Mr. Natural Olympia & Universe: Natural Bodybuilder John Hansen

John Hansen happens to be one of my all time, favorite bodybuilders. I’ve always admired his physique and his superior nutrition. I even own a copy of his book, Natural Bodybuilding. Let’s just say I’m a big fan!

Tell us a little about your background and how you got your start in natural bodybuilding?

I started bodybuilding at the age of 13-14 years old. I read the superhero comic books as a kid and liked the muscular build on all the superheros. When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I saw a picture of Bruce Lee and I thought he looked like a real life superhero.

I read every book I could about Bruce and discovered that he also did weight training in addition to all of his other exercises. I asked my parents for a weight training set for Christmas that year. When I got the weights, I didn’t know what exercises to do, so I went out and bought some bodybuilding magazines. That’s what got me into bodybuilding.

What led to your decision to go the natural route and how did you build such a massive physique without assistance?

I liked the whole concept of building your body through hard work and discipline. Using exercise and nutrition as well as the power of your mind discipline, consistency and visualization to create your own superhero physique was what appealed to me about bodybuilding. I found out about steroids when I was reading the magazines at 14 years old. However, from what I understood, However, from what I understood, the effects of steroids were temporary.

I never had any interest in using the drugs to build a ‘drug body’, where all my muscles would go away after I got off the drugs.

B&W Chains

I liked the challenge of building up my body naturally through hard work and discipline. I built my size by focusing on the basic exercises using mostly barbells and dumbbells. I used the heaviest weights possible for 6-8 reps. I knew that the stronger I could get, the more muscle mass I would build. I also ate a tremendous amount of food because, when I was a teenager, I had a very fast metabolism and it was hard to gain weight.

I had to train myself to eat a lot of good bodybuilding food in order to change my metabolism around and gain size.

What does your training look like today as opposed to when you first started building your physique?

Believe it or not, I actually try to train like I did when I was younger. I still use mostly the basic exercises and I train as heavy as possible. After nearly 40 years of heavy training now, my lower back has compressed discs, so I can no longer do squats, deadlifts and other exercises that put too much strain on the lower back. I’m not as strong as I used to be, but I still try to train heavy and hard in order to build the most muscle mass. I also only train each muscle group just once a week now compared to twice a week when I was younger. Recuperation is very important as you get older.

Weight Room

I see you work with a wide range of clients. Do you have a favorite type of client that you enjoy working with?

I most like working with someone who has never trained with weights before. I like seeing the joy of discovery they have when they feel their muscles working with the exercises they are doing and they begin to see the changes in their bodies from weight training and nutrition. I also really enjoy teaching posing to bodybuilders who getting ready to compete. Posing is a lost art in today’s competitions, so I like being able to help bodybuilders learn how to pose effectively again.

Our sport needs good posers onstage again!

Your online nutrition and training programs really cater to the individual, tell us about that. And do you feel an individual can benefit from working with you one on one rather than online. For those who don’t live locally, do you still offer the Olympia Fitness Getaway?

Yes, I think the online consultations are great tools for an individual to make good progress quickly. I have a lot of knowledge and experience, so I can design a nutrition program and workout program for someone just by learning about their background, their current diet and training program, and what their goals are. When I design a nutrition program, I break down the macronutrients, so the person can see how many calories plus grams of protein, carbs and fats they are eating. This allows me to make changes as we go along instead of just giving them a cookie cutter diet. I don’t really offer the Fitness Getaway anymore. It was popular when I started it about 2 years ago, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a demand for it anymore.

I noticed on your site that you have been very involved in giving back to the community through seminars; can you tell us about that?

I love giving seminars for any type of audience. I can talk to experienced bodybuilders and weight trainers as well as regular people who don’t exercise at all. I started giving seminars way back in 1987, the year after I won my first overall title, the 1986 Illinois State Championships. I want to get back to doing more seminars this year and maybe even traveling to different areas of the country to give seminars.

Sunglasses Summertime

Who do you admire most in the industry today?

Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been my primary inspiration. I started off admiring his physique, but I quickly became even more impressed with his mental attitude and his ability to promote himself. The year I started bodybuilding, 1977 was the year Pumping Iron was released and also Arnold’s first book came out, Education of a Bodybuilder. Arnold was on countless talk shows promoting his book or the movie and also promoting himself. I really admired how articulate he was as well as charming, funny and entertaining.

B&W Wall

I’ve always tried to promote myself throughout my bodybuilding career, following Arnold’s example. And now, as a bodybuilding promoter, I use the competitions promoted by Arnold and Jim Lorimer, especially when they promoted the Mr. Olympia contest back in the late 1970’s, as my inspiration for promoting creative and entertaining competitions.

I see that you’ve had the opportunity to interview your share of bodybuilders. Who would you say your favorite interview has been to date and why?

I started a new show called The Bodybuilding Legends Show, which was featured on my website, in December. I love this show because I get to talk at length with some of the legends of the sport of bodybuilding, many of whom I grew up reading about when I was a teenager and just started training. What a treat it is to get the opportunity to talk to these legends of the sport that I grew up idolizing. My favorite interview so far was probably Boyer Coe because he was so honest and open. He was great!

One thing I personally admire about you is your sincerity for superior nutrition. Do you feel your superior nutrition played a crucial role in contributing to your physique and still does today?

Nutrition is always a huge component to building a great physique. You have to eat the right macronutrients in order to grow. When you are trying to get leaner, nutrition is about 90% of your progress. It’s even more important as you get older because it’s harder to get leaner and ripped as we age due to the changes in our natural hormone levels.

Denim Studio Shot

Would you share your current diet with us?

Johns’ Typical Day

Meal 1 – 1 egg, 7 egg whites, 1 cup oatmeal, ½ cup blueberries

Meal 2 – Protein Drink made with water, protein powder, 1 TBS. Udo’s Oil
and spinach plus 3 rice cakes or an Ezekiel Muffin

Meal 3 – post workout drink with 1 scoop whey protein and 1 scoop 2:1:1
Recovery, (carb powder).

Meal 4 – 4 oz. of either turkey or chicken with some type of complex carb like
2 slices of Ezekiel bread or ½ cup oatmeal

Meal 5 – 4 oz. sirloin steak or 6 oz. salmon with ½ cup quinoa with salsa

Meal 6 – 6-7 egg whites with Ezekiel Muffin or ⅓ cup of oat bran and ½ cup

Studio shot

On your Facebook page you promote Injectable Aminos from Titan Medical tell us a little about them, how you became involved with them and the benefits of taking them.

At 52 years old, I felt like I needed a boost of some kind because it was getting much harder to get bigger and stronger, especially when I was watching my diet. My natural testosterone levels were down and I wasn’t nearly as strong or as big as I used to be. The injectable amino acids allowed me to get fuller and bigger because they put my body in an anabolic environment. There is a big difference in getting the aminos directly into your blood stream instead of taking them in orally.

What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of the realm of bodybuilding?

I like writing a lot and I also enjoy seeing movies, going to the beach, eating at good restaurants and spending quality time with friends.

Do you have a favorite bodybuilding event that you attend each year and why?

I love the Arnold Classic competition. I think it is the most enjoyable and entertaining event of the year. The expo has gotten so huge and crazy that I usually skip that unless I’m working a booth, but the contest itself is awesome.

To date what has been your most memorable experience, in or outside of the bodybuilding arena.

I think the experience of training so hard to win the competitions when I was in my 20’s and 30’s are the best memories I have from bodybuilding. I also enjoy the memories I have of training so hard in the gym when I was younger; going after those goals I had to win the contests I wanted to win. It was very hard work at the time and often very frustrating, but I look back at it now with fond memories and a feeling of accomplishment. Winning some of the competitions that I won are memories that will stay with me forever.

What does the future hold for you?

My passion is still bodybuilding. I want to find a way to promote the sport to the general public through my writing and my speaking. I’m still looking for ways to make this happen, but I will always follow my passion and my heart and hopefully be successful in doing so. My strength is definitely my writing, so I will pursue this much more in the future. I want to get into fiction writing, which I’ve never done, and write stories about bodybuilding and other subjects. I think if I ever make it BIG, it will be through my writing.


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