Mike O’Hearn is a bodybuilder, and an ex gladiator. He’s approaching 50 years old and in better shape than 99% of the people on this earth. So how does he manage this?
Is it naturally? A combination of good genetics, hard work, and consistency? Or is there another factor? Could Mike O’Hearn be using steroids?
The purpose of this article is to examine this question and decide whether Mike O’Hearn abuses steroids?
- 1 Mike O’Hearn Biography
- 2 What are Steroids?
- 3 Benefits of Steroids
- 4 Signs that Someone is Taking Steroids
- 5 Steroids & Natural Bodybuilding
- 6 Reasons Why Mike O’Hearn Might Be Taking Steroids
- 7 Reasons Why Mike O’Hearn Might Not Be Taking Steroids
- 8 The Verdict
- 9 How to Gain Muscle and Strength without Steroids?
Mike O’Hearn Biography
Mike O’Hearn is probably best known for being one of the original American Gladiators from 1989 to 1996.
He was also brought in for the new American Gladiators in 2008, the only person to have appeared in both shows.
He’s also had a not insignificant acting career, and modelling. But his career as a natural bodybuilder has taken precedence over all of this.
In his career he has won 4 Mr Universe Natural competitions, and has also competed in and won 4 powerlifting titles .
He now also has a successful YouTube channel where he talks all things fitness and nutrition.
When discussing whether Mike O’Hearn is using steroids or not, many people bring up his 4 Mr Universe Titles as evidence that he could not possibly be taking steroids or any other performance enhancing drugs. But as you will see in this article, that is no guarantee of innocence.
What are Steroids?
Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) are (mostly) synthetic sex hormones that are taken by people to increase their muscle size, increase strength, improve recovery, and improve body composition.
It is estimated that 3 million Americans take steroids illegally, they are taken for a number of reasons, and it is important to note that not all steroids are the same, and the results from different steroids can vary.
There are three main types of steroids out there, each has a different use.
Firstly there are performance enhancing steroids. They are designed to increase your strength and endurance.
When athletes are caught taking steroids it is usually either Testosterone (a non synthetic steroid) or Winstrol. This is the only anabolic steroid that is seen as safe by the FDA .
Powerlifters in particular would be looking at Testosterone or Winstrol as steroids to help them improve their lifts.
Next you have steroids that are designed to help you build muscle fast.
Bulking steroids are ones popular with powerlifters, bodybuilders, and regular gym goers, because they can help you lift more and build bigger muscles.
The most popular bulking steroids out there are Trenbolone, Deca, and Dianabol.
How much you take of bulking steroids, and for how long, can affect how big you get off these drugs. Your calorie intake and training style will also influence this.
Finally you have cutting steroids, these will also help you to build muscle, but mostly they are designed for burning fat and improving body composition.
For that very lean, cut look, you’ll be looking at cutting steroids such as Clenbuterol which massively ramps up your metabolism by increasing thermogenesis .
Technically, Clen is not an anabolic steroid, it’s a stimulant. But it is often placed under the umbrella of steroids, due to it being taken alongside steroids.
Other drugs that are often called steroids but aren’t would include Human Growth Hormone and Insulin.
Both are often taken in fitness circles to increase protein synthesis and increase muscle size. Though not steroids, we will include them in this discussion as they are equally relevant.
Benefits of Steroids
The main benefits of steroids are pretty obvious, they make you stronger, faster, leaner, more muscular, and they can help you recover faster between sessions.
Taking steroids will give you an unfair advantage over people who aren’t taking steroids. This is unarguable, and is a big reason why the sporting world puts so much effort into finding and punishing drugs cheats.
There has not been a single winner of the Mr Olympia competition (the most prestigious title in bodybuilding) that was not on steroids.
The drugs help you to train longer, get more out of each session, and recover quicker.
Human Growth Hormone can help you recover much faster from injuries (which is why it is sometimes used by athletes).
The main benefits of steroids for physique competitors (other than the obvious muscle gains) is that they make it possible to maintain an incredible physique year round.
Staying at body fat levels that are in the single digits looks really good, but it can massively reduce your testosterone levels and metabolism.
This can make it very difficult to maintain, and it would certainly make it impossible to maintain or even build muscle mass.
But taking steroids can give people the best of both worlds where they stay lean 365 days per year while also building muscle mass and maintaining it. Something that would be almost impossible to achieve naturally.
High levels of testosterone can also improve mood, improve sleep quality, and improve libido.
Taking steroids properly has many benefits to your physique and to your mental and physical performance. It is perhaps unsurprising why so many young (and old) men take steroids in spite of the illegality of doing so.
Signs that Someone is Taking Steroids
There are many signs that a person is taking steroids, sadly these signs are not universal.
You’ll see many articles that point to a lack of bloating as an example of someone who doesn’t take steroids, because bloating is a common side effect of Human Growth Hormone.
Or they’ll say that this person can’t take steroids because they have great skin without any blemishes such as acne. Or no skin flushing.
But these side effects can be managed and downplayed by people who know how to take steroids.
Also, the effects of taking steroids can last for many years longer than most of the side effects.
If you took steroids 10 years ago and then stopped you would still benefit from the strength increases that taking steroids afforded you. But all of the signs that you took steroids will have mostly disappeared.
If you have a good coach, or are proficient and knowledgeable regarding steroid use, then you may display zero signs that you are taking steroids. Otherwise every athlete who ever took them would be caught based on their appearance alone.
Different steroids have different effects, and combining drugs in cycles can reduce the risk of most side effects.
Whether Mike O’Hearn takes steroids or not, a lack of spots on his upper back, or an absence of flushed skin are not good enough indicators of his innocence.
