This month’s interview is with PNBA, drug-free-for-life, professional bodybuilder and trainer, Chris Jantz. His incredible physique speaks for itself, but this man is also a “treasure-chest” of information, which is why I pinned him down to get the 411 on the ins and outs of becoming a Natural Freak!
C: First off I’d like to thank EFX for having me, it is an honor to say the least. Truthfully I’m 43 but technically I’m much younger - probably about 30 (laughing). I’ve lived in Northern California most of my life and currently live in Petaluma, California which is about an hour north of San Francisco. I’m a full-time personal trainer and have been training folks in some form or another since 1983. I’m in a happy, long term relationship for the last for 4 years. My girl, and best friend, is none other than NPC bikini champion Amy “Boom Boom” Hardigree. I have two wonderful daughters, Karli – age 20, Katelyn – age 19, and an awesome stepson, Matthew, who is 25. All right I’m ready to go - hit me with the questions!
C: A freak for sure but “natural freak” is a true compliment…thank you. Hey, does that qualify me for a natural freak t-shirt now? OK, steroids - that’s a huge topic right there isn’t it? Here’s how I laid it down in a recent interview: My take on this is a bit different than most. Here’s how I see it. Whether natural or not, at the end of the day we’re all bodybuilders trying to excel at what we do. There’s a fork in the road and there’s two paths you can go down. Some go to the right and some go to the left. The truth is that you have to be a little crazy regardless of the route you choose. For the conventional bodybuilder the risks are many and in some cases can even cost one his life. It’s safe to say that someone willing to take the conventional (meaning using performance-enhancing drugs) route is probably a bit crazy. However, the rewards are many…fat supplement contracts, endorsement contracts, magazine covers/contracts, big prize money, fame, recognition - you name and he’s got it. Now what could possibly make the natural guy crazy you ask? I’ll tell ya! Not in all, but in many cases the natural guy has to train three times as hard to get half the results of the conventional guy. His nutrition has to be three times as strict, only to yield a fraction of the results of the conventional guy. The natural guy’s training and nutrition are brutal and as real as it gets, and for what? No credit, no respect, no fame, no recognition, no magazine exposure, no big supplement contracts, no endorsements and very little prize money if any at all. So hell yeah the natural guy is crazy too in my opinion. What person in their right mind would put themselves through all this for such little return? A crazy-ass natural bodybuilder, that’s who! He likes the idea of impossible odds. He likes the brutality of the training. He likes the soldier-like discipline of the nutrition and lifestyle. He doesn’t do this for fame - he does this so that he can look himself in the mirror everyday and smile because he knows who he truly is and that he’s earned everything that he’s got. In my opinion he’s one bad mother-f’er and deserves some recognition. But here’s the problem. The natural bodybuilding community has waged war on the conventional bodybuilding world and made them the enemy. If we ever plan to get anywhere this has to stop! We need to all become ally’s and support each other so some doors can finally open up for us. Remember, at the end of the day we’re all just bodybuilders. Let’s work together! I know I’m going on rants and half of this stuff is going to get clipped, but listen to this comparison…The WWE is hugely popular and makes millions, if not billions, of dollars every year. The fans know that the fights are rigged and that the athlete’s physiques are “enhanced.” They don’t care! It’s a freak show and they love it. Now the UFC on the other hand is the exact opposite. The fighting is real and very brutal. Many of the fighters look like average guys you’d see walking down the street. The guy sitting at home on his sofa can relate with this guy and loves that the fighting is for real. The UFC is hugely popular and also makes millions, if not billions, of dollars every year. These two entities coexist perfectly, so why can’t conventional bodybuilding and natural bodybuilding do the same thing? I believe they can and that the natural athlete deserves all the same opportunities that his counterpart gets. It’s time for us all to work together.
C: I’m a pretty humble guy. The truth is that I’m just a hard working bastard trying to do my best each and every day. But out of respect to your question I’d have to say discipline and focus. I grew up in a traditional martial arts dojo environment as a youth, eventually leaving home at 16 to sleep on the dojo floor, and have been on my own ever since. I truly believe that a lot of the life lessons I learned in the dojo stayed with me into my adulthood. Bodybuilding, like martial arts, is all about the power of the mind. Strong mind = strong body holds true. I think another secret is keeping stuff simple. Train like a beast - eat like a warrior - keep your ass humble - respect your fellow man, and get on that damn stage and do your thing…that’s it.
