Phil Heath dominated the Mr. Olympia scene from 2011 through 2017, winning seven consecutive titles and cementing himself as the face of bodybuilding for the better part of a decade. It was announced in mid-July that Heath would remain off stage for the 2022 Olympia to serve as a color commentator for the event. However, he does have a lifetime invitation to compete as a former Olympia champion.
The triceps are about more than two-thirds of the arm right? Start off with that.
Still, that doesn’t mean the former champ isn’t keeping his body stage-ready via his workouts in the gym. In a recent video posted to Will Tennyson’s YouTube channel, the fitness influencer joined the seven-time Olympia champion for an arm workout that Heath used to retain many titles during his reign. Check it out below:
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Phil Heath & Will Tennyson’s Arm Workout
If you want to follow along with Heath’s arm workout, here are the moves, followed by a breakdown of each one:
- Straight Bar Pushdowns
- Reverse Grip Pushdowns
- Standing Unilateral Dumbbell Curls
- Incline Dumbbell Skull Crushers
- Standing Concentration Curls
Straight Bar Pushdowns
Heath positions the arms at about 90 degrees without leaning for straight arm pushdowns. His lower back is tight, his chest is up, and all the focus is on the triceps to achieve the greatest range of motion possible. Heath emphasizes the squeeze at peak contraction.
Master each pin. Otherwise, you are going to build really bad habits.
Heath hammers Tennyson not to be “braindead” and to recognize when the weight is too heavy and lower it so the exercise can be effectively executed. Heath is more interested in form than rep range and doesn’t standardize how many reps it takes to sufficiently warm up.
Ferrari is parked outside. It looks fast but it’s not the fastest in the world. Does it have to prove to you? No. But you know it’s fast.
Heath goes by feel, saying he could program a set rep range, but that’s programming off what other people do is unlikely to further your journey. Heath may look like he can press the whole stack, but he doesn’t since it’s unnecessary to build the muscle he desires. It’s all about time under tension.
People can lift the whole stack, but no one cares on stage where holding poses for five or 10-plus seconds is the deciding factor. If you can perform a set of 10 to 12, holding each contraction for five seconds to complete the set, that’s real strength in Heath’s view.
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Reverse Grip Pushdowns
Next up for the duo was reverse grip pushdowns, emphasizing the squeeze at peak contraction. Heath believes training for time under tension is a fundamental way to build not only that size but definition and conditioning in bodybuilding.
It’s not about lifting heavy weights. Phil believes many bodybuilders have forgotten that mastering the exercises on a base level is essential.
“They say practice makes perfect, but what if you practice bad habits?”
Heath says you need to reinforce technique throughout your workout. When working more challenging sets, Heath noticed that people tend to falter on their technique when correcting themselves and maintaining perfect form is crucial. Executing repetitions like a well-oiled machine can help achieve maximum muscular stimulation.
Standing Unilateral Dumbbell Curls
For their first biceps movement, Heath chooses the standing unilateral dumbbell curl, working one side to completion before moving to the opposite arm. If Heath does 10 reps, nine need to be perfect. Heath asks how he can expect to beat any competitor if he isn’t utilizing his tools.
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Incline Dumbbell Skull Crushers & Standing Concentration Curls
Heath demonstrates to Tennyson how to execute skull crushers on an incline utilizing dumbbells. Heath suggests pressing “up” instead of forward on skull crushers to alleviate elbow discomfort. Tennyson expresses he screwed up his elbow doing skull crushers, and Heath had done the same. However, that’s why Heath performs them this way, as it’s a common issue with compound triceps movements.
I want my last set to be better than my first set in every exercise I do.
The final movement was a standing single-arm dumbbell concentration curl. While Heath prefers to do this movement seated, he feels the tension in his muscle more so in the less stable position. Heath emphasizes that this is a sculpting movement. So, find the position where you feel the muscle is working most and stick with it. If you need to use cheat reps, that’s fine, but use them strategically, not endlessly.
Advice For First-Time Competitors & Posing
Heath and Tennyson hit an impromptu posing session. Heath corrected Tennyson on some poses and showed him the proper variations.
Overprepare. How do you think your gonna do if you don’t know how to pose? You have to rehearse without the mirror because the mirrors are not going to be on stage.
Heath points out that Tennyson is fairly quad dominant and needs work on shoulders, especially rear delts and upper chest.
People don’t like to work on what they don’t see. I want them to see everything.
Heath’s last two appearances on the Olympia stage — in 2018 and 2020 — resulted in a second-place and third-place finish, respectively. To see how Heath fares as a commentator, tune into the 2022 Olympia weekend in Las Vegas, NV, from December 16-18.
Featured Image: @philheath on Instagram