Jovann Rushing



Bodybuilder and sumo wrestler Jovann Rushing has said it’s his arms that get noticed most. And maybe we have a sharper eye for this most, but we think it’s his back that makes this 5’5″ Mack Truck stand tall in a crowd. We’ve known Jovann almost back to the time we first launched. We saw first saw him in the middle of a crowd of fans as he had just finished up a sumo match at the LA Fitness Expo. The sheer thickness of his lats and traps demanded attention and we walked over and introduced ourselves. Of course we gave him a pair of a new product we were just introducing, Big Back Grips! He has been moving forward ever since. We are now among Jovann’s sponsors, working with him at the NPC 2013 National Bodybuilding Championships in Ft. Lauderdale and the 2014 West Coast Classic in Monterey Park, CA, where he took 2nd Place. Jovann is currently preparing for the 2014 NPC show back in Ft. Lauderdale.

Interview Questions

BBG: Hi Jovann. Sometimes we think that because bodybuilders can’t always get a clear and easy shot of their back to see what’s really going on, they sometimes don’t see the shortcomings they have back there. In your case, it may be the opposite. Are you aware of just how thick and impressive the overall structure of your back really is? And how much is genetics and how much do you really focus your efforts back there?

Jovann: Hey BBG, nice to speak with you. I would say I knew I have an impressive back but this year is the first time I actually noticed how massive it really is. It just makes me smile hard now that I’m aware of it. My back is all genetics. I never had to focus much on it and during contest prep; the closer to the show the less I actually have to work it.

BBG: Not sure if you still recall, but we first met after a sumo event at the LA Fitness Expo, maybe in 2008. Are you still pursuing sumo or is it mostly bodybuilding now?

Jovann: I remember when we first met BBG. I was never pursuing sumo I just did it because I love to compete and they had some serious athletes. To answer your question though, it is definitely all bodybuilding now.

Jovann: I remember when we first met BBG. I was never pursuing sumo I just did it because I love to compete and they had some serious athletes. To answer your question though, it is definitely all bodybuilding now.

BBG: Your physique has not been the typical sumo wrestling build, at least not the ultra-corpulent beach-ball version bursting out of a mawashi that’s been lodged in the popular imagination. First, how accurate is that roly-poly image that people have of sumo wrestlers? And what advantages and disadvantages does your own combination of weight, size and strength give you? What role does sheer physical strength play in sumo?

Jovann: First I just want to say you’re the first person that actually used the correct pronunciation instead of calling it a diaper! Good stuff. The image is correct because these wrestlers purposefully gain as much weight as possible. But I tell you what there is something impressive about a 600-lb sumo wrestler with the agility of a cat and able to do a spilt while standing and on the ground.

As for me, I don’t feel I am at a disadvantage at any point. Athough I am heavily outweighed at times outside of my weight class, my freakish strength and speed always pulls me through. I have tossed around 400 plus pound men like it’s nothin!

BBG: Is your training different for the two sports? If it is, how so? And are the two sports compatible enough that you could pursue them simultaneously if you chose to?

Jovann: My training stays the same heavy a$$ weight and reps: I do as much as I can until I can’t no more. The two sports are not really compatible but I could pursue them both if I chose to.

BBG: You were the 2010 US Sumo Lightweight Champion, breaking a long streak of foreign dominance we read. That’s not too bad. (Dan Kalblfleisch, the heavyweight champion that year is a friend of ours too.) What are some of your proudest achievements in the sport? (And since sumo is not about modesty anyway, no need to be modest in your answer.)

Jovann: I would say my proudest achievements is the first time I ever wrestled sumo. In 2002 I won gold in my division and in the open, which is wrestling every weight class. (Ed. Note: Jovann beat 327-pound Canadian Brodi Henderson, a man almost twice his size, in the open-weight competition.) Then of course being the first American to win in six years on an international level – that was pretty neat.

BBG: And 2010 was also a pretty busy year for you in competitive bodybuilding, with at least 3 shows that we know of, including a couple of first place finishes. Tell us about that year if you would. Is that the first year you competed?

Jovann: 2010 Was a great year! And yes, it was the first time I competed: two second-place finishes and four first-place finishes with an ‘overall’ title. Ok, and one stinkin’ third place finish which I only did to qualify for the USA team, which I did. But realistically, I should have never done the show because my body was beat and I did not bring the quality I am use to; I just did it to qualify. So it worked out.

