Growing up in such a hardcore environment, exposure to steroids came quick enough. And not just in the gym. The youngest of nine kids, O’Hearn says two of his brothers and one sister took steroids. Rather than tempt him, he says it had the opposite effect.
“If you’ve got brothers, there’s an instant rivalry,” he says. “Whatever they did, whether it was drinking alcohol or staying up late, I wanted to do the opposite or do it better. With steroids, I was too young to understand that anything else was going on when it came to bodybuilding and powerlifting. Then people started telling me, ‘That’s what everyone in the magazines does. That’s what all the bodybuilders do.’ I said, ‘If that’s what everybody does, then let me beat them without it.’
“With steroids, there is always an up and down,” O’Hearn continues. “I would see my brothers enhance to a much better level than me. In a deadlift, say, they would jump up to 500 pounds, and I’d be at 400. But when they came off the sauce they’d drop to 450, and then I’d catch that. Then they’d jump up to 600. By then I’d be at 500, and they’d drop back down. I’d say, ‘What is this pattern? Why get better and then get worse? If I’m going to spend this much time doing it, I want to be able to keep what I’ve got.’ ”
His eventual PRs would wind up being as staggering as his physique: An 815-pound squat, a 600 bench (along with 500×2 on an incline), and a 775 sumo deadlift.
“Could I have set records with steroids? Yes. Would I be as good as I am now? No. Steroids age you. Your connective tissue breaks down. Over time, something will inevitably tear.”
Temptation was easy to avoid, he says, thanks to quick success.
“When you get discovered by Joe Weider—he walks up to you at the Mr. Olympia and says, ‘I need you on the cover of my magazines,’ and you’re a 20-, 21-year-old kid—I realized whatever I had been doing up to that point was good enough. Would I have been tempted if I didn’t find success? I hope I wouldn’t have, but then again, I never wanted to be a 300-pound Mr. Olympia. I wanted a pleasing physique. I think of my body as an art piece, and it’s my art piece.”
Back in the gym, O’Hearn is delivering his final tutorial of the day on benching. At that moment, he’s interrupted again—a hand on his shoulder, too desperate to wait. He turns to find a slight man, sheepishly apologizing.
“Excuse me,” the man says, “but I am from Jordan, and I am also very fond of you. May I have a photograph?”
The man is sweating, nervous with anticipation. O’Hearn merely smiles, says, “Of course,” and puts an arm around him, posing for a series of rapid-fire cell-phone pics. The man had traveled from the other side of the earth, hailing from a culture that could be described as our polar opposite. But when he sees O’Hearn, none of that matters.
It fades away into something basic and pure—an admiration that doesn’t adhere to cultural boundaries. A smile frozen on his face, O’Hearn poses with the man, not surprised in the least to meet yet another fan, however unlikely this one might seem. This kind of thing happens to Mike O’Hearn every day, and at this point in his life, it’s all perfectly natural.
Source: Muscle and Fitness