workout week?
"In the off season I like to do two days on, one day off, then two days on...a total of four workouts a week. Pre contest it is increased to five to six times a week...usually Sunday is my day off."
Changing the subject, I am curious to know how the public react to you when you are out on the street - since you don't exactly ‘blend in'...
"I tend to get mixed reactions. I can get asked the usual ridiculous questions that all bodybuilders get, like ‘how much can you bench?' which I find irritating. However, you name it and I have dealt with it. Not all of my encounters with the general public are great but for the most part people are okay.
Travelling all over the world I have come to accept the fact that everyone isn't as hip to the fact that women can carry muscle as they are in California. I do receive some remarks from women who think I am too big...b
ut my gender is never questioned....which is a good thing!
"On the positive side I do get asked by a lot of people how to go about developing muscle definition...not so much size, but definition. The thing that I have come to understand is that everyone has a right to their own opinion and overall I get much more positive feedback than negative."
How does your family feel about your chosen career path?
"My mother is probably my biggest fan! She comes to all of my appearances. She also makes a point of taking me around to meet all of her friends when I come to visit...like saying ‘see...she really does exist!' You see we look nothing alike and I think her friends doubt her when she points to pictures in the magazines and claims that I am her daughter, which is kinda funny. So when I visit her I just know that I am going to be taken around the neighborhood as ‘proof'."
So what do you like to do when you are not in the gym?
"SHOP! I love to shop. I also like biking, long walks and running on the beach...oh and rollerblading...but most of all I love to shop, especially for shoes!
"When I get the time I also like to visit private resorts, just relaxing..."
Anything about Iris Kyle that may surprise us?
"I don't really think so...with me what you see is what you get. I am as normal as the next person. The fact that I am a bodybuilder does not mean that I eat, sleep and drink the sport. I mean there is far more to life than that which exists within the confines of a gym. I have many things I love to do aside from working out...and maybe that IS a surprising thing for some people!"
Finally, how can people contact you?
"They can go to my website www.iriskyle.com
And I am also on Facebook and My Space "
Hopefully this little glimpse into the world of Iris Kyle will help you to understand why she's the best female bodybuilder in the world. Will she still retain the title on evening of September 24, 2010? Only time will tell!