On June 25, 2022, former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher Kyle Farnsworth made his amateur bodybuilding debut at The Southern USA National Qualifier, Sheru Classic. He competed in three divisions — Novice Classic Physique, Open Classic Physique, and Masters 35+ Classic Physique — and won gold in all of them.
The 46-year-old Farnsworth stands six feet, three inches tall, and weighed 245 pounds stepping on stage for his bodybuilding debut. Farnsworth spoke with BarBend about his experience competing in his first bodybuilding show, the challenges of dieting and training during his prep, and what inspired him to don posing trunks after a 16-year MLB career throwing fastballs for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Kansas City Royals, and Houston Astros.
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Editor’s note: Bolding added for emphasis. Answers have been lightly edited for readability.
BarBend: How did you feel in the competition hall? Did you feel you peaked properly? Did you expect to win all three divisions?
Farnsworth: When I entered the hall, I felt pretty good. I did my prep the best I could…for [my] first [bodybuilding show]. Not knowing what exactly to expect, I was pretty prepared. I felt like I was a little flat, but I think that was more my mind playing tricks on me. I always expect to win in everything I do. I knew it wouldn’t be easy because the other competitors have that same mindset.
BarBend: What inspired you to pursue competitive bodybuilding?
Farnsworth: I got introduced to the weight [training] for the first time at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), where I went to Junior College (JUCO) to play baseball and just enjoyed it. I was a tall, skinny kid, but my muscles started growing and getting stronger. I also noticed…my [pitching] velocity began to increase. I definitely believe that my training throughout my baseball career allowed me to play as long as I did, which was like 23-plus years with very limited injuries.
After my baseball career, I played semi-professional football for five years. I knew I had to get stronger and bigger. I was beating myself up all the time in the gym; let’s do it for a purpose and give bodybuilding a shot. I never want to look back on my life and say, “oh, I wish I would have done that or done this.”
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BarBend: What did a week of training look like for you during your prep?
Farnsworth: Here’s my training split for a week:
- Monday: Chest/Triceps
- Tuesday: Legs
- Leg Extensions: Four sets | 20, 15, 15, 30 paused reps
- Leg Press: Four sets | Two sets of 10 half concentric reps followed by 10 full reps. Two sets of 10 half eccentric reps followed by 10 full reps
- Hack Squats: Four sets | 20, 15, 15, 12 paused reps (no lockouts)
- Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: Three sets | 20, 20, 15 reps
- Walking Lunges: Three sets | 12 reps per leg
- Wednesday: Back/Biceps
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Shoulders/Calves
- Saturday: Biceps/Triceps.
BarBend: What was your diet for your prep like?
Farnsworth: The diet was tough. I knew it would be a challenge because I love my Oreos and ice cream. After going through this process, I have a newfound respect for bodybuilders. Watching my body transform over the months and weeks through the diet was cool. I started getting more vascular and more defined muscles.
BarBend: Did posing come naturally to you? Is there a part of your physique you felt was your strongest asset to show the judges?
Farnsworth: Posing was very hard, and I am terrible at it. I didn’t realize how hard and tiring it really was. To…flex, hold, and squeeze your muscles for that period of time was very exhausting.
My lower body is strongest. My legs have always been big and strong. During my baseball career, I did [train] upper body, but I couldn’t get too [big], or I [wouldn’t] be flexible for pitching, and it would hinder my performance. Over the past five to six years, I started lifting heavier so that my upper body can catch up to my lower body.
I did my best to show off my legs to the judges and hoped my upper body was good as well. I thought about how I compared to the other competitors because I am new to this.
BarBend: Given your success, do you intend to compete again?
Farnsworth: I haven’t thought too much about another [show] yet. I have to make sure my wife won’t kill me this time. If I do, it would be to go after my IFBB Pro Card.
Featured image: @thekylefarnsworth on Instagram