THE CHAMPION SPEAKS YET AGAIN. We’re very familiar with him: the now seven-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath. Only this time he doesn’t have quite as much to say. With a reputation over the years as one of the great trash-talking bodybuilders of all time, Heath was relatively quiet heading into the 2017 Olympia. Then, of course, his physique spoke loud and clear on Sept. 16 with another commanding victory, his seventh in a row. Four days later, he gave the following exclusive interview to FLEX, and he had a fair amount to say—reminiscent of the man he’d just tied for Mr. Olympia titles, Arnold Schwarzenegger. If Heath is true to his word, which he always is, we’ll be back here one year from now with even more to talk about.
FLEX: I’m sounding like a broken record because I ask you the same question every year, but...how did the 2017 Olympia differ from 2016? Your placing was the same, of course.
PHIL HEATH: The callouts were different, obviously. There’s really no dominant second-place person; that’s something I noticed this year. Like when you had Ronnie [Coleman] and Jay [Cutler], it was always those two guys, and then everybody else. With me, it’s essentially been a different guy every year. With that, the fans are able to get different looks, same with the judges. There’s always someone new in second place, and there’s always someone disappointed. I’m sure Shawn Rhoden was disappointed about dropping from second to fifth.
Speaking of that, we had a Phil Heath–Kai Greene rivalry, and then we had a Heath–Rhoden rivalry, and even before that we had a Heath–Cutler rivalry. So what do we have now?A Heath–Big Ramy rivalry?
Honestly, I don’t think so. Because here’s the deal: Bonac was beating [Ramy] on Friday. I think what we’re going to see is a five-headed monster. As of right now, I don’t know who the challenger will be next year. What would solidify someone being a contender would be whoever dominates the post-Olympia schedule. And also, who out of that other four in the top five is going to do the Arnold Classic? Because we have yet to see any of those guys, other than Dexter Jackson, do the Arnold. Those other guys should be doing the Arnold Classic—Ramy, Bonac, and Rhoden—to kind of solidify who’s that top contender. For Dexter, there would be no point in doing the Arnold, but I think everybody else should.
You’ve said before that when you’re in the thick of your Olympia prep, you’re not thinking about anyone but yourself. That said, how were you this year compared with 2016?
Honestly, I did not care about anything someone else was doing. I actually got some good advice from our friend [former longtime FLEX editor in chief] Peter McGough. Peter literally said, “Phil, go into hiding like Dorian Yates used to do. Don’t post anything online, don’t even care about what everyone else is doing. You’re the champ. There’s no point in that. Buckle down and do your job, and if you do that your physique will speak for itself.” I took Peter’s advice, and I truly feel like my body did speak for itself. I got a unanimous victory again, against some really good competition.
The biggest takeaway from this one is that I was able to learn a lot about my physique that will definitely make 2018 very, very special. If it goes the way I think it will, it will be the most dominant package I’ve brought to the stage yet. Because you get the experience. You know what your body can do, and you know what it can’t do.
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