Henri-Pierre Ano gives an exclusive look into how mind mat­ters in body­build­ing.

Innovate Magazine - - Contents - By Dean Maier & Clarence Paller

Driven to be a cham­pion, Henri-Pierre

Ano is a dis­tin­guished body­builder who has a decade of ex­pe­ri­ence in the highly de­mand­ing sport. With an im­pres­sive re­sume of com­pe­ti­tion vic­to­ries un­der his belt – in­clud­ing Mr. Canada 2013 – he is now ze­roed in on his goal of qual­i­fy­ing for the prestigious Mr. Olympia. This is the driv­ing force be­hind his many hours train­ing in the gym and the dis­ci­pline that goes into ev­ery gru­el­ing day. At a deeper level though, Henri pos­sesses a unique mental state that pro­pels his train­ing and al­lows him to over­come the fiercely de­mand­ing and repet­i­tive na­ture of the sport; a mind­set that is built on the pil­lars of in­no­va­tion and ac­count­abil­ity. For Henri it is not just about ma­te­rial goals, for him be­ing a true cham­pion in­volves per­se­ver­ance, cre­ativ­ity, and po­si­tion­ing him­self as a role model that chal­lenges the dom­i­nant stereo­types of the sport.

Henri’s ca­reer in body­build­ing be­gan se­ri­ously in 2007. He re­flects on his early ap­proach to the sport: “At first it was cool and fun to win begin­ners con­tests like the na­tion­als. I am ge­net­i­cally gifted. For me just to train, be in shape and look good came easy. I would say to my­self, I’m go­ing to win that show, get a tro­phy and be a cham­pion.” How­ever, Henri quickly re­al­ized that af­ter go­ing pro the game of body­build­ing changed dra­mat­i­cally. “You are no longer the only one gifted ge­net­i­cally, now ev­ery­one around you is in phe­nom­e­nal shape and nat­u­rally ad­van­taged by mus­cles” ex­plains Henri. He re­al­ized that to find suc­cess at an elite level, he needed to tap into deeper and more mean­ing­ful sources of mo­ti­va­tion to push his lim­its.


Body­build­ing wages a war of at­tri­tion on the mind, mak­ing the need for mo­ti­va­tion crit­i­cal. Henry gives an ex­am­ple of the off sea­son, “It is ex­tremely chal­leng­ing men­tally when you see that your shape has changed and that you’re not in as great

form as you were. You are los­ing your lines a bit and this is dis­cour­ag­ing, even though the goal of this phase is to gain weight. The key to be­ing men­tally strong in this time pe­riod is to con­stantly look in­ward and fo­cus on what the goal is”. Henri con­tin­ues, “The other men­tally chal­leng­ing as­pect is the 6-10 weeks lead­ing up to a show. You don’t eat what you want to eat, you can’t have the fun you want to have. You need to have the will to eat egg whites and oat­meal ev­ery morn­ing and to go to the gym. Dur­ing this time, you have to be strict and this is tough men­tally. Again, the key is not for­get­ting your goal and why you are do­ing this. You may not love it di­rectly but in­di­rectly you love it be­cause it is part of what’s tak­ing to where you want to go.” By adopt­ing this way of think­ing, Henri was able to cre­ate the mental state he needed to tran­scend the repet­i­tive na­ture of body­build­ing and con­tinue to push his lim­its. Henri at­tests that, “By na­ture body­build­ing is repet­i­tive, and this is the way it should be. There is one way to train and that is the proper way to do it.” Henri sug­gests that a work­out should not be longer than an hour, “In an hour you have plenty of time for a good full work­out.” He com­ments on his work­out split and du­ra­tion. “Usu­ally my splits will be two mus­cles a day. I try to vary those splits ev­ery four to six weeks with dif­fer­ent splits, reps, sets, and ex­er­cises. If I am in cut­ting prepa­ra­tion or back to train­ing hard I am go­ing to put more mus­cle groups to­gether in the same day. I would do higher vol­ume but work less on the strength and more on the hy­per­tro­phy of the mus­cle. That al­lows your body to re­cover more quickly and pre­pare for the next work­out. In the mid­dle of my com­pe­ti­tion prepa­ra­tion, when my body is fully en­gaged with the pro­gram, diet and sup­ple­ments, I will then go back to my two mus­cles in­di­vid­u­ally and work them harder.” In terms of weights ver­sus ma­chines, weights are the clear win­ner. Ma­chines are very good for fo­cus­ing on mus­cles in cer­tain ar­eas but dumb­bells/bar­bells are much more com­plete and have many ben­e­fits such as pro­mot­ing growth hor­mones, in­creased grip strength and en­gage­ment of sta­bi­lizer mus­cles. Also, your metabolism ben­e­fits by work­ing with weights as op­posed to ma­chines.”

“body­build­ing can be some­thing at a higher level. You can see re­sults by be­ing dis­ci­plined, but to re­ally get what you want you have to think out­side the box.”


