Muscle Mag Athlete Johnnie Jackson Explains '09 Tampa Loss, Wants Redemption At Olympia!

The man with the enormous traps discusses where he went wrong in Tampa and why he will beat Ben White on the powerlifting stage at the Olympia. Learn more.

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MuscleMag

Having competed in the last six Mr. Olympia contests (from 2003 through to '08), qualifying for these through stellar performances in many large pro events, Johnnie Jackson (the bodybuilding powerlifter, or is it vice versa?) has proven to be one of pro bodybuilding's more prolific competitors, and one of its most popular.

In September he will aim to sweep the field at the 2009 Olympia to redeem his less-than-impressive performance at the Tampa Bay Pro.

With the kind of impressive muscle maturity indicative of one who has been competing at the highest level within the pro bodybuilding game for almost ten years, Johnnie Jackson has gone from strength to strength and his improvements in muscle thickness (a pleasant side effect of his passion for powerlifting) and overall balance have been evident. However, his conditioning can be hit or miss as evidenced at the Tampa Bay Pro.

Entering the Tampa Bay Pro lacking the necessary dry conditioning required at the professional level cost Johnnie several placements, possibly even the whole show, in Tampa. Now he is on a mission to compensate for what he calls "skipping a step". This skipping a step, which landed him in eighth place, will, according to Johnnie, be corrected as he aims to finish the pre-Olympia pro season on a major high.


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Did Johnnie Jackson "Skip A Step" At The Tampa Pro?

Johnnie will throw down at the Olympia, but rather than pumping and posing he will be lifting and straining as he takes on Ben White in a special, much anticipated, powerlifting showdown. Known as the world's strongest pro bodybuilder, Johnnie, a Team MuscleTech athlete who uses these supplements exclusively to support his training efforts, will be hoping to preserve this hard-earned reputation come September.

In the following interview the man with the enormous traps (part of a balanced physique, of course) discusses where he went wrong in Tampa and why he will beat Ben White on the powerlifting stage come Olympia time.


Johnnie Jackson Interview


[ Q ] Hi Johnnie. I imagine your schedule is quite full right now with you having competed in Tampa on the weekend and your plans to step onstage at the Europa Pro this weekend.

    Yes exactly, especially since things didn't go well for me in Tampa and I have to "right it" before the Europa. There are no excuses for me placing the way I did. I just didn't cover all of my bases.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] So it would be fair to say you will be making some pretty big improvements over the next few days to ensure you surpass your Tampa performance.

    I definitely want to go in and win this show, so yes, it is definitely going to be a drastic difference - I guarantee that. It's serious business and I'm doing everything I have to do, no matter what it is. It has to be right this weekend.


[ Q ] As you admitted, you were not at your best at the recent Tampa Pro. What would you attribute your rare lack of form to?

    There are just no excuses, like I said. I put it all (the result) on myself. The finishing touches were just not there as they should have been.

    I have to say that each week I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I dieted perfectly, did my cardio and monitored my water intake. Then the final week it just fell apart. I have to say I looked great, but I wasn't dry: that (dryness) was the only thing that was missing. I didn't dry out properly. I was lean and ripped, but just didn't dry out correctly. If you skip a step then that's what happens.


[ Q ] Had you achieved this dryness in Tampa then it would be safe to presume that you would have been much further up the chain?

    No doubt, there is no question at all. And there shouldn't be any question in anyone's mind, I'm sure. I coulda, woulda, shoulda, so this weekend it's going to happen.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] I'm aware you will be contesting a powerlifting event in September, during the Olympia weekend, against fellow pro, Ben White. But will you be entering any 2009 bodybuilding contests other than the Europa this weekend?

    No, this will be the last show I'm doing bodybuilding-wise for the year. There is a show on November 7 though. I will aim to get in as full a shape as needed to beat Ben White at this Olympia contest (the powerlifting event to be run at this time), which is not going to be too hard for me.


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Ben White At The 2009 Tampa Pro.

    I will stay in good enough condition, which will leave me six or seven weeks to diet back down for this November show, which will be the first show at which to qualify for the Olympia next year (2010).


[ Q ] Since you will be lifting, not posing, at the 2009 Olympia, this would rule you out on the basis that you will not be in the kind of conditioning needed to do well on such a big bodybuilding stage.

