In this interview, Canadian bodybuilding legend John Cardillo talks about his past, present,
and future in the fitness industry. John Cardillo is a household name for anyone in the North American bodybuilding industry, and pioneer of the HIT3 (Hi-intensity) muscle growth program that is used by amateur and professional bodybuilders all around the globe.
John’s depth of experience makes him a very insightful industry expert from whom a lot of useful information can be gleaned for anyone pursing a career, or even a casual interest in fitness.
John took time out of his busy schedule to answer some interesting questions for us.
Greetings John, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you developed your passion for fitness, and more specifically bodybuilding/weight training?
I started working out at age 14, because I wanted to gain muscle and strength to make my high school football team. I really liked challenging myself every day in the gym and found it gratifying as I was getting stronger and getting more muscular. I also enjoyed working out with my friends and teaching them how to train. Then I got a job at a gym teaching people how to work out. I got a lot of satisfaction out of helping people get in better shape. The more I worked out and learned about the best training methods, scientific nutrition, rest and recuperation, the more I enjoyed it. I decided to make it my career. It’s been my passion ever since.
After I’d been training for a couple years, a friend of mine suggested that we go watch the Ontario Senior Bodybuilding Championships. At the competition, and while we were there they announced that they were going to have a junior division the following year. I decided to train and compete in it I ended up winning the Junior Ontario Bodybuilding Championship at 17. From there, I was really motivated to train hard. I wanted to look like my idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Can you describe how your philosophy when approaching workouts has changed over the years, and what it is today?
At the beginning when I started working out, I read all the magazines, following the champions’ routines, and I was training two to three hours a day, six days a week, thinking that the more I trained, the more muscular, and stronger I would get. However, that type of long hours of training was for guys who were using steroids and not really training that hard. They were by just putting in time in the gym and getting big because of the drugs.
At 17, I learned the right way to train when I met the inventor of Nautilus machines, Arthur Jones. He basically taught me hi-intensity training, which involves only three to four days a week, one hour per workout.
I started making rapid improvements, and by the time I was 18, I was winning competitions against competitors double my age. I found that short, intense workouts are really the best way to get results. I trained a maximum of one hour a day, three to four times a week. Over the years, I’ve developed a training program around based on various scientific methods I learned – a program I now call the Cardillo HIT3 workout system. It’s the most results-producing system of exercise that anybody has ever tried. Everyone who has tried it has started making improvements right away and realized results far beyond what they were ever able to achieve before. What I’ve learned over the years is that “more” is not always better, and “less is more” when it comes to working out, as long as you’re doing it properly. In gyms today very few people get results, and end up quitting their memberships because of this.
What are some of the core principles you try to communicate to people via your books, specifically ‘The “Glham” Solution’ and ‘Beyond Ripped. Shredded’?
The core principles I communicate to people in my Glham workout program specifically for women is that they can reshape their glutes, regardless of what shape they are currently in. The first thing I get them to do is to she’d whatever excess body fat they have, so that we can start with a base weight. By doing it this way, we can at least see the basic shape of their backside. Once we accomplish this, then we can make a plan to reshape their body by targeting the 9 different muscles that surround the glute area. The reason why I call this method the Glham program is because essentially the glutes and hamstrings are what gives the whole backside shape, when exercised properly.
My program encompasses 9 exercises that work the major gluteus muscles, the spinal erectors, obliques, hip abductors and adductors and the hamstrings. All of the exercises that I have in my program target these muscles to improve their tone. Performing hard contractions during each exercise will make the muscles come alive and improve their shape.
My Shredded Nutrition program is about hormonal control. There are three hormones in particular that basically control gaining and losing weight. The first is the hunger hormone; Ghrelin. The second is Leptin which is the satiety hormone, and the third is Insulin, which controls your blood sugar level. It’s the interplay of these three hormones that makes us hungry, makes us feel full or gives us energy to feed our muscles. Once a person understands the role of these hormones, they can start eating properly to burn body fat and have a lean look as opposed to appearing soft. My Shredded Nutrition program is a comprehensive eating program that takes the guesswork out of dieting to lose body fat.
Without giving away too much, what are some of the anti-aging and nutritional practices you explore in your upcoming book ‘Transformation Mastery, The Art and Science of Creating the Ultimate You’?
I believe that aging is a disease, because eventually it leads to death. The idea with staving off aging is to improve lifestyle habits and to eat foods that allow our bodies to work perfectly. No different than a car that needs oil changes, filter changes, and other maintenance work in order to work better. The goal of my program is for people to treat their body no different than they should treat an expensive car like a Ferrari that they just bought. They would want to make sure that it was always properly maintained and use the best fuel so that it would last longer and perform better.
In my Shredded Nutrition program, I advocate that people eat a clean diet that is very low in fats and provides their bodies with the energy they need to exercise and to carry out their daily activities while at the same time not store body fat. Storing body fat means that your body has more fats in your bloodstream that get packed away in fat cells, which is not a good thing. The Anti-Ageing strategy that I use is to get people to strive to become very lean and then supplement their diet with an array of vitamins and proven molecules similar to what Harvard Anti-Ageing medical doctors recommend. They have proven this through their experiments that have increased the lifespan of various test animals by including these molecules and vitamins. These experiments are now being done on humans. It is a safe program which I follow myself. The anti-Ageing program also includes daily fasting and exercise.
What are your hopes for the upcoming coaching programs/products you hope to deliver via your website? Who is best suited to them?
My hope is to reach people that have specific goals such as losing a great deal of weight and getting healthier. Also, I want to work with people who want to avoid illness and want to live to 100 and become centenarians. Teaching my strategies on how to improve their fitness levels through nutrition, getting proper blood work, to Anti-Ageing processes, so that they can have a better quality of life. Everyday people sacrifice for their future, like saving money for their retirement. Which is wise. However, what if they are not around to enjoy the future? What I basically teach them is to put healthy practices in their longevity bank account to live longer. A person’s body is going to last longer if they are healthy and disease-free.
I want to help people that are sincerely interested in becoming healthier, living longer and want to take this aspect of their life serious. I’m not interested in working with someone who isn’t serious and isn’t going to want to get the results and they should be able to achieve. I will be very selective as to who I work with. I have no vitamins or potions or products to sell anybody. All that I will have is specifically tailored programs, that include Health assessments every three months, nutritional program that
they have to follow every day, and workout programs that they have to do two
or three times a week.
Is there any advice you would give someone who is inspired by your success and wants to follow a similar path in bodybuilding, fitness coaching, writing and more?
The advice that I would give anyone interested in fitness, bodybuilding, and nutrition is to take a physical education and physiology course at a University to learn the scientific methods of how the body works and the effects of exercise and nutrition. They should also decide whether they’re interested in bodybuilding for themselves as a hobby, or are interested in teaching others as a career path. What’s important for someone to be involved in fitness as a career is to really enjoy working with people and teaching them how to get the best results from exercise and nutrition. If somebody wants to become a bodybuilder, then the most important thing that they should do is first assess whether or not they have the genetics to be a competitive bodybuilder. Genetics play a large part in whether or not you can develop a muscular, proportional physique these days.