K IS FOR KNOWLEDGE
The fact that the Blade, at 41 and with a Sandow on his mantel, turned his workouts over to Charles Glass speaks volumes on his willingness to learn. Even in his 18th pro year, he is continually accumulating knowledge on workout techniques, nutrition, and how his body responds to exercises and foods.
L IS FOR LEGS
In his amateur days, Jackson’s legs lagged. He brought his quads up enough to rack up Arnold wins and a Sandow, but they were withering when he started working with Glass. With middle-age knees and hips, it becomes increasingly difficult to hoist enough heavy metal to maintain leg mass. But, through hard work and precise training, the Blade has made additions. Forget free-weight squats. He focuses on one-leg presses, superslow hack squats, and supersetting Smith machine front squats and leg extensions.
M IS FOR MOST MUSCULAR
At a generous 235, Jackson is the lightest winner of the Mr. Olympia over the past 32 years, but unlike most giant killers he didn’t slay Goliaths by playing “small ball” and wowing with aesthetics. His best pose is the one most associated with mass monsters: the crab-style most muscular. Because of the incredible density in his arms, delts, traps, and pecs, he’s able to hold his own in comparisons with giants.
N IS FOR NORTH AMERICA
After a light-heavy sixth at the 1996 Nationals, Jackson put his all into one final attempt to turn pro—the 1998 North Americans. With an outrageous V-taper and much-improved legs, the 28-year-old won the light-heavy and overall titles. “I had my family sleeping on the floor, and my girlfriend at the time was working two and three jobs so I could stay home, watch the kids, and train,” he remembers. “Had I not turned pro, I was done.”
O IS FOR OLYMPIA
It takes most winners only two or three tries. Jay Cutler won on his sixth try, but he’d been second four times. This was Jackson’s ninth Olympia, and he’d never previously been runner-up. Even he didn’t envision himself as the world’s best bodybuilder. But at 38, he bested Cutler to win the 2008 Mr. Olympia. “Mr. Olympia. Come on, that’s crazy,” he said afterward.
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