Keone Pearson is an American professional bodybuilder that has competed in the Classic Physique and the 212 divisions of the IFBB Pro League. Pearson is the youngest professional bodybuilder from Georgia state and he has competed against some of the best bodybuilders of this generation.
He became the 212 Olympia champion at the 2023 Olympia and now looks forward to defending the top spot for the years to come. In this article, we’ll explore Keone Pearson’s story and take a look at his complete profile, biography, competition history, workout, diet as well as statistics.
Keone Pearson Statistics
|Full Name: Keone Pearson (Bodybuilder)|
|210 lbs (95 kg)||5’-6” (167 cm)||28 years|
|Date of birth||Era||Nationality|
|February 23, 1995||2010s, 2020s||American|
Keone Pearson Biography
Born and brought up in Warner Robins, Georgia, USA, Keone Pearson never struggled with health and fitness in his life. He was a fit and athletic kid that played football and track and field during his high school days. Because of his involvement in these sports, Pearson realized the importance of fitness and good health early on in life. This also helped him build excellent work ethic, discipline and a go-getter attitude that helped in pursuing a career in professional bodybuilding a few years later.
Pearson started training as a teenager to gain strength and improve his performance in football. However, bodybuilding soon became his passion and the young boy from Georgia decided to take it up as the primary profession.
Keone Pearson started working towards the first goal of becoming a professional bodybuilder. By age 21, he had built an impressive physique that very few individuals in the world are capable of. He emerged victorious at the 2016 NPC Lee Haney Games and bagged the victory. Confident and intent on elevating the young bodybuilding career to the next level, Keone Pearson returned to the stage at the 2017 NPC Junior USA Championships and emerged victoriously in the Classic Physique division. The win earned Pearson the IFBB Pro card.
His pro bodybuilding debut came at the 2018 IFBB Tampa Pro and Pearson became one of the youngest bodybuilders from Georgia to compete professionally. To the surprise of the bodybuilding community, the young prospect from Georgia walked home with a runner-up finish at the show. The performance made him an instant sensation. Pearson built upon the momentum and delivered good performances in the 2019 competitive season, finishing fourth at the 2019 Arnold Classic as well as the 2019 Olympia.
Switch to the 212 division
Although Keone Pearson was doing remarkably well at Classic Physique, he had his eyes set on the 212 division as early as 2019. Pearson had hinted at moving up in weight to realize the full potential of his physique. He made the eventual switch in the 2020 competitive season and made his 212 debut at the 2020 Chicago Pro. Pearson extended his dominance in the new division as well as emerged victoriously at the show. The victory earned him a direct qualification to the 2020 Olympia. However, the young contender chose to sit out that year due to undisclosed personal reasons.
He did return to stage eventually at the 2021 Chicago Pro and bagged the second consecutive win at the Olympia qualifier. However, his 2021 Olympia showing turned out to be a complete disaster. Pearson delivered the poorest performance in his 212 Olympia debut, finishing 14th on the grandest stage of bodybuilding. The lackluster performance made his switch to the 212 division look like a mistake.
However, Pearson later revealed that he had pushed his body to the point of exhaustion with back-to-back competition preps. This caused a burn-out before the 2021 Olympia prep even picked up the momentum. Pearson said in a video:
“There’s no excuses but my body was tired doing a very, very long preps. I did a 14-week prep for Chicago Pro, had a two-week break and then 11 weeks for Olympia. My body was completely done from there and I was stressed. My face was chubby, I was holding a lot of water on stage… Stress is a solid killer, you guys!”
‘The Prodigy’ managed his resources well and improved his standing at the 2022 Olympia, finishing second.
Winning the 2023 Olympia title
Heading into the 2023 competitive season, Keone Pearson had witnessed the ups and downs of a competitive bodybuilding career and gained the necessary experience to formulate a solid plan of action. He made the necessary changes to diet and training routine to add good quality lean muscle mass to the frame. He worked relentlessly during the competition preps to condition his body well and present a complete package on stage.
