“Train Like a ‘Gladiator'” for Pasadena Weekly’s Health Supplement “At Your Best”

Fitness Secrets From Four-time Mr. Natural Universe Michael O’ Hearn, TV’s ‘Titan’.

February 2008

Surrounded by a bodybuilding father and brothers, Michael O’ Hearn, 39, began bodybuilding and martial arts at age seven and has not looked back since. Most known in the athletic arena as a four-time Mr. Natural Universe, in which athletes do not take performance enhancing drugs and are drug-tested, O’ Hearn has also earned the top titles in his other two specialties, power lifting and martial arts.

Currently, O’ Hearn can be seen as team captain, “Titan”, on “American Gladiators”, which just got signed to a second season. He is the only cast member who was also in the original series.


O’ Hearn’s drug-free training translated to a book he wrote, “Proven Techniques for Drug Free Bodybuilders”, though O’ Hearn does not want to say what other athletes “should” do.

“I’m out there trying to help the mass that wants to be drug-free and tell kids that you can be a professional athlete without doing that kind of stuff,” said O’ Hearn.


Monday through Friday, O’ Hearn lifts weights for an hour to an hour and a half, focusing on one body part per day, like shoulders, legs or arms. Weightlifting burns more calories and O’ Hearn only does cardio when he’s getting ready for a photo shoot or “American Gladiators”.

“I train at four in the morning because I am mental,” said O’ Hearn. “I prioritize it. It’s my time to meditate, which means my time to be alone, clean up the cobwebs, and get my head straight. If you can start off the morning with it you feel so much better.”

Married to fitness model Melinda “Midajah” McCullum, and the owner of three dogs, O’ Hearn said making exercise a priority is difficult for many people, because they get distracted by the needs of work and family.


Mostly self-taught, O’ Hearn also has a nutrition degree and years of experience training people.

Exercise only accounts for 10 percent of getting in shape, O’Hearn believes, and he has practiced this nutrition-focused philosophy his whole life.

“People don’t eat to feed their body but to comfort themselves,” said O’ Hearn.

A program O’ Hearn and fitness professional, Sherlyn Roy created called S.H.I.F.T.I.N.G.—Serious High Intensity Fitness Training Integrating Nutritional Guidelines—uses food to speed up the metabolism so it never slows down and the body constantly burns fat. Roy and O’ Hearn are currently finishing a S.H.I.F.T.I.N.G. book that is about “fixing the problem of why you put on the weight”.


Following in the footsteps of idol Arnold Schwarzenegger, O’ Hearn has appeared in a few films–one even titled “Barbarian”–and he is currently writing, producing, and directing a film about a superhero that discovers his abilities. Stan Lee has consulted on the project, which appropriately stars fitness model O’ Hearn—who could easily pass for a superhero—in the lead role.

Michael O’ Hearn’s Top Five Bodybuilding Tips:

1. Get Sleep: “You only grow and recover when you sleep,” said O’ Hearn, who gets eight hours a night.

2. Proper Nutrition: Nutrition is 90 percent and training is 10 percent. When bodybuilding, O’ Hearn eats eight times a day. His foods: Protein like chicken, steak, and turkey, fats like peanut butter, fish oils and fatty meats; carbs such as oatmeal and rice; and vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and salad.

3. Consistency: Stick with your nutrition guidelines and regimen.

4. Train smarter not harder: Do the basics and avoid advanced fad exercises. The basics work.

5. Stretch only after a work out: Before a workout, the muscle is cold and stretching can lead to injury. Only stretch a muscle when it is warm.


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