Bodybuilding legend Phil Heath recently interacted with sports analyst Shannon Sharpe and instructed him on the fundamentals of bodybuilding. Heath is one of the greatest professional bodybuilders in the history of the sport and won the prestigious Mr. Olympia title a staggering seven times from 2011 to 2017. The record is tied with Arnold Schwarzenegger and it is only surpassed by legendary bodybuilders Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney (8 wins). Heath was known for his excellent proportions, conditioning, and detail as opposed to size which is a primary attribute of most Open division bodybuilders. The 42-year-old was dethroned by the late Shawn Rhoden at the 2018 Olympia. After a third-place finish at the 2020 Olympia, Heath has not competed professionally. While his return to the stage is ambiguous at the moment, Heath has not officially retired from the sport.
The 42-year-old is an active social media personality and a prominent voice of the sport. He will step on the other side of the stage at the 2022 Olympia and attend the event as a commentator. While predicting the outcome of his division, Heath opined that William Bonac has the potential to push the reigning Mr. Olympia Mamdouh ‘Big Ramy’ Elssbiay at the show.
The 7-time Mr. Olympia routinely collaborates with other bodybuilders, influencers, and celebrities for training and interaction. Recently, Heath taught retired football player Shannon Sharpe to train like a bodybuilder and familiarized him with the basics of posing. Sharpe was a football tight end for the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. Following retirement from the sport, Sharpe has earned a reputation as a sports analyst. He has hosted Skip and Shannon: Undisputed with Skip Bayless since 2016. He is regarded as one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the sport.
Heath and Sharpe trained back and triceps and sat down for a conversation. The video of this session was posted on Club Shay Shay YouTube channel. So without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the detailed account of this session.
Phil Heath and Shannon Sharpe started the training session with the overhand wide grip lat pulldowns. Heath advised Sharpe to hold the weight for a couple of seconds before lowering it again to keep the muscles under tension for a longer duration.
“As you keep your chin higher, you get more air too. Problem is that people keep their chins low, it’s because of the fact that it gets heavy,” Phil Heath said.
“We want to focus on the technique. We want to focus on the tempo. So we’re not going super fast because this has got momentum. We want to keep muscles under tension for longer duration,” he added.
After doing a few sets of overhand wide grip lat pulldowns, Heath took to the underhand grip lat pulldowns. Heath stated that he often gets the question why this variation of lat pulldowns is required. He explained:
“A lot of people say why would I do underhand lat pulldowns? Because we want to work on the sweeping of the lats. The lats can actually insert very very low. You see a lot of guys that have it very up top, very high and in bodybuilding we want it to start so low. It looks like the Cobra…”
Heath and Sharpe performed a few sets of this exercise and wrapped up lat pulldowns. Shannon Sharpe explained that most of his training at the peak of his career was focused on building functional strength and speed while there was little to no focus on muscle building or aesthetics.
“As a football player you’re not really focussing on that. You’re focussing on functional strength.”
“We did like one arm rows, dumbbell rows. That was the only thing we did for the back… I don’t do curls because my thing was to push people off me. I wouldn’t try to pull nobody towards me…” Sharpe said.
One Arm Triceps Extensions
The duo next took to the one arm triceps extensions on a cable machine to build this pushing muscle in the arms. Heath guided Shannon Sharpe through the correct technique to do this exercise. He maintained the stability in the shoulder joint and used the free hand to hold the machine, reinforcing the stability further. This helped isolate the triceps to a far greater extent. After doing a few sets of this exercise, the duo took to the next movement.
Seated Cable Rows
This back movement was the last back exercise in the training session. Heath and Sharpe got a few good sets of this exercise under their belts and took to the finisher of the day.
Dumbbell Incline Triceps Extensions
Heath wrapped up the training session with this triceps exercise. Instead of keeping the elbows stationary, Heath raised the weights and pushed the elbows behind simultaneously. According to him, this simultaneous joint movement helps alleviate the elbow discomfort.
Additionally, Heath advised that the wrist joint can be rotated as well during this exercise. After cranking out a few solid sets of this exercise, Heath and Sharpe called it a day in the gym.
Overall, the workout included:
Phil Heath explains how he prepared himself for the final three days before a show
Shannon Sharpe asked Heath what the last few days leading up to a bodybuilding show looked like. To which, Heath replied:
“Those last three days, I ain’t gonna lie… It’s hell! It’s hell! Because the minute you start taking water out while you’re still having to eat the same amount of food, your mind does some tricks man!”
Heath explained that a lot of bodybuilders miss their peak in those three days as they consume a lot of water hoping that diuretics can help them flush it out. In addition to following strict rules three days before the competition, Heath explained that he went off of ‘biorhythms’ as well.
“So what does it mean? What time I am gonna be on stage theoretically? 8:30-9:00 O’clock maybe… So I’m gonna start training at 8:30-9:00 O’clock every night for three to four months. That way, I know how my body’s going to look,” Heath Explained.
