Interview With David Henry: Preparing For The Olympia

Despite being out of the competition last year, David Henry isn't lagging behind. He's not only ready for the Olympia, he's ready to win the first ever 212 Showdown.

David Henry, the 212-pound Olympia standout, won't be satisfied just standing toe-to-toe with the sports best, he aims to win.

With his combined pro-win tally eclipsing the number of events many of his modern-day peers have contested, the Giant Killer is relishing in his opportunity to compete.

He has an incredible God-given shape, and has more mass (proportionally speaking) than anyone on the pro
scene today.

Henry was unable to compete in the 2011 season
because of military duties and has only had four events
in the last three years, but with his recent win at the
Dallas Europa Supershow, he's proven to everyone that
he's back and more ready than ever to challenge for bodybuilding's most prestigious crown.

In 2008, Henry bested the 202 lineup and collected his first Olympia win. Since then, he has continued to bring to the 202 stage the classiest physique this division has ever seen. The 2009-2010 season however, brought an immovable obstacle: Kevin English.

With the introduction of the new 212-pound class, however, Henry is now widely touted as being the man to put an end to English's reign of terror.

He has superior lines, symmetry, proportions and enough mass to dominate even the most competitive fields.

In the following interview, the man with the flawless
physique discusses his plans for 212 Showdown
domination and what he has done to further perfect
his body of work.

At the recently held Dallas Pro, your first pro event since the 2010 Olympia, you looked to be in the best form of your career. Your win places you as a favorite to win this year's Olympia. How do you see it playing out come September 29?

I wasn't at my best shape in Dallas and that was to be expected. I was not trying to make a poor showing, but I wanted to prove that just because I was away from active competition for a while doesn't mean I couldn't come back and look good enough for a win. I wasn't my best; I will be at my best at the Olympia.

What improvements are you looking to bring to the 2012 Olympia stage?

Everything will be granite hard. My glutes and hams, which were problem areas in Dallas, will be on point. I will showcase the physique that won in '08 and, to me, should have won the 2010 Olympia Showdown. I will be visibly bigger with a smaller waistline and improved shape.

There is not much I could do given the limited amount of time I had to prep for this season, but my body will look like I haven't missed a beat.

Will you, at this stage of the game, be aiming for detail improvement over mass gaining?

There will be lots of detail. But, you can actually put on a little more mass over a 6-week period. I'm just hammering quads, hams and glutes at this point. My upper body of course is good to go. I will detail that up a little more, though. But the showstopper will be when I turn around and show my back.

The last time we spoke you were utilizing the DC method. Have you changed any training variables since this time?

No, there is no need to change what hasn't been broken. Though, at this point I've switched to a really difficult 2-way split. But I happen to be recovering at an amazing rate where I can train this way more frequently.

Despite your many years on the pro circuit, you appear to be as fresh as ever. What do you do to ensure such longevity?

For one, it is just called being smart. I don't do crazy, off the wall stuff with nutrition. Those who do not know what they are doing will put their health at risk; I'm not one of those people. I take time off to recharge mentally and physically.

I do all that I can to ensure my system is operating at its peak. I want to walk away from competing on my own terms and not because of health problems.

Do you taper off building mass in the off-season, to give your body a break? And do you grow into your competitions, rather than continuously aim to build mass, as many competitors do?

I'm one of the few individuals, like a Kevin Levrone, who will grow into a competition, instead of maintaining mass in the off-season.

Off-season I just enjoy my family, have some downtime, and eat a lot of good food. That's just called living life. There is only so much you can put your family through without sacrificing your family bond.

During those downtimes I like to let loose, without concentrating too much on mass. I still train hard and heavy. But when it's time to put the hammer down, I go all-out with my diet and training. The illusion is important.

I've added a few pounds of mass this year, but it'll look like I've gained a lot more than that.

Have you had to change the way you approach your training the older you get?

No, my joints are perfectly fine. No knee or shoulder issues, no triceps tendinitis. I have been very blessed that I don't have any nagging injuries, not even small ones at this point.

I feel awesome every day I wake up, and I sleep well. My mind is just in a different spot. I take this very seriously, but I know when to taper it off.

Are you still lifting as heavy as ever?
Henry and Jose Raymond pose down at the 2010 Olympia
Henry and Jose Raymond pose down at the 2010 Olympia.

Yes, I'm breaking PRs right up to three days out from the show. People have seen me train my back on the Wednesday before a show and I'm still doing 300-plus on the pull-down.

I don't really train light. There is no reason to. Why would you change this when you are dieting down? Lighter weights and higher reps don't do much for the conditioning factor.

If you hammer it the way you have been hammering it, then your conditioning improves.

The only thing that improves definition is iso-flexion: the posing and establishing a better mind-muscle link. Like how Kai Greene does it—the man is able to control every part of his body in the gym and this comes across onstage.

That is the stuff that brings out the detail and makes you look unbelievable onstage, not all the running around with cables and all these crazy exercises. Straight and to-the-point is more my style.

Do you rely more on diet for your conditioning and less on the so-called isolation training prior to competitions?

Definitely. We don't do any isolation-movements pre-contest. Your diet will take care of all of that. If your shoulder lines are there, they are going to be there whether you are doing overhead presses or side raises.

