This post was last updated on August 10th, 2016
Mike O’Hearn, otherwise known as ‘the titan’, is a 46 year old american bodybuilder who is 4x Natural Mr Universe champion, and also took part in the Gladiator TV series.
He has a big following across social media with over half a million fans just on his Facebook account.
He claims to be a lifetime natural, giving advice to natural gym-goers during his videos and putting hashtags such as “#AllNattyBro” in his Facebook posts.
However, many people on social media are calling him “Mike O’Tren” (Lol that’s a good’n!), in reference to the anabolic steroid – trenbolone. This is because people believe he’s lying about being a natural bodybuilder and have labelled him a ‘fraud’ for doing so.
First of all, I’m going to point out that I’m not a fan of Mike O’Hearn and at the same time I’ve got nothing against him – making this analysis completely unbiased.
Evidence that Mike O’Hearn IS taking Steroids
After hours and hours of research, the main reason why people are pointing their fingers at Mike O’Hearn is purely based on the size and strength of the guy.
He claims to have 21 inch arms (1) and weigh 247lbs at 4% body fat (2).
His training partners have also witnessed him bench over 500lbs (3).
(For guys wanting to boost their bench, go here).
There’s no doubting he’s a big, big boy and these are big enough numbers for anyone to just come to the conclusion that he’s on steroids.
However, these claims just aren’t valid without any substance behind them. To make a statement like this without backing it up is just speculative and an uneducated way of judging whether someone’s on steroids or not.
So let’s take a look at some real evidence, so we can make a more informed opinion.
Evidence #1: Fat-Free Mass Index
Dr Harrison Pope, a professor and psychiatrist from Harvard Business School believed he found an accurate way of detecting whether a person was taking steroids or not – based on the calculation of their fat-free mass.
Dr Pope studied steroid and non-steroid users since the 1930’s and concluded that there is a maximum threshold for the amount of muscle a man can build naturally. This takes into account a person’s height, weight and body fat %.
Going by Mike O’Hearn’s bodyspace stats that he wrote himself:
Height: 6ft 3
Body Fat: 4%
This gives Mike O’Hearn a fat-free mass index score of: 30.
Dr Pope’s calculations stated that if a person has a greater fat free mass of “about 25, then he is almost certainly lying”.
However, Dr Pope’s statement appears to be quite indecisive, with him using terms such as “about 25” and “almost certainly”, which shows that his measurement lacks precision – making it an unreliable way of testing.
Saying “almost certainly” leaves room for error, because although the chances are very low; somebody could actually have a high score of 30 – and still be natural. You can work out your fat free mass index score here.
Evidence #2: Gladiators drug use
Mike O’Hearn was part of the TV series – Gladiators. Since that was aired some Gladiators have admitted they were taking steroids at the time (4).
So you could associate Mike O’Hearn with taking steroids, as members of the show have taken them.
However, this is weak evidence. I train at a bodybuilding gym and I know many of the guys in there are on steroids, because they’ve told me.
So you could assume I’m on steroids because I train in the same gym as them, but that would be a false accusation because I’m natural.
Gladiators also performed internal random drug tests and found that Jefferson King, otherwise known as ‘shadow’ was tested positive for steroids. The consequence was him getting kicked off the show.
So, if anything this weak ‘evidence’ could even be turned around and point in the direction of Mike O’Hearn being natural because he never tested positive for steroids of any kind during his time on the show.
Evidence #3: Better stats than Arnie
Nattyornot.com compare Mike O’Hearn’s stats vs Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold is hailed as the greatest bodybuilder of all time, and has admitted to taking steroids (5).
So here’s the comparisons made:
Mike O’Hearn vs Arnold:
Height: 6ft 3 vs 6ft 2
Weight: 247lbs vs 235lbs
Body fat: 4% vs 5-7%
So, these stats show that Mike is only 1 inch taller in height, yet he weighs 22lbs more than the king of bodybuilding, as well as being at a lower body fat percentage.
However, sometimes numbers can be deceiving and this one certainly appears to be so.
Because if you look through Arnold’s pictures back in his prime and you compare him visually to Mike O’Hearn now, you’ll see that Arnold looks considerably bigger (see below).
So the suggestion that Mike O’Hearn has surpassed Arnold or gets close to him in anyway, thus he must be on steroids is – false.
Evidence that Mike O’Hearn is NOT Taking Steroids
So although many people are adamant Mike O’Hearn is on steroids, we can actually conclude there actually isn’t any evidence at all to back this up .
So is there any evidence to suggest he IS natural? Keep reading.
Evidence #1: Mike’s Traps
Mike O’Hearn trains very heavy, adopting the powerlifting philosophy. He only does 2-4 reps per set (6). So he trains like a powerlifter or similar to a strong man.