While Heath admitted that mornings are the best time for training, he trained his body to be nearly in the same condition during the evening time. Once he had that figured out, Heath could adhere to the biorhythm and bring the best possible version of himself on the stage.
A lot of Heath’s methods are unknown because he preferred to remain focused on the show and did not engage in posting. This also helped him keep the secrets and have an advantage over his competitors.
Phil Heath gives Shannon Sharpe posing lessons
Phil Heath also gave Shannon Sharpe posing advice and promised to get him into an amateur bodybuilding show if Sharpe was interested. After running Sharpe through a few mandatory bodybuilding poses, Heath shared his knowledge and shed light on the most difficult part of posing.
“Back shots are the worst because there’s so much that goes on, right? You’ve got to pose everything and you can’t see it so it’s all about the repetition and feel,” Heath said.
“When you see people do it and they’re shaking, that’s because their muscles are just not used to it and they need so much repetition. So when you see them sweating on stage and stuff like that, it’s because they haven’t practised enough, right?” Heath added.
To avoid these issues and get comfortable with posing, Heath used to film himself posing after every training session making sure all of his muscles were properly flexed and displayed in each pose. Heath gave Shannon Sharpe a few more posing lessons and the duo then sat down for a short interview.
Phil Heath revisits the beginning of his bodybuilding journey
Heath was a basketball player before turning to bodybuilding as a profession. During the conversation, Sharpe asked the 7X Mr. Olympia to share his motivation for turning towards this sport. Heath explained:
“Primarily because I needed a new challenge. I had to acknowledge at some point in time in playing basketball in college I wasn’t getting the kind of burn that I wanted and those hoop dreams are going to come to end pretty soon,” Heath stated.
Phil Heath got access to bodybuilding through a friend who was competing in amateur bodybuilding circuits. A guest poser in one of the shows took a good look at Heath and suggested he should try a hand at the sport.
“What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen if I try to do bodybuilding? I’m going to get in shape, right? Cool. I thought maybe I could get in one of those men’s health magazines and stuff. I was being real man! Light skin, green eyes… With a little bit of muscles I might be able to make it work!” Heath said with a hearty laughter.
So Heath started his bodybuilding journey as a result. However, the decision also had to do with the physical attributes and in the sophomore year, Heath realized the limitations. Following a conversation with a brutally honest coach, Heath decided to transition into bodybuilding for good.
Phil Heath gives on which basketball player can make a successful transition to bodybuilding
Crossover sports athletes have their own separate audience. While hardcore sports fans do not accept the crossover athletes on most of occasions, that phenomenon has its own market. Phil Heath is a longtime student of bodybuilding and has the eye to spot a physique and know what it can grow into. When Shannon Sharpe asked Heath which basketball player he thinks can be successful in bodybuilding, Heath stated:
“Man, Nate Robinson would have been dope. That would have been easy for him. Current guys, Game Dolly could do it, I think.”
Heath pointed out that a majority of basketball players are too tall to become bodybuilders. However, he thinks that Tony Allen could have done bodybuilding back in the day if he chose to.
“There were some guys back in the day like Kevin Willis and Dave Robinson. You look at their shoulders and stuff…” Heath added.
Shannon Sharpe suggested that basketball legend Will Chamberlain was also a lifelong athlete that had the necessary discipline to succeed in bodybuilding.
Phil Heath on the prospects of him becoming a trainer for other professional athletes
Not every successful athlete can have a successful coaching career and vice versa. Phil Heath has accumulated a wealth of knowledge as a lifelong bodybuilder and does have an interest in coaching. However, there are certain things he cannot come to terms with.
“The issue I have with that is their ego with the crew. The crew that wants to dictate what they do and I don’t want to disrupt anything they have going on,” Phil Heath said.
Many of Phil Heath’s friends from bodybuilding as well as other sports approach him for specific advice and Heath is more than happy to help them. However, he expects the person to be extremely coachable in order to invest time in them.
“The egos, man. I’m gonna have to deal with some egos. I don’t know how they’re going to accept the diet as well and that they’re not partying anymore. Because look… these guys go out. I’ve talked with different rappers, entertainers and stuff. I give them the diet, I tell them to train. But I see on the IG, they’re out at 3 or 4 in the morning. So it’s a waste of my time. I don’t want to be wasting my time,” Heath added.
But Heath feels positive about some of the retired athletes coming forward to maintain good health after calling it a career and he is willing to be a consultant for such athletes.
Heath has a wealth of knowledge accrued over decades of work and he is becoming a popular figure on social media with an increasing internet presence. It will be interesting to see how this inning of his career goes in the coming time.
You can watch the full workout video here, courtesy of Club Shay Shay YouTube channel:
Published: 14 December, 2022 | 12:22 AM EDT
This content was originally published here.