Bodybuilding has traditionally been viewed as a zero-sum game. In other words, whatever you do outside of the gym is probably taking away from the muscle-building efforts you put forth inside the gym. But a new breed of iconoclasts in physique culture is emerging to show that it’s possible to be very good—elite, even—in more than one physical discipline. The single greatest outlier among these brave voices is Jon Call.
Known in social media circles as “Jujimufu” (a screen name he invented for AOL back when people used AOL), the 29-year-old Call has created a niche by blending extreme freestyle martial arts moves, known colloquially as “tricking,” with traditional bodybuilding. The result, in his own words, is “a giant dude who does flips and feats of flexibility.”
Watching Call in action is witnessing a physical paradox, like a short guy dunking a basketball or a fat dude tearing it up on the dance floor. Your eyes take it in, but your brain screams, “Impossible!” To Call, though, it makes perfect sense. Structure and motion aren’t opposing forces. Rather, they are the two halves that form his ultimate goal: to look fucking cool.
“You have to look at it like this: Bodybuilding is the aesthetics of muscle and symmetry of body. Then there is movement, which is the aesthetics of what you can do with the body. In a nutshell, I’m trying to bring those two worlds together,” he says. “If you look good but you can’t do anything cool looking, then there is something missing. And if you are a movement practitioner, you have to realize that the body is part of the presentation. I like to blend both of these together and create an entirely different thing.”
Call began his quest when he was 13 and started training in tae kwon do. He quickly became infatuated with high-flying aerial kicks even though his instructors tried to discourage his forays into tricking. A year later he joined his first gym. Initially, Call wasn’t interested in putting on a ton of muscle mass; he just wanted to get stronger to help his martial arts training. He followed tried-and-true tenets of powerlifting, and focused on getting his numbers up in the bench, squat, and deadlift. To date, his best raw deadlift is 635 pounds, his best front squat (which he prefers to the back squat) is 430 pounds, and he has benched almost 400. When he decided to focus more on bodybuilding, he found that his years of strength training and martial arts was an incredible foundation for putting on size.
There is no template for combining bodybuilding and tricking, what Call has dubbed Acrobolix (a portmanteau of “anabolics” and “acrobatics”). Program design and periodization has come exclusively from his own trial and error. Balancing training demands and recovery is only part of the equation. He also has to constantly reassess what kind of tricks his growing physique can and cannot accomplish.
Jon Call, aka “Jujimufu”
Lives: Huntsville, AL
Profession: Technical manager for a biotech group
Likes: Fanny packs, deadlift jacks, drinking water out of gallon jugs
Dislikes: Light rain, restrictive clothing, norovirus
Favorite clean meal: Beef liver, white rice, mixed vegetables
Favorite cheat meal: Mother-in-law’s macaroni and cheese
Listens to: Wide
variety of metal
Last book read: The 10X Rule
by Grant Cardone
Koffee, Fran Denim
For most of the year he splits up his week evenly: half of his days in the weight room and half outside working on his tricking skills. If he does happen to train both in one day, he will always begin with tricking, since the neuromuscular demand is so much higher than lifting weights. While his two pursuits don’t overlap very much, he has found that his ample strength and muscle mass has given him at least one advantage.
“A strong back has helped me a ton. I have had very few back injuries and I credit it to all the muscle I have protecting my spine,” he says. “If you look at a big guy like me doing all the moves I do, you’d think my back would be messed up. But all my back muscle protects me.”
Call has developed his own training macrocycle. During the summer he’ll focus more on bodybuilding, and one month a year he’ll stay out of the weight room and devote himself almost exclusively to acrobatics. As any bodybuilder can relate, the doubts creep in once Call begins to see the small deflations in his chest and arms during that time spent away from the weights. And that knife cuts both ways, as Call struggles to maintain his flexibility and mobility when spending five days a week in the gym.
“That kind of mind-fuckery is the hard part,” he admits. “But from my experience of going back and forth, I know it works out. The main thing is I do not let it screw with my head. I know I am going to get back on the other side eventually. The key is to stay in the moment with what I’m doing and try to enjoy it.” IM
Begin with a wide snatch-style grip with the barbell placed on the platform or floor. The feet should be directly under the hips, with the feet slightly turned out. Squat down to the bar, keeping the back in absolute extension with the head facing forward. Initiate the movement by driving through the heels, raising the hips. The back angle should remain the same until the bar passes the knees. Come to a full standing position with hips extended and the knees straightened.
Jujimufu says: Throwing in a few sets of this before you approach heavier weights with conventional or sumo-stance deadlift can do a lot for your mobility. I use this exercise to develop mobility in all the areas I need for deadlifts (and squat variations). And that mobility can mean more weight on the standard variations, and more weight almost always means more muscle!
Bent-Over Barbell Row
With a loaded barbell on the floor, hinge at the hips and bend forward so the bar is directly under your navel with your torso close to parallel to the floor. Grasp the bar outside shoulder width, and then pull it to your navel. Hold for a second, then return to the start position with the bar hanging a few inches off the floor.
Jujimufu says: This is always a good exercise, and it’s great to switch grips on it for variety. For any variation, I stay out of the middle zone on this one. My strategy is to go very light or very heavy. So I’m either dialing in the mind-muscle connection with a lighter weight and controlling the pace while feeling every rep tighten up those muscles, or I’m cheating like hell with a heavier weight to stimulate a larger metabolic response by incorporating all those other muscle groups that aren’t targeted and building some confidence in wrestling with something heavier.