Phil Heath, Mr. Olympia - training


The training insight that turned Phil Heath into Mr. Olympia – straight from the man himself. Hit the gym with the Gift and change the way you train.


What would be the one key lesson you’ve learned in the gym since turning pro?

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to come up with any exotic movements if what you’re currently doing is working. If you’ve noticed that dumbbells work better than barbells for you on the bench press, then why change that? Maybe you should change the order in which you do the exercises for variety, so I’ve done that. But as far as what I’ve done in the past few years, it’s just learning how not to overtrain, learning how to listen to your body, and realize that, yeah, if I go in the gym and something doesn’t feel right, then I may drop that whole exercise and go on to something else. As far as switching my whole theory on training, no.


How does your training differ from off-season to pre-contest?

The past fews years, I’ve decided that going into a contest I should be able to use the same amount of weight as I was using in the off-season. Early in my career, I didn’t have the strength required to keep up that mass going into a contest. now, I’m making sure that the weights being lifted are heavy all the time. Saying, “Oh, I’m just going to focus on higher reps and shred up”—that’s a fallacy. Before I started working with Hany, I believed that. But not anymore. I realize that a strong muscle is always a bigger one and that you should be able to lift heavy throughout your contest prep until maybe the last 10 days. Frankly, I lifted heavy up until three days out from the Olympia. People choose to back off on their training approaching a show, but I don’t believe in that.


You typically train each body part twice a week, with a few exceptions. Why do you think twice is better than once a week?

Look at Ronnie Coleman. He hit everything twice. I believe that if you’re able to eat as much as a bodybuilder is supposed to, you’re probably not going to overtrain. And more important, I want to make sure that weaker areas are getting enough volume throughout the week to where they stay stimulated and full. Your strong points don’t necessarily need as much attention. So whatever you’re trying to bring up, I don’t see why you shouldn’t train that twice a week if you have the time to do it. And obviously, that’s going to depend on a person’s ability to recover. I’m probably going to be an exception because my career is bodybuilding, so I’ve got every resource available to me—going to the chiropractor and all the extra therapy stuff I get done, along with all the food I eat, has enabled me to recover fast enough. The average person may not be able to afford that lifestyle. So if you’re sore, yeah, maybe you shouldn’t be doubling up as much. But if your body can hold up to it, then by all means, go for it.


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