T Nation

How Does Heath Stack Up?


I’ve seen this discussed many times over the last several years, with Phil Heath winning his (now 7) Olympia titles. If we were to compare the different Mr. Olympias, and we all have our favorites, and rank (judge?) them solely on how many titles they’ve won, Phil is way out in front with Arnold, Ronnie and Haney…

Think about that for a moment,… Phil Heath having more titles than Dorian, the guy who kept the best bodybuilders of arguably the most impressive decade in the sport at bay over and over again. Phil having more titles than Jay Cutler, the guy who fought his way from the bottom of the Olympia line up to being a multiple runner up to Big Ron (arguably the most dominant Mr. O ever) before actually beating him, winning a few, losing in '06 (he was waaaaay off), and then being the first and only winner to ever lose his title and then regain it in arguably his greatest condition ever.

That’s not to say he’s not a deserving winner. He is. Sure he has structural flaws, but at a certain level, the eventual winner is sometimes simply the competitor with the least weak points. The constant knock against Phil seems to be one of the competition not really being all that tough compared with what other Mr. Olympias faced.

Dorian fought Wheeler, Levrone, Dillet, Sonbaty, Clairemont, Taylor… Haney fought Gaspari, Christian, Labrada, Strydom … While Heath really only had real competition in Kai, who seemed unable to match Phil’s conditioning, and despite making a spectacle of himself, was pretty piss poor at hitting his mandatory poses to make the most of his strengths.

So,… is it Phil’s fault no one else is a real challenge to him? Is his habit of getting into pissing matches with his haters on social media hurting his reputation as the “greatest bodybuilder in the world?”



Is hard to compare. All them titles certainly are impressive.

I think it comes with the territory: being the reigning champ and all. People always taking shots at you, rooting for the underdogs etc. Maybe in a few years there’ll be a lot more appreciation for Phil Heath.


My opinion on Phil is this:

He is nuts from the back. The only weak spot is the width of his shoulders (quite a problem) and perhaps the biceps but everything is crazy from head to toe.

From the front, the gut is just terrible. Not nice to begin with and then distended pretty frequently, this hurts his abs and thighs a lot. The arms dominate most of his physique. I think he has a great chest but it is hard to tell. Most of his front poses are difficult to get past the arms (particularly the lat spread)

He has come in below his best a few times but some other great Mr Olympia winners have as well and sometimes to a far worse level.

I do agree his competition hasn’t been as great but he has generally wiped the floor with his opponents in most instances. You can only beat who is infront of you.

I like the knock them down attitude usually but it is over the top in Phil.


From what I can recall (and correct me if I’m wrong, Stu), people were always rooting for Dorian to lose the title – not because they seemed to hate him, but because it’s always more fun to cheer the underdog (makes the competition more exciting). Then Ronnie came along, and I recall that people hated him as Mr. O too – saying that he didn’t deserve the title, too big, etc. But you don’t hear about that shit any longer. I think time has played a role in that, but I also think the internet has played a role too.

When Dorian and Ronnie were on top, social media wasn’t such a dominant thing. I believe that Phil is a great bodybuilder, albeit with caveats. However, when he proclaims that he is ‘old-school’ and ‘doesn’t care about social media’ and is ‘above all the haters’, but then gets into pissing matches with those haters and gets on Instagram Live (read: social media) the second he’s off stage after winning the Mr. O to talk about how pregnant his bank account is about to be…that’s a bunch of bullshit that is killing his reputation.

To this I say with absolute certainty: Yes.


Honestly Phil will probably go down one of the more forgettable Mr. Olympias next to Chris Dickerson, Fraco Columbo even Lee Haney despite his 8 Olympia wins. His legacy is usually overshadowed by Ronnie’s because Ronnie is more mainstream and popular. He really has nothing that stands out. His back is great I get it but overall his package is too blocky and weird for my taste. imho he has lost two Olympias for me this one being one of them. He was basically given the trophy through politics.I wish competitions weren’t determined by someone’s back. For me you have to look at all angles and how the body “flows”. His strong points are his quads, back and delts. Everything else is just unappealing to me and with his gut distention getting a bit more off every year you can see his overall package turning on him amid his conditioning. I’ll take half conditioned body that’s still attractive and aesthetic than a fully conditioned blocky body with a GH distended gut.


Yep belly was nasty this year, looks like he’s really messed himself up…


I’m not sure how much his hernia contributed to his declining conditioning the last several years, but I saw the meme below making the rounds on social media. As an aside Shawn ray commented that the Classic division will eventually eclipse open BBing because of how things have been going.



Do they cap the body weights there? Because unless they do the exact same thing will happen with time.


pretty sure they do, but I’m also fairly certain the weight caps have been creeping up, so…


Yeah, they used to have the 202 showdown, and now its the 212… which could easily become the 222.

It’s tough on the top competitors really. I mean, how do you realistically train to maintain a great physique? Meaning, train in a way where you make no discernible changes? In theory lets say Body Builder X reaches “the ideal physique” and will win as long as they can bring that exact package… How can you train to ensure you don’t make gains but dont lose mass?

Then when someone next to you is 1% more conditioned and has 10 lbs more LBM… Unless they are Markus Ruhl ugly they are probably going to win, right?

I can’t blame the top guys for continuing to get a tiny bit bigger every year, thats just the nature of training, right?


more focus on symmetry and conditioning? I feel like it could be done. Say for example you get marked down one year for having shitty lats, and you feel your legs are overpowering, so over the course of the next year you ease up on the leg training but step up your lats game. I suppose you could conceivably gains some lats and lose some legs thus showing up on game day with a better overall package weighing about the same.

I dunno. Just thinking out loud.


I think you’re right… but its just a matter of how do you train in a controlled enough way to gain exactly as much as you need on the lats (without going over) and then losing exactly as much as you need on the legs (without them starting to lag)

I think most guys just train balls out on everything and let the chips fall where they may


I thought he was well conditioned last year. I also reckon only Bonac had better conditioninf this year but the gut made it seem worse.

The issue is, at the open level, the midsection is super important to everyone outside bodybuilding judges (particularly casual observers) and basically a non-factor to them.


There’s a height to weight ratio system. The taller you are, the more you can weigh, but it’s not as heavy as a lot of people think. Obviously I know The weight limit Arash has to make at 5’10, which to be honest, isn’t really bad when you consider that Kevin English was coming down from 280 lbs making weight for the 212 class (was it 202 at the time?) and getting onstage weighing who knows what -lol



Regarding your lead post.

I don’t think the series of wins makes him better. Maybe, the longevity is impressive. What I really think is that perceptions and preferences change over time. 20 years ago, Phil’s 2017 body couldn’t have beaten Dorian. His body wouldn’t have beaten Arnold 40 years ago. But, his genetics and everything else that makes him mr olympia, makes him the best of his generation.

Make sense? Maybe, maybe not. My take on it.