After looking on the World’s strongest man website, interestingly there is no “drug testing” page to be found anywhere on the site.
After digging around we could find that the ISFA (the former sanctioning organisation for the World’s Strongest Man) only used to test for stimulants and recreational drugs. So to be clear these are things like cocaine, alcohol and cannabis.
Thus, we can conclude that NOT taking anabolic steroids during this particular event would put you at a major disadvantage, considering they don’t test for it. Therefore it’s fair to assume that those who participate in the World’s Strongest Man competition DO take steroids.
So let’s compare Mike O’Hearn to Derek Poundstone – one of the competitors in the World’s Strongest Man competition.
So, if they both train similarly and take steroids they should look similar, right?
Derek Poundstone has huge traps. This is a normal attribute for strong men, due to all the overhead pressing movements they do.
Mike O’Hearn also does the same trap exercises (4), plus shrugs added in, yet he has tiny traps in comparison to strongmen.
This is a strong piece of evidence indicating that Mike O’Hearn is natural. Because your trapezius muscles have more androgen receptors than other muscle groups, so when a person is taking a highly androgenic steroid (like trenbolone) their traps will blow up faster than other muscles groups.
Yet Mike’s remain small in comparison to the rest of his body.
Here are Mike’s stats vs Derek’s (7):
Height: 6ft 3 vs 6ft 1
Weight: 247lbs vs 340lbs.
Evidence #2: No Bloat
Despite strongmen having low enough body fat to show their abs from a relaxed position, they have very big, bloated waists.
This creates the illusion that they are fat, which isn’t true as a man has to achieve 10% or less body fat in order to reveal abdominal definition.
This big, bloated waist is due to water retention that is a typical side effect of taking steroids.
However, when you look through Mike’s photos he is never bloated and always displays a tiny looking waist (see below).
Evidence #3: No Flushed Skin
When a person takes steroids they often have increases in blood pressure, due to their LDL (bad cholesterol) levels being elevated. Spiked blood pressure increases your body temperature.
And when your body temperature is high, the body tries to cool itself back down by dilating your veins and blood vessels, in a bid to increase the blood’s overall surface area.
When this happens it creates a flushed skin effect, giving a red/pink colour to the skin. This is common in steroid users. It can look like mild sun burn and is evident in Derek Poundstone’s first picture. This ‘red skin’ appearance is common in many strongmen.
However, Mike doesn’t have this side effect in any of his pictures.
Evidence #4: Excecptional Genetics
If you have incredible genetics and you combine that with taking steroids, you end up looking like Phil Heath or Ronnie Coleman. Mike is nowhere near that level in terms of muscularity.
However, it’s clear that Mike has incredible genetics when it comes to building muscle. At just 14 years old he won his first natural bodybuilding show, weighing 176lbs at 5ft9 (8).
So this was a child merely going through puberty. Jesus!
He says that at just 16 years old he weighed 270lbs (9). Which although is staggering, it sounds reasonable to believe as he’s pretty much stayed the same size for years now without ever bulking up to put size on.
Never Tested Positive
We knew that the Gladiators series Mike was in tested for steroids, but we don’t know how rigorous the testing was. But, we do know that he’s won 4x Mr Universe titles.
If you go on to the Natural Bodybuilding website you will see how strict the testing standards are. The INBA (international natural bodybuilding association) tests for all performance enhancing drugs.
You have to take a urine or blood test as well as paying for your own polygraph. Polygraph tests aka lie detector tests are believed to be 90% accurate in determining whether a person is lying or not (8).
However, there is a way to beat tests for steroids. Every steroid has a detection time, which is the duration of time the steroid takes to clear your system. So when a a test is on a set date, the athlete can use steroids and stop a few weeks/months beforehand (depending on the steroid), enabling him to pass the test.
To prevent steroid-users beating tests, the INBA also perform random drug tests throughout the year, doing 1-2 tests every month. And if you fail any of these tests you are placed in the ‘wall of shame’ on the NaturalBodybuilding.com website, including what you tested positive for.
Mike O’Hearn has passed all of these tests.
Do I think Mike O’Hearn is on steroids – No. All the evidence provided points towards him being natural. There’s no trace or signs of steroids anywhere – but in fact strong evidence to suggest he isn’t juicing.
Am I big fan of Mike’s? I respect the guy I think he has a great attitude, but I’m not a massive fan. Mainly because I think he has incredible genetics; so although it’s nice to admire his physique, it just doesn’t inspire me.
What inspires me is building an amazing physique with average genetics.
Anyway, do you think Mike is on steroids? Let me know in the comments below, especially if you have any more evidence!
Disclaimer: This article is written to try and provide as much factual evidence to form an educated opinion on whether an individual is likely to be taking steroids or not. The writer does not guarantee that the verdict is correct; And so they cannot be made accountable for any damages.