Text interview by Aaron Hallett
AH: Let's start off with the basics, Kirk:
Occupation: Plumber/gas engineer
AH: What's your background, Kirk: when and how did you start training; what brought on the initial spark of motivation?
KM: When I was 15/16 years old I was an apprentice at Coventry FC and as a part of the training we were going to the gym and weight training to become stronger. Some other players took to it while some didn't, but I found I enjoyed going to the gym, pushing myself to see it improve the football side of things but it was great to see how my body was taking shape and having some muscles.
Playing football you are only allowed to get so big before it affects you mobility. Sadly, when I was 19 years old I didn't make it as a pro footballer, but I kept up the gym work as well as playing semi-pro football for around 4-5 years. It wasn't until two years ago I knocked football on the head completely and concentrated mainly on my gym work. My enjoyment for the gym has really excelled since I was able to focus on it 100% and it has been in this time that I've seen a lot of the big changes with my physique. I haven't kicked a football since and, working as a plumber I have to work on my knees a lot, and any niggles and knocks from football means my work is affected or not being able to work at all which means no money to pay the bills.
AH: Was there a physique you aspired to when you first started training?
KM: It sounds quite corny, but from about 7 years old I used to love watching Jean Claude Van Damme movies and I was fascinated by his body and how ripped he was. Looking back he was a great inspiration, I always admired his physique and the older I got and the more I trained I realised how possible it was to achieve a look like his. Nowadays if I see any great physique or even a body part of someone's in the gym it inspires me to work that much more harder and to improve in that area.
AH: So how would you best describe your training philosophy?
KM: I take more quality over quantity, by obtaining more and more knowledge though talking and listening to the right people I have come to realise that you don't have to spend hours and hours in the gym to achieve a good physique. It's all about channelling the right energy in the right area, there are some people who probably have the best will in the world to improve but listen to the wrong advice or channel it in the wrong direction, so will end up over-training or wasting their time. My motto is that if I am to spend however long in the gym, I will make sure I train as hard as I physically can so I have no regrets. There are benefits of training hard in the gym that knocks onto the rest of my life, I find when I am training my hardest in the gym I have a sense of well being and that feel good factor that carries over to those other areas.
I never do the same workout from one week to the next; I don't have a set rep range. I'm always looking to shock my body. In a busy gym you cannot have a blinkered vision on what you're going to train as you could be resting too long and I don't like to rest too long between sets. I use drop sets and super sets in my training and I rarely spend over 40-45 minutes on any muscle group.
AH: If you had to pick only 3 exercises, what would they be?
KM: Squats: it's the hardest exercise in the gym if performed correctly; it helps spur off the release of more growth hormone which helps for muscle growth all over your body.
Chin ups: a strong compound exercise that you can do in any gym, anywhere and you're working a number of muscles.
Any abdominal exercise: my favourite body part to train. Going back to Claude Van Damme, it was one part of his physique I was fascinated by.
AH: Having seen pictures of your abs I have to ask you how you train them!
KM: [laughs] The same as any other muscle group: I try to change things up and shock them by not doing the same routine twice. You need some depth to the abs for them to be really visible like any other muscle and I train to failure on 12 or so reps looking to fail on the last rep. The key thing is when you get to adding a weight bearing exercise to your stomach and you fail around the 8-10 rep mark is to either quickly do a drop set or move straight into another ab exercise where you are fatiguing the muscle.
AH: How much of a handle do you have to have on your diet to stay in such good condition?
KM: The lower in body fat you are, the more prominent your abs are so diet plays a major part in that as well as the amount of cardio you do. I like to train my abs a couple of time a week anyway and because the I have focused on training my abs since I first started the gym, they are quite prominent which means I can put on a little bit of fat but still hold them.
AH: What is your philosophy on nutrition?
KM: I'm realistic, I work Monday to Friday and keep my diet clean through that time but I'm the same as anyone else, I do love takeaways and junk food so I think of it like this: I look at seven days like 100%, if I can keep at least 80-90% of it clean throughout the week then I deserve that 10-20% to switch off and eat what I want, when I want. People will tell you at the gym, if I want to eat something I will EAT and I do get some questions to how I maintain my conditioning but it's worked well for me for years. You need to mentally switch off and enjoy both food and drink sometimes: it's good for the mental side of things as come Monday I switch back to eating healthily looking forward to training hard again.
AH: What is your favourite cheat food?
KM: [laughs] How long have you got?! I could cover at least an A4 page on this alone! If you work, train and diet hard you deserve to eat what you want!
AH: How do you find fitting in your diet/training with your day job as a plumber?
KM: To be honest the main thing is preparation, I prepare and cook all my food the night before and put it all into little Tupperware pots; it doesn't take long. The way I see it, it takes 15-20 minutes to prepare my food, if the next day I didn't have that food with me I'd spend the 15-20 minutes to drive off site and fetch some food anyway. I often advise people to spend some time to prepare their meals the night before but to also not bring any cash with them to work to avoid the temptation to pop into a shop and buy something they might fancy.
AH: Tell us about your involvement with Men's Health Magazine's cover model search
KM: I'm an avid reader of Men's Health over the years and those sort of magazine's are always lying around the gym. I bored all the lads at the gym saying that I could be on the cover of Men's Health magazine, so in the end they sort of gave me the kick up the back side to apply to actually enter the cover model search competition. All my family and friends encouraged me telling me that instead of talking about it how about entering it as you never know.
I entered three pictures with a 250 word assignment about your training background and how you place that around your lifestyle. I was lucky enough to win the cover model search competition this year which put me on October's cover. The competition is held every year by Men's Health and thousands of people enter throughout the UK holding normal day to day jobs who incorporate their training around that proving you can do all of that and lead a healthy lifestyle. I actually entered last year but was left kicking myself as the phone call I received to tell me I had reached the final went to my mobile phone's voice mail and I thought, quite naively, they would phone back later on to confirm the details but that never happened. I called Men's Health a week later and they told me I had reached the final but had to give my place to another person as I didn't ring back quickly enough.
