Bodybuilding legend Mike O’Hearn missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to craft a killer portmanteau. When bromance and chillax exist, “power bodybuilding” is pretty lame.
(We know power bodybuilding is an actual thing. But when “Goblet of Gains” exists and not everyone recognizes Mike O’Hearn as Titan, the program’s title isn’t exactly click-worthy!)
Unimpressive name aside, Mike O’Hearn’s Power Bodybuilding Training Program is supposedly the perfect blend of bodybuilding and powerlifting for anyone chasing strength and size.
But does it work?
Let’s find out!
About the Creator – Mike O’Hearn
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Thor from the original American Gladiators (1989–1996) and Titan from the 2008 series reboot?
Mike O’Hearn is an American bodybuilder with more than 42 years of training experience, dedicating 37 of those years to the main stage where he captured title after title (after title).
O’Hearn’s first taste of the bodybuilding world came at the ripe age of 15 when the West Coast teen was crowned “Teenage Washington State.”
He later solidified his athletic prowess as an All-American on the college gridiron.
The future Bodybuilding Hall of Fame padded his resume even further in the years that followed with accomplishments like:
- Gracing more than 400 magazine cover slots
- Collecting four Mr. Universe titles, tying Schwarzenegger & Ferrigno
- Clinching supporting roles in Days of Our Lives and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
- Nabbing Mr. America, Mr. International, Mr. World, & Mr. Universe crowns
- Becoming a seven-time “model of the year” (super vague)
- Sculpting one of the “top 12 greatest physiques” in the fitness world (also vague)
Mike O’Hearn is still among the most widely respected bodybuilders in American history. And, the self-proclaimed “real-life superhero” doesn’t seem to be hanging up his belt any time soon.
What is Mike O’Hearn’s Power Bodybuilding Training Program?
Deserving of skepticism, that’s for sure.
Mike O’Hearn’s 12-Week Power Bodybuilding Training Program is — spoiler alert — a mix of powerlifting and bodybuilding training principles designed to build size and strength.
Oh, and also overall fitness, power, fat-burning, and aerobic capacity.
His “everything but the kitchen sink” approach leans most heavily on the three major lifts at its core: the deadlift, squat, and bench press.
But, of course, it wouldn’t be a four-time Mr. Universe’s program without some ego lifting now and then. So this split also features classic bodybuilding exercises and reps for pure gains.
O’Hearn’s three-month training, supplement, and nutritional routine requires:
- Intermediate or advanced-level training experience
- Five to six gym days per week (with two sessions per day — AM and PM)
- At least 60–90 minutes of free time per day
- Willingness to adapt to phase changes every four weeks
- Access to a full gym or well-stocked home gym
Redditors aren’t exactly “impressed” by O’Hearn or his program. But we’ll be the first to admit: if it’s sustainable lives up to its expectations, this routine could flip the fitness world on its head.
… that’s a big ‘ol “if.”
Program Details & Features
O’Hearn tees this routine up as being the best in the business, allowing you to build the aesthetic physique of a bodybuilder and the brute strength of a powerlifter.
But is it? Read more to learn the answer!
To help guide your decision, here’s what you need to know:
- Though it lacks concepts like supersets and drop sets and sits upon a “big three lift” foundation, O’Hearn insists it’s far from a beginner program.
- Each training day — Monday through Friday — consists of two separate sessions: a weightlifting session in the morning and a core/cardio workout in the evening.
- Every workout emphasizes just one muscle group.
- O’Hearn recommends access to a full gym that includes machines, an adjustable bench, dumbbells, a squat rack, weight plates, and a barbell.
- The bodybuilder describes this program as “periodized” and “phase-structured,” suggesting a second go-round might guarantee an even more impressive physique.
The biggest reveal in this tab? O’Hearn insists that his year-round routine follows a similar style.
Most BodyFit workouts begin each workout — or each week — with a brief video or text blurb explaining upcoming changes to your training while blowing smoke up your ass.
Not here, though.
Just open the Workout Schedule tab, click day one, and follow the instructions.
Power Bodybuilding Training Calendar
|Day of the Week||AM Workout||PM Workout|
|Monday||Chest||Core & Cardio|
|Tuesday||Legs||Core & Cardio|
|Wednesday||Shoulders||Core & Cardio|
|Thursday||Arms||Core & Cardio|
|Friday||Back||Core & Cardio|
By week nine (the beginning of phase three), you’ll drop that first rest day and replace it with yet another PM core and cardio workout; for the record, that’s six straight days of cardio and abs.
(Also, arms and back on back-to-back days?)
Exercises In the Power Bodybuilding Program
Mike O’Hearn’s Power Bodybuilding Program is a somewhat repetitive mix of the same-old traditional resistance training exercises. Every week features exercises like:
- Incline bench press
- Incline dumbbell fly
- Back squat
- Leg extension
- Military press
- Rear deltoid fly
- Barbell curl
- EZ bar skull crusher
- Lat pulldown
- Hanging leg raise
(Nope, you’re not missing anything. There aren’t any calf or hamstring-specific exercises in this entire routine.)
