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Henri-Pierre Ano put the classic physique division on notice in 2018. A promising open-class bodybuilder, the Canadian decided to bring his aesthetics to a new division last year. The move netted him a first-place finish at the Tampa Pro and a fourth-place spot amid a stacked field at the Olympia, where he missed the podium by just one point. It was an auspicious beginning to a potential run to the very top spot.
“Even when I was in the open, everyone was pointing out my aesthetics and my symmetrical physique,” Ano says. “I think in classic physique my body has way more detail, a better shape, and a more sculptural look to it.”
A new division brings a new style of training for Ano. He’s exploring strategies to unlock his best physique ever at his new competitive home, which has a weight limit of 230 pounds for his 6’1″ frame.
Ano recently started working with IFBB Professional League legend Chris Cormier. Under the tutelage of “the Real Deal,” Ano eschews heavy loads in favor of strict tempo and an obsessive pursuit of peak muscle contractions.
“I like this style of training,” he says. “I believe that the contraction brings more density, more muscle peak, and more fibers than straight-up hardcore lifting.”
Ano’s back has always been a strong point, its dramatic width gives him the enviable V-taper that is a hallmark of the classic physique division. His goal is to add more density and detail in all his posterior upper-body muscles this year. One strategy he has employed since the 2018 Olympia is to use long tempos for each rep, specifically with pullups and chinups. These two exercises have long been part of his back-training arsenal. (He once hit three reps of wide-grip pullups with four plates—180 pounds—hanging from a belt.)
Now Ano varies a relatively high rep scheme (12 to 15 reps) with a lower rep scheme (six to eight reps) but with a brutally slow tempo, using only his body weight. For instance, every third workout he will perform wide-grip pullups with a tempo of 4-0-1-1. That translates to a four-second eccentric motion, then immediately transitioning into a one-second concentric motion and a one-second iso-hold at the top. It’s a highly disciplined style of training.
“You see guys working out on Instagram, and there is no tempo,” Ano says. “They are just throwing the weights around for show.”
After a strong 2018, Ano is feeling good about his move to the classic physique division. He believes he has the package to win the Olympia in a category that is destined to become the crown jewel of the sport.
“I like the way the classic physique is going,” he says. “I think within a year, this class will be the future of the sport of bodybuilding.”
DIRECTIONS: The first number of the tempo is the lowering phase, the second indicates the pause at the bottom, the third is how quickly you lift the weight, and the fourth is the pause at the top.