Bodybuilding as an art form has been traditionally compared to classical arts like paint or sculpture. However, I believe that a great bodybuilders is more like a master chef. They’re able to take seemingly simple ingredients that we all have at our disposal and add just a pinch of this, a dash of that, simmer, sauté, reduce, and create something so intensely unique that it’s sobering. At the 2014 NPC Pittsburgh Championships Heavweight and Overall winner Jason Janov found the recipe for success when he shocked everyone in attendance with his absurd structure, beautiful classic lines, and best in show conditioning on his way to dominating the field. I recently had a chance to catch up with Jason to discuss his career and what may lie in his promising future, and you can find all of the details right here, in this Iron Affinity exclusive interview.
Q.) Just like a number of athletes, you first began weight training in high school. How did you progress in terms of size and strength early on?
Correct, I began weight training at the age of 15 in my basement with an old weight set that was my fathers and at my high school gym. I was addicted and would train every day, sometimes twice per day (at school then at home in the evenings), not understanding the importance of recovery and proper nutrition. Despite how wrong I was doing things when I first started, my progress was very good. I noticed how good my progress was after seeing the changes I was making in size and strength compared to my buddies that I trained with during that time. They couldn’t understand why my results were much better then theirs. From there on I knew I had the genetics for weight training. Each year I continued to make great progress up until my college years when I decided to compete for the first time at the age of 19.
Q.) You were able to develop some impressive strength very young, particularly in the bench press. Did you ever compete, or consider competing in power lifting?
For me it was more of an ego thing during high school and early college years to have that “strong bench press”. I never considered power lifting during those years. In fact,when I first started training, I neglected training legs up until my first year of college. The funny thing is once I started training legs they became my strongest and best body part. At one point they were extremely behind compared to my upper body due to never training them. I never even performed squats or deadlifts. I just wanted a big bench press, young and dumb going through that phase…haha.
When I first started out training I started buying the bodybuilding magazines and wanted to look like the guys in on the covers but never considered competing. I just wanted the look. I didn’t think I was capable of competing and didn’t see myself doing it. However, during my first year of college things changed. There were actually a lot of guys at my college who were into competing in bodybuilding and were very successful with it. When they met me and watched me train in the gym they saw a lot of potential in me. They encouraged me to consider competing and built me up mentally telling me I have all the genetics for the sport.
Q.) How soon after you began competing did earning your pro card become your focus?
In 2006 at the age of 19 I competed in my first natural show. I didn’t know much about what I was doing except through some guidance from the other bodybuilders at my school, but I was very successful. After my first show I wanted to continue competing and take natural bodybuilding as far as I could. For me the next step was to become a natural pro. After 2006 I didn’t compete again until 2008. I wanted to take my time making the needed changes in developing a physique that was worthy of being natural pro status. Also during that time I had a demanding schedule with school. Upon my return in 2008 I was able to accomplish my goal in my first show back. I attained my natural pro card.
Q.) You’ve had a very successful career competing in the IFPA thus far, and have found yourself onstage next to some of the greatest natural athletes on the planet. In your opinion, what aspects of your physique do you need to improve to elevate yourself to the next level?
Thank you. It was an honor to share the stage/compete with the top naturals in the world. I’m very thankful for that experience and success during that time. Moving on, the changes I need to make with my physique in order to be successful with my goals are to add quality size, and to fill my frame out more while keep an atheistic look along with the conditioning I bring to the stage.
Q.) You’re known for always bringing an incredible level of conditioning to the stage. What advice could you give to fellow competitors who are having trouble dialing it in?
Good question. I don’t have a specific answer as far as diet and training goes because everyone’s body is different. So what works for me could be a disaster for someone else. However some good advice I can give to others to come in conditioned is: after you have a plan in place with diet and training you need to be willing to suffer and become comfortable with being out of your comfort zone. Unless you’re a naturally shredded person your body is going to fight you physically/mentally through the process of getting into those low body fat levels. At that point a lot of guys can’t handle it and stop pushing. Feeling as if there there over training, losing too much muscle, getting weak in the gym, and the pain/suffering isn’t worth it at that point which leads them to think they’re conditioned enough for the stage. As crazy as it sounds all those things are signs you’re taking your body to that next level. Unless, like I mentioned before, genetically gifted guys get there without this experience. For most who compete and never come in lean enough it’s more than likely they need to be ready to get through this process next time around. My favorite quote that I always tell myself when I’m in preparation for a show is “The pain of suffering will always go away. The pain of regret will always stick with you.”
Q.) You’ve made your competitive career in the IFPA aside from a venture into the NPC Natural Ohio. What made you decide to jump into the open at the NPC Pittsburgh?
It was a big decision, but I felt it was time to move on and this would be a great opportunity for me to start. The NPC is very popular in my area. I feel there’s more of an opportunity in terms of options in my bodybuilding career and goals, in addition to where I plan to go with things in the future.
Q.) Describe what you felt when you heard your name called as the heavyweight winner in what is traditionally one of the most competitive amateur events on the circuit.
It was a very special moment, and one that I’m extremely blessed and thankful for. To be perfectly honest with you my mind set going into this show was to see where I would stand at this level of competition and use it as a gauge in terms of where I need to be, and what direction I want to go with my bodybuilding goals. I never expected to win anything. But hearing my name called as the overall winner was indescribable considering it was the last thing I expected to happen. However a lot of people in the area who were around there supporting me during prep thought my physique could be a contender for the overall title, but I didn’t see it at the time.
Q.) Now that you’ve gotten everyone’s attention, what’s next for Jason Janov?
After talking with some people in the industry my next step is to take the rest of this year off and use this time to continue filling out my frame with quality muscle. I’m 6′, so structurally I need to be a Super Heavyweight. My plan is compete at a national show next summer (IFBB North Americans, in Pittsburgh) with the qualification I got from my overall win this year.
Q.) Who would you like to thank for helping you reach this point?
There’s a lot of people in my life who got me where I am now that I would love to list, but it would be too long and I would probably leave someone out. However, the most influential people at this point in my life are, first my wife. She’s my number one supporter and I couldn’t have done it without her mental and physical help. She’s the best and most accommodating person I know to deal with this life style. Next would be one of my best friends, Derek Natcher. He handles my entire prep with diet and training. As of recently he started his own business/web site LOUD Performance Training, (teamloud.com). If anyone is interested in his services he can be contacted there, or any of the social media outlets. Also I want to give honor and thanks to God for blessing me with the opportunity to do what I love!
Q.) If someone would like to find out more about you, or reach out to you for sponsorship or guest posing opportunities, what’s the best way for them to reach you?
Currently I’m open for all opportunities. The best option to contact me is my personal email: email@example.com. Also I’m on Facebook under Jason Janov and recently started an Instagram: j_janov. All three options will work.
Now that Jason has left his imprint on us, just like a true master of his craft, he’s headed back to the proverbial kitchen to add pinches, splashes, and dashes of all new ingredients as he attempts to concoct recipe for success that will leave us all wanting more once again. Simmer, sauté, reduce, repeat success – let’s see what Jason brings to the table at next year’s North American Championships. – Corey Young