Learn form the Gift—Phil Heath’s arm routine

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Phil Heath won his fifth Mr. Olympia title this year. His brutally massive guns are undoubtedly one of his biggest strengths, which contributes to the awesome overall impression a great deal. Let’s see how the Gift works them!

Those 56-centimeter guns—and ripped!

As we have mentioned in a previous article, Phil’s weakest part had been his chest for long. In addition, his brutal arms and shoulder girdle had visually suppressed it, too. In the meantime, his body proportions have changed positively: Phil earned his fifth Mr. Olympia title this year. However, HIS ARMS are still a remarkable earmark of his shape. His biceps and triceps are both developed in a balanced manner: none of them is overdeveloped compared to the other. But the outer heads of his triceps are extremely defined to the smallest details: each little fiber is visible from behind, even in a double biceps pose. And there are only a few who can boast such merits in this sport. Is it genetics? A special routine? Or maybe both? We may never find out. However, his routine is definitely worth a look!

Learn form the Gift—Phil Heath’s arm routine

Triceps—volume and intensity

Phil’s triceps routine usually consists of 4 exercises with 3 sets each. He chooses the exercises to bomb all three heads of his triceps to pieces during the workout. For such a “small” muscle group, higher rep counts work better. Phil knows that, too: he never goes below 12 reps in any of the exercises. He admits it himself that this repetition range works best for him. Let’s see:

  • Rope pushdown: 3x12-15
  • Incline two-dumbbell extension: 3x12-15—this unique exercise works especially well if you want to work your triceps in a stable and concentrated manner. Set the inclination of the bench to 45 degrees. Grab two dumbbells and do the exercise similarly to the skull crusher, making sure your upper arms remain perpendicular to the bench all along. You can do it with a barbell, too.
  • Alternating cable pushdown: 3x12
  • Bar or machine dip: 3x12-15—Phil believes this is perfect for a last exercise in a tough triceps workout. Being a compound exercise, the dip involves the shoulders and the pecs in the move, too, which is especially useful (at least for him) after you have pre-exhausted your triceps with isolation exercises.


Although Phil’s biceps are not very peaked, they are brutally massive and defined, which shows especially well in a front biceps pose: the fibers are visible to the smallest details, especially on his left arm. This makes up for any shortcomings in the “peak” perfectly. No doubt: the front biceps poses work best for him.

The tiny details on Phil’s biceps show especially in a front biceps pose.

He prefers to use free weights, and he focuses more on maximum contraction than on the amount of weights. He starts his workout with a dumbbell exercise and finishes it with a barbell exercise. He generally does 10 reps per set. Phil Heath’s arm routine looks something like that:

Standing dumbbell curl: 3x10—Also called the “Heath curl”: standing dumbbell curls with alternating, left-right, five-rep segments.

Concentration curl: 3x10

Spider curl: 3x10

EZ-bar curl: 3x10

The Gift never works his forearms separately. Still he has the most spectacular forearms among his competitors.

Phil is “curling the spider”.

The Gift never works his forearms separately. Still he has the most spectacular forearms among his competitors. This “tiny” detail is another important part of Phil’s impressive guns.

(Editor’s note: Phil’s arms are really brutal, and his shoulder-arm combo is undeniably awesome. However, I could list several bodybuilders who have become much bigger legends than he is. For example, Arnold, Yates or Coleman have all had something unique. There was something about the combination of their physique and character that strongly impressed the audience. Phil’s mass is undoubtedly incredible. He really has it all what it takes to become a Mr. Olympia. However, he lacks that so-called “je ne sais quoi” I mentioned above. But this is just my private opinion.

The arm routine is from flexonline.com.

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