Phil Heath


Phil Heath, A.K.A “The Gift” is a six-time My Olympia champion from 2011 to 2016, including being crowned at the Mr Olympia’s 50th anniversary in 2014. He’s tied with Dorian Yates record, almost tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 7-time record, and close to Ronnie Coleman’s 8 wins of the Mr. Olympia.

However, things weren’t easy for Phil’s life in the beginning, he often had to raise himself as his parents were busy working full-time jobs. This helped Phil to learn the skills necessary to work hard in life and keep moving forward towards his goals. This drive made him a formidable character in the bodybuilding world, and has gone on to see him become one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. This is his story:


Athlete Statistics

Full Name: Phillip Heath
245 - 255lbs (111.1 - 115.7kg)5'9" (175cm)23"54"
Year of BirthNationalityProfession
The Gift, The Next Big Thing2000, 2010
Weight245 - 255lbs (111.1 - 115.7kg)
Height5'9" (175cm)
Year of Birth1979
AliasThe Gift, The Next Big Thing
Era2000, 2010




  • 2004 NPC Colorado State, Heavyweight, – 1st
  • 2005 NPC Junior Nationals, Heavyweight – 1st
  •  2005 NPC USA Championships, Heavyweight – 1st
  • 2006 Colorado Pro Championships – 1st
  • 2007 Arnold Classic – 5th
  • 2008 IFBB Iron Man – 1st
  • 2008 Arnold Classic – 2nd
  • 2008 Mr. Olympia – 3rd
  • 2009 Mr. Olympia – 5th
  • 2010 Arnold Classic – 2nd
  • 2010 Mr Olympia – 2nd
  • 2011 Mr. Olympia – 1st
  • 2011 Sheru Classic – 1st
  • 2012 Mr Olympia – 1st
  • 2012 Sheru Classic – 1st
  • 2013 Mr. Olympia – 1st
  • 2013 Arnold Classic Europe – 1st
  • 2014 Mr. Olympia – 1st
  • 2015 Mr Olympia – 1st
  • 2016 Mr Olympia – 1st


“Sometimes, you just need to have your ass handed to you. That lights a fire under your butt.”


Early Life

Born in Seattle Washington in December of 1979, Phil was an active and athletic child growing up. Heath’s parents were successful in their careers but often busy at times, leaving Phil to learn many basic life skills by himself. He learned to cook, train for basketball, and understand the value of hard work, driving home his philosophy toward life and training in his early years.

He attended Rainier Beach High School, showing a love for basketball from a young age, and eventually, he joined the school team. Phil quickly earned a full athletic scholarship to the University of Denver in Colorado, he continued playing basketball while majoring in business administration and IT.

While training for his basketball games, Heath became familiar with the weights room, and was inspired by the camaraderie and hard work that his friends showed in the gym. Deciding to join them, but still far from achieving a Pro bodybuilding career, Heath initially began weightlifting in order to improve his jumping power and presence on the basketball court.

As he progressed, Heath became tired of basketball, believing it didn’t hold the niche potential for greatness that he desired. He then decided to return to the weight room, which had become his refuge. Balancing three jobs, which were, web-development, bouncing at night clubs, and basketball academy training, Phil immersed himself in the culture of bodybuilding in his limited “free time”. This later made him play with the idea of creating a spectacular physique as his lifetime goal.

Bodybuilding Inspiration

Heath began taking bodybuilding more seriously in 2002, where he took a job at his local gym, whilst learning as much as possible about nutrition, supplementation, and effective training strategies.

He credits this time as being the most formative years of his career as he read through crates of bodybuilding magazines, which all helped Phil to create his awesome physique. As well as working out on his own, he still worked out with his friends from time to time, and after training hard and heavy over the course of three years, Heath grew from 185lbs to 215lbs with 6% bodyfat.

Rise of a Champion

During 2003, and weighing a lean 192lbs, he took part in his first competition – The Rocky Mountain Northern Physique Committee where he was crowned champion, and earned the nickname “The Gift.”

Following his first success, Heath attended the event a second time, securing 2nd place in the light-heavyweight category, only one point away from repeating his initial victory. This motivated him to come back and train harder than before.

