Riding high after making a statement at the 2023 Texas Pro
, Keone Pearson
is amid preparations to bring an even better look this November. Taking to Dennis James’ The Menace Podcast, Pearson discussed his training routine for 2023 Mr. Olympia, where he highlighted that conditioning and fullness were his main concerns, thanks to feedback from IFBB Vice President Tyler Manion.
Keone Pearson switched from the Classic Physique category to Men’s 212 Bodybuilding in 2020 and never looked back. In his divisional debut, Pearson claimed 212 gold at the Chicago Pro
Pearson’s knack for advancing his physique in the off-season carried him to a successful defense of his title at the 2021 Chicago Pro. Capping off a busy season, the 28-year-old came up short on the Olympia stage in 14th place — the same event that saw former 212 Olympia Derek Lunsford
In what turned into his bounce-back season, “The Prodigy” won gold at last August’s 2022 Tampa Pro
. Then, when the world was watching closely, Pearson outperformed his peers on the Olympia stage, earning sixth place, a dramatic leap in positions from the year prior.
As for this year, Keone Pearson is leaving nothing to chance, having made considerable changes to his training, nutrition
, and schedule
. His first event of the season saw him take gold in a dominant performance at the 2023 Texas Pro, which paved the way for a potential showdown with the reigning two-time 212 Olympia winner Shaun Clarida
Keone Pearson Says Youth On His Side in Shaun Clarida Battle at 2023 Olympia, Talks Prep Progress
For Pearson, his day-to-day goal is to be “5% better at each show.” While he doesn’t boast muscle maturity like Shaun Clarida, Pearson believes conditioning and fullness are his ticket to winning the 212 Olympia title in seven weeks.
“Praying on it. Just working hard every day; the goal is always to be 5% better at each show and then I know as long as I beat my last package each show, I know I’m getting closer to that,” added Pearson.
“Conditioning always needs to be better, for sure. I just don’t have that maturity that Shaun does and those other guys does… if I believe, I am the youngest guy in the lineup. I’m 28 — everybody else pretty much up there, so. I’m going for a lot of maturity right now so for me I have to come at my best condition and wherever the cards fall, that’s where it falls.
But for sure, conditioning. I could use a little more fullness. We came a little bit tad flat for Texas Pro upper body. But my legs were pretty much in for the most part. So, now we’re just focused on having that right balance to bring that you know… the best physique.”
Even though he’s made substantial improvements to his physique over the course of months, Pearson underlined that “nothing has changed” though admits prolonged dieting paid dividends for his future.
“Honestly nothing [has changed]. It’s just time at this point. I just keep dieting. I know people say the more you diet the better you get, and that’s kind of where we’re at, at this point. With me having such a very lean off-season this year, it set me up for a really successful prep for Texas Pro. And even now you know, I didn’t really rebound much after the Texas Pro so I’m in a very great position. Honestly, nothing changed. We’re still doing the same things. Just still dieting.”
As with most professional sports, visualization and mental focus are paramount for athletes determined to achieve success and longevity. These are weapons Pearson continues to value in his arsenal.
“Yeah, that’s one thing that I actually worked on a lot this off-season is to believe that. Walk like a champion, train like a champion, eat like a champion, everything just like a champion. I’m already a Mr. Olympia, that’s just my mindset because the only way I will be able to win is you have to have that mindset. I’m chasing so I have to have that mentality.
So, that’s pretty much – I train my mind to be in – now that’s pretty much what it is every day. It feels good. I can go to bed knowing that I did everything 200% and wake up and do it all over again.”
After his victory in Texas, Tyler Manion, a judge, and the IFBB Vice President, suggested that Keone’s only path to victory against Shaun Clarida was improved conditioning.
“Just myself man. I am so literally focused on myself. I just know what I’m capable of doing and like I said — I know what I brought to Texas and the feedback with Tyler… he actually posted on the NPC news, but mostly he was saying my condition was the best he’d had ever seen. My legs was the biggest difference that he saw, my hams, glutes, and quads, overall.
Overall balance he said he liked. Everything was good. Nothing negative he just said if you want to beat Shaun you really have to dethrone him. you have to really come in conditioned. That was his only feedback: condition. When you’re training in the gym, you need to think about condition.”
Despite his status as a top contender, Keone Pearson already believes in his heart that he’s a Mr. Olympia champion.
“[To] be honest with myself, like I want, I’m going to be a Mr. Olympia and I want to hold that. For me to hold that, I have to be smart in the gym not stupid. I can still train hard. I can still go in that dog mode. But I got to be smart about it. Not let, you know, controlled aggression. Sometimes I let my aggressions go too far in the gym to where I lose form. That’s how you hurt yourself.”
To achieve the sport’s greatest title, Keone shared that he’s incorporated training methods used by Texan standouts Branch Warren and Johnnie O. Jackson, adding that his rep range has remained between 8-15.
“Right now, it’s between 8-12 reps. I switch up my training a lot. I used to train – my volume used to be extremely high. I used to do four or five sets, a lot, a lot of drop sets. I kind of lightened up the weight just a little bit, still heavy but it’s just more controlled. It’s 8-12-15 reps but I make those eight reps very fucking hard to where I can’t even go past 10.
I feel like that changed my physique a lot, when I switched up to that type of training, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been sticking to the whole year. Yeah, it was more of a Branch, Johnnie, Guy Cisternino-type of training. If I’m going to do this for a long time I need to be smart,” said
“The Prodigy” Hints at Future Splash in Men’s Open, Brushes Off Retirement Timeline
According to Keone Pearson, he “200%” wants to end his career in the Open class, but admits he still has plenty of work to do in 212. Pearson expressed that as of right now retirement isn’t on his radar.
“200%. I want to end my career in the Open. But, you know… I always tell people they always ask me, I have to finish off 212 first, get the job done, and then have some fun in the Open category.”
“No, I was talking noise back then [about retirement]. I’ve been hearing that for so long man. I was going through some crazy shit mentally man. You know, I wish I never even voiced,” said Keone Pearson. “Yeah. It’s just a lesson learned. When you’re sitting there in a vulnerable moment, it’s not go straight to Instagram or go see how you feel. I think I did questions or something like that.”
“No there’s no retiring no time soon for me. This is my job, this is my career. I’ll be here a long time, as long as I’m healthy we’ll be here.”
Aside from Pearson, Shaun Clarida has been open about his goals and ambitions this year. Speaking with athletes rep Bob Cicherillo, Clarida revealed that he doesn’t need additional size to capture another 212 Olympia title. He also mentioned that he respected Keone Pearson as an opponent
and looked forward to sharing the stage with him.
Keone Pearson is fully focused on winning the biggest prize in the sport. His motivation to defeat Shaun Clarida is at an all-time high. However, he knows that achieving this goal will require a near-perfect combination of conditioning and fullness when they compete on stage in Orlando, Florida from November 2-5.
Watch the full video from the Muscle and Fitness YouTube channel below: