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Conquest of The Viking - Ironman Magazine 2009

KRISTIAN PORTHILL

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“CONQUEST OF THE VIKING”

The school yard bullying is one of those unfortunate eventualities of the formative years of youth, and unfortunately for those who looked different this unfair treatment is magnified.  Surprisingly, during his childhood bodybuilding star Kristian Porthill was subject to such taunts igniting his motivation to change his physique and improve his lifestyle.  With titles such as Mr. Australia and Mr. Universe next to his name, the memories of the school yard seem like a distant and perhaps even fictional part of Kris’ past.  But in all honesty, such was indeed fact.

“I was the fat kid at school” Kris recounts “I used to get laughed at” Though this created a the need for drastic change, Kris initially decided to abscond from eating altogether “I got sick of being the fat kid so I decided to starve myself down to 58kg at 15yrs of age, eating two Rivetas a day and I lost everything.  I was skin and bones but still maintained some fat!”

Realizing that this clearly did not yield the desired results, Kris decided to take the other option which was to life weights and eat healthy.   Kris says and admits that an even earlier and closer training inspiration came from his older brother Steven “He started lifting weights because he wanted to get into the army, so I often used his weights set and he given gave my first weight belt which I still have.  I really do look up to him”      

Though training remained part of Kris’ routine for many years, his true induction into the iron game came in 2002 courtesy of the living legend himself, Don Mahoney (aka – The Spartan).  Recognising Kris’ natural aptitude for bodybuilding, The Spartan first had a detailed discussion with Kris setting out the ground work for the Spartan’s training techniques.  Don Mahoney’s methods are the stuff of legends, the hallowed halls of his gym the birthplace of many top Australian bodybuilders.  Kris vividly recalls this discussion “Don told me that I would have to take everything I had learned in the past and throw it all in the bin and we’re going to start from scratch.”  Undeniably such a statement came as a surprise to this successful ski instructor and former AIF (Australian Institute of Fitness) senior coach however Kris was undeterred and listened intently to Don’s suggestions. “It was tough ask, but this was Don Mahoney and I really looked up to him.”  Their next meeting materialized as a training session, with Don suggesting a calf workout.  Kris agreed, unfazed by what was to come as he recalls saying to himself “Calves are my strong point and I can lift a hell of a lot of weight on calves.”  Don then laid out the ground rules for the training session which involved three sets of single leg body weight calf raises, Kris enthusiastically agreeing to the conditions however Don further added “First set is 100 reps, the second is 75 and the third is 50.”  Though Kris was familiar with this technique, the methods and intensity Don Mahoney espoused did leave a profound effect on Kris with the then-newcomer knowing full well the effectiveness of the Spartan’s training techniques.  “I couldn’t walk on my heels for two week after that session” Kris exclaimed with Don himself pleased that this new protégée would b able to undertake the Spartan methods.  Kris trained with Don Mahoney for two and a half years and fondly recalls the memories of this influential trainer.

Kris training methods are classically derived but also influenced by modern science.  “My bodybuilding philosophy comes from Don and over the years I have adopted it for myself, and I find that if all else fails I go back to Don’s way.  This means training two to three body parts together, split it up into three days and it goes like this: train chest, front/side delts and biceps on the first session; then back, read delts and triceps on the second session and legs on the third.”  Readers will denote that though not entirely unorthodox, the combinations chosen by Kris are highly unique however there is justification for this style of training as Kris explains.  “As a teacher at the AIS for some time, I know the anatomy inside out and a bodybuilder needs to look at training logically” Kris explains “Logic says a muscle needs to be trained with maximum weight in order to recruit the groups Type 1, Type 2A and Type 2B – the only way to recruit all three is to lift more weight.  High reps won’t grow muscle.  My rep range is low, normally 5 to 8 reps whilst my legs are normally 8 to 10 reps”  The basis for Kris theories rests in the fundamentals of hypertrophy, hitting the muscle at all angles with progressively heavier weights to create growth and force the body to make changes.  Kris says “I always try to add more weight to my workout; either add reps or weight and any little that makes a difference.  The muscle only changes if there is a need to.”  Kris saysI also believe that if you can lift heaver on the next set then ultimately the previous set was a warm up, so I only do 2 to 3 warm up sets and then hit a heavy set to stimulate growth”.  Furthermore Kris emphasizes the importance of at least one rest day in between sets declaring “You can’t fix one muscle if the body is busy fixing another. If your not growing, your tearing. If you tear 6 days a week you can only grow one day. I believe that you need more anabolic (recovery) days then catabolic days.”

The appeal of Kris’ philosophy stems from the need to remain practical as he says “I won’t do an exercise if it doesn’t make sense.”  During a training session  one of Kris’ partner suggested they do drop sets, to which Kris retorted with a quizzical look and says “Why would you drive down a straight road at 100kms, but then suddenly start going backwards at 50kms – it doesn’t make sense!  You’ve already proven to the muscle you’ve trained it!”    

One would assume that this Nordic warrior might have a hard time meeting his nutritional needs in China (as this journalist assumed) however it appears such an assumption is to the contrary.  “There’s less temptation to go off track” Kris explains “Certain less healthy foods are very expensive, so I eat clean all year “  Whilst in China Kris’ main protein sources are chicken and tuna, whilst he’s back home in Australia Kris consumes mainly beef and kangaroo.  His carbohydrates come courtesy of sweet potato and rice, and oats form part of the Vikings morning consumption.

Dispelling a further pre-contest myth, Kris comments upon the theory of carb loading where many bodybuilders will consume vast amounts of pizza, hamburgers, ice cream and other such items to improve muscle thickness and hardness on stage.   Though some experience great success with this, Kris came in better condition after adhering to sage advice given to him by Graeme Lancefield.  The great Statesman himself, denoting Kris’ awesome pre-contest condition (prior to the May Mr International) realized that absconding from Kris’ diet of kangaroo and lettuce would be unwise.   Kris says “Aside from a handful of my mum’s homemade cookies, I had no carbs and this meant I could keep on drinking water and depleting more effectively up until the morning of the contest.”  Following Graeme’s advice recently netted Kris the coveted Overall WFF Universe title in October 2009.

Kris creative flair on stage seems to come from his own academic background, that of a graphic designer who worked in an Australian advertising firm for two years.  In addition to this creative license Kris has also worked as a ski instructor in the USA and in Europe; a bouncer at various international night clubs and bars as well as even a stint at a Norwegian slaughterhouse!  Though excelling at graphic design and enjoying applying the academic principles to real world practice, Kris denotes the iron desire deep within himself to spend more time in the gym “My mind was always on the gym” he says

Within the Australian circuit, Kris possesses not only one of the most vascular physiques but also the most unique looks his Nordic appearance both his physique and look always draw much attention from audience members and the judges.  On stage, Kris draws a contrasting line between muscular menace and dashing super hero – with his intense eyes, chiseled jaw and almost white blonde hair Kris certainly does match that of his Viking moniker, christened on him by the Spartan himself.  Though normally somber and contemplative in his style, Kris’ recent WFF Overall victory at the Sydney NABBA/WFF titles in early October, saw more animated presence from Kris.   As always Kris presents a thickly vascular physique both in his upper and lower body, very proportioned and well conditioned muscle mass.  Furthermore, Kris’ on stage persona matches that of his real manner – unlike an explosive showman such as Alistair White, Kris opts for more quite confidence and in fact seeing these two on stage against each other is a real treat, due to the contrasting personalities and styles.  In fact, Kris refers to Alistair White and Wayne Wilson as two of the local Australian competitors he truly has immense respect for.

Kris refers to both past and current bodybuilding champions as inspiration citing Markhus Ruhl, Tom Platz and Dorian Yates as the main champions he reveres, meeting the latter legend after the 2008 WFF/NABBA Universe “It was a week after my first Universe competition and I flew to the UK, I told a friend that all I wanted for my birthday was to train back at the bodybuilding Mecca, Temple Gym.  I ended up meeting Dorian Yates on my 30th birthday, and it was one of the best days of my life!”

Closer to home Kris acknowledges the unconditional support of his family, especially his mother saying “My mum said if the family had known I was to take bodybuilding so seriously they would’ve bought me a gym membership. Prior to me joining a gym, my mum used to help spot me in between cooking dinner in the family carport for three years, so in many ways mum was my first training partner!”

Future plans for the Viking include growing his already much sought after PT business in China, as well as adding more size to his impressive form.   When he’s not training clients or himself,  Kris enjoys spending time with his girlfriend Linda watching DVDs, going out to dinners and spending time with friends.

Kris refers to a quote by Tom Platz, which was situated near a squat rack many years ago which read: “Here is not where men are separated from the boys but where the ordinary become audacious.” To Kris this does not simply define one aspect of training but also resonates a life lesson he clearly swears by – that aspiring to achieve and make things happen is perhaps the greatest feeling a man (or woman) can create for themselves, that brilliance can be born out of anything even a simple squat rack so long as the effort and determination is there.  Thus is one aspect of the Viking known as Kris Porthill, and no doubt this ambitious and highly personable warrior is set to conquer so much more.

*Kris is currently seeking sponsorship and can be contacted via his website: http://www.internationalpersonaltraining.com/ or via email at

Kris’ COMPETITION ACHIEVEMENTS

2003 NABBA Mr Victoria Novice – 2nd Place

2003 NABBA Mr Southern Hemisphere Novice – 3rd Place

2005 WFF Mr Victoria Class 1 – 3rd Place

2005 WFF Mr Southern Hemisphere Class 1 – 2nd Place

2006 WFF Mr Australia Class 1 – 2nd Place

IFBB Mr Victoria Classic – 2nd Place

IFBB Mr Australia Classic – 1st Place

2008 WFF Mr International Class 1 and Overall – 1st Place & Overall

2008 WFF Mr Southern Hemisphere Class 1 – 2nd Place

2008 WFF Mr Universe Superbody Under 30 – 5th Place

2009 WFF Mr International Class 1 – 1st Place & Overall

2009 WFF Mr Southern Hemisphere Class 1 – 1st Place  and Overall

2009 WFF Mr Universe Superbody Under 35 – 1st Place and Overall

 

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