Don’t have a pulley stack or gym machines? Just click over to the exercise database on your BodyFit app to swap in an alternative exercise!
O’Hearn describes this routine as a “minimalist masterpiece.” (Once you see the nutrition section, you’ll know the “minimalist” part was dead-on accurate.)
Here, you’ll learn more about those iron-pumping sessions, including tidbits like:
- Most weightlifting sessions begin with three light “ramp-up” sets on the power lift, where you’ll gradually add weight to each set until you hit your working weight.
- All so-called “heavy” training sessions begin with a “power” lift — deadlift, back squat, or incline bench press — in a 6×5, 7×3, or 7×2 scheme with 3–5 minutes of rest in between. One review from 2009 implies this rest period is the “sweet spot” for boosting absolute strength during high-intensity training (i.e., powerlifting).
- You’ll follow up power lifts with about ten sets of bodybuilding exercises.
- O’Hearn regards arm and shoulder days as “light” training with the classic hypertrophy rep range of 8–12 reps per set.
- The program consists of three phases that’ll determine the 1RM intensity for each of your power lifts: phase one (70%), phase two (80%), and phase three (90%).
- Those rest days scribbled into the calendar are real; take it easy, son!
- Evening cardio sessions last about 30–60 minutes; stick to 60–65% of your maximum heart rate to encourage muscle recovery. This recommendation falls into the low end of the so-called “fat-burning zone” for maximal fat oxidation (2009), ideal for shredding fat while building muscle.
O’Hearn’s training program is remarkably simple, and, assuming you’ve already mastered the big three lifts and can calculate your 1RM, this routine is definitely intermediate-friendly!
O’Hearn presents this nutrition plan as the secret to building size and strength simultaneously. Of course, he may very well know the best tips and tricks, being a former Mr. World and all.
But they aren’t anywhere in this guide. To be honest, this Nutrition Plan section is a list of five “rules of the road” that stops just shy of being helpful.
- Taper your calories: O’Hearn provides an example of somebody who eats 3,000 calories a day during phase one and dips an extra 500 calories in the phases that follow. But how many calories should you eat on this program? That part’s missing!
- Eat big meals before and after workouts: If you’re wondering, no, there’s absolutely no context for what counts as “big” and whether this includes the AM and PM workouts.
- Find a proper macro balance: This tip is actually partially useful; surprise! O’Hearn recommends a 40/30/30 split and to avoid high carbs and low protein. If that doesn’t jive with your body, just “tweak” it. Ironically, a 40/30/30 macro split is quite far off from the typical bodybuilder’s diet, which is more like 55–60/25–30/15–20 (2004).
- Eat protein regularly: The world-renowned bodybuilder recommends eating 20–40 grams of protein every few hours. But if you’re curious about how many grams of protein your body needs per day for proper growth, that’s not in here either.
- Cut out the junk: The last — and perhaps least detailed — tip is to eat “quality” food while cutting out sugar, alcohol, snacks, and “junk,” whatever that means. He also literally points out that this program is missing a food list and sample meal plan because it’s just “the essentials.” (It seems like he’s trolling, but we don’t think he is.)
O’Hearn’s maintained his stage-ready physique for over 40 years now and clearly knows that a clean bulking diet and resistance training go hand-in-hand. So why is the diet piece so sparse?
What’s wrong is that the whole tab is basically a copy-paste of Lee Labrada’s 12-Week Lean Body Trainer and Steve Cook’s Modern Physique Workout Plan. (Okay, who’s guilty here?)
That raises questions like “does O’Hearn really recommend these seven supplements?” and “is Bodybuilding.com simply slapping the name of big names on routines to drive traffic?”
We can’t be 100% sure. It doesn’t help that this routine’s trainer is simply “Contributing Writer,” not Mike O’Hearn.
But we can offer you a more scientific look at the supplements chosen (apparently by O’Hearn):
- Whey Protein Powder: Many in the bodybuilding world consider whey protein the “gold standard” for those eyeing hypertrophy. With about 10% leucine content, whey can encourage fast-twitch muscle growth (2016) and boost strength and size (2020).
Swolverine Whey Protein Isolate
This is one of our top recommended whey protein powders because of it’s high protein content per serving, extreme deliciousness, and the fact that all Swolverine products are sourced from GMP-certified facilities
- Multivitamins: Multivitamins alone won’t “fix” an otherwise poor diet. Yet, when these supplements are high in B vitamins like niacin and thiamin, they can encourage proper glycogen breakdown, boost energy levels, and synthesize amino acids.
- Fish Oil: The scientific community remains split on whether fish oil is effective for amateur bodybuilders. Research from 2002 found no evidence that fish oil capsules can relieve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). However, a 2017 study determined that fish oil supplements can reduce DOMS by 33–42%.
