PHIL HEATH // THE GIFT
Aptly nicknamed ‘The Gift’, a basketball turned bodybuilder Phil Heath recently won his 4th Mr. Olympia in 2014.
In a sport dictated by hardcore discipline and determination, the world of bodybuilding is not for the faint of heart. But for the ones who are up to the task of growing and sculpting their bodies into aesthetic masterpieces, the grandest stage of them all is Joe Weider’s Olympia Weekend held by the International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB). Becoming Mr. Olympia is the ultimate goal of probably every budding bodybuilder.
The current holder of the title, Phil Heath, has worked his way from a 180 pound (82kgs) basketball player to a bodybuilding legend closing in on 250 pounds (112kg). Prior to becoming a bodybuilder, Heath was a basketball star in high school who earned himself a full ride to the University of Denver to play ball. He attributes many of the lessons he learned in sportsmanship to the time he spent playing on the Division 1-A Men’s Basketball team during 1998-2002. Heath double majored in IT and Business Administration during his tenure at the University. In 2002, he decided to con- centrate on bodybuilding and set himself up for the next challenge in his life.
PRIOR TO BECOMING A BODYBUILDER, HEATH WAS A BASKETBALL STAR IN HIGH SCHOOL WHO EARNED HIMSELF A FULL RIDE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER TO PLAY BALL.
Starting out at 185 lbs., he grew to be 215 lbs. with 6% body – a dramatic trans- formation. Ultimately, at a rock solid
192 (considered a light-heavyweight by industry standards), Heath competed in his first competition in 2003 – The Rocky Mountain NPC (National Physique Com- mittee) USA Championship “Northern”. He enrolled himself into a hardcore gym the same year to refine his craft even further.
His career took off when he won the overall title at the NPC (National Phy- sique Committee) USA Championships in 2005. This earned him the right to com- pete as an IFBB Pro. The following year he won his first two IFBB professional events: The Colorado Pro Championships and The New York Pro Championship. He went on to sign with Weider Health and Fitness.
The next big step in his bodybuilding ca- reer came in 2007 when Heath was placed fifth at the Arnold Classic. This qualified him to participate and compete in the 2007 Mr. Olympia contest, but Heath decided otherwise, stating that he needed additional time to improve his form.
Further intensifying his training regime he sauntered into 2008 with a win in the year’s Iron Man show and was placed second in the year’s Arnold Classic. In the same year, he made his debut in Mr. Olympia finishing third and simultane- ously becoming the first novice to place in the top three since Flex Wheeler in 1993.
Hungry for the win, Phil Heath was on his way to glory in the 2009 Mr. Olympia as a favorite. However, a a stomach virus caused him to arrive 6 lbs lighter than planned on the first day, and this resulted in his taking fifth place in the competition.
It still wasn’t his time in 2010, when he took second place at the Mr. Olympia contest with Jay Cutler winning his final title. Glory was, however, just around the corner. After improving his rear lat spread Heath defeated Cutler and became Mr. Olympia for 2011 and he hasn’t looked back since. He has success- fully defended his title for 3 consecutive years thereafter, most recently edging out rival Kai Greene to win the 2014 Mr. Olympia title.