Hazel Adames: Hi John, Lee, thanks for taking time to be interviewed and talking to me before you return to the US for the Olympia.
HA: Start from the basics, where are you from and how old are you?
John Hodgson: Hi Hazel, I'm from Manchester and I will be 41 on the 20th September.
Lee Powell: Hi Hazel, I'm from Gloucester, born and bred and I'm coming up to my 35th birthday on the 25th September.
HA: So your birthdays are close together near the Olympia, a lot of celebrating after the competition then!
LP: Yeah, but John is the older one!!
HA: How old were you when you started training and why?
JH: I was 14 when I started messing about with the weights and I did a lot of sports at school. I started training more seriously when I was living in Spain in 1991. I was working selling Timeshares at the time and I felt like I didn't have any direction and I like to challenge myself! I joined a gym and was encouraged to compete, so I trained with that in mind with my first competition in 1993.
LP: I started when I was 18, training in my bedroom. My mates at the time were into the rave scene, out drinking every weekend and that didn't interest me in the slightest. So I bought a bench and some weights and started training at home and later I started at a local gym. I made rapid progress, putting on muscle and then I started really getting into the scene, buying the bodybuilding magazines etc. I entered my first show eighteen months later!
HA: Were you into sports when you were growing up?
JH: I played a lot of sport at school; I represented Manchester schools at badminton and football. I was tennis champion too of my school. I hated cross country running though, which we had to do!!
LP: I use to play snooker, quite well actually, played against John Virgo!
HA: And where do you train currently?
JH: I run Evolution gym with business partner Paul Booth in Rochdale; http://www.evolutionphysicalexcellence.com
LP: I run my own gym, Severnside Gym in Gloucester with my partner business partner
Lee Powell at the 202 Olympia Showdown
John Hodgson at the 202 Olympia Showdown
HA: What is your off-season and comp weight / height?
JH: I'm 5'4 and off season was only 203lbs when started my diet for the new 202lb class. I eat very clean in the off season (odd treat but not too much) but realise I now need to increase my calories from what I have been at. My contest weight is around 192-196lbs.
LP: I'm 5'6 and off-season, 230lbs, competition weight this year 210lbs. Being trying to get back to how I was when I won my pro-card, concentrate on condition and symmetry and good lines instead of more mass, which is easier with the new 202 class.
HA: What's your marital status?
JH: I'm separated so this makes me single and I have a 7 year old daughter, Chloe.
LP: I'm married to Icilda and we have a 10 year old son, Aaron. We have a bull terrier named Cassie and a bulldog named Marlene (as in Only Fools and Horses), love shouting out 'Marlene' in the park!!
HA: Do you have a sponsor currently?
JH: No, I am available and looking for financial sponsorship. I have worked very hard for many years being a bodybuilder and feel I deserve to be sponsored in a financial capacity. I have mine and more importantly the future of my daughter to consider.
LP: I have been with Ultimate Sports Nutrition since 2003 and I am grateful for all their support. Neil Hill has advised me on nutrition and helped me get ready in 2006 and this year's shows.
HA: Can you list your placing in your professional competition history please?
JH: See my website for more details www.john-hodgson.com
1999 British Grand Prix 11th
2001 Toronto Pro Invitation 13th
2001 Night of the Champions, missed out on top 16
2001 British Grand Prix 16th
2003 Ironman 14th
2003 San Francisco 13th
2003 British Grand Prix 12th
2003 Dutch Grand Prix 14th
2006 New York 15th
2006 Spanish Pro Show 16th
2007 Australia 7th
2007 New York 12th
2009 Tampa Pro 202 2nd
2009 Europa Pro 202 5th
2009 Olympia 202 10th
2003 Rome Grand Prix 8th
2003 British Grand Prix 14th
2003 Dutch Grand Prix 12th
2004 Iron Man 11th
2004 Night of Champions (unplaced)
2005 Charlotte Pro 12th
2006 Austria Grand Prix 11th
2006 Dutch Grand Prix 6th
2007 Santa Susana Spanish Grand Prix 9th
2009 Tampa Pro 202 3rd
2009 Europa Pro 202 4th
2009 Olympia 202 show down 9th Place
HA: What is your training routine like, any recent changes in the run up to the Olympia?
JH: I have made my own training DVD, 'Believe To Achieve' and I go through my workouts there. I haven't changed anything really, so room to make changes maybe now.
For next year I know I must improve on my back width plus a few areas's and have spoken with Dorian Yates who's a good friend. Dorian has offered a helping hand for me to see him regards my back. If anyone can help me here it's Dorian. I sort out my own diet and training and I don't have a coach. I do ask the opinion of people I trust like my business partner Paul Booth as to what he feels I may need to lose regards body fat. In fact 4 weeks out from the Tampa show Paul said I was ready but suggested I get a second opinion from my good friend Neil Hill. Paul knew I had the utmost respect for Neil and his opinion. Neil said basically the same, so for me getting into real hard, dry condition by myself is never a problem, it's what I am known for.
LP: I'm trying to improve the condition, train just short of failure, keeping cardio just to the morning. Working on my posing presentation too.
HA: Can you go through a typical day's diet please?
