Christian Duque: You've won the Natural Olympia (the first one) and the Natural Universe. What inspired you
to start weight-training, what was your first contest, and what titles are nearest and dearest to your heart?
John Hansen: I was inspired by the superhero comic books I used to read when I was a kid. I really admired
their muscular physiques and I wasn't aware of any real people who looked like that. When I was young, weight
lifting and having muscles was not in vogue like it is today. When I finally discovered the sport of bodybuilding, I
knew that this is what I wanted to do.
As for what titles meant the most to me, I think the best win I ever experienced was the very first contest I won. It
was the NPC Illinois State Championships and I won the overall title when I was 23 years old. I trained like
my life depended on it for that show and I trained for a full year. When it finally came to fruition, it was one of
the best moments of my life!
Of course, it was also great to win the Natural Mr. Universe title and especially the very first Natural Mr.
Olympia title. I have used those wins to promote myself throughout my bodybuilding career and I'm very proud
to have won those prestigious titles.
Christian Duque: Do you work with a contest guru or nutritionist? And if not, would be difficult (hypothetically)
to be taken under someone's wing when you've won every title known to man in Natural Bodybuilding?
John Hansen: I've always done my own thing and have never worked with anyone. I went through a lot of
trial and error and sometimes I would miss my peak for a contest. No matter how experienced you may be or
how many titles you've won, the body changes over the years so you always have to adjust your diet and do
different things when you are getting ready to compete.
I stopped competing in 2004 when I was 41 years old and part of the reason I decided to stop competing was
that my body was changing now that I was in my 40's; I didn't think I could get ripped any more the way I
did when I was in my 20's and 30's. I was in good shape the last year I competed but not as good as I was
when I won the Natural Olympia and the Natural Universe titles.
Christian Duque: Welcome to StrengthAddicts!! This pretty unreal given that I bought your book "Natural
Bodybuilding" many years ago and I never thought I'd ever get to talk to you, much less send you questions for
an interview. Please tell us your full name, age, ht (I'm curious about this one), and your contest weight and
John Hansen: It's my pleasure. My name is John Hansen, I'm 49 years old, 5'8" and contest weight will
probably be 185 onstage this year and maybe 210-215 in the off season.
Christian Duque: You're very active on the RxMuscle.com boards, when and why did that presence start?
John Hansen: I like RX Muscle very much. I think they do the best coverage of the contests as far as the
Contest Wrap-ups and the interviews go. I also like their Iron Asylum training videos. I think Dave Palumbo
was very smart in starting this site and it's an awesome idea that he does a great job with. I was first featured on
the site last summer (2011) when we did a training video for the Iron Asylum and since then, Aaron
Singerman and I have done some Muscles at the Movies segments and I was able to do some interviews for
them including one with Lee Haney and Lenda Murray.
Christian Duque: Have you been involved with fitness-related websites for long? Also, please talk to us about
your website www.NaturalOlympia.com, what can your fans find there?
John Hansen: I like going on the different bodybuilding related websites like Ironage, RX Muscle, MD and
sometimes I'll read Get Big. It's a good way to stay up to date on what's happening and what the bodybuilding
fans are talking about. It's also a good way to keep your name active in the bodybuilding community.
My website, naturalolympia.com, is actually in the process of being updated. I started the site way back in 1999
so it's gone through a lot of changes over the years. On my website, I offer online consultations (training and
nutrition) as well as my new Fitness Getaways, where someone can come to Tampa, Florida and train with me
for a 3 day weekend. I also sell my book and DVD's on there and I will be adding a lot more video content as
well as Ebooks and downloadable Training DVD's this year.
VPX Power Hit Radio
|John Hansen Speaks
Mr. Natural Olympia 2x Mr. Natural Universe
|"John Is, and has been such a
SuperHero for me and for so
many! We all aspire for his
Natural muscular development
and kinds ways.He is Truly the
"one and only
Mr. Natural Olympia!"
|"John Hansen- 2 Words Micro
Machine. Met him twice, both
times cordial. His physique is
very admirable. Hell, half the
athletes on steroids can't
achieve half of his physique."
|"John Hansen is what us Jews
call a "Mensch"; a man of good
solid character. He also
happens to be an excellent
writer, a encyclopedia of
bodybuilding, and a champion
bodybuilder. When I've had the
opportunity to cover
bodybuilding shows with John,
he also proved to be a diligent
hard worker. One thing people
might not know is that John
edits most of my articles, and
makes me look good! For that,
and his friendship, I'll always be
Christian Duque: You're preparing for the Natural Universe, what
thoughts come to mind when you read or hear that name? Are you a man
with a mission or a seasoned veteran going through the motions, having
won this title before.
John Hansen: Oh, I'm definitely not just going through the motions. I have
trained and dieted like a man possessed this year! I was so embarrassed
last year after blowing my peak so badly and looking as bad as I did. Plus,
I was totally out of practice having been off stage for 7 years. I totally
want this title REALLY BAD!! I don't think I've been this motivated
to win a contest in almost 15 years. I'm HUNGRY!!!
You have to understand that I can look bad onstage just like anyone else.
I'm probably expected to look great because I've won titles like the Natural
Olympia and Natural Universe before but that doesn't automatically mean
I'm going to look good in every show I do. I was way, way off last year and
I'm ready to make things right this year. I've done everything humanly
possible to look my absolute best this year onstage. I want to shock
the judges and the competitors with my improvement!
Christian Duque: This question gets asked to Mr. Olympia Dexter Jackson quite often; they ask him if he feels
the judges are extra hard on him because he's been crowned the best before. Do you feel part of that pressure
going into a contest you've won before? Is it safe to say your fans won't be satisfied by you winning this show,
they want you to dominate?!
