An Interview With Dave Henry!

Find out how Dave Henry's first year as a pro was, what he next to up to next, what his diet and training is like, what the fans can expect from him in 2005 and more...
[ Q ] Looking back over your first year as a pro, how do you feel?

    I feel great! I had a really good year so far. It's not over yet - I'm guest posing through the rest of the year. My first appearance [the pro Ironman] was the most positive response I've gotten since I've taken up bodybuilding. I had top pros lavishing praise on me.

    I got kudos from Chris Dickerson, Flex Wheeler was very impressed, Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman had positive things to say. That let me know that I have arrived and that I have made it to where I want to be. I've made it to a place where 90% of my co-workers never thought I would. I've far surpassed their doubts and I've surpassed my goals.

[ Q ] Before stepping on a pro stage at the IronMan, were you intimidated at all?

    No! I wasn't intimidated. I was more just shocked that I was stepping onstage for the first time with the guys I read about in the magazines. I used to read about some of these guys and incorporate things from their workouts in my own, and now I'm competing against them.

    It was an honor to be on that stage. I went into it expecting to bring what I brought to the Nationals and the USAs. I think I threw a monkey wrench into the system by showing up in the condition I was in.

[ Q ] I think you did too. Is there a big difference between competing as a pro and competing as an amateur?

    Yes. On the amateur level, these guys are so hungry. Once you get to the national level, I figure that you're at a point where it's no longer a little past time or a hobby. These guys at the national level are serious. They bring their A-game. They know only two men will go pro at the USAs and the class winners at the Nationals.

    Everyone is determined and focused. Everyone is looking fantastic. They're all polished. Sure, there are slight differences in competitors at that point, but judging those shows at that level is understandably very, very hard.

    Once they turn pro, it's like, everyone's got that, they're at the pro level now. Other than the top guys, there seems to be an attitude of "What are we here fighting for?" There doesn't seem to be anymore amateur motivation in those people to get past where they are and consistently improve. But I keep that and I will keep it.

    I remember reading that that was how Dorian Yates' mentality was as he progressed through the ranks and through his Olympia wins. I still train like an amateur. I train hard. I diet hard. I prepare hard. I don't slack off because I have the pro card. I want to keep it and earn it.

[ Q ] What is your diet and your training like?

    It differs from offseason and precontest. Last year my offseason diet went like this. My training partners and I here in Arizona maintain 90% of a bodybuilder's diet through the week. I eat clean during the week. Chicken breasts, brown rice. I maintain a carb cutoff point; I won't eat carbohydrates after a certain time. That's from Monday through Friday morning.

    From Friday afternoon until Sunday evening, it's everything and anything I can eat. Everywhere! We'd go out and we'd eat all you can eat Sushi at our favorite Sushi restaurant. We'd sit there for a couple of hours and knock off several boats of our favorite Sushi.

    I'd eat a couple of pizzas. I'd barbecue a lot and I still barbecue a lot. Everyone who knows me knows I'm a barbecue master! I was eating a lot of ribs, chicken, chicken wings. My calorie content went up between 7-10,000 calories a day on the weekends. That's not hard to do when you're eating that type of food.

    People think, "You can't eat all that," because they think I'm eating clean. If you're eating clean, man, that would be really hard to do. But if you're eating barbecue sauce, chicken wings, pizza, those calories will shoot up fairly high fairly fast. I mean, one pizza - phew! - that's like your sodium limit on one slice of pizza!

[ Q ] You don't get fat?

    I don't get like you see most top amateurs and pros do. I've been fighting my body these years to try and get fat by overeating and doing nothing, but it doesn't work. I'm at the point now where I've learned my system and I'm not forcing it anymore.

    If I maintain a six pack all year round, that's fine. I'm gonna let my body do what it's gonna do when it's gonna do it.

[ Q ] What works for your body pre-contest, diet wise?

    I get bigger and stronger during my diet phase. I start rotating carbs. I stop the weekend eating. One day my carbs will be very, very high; the next day low; the next day near nothing. No two days are the same as far as carbohydrates. That is maintained up until about four weeks out. My protein remains consistent, about 350-400 grams a day. That's protein from food and protein shakes.

    Four weeks and less, my protein intake goes up. I drink a lot more green tea and I focus on the feel of the muscle in the gym. My carbohydrates go down lower, my water goes up higher.

[ Q ] How does your training differ if at all from offseason to precontest?

    My training offseason isn't sloppy, but it's more about putting that weight up there. It's about getting that weight up there with as much good form as I can, as what works for me.

    For some weird reason, we've got these guys on the 'net who like to critique the pro bodybuilder's workouts by saying that they're not going down far enough, their range of motion is one to two inches, but who writes the book on that stuff?

    If that's what works for us, that's what works for us. If they want to mess around with their hundred percent doing it the way they think they need to be doing it, they can stay just the way they look.

[ Q ] What's your set and rep range like for bodypart?

    It used to be no more than 12 sets total per bodypart, with each set ranging from 4 to 6 reps for compound movements like squats, bench presses and back movements. But I'd do 8-10 reps for the smaller bodyparts like biceps and triceps. Calves I'd use a higher rep range because I don't feel they grow from low reps.

    Now I'm working with a new trainer, Dante, and things are different. I've never put my faith in anybody other than myself when it comes to training, but I'm seeing what this guy can do for me. I want to make the biggest and best impression that I can at the beginning of next year's season, so I've enlisted this man's help. So far I have been more than pleased.

[ Q ] What does Dante have you doing that's different than what you're used to?