His new training motivation payed off, as in late 2003, and 7lbs heavier at 200lbs, he achieved the title of Mr. Colorado at the NPC Colorado State Show. This earned him sponsorship deals with well-known brands, as well as cementing his early attempts as a formidable competitor.

By 2005, and at a respectful 215lbs, Phil was ready to win his IFBB Pro-Card. He soon made appearances at The Colorado Pro Championships and The New York Pro Championships, winning both in 2007. This gave him the confidence to compete in the Arnold Classic, where he came in 5th place.


Back to the Drawing Board

Following his previous success, he was encouraged by friends, fans, and family, to compete in the 2007 Mr. Olympia. Recalling his difficulties with over-estimating himself in the past, Heath decided to play it smart and not enter that year, instead, he attempted to improve his form, diet, and training, with a mind focused on optimizing his chances of winning future competitions.

Coming back from his reflection period, Heath charged onward in 2008 to win both the Iron Man Show, and took second place to Dexter Jackson in the 2008 Arnold Classic. This gave him the desire to enter the 2008 Mr Olympia, becoming the first debut bodybuilder to take third place since Flex Wheeler in 1993.

As a favorite to win Mr. Olympia in 2009, he unfortunately fell ill with a stomach virus shortly before competing, cutting 6lbs from his intended arrival weight. This saw him drop several places by taking 5th position that year.

Trying again the following year in the 2010 Mr Olympia, saw Phil place 2nd to Jay Cutler, and inspired by Jay, he claims that he had to push their friendship out of his mind and focus completely on taking his title. Working on his rear lat spread, among other poses, and training to perfection, Heath came into his own as the 2011 Mr. Olympia taking 1st place, fully earning his nickname “The Gift.”

6 Years At The Top

From then on, he was an unstoppable force for the next 6 years, earning the Mr. Olympia title 6 times in a row. He used his success as a means of inspiration for others, along with becoming involved with charity work to help those in need. He’s also released five DVD’s on the topic of bodybuilding, alongside his personal story, and also appears in the internationally famous ‘Pumping Iron’s’ sequel ‘Generation Iron.’

Phil now currently resides in his home town of Colorado, and trains at Armbrust Pro Gym. As Phil says, “I have one life, I’m going to go as hard as I can, as smart as I can.” Phil Heath 


Phil before & After


“My pro career got started 2 1/2 years after I picked up a set of weights and decided to be a bodybuilder. People wonder what my secret is. There’s really no secret. It’s just that you guys have been watching my progression from the very minute I started bodybuilding.”


Re-inventing The Wheel

Heaths training regime has stayed similar for a number of years. He states that every year he’ll work on an obvious weak spot, but on the whole, his training has been similar since his first Mr. Olympia win. Phil advises people who are looking to improve their training methods, that it’s best to stick with the basics and what’s always worked best;

“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.”


Phil also states how important it is not to over-train, as this is something he’s constantly trying to learn and pay attention to in order to get the best results. Phil says; “it’s just learning how not to over-train, 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.” – Phil Heath 

Phil’s Training Routine

Monday (Hamstrings, Calves and Quads)

  • 4 Sets of Lying Leg Curls of 8-10 reps
  • 4 Sets of Stiff-Leg Deadlifts of 8-10 reps
  • 7 Sets of Seated Leg Curls of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Standing Calf Raises of 15-20 reps
  • 4 Sets of Leg Press Calf Raises of 20 reps
  • 7 Sets of Seated Calf Raises of 15 reps
  • 4 Sets of Extensions of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Front Squats of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Leg Presses of 12 reps
  • 7 Sets of Hack Squats of 7 reps

Tuesday (Chest and Triceps)

  • 4 Sets of Dumbbell Incline Presses of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Dumbbell Incline Flyes of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Hammer Strength Bench Presses of 10-12 reps
  • 7 Sets of Pec Decks of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Pushdowns of Rope Attachment of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Dips of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Close-Grip Bench Presses of 10-12 reps
  • 7 Sets of Lying Triceps Extensions of 10-12 reps

Wednesday (Rest day)

 Thursday (Back and Biceps)

