Bodybuilding legend Dexter Jackson reached the top of the sport before stepping away from the stage in 2020. In a recent Olympia TV interview, 53-year-old Jackson discussed longevity in the sport, the 2023 Arnold Classic, his 2008 Olympia win, and his current retirement status.
In a career spanning over two decades, Dexter Jackson made a name for himself by breaking records in the IFBB Pro League. He’s a five-time Arnold Classic winner, which he accomplished with a combination of muscle detail, symmetry, and conditioning. Given his lengthy tenure, Jackson shared the stage with countless icons such as seven-time Olympia Phil Heath, the late Shawn Rhoden, and Kai Greene.
In 2008, Jackson won his lone Sandow trophy after defeating four-time champion, Jay Cutler. He also took home gold at the 2012 Masters Olympia competition. At ‘The Blade’s’ last contest, he returned to the 2020 Olympia where he finished ninth.
Even though he stopped making contest appearances, Jackson remained in stellar shape. Fans were hopeful about his return since the Masters Olympia announced a comeback for August 2023. Speculation as to who would compete at the show continues to dominate discussions online. While Jackson appeared to be a perfect candidate for the event, it looks like that ship has sailed.
Dexter Jackson Talks Longevity, Happy with Retirement: ‘I Don’t Miss This Sh**’
Jackson shared that his long career was driven by his ambitions to retire without regrets.
“It was pretty freakin amazing to be able to last that long and do 21 Olympias and I think I did 17 Arnolds. It’s – you know – to be honest with you, I don’t miss this shit at all, not one bit. I just want to say I stayed in the game that long for a reason, and that’s to get all of this stuff out of my system and now I won’t look back ever again and say I wish I was up there again even if I’m at the show watching the show.”
According to Dexter, his two tips for longevity include taking time off regularly and substituting heavy compound movements for machine training.
“People think just because you don’t go to the gym, you’re going to lose everything or they just weak in the mind and they can’t accept that taking time off is good for you. So, they feel like they have to go and get a pump every day and stuff like that. So I always felt that was one of the main things that made me have a long long career was taking time off away from the gym. So I would say probably four months out of the year I didn’t go to the gym at all. I did earlier shows and late shows,” shared Dexter Jackson.
“I went from doing all those heavy compound movements the last 10 years of my careers and I started doing mostly machine work. I joined up with Charles Glass and we did you know, a lot of machine work, dumbbells, we got away from all the bench pressing and squats. The squats, barbell squats – we got away from doing all that stuff. Again, a lot of people have to understand that you can’t worry about losing muscle mass. You’re not going to lose muscle mass I promise you just because you’re doing machine work. So those two things right there are what made me have a very very long prosperous career.”
In a trip down memory lane, Jackson opened up on his thought process before winning Olympia in 2008.
“Guys with shapes were beating the mass guys at the Arnold so I figured let’s just win Arnolds. I end up winning a couple times and then getting ready for the Olympia Olympia and Jay’s not looking as good as he normally looks, he was kind of going down. I said, ‘you know what if he comes in shredded and tries to match me conditioning-wise, then I can beat him. That’s when I started feeling I could really win the Olympia. So, I end up winning the Olympia,” explained Jackson.
Jackson Shares Advice for Big Ramy, Says to ‘Scaleback’ and Drop 10 Lbs
Given Big Ramy’s last two contest outcomes, Jackson advised him to take some time off to rejuvenate his physique and mindset.
“Well I’d first tell him [Big Ramy] I don’t know if he takes anytime off, but his body looks tired. He should probably take some time off, let his body recoup, get some good food in him. Get away from doing the same old bodybuilding diet the whole year – just enjoy yourself a little bit right. Then, I’d probably tell him, when he comes into these shows he needs to stop worrying about being the biggest guy on stage.
He’s already the biggest on stage, he could come down 10 pounds and still be the biggest on stage. I would definitely tell him to tone down his size,” said Dexter Jackson. “His waist is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger as you can see. He needs to start to scale back on that. If that don’t work he needs to let it go.”
Reflecting on the recent Arnold Classic, Jackson thought Nick Walker looked amazing but noted he’ll always lose ground to Samson Dauda’s shape.
“Yeah, it’s nothing against Nick, Nick looked amazing. It’s nothing against him, the only thing that hurt him was his physique – his shape. Samson’s shape – Samson’s got the type of shape like Flex, not me but Flex, that can be off just a tad bit and still win a competition.”
Despite the Masters Olympia returning after an 11-year absence, Jackson is content with his decision to retire. While away from the stage, he continues to push the pace in training, which is why he’s been able to maintain such an impressive physique over the past few years.
The latest bodybuilder to publicly declare interest in the Masters Olympia contest is 49-year-old Hidetada Yamagishi, who stated he’s coming out of retirement for one final show later this year.