Olympia Legend: Phil Heath

The Gift's strategy for winning in bodybuilding – and life.


Per Bernal


Winning is the art of not losing. That might sound tautological, but there are ways to not be a loser, even when the scoreboard says otherwise. Most important, you need to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. When, in the 2014 Olympia, Kai Greene threw is hair at Heath and nearly threw a fist, the frustrated heir apparent had as much as admitted he couldn’t beat the king in side-by-side posing comparisons. He literally lost it. On the other hand, Heath has had to swallow some close and controversial losses, especially the one to Greene at the 2010 Arnold Classic. Graciously accept defeat, learn from it, and plot a path to victory. Save your emotions for winning.

Per Bernal


Talk to Heath for long and he will inevitably mention basketball. It was on hardwood courts that he learned how to win. The Gift, who topped out at 5'9", wasn’t genetically gifted for B-ball. Nevertheless, he led his high school team to a Washington state title, and he played for a Division I college. Basketball is a sport wherein steady nerves are at a premium. You may need to make crucial free throws while the opposing crowd mockingly chants your name. The current Mr. O goes back to lessons gleaned from basketball coaches and game experience and applies them to his preparation for the Olympia.

It all helps him sink the big shot, so to speak, on the Orleans Arena stage each September. Everyone has a past to learn from. Maybe it was things a coach, teacher, or parent said. Maybe it’s things you experienced, negative as well as positive. Maybe it’s simply remembering how skinny or fat or poor you used to be that motivates you toward a better physique and a better life. 


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