    Right, I will still be competing at the Olympia but in the powerlifting meet against Ben White. So I won't be missed completely (laughs). I will be competing, but on a different stage.


[ Q ] As most followers of your career would know, powerlifting and bodybuilding go hand in hand for you. How big of an emphasis are you placing upon your powerlifting training right now considering you have a pro bodybuilding event to contest in four days from now?

    I don't go for anything unless it is at 100 percent. I do what I have to do. I don't worry that I'm tired or if I'm getting enough foods in, or rest, because it is up to me whether I do or not. I don't make up any excuses for anything, because I'm in control of everything. I've got to make myself do it.

    If I have to go to sleep earlier I will do this. If I need to eat a little bit more, I'll do this. I am in control of the situation. I'm going at it 100 percent. For example, getting ready for the Tampa contest I was pulling 500 pounds (on the deadlift) and I'm still doing ten reps at this weight right now, very light.

    Of course I had to skip (powerlifting training) a week before the Tampa. But I will do some light deadlifting this week on Friday before the Friday pre-judging. Very light, just to get the blood flowing and just so my body remembers what I'm doing.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] It must be incredibly hard to balance bodybuilding with powerlifting given the different eating and training requirements needed for each.

    One thing I know for sure: it's genetic. We are all very great athletes in my family. We all have these weird strong genetics, so it's not something new for me. People who grew up with me know how my shape was from a young age and how strong I was.

    As I have gotten older the weights have just gotten heavier. In life there are different ups and downs and walls you hit and I'm only human, a victim of normal life sometimes.

    Whether it is distractions or different things you have to take care of. But I'm a man of my word and once I say I'm going to do something I'm out to do it, and I don't make any excuses; whether it's an injury or whatever happens in life I still pursue the things I need to do and in doing this I don't show up sometimes in the best shape or may slip a little bit. But it never happens twice.


[ Q ] In saying this, can you separate one thing from the other? For example, in Tampa you were not thinking about your upcoming powerlifting meet?

    Oh yes, definitely, I have to. Training-wise there are so many different ways, there's not necessarily a wrong way. My training for this meet and my diet and cardio for the bodybuilding show don't conflict with each other. If I'm carbohydrate depleting getting ready for a show and trying to achieve a certain look, I don't have to stop my powerlifting movements.

    Yes, I have to lighten the weight, but I still also do the movements to the best of my ability and as heavy as I can, at whatever period of dieting or off-season I am at. And I always work toward percentages; I don't just go in like some knucklehead and put the weight on and just lift it. I have goal weight that I work up to, so I train my body up to a weight that I want to max out on and never just blindly do stuff in the gym. It's all regimented out.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] Following this weekend's contest, how will you change your program so it is specifically geared toward a positive outcome in your powerlifting event?

    Well the only program that will really be changed is my eating program so I can be a lot heavier by the time the meet comes around. And I will change my workouts to where directly after my powerlifting movements I won't do any side laterals, any accessory movements and detail work for bodybuilding. I will cut them out and do strictly powerlifting movements.


[ Q ] How exactly will you modify your diet to prepare for your powerlifting meet?

    I'll be eating just how I normally do. We mostly switch to organic (for both bodybuilding and powerlifting) so we are eating a lot cleaner anyway. I do not eat any junk. It's not like I'm in my 20's where I was eating McDonald's and stuff like that. Even though I am free to do that here or there - if we decide to go on a trip or hang out and go to the movies I'll let my hair down. But other than that I'll eat steak, potatoes, whole eggs, egg whites and oatmeal, stuff like that.


[ Q ] The same kinds of foods you are eating now but just a lot more of them.

    Yes, a lot more of them, exactly. Instead of eating six to eight ounces it will be like 12 to 14.


[ Q ] That is a lot of steak.

    Oh yeah.


[ Q ] To offset any potential injuries during your powerlifting meet will you be taking any precautions by adding more fatty foods to your diet to help cushion your joints?

    Yes, definitely. I'll be weighing a tremendous amount more by the time the meet comes around. So carbohydrates, fats, protein, it will all be bumped up to where I'm taking in somewhere in the neighborhood of 7500 to 8000 calories a day.


[ Q ] So you will need to increase your calories to support the much heavier training, which itself will comprise mostly power movements at the exclusion of pure bodybuilding exercises?