Heading into the first pro show of the year, the 2023 Texas Pro, Keone Pearson said this about his preparation in the competitive season:
“I was really mindful of my diet. I stayed on my cardio. So we just tried to keep things as clean as possible and it paid off… Now the tissue that I put on over the years is finally maturing up. So I can really condition it this time.”
As expected, Pearson swept the show and took home the 2023 Texas Pro trophy, qualifying for the 2023 Olympia in the process.
At 2023 Olympia
Two-time 212 Olympia champion Shaun Clarida was the favorite heading into the show. Former champion Kamal Elgargni’s withdrawal had increased Clarida’s chances even further. Until this point, Keone Pearson had gone under the radar. While most experts predicted that he would improve his standing on the prestigious Olympia stage, very few saw what was coming.
Clarida and Pearson had a fierce battle during the pre-judging stage as Clarida shined with his insane musculature. The duo battled it out again in the finals. However, it was Pearson’s aesthetics and excellent proportions that prevailed this time. He managed to dethrone ‘The Giant Killer’ by winning the 212 Olympia trophy and realized the ultimate goal of his professional bodybuilding career.
The 212 division of IFBB Pro League has not witnessed the emergence of a dominant force since 7-time 212 Olympia champion Flex Lewis’s departure from the sport. At 27 years of age, Keone Pearson is still very young for the sport. As witnessed from his rise to the champion’s status, it is certainly possible for him to rule the division with a similar level of dominance.
- NPC Lee Haney Games (Men’s Bodybuilding) – 1st place
- NPC Junior USA Championships (Classic Physique) – 1st place (Earned the IFBB Pro card)
- IFBB Tampa Pro (Classic Physique) – 2nd place
- IFBB Chicago Pro (212 division) – 1st place
Keone Pearson Workout
Keone Pearson has a genetic gift for bodybuilding. However, he has worked consistently to achieve the full potential of his gifted physique. Pearson does not adhere to any rigid philosophy when it comes to training. Instead, he is open to exploration and experimenting with ideas.
The 27-year-old’s training program changes based on the stage of prep and competitive season. But he trains five to six days every week and makes sure to hit every muscle group at least once a week. He adapts the training style, rep range, volume based on how his muscles respond. For instance, Pearson employs high volume and high intensity training for legs while keeping it limited for a muscle group like chest.
His workouts are a mix of compound and isolation exercises aimed to target each and every muscle group. Pearson works with free weights to ensure that the secondary / stabilizing muscles are activated during training. Like most bodybuilders, he depends more on machine exercises in the days leading up to competition.
Here is an example of Keone Pearson’s workout routine:
Shoulder And Arms
Keone Pearson follows a simple philosophy for training his shoulders. Before starting with heavy presses or other complex exercises, he warms up with a few variations of dumbbell lateral and front raises as well as face pulls to direct the blood into target muscles.
“I like to do side laterals to make sure I am completely warmed up. I can’t have no injury in the prep.”
Pearson works the posterior deltoids with a unique variation of face pulls where he attaches the rope to a lat pulldown machine. It is only after a few high-rep sets of these exercises that he performs the heavy pressing movements. Apart from warm-up, he feels that these initial exercises help him build the mind-muscle connection.
Things are incredibly simple for arms training. Not easy, but incredibly simple! Pearson stimulates the arms two supersets that combine effective biceps and triceps movements. These exercises work the muscles from different angles and positions, helping with complete and overall development of the arms.
Typically, the shoulder and arms workout looks like this:
- Incline Dumbbell Lateral Raises and Front Raises – 3 sets of 18 to 20 reps
- Rope Face Pulldowns – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
- Hammer Strength Incline Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Prone Incline Shoulder Press – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Superset – Barbell Upright Rows and Cable Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Superset – Standing Dumbbell Curls and Rope Triceps Pushdowns – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Superset – Dumbbell Preacher Curls and Overhead Cable Triceps Extensions – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
For back training, Keone Pearson usually does two to three warm-up sets of the exercises and follows them up with a couple of heavy working sets. The focus is not on moving extremely heavy weights from point A to point B. Instead, getting a good squeeze, increasing the time under tension through slow eccentric reps is the priority here.