I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so I entered into the competition again this year and when they called up to say I had reached the final I had a gut feeling that it was fate that I had qualified for the final two years in a row and it gave me a real good positive feeling.
AH: Did you change anything diet/training wise for the competition?
KM: I like to stay lean pretty much all year round, it's what makes me feel happy but I received a call from Men's Health 12 days before the competition (they don't give you much notice at all!) saying that I had made the final and that wouldn't have been a problem any other time of the year; however, I had just came back from a 2 week all-inclusive holiday with my ex girlfriend! If you have ever been on an all-inclusive holiday, you have access to free food and drink all day and I ate like a mad man for those two weeks and to receive a phone call telling me I had qualified for the final which was in 12 days my heart literally sunk [laughs]. The way I looked at it, I had 12 days to get in as good shape as I could achieve and trained every day until the final, I also did some water manipulation in preparation in the build up to the final which I felt helped.
AH: What was it like working with one of the UK's largest fitness magazines?
KM: The whole experience was great. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wanted to make the most of the experience. Seeing the seven other finalists there at that point, I'd be lying to say we were all eyeing up the competition's physiques up and being the naturally competitive person I am, I wanted to win. Despite all of that I made sure I got on with everyone there and it makes it a great experience for everyone; the Men's Health team were fantastic. We were all photographed individually obtaining a range of pictures from each person so the Men's Health team could evaluate what model would sell the most magazines for them. I did have a good gut feeling on the day as I felt I was being photographed more than the other guys, although it could have been a bad omen though if it took that many pictures to get the one they liked from me!
All the finalists including myself were dehydrated and wouldn't have been eating that much due to worrying about looking fat for the pictures! That was the hardest part as straight after the shoot we had to do an interview. I wanted to come across as 'me' during the interview and, if I was to win, I wanted to do it being myself and honest instead of saying what they wanted to hear and that would be reflected when the interview came out on the internet.
AH: You have been wearing 1 Rep Max clothing range during some of your photo shoots and videos; how do you find the clothing range?
KM: To be honest they are some of the best gym vests I have ever worn. If you looked at them without trying it on you would say they're no different to any other vest, but the material presses on the muscles well and you can see them work as you train. They are not super tight like they are about to restrict your movement; they feel great to wear as you train and it's one of the best vests I have worn in the gym.
AH: Tell me about your involvement with the IFBB British Grand Prix & Fitness Expo in 2011.
KM: The plans are to hold a model search at the Expo and off the back of me winning the Men's Health cover model search competition; they are going to have me on the panel perhaps in some sort of judging capacity. My role hasn't been completely finalised yet but it will be closer to the time, but it's looking really positive and I'm looking forward to it. I have never been to an Expo as big as what this one is going to be, and there is going to be a lot of big names there working with people such as James Collier and Neil Hill who are the best in the business.
AH: One of the focuses of the British Grand Prix is of course the bodybuilding, have you ever been tempted to push your physique that level higher enter a bodybuilding show?
KM: When I stopped playing football and focused solely on the weights I half flitted with the idea of going down the bodybuilding route and to do some shows but when I bulked up I didn't feel comfortable at that higher weight. I don't like to go too much above my natural body weight, maybe a half a stone but not much higher. However, if there was ever a project that came up where I was required to bulk up then I would consider it as I believe that with the right attitude you can manipulate your body however way you want, if you are willing to put the hard work in. I have a great respect for bodybuilders for the amount of dedication and mental application they have to go through to get into that level of conditioning for shows: it's phenomenal.
AH: You have an up and coming website; would you like to talk to us about what it's all about?
KM: Yes, I have a website that will be launched soon and it has been a dream of mine to have my own website. People always ask me how I train, what I do and how I diet so this is a perfect opportunity and platform to be able to respond to individual questions. I want to be able to provide accurate and honest feedback for every member that joins up and dedicate the time to help and inspire them to achieve their goals whatever they may be. There will be videos on the website and it will help to dispel one of the myths out there that you don't have to train as hard as say a bodybuilder, to achieve the physique you want. I want to be able to come across and show how hard I train in the gym in order to inspire the readers to do the same. I literally cannot wait for it to be up and running: kirkmiller.co.uk will be finalised very shortly.
AH: You have the British Grand Prix & Fitness Expo in March and the website launch, what else do you have planned for the future?
KM: I am looking to complete a level 3 NVQ in personal training which I'd like to incorporate that into my website, although I work in plumbing and gas I feel my heart belongs in the fitness industry. As I have grown older, I feel like you have to do something you really enjoy as a profession as that will lead to more success when there is a passion behind it. I wouldn't see working in the fitness industry as work as it's what I enjoy and where I feel most comfortable.
With the website it will give people the chance to organise one-on-one sessions where I either train with them at their gym or they come and train with me to be able to get the full effect of how hard you actually have to train to get into good shape.
AH: For other people wanting to get into the modelling side of the fitness industry, what advice would you give?
- Write down some goals with regards to what you want to achieve, pick a physique you would like to work towards and which inspires you
- As much as I preach about training and dieting hard, make sure it is something you enjoy doing otherwise you'll look at the gym as being something of a chore
- If you receive knock backs from modelling agencies or modelling jobs, which is quite common, do not let it derail you from carrying on training hard and one day you will achieve it one way or another
AH: On behalf of everyone at MuscleTalk, I would like to wish you all the best for the future and the best of luck for your website and NVQ level 3!
KM: Thank you!