One of the biggest indicators of steroid use is often the amount of muscle somebody has packed on over a period of 5 years.
Many steroid takers will have transformed in such a short period of time, and this tends to be a bit of a giveaway.
Mike’s defenders could point to him always having been strong and lean with an excellent physique, but just because a guy had a set of abs at 14 years old, does not make him steroid free at 50!
Steroids & Natural Bodybuilding
There are some people who believe that natural bodybuilding is completely drug free, and this is a perfectly reasonable belief.
Natural or “drug free” bodybuilding certainly wants people to believe that it is a sport without drugs. But as many, many competitors have admitted, there are almost as many drugs used in natural bodybuilding as there are in regular bodybuilding.
Sure, some competitions will perform drug tests but they are absolutely nowhere near as thorough as the drugs tests performed on athletes.
Firstly, the authorities will not have the funds available to employ random drug tests, nor will there be a way that they can turn up at a competitor’s door with a kit. This is not economically viable.
The biggest natural bodybuilding competitions require a urine sample during competitions, and also perform a 1 hour lie detector test . Not only are lie detector tests easily beaten, but they are so inaccurate that they are inadmissible in a court of law. Also, proper lie detector tests last for 3 hours or more.
Urine tests are almost completely useless for detecting steroids unless you are literally taking them during the competition.
If you stop taking steroids 30 days before a competition they will have cleared your system completely by the time of the test. Alternatively you could use masking agents.
Drugs that can hide the presence of steroids in your urine. Drugs like insulin and Human Growth Hormone are essentially undetectable from a urinalysis, as are many stimulants that can be used to increase fat burning.
The point of this section is not to claim that all natural bodybuilders are taking steroids, but to point out that it’s certainly possible, and the reality is that a lot of natural bodybuilders ARE taking steroids.
Easiest way to tell? Which natural bodybuilders are the biggest? Which ones have the incredibly ripped physiques? You can usually see the difference between a natural bodybuilder who is drug free and one that isn’t.
Reasons Why Mike O’Hearn Might Be Taking Steroids
The first thing that you should do when discussing whether Mike O’Hearn is a natural bodybuilder or not is compare him to somebody who is definitely a natural bodybuilder.
Take a look at a competitor such as Darin Steen, he’s lean, muscular, and has won several high profile natural competitions. His physique is also clearly not enhanced.
Decent shape for a guy who’s just turned 52 wouldn’t you agree?
The guy on stage right is Mike O’Hearn who is also nearly 50 years old and has “never” taken any form of performance enhancing substance.
Now these are two very different guys, and you could say that Mike just “has better genetics”. But Darrin played American Football at College level and had a 14 year career.
Mike’s taller and naturally bigger, but even so – the difference is startling.
One common side effect of HGH use is a bloated gut. In the video where this screenshot was taken Mike and Rich point out his lack of a bloated abdomen as a reason why he is not taking drugs. But, he clearly has a bloated gut in the photo!
The fact that he is standing next to Rich Piana and actually makes Rich appear small should be evidence enough!
Reasons Why Mike O’Hearn Might Not Be Taking Steroids
Other articles, ones that claim that Mike is completely steroid free have pointed to his good genetics, his passing of drug tests, and his lack of “signs” of steroid use.
The articles raise some interesting points, but you can’t help feel that they are reaching slightly. There’s good genetics and then there’s maintaining a year round set of ripped abs at 49 years old.
It’s always difficult to be 100% sure when it comes to judging whether natural bodybuilders are natural or not. There are so many variables. It’s also questioning the integrity and honesty of a genuinely nice person who has done a lot of good for the fitness community.
Mike O’Hearn has probably taken steroids in his lifetime. That does not mean that he is taking them right now, nor is it a certainty.
The idea that you could look at someone with so much muscle mass, so little body fat, (at the age of 49) and declare that he is definitely drug free is crazy.
Equally, unless you are 100% certain that Mike O’Hearn is taking steroids then it is unfair to claim this.
You can make an educated guess, and hope that your judgement isn’t clouded by cognitive bias. You’re dealing with real people’s reputations so need to be careful.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether Mike O’Hearn takes steroids or not, he’s still worked harder than 99% of the people criticising him.
His livelihood is dependent on being drug free, so he couldn’t exactly admit taking steroids whether he was or not!
Ideally there would be an amnesty on steroid use in bodybuilding, considering how obvious it is. Then we would have a better idea of who was taking and who wasn’t.
Until that happens, we will always be stuck in circular arguments that are “so obvious” to both sides of every debate.
Instead, we should be concentrating on how impressive a specimen Mike O’Hearn actually is.
How to Gain Muscle and Strength without Steroids?
Can you build muscle without the use of steroids? Of course you can.
To start you should think about increasing the intensity of your workouts. Looking at your diet to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition would be a good idea too.
Next you may want to look at supplementation. While not as effective as anabolic steroids, there are legal alternatives available that can boost your own efforts.
Our recommended choice would be Crazy Bulk, who sell a number of legal steroid alternatives. These include D-Bal, a safe and legal alternative to Dianabol.
D-Bal is made from proven ingredients that include BCAAs, Whey Protein Concentrate and Tribulus Terrestris.
This combination of ingredients can increase nitrogen retention within your body, which in turn helps to increase protein synthesis.
Benefits on offer include:
- Muscle and strength gains
- Better endurance levels
- An increase in nitrogen retained
- Improved blood flow due
If you are worried that D-Bal isn't as effective as claimed you simply need to visit the Crazy Bulk website. There you will find a number of testimonials available that prove these claims.