Phil grew up playing basketball in the inner city of Seattle and by the time he was a senior, he earned a full scholarship... Get the rest here as he describes going from basketball to bodybuilding stardom and more.
[ Matt Weik ] I want to start off the interview by saying thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with us.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into the sport of bodybuilding? From what I heard you were quite the basketball player before taking the bodybuilding world by storm.
[ Phil Heath ] I grew up playing basketball in the inner city of Seattle and by the time I was a senior, I earned a full scholarship to the University of Denver. I also won state that year (1998) in basketball with a national ranking (21) in USA Today. I made 93 3pt baskets that year averaging just under 17pts/gm.
One of my teammates on that team was NBA guard, Jamal Crawford who now plays for Golden State. In college I was more of a defensive stopper than scoring, yet had some cool highlights as I would steal the ball and do some cool dunks.
By my junior season, I had the highest vertical in the school's history with a true 40" jump from a stand still. I later played in semi pro leagues and later realized that I should focus more on my degrees in business and information technology.
I began bodybuilding shortly after I watched a couple friends compete at a state show and thought it would be cool to try. The date was October 8th, 2002, and here I was taking photos of myself in my old college house hoping that none of my teammates would catch me. After six months of training I entered my first contest and won the novice and open overall titles and the rest is history.
Click To Enlarge. I Thought It Would Be Cool To Try.
[ MW ] How did your first competition go?
[ PH ] My first bodybuilding competition was the 2003 NPC Northern Colorado where I was a light-heavyweight weighing in at 192lbs. I was very nervous, as it was my first real-life experience being a bodybuilder.
I think that my lack of experience in the gym and on-stage caused me the most stress, as many competitors have trained longer than I have, entering numerous contests. I entered both the Novice and Open divisions, later winning both weight classes and Overall titles for the show. Although I won, I realized that I needed much more work to be a champion.
[ MW ] What were your feelings and what was going through your head being on stage for the first time?
[ PH ] The first time on stage, I was completed overwhelmed as I wasn't wearing a basketball uniform, but now, posing trunks. This brought out major insecurity with me, as being up there you are actually judged, not by your smile or if you were nice, but how you actually looked in comparison to the other athletes.
I remember trying to mask my fear and insecurity with a scowl that I felt made me look tough, but in reality made me look out of place. A lady in the crowd screamed out, "Smile, you are beautiful" and that was all I needed so I began to be myself, smiling and hitting pose after pose.
Click To Enlarge. A Lady In The Crowd Screamed Out, 'Smile, You Are Beautiful' And That Was All I Needed.
The funny thing was that as soon as I got on stage, the crowd began to actually laugh, expressing their feelings toward how I dominated the group. It wasn't until after the contest that my friend told me why.
[ MW ] Before a contest do you prefer to do your own thing and not pay attention to the other competitors in the room or do you like to get in the competitors heads and be talking trash?
[ PH ] Prior to stepping on stage, I prefer to continue being myself, whether that is making jokes with others, talking about other non-bodybuilding topics or just sitting around listening to music. As far as talking trash, I leave that for the press conferences, magazine articles and post-radio interviews as I am at the contest to show off my physique which I feel speaks volumes.
2008 Olympia Posing Routine!
Check out Phil Heath's posing routine from the 2008 Olympia.
[ MW ] What is your training and diet like during the off-season?
[ PH ] During my off-season, my training is very heavy, as my weight is higher due to consuming high calories, especially in carbohydrates and fats. I try and make sure that I am gaining more strength and also size during my off-season as I truly believe that I stronger muscle is a bigger one.
My diet is consistent with eating 4-5 meals per day, primarily from sources such as beef and chicken for proteins and white rice and white potato for carbs. I tend to eat out more during this time period as I enjoy a nice outing with my wife, family and friends.
I will have a cheat meal about every third day, which will be a cheeseburger and fries, but I usually get this meal from a restaurant as I want the meat to be of a high amount of protein.
[ MW ] Are you the type of person who likes to workout alone or do you prefer a workout partner?
[ PH ] I prefer training solo, but I would not mind if someone wanted to train with me. The problem I encounter with training partners is that they cannot train at the times I want on a consistent basis. This is due to their work and family commitments, which I completely respect and understand.
[ MW ] What is your training and diet like during contest prep?
