Mike O’Hearn and MMA fighter Josh Barnett join forces for some in-depth guidance on weightlifting

In this episode of Generation Iron and Barbend’s The Mike O’Hearn Show, we have the privilege of witnessing an extraordinary training session with two legendary athletes, MMA fighter and professional wrestler Josh Barnett, and the iconic bodybuilder and fitness expert, Mike O’Hearn. Josh brought his son along to train with Mike, providing a unique opportunity for the young athlete to learn from the best in the business. Let’s dive into the highlights of this power-packed weightlifting session and the invaluable lessons shared between by Mike O’Hearn and Josh Barnett.

Josh Barnett, a pioneering mixed martial artist and professional wrestler, has made an indelible mark on the world of combat sports. Born on November 10, 1977, in Seattle, Washington, Barnett’s passion for martial arts led him to become the youngest UFC champion at the age of 24, showcasing his exceptional talent in grappling and striking skills.

Throughout his career, he dominated in various prestigious organizations, including PRIDE Fighting Championships and Strikeforce, solidifying his position as a future legend in the sport. Beyond his achievements in the ring, Barnett’s influence extends to promoting the growth of combat sports globally, making him an inspiration to fighters and a revered figure among his peers.

Having a close relationship with Mike O’Hearn, Josh Barnett decided to bring his son over to O’Hearn’s home gym in order to observe and train with the bodybuilding legend. In what is a slightly different format for the podcast – Mike, Josh, and his son go through a complete training session and discuss tips and insights along the way. Let’s jump in.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by War Materials (@warmaterialsfightco)

Mike O’Hearn’s Wisdom: Focusing on Connective Tissue

As the training begins, Mike O’Hearn sets the tone for the day by emphasizing the importance of connective tissue in wrestling and combat sports. This vital element allows a smaller opponent to take on a stronger one, showcasing how technique and strategy can triumph over brute force.

Mike O’Hearn has always believed that weightlifting is far often too misunderstood as something that deteriorates joints and connective tissue in the body. While this can be true if done incorrectly, the truth is that weightlifting is a vital component as we age. If done correctly and consistently – it can help strength  connective tissue and prevent serious injury from falls as we age.

Like he has often preached, Mike O’Hearn stresses the importance of focusing on longevity via bodybuilding. Instead of focusing on the Mr. Olympia and trophies – he wants to find a way for the youth to be able to sculpt a massive physique while also staying strong well into the ages of 50s, 60s, and beyond.

Squats: The Foundation of Wrestling and Weightlifting

The training starts with squats, and Mike connects this fundamental exercise to wrestling. Just as a wrestler needs to maintain the right stance for a fight, proper form during squats provides the safest and most effective foundation for lifting weights. Mike’s insight into “controlled rage” and the importance of pauses during weightlifting demonstrates the meticulous approach required to excel in both sports.

He also shows examples of how form can be altered to make a simple exercise like the squat more challenging and effective. Mike demonstrates to Josh’s son that lifting technique matters more than the amount of weight lifted. By making subtle adjustments to his squat, the exercise becomes more challenging and conducive to incredible growth. This essential lesson highlights the importance of precision and control in weightlifting.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mike O’Hearn (@mikeohearn)

Passion over Money and Fame: A Valuable Lesson

In a heartfelt conversation, Mike and Josh stress the significance of passion and dedication over the pursuit of fame and fortune. They encourage Josh’s son to let his love for training and the sport drive him towards excellence, reminding us that success and recognition will follow naturally if the foundation is built on true passion.

Mike O’Hearn often believes, and Josh Barnett agrees, that choosing a passion based solely on the desire for money and fame will only limit success, not foster it. This is because the path to fame and glory involves many low moments and challenges. No one will be able to truly grow and rise beyond challenges if they don’t love what they are doing. When the fame and the money don’t come as fast as you hope – what will keep you driven?

Youth and Nutrition: The Golden Window

Mike shares valuable advice with Josh’s son about the importance of nutrition during his current age, the “golden window” of perfecting his dietary habits. The energy of youth and the ability to train naturally can lead to lasting benefits if combined with a well-balanced diet and exercise routine.

Breathing and Mind-Muscle Connection: Keys To Success

As the training progresses, Josh emphasizes the significance of controlled breathing during weightlifting, helping to stabilize the abs, core and prevent injuries. Mike adds that developing the mind-muscle connection from a young age is crucial for future success in weightlifting. Understanding the relationship between movement and weight lays the foundation for mastery in adulthood.

Wrap Up

In this captivating training session with Mike O’Hearn and Josh Barnett, we witness the transfer of knowledge from seasoned professionals to the next generation of athletes. Josh’s son is fortunate to learn from the best, understanding that technique, passion, and a disciplined mind-muscle connection are keys to unlocking greatness. As he continues his journey in the world of wrestling and weightlifting, we eagerly anticipate seeing this young athlete rise to the pinnacle of his sport, carrying with him the wisdom imparted by two legends in the field.

You can watch the full episode above. And don’t forget to check back every Friday for new episodes of The Mike O’Hearn Show only on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.