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How David became Goliath: David Henry adds quality muscle with two superhigh-calorie days per week
David Henry’s pro debut at the 2004 Ironman Pro Invitational should leave no doubt that smaller bodybuilders can grow into top pros. Henry earned his pro card at the NPC Nationals in November 2002 at a bodyweight of 167. Fifteen months later, he was a ripped 190 at the Ironman, where he finished sixth behind five bodybuilders who all have at least one Olympia appearance under their belts.
“I’m a hardgainer, so finding the right nutrition strategy was the key to adding mass,” Henry says. He also says that his diet strategy will work for other hardgainers. The key to Henry’s success? “Every weekend, I eat nearly 7,000 calories a day. On weekdays, I follow a basic bodybuilding diet of about 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day.”
Doubling the amount of calories gives Henry’s body an overload of energy, helping it to grow without adding excess bodyfat. “When I compete, I’m at around 3% bodyfat, but when I was trying to grow in the offseason, I only went up to about 7%. That’s still pretty low, but I was able to add more than 20 pounds of muscle in a little over a year.” He attributes this to the metabolic confusion that the high-calorie days create. When you change up the amount of calories you normally consume, your body burns bodyfat more effectively while adding muscle mass.
Henry says that the quantity of calories consumed is every bit as important as the quality, especially for hardgainers. “Guys who have trouble adding size are often eating only chicken breast, yams and broccoli, and it’s hard to get in enough calories to really grow. If that’s what you’re doing and you’re not adding the muscle you want, then you need to make some adjustments.”
He adds that it’s important to take in at least a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day, on both high- and moderate-calorie days. On high-calorie days, include some cheat foods to make certain you hit your caloric target. “I’m not saying you should eat Twinkies, but you can eat foods like burgers and pizza on high-calorie days. These foods have plenty of protein and the calories you need to pack on quality size.”
If you’re a hardgainer who wants to grow and stay lean, try adapting Henry’s plan to your own needs. For five days a week, eat up to 10% more calories than you require for maintenance. For example, if you need 3,000 calories a day to maintain your current weight, try to get in 3,300 a day, making sure that you consume at least a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
On the weekends, increase caloric intake to about double what you need for maintenance (6,000 in this example). Try this for about eight weeks, and see how your body responds. If you’re adding too much bodyfat, scale back your daily calorie consumption and include a couple of moderate cardio sessions a week.
BY STEVE STIEFEL