BBG: This year, 2013, looks pretty busy too, including first place in the NPC San Diego Championships, plus you did the USA in Las Vegas in July. And it’s only August. What weight class are you in these days? Was the USA your first national show?

Jovann: Yes 2013 is busy I did place first in NPC San Diego to qualify for the USAs, and I came in as a lightweight for the first time this year and yes this was my first national show this year.

BBG: You placed 6th in the USA. Not bad for a national show but not where you want to be as you told us. What do you feel you need to work on most to place nearer your goals for the national stage?

Jovann: No, 6th is definitely not where I wanted to be nor where I thought I would place. I was looking for that first place finish. Being used to winning, I really did not see that coming. I don’t feel I need to work on any one thing in particular: just give myself proper time to get ready for a show. I only prepped four weeks for that show and I dropped 30lbs in those four weeks to get down to lightweight. So really need to just give myself more time so it’s not so drastic of a cut.

BBG: What are your long term goals in bodybuilding? How far would you like to go?

Jovann: Long term goal is to win my IFBB pro card and be something no one has ever seen with my sheer size and now definition and continue to impress all that support this sport. I would like to go until there is nothing left for me to do in this sport, which includes me competing and winning an IFBB pro show.

BBG: What about life outside the gym and bodybuilding? What do you do professionally?

Jovann: Life outside of this sport consists of fat bot eating! LOL. I love food, probably a little too much, and I have not always had the greatest of eating habits. I just love to enjoy food 😉 I love to be out and about doing things as simple as bowling or pool and have a good time. I really am a big movie buff – I do that very often and even keep the ticket stubs cause that’s how I roll! LOL! But yeah, things like that. Professionally I wear many hats: I work full time for an organics company here in Oceanside, but I also personal train and do nutritional meal plans along with being a licensed massage therapist. So I do stay very busy.

BBG: Is there an overall philosophy or approach that guides your training?

Jovann: Yes!!! lift big get big and don’t give up the panties!

BBG: We’d like to ask you about Big Back Grips in your workouts. How do you use them? What do they do for you?

Jovann: Well of course I use them on my back days. The grip allows me to pull heavy when my forearms fatigue.

BBG: Do you just use them for back or for more than that?

Jovann: Definitely I utilize them in my arm training days. I also like to use them in my curling and also my chest training days with the pressing movements. Also the grips cushion my hands, which allows me to grit out more reps! I love that.

BBG: What is your workout schedule like?

Jovann: Right now every day because I’m in contest prep for another national show in November.

BBG: What are your favorite exercises or body parts to work? Do you have a body part that’s especially challenging to make headway on?

Jovann: I love training EVERY BODY PART! And I’ve really reconciled with my legs because I learned how to train them, so now I just can’t get enough! But yeah arms, back, shoulders, chest and legs – I’m stoked on all the above.

BBG: Now, if someone were going to work out with you, what are they in for, what’s your workout style? What would you want from a partner?

Jovann: PAIN! I am not a normal person and I don’t train like it. My workout style is Donkey Kong because I can sling that weight! But I have been on this condition type training that was taught to me by my coach IFBB pro Jennifer Worth. It’s 30 reps in everything! And still go heavy through the workout! I tell you if you can get through that while still going heavy, you can get through anything.

Here is what I look for if someone wants to train with me: consistency;  never say ‘I can’t’; attitude; and a shut up and save the complaining for your girlfriend attitude cause I’m not gonna baby you – I’m here to work.

BBG: At this point we usually ask people to tell us their favorite workout/bodypart to train. But we’d really like to ask you to outline your back workout for us.

Jovann: Well I’d never thought you’d ask. lol. I pretty much always start with lat pull downs followed by seated rows sometimes super setting that with lower lat reverse grip pulls. Then depending on how I feel I will throw some single arm rows or bent over rows in there if I feel pumped and full. Or I will just got to a machine row and max out on that with a reverse grip. OH! And hyper extensions – can’t forget that lower back.

BBG: Jovann, thank you. Good luck with everything!

Jovann: Thank you BBG. I appreciate being a part in what you bring look forward to more of this and overall success with you.