Phil to the Brim

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


“With all the hype about Ramy and Kai, I thought, ‘What’s the one body part these guys could accentuate onstage over me?’ And it’s quad development. Even though I beat ’em on separation, they have it on thickness and pure mass. So I put my focus on legs. I told people the only chance they have is with legs. So if I train legs harder or more often, then that takes away their best punch. And once you do that, then they can’t really fight with you. Really, it 
was quad sweep from the rear that I was most concerned about. So I was trying to make my glutes smaller, bring out the outer quads, and make my hamstrings pop. I just wanted that better shape, and that’s what we were able to do.”

The key was a double double. First, he double-split legs, breaking them into two sessions in the same day: quadriceps in the afternoon, hamstrings and calves in the evening. Then, he doubled their workload, hitting them twice over his seven-day split. On paper, not much changed between the two workouts. He switched in front squats for back squats and/or vertical leg presses for 45-degree leg presses in the second workout. The main difference was a greater focus on increasing the time under tension in the second workout. For example, he might go lighter on leg extensions and hold contractions.


These are four exercises that Heath worked into his routine during the past year.

  • CLOSE-GRIP BENCH PRESS:  He doesn’t do any barbell pressing on chest day, but he inserted this old standby into his arm days. He does them after pre-exhausting his triceps with isolation exercises.
  • LOW-CABLE CROSSOVER: By pulling the cables from low positions to above his chest, he’s able to focus more on his upper, inner pecs.
  • MACHINE PULLOVER: He discovered this is an excellent method for removing the biceps from back work to better isolate his lats.
  • SPIDER CURL: This biceps curl done on the flat side of a preacher bench helps him focus more on contractions.

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