A Bodybuilder Took on Mr. Olympia Phil Heath’s Shoulder Workout

Bodybuilder and YouTuber Will Tennyson has worked out with some of the fittest, strongest athletes in the world on his channel, from Cirque du Soleil gymnasts to World’s Strongest Man winners. In his most recent video, Tennyson travels to Gold’s Gym in Venice for a workout with bodybuilding legend Phil Heath, who won the Mr. Olympia title seven consecutive years from 2011 to 2017.

Heath points out that while Tennyson has nicely developed his biceps and triceps, he could do with putting some more work into his shoulders, and so he agrees to coach Tennyson through his giant shoulder workout.

Heath starts off with face pulls to engage the rear delts. He increases the difficulty by holding the rope between his index and middle fingers, and introducing 1.5-second holds on each rep, which helps to activate the traps. “Even with lower weight, I want to make sure I’m feeling something,” says Heath, while Tennyson remarks: “Only Phil could make a face pull harder than a deadlift.”

Next up are lateral raises; Heath makes sure to grip the barbell as hard as he can with his pinkie to make the exercise more intense, and Tennyson is surprised by what a massive change this tiny adjustment ends up making to his workout.

They follow this with hammer front raises. “I thought front raises were supposed to be easy,” says a breathless Tennyson.

“Not with me,” quips Heath. “These muscles are stubborn, so we’ve got to wake them up, slap them around, we’ve got to remind them that their job is to grow… They’re being fucking reminded right now!”

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The penultimate exercise in the workout is the dumbbell shoulder press, and Heath pays close attention to Tennyson’s form so that even a pair of 25-pound dumbbells feel heavier as he performs slow, controlled repetitions.

Then finally, as he approaches the end of the workout in a fatigued state, Heath uses the Smith machine to perform his incline shoulder press.

“For a long time I was doing that thumbless grip,” says Heath, “but I don’t think you develop more strength that way. You want to grip something.”

Ultimately, Heath explains, he trains for longevity, and that’s the best advice he can offer to anyone else. “I haven’t competed in three years, and I still have muscle tissue that if I decide to train for something, I can do that,” he says. “I want you all to have choices, not just now but later.”

Headshot of Philip Ellis

Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.

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