Breon Ansley Prioritizes Mind-Muscle Connection Over Heavier Weight in Training
Two-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Breon Ansley is working to bring his best package possible to his final Classic Physique show at the 2022 Olympia. He has until December — the show is scheduled for Dec. 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV — and has significantly switched up his off-season training and diet from previous years.
Ansley is eating many more calories than he has in the past, which can help with a substantial bulk before leaning out to the highly refined and conditioned physique he brings year after year. His current training emphasizes mind-muscle connection to ensure the target muscle groups are activating at total capacity rather than simply lifting heavier weights.
Ansley breaks that idea down further in his YouTube video published on June 3, 2022, which features his leg day. Check it out below:
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Make sure you see the muscles flittering; fibers working.
To maximize the contraction of each rep and prevent fatigue, Ansley is very serious about hydration while training. He expects to drink nearly a gallon of water during his leg session — he sips from his water gallon after every set.
Ansley did three working sets of leg extensions. While drinking his water between sets, Ansley reflects on aspects of his training outside the gym, such as sleep and recovery, that could contribute to his fatigue in the gym. If he feels tired despite reasonable recovery efforts outside the gym, then he has a sense that he is working at his max capacity.
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After leg extensions, Ansley bangs out hack squats. He works his way up to four 45-pound weight plates on each side for slow and controlled reps. Although he knows he could load a fifth plate to each side, it’s not about the weight for him:
Remember, it ain’t about the damn weight. You don’t want to think about how heavy the weight is…[but] the muscle moving the weight.
Ansley finds super heavy weights to be a distraction from what bodybuilding is. For Ansley, that’s developing a mind-muscle connection to ensure that the movement of the weight is performed by the muscle he’s focused on.
Ansley believes that lifting less weight with a better mind-muscle connection is more beneficial for bodybuilding. To him, lifting this way over time will improve a bodybuilder’s longevity, even after they retire. He performed three sets of hack squats, two of which were with knee wraps, for added stability.
Bulgarian Split Squats
The third main movement of the session was Bulgarian split squats. Ansley utilized a weight bench for his rear foot at approximately his knee height. He aimed to keep rest between sets on each leg to a minimum and did not sit.
Bulgarians always whoop my ass.
Bulgarian split squats "whoop ass" due to the stability required throughout the movement and how it significantly one’s heart rate can increase towards the end of a set. Ansley used heavier dumbbells for each set, maxing out at 50 pounds in each hand. He aimed for 20 reps per leg, reaching mechanical failure.
Romanian Deadlifts, Hamstring Curls, Calf Raises
While still chugging from his water gallon, Ansley performed Romanian deadlifts with lifting straps to hang on to heavier dumbbells, a few sets of hamstring curls, and finished with calf raises. He did not state if he performed them as part of a tri-set or performed sets of each movement before moving on to the next.
Ansley closed out his training session as he always does with posing. He hit front double-biceps, side chest, quarter turns on each side, back double-biceps, and abs and thighs. He didn’t suggest that he was looking to improve any particular pose but felt that it was challenging to find the muscle separation in the legs following all the work from the session.
Ansley’s next contest will be the 2022 Tampa Pro on Aug. 5-6, 2022. Regardless of where he ranks in that contest, he will be at the 2022 Olympia as he has a lifetime invite to compete in Classic Physique as a former champion of that division. We’ll see what package he shows up with in Tampa and if he paves the way for him to potentially reclaim the Classic Physique Olympia crown in December.
Featured image: @breonma_ on Instagram