    Yes, exactly, and concentrating on the heavy bench and heavy floor presses. And I will need more calories because I'll be burning a lot more (calories) and going much deeper into the muscle tissue with my training. So I need a lot more food to repair and grow, and stay strong.

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[ Q ] Will you be including any cardio training in your powerlifting prep?

    I will walk at least three to four times a week. Whether out with my baby and my wife or walking a couple of miles in the evening, and then also on the treadmill three times week for probably 30 minutes. You've got to keep the heart healthy.

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[ Q ] By contrast, you are doing much more cardio right now as you prepare for the Europa Pro show.

    Yes, a lot more (laughs). I'm doing at least two and a half hours per day of cardio.


[ Q ] On that note how have you kept yourself motivated all these years to compete year in and out as a pro bodybuilder? You are getting close to 40, right?

    Yes I know, don't remind me (laughs).


[ Q ] You are reaching your peak if the recent success of Dexter Jackson and Toney Freeman is anything to go by.

    Yes, well just being successful motivates me. I just had a baby daughter and she's motivation also. Because I want her to have everything I have now, everything I never had and everything she wants, so the only way to do that is to be successful in what I'm doing. And if that isn't motivation enough to get off my butt and make it happen I guess I never should of tried to have her.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Tampa Pro.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] Will you continue to train and compete beyond your 40's?

    There's no predictions: but I'll know when it's time to stop it. When gravity begins to take over and everything starts sagging here and there and I begin to look ridiculous. I try to walk in the footsteps God puts down here for me to walk in and I try to do the best I can. So he will let me know when it's time to stop doing this and move on to something new.

    I always try to live by that and there's always work for me. I've had a really successful career up until now and I hope to continue, so I will continue working hard. The opportunities will come and I'll just move on when it's time.


[ Q ] Post competitive bodybuilding will you do something in a related field as you continue your career?

    I'm not sure. Right now I'm running camps for kids and I would like to do more with kids. I would also like to open a studio to train with adults and kids, with circuit training and other forms of training.

    I'd like to work more with kids who want to become athletes; teach them how to train as they grow up. Because schools don't really take care of them as well as they should.

    I was lucky to have my brother helping me when I was young, to be able to train and not get injured. Whereas these days there are so many young kids getting injured because of improper training. So I would like to do something toward that.

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[ Q ] How much bodyweight do you expect to gain after transitioning from your bodybuilding program to your powerlifting schedule?

    About 40 pounds; I don't want to put no more than that on so I'd like to keep it to a minimum.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] What is the heaviest you have weighed onstage in a bodybuilding contest?

    About 240 pounds.


[ Q ] For your powerlifting meet you would like to target somewhere in the mid-260s?

    Yes, 260 or 265.


[ Q ] And you will of course need to drop around 40 pounds to again compete in your final bodybuilding show later this year.

    Yes, exactly.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] How hard is to gain and drop weight in this fashion as you transition from competitive bodybuilder to competitive powerlifter and back again?

    It used to be a lot worse when I was an amateur. I used to get up to around 255-260 and go down to 198 to compete as a light heavy. So it used to be a lot more than it is now.


[ Q ] When you turned pro at light heavy you looked very good, but obviously you have added a lot of muscle since then. In saying this, could the 202-pound-class be a future option for you?

    No, there's no way. This body isn't getting down that low. I can get down pretty good but that (making the 202 pound class) would mean starvation for me. I'd be stripping off lean muscle tissue to get down to 202. I would look stringy, I couldn't imagine. I don't even want to imagine what I would look like. I'll take my chances where I'm at.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] Concerning your supposed or assumed rivalry with Ben White you have mentioned wanting to beat him in your upcoming powerlifting event. In bodybuilding terms do you have a score to settle with him? Do you have an agenda here?

    Well, not against him. I couldn't care less. It's about any individual who steps onstage. I only care about going to a show and beating myself in what I looked like previously. At that time I try to be the best that I've ever been, try to beat myself each time onstage, aiming to look better and better.

    I don't pinpoint certain individuals and try to look better than them. What about everybody else around them? I try to be the best I can be and win shows, that's what I'm here for.


[ Q ] So when you do compete against Ben White again it will be nothing personal.

