Mike O’Hearn and Vlad Yudin debate “tabloid content creators” in bodybuilding and whether it is worth trying to educate audiences to look past clickbait headlines.

In July 2022, Kenny KO released a video featuring Mike O’Hearn in which he tried to get O’Hearn to admit that he took, at minimum, TRT due to being middle age. While the video wasn’t quit “gotcha journalism” – it did attempt to disprove O’Hearns long held general assertion. That he has been completely natural with an amazing physique and powerful strength for nearly four decades. In Generation Iron and Barbend’s latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show, Vlad Yudin and Mike debate about “tabloid content creators” and whether it is a waste of time to engage with them.

When Mike O’Hearn was approached by Kenny KO in the aforementioned video. O’Hearn took quite a bit of time to try and explain his position. Instead of just blowing off Kenny KO’s questions. He instead challenged him, and his audience, to understand O’Hearn’s perspective. Mike O’Hearn has long been criticized for his all-natural bodybuilding and powerlifting claims. Some in the fitness industry believe it to be impossible to accomplish what O’Hearn has done without the aid of PEDs or steroids.

But Mike O’Hearn thinks that this belief is simply due to cultural programming. Why does the mass audience in bodybuilding and fitness think that there cannot be outliers from the norm? Why is it impossible for O’Hearn to be all-natural with a physique similar to an enhanced athlete? Just like there are timeless legends in other sports – such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Muhammad Ali. Why can’t there be exceptions like that for all-natural athletes?

Generation Iron’s Vlad Yudin, after watching the video, believes that Mike O’Hearn is barking up the wrong tree. Why waste his time trying to explain it to an audience that just wants shock value? Let’s break down how Mike and Vlad debate on the topic below.

Is it worth engaging with clickbait content creators?

Initially during this episode’s debate, Mike O’Hearn defends his actions. He thinks that it is worth trying to educate Kenny KO and his audience on a different perspective of bodybuilding and fitness. One that is, perhaps, less popular than the mainstream norm.

Mike O’Hearn understands that most people cannot accomplish what he’s done all-natural. Genetics play a big part. But even beyond genetics – intense unreal work ethic is needed. In a world of convenience and constant entertainment, it’s hard to dig deep and build the drive to push limits. But that doesn’t mean it’s not impossible. O’Hearn wants to help open people’s minds to believe that the impossible is possible. In the hope of inspiring more people to reach new levels of accomplishment.

O’Hearn uses cancer as an example. We know cancer is a very dangerous disease. It kills many people every year on this planet. But we also know that many people survive it thanks to advances in science. But even beyond that – we have all seen or heard stories of miracle survival stories beyond even science’s expectations.

If we can believe and understand those kinds of miracles. Why can’t the bodybuilding community believe in rare individuals like Mike O’Hearn? Why can’t we believe that, despite it being common, a rare exception can exist. An all-natural mass monster at age 50.

“I want people to experience health and fitness like I did or Robby or Lee Haney. You can really make a great life for yourself healthy wise.”

– Mike O’Hearn

This is what Mike O’Hearn was trying to explain to Kenny KO and his audience in the viral video. However, Vlad Yudin believes this is a waste of time. It’s the wrong audience to try and convince. They watch for a specific purpose. So O’Hearn’s words will likely fall on deaf ears.

O’Hearn ultimately concedes and agrees with Vlad. Perhaps his time is better spent educating his own audience – people who tune in with different expectations. However, O’Hearn does not see tabloid content creators as an enemy. He understands that we all like to be entertained. Kenny KO is simply entertainment – not educational. Perhaps even many of the comments online criticizing O’Hearn are people just entertaining themselves – and are not real hard felt beliefs.


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Is tabloid viral content influencing audiences? Or are audiences influencing the content?

Mike O’Hearn and Vlad Yudin then jump into the wider topic of clickbait, tabloid journalism, and viral content. Does clickbait only exist because audiences have a natural demand for it? The same way roman citizens wanted to see gladiator matches despite it leading to the deaths of real people? Are we just inherently looking for entertainment despite how it affects the subjects?

Or are content creators subconsciously training audiences to want certain content. That tabloids and clickbait have slowly rewired humanity’s brains to desire a different kind of entertainment that we didn’t expect a century ago?

Mike O’Hearn believes that perhaps it’s a bit of both. At an early age of success, O’Hearn quickly learned he needed to expect criticism and tabloid journalism. He couldn’t defeat it. So he also learned to have fun with it. He understands how this kind of content is entertaining.

However, he does lament the overall cultural shift that has taken place alongside internet culture. O’Hearn admits that he thinks the world of bodybuilding and strength sports shifted from hope to cynicism. And perhaps the larger culture has done the same. That’s why O’Hearn uses his content – such as The Mike O’Hearn Show – to discuss stories of motivation, hard work, and hope. He wants to believe the next generation can return to a more optimistic state.

“I wish we can go back. The 80s was hope. That’s what the lifting was. It was friendship. Its was hope. We are all going to get better. We’re going to do it together. We’re going to compete with each other. I’m not going to give you an easy competition – but we’re going to make each other better. And now it seems like everybody is slighting everybody. And it’s like – wow this is ugly.”

– Mike O’Hearn

Wrap Up

Mike O’Hearn is a rare public figure that is able to have fun with the criticism that is thrown his way by comments and content creators alike. The Kenny KO video is one example of this. Last week, during our show promos, O’Hearn joked about taking tren. He doesn’t get offended by it. He doesn’t mind trolling back at the trolls.

However, he does also spend significant time trying to preach about motivation, hard work, and optimism. He wants to see a future generation outperform his accomplishments. He wants to see new Lee Haneys, Tom Platz‘, and Phil Heaths.

You can watch Mike O’Hearn’s full comments in our latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Make sure to catch new episodes every Friday only on Generation Iron – or wherever podcasts are downloaded.

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.