    Oh man! His sets and rep schemes are not that - because you're basically doing one all out set per bodypart.

[ Q ] Like a Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty routine?

    Everybody's saying it's like the Mike Mentzer Heavy Duty principles, but it's so much different and more involved than what other people are used to seeing! But I'm literally down to one set per bodypart and I'm only going to the gym three days per week. And I'm growing like crazy!

[ Q ] Wow! You're the only professional athlete who is also a currently active member of the armed forces.

    Yeah, I've been active for nine years. I'm a weapons expediter for the Air Force. I lay out the work plan for my people: what munitions go where on aircraft. I'm in charge of the overall scheme of what needs to be done on the flight line.

[ Q ] Does your job interfere with your bodybuilding?

    The shift that I'm on right now kind of does but doesn't. I get out early in the morning and I usually train right after work. But sometimes, man, you're just so tired that I have to catch some sleep and I wind up going to the gym later than I want to. But now I'm only going three days a week, and that leaves a lot of time for rest and recovery.

    It's a little challenging, but it's not out of the range of what I'm used to. I'm used to all this and I've managed to survive after all these years with this hectic lifestyle. Throwing being a professional bodybuilder into the mix just adds another iron to the fire.

[ Q ] I think a lot of people will find it admirable that you have a full time job on top of being a professional bodybuilder, given that a lot of professional bodybuilders don't.

    I don't cast stones on bodybuilders who don't have a regular job. But then again I'm not ashamed to say I have an actual paying job and that I don't need to rely on being a pro to pay the bills. I do what I do to support my family, to save money to get my daughter through college when she's old enough, to have a retirement plan - there's no retirement plan on the pro level!

    I'm putting my money to good use and living well within my means. After we pay our bills, we have money to spend which I like. I have quite a few things to show from my hard work over the years, but I'm not flashy. A lot of guys go out and get flashy cars and they're not making any money. They find themselves in debt and I'm not playing that.

[ Q ] You have a strong work ethic and you don't piss your money away.

    No, I can't! This is not a cheap sport to be in by any means. You have to buy all this protein and these supplements. People can't believe how much I spend on food, and that's just for me where I am right now! It's not cheap.

    My job does allow me freedom of time, because I do have weekends off most of the time, so I can do what I have to do for these shows.

    For example, I'll usually schedule two days of leave before a show so I can get there and become acclimated to the area. The Air Force is able to live without me those days, because there are others who are trained to do what I do. Sometimes I fly out for a guest posing on a Friday afternoon. I don't get back until Sunday evening and I go right to work at midnight!

[ Q ] I hear you like motorcycles.

    Yeah, yeah. I've got a 2004 Yamaha R6.

[ Q ] How fast have you taken it?

    It's still in the break-in period. It's still new. It's only got 157 miles on it.

David after he just bought his Yamaha R6!

[ Q ] So you haven't tried to take it up there yet?

    I've taken it up there over the speed limit by several digits, but let's leave it like that because I don't want to incriminate myself. I know that lifestyle doesn't total match with being a bodybuilder. My wife sees me on the bike and she's like, "That bike looks so small under you." But to me, sitting on that bike, it seems pretty huge.

[ Q ] Go figure, you like fast bikes and Lee Priest likes fast cars.

    I also heard Ernie Taylor rides an '03 R1, which is one step above my bike in the Yamaha class. That's a sick bike! That's way too much power for me right now. This is my first time riding street. There's a lot of learning to do. I like fast cars as well. I've been building and restoring vehicles since I was a teenager.

    We used to street race when it wasn't a big deal. Now I'm older and I'm into the street bikes. I like the turns. I like the turns a lot. I don't go out and do the crazy crap and the things that people hate us for.

[ Q ] What can fans expect from you in 2005?

    My fans can expect a bigger Dave Henry. Nothing drastic like the 30 pounds I put on between turning pro and competing as a pro. But they can expect 5-10 pounds of refined muscle come February for the Ironman. I'm gonna go for it again, the gauntlet! I'm going to aim for the first 4 pro shows of 2005. (laughs) The first three hurt this year!

    My body was like, "Oh man, what are you doing to us!" I'm shooting for a top 3 at the Ironman. I nailed a top 6 my first time out. If this is the same panel of judges and they like the package I brought last time, then, well, guys are going to have to be in better conditioning to beat me on that.

    I would like to shoot for the Olympia later that year as a possibility, to compete in the show. That's not my immediate goal. My immediate goal is to place in the top 5 at a couple of shows. A top 3 at the Ironman and a top 5 in a couple of shows and I'll be happier than a kid in a candy store!

Dave Henry's Contest Highlights:

  • 1998 Mr. Osan (South Korea) 1st - Middleweight
  • 2000 SouthWest USA 1st - Lightweight
  • 2000 Southwest Natural 1st - Lightweight
  • 2000 Lackland Classic 1st - Middleweight & overall
  • 2001 Lone Star Classic 1st - Middleweight & overall
  • 2001 AETC Muscle Mania Overall
  • 2001 NPC Nationals 11th - Middleweight
  • 2002 NPC USA 2nd - Middleweight
  • 2002 NPC Nationals 1st - Middleweight
  • 2004 IronMan Pro Invitational 6th
  • 2004 San Francisco Grand Prix 8th
  • 2004 Florida Extreme Pro Challenge 10th place

In 1991 @ the Lackland Classic.
Left to Right Reggie and David ( 16 yrs old) My First Show!

More Pics:

Visit Dave Henry online at www.toopumped.net.

Contact Tony at tmonchinski@juno.com.