Phil to the Brim

How Phil Heath trained to build a fuller physique and win his 3rd Olympia.


Phil Heath always has a plan. In 2006, his rookie year, when he lacked the size to hang with Pro League Goliaths, he won with high definition at a mere 206 pounds. Afterward, he stayed off the O stage until, in 2008, he’d brought up his weaknesses so much that many felt he deserved to carry home the Sandow in his O debut (he placed third). In 2011, when he won his first Olympia, he shocked the bodybuilding world with his crispness. In 2012, he was fuller, but Kai Greene and others seemed to be closing the gap. So Heath and his trainer, Hany Rambod, strategized a plan for widening the gap once again and winning his third straight Olympia title.


To understand Heath’s blueprint for the 2013 Mr. Olympia, we must first return to the Olympia that preceded it. On score sheets, Heath won in 2012 with straight firsts over Greene’s straight seconds. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. It certainly felt like a closely fought contest, a mano-a-mano duel between two rivals with wildly divergent personalities and physiques. Fans picked sides. The noisiest Greene partisans favored his greater overall size, especially the breadth of his legs and his lats. Heath displayed massive advantages in delts, pecs, traps, and triceps, but those relatively small body parts could be obscured by the broader outline of Greene.

There were others to watch out for in 2013. Coming of his shocking third-place fi nish at the ’12 Olympia, Shawn Rhoden had the momentum. Four-time champ Jay Cutler was returning. Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay was making his debut. And if Dennis Wolf— forever lurking in the top six—ever nailed it, he would be trouble. As 2013 progressed, Heath and Rambod surveyed the probable Olympia field. If there 

was one area Greene, Rhoden, Cutler, Ellsbiay, and Wolf could beat Heath in, it was legs. So lower body became Heath’s priority. Meanwhile, to fend of mass monsters who might outweigh him by more than 20 pounds, the Gift needed to maintain his strengths, displaying both the curves and the cuts others lacked.

“In 2011, I was ripped, and it shocked people that I could still get that kind of conditioning as big as I was,” Heath states. “Then last year [2012], I thought Kai was going to try to come in with all this dense muscle, so I came with a fuller look. The only problem was Kai went leaner. So, everyone was talking about this [2013] being the year he would get me. Well, what I tried to do was combine those two looks, 2011 and 2012; get the ripped look with the full look. I knew if I could do that, no one would beat that.”

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