  • 3 Sets of Wide-Grip Pull-Ups of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Power-Grip Chin-Ups of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of T-bar Rows of 12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Bent-Over Rows of 12 reps
  • 3 Sets of One-Arm Dumbbell Rows of 12 reps
  • 7 Sets of Straight-Arm Pull Downs of Rope Attachment of 10-12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Standing EZ-Bar Curls of 12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Hammer Curls of 12 reps
  • 3 Sets of Concentration Curls of 12 reps
  • 7 Sets of Hammer Strength Preacher Curls of 8-10 reps

Friday (Shoulders and  Traps)

  • 4 Sets of Smith Machine Military Presses of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Dumbbell Front Raises of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Upright Rows of 10-12 reps
  • 7 Sets of Dumbbell Lateral Raises of 10-12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Dumbbell Shrugs of 12 reps
  • 4 Sets of Barbell Shrugs of 12 reps



Proteins, Carbs, And Fats

Phil consumes plenty of protein, eating 20lb of chicken breast a week, alongside red meats (roughly 12oz a meal) and fish. His favorite carbs are sweet potatoes, and rolled oats, and despite brown rice being a bodybuilding favorite, Phil prefers the taste of white rice and claims that his fast metabolism allows it to work better for his body.

Accurate Nutrition

Phil has three sets of scales in his kitchen in order to weigh anything he needs to the exact measurement. He also supplements his vegetables with a vegetable powder in order to cover all of his mineral requirements.

He normally eats eight meals a day, and drinks two protein shakes per day to keep his energy levels high and protein synthesis consistent. Phil rarely lacks energy, even on days that he’s in the gym morning and evening. Phil also eats plenty of egg whites, yams, and tilapia for both his fish oil needs, and easily digestible protein. He also takes a premium multivitamin and a fat burner when he’s getting close to competitions.

Phil’s Off-season Diet

Meal 1

  • 12 oz. chicken
  • 1 cup of egg whites
  • 1 cup of cream of rice

Meal 2

  • 12 oz. 94% ground beef
  • 2 cups of white rice

Meal 3

  • 12 oz. beef tenderloin
  • 8 oz. whole wheat pasta

Training Time

  • Pre-Workout supplement 
  • Post-Workout protein shake 

Meal 4

  • 6-8 oz. beef tenderloin
  • 10 oz. white potato

Meal 5

  • 12 oz. chicken
  • 1 cup of spinach

Meal 6

  • 12 oz. of 94% ground beef
  • 1 cup of broccoli

Meal 7

  • 2 tbsp. of almond butter
  • Whey protein isolate

Phil’s Pre-Contest Diet

Meal 1

  • 2.5 cups egg whites
  • 1 cup of oatmeal

Meal 2

  • 12 oz. white chicken breast
  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • Steamed vegetables

Meal 3

  • 12 oz. beef tenderloin
  • Medium sweet potato

Training Time

  • Pre-Workout supplement 
  • Post-Workout protein shake 

Meal 4

  • 12 oz. beef tenderloin
  • Medium sweet potato

Meal 5

  • 12 oz. white chicken breast
  • 1 cup brown rice

Meal 6 & 7

  • 12 oz. halibut or tilapia
  • Steamed broccoli


Idols and Influences

Phil has a close friendship with Dorian Yates, who is someone he has idolized since his youth. He used to keep a poster of Flex Wheeler near his bedside, and said how he was immensely satisfied when he paralleled Flex’s achievement placing third in his novice Mr. Olympia tryout. He’s also close friends with Jay Cutler, who inspired him to train harder and push his boundaries.

However, he still praises his unnamed friends he began training with, who taught him the etiquette of the weight room and the willingness to keep trying. This is shown through his consistent attempts at winning Mr. Olympia, and throughout his prolonged reign as its champion for such a long period.



What we can learn from Phil Heath

Phil Heath is an inspirational figure, and sure to go down in history as one of the greatest players in the sport due to his impressive titles and his 6 years reign at the top.

Being a mindful and dedicated representative of the sport, Phil Heath has inspired many to begin training, and taught us that with the right mind-set, anything is possible. He is a testament to the fact that the harder you work, the more you get.

What we can learn from Phil is the willingness to try, time and time again, until we achieve our initial goal. Also not to be afraid to go back to the drawing board to give something another shot. These traits are what make a true champion. With the same determination and drive, you too can achieve greatness just like Phil.

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It should be mentioned that Lee Haney has eight consecutive Mr. O wins and is tied with Ronnie Coleman for most ever at this time!

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