Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hi Bulk Hackers readers! My name is Chris Johnson. I’m 46 years old and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
I am the CEO of the supplement company called, Advanced Genetics, co-founder and coach at Gaia Fitness. I am also a national bodybuilding champion and men’s physique IFBB Pro. I am a certified holistic nutritionist,. I am an author of the books entitled, “Happyology” and “8 Secret Strategies for Success”, and I run a few other businesses.
I’ve got numerous certifications including nutrition, personal training, yoga and meditation. I’m also a very lucky husband and father to a fantastic 26-year-old son and a wonderful 15-week red toy poodle.
I’ve been training since the age of 15 and quickly developed a passion for it in addition to nutrition and supplementation.
My uncles worked out and that, I think, is where the interest first came. I played baseball growing up, and rugby in high school but no team sport gave me the same satisfaction as pumping iron.
Lifting weights and eating right is the fountain of youth. Throw in some well-planned supplementation and you’ve got the elixir for a long, healthy life.
Even though I no longer compete, that chapter in my life taught me many life lessons. Only those who have done physique competition can understand what I mean – it’s truly the only 24/7 sport. Even as a lifestyle, it’s still 24/7, just not as intense.
Describe a typical day of training
My training philosophy was developed over many years experimenting with just about every training program under the sun.
I’ve hired many very good coaches including John Meadows, Salim Satir, Dave Palumbo and Scott Able. Combined with years of study, it’s not an understatement to say that when it comes to training and nutrition, I’ve tried it all.
I’ve created a few training and nutrition programs. One of them is available for free on the Advanced Genetics website called, Super Soldier Training (agarmy.com).
The other, more recent, is called, GHP Training (ghptraining.com). The latter is the one I have been using for the last two years and continue to use. It has given me the best results to date.
The program itself is set up for three to four days per week. I am utilizing an EOD (every other day) split at the moment. It combines some of the most effective techniques for building muscle including progressive overload, pre-exhaustion and drop sets.
Progressive overload, mind/muscle connection, and training intensity are the keys to muscle growth when it comes to training. The downloadable program includes a training log, nutrition and supplement recommendations as well as over three hours of video taking viewers through actual workouts.
I’m not a proponent of “bulking” – eating to gain scale weight. Getting too “fluffy” is counterproductive as it inhibits natural testosterone production and makes the dieting process that much more unpleasant. My preference is to stay relatively lean all year round (8-15% body fat for men and 15-25% for women).
When dieting, food sources stay the same as in the “off-season”, albeit a bit more strict (less “fun meals”.) When I train clients, protein tends to stay the same (1-1.5 grams per pound of lean body weight) and carbs and fat are manipulated on an individual basis.
Training stays the same whether in muscle gain or fat loss modes. The muscles only know the stress they’re subjected to. So higher reps and less intensity, which many people think helps burn fat, results in smaller muscles. The only thing that may reduce is training intensity, when very low body fat percentages are achieved – to avoid injury.
Cardio obviously is implemented more often and generally increases the closer we get to a show or physique goal. I prefer fasted, low intensity cardio to high intensity – it’s a great way to start the day! Both methods work, but I feel that HIIT stresses the CNS (central nervous system) a bit too much.
High intensity weight training combined with high intensity cardiovascular exercise, especially in calorie deficit, may lead to over-training.
As a side, I recommend taking an EAA (essential amino acid) supplement and fat burner prior to morning fasted cardio. If a second bout of cardio is required, we do this post-workout or, preferably, separate from weight training altogether.
What’s in my gym bag? A Cardillo lifting belt (given to me by my good friend, Tim Love), lifting straps, a New Age Performance bite guard, my training log (very important!), and my shaker cup (filled with Battle Juice, GP3 EVO and Warfare).
I prefer to train alone. I have a tight schedule and meeting up with people isn’t practical. Although, I’m not opposed to having someone join me from time to time. I like seeing them struggle through a GHP workout!
How do you keep going and push harder?
I use the GHP training log to keep me motivated. Having the intention to increase weight and/or reps in each workout is enough to keep things super exciting. I change up the exercises every 6-8 weeks to keep it fresh and give the muscles a new stimulus.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Even though I’m 46, my training is at an all time high – I love it! Even though I don’t plan on competing anymore, staying fit and pushing every workout keep me healthy and happy.
