Mike O’Hearn is arguably the greatest fitness model of all-time. He’s appeared on over 400 muscle magazine covers. His photos even inspire a bodybuilder played by Jonathan Majors in the new film Magazine Dreams, in which O’Hearn also acts. But Mike O’Hearn isn’t just some lean guy with great abs and a chiseled jawline. At 6’3″ and over 250, he’s much bigger than most fitness models. And, O’Hearn is even stronger than he looks. As an adherent of power-bodybuilding, Mike O’Hearn continues to hoist heavy metal, even at age 54.

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Mike O’Hearn is even stronger than he looks. / Instagram

He has a lot to say about the power of positive thinking. These are Mike O’Hearn’s thoughts about workout motivation, fitness rituals, and maximizing your potential.


“Most people look for motivation to get them geared up to achieve a goal. Some may need motivation to get to the gym and train day in, day out. It occurred to me early in my life that I didn’t rely on motivation to get things done. Motivation comes and goes. But passion—passion is in you. I never felt that I needed motivation because I had raw passion.”


“You want passion? It has to be about more than a show. More than the stage. You have to find your why. If you are working out to make someone else happy or to conform to certain standards or impress people, then you’ll eventually lose the drive. It has to be for you. Realize that, if you are active and getting your workouts in, you’re taking care of yourself and working to be the best you. You need to start going to the gym with purpose—with function in mind. Function first. Period. If you want to separate yourself from the pack, then find your passion. Working out and taking care of yourself is about so much more than how you look. Seriously. Take time away. This is absolutely worth doing. Dig deep within yourself. Find your why.”

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Power-bodybuilding in action: 405 incline presses for 8 strict reps / Instagram


“I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I want to have a great body.” All I really wanted was to be athletically gifted. I was such a loner when I was a kid. I went through a lot in school—bullying, getting beat up—because I was different. And at the time I thought it was the worst thing ever, but I learned as I got older that it was the single greatest thing that ever happened to me. I learned that I didn’t need anyone else’s approval. I just put my head down and did. I go to the gym and train. I don’t overanalyze. I don’t overthink. I go. I work. I improve.”


“Everyone has rituals—things they do regardless of everything. Read your kids a bedtime story. Wake up and take vitamins. Working out is my ritual. I do it no matter what. Because, at worst, it keeps me stationary. But most often it pushes me forward. I never drop below. Because it’s my passion to be a better me.”

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Mike O’Hearn pressing the stack again and again. / Instagram


“At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is to be your best. The longer you can move forward, injury- free, healthy, and happy, the longer you can conquer whatever lies ahead.”


“I did what I loved, and one day at the gym turned into two. And I find myself, 40 years later, not missing a beat. I don’t miss a workout, because this is what fuels me. Passion. Sure, some days I’m worn out, and I need a break. So I take one. Sometimes I don’t want to eat clean. So I don’t. It’s like a ladder—a couple of steps up, then one step down. You need that step down to propel yourself forward. I don’t rest because I’m unmotivated. I rest because I’m passionate about being my best, and I know when I need it.”

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One of O’Hearn’s hundreds of covers. Over 30 years ago: Muscle & Fitness, December 1992.


“Everything is possible. I have never needed outside influence or reassurance of what is possible. I will make it possible. I will make possible whatever I can because I can. I have always been my own experiment. I test everything on myself. I don’t care if textbooks and articles say that something can’t be done or that something is impossible to achieve. I will put my head down and work as hard as I can to see for myself. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. I really don’t.”


“Bruce Lee said it best: ’Knowing is not enough. You must apply.’ And I apply. I don’t waste time overanalyzing. I just do. Because it’s my passion. It’s a beautiful thing, being in a roomful of people and knowing that I’m different.”

Check out more of Bruce Lee’s motivation.

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Front squats O’Hearn style. / Instagram


“My passion drives me to find out what I’m capable of. You’d be surprised—put everyone else out of your head and do what fuels you. You’ll see that there are no limits.”