The Strongest Bodybuilder: Jonnie O Jackson’s Enduring Olympia Legacy

With 12 Olympia appearances and counting, IFBB pro-Jonnie O Jackson has carved out a remarkable bodybuilding career. Dubbed “The World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” for his freakish power, Jonnie O Jackson became a top pro during the Ronnie Coleman era.

Now age 46, Johnny O Jackson shows no signs of slowing down. As he prepares for the 2022 Mr. Olympia, Jonnie O Jackson reflected on his multi-decade journey in the sport. 

From being overshadowed by Ronnie Coleman to new training insights this Olympia prep, he provided unique perspectives.

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Earning the “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder” Title

Johnny Jackson’s supreme strength first gained attention during a Muscular Development magazine shoot. Photographer Per Bernal was amazed that Jackson could hoist massive weight without using straps or a belt. 

This raw power made Jackson the “World’s Strongest Bodybuilder.” The title was official when Jackson won the 2009 World’s Strongest Bodybuilder competition at the Mr. Olympia

There he benched 525 pounds and deadlifted 832 pounds to claim the crown. Jackson took pride in excelling as a gifted bodybuilder and a freakish strongman. 

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He enjoyed showcasing his ripped 250-pound physique, lifting weights few others could handle. This functional strength also carried over to Jackson’s impressive muscle quality.

Competing Alongside Ronnie Coleman

Johnny O Jackson admitted it was bittersweet when asked about going head-to-head with 8-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman

On the one hand, he was grateful to share the stage with an all-time great like Ronnie Coleman. However, Jackson also aspired to become Mr. Olympia and worked just as hard as “The King.”

Unfortunately, Johnny O Jackson felt overlooked standing next to the larger-than-life Coleman. All the attention went to Ronnie Coleman’s quest for title after title. 

Johnny O Jackson was proud of his Olympia placings but knew the spotlight shone brightly on Ronnie Coleman.

Johnny O Jackson suggested this dynamic is expected when one athlete dominates a sport. No matter how great, the undercard competitors become obscured by the long-reigning champion. 

Johnny O Jackson accepted this reality but still trained with passion hoping to one day knock off Ronnie Coleman.

Thoughts on the Post-Arnold Schwarzenegger Eras

When analyzing how bodybuilding changed from the Arnold Schwarzenegger era into the 1990s and 2000s, Jackson didn’t see dramatic differences between each decade. 

In his view, the principal change came after Arnold Schwarzenegger – competitors got progressively more extensive and ripped as years passed.

Whereas Sergio Oliva weighed 240 pounds to win the Olympia after Arnold retired, the winners were 270-plus pounds of dense muscle by Jackson’s era. Ronnie Coleman then took mass to the next level hitting nearly 300 pounds shredded on stage.

So for Johnny O Jackson, the contrast was not as much between specific eras but a steady evolution (some say deterioration) of bodybuilding into a more prominent, freakier sport overall. The “mass at all costs” mentality accelerated from the late 1980s onward.

Jackson’s Favorite Physiques & Competition Wins

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When ranking his favorite physiques, Johnny O Jackson named Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone as the standouts of his generation. 

He felt Flex Wheeler had the prettier structure, but Kevin Levrone posed better to highlight his strengths. Fans endlessly debated who should have been Mr. Olympia between Wheeler and Levrone.

In terms of his career, Jackson said his two most meaningful contest victories were winning Nationals as a heavyweight in 1999 and the Atlantic City Pro in 2007. Having his supportive family attend both shows made the wins extra special.

Training and Nutrition Strategies

This Olympia prep has Johnny Jackson feeling better than ever. He credited nutritionist Chris Aceto for helping him nail his conditioning. Jackson said belief in his prep coach was crucial for mental focus. 

Aceto meticulously monitored every training, nutrition, and recovery detail so Jackson could stay positive and consistent. In the offseason, Jackson changed his training approach after feeling burnt out post-Olympia. 

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He took a full three months off weights. When launching this Olympia prep, Jackson trained legs 3x per week – heavy, light, and focused on sweeps. This emphasis addressed a weak point and brought up Jackson’s lower body.

Diet-wise, Jackson, and Aceto optimized his macros and calories daily based on progress. The detailed tracking ensured Jackson was in an ideal anabolic state to grow into the show. At 46, Jackson proved he can still improve with wisdom and precision.

Olympia Memories and Mutant Sponsorship

Reminiscing about his 12 Olympias, Jackson said his unrelenting drive and work ethic made it possible. He compared preparing for the Olympia to NFL teams vying for the Super Bowl – the ultimate achievement every season. 

Jackson’s mindset was that anything short of competing with the world’s best on the Olympia stage was unacceptable.

Regarding business moves, Jackson said signing with Mutant Supplement company reinvigorated his career. 

The brand’s principles and products aligned perfectly with Jackson’s philosophy. He built a close partnership with Mutant and hoped to remain part of their team long-term.

The Next 5 Years & Giving Back

Gazing into the future, the 46-year-old Jackson estimated he has 1-2 years left competing. He may do select shows after retiring from the Olympia stage. 

Jackson also wants to promote contests, judge, guest pose, and handle athlete sponsorships and endorsements. Additionally, Jackson plans to grow his personal training business and work with more bodybuilders

He recently started coaching IFBB pros and enjoys mentoring the next generation. Above all, Johnny Jackson aims to inspire fans.

He remembers his mother believing he could become a professional athlete one day if he set his mind to it. Jackson wants to motivate people to pursue their fitness goals and other life dreams.

After decades of support from his fans, Jackson feels blessed and humbled. He appreciates everyone congratulating him on contest wins, following his journey, or sharing their stories. 

Jackson promises to uphold his end of the bargain by bringing his best to fans and the sport of bodybuilding for years to come.

The Takeaways

Several salient lessons emerge from Johnny Jackson’s candid insights:

Accept both the highs and lows of competing in a given era. Jackson made peace with being in Ronnie Coleman’s shadow and forged his success.

Build a broad skill set. Jackson didn’t limit himself to bodybuilding. He trained for raw strength, powerlifting, strongman feats, and more.

Allow yourself off-seasons and breaks when needed. After feeling burnt out, Jackson refreshed his mind and body with a 3-month sabbatical.

Surround yourself with experts you trust. Jackson credits his coach Chris Aceto with guiding him to phenomenal shape this Olympia prep.

Never lose sight of your “why.” Jackson draws motivation from his 12-year-old self, proclaiming he would turn pro one day.

Stay hungry and committed. Jackson treats qualifying for each Mr. Olympia like making the Super Bowl – the pinnacle achievement.

Give back to the sport and fans. Jackson dedicates himself to mentoring younger bodybuilders and impacting lives. At nearly 50 years old, Johnny Jackson raises the bar with his training, nutrition, recovery, and mindset. 

He’s willing to try new techniques, leave his comfort zone, and work with the best coaches in the business. Combined with his genetic gifts, Jackson is a model of longevity and perseverance.

No matter where he places at the 2022 Olympia, Johnny Jackson’s enduring legacy is set in stone. As both an inspirational bodybuilder and a genuinely strong human being, his future impact on the sport he loves remains limitless.

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