Optional Performance Boosters
- Pre-Workout: These skin-tingling powders won’t miraculously add 50 pounds to your squat. But with high caffeine content, research shows that these supplements can help mentally fatigued athletes boost endurance by 14% (2016) while also enhancing upper-body strength and vertical jump height (2018).
C4 Ripped Pre-Workout and Cutting Formula
Formulated with CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine and caffeine to improve your muscular endurance and keep fatigue at bay as you crush it in the gym.
- Creatine: Creatine is among the best legal performance boosters in the bodybuilding sphere. The seemingly endless list of creatine perks includes a 14% increase in performance and a 3–45% bench 1RM boost with long-term use compared to standard resistance training protocols (2003).
Swolverine Kre-Alkalyn Creatine
If you want more strength, muscle, and power, this supplement is 100 servings of pure creatine to speed up recovery and increase your gains in the gym. Mixes easily in any drink without any added ingredients.
- BCAAs: Branched-chain amino acids are still a hot topic amongst supplement enthusiasts and doubters. Also high in leucine, research from 2018 found that athletes supplementing with BCAAs were less likely to feel soreness 48 and 72 hours after resistance training.
- Protein Bars: The protein bar versus powder debate often comes down to preference. If you’d prefer a grab-and-go protein alternative, choose a bar instead! Just make sure it’s low in fillers, isn’t a candy bar in disguise, and is high in protein (20 grams or more).
The Bonus Videos tab is a cinematic nightmare, a cringe-worthy blend of poorly scripted reels, dizzying camera angles, and just about every video effect on Windows Movie Maker.
(Add in the awkward grunting and heavy breathing, and the odds of these videos being top-100 contenders to win an Oscar someday plummet to zero.)
O’Hearn fills these 6–8-minute clips with training tips for each of the “big three lift” workouts. For example, use a spotter, don’t rely on momentum to finish sets, and practice good form.
If you have any training experience, feel free to skip this tab altogether!
6 Benefits of O’Hearn’s Training Program
- It toes the line between muscle-building and strength. You no longer face the impossible choice of strength, power, or size. This O’Hearn program targets all three.
- Mike O’Hearn is well-respected in the bodybuilding industry. Assuming Mike O’Hearn’s year-round program really does resemble this one, there’s no doubt that you’ll pack on some mass in the next 12 weeks.
- It’s an ego lifter’s dream come true. It’s a win-win: you’re either lifting at 70–90% of your 1RM for 2–5 reps or cranking out isolation exercises to build pure mass.
- There’s a gradual progression between weeks one and 12. O’Hearn designed this program for intermediate and advanced lifters, but it still has a smooth transition between phases. You’ll bump up your daily cardio by 15 minutes and your power lift by 10% every four weeks as your body adapts to the program.
- In two words: it’s simple. The workouts are essentially the same from one week to the next, aside from slight intensity and rep changes. It’s also missing some overhyped bodybuilding trends like drop sets, which can enhance tricep thickness in beginners, according to research, just not in decently trained athletes (2019).
- The chosen supplements are well-regarded in the bodybuilding community. It’s not entirely clear whether O’Hearn himself swears by these supplements. However, for the most part, the scientific community is on the same page: they tend to work!
5 Negatives of the Program
- It’s not very sustainable. This program requires two training sessions a day for a total of 60–90 minutes of exercise 5–6 times per week. It’s not exactly sustainable if you have a busy schedule or currently train for 30–45 minutes a day.
- The overlap in the supplements section is too close for comfort. Maybe we’re a tad naive, but we figured “Mike O’Hearn’s” program was actually a pet project of his, not a default BodyFit guide that basically copies and pastes the same supplement section between multiple big-name stars (Labrada, Cook, and now O’Hearn).
- “That’s it?” No calves? No hamstrings? One ab exercise? Three exercises in an entire workout? Although the considerable volume could make up for the once-a-week frequency (2019) without sacrificing growth, the workouts seem a little … bare.
- The reps & sets change regularly, but the program could feel repetitive. If you crave excitement and fresh exercises in the gym, this isn’t the routine for you.
- The nutrition tab is surprisingly sparse. It would’ve been more helpful for O’Hearn to leave out the nutrition section and tell you “you’re on your own, bud.”
Power Bodybuilding Training Program Review
Mike O’Hearn’s Power Bodybuilding Training Program is a powerlifting and bodybuilding fusion. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the expectations set by a self-proclaimed “real-life superhero.”
It’s simple, it’ll quench your ego-lifting urges, it gradually increases in intensity, and it’s clearly based on bodybuilding and powerlifting principles.
But it’s almost equally disappointing.
It requires an insane time commitment, misses key muscle groups like the calves and hamstrings, might feel repetitive, and is a complete dud on the nutrition front.
Power bodybuilding routines can and do work, though this wouldn’t be the first we recommend.