Continuing to grow Advanced Genetics, Gaia Fitness and my other endeavors will keep me busy well into my fifties.
I’m very much looking forward to the release of my book, Happyology – 8 Secret Strategies for Success in the summer of 2020. Many people are going to benefit from it. Lots of exciting things ahead!
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I train about four days per week – this gives my body and CNS enough time to recover. Even though my training intensity is very high, I always make sure to employ strict form. This attention to form lessens the chance of injury.
I also get eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. Sleep is critical to recovery and growth. I developed a sleep aid called, Go Dark, which I take every night to improve sleep quality.
Taking Battle Juice (which I mentioned before) also greatly improves my recovery from workout to workout. The combination of cluster dextrin and essential amino acids has been clinically shown to improve recovery rates and lower cortisol.
Intra-workout nutrition is something most people miss. It’s truly the “anabolic window” when nutrients are most effectively transported to muscles.
The “trick” is finding protein and carbohydrates that require zero digestion – and that’s what Battle Juice is all about! You literally feed your muscles while you train.
I see an osteopath and get acupuncture and massage treatments a few times a year. I also do yoga a couple times a week to keep me limber – it helps a lot!!! Stretching muscles post workout is also beneficial.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I follow the GHP recommendations of roughly 33% calories from protein, 33% from carbs and 33% fats. I’m currently eating 2700 calories, which breaks down to 240 grams protein, 240 grams carbohydrates and 90 grams of fat. I weigh 165 at about 10% body fat.
I focus more on macronutrients than calories, but it’s all part of the puzzle – you can’t ignore either. When I lean out, I slowly reduce carbs first and then fats as mentioned before.
Meats are all grass-fed, antibiotic free, wild, etc. and fruits and vegetable are pesticide-free and organic whenever possible. These things don’t seem to matter short term, but long term they can make a huge difference in our health.
Once a week my wife will enjoy a cheat meal as a “date night”. We usually go for sushi.
I formulate all the products for my supplement company, Advanced Genetics. As such I get to make the supplements I want to use. You can see the line-up at www.agarmy.com and know that I use pretty much everything.
I use our protein, Military Whey, in cycles just like I do any other protein – a couple days per week. It may surprise some people to learn that I take Estro-Free every day as well – it’s great for balancing estrogen, is a powerful anti-oxidant and it promotes healthy hair, skin and nails.
What has inspired and motivated you?
I was greatly inspired by Bill Phillips and his company EAS back in the mid-90s, His magazine; Muscle Media 2000 was super cutting-edge. In fact, some of the articles are still groundbreaking – even in 2019! I’ve kept them all.
Eckhart Tolle has been a great influence, in a different way. I highly recommend reading his book, The Power of Now.
When it comes to training music, I like upbeat EDM cranking in my earphones.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
If you find you have a passion for training, hire a certified trainer and nutritionist. You can save yourself literally years of trial and error.
Find someone with the proper credentials and a proven track record. Don’t skimp on cheap trainers. Hiring a good coach is an investment that will pay dividends. I’ve personally hired some excellent ones and learned a lot.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I usually take on a maximum of 10 clients at a time. This gives me an opportunity to give them the attention they need and deserve. Most of my clients are trained via the internet/email. I’m actually better at criticizing a physique in pictures than in person.
My focus is physique transformations done in the most healthful way possible. It’s not just about low body fat – it’s about getting healthy!!! This means paying attention to existing ailments and gut health.
I was diagnosed with colitis at the age of 20. No doctor knew how to cure it so I was left to my own devices. Eventually, I figured out how to fix it permanently. Now, I help others overcome their illnesses, from IBS to arthritis, while getting them in great shape – primarily through nutrition.
If clients follow the plan correctly, they’ll see progress on a weekly basis. Occasionally, we have to figure out food intolerance and allergies that can delay the process a bit longer – but we always find them!
Where can we learn more about you?
Websites: gaiafitness.net, agarmy.com, ghptraining.com and happyologybook.com
Instagram accounts: @chrisjohnson_ifbbpro, @advancedgenetics, @gaiafitness_net and @happyologybook
Youtube: Advanced Genetics