JH: I aim to eat 1.5g protein per pound of bodyweight and between 2-3g of carbs per pound of bodyweight. I get this from various good quality foods.
1# 100g Oats, 1 banana, 1 pro biotic yogurt, USN Pure Protein
2# 2 slices granary toast, 2 salmon fillets, 3 eggwhites, salad
3# 60g Rice, 250g Turkey, Broccoli
4# as meal 3
5# 60g USN Whey, 75g dextrose, USN BCAA's, USN Glutamine
6# 300g Potato, 250g Steak, 1 whole egg, vegetables
7# USN Pure Protein
8# USN glutamine in night
HA: What are your thoughts on the introduction of the 202 Class?
JH: The sport needed a change. As a shorter professional bodybuilder, I was bit of an outsider against the likes of Coleman's, Cutler. I began to question myself and whether to continue competing. The 202 class means I can concentrate on my complete physique, not just mass. I can work on keeping shape and condition. Before, mass was dictating across the board.
LP: It is great for short arses like us, my frame looks its best at lower weight even though I can compete at 215lbs it doesn't really suit me and I feel my best 'look' is around 200lbs. So this new class has made me feel that I can compete fairly again and realistically do well.
HA: How do you think the sport can be made more positive to the public in the UK?
JH: I wish I knew the answer. Unfortunately it's not exciting enough like football, boxing etc to make it mainstream. So for this I don't think we will ever make it mainstream as bodybuilding is an extreme endeavour so we must love it for what it is!!
LP: Events like the Body Power Expo are great at putting the sport and athletes out there to the public. Bodybuilding is still seen as an underground sport by many in this country and I think the public need to realise we are just like them i.e. have families, jobs etc not just freaks who train and eat like maniacs. More positive media coverage would be a great boost to bodybuilding and let the public understand how hard it truly is to become good at this sport.
HA: How do the Americans find you? How do you find competing abroad?
JH: I don't know and it's not a question one can really answer. I've never had a problem getting on with people and take the approach you find me as you see me.
I try not to think too much about competing abroad and just go with the flow, just stay as relaxed as I possibly can.
LP: I hate travelling but like training and being in the states. Trust me they have everything at their finger tips and training in their gyms is a great experience. I like the food too as you can eat out even while dieting. I think the Americans think we are more hardcore as we have to train in colder weather and more dungeon type gyms. But I think they like that fact and respect us all the more for it as it shows our bulldog work ethic.
HA: Fresh back from the Olympia, can you outline your experience for us, how did it feel stepping out on the Olympia stage?
JH: It was good and I consider it a great personal achievement, but now the dust has settled I can honestly say that it was no different than any other show I have done. Back to reality lol!!
LP: In a word 'surreal'. I think I have every Olympia and DVD available and watched them hundreds of times. Actually being in the show that you have been watching for so many years is like being in a fairy tale. I never could imagine being on that stage so when I did I had butterflies and was quite nervous for the first time in years. I loved every minute and was smiling so much as I could now tick the box on the goal of competing in the Olympia.
HA: Did you think Jay Cutler would win, do you mix a lot with the other guys backstage?
JH: No I didn't but fair play to him he made me and many others eat their words... So congratulations to Jay you proved many of us wrong!! I like to have the odd chat with those who are in a talkative mood and be friendly.
LP: Yes, he did his homework and deserved that win. This shows you really only learn from your defeats not your wins. He lost his title and came back hungrier than ever before which shows that you can't get complacent in this game. Yes I think John and I mixed with all the guys backstage, it was quite laid back and not as tense as I imagined.
HA: What are your plans for next year?
JH: To enjoy my training, hopefully to stay fit and healthy and make the improvements I know I require. I intend to return to compete in the 202lb class.
LP: Well not sure. I am taking some time to recover and enjoy normality for a while before I make any decisions.
HA: Who are your favourite bodybuilders, current or past?
JH: I like from the big guys Lee Haney and Dorian Yates, from the shorter guys like me then Lee Labrada, Shaw Ray, Rich Gaspari. I also admired the physiques of Sylvester Stallone, Frank Bruno as I grew up.
LP: I aspire to be like Mohammed Makkawy, Lee Labrada, Samir Bannout, Rich Gaspari, Shawn Ray.
HA: Other than training and living the lifestyle of a professional bodybuilder, what is your day job and what else do you like to do in your spare time?
JH: I'm a businessman and a bodybuilder, running the gym. I love to spend time with my daughter; she has been the making of me!
LP: I have an 'Only Fools and Horses' three wheeler which I like to drive about in. Everyone knows it where I am! I like to spend time with my family and walking the dogs.
HA: Do you have any useful tips to share with MuscleTalk members which you can draw from your experience?
JH: Be persistent and determined; never give up on a dream and with that you will go far. Keep things simple, try not to complicate issues and most importantly enjoy what you do!!
LP: Train hard. Train very hard. Train very very hard. When you think your training hard, train harder. You must be willing to give your all physically, mentally, emotionally and financially if you want to go as far as you can with your physique. Stay away from negative people and never give up your dreams.
HA: Thanks John and Lee for your time and behalf of all the MuscleTalk Members, I'd like to wish you all the best for your future competitions!
Photos with kind permission www.fivosphotography.com