    To be honest I don't care for the guy's attitude but there are a lot of people out there whose attitudes I don't care for. So not at all, I don't have anything specific against him in any way. But someone might challenge me and I'll be ready to go. So we will see what happens there (Johnnie's showdown with Ben White at the 2009 Mr. Olympia).

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[ Q ] It seems the only thing that let you down on the weekend in Tampa was your conditioning. As far as physiques were concerned there was really no competition between yourself and Ben White in my view. You were superior, no question.

    Oh yeah, there's no doubt about that. I think my physique was superior to most of the guys onstage, but I didn't come in dry. So there you go. It is as simple as that. I didn't dry out like I was supposed to and that's what happened. But physique-wise, I'm not intimidated by anyone, especially anyone who was in that show.

    But the Europa is ahead of me now and I'm not in Tampa anymore. You can't be getting ready for the Europa while leaving your head in Tampa. I know what I did wrong and I'm going to fix it so Europa here we go.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] How did you feel after the Tampa Pro? Were you very upset over the result?

    I was very upset. I was terribly upset at myself for not coming in like I was supposed to. There is nothing I can do to control who receives what placing. I can only control what I look like. I didn't and I got what I deserved.


[ Q ] What will you weigh this weekend?

    I'm not sure, I haven't checked at this point. Right now (four days out) I'm just concentrating on drying out, looking sharp. I'll worry about that (bodyweight) when I get to the show, or maybe after. It's all about what I look like right now. I couldn't care less about what I weigh.


[ Q ] And will you do anything differently this week to ensure you are where you need to be come Friday?

    Yes, just the stuff I didn't do last week (laughs). The stuff that I would normally do to dry out that I didn't do. I have seen a huge difference already. It will be a different package come Friday night.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.


[ Q ] Are your specifically addressing water manipulation this week or a combination of this along with dietary modifications?

    Yes, both, definitely. A lot more water manipulation and I'll be a lot stricter with my water intake - definitely more foods towards (muscle fullness), and water out (to reveal muscle definition and create dryness).


[ Q ] There has been a suggestion that you may team up with your occasional training partner Branch Warren very soon.

    I don't know; we train together when we can anyway. That's just normal. When we get time we hook up and train and do what we got to do. The best time in my life was when training with him. Training with him makes me feel like I was 18 all over again.

    It's always a pleasure to work out with him and he is just as strong and has got the same attitude as I do; it's all about tearing it up and it works out really well, so it could definitely happen at any day, but never as soon as I would want it to happen.


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Branch Warren At The 2008 Arnold Classic.


[ Q ] Branch motivates you like no other training partner?

    Yes, exactly.


[ Q ] Given he can fire you up to push the poundages would it be feasible to train with Branch in the lead up to your upcoming powerlifting competition?

    Not necessarily. But definitely I would never turn it down. Like I said, it could never be enough. It is always a pleasure and he always motivates me. So it is always a possibility, but whether it happens or not you never know. All it is right now is conflicting schedules, which makes it a hit or a miss.


[ Q ] You have already mentioned that you will be much improved at the Europa Pro this weekend compared to last weekend's Tampa outing and that the competition is there for you to take. Do you see anyone as being hard to beat?

    I honestly have no idea who is going to show. I know Joel Stubbs and Lionel Brown are going because they mentioned it to me, but other than that I have no idea who is in the show.


[ Q ] Is this a strategy you often employ so as to not place the focus on other competitors, but primarily on yourself?

    Yes, right.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
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[ Q ] You will be contesting the Mr. Olympia in 2010?

    Yes.


[ Q ] And in the lead in to this contest you will compete in a pro event in November, as you have mentioned, with a view to winning this and positioning yourself strongly for the 2010 pro season.

    Oh yes. If I have picked a show I'm going there to win it 100 percent.


[ Q ] What will your competition schedule be for 2010?

    I haven't sat down yet and mapped it out, not at all. I'm still trying to finish out this year. I struggled a little bit with the Tampa and now I'm going to concentrate on the Europa and then the Olympia. After that I'll sit down and see what I will do. I hear there will be a few more shows added in for next year so I'll have to wait for that list to come out.


[ Q ] Thank you for this interview Johnnie and good luck for the weekend.

    Thank you.


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Johnnie Jackson At The 2009 Arnold Classic.
See More Pics Of Johhnie Jackson Here.