Chris Nicoll / M+F Magazine
“It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping for,” Henri-Pierre Ano admits, after reflecting on his 14th-place finish in 2019’s Olympia Classic Physique.
Ano, 38, had plenty of reasons for disappointment. The Canadian stepped onstage with high hopes of improving on his 2018 fourth-place finish. At 6’1″, with a small waist and wide shoulder structure, he’s blessed with ample genetic gifts perfectly suited for the classic division. Combined with his meticulous tempo-focused training style, Ano’s switch from the open bodybuilding class seemed like a perfect match.
That is, until disaster struck in Las Vegas. After having to hit the sauna at the last minute to make the required 230-pound limit during 2018 weigh-ins, Ano and his coach, Chris Aceto, had decided to come in lighter for 2019.
“[In 2018], five days before the show, I got off the plane at 247, and [in 2019], I was about 232 to 235 pounds,” Ano recounts. “But this time, my metabolism was running high. Two days before the weigh-in, I woke up at 227.”
Ano ended up overcompensating, leading to fluctuations that ultimately robbed him of his ideal package. “I was ripped and ready body-fat-wise, but I couldn’t carb up enough, and I came in flat,” he acknowledges.
With lessons learned, Ano and Aceto are deciding whether to remain in the classic division or return to the open fray as they eye a contest this May. Meanwhile, in between training clients, Ano has remained busy in the gym, bringing up his legs while also adding some size and shape to his upper body, with this once-per-week chest workout, detailed on the following pages, part of his plan.
“The Olympia was a good boost of motivation,” he says. “It’s nice when you finish high, but when you don’t, it pushes you to keep going at it.”
Incline Dumbbell Flye
“I start with flyes because of the deep stretch I can get through my pecs,” Ano says. He lies on a bench set at a 45-degree angle, holding a 50- or 60-pound dumbbell in each hand for the first set, and extends his arms straight up so they’re above his neck. From there, maintaining a slight bend in each elbow, he’ll lower the weights out to each side in an arc, going as deep as he can, with his elbows eventually going just below the level of the bench. From set to set, he’ll pyramid the weight, working his way up to 70 or 80 pounders by the last one. Do it like Ano: “To maximize the stretch at the bottom, as my arms are coming down into the bottom position, I’ll do a little hand rotation, where my palms go from a neutral grip, my palms facing up toward the ceiling, to where they are facing forward [toward the wall] in the bottom position. I’ll then twist them back to lift the dumbbells back up.”
Incline Dumbbell Press
While a typical bench offers a number of incline variations, Ano prefers the 45-degree angle for pressing. “For me, it targets the upper chest without shifting too much tension to the shoulders,” he says. He’ll lie faceup with his feet firmly on the floor, holding an 80-pound dumbbell in each hand for the first set, just outside his delt caps to begin. (Over the four sets, Ano will pyramid to 140-pound dumbbells, sometimes heavier.) He presses the weights upward—moving in a straight line directly in alignment with his neck—in an explosive one-second burst, then takes four seconds to lower the weights to the start. Do it like Ano: “Sometimes I’ll twist my wrist on the way up, so I’m going from a pronated grip at the bottom to where the dumbbells form a triangle at the top, with my thumbs closer together than my pinkies, which allows me to squeeze my chest harder than when my wrists remain fully pronated throughout.”
Flat Bench Barbell Press
Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width and arch your back so there’s space between your lower back and the bench. After pulling the bar from the rack, lower it to your sternum, tucking your elbows about 45 degrees to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press the bar back up. Do it like Ano: “At the end of this exercise, I like to do a strip set. I’ll do three to four reps, then take a 25 off each side and repeat until I’m back down to 135 pounds, where I’ll rep until failure.”
Cable Crossover Sets:
Standing in the center of a cable cross station with knees slightly bent, Ano grasps D-handles attached to the upper pulleys and steps forward to put his pecs on stretch. Palms facing downward and elbows slightly bent and rigid, he flexes his pecs to draw the handles down and below the level of his waist—at the bottommost position, he’ll hold the static contraction for a second before returning along the same path to start. Don’t let the weight stack touch down between reps. Do it like Ano: “One thing I do that I don’t see others do is, instead of just crossing the handles at the end of each rep, I’ll usually press my wrists together to help increase the intensity of the contraction.”
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