Have you made any changes to your diet this time around to further bring out your definition as you get older?

Yes, my diet has changed because my body hasn't responded the same. That's the reason I didn't compete earlier in the year at the Wings of Strength in Chicago.

I wanted to do this show but because my body wasn't responding to my diet the same way it had done in previous years, I had to push off the earlier contest and aim the Dallas Europa.

Is it taking you longer to achieve your usual degree of conditioning?

Just this time it has. I have been off the stage for a year and a half and did not train like a bodybuilder during that entire year of 2011.

So, I needed to change some things. But now that I'm back and actively competing, it's like everything is coming back—like muscle memory. Right now, I'm sitting with shredded glutes and it's not even contest time, so I'm ready to rock.

The 202, or its present manifestation, the 212, is always a competitive class. How do you see the upcoming David Henry/Kevin English comparison playing out?

I've heard some comments about my demeanor on the 2010 stage, after receiving second place to Kevin. But, you can't please everybody all of the time, especially when you react to a second-place finish when many consider that you justifiably won the contest.

So this year it is the same mindset: I'm doing what I have to do, when I'm supposed to do it and how I'm supposed to do it. When I step on the Olympia stage there will be no doubt that there is nothing else I could have done.

Let the judging down front show that I am the best man onstage.

You want to leave the decision beyond doubt?

Yes, I always want to do that. But this time it means more to me than it did in 2008 when I won the very first 202 Showdown. This year, I want to be the first 212-pound Olympia winner.

To make history yet again?

Yes, I have my six world titles that I was aiming for. Everything else after that would be a definite blessing.

Other than Kevin English, who do you see as being potential top-three competition for you this time around?

Well, you definitely have to put the favorites out there, and that includes Flex Lewis and Jose Raymond. You also have guys who have done a bit of damage through the year.

But things can change. Tricky Jackson can be up there in the top five. Al Auguste has two wins this year. Some people can drop out, which I hope does not happen. I hope those who have qualified compete so it's one of the best shows of the year.

I hope everyone shows up in their best condition so no one has anything to hang his head about.

Henry and Kevin English battling it out for the top spot at the 2010 Olympia
Henry and Kevin English battle it out for the top spot at the 2010 Olympia.

As experienced as you are, I imagine that you focus only on what you can control and not on what others are doing. I've never worried about what anybody else is doing. You can't do that because you will only sabotage yourself.

I've always known what I want to do, and I will continue to do what I want to do. Of course I have the assistance of my training partner and nutritionist Scott Stevenson, and the constant vigilance of my wife; but other than that, I'm still going to be me.

I understanding that you are sponsored by True Nutrition. How well are these products working for you?

I'm sponsored through True Nutrition, but I am still available for an actual paid sponsorship. I am glad and blessed to have these guys helping me with supplementation. TrueNutrition has fantastic products—they don't carry everyone else's brand—it is True Nutrition quality across the board.

I'm using the whey isolate, which is phenomenal. I take 90 grams at a time and experience no gastric distress. I take their branched chain amino acids and their omega 3-6-9 oil.

Those products are definitely top quality and are keeping me healthy, happy, regular and lubricated.

What keeps you motivated to continue improving?

I continue to improve because I'm not done yet. As long as I'm physically able to do what I do, move heavy weights, and am not mentally burned out, I will continue to compete. I'm still having fun; when you are not having fun in something you are supposed to love, then it's time to find something else to do.

Bodybuilders are kind of masochistic in our own way; we often hate the work that has to go into it, but love the end result. There are only a few of us who do this stuff. And as you will see on the Olympia stage, every one of us has put in our time to get to where we are.

Is there a particular goal you would like to achieve before you do eventually hang up the trunks for good?

No, man. I have set all my goals for bodybuilding and at this point it is time to go out and be the giant killer and one of the most-recognized bodybuilders out there.

When my time is done, hopefully people will respect what I have accomplished and the type of person I am, not the person they may have heard about on the Internet, but the real person.

Hopefully I will have earned a good reputation and can go out on top.

What goes through your mind when you are up there competing?

I think about hitting every shot for what it's worth; the title is worth everything I have worked so hard to do.

My front double biceps shot has to be crisp and clean and my back double biceps has to go from the ground up, with calves flexed all the way up to the top of my hams. And of course, I think about the trademark smile, because I love what I do.

The smile is not forced. I'm having fun up there. I love being around all those guys. I've known them and competed against them for years. We are still friends. Not being friends is not going to change how your body looks.

Just because Flex Lewis and I are onstage and bumping elbows does not mean that off-stage we cannot be friends.

Is there no defense in bodybuilding?

That's right, you just have to run with what you have and hope that it is enough.

What is competing at Olympia level like for you? How does it compare to other events?

The Olympia is it. I don't think there is any other competition like it. It was designed to be the be-all and end-all for all the winners of the year.

You get to be on stage to determine the best of the best. And you get bragging rights for at least that entire year.

Would you like to make any shout-outs before we conclude?

A thank you goes out to my training partner/nutritionist Dr. Scott Stevenson, and to my wife for putting up with me.

And definitely thanks to Dante and True Nutrition for the supplement help, the DC training and just for being an all-round great guy.