[ PH ] My training during my prep is very intense as every workout dictates how I will appear on stage, so there are no days for being lazy. I literally train like there is no tomorrow, especially during a prep because I realize that everyone else is doing the same to be the champion.
Click To Enlarge. There Are No Days For Being Lazy.
My sets and reps do not change at all, as I believe that if I can train the same as I would during my off-season that I will retain more mass and acquire more separation and conditioning. The only difference is that I have now implemented cardio 1-2/day ranging from 45-60mins/session, while consuming a significantly lower amount of carbs and fats, keeping protein very high.
[ MW ] You are a sponsored athlete for MET-Rx. What is your relationship like with them?
[ PH ] I have been with MET-Rx since after I won the 2006 NY Pro and I am loving everything about being there premier athlete. I have had an incredible relationship with MET-Rx as they've treated me like I was a part of a family, taking care of every need.
Phil Heath's Auspicious Debut!
Phil Heath is seven for seven from the field on a bodybuilding stage. Here I'll discuss the controversy at the New York show and where he might place if he competes at the big dance.
They've treated me along with my Jennie (my wife) with great respect, which has really motivated me to work even harder inside the gym and also at appearances on their behalf, not to mention contests. I truly want to express my deepest thanks to them as they've helped me become on of the top pro bodybuilders in the world.
[ MW ] How did you get hooked up with MET-Rx and take on the responsibility of being the face of their brand?
[ PH ] I was called by a friend, Larry Pepe and he asked if I had signed with anyone yet. He explained to me that MET-Rx was looking for someone like me and wondered if I was interested. All I can say is that after speaking with them that it was a perfect fit and I continue to feel that way today.
Members of corporate had expressed their interest in branding me with their label and I was completely filled with joy as they made a dream of mine come true. I believe that being their #1 athlete means that they not only believe in me as an athlete, but more importantly as a person who will represent them day in and day out.
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[ MW ] What obstacles have you overcome in your career thus far? Have you had any major injuries that questioned if you would be back on the stage again?
[ PH ] The main obstacle I have encountered is how I can be a better role model for others inside and outside of our sport of bodybuilding as there are many negative stereotypes out there. I have continued my efforts into public speaking at different schools and youth sports programs, in addition to being apart of the MS Association's annual "LockUp," which I am raising money to bail out of jail.
As far as injuries, well being a former Division 1-A basketball player, I have some muscle and joints problems all the time, but that is where the supplements such as Joint Guard come into play. I wish I would've had that supplement when in college.
I take very good care of myself, as I have treated my aches and pains with massage, chiropractic, electronic stimulation and my newest addition, acupuncture. These collectively have provided me the recovery needed to become a champion.
[ MW ] What is your prediction for 2009? Is 2009 your year to take the Olympia crown?
[ PH ] My predictions for 2009 are that it will be a year to remember for a long time as there are at least 5 men that can take the Olympia crown. As far as placing everyone, I will let that job go to the fans and the judges as they will have a difficult time, but hopefully with my hard work, I can make their decision for first place easier in picking me, he-he.
Click To Enlarge. 2009 Will Be A Year To Remember.
I do believe that 2009 will be a great year for me and that I can and will take the Olympia title and be apart of a historical event. I am preparing myself everyday, every set, every rep and every meal for September 25th and 26th. I hope that my dreams will soon become reality and that I will be named the 2009 Mr. Olympia champion!
[ MW ] Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you get to where you are today (whether in life or your career)?
[ PH ] I would like to thank God for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime that many would love to be in. Also, my wife Jennie for always providing me the love and friendship I need to be who I am today.
My parents for expressing to me that hard work and one's passion for what they believe in can make dreams come true. My sponsors, Weider/AMI, Met-Rx and Redbird Farms for always believing in me and providing me the resources needed to be a champion on and off the pro bodybuilding stage.
Lastly the fans, as you all love the sport I love and their dedication for being healthy and fit drives me more each and everyday.
Click To Enlarge. Their Dedication For Being Healthy And Fit Drives Me More Each And Everyday.
[ MW ] Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that you would like your fans to know?
[ PH ] I'd like to add that I am currently finishing my new DVD, "The Gift - Unwrapped!" which will be available on standard disc and also on Blu-Ray coming in May. I'm also releasing new apparel that will soon be available on my website www.phillipheath.com.
[ MW ] Thank you, Phil, for taking the time for this interview. I look forward to speaking and working with you again in the very near future. I wish you the best of luck in 2009 and in the rest of your career!