Phil Heath added 16 lbs between March '07 and February '08.
He found inspiration while working out with Jay Cutler in 2006.
More details in the July 2008 issue of FLEX, on newsstands now.
Phil Heath revamped his training routine from top to bottom in mid-2007. The result? Sixteen pounds of superstriated, granite-hard muscle. Here is the program that he followed to shock his body out of complacency and into first place at the 2008 Iron Man Pro and second at the Arnold Classic.
Faster = Bigger and Stronger
Has Phil Heath discovered a previously unexplored secret to size? Compare his '07 Arnold Classic and '08 Iron Man physiques and judge for yourself.
There's a new phrase in bodybuilding these days and all the cool kids are saying it. First uttered sometime earlier this year, "Heath up" is similar to "bulk up" in that it's about getting big, only without the kind of fat that bulking up implies. Its genesis is believed to be from the awe-inspiring change IFBB pro Phil Heath made to his physique in the 11-month span between the 2007 Arnold Classic and the '08 Iron Man Pro.
A professional bodybuilder is considered pretty special if he can add five pounds of lean mass to his frame in the span of a year. Ten will put him in rarefied air. Fifteen? That's just nuts. But Heath added 16 pounds, to be exact, between March '07 and February '08.
How did he get from there to here in such a short span? What adjustments could he have made in such a relatively short time to amass so much mass? The bodybuilding world wants to know, and we have the answer.
In 2007 Heath realized he could no longer rely on his one-in-a-million gene set to give him an advantage over the competition. At the level at which he was now competing, every other man who stood onstage with him shared his innate propensity for developing muscle.
From this moment on, Heath understood he would have to work harder than he'd ever worked in his life and that he'd have to develop a new approach to training that would enable him to crack through the cement ceiling atop which stand bodybuilding's elite.
Fortunately, he found inspiration while working out with Jay Cutler in 2006.
"Jay likes to keep the intensity up through the entire workout. So it was time for me to step it up a notch. The eventual workout I followed is based on this idea and so far it's worked to a T." -Heath
Heath intensified his workouts by choosing to decrease rest periods between sets. This basic bodybuilding technique has the smallest downside. It forces the body to adapt more quickly to the stresses being placed upon it. A side benefit is increased fat burning and cardio response.
"Jay trains at a really good pace," Phil informs. "He kept moving so quickly through the workout that I was actually getting winded trying to keep up with him, and I live at altitude [(Denver, Colorado)].
"So I started taking shorter rest periods between sets as a way of upping the intensity. Normally, you'd think this means dropping the weight down, which I did a little in the beginning. But I got to the point where I was handling the same poundages and even heavier than before, but resting far less.
"Of course, you always want to try to increase your weight when possible, but never at the expense of form or you'll end up injuring yourself. I found though that I was getting stronger all the time just by upping the intensity of my workouts by training faster.
It was like strength was a side benefit to training at a quicker pace. In the end, I got a better pump during my workouts, more soreness after them, and a bigger and better physique."
Heath's 16-pound lean muscle increase over the course of a single year is nearly unprecedented in the annals of pro bodybuilding and was duly noted as such by fans and fellow athletes alike in both Los Angeles, California, in February and in Columbus, Ohio, in March.
His new training style yielded another benefit besides a boost in lean mass, however; one he didn't originally anticipate.
"I actually didn't get tired during prejudging at either the Iron Man or the Arnold," he states. "At the Arnold, especially, the judges worked us pretty hard and I noticed that some of the other guys were really sucking wind. But I was like, 'Hey, you want me to hit another front double biceps? Sure. Here you go.' All that fast training done at altitude had a side benefit of giving me greater endurance when it came to holding poses onstage."
To get the details of Phil's "Heath Up" routine, pick up the July 2008 issue of FLEX on newsstands now.