C: My belief is that if you want to build an incredible physique your foundation better be rock solid. I believe a strong foundation should be built from basic, heavy compound lifts. This means dead lifts, squats, heavy presses and heavy rows year-round. I’m definitely a high volume trainer. I don’t recommend this approach for everyone, but it works great for me. I’ve tried the low volume, high intensity approach several times over the last two decades but always end up coming back to what’s been proven to work for me. My rep ranges vary quite a bit. I train in the 8-12 range, the 3-5 range for power/strength, and the 15-20 rep range as well. As a natural I think you must hit those low reps to get the endocrine response necessary for anabolism to occur. The higher rep, squeeze and pump style training is newer to me but I know it’s important too, so I’m working on it. My natural personality tells me to just get in there and train like a gorilla, but as I get older and wiser (hopefully) I realize that isolation training is important in order to maximize your physique. The young guys I train with, Will Dutra and Chris Barbour, keep me up to date with all the new training info so I get the best of both worlds…old- school and new-school. We utilize everything! Olympic lifts, supersets, tri-compounds, drop sets, rest-pause, powerlifting, FST-7, pyramid sets…and more.
C: My body part split changes all the time and changes from off-season to pre-contest. Here’s what my current body part split looks like.
Mon – chest, back (dead lifts) and rear shoulders
Tue – biceps, triceps, shoulders, traps, calves and abs
Wed – legs (squats) and calves
Thur – chest, shoulders, triceps and abs
Fri – back, traps and biceps
Sat – legs and calves
Sun – rest
In regards to sets: I average about 15 sets per workout for small body parts like biceps, triceps, shoulders and traps. For chest it's about 15 to 20 sets per workout. For back it's about 20 to 25 sets per workout, and legs are hit with 20 to 30 sets per workout.
C: I’m still experimenting with this to learn what will work best for me long term, but the last three years I’ve bulked in the off season to gain more mass. My most recent contest weight to date was 196 lbs. on show day. I hit the heaviest weight of my life during this year’s bulk at 240lbs. My height is 5’-11”. My goal is to come in at this year’s Natural Pro Olympia at around 200 lbs. at 3% body fat, or even less. I plan to stay on the lean side for my next off-season (2012) and focus on more on quality, symmetry and balanced proportions.
C: I’m always open to trying new supplements but here are some of my mainstays – whey protein powder, egg protein powder, beef protein powder, creatine, BCAA’s, glutamine, citrulline, leucine, R-alpha lipoic acid, glucosamine/chondroiton, B-complex, ginkgo, tribulus, DIM and a high quality multivitamin. I’ve tried the following EFX supplements - GlutaZorb, Kre-Alkalyn, Joint Rehab, K-OTIC and most recently Test Charge. In a world of fly-by-night supplement companies I think EFX is a “5-star” company with legit products. My favorite EFX products, however, definitely are Kre-Alkalyn, GlutaZorb and Test Charge.
C: As a kid, Bruce Lee was my hero. I read everything about him and learned that he was a strong advocate of weight training for improved performance. I also met my dad for the first time when I was 14 and learned that he was a competitive bodybuilder back in the fifties. I spent a summer with him and he taught me quite a bit. Together these things sparked my interest and led me into weight training and building garage gyms at every home that I lived in. The guys in my neighborhood, and from school, saw what I was doing, and before I knew it I was hand-writing training programs and training people out of my garage while I was still in high school. That started around 1983 and here I am today doing the same thing. Health and fitness saved my life and I’m determined to change every person’s life for the better through living this amazing lifestyle. What sets me apart are the decades of “in the trenches” experience that I bring to the table and the heart and soul I bring to the training floor every time I work with someone.
C: I’m definitely a “blue-collar” writer. My grammar and technical writing skills aren’t the best, but I love this stuff so much that it’s easy to write about it. Health, fitness, nutrition, self- development and bodybuilding are the things I like writing about the most. I had a weekly health and fitness column in my local newspaper, “The Voice,” from 2003-2009 and that’s where most of my articles were published. I really miss writing and plan to launch a bodybuilding blog this year and have a long-term goal to get published in a current bodybuilding magazine like Ironman.
C: I talk to young guys everyday at our local bodybuilding gym, Powerhouse Gym, Santa Rosa, CA. Here’s what I tell them, “If you want to be real, then train natural. Learn what you’re truly capable of by educating yourself on nutrition and proper supplementation. Get strong by sticking with the basics like dead lifts and squats. Train your mind. The mind is the most powerful tool you possess, so use it! These three words are your keys: Simplicity – Intensity - Consistency. Simplicity means don’t over think everything. Stay with the basics and keep things simple. Intensity means you must be willing to cross the line of intensity in order to force the body into change. You must be willing to go where most won’t if you want to be a champion. Consistency means bodybuilding and life are one and the same. It’s the turtle that wins this race my friend. Small, steady steps each and every day will lead to victory in both life and in natural bodybuilding.”
C: Thank You! Once again it’s been an honor.