John Hansen: I'm not sure what the fans or the judges expect, but I don't want to miss my peak or
show up at less than my best because it's embarrassing to me personally. The worst thing would be to
have someone in the audience say "Oh yeah, I remember that guy. He used to look really good. Wow, he
looks like shit now." I won some big titles and I have a name in the Natural Bodybuilding community so I feel I
have a responsibility to myself to show up in great shape. Of course, I'm older now than I was when I won some
of my titles but if I can't look really good, than I shouldn't be competing.
Christian Duque: Name Association - here I put down a name and you write whatever thoughts come to mind.
Jeff Willet: Super ripped and one of the best when he was competing.
Aaron Singerman: Very hard worker and he's making a name for himself in the bodybuilding
industry. It's great to see Aaron having so much success for himself.
Lee Priest: One of the best short bodybuilders in history. Freaky arms!
Prohormones: From what I've heard, some products are extremely effective but can also be very
toxic and dangerous. I never use them because I don't consider them "natural".
Keto Diet: I could never do it. I like eating carbs and my body responds better to a diet that has
complex carbs in them. I can get ripped eating carbs so why would I want to eliminate them?
Dave Palumbo: Really smart guy and I like what he created with RX Muscle. Plus, he's the best at
interviews on the bodybuilding internet circuit.
Skip Lacour: Skip and I used to have a friendly rivalry when we were both competing. Not
onstage because we never competed against each other but more on who could get more publicity
in the magazines. We both pursued that angle of getting recognition pretty hard.
Bulking Up: I think it's the best way for Natural Bodybuilders to get big. However, you can really
only do it when you're relatively young or if you have a really fast metabolism. Too many young
guys are afraid of losing their abs and don't eat enough calories to get really big.
Curt James: I see his posts on RX Muscle a lot. He's always supportive.
Natural Bodybuilding: It's awesome that Natural Bodybuilding is so popular now and it gives
competitors an alternative in contests. When I started bodybuilding, there were no natural
contests so you either competed natural and competed at a disadvantage or you had to
use drugs to be at a level playing field. Now, all drug-free competitors can compete against
other natural athletes to see who is the best.
John Romano: I think John is a real good writer and I miss reading his stuff. It seems like
he's really pissed at the powers that be and may be a little too outspoken for his own good.
John Hansen is a hero to
countless natural athletes.
In 2011, I wanted to diet hard to make the cover of Ironman
Magazine. This was always a big goal of mine and I never achieved that
goal. I wanted to do it in 2011 before I missed my opportunity. I decided to
work with a diet/contest prep coach in Chicago and he had me totally
change my macronutrient profile and it really worked. I got really ripped for
the first time in a long time so I was a believer.
Later that year, I decided to go back into competition so I hired another
guy (the previous guy quit doing coaching) to help me peak for the
contest. Unfortunately, my new contest prep guy was not there with me on
the day of the contest. We were communicating by text message but the
diet he had planned for me on the day of the show was too low in carbs
and I ended up really flattening out and I looked terrible onstage.
After that show, I resolved to come back the following year and totally
dominate the competition! I started training really hard on January 1st of
this year with the goal of winning the Natural Universe contest again on
September 1st. The contest was going to be held in Chicago, my
hometown, so I was super psyched to win this one!
I hired another diet prep coach who believed in a very high carb-up approach right before a contest. I did a
warm-up show about 5 weeks out from the Universe and I followed his advice to the letter. Unfortunately, he
totally overspilled me and I looked much worse on the day of the show than I did in the days before the contest.
After that experience, I decided to just do my own thing. I dieted a total of 24 weeks for the Natural
Universe this year so I am really ripped. Instead of doing all the crazy things that so many contest prep coaches
recommend (low carbs, high carbs, high sodium, zero sodium, no water, lots of water, etc, etc), I'm going with
the approach of "if it's not broke, don't fix it". I'm going to use my own best knowledge and experience to
dial it in.
Christian Duque: Talk to us about your training, do you follow HVT, HIT, FST7? Or do you have your won
routine contoured specifically to your own needs? How many days a week do you normally allocate to rest. And
what's your stance on cardio?
John Hansen: I train with the basic exercises and prefer barbells and dumbbells over machines. I like training
heavy and intense and I still try to do that as much as I can as I get older. I can no longer do deadlifts
because of the compressed discs in my lower back but I do everything else as long as I am not hurting myself.
I wanted to increase both my strength and muscle mass this year in the off season because I dieted for a full
year last year. My strength was really down when I started training this year. I was using 5-6 week cycles,
alternating power cycles (3-5 reps) with mass cycles (6-8 reps) and this worked really well for me.
As for cardio, I did 2 days a week of HIIT cardio and two days a week of steady state cardio this year. I didn't do
a lot of cardio until I started my diet but my off season wasn't really too long this year, probably less than 3
months because I was doing a really long diet to make sure I was shredded for my contest.
Christian Duque: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Please tell us where your fans can go to keep up
with you, and also please tell us what plans you have for the rest of 2012. Ty!!
John Hansen: My fans can go to my website at www.naturalolympia.com and also check out my blog on
www.ironmanmagazine.com and check out my videos on the Optimum Nutrition and Real Strength websites.
I also write a weekend blog on training & nutrition every Saturday and Sunday at www.abbperformance.com.
My monthly column in Ironman Magazine is Naturally Huge & can be seen every month in Ironman
Magazine. I will be competing in the Natural Mr. Universe contest on September 1st in Chicago.