De­spite this re­li­able con­sis­tency in his train­ing, Henri does like to ap­ply cre­ative tech­niques to help mix things up. To take weight train­ing to an­other level, Henri sug­gests us­ing “Fat Gripz”. They work by wrap­ping around bar­bells, dumb­bells, ca­ble at­tach­ments and ex­er­cise ma­chine han­dles. The sci­ence be­hind this shows that us­ing a thicker di­am­e­ter bar causes much greater mus­cle ac­ti­va­tion in the arms which in turn leads to more growth hor­mone pro­duc­tion and in­creased fore­arm and grip strength. Henri sug­gests, “Us­ing them for some ex­er­cises on and off. Cy­cle your use of them and then you are go­ing to have more re­sults.” An­other ef­fec­tive means of work­out in­no­va­tion lies in con­trac­tion train­ing. “This tech­nique re­quires you to deeply fo­cus on the con­trac­tion of the mus­cles. It is al­ways about do­ing your very big mus­cle con­nec­tions with your move­ment. What­ever weight you are go­ing to do just make sure you are fully ex­tend­ing the mus­cles and then con­tract it to the max and squeeze that mus­cle and feel how solid it feels. With this method your train­ing be­comes very dif­fer­ent. The weight you use will be lighter and by fo­cus­ing on the con­trac­tion, your mus­cles will grow much more. With this in­no­va­tion in my own train­ing I no­ticed dras­tic changes to my body.” Henri em­pha­sizes, “The range of mo­tion is that you go to neg­a­tive very slow and then ex­plode and squeeze.” In this way body­build­ing can be some­thing at a higher level.

You can see re­sults by be­ing dis­ci­plined, but to re­ally get what you want from it you have to think out­side the box.

“With any train­ing rou­tine proper sup­ple­men­ta­tion is an­other es­sen­tial you need to think about,” Henri de­scribes. “I al­ways use Isobolic pro­tein in the off sea­son and Hy­drop­ure in the on sea­son to build then main­tain mus­cle mass. I al­ways pair the pro­teins with M|Cre­a­tine to sup­port post work­out re­cov­ery. I also heav­ily use Anabolic State® for mus­cle growth and re­cov­ery. The taste is the best I’ve ever had in a BCAA supplement and I take it while do­ing my car­dio at night. I also use Nutrabolics’ testos­terone booster called Ag­gro to help me with my mus­cle growth and my train­ing. I highly rec­om­mend this prod­uct. It im­proves your strength and over­all well­be­ing. Lastly, Su­per­nova pre work­out is what helps drive my mental sharp­ness and per­for­mance. I can con­fi­dently say it is one of best I have ever tried. It is not loaded with stim­u­lants and re­ally fo­cuses on the pump with­out any crash.” For Henri, all of these el­e­ments are the fine de­tails that sep­a­rate the real pros from the as­pir­ing ones.


Ac­count­abil­ity is an­other pow­er­ful dy­namic that re­in­forces Henri’s mind­set to push through. He com­ments, “hav­ing my train­ing part­ners with me, show­ing up, and ex­pect­ing me to work hard drives me. This is es­pe­cially true in the off sea­son. These peo­ple are lit­er­ally giv­ing me the energy to train. For what­ever I have com­ing up in five weeks, in a few months or in six months, I have to be giv­ing that in­ten­sity and ap­ply­ing my­self right here, right now to get to that level nec­es­sary for those events. Henri ad­mits that he in­ter­nal­izes this ac­count­abil­ity to the point where it be­comes a key self-mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor in over­com­ing his tough and rep­e­ti­tious train­ing. “I see the peo­ple around me com­ing in ev­ery­day work­ing hard, di­et­ing, look­ing at my sup­ple­ments and fol­low­ing me,” says Henri, “these peo­ple are not com­pet­ing and they don’t get money out of it. They are reg­u­lar peo­ple just try­ing to get into shape. They work so hard and it only pushes me that much harder to be an ex­am­ple for them.”

De­spite feel­ing the em­pow­er­ment and re­spon­si­bil­ity to act as a role model, Henri never feels that body­build­ing is about the sta­tus for him. In fact, he is crit­i­cal of this “self-glo­ri­fy­ing” de­sire of many fit­ness ath­letes who are seek­ing at­ten­tion for so­cial me­dia fol­low­ers. “I am not the type of guy who will go all out, go crazy in the gym, scream and do stupid things for at­ten­tion. I want peo­ple to fo­cus on the way fit­ness should be, es­pe­cially body­build­ing.” While Henri ad­mits that he is a big ad­vo­cate and user of so­cial me­dia, for him these plat­forms are a way to prop­a­gate the sport as well as re­main ac­count­able to his mes­sage; “Fol­low­ers can check my pro­file at any

given in­stant and they ex­pect au­then­tic­ity at all times.” For Henri, so­cial me­dia al­lows him to ex­pand his per­spec­tive by both in pow­er­ing his self-mo­ti­va­tion and al­low­ing him to chal­lenge body­build­ing stig­mas and stereo­types.

Part of chal­leng­ing so­cial me­dia’s neg­a­tive im­pact in the sport to­day re­quires what Henri calls, “a shift in mind­set.” He ex­plains, “I want peo­ple to re­spect the roots of body­build­ing which started in ob­scu­rity and peo­ple do­ing it to bet­ter them­selves. Peo­ple should do body­build­ing be­cause they love it and have the drive to trans­form their body – not for at­ten­tion. When­ever you do a show, don’t do it to ex­pect some­thing. Do it be­cause that day you want to be the best you can be on stage. If you are top 3, 4 or 5, don’t get dis­cour­aged. You have to look where you started and where you ended up.” Henri con­tin­ues, “As for peo­ple just go­ing to the gym to im­prove their life that is the best thing you can do. You are in­vest­ing into your well­be­ing and health. I ap­plaud and en­cour­age them to keep do­ing it. These are the peo­ple who give me the best mo­ti­va­tion be­cause they have noth­ing to do with com­pe­ti­tions and place­ments, noth­ing to do with In­sta­gram and Facebook, they are here for im­prov­ing their life. If you can rein­vent your think­ing you can achieve any­thing.”

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