Phil Heath: The Future of Bodybuilding

Before he became "The Gift," we predicted that Phil Heath would be the next big thing on the bodybuilding scene.

Phil Heath: The Future of Bodybuilding

If the sport of professional bodybuilding were a patient, it would be sprouting IVs and surrounded by a team of frantic surgeons alternately administering CPR and shouting things like "Clear!"” The sport that brought us icons named Reeves, Schwarzenegger and Coleman needs an infusion of new blood, and fast.

"“He'’s flatlining! No, no . . . I'’m afraid it'’s too late. There'’s nothing more we can do. Nurse, call the time please . . . Wait! What'’s that? We'’ve got a pulse!"

For bodybuilding fans, May 13, 2006, can'’t come too soon -- that'’s when the sport'’s version of Dr. Feelgood will step onto a professional bodybuilding stage for the first time (at the inaugural Vyotech/Shawn Ray Classic in Denver) and perform a lifesaving procedure disguised as a posing routine.

We've complied our top six reasons why we believe 26-year-old Denver resident Phil Heath could very well be bodybuilding'’s next big thing, assuming, of course, the hype generated by publications like this one doesn'’t emotionally overwhelm the guy they call The Gift. We'’re not only betting that it doesn'’t (see Reason 4) but that you'’ll be singing his praises soon enough, especially if you'’re female.

Reason 1: He'’s (Damn) Good

It takes a bit of an expert in such things to determine what constitutes an excellent physique vs. one that could redefine the sport. From his tiny joints to his long, round muscle bellies to his ability to get those all-important glute striations, Phil has the goods. Detractors like to harp on his clavicle width, or lack thereof, with the glee others take in noticing an ingrown hair on Brad Pitt'’s cheek. Nonfactor. We saw him training this past November: His delts now more than make up for any clavicular shortcomings.

Reason 2: He'’s a Baby

Phil turned pro by winning the 2005 NPC USAs in Vegas at the tender age of 25. In an era when most IFBB rookies are the same age at which many NBAers hang up their Chuck Taylors, Phil is a throwback. In the '80s and early '’90s, guys like Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone and Flex Wheeler were storming the sport in their early- to mid-20s. Phil has been compared to all three, and deservedly so. We can see Phil dominating pro stages for the next decade and a half, if we'’re lucky.