It’s Never Too Late to Start

The Strong Survive!

By IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson

Sponsored by ALLMAX

Q: I just turned 25, and I’ve been training for eight months now. I think I’m doing well, because I’ve gained about 35 pounds already. Granted, it’s not all muscle. I want to go pro one day but I’m really feeling behind the game, so to speak. I’m 5-foot-8¾ inches tall, 210 pounds, and about 19 percent body fat. I’ve been trying to pack on meat as fast as possible because, like I said, I feel very behind because I came into this sport late. I haven’t started any gear and am not really sure when I should. I guess what I’m asking is whether you think I’m too far behind or whether I would actually have a shot. Thank you so much for your time. By the way, I think you look great, and your pictures and videos really motivate me.

A: Thanks for that. It’s never too late in this sport, within reason of course. I’m 52 and I’m still giving guys your age hell! Personally, I did start training very young, but I didn’t start competing until I was 27 and worked my way up the ranks over the next couple of years. Whether or not 25 is too late is up to you and how you perceive things. The great thing about bodybuilding is that it’s an individual sport and no one can tell you that you’re too old or young, too short or tall, etc. Well, they can tell you, but it’s up to you whether or not you believe those things. The reality is that you’re probably at the perfect age to start. You’re done growing, theoretically you’re all done with school, and you should be at a good place in terms of beginning to mature into a man and more able to be disciplined and serious about training, eating, and resting. The only limits on you are the ones you set in your mind. So go for it and good luck!

Best Grip for Deadlifts

Q: Johnnie, I know you are THE MAN when it comes to deadlifts, so please help me with this. I know that for powerlifting, you can’t use straps. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s why you use the mixed grip, one hand over and one hand under. I do deads as part of my back workout for bodybuilding. I keep my reps in the 6-10 range for the most part and squeeze my back at the top of each rep. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not trying for a maximum rep. I use straps with both hands overhand because when I have tried the over-under grip, it felt like one side of my back was being worked differently, if that makes sense. Am I doing OK, or do you think I would be better off ditching my straps and using the over-under grip?

A: You pretty much answered your own question and I think you just want some validation from me. So here it is. For your purposes as a bodybuilder, the overhand grip and straps are perfect. You should still be trying to increase the weights you use gradually over time, because that will translate to a thicker, denser back. For anyone reading this who might be curious, I am right-handed and always have my weaker hand, the left one, over. That makes sense because your grip is stronger overhand, so my stronger right hand gets the underhand grip position.

Clean Eating: Just Do It

Q: Just curious, how do you manage to eat all that clean food all the time without getting sick of it? I think most guys could chow down on junk and fast food all day every day because it just tastes so damn good. But I get tired of eating stuff like egg whites and chicken breasts really fast. Do you actually enjoy that food, or have you just trained yourself to eat it over the years?

A: I do what I have to do, not necessarily what I want to do, in order to be the best bodybuilder I can be. This is my job, and eating is a major part of it. I don’t really enjoy all that food, to be honest. To break it up, I allow myself a couple of nice cheat meals a week in the off-season. Once it’s time to diet for a show, I won’t have anything that isn’t clean unless I’m dropping weight too fast and ahead of schedule. That’s a rare occurrence, I assure you!


Bench Press Tips for Bigger Pecs

Q: I’ve heard many different opinions about how to do bench presses. Since I’m sure a lot of people are more interested in getting stronger on it, let me clarify that I am purely interested in building my chest. So, please give me your thoughts on the following. Should I hold the bar tightly with my thumbs and fingers around it, or should I use a thumbless or so-called “suicide” grip? Also, should I have my feet up on the bench, or on the ground? Any other tips would be appreciated, as I would be ecstatic to have even half your pec thickness!

A: Thanks for the props! The suicide grip is foolish, and dangerous. If the bar starts rolling back with a few hundred pounds on it, there is no way you would stop that without a secure grip on the bar. Next thing you know, splat! Heavy bar on your throat or your face, not good. You never want your feet up in the air or up on the bench, either. To bench press properly, you need to be grounded and stabilized. Set your feet back near your hips, then dig your heels into the ground. You should also have a slight arch in your back, which sets your rib cage up properly, so your chest is in the best mechanical position to bench.

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1 scoop Impact Pump (helps increase blood flow and transportation of nutrients while significantly helping the focus for mind-muscle connection)

1 scoop Aminocore (prevents muscle tissue breakdown during training)

10g Glutamine (helps with DOMS, insulin sensitivity, gut health, and immune system)

5g Creatine (for that fast-acting, explosive power needed to push weights and helps with muscle hydration)

1 scoop Carbion (50g carbs) (really helps with energy and endurance during workout by giving your body carbs that don’t have to be digested, therefore they are readily available for fuel)



2 scoops IsoFlex (fast-digesting protein with essential amino acids to start the building or repairing process immediately)

10g Glutamine again (helps with DOMS, insulin sensitivity, gut health and immune system)

Give these a try and watch your energy, intensity and pumps dramatically increase in the gym.

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