One of the prominent features of Keone Pearson’s back training is the emphasis on rowing movements. As the old saying goes, ‘if you want the back to grow, you’ve gotta row’! Rowing exercises like T-bar rows, seated rows and bent over barbell rows impart thickness and the much-desired 3-dimensional look to the back. Pearson combines these with vertical pulling exercises to impart width and build a complete back.
The back training session typically includes:
- Wide Grip Lat Pulldown – 2 to 3 warm-up sets, 2 working sets
- Bent Over Barbell Rows – 2 to 3 warm-up sets, 2 working sets
- Chest Supported T-Bar Rows – 2 to 3 warm-up sets, 2 working sets
- Close Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown – 2 to 3 warm-up sets, 2 working sets
- Seated Cable Rows – 2 to 3 warm-up sets, 2 working sets
Keone Pearson insists that a lot your chest development depends upon maintaining a proper form alone. A lot of people unconsciously engage the anterior deltoids in chest exercises, which takes the tension away from pectoral muscles. Pearson advises to tuck the shoulders back and allow the chest to really pop up for maximum stimulation of the pectoral muscles.
Pearson trains his chest twice every week during competition prep. As a result, he keeps the number of exercises per session to four. He clubs the chest with shoulders and arms on some occasions and sprinkles a few movements in the chest session.
Overall, the workout includes:
- Pec Deck Flyes – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Hammer Strength Incline Chest Press – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Seated Cable Chest Flyes – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Incline Chest Press on Iso-Lateral Plate Loaded Machine – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raises – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Triceps Dip Press – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Cable Triceps Pushdowns – – 3 sets of 12 to 15 reps
Keone Pearson’s leg day is a high volume and high intensity. He works with heavy weights and tries to stimulate the lower body muscles as much as possible.
“My whole goal is to put as much blood as possible into the muscles that I am working with.”
Keone Pearson admittedly has bad knees. Warming the knee joints up is of utmost importance for him to stay healthy and avoid training injuries as it is one of the most crucial joints for lower body movements.
He proceeds to do the main workout after leg extensions and performs heavy compound exercises like leg press,
- Leg Extensions – 3 to 4 warm-up sets, 4 to 5 working sets of 12 to 15 reps
- Leg Press – 3 to 5 sets of 15 to 20 reps
- Reverse Hack Squats – 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
- Sissy Squats – 1 set of 15 reps, 1 set of 20 reps with 1 45 lbs plate
Keone Pearson Diet
Keone Pearson has made several changes to his diet as he got a better understanding of his body over the years. Changing up the diet helped him tremendously to get in the Olympia shape in 2023. Here is an example of Keone Pearson’s competition prep diet. He followed this during the prep for 2023 Texas Pro:
During competition prep. Keone Pearson starts the day with 45 minutes of fasted cardio. He then performs a light workout like abs or calves after cardio and he rushes back home to eat the first meal of his day. Keone fuels his body with the meal consisting of:
- Oats – 80 grams
- Banana – 1 full
- Beef – 100 grams
- Whey Protein – 30 grams
(Energy – 718 cal, Protein – 66.62 grams, Fats – 18.1 grams, Carbohydrates – 83 grams)
A couple of hours after the first meal, it is time to go back to the gym and get an intense workout. But before that, Pearson needs to eat the pre-workout meal and get energized for the training session. His competition prep diet has him eat a rice and chicken based meal before moving the weights. The pre-workout meal consists of following:
- Chicken – 200 grams
- Jasmine Rice – 75 grams
(Energy – 426 cal, Protein – 64.8 grams, Fats – 7.6 grams, Carbohydrates – 20.8 grams)
Keone Pearson generally eats rice in 75 gram portions. However, he varies the portions based on personal preferences every now and then.
“Honestly, you can do it however you want it. If you wanna eat it in one sitting for your one meal or three just do it as you get the same food,” he said.
The 212 Olympia champion enjoys the meal first and then heds over to the kitchen again to prepare his pre-workout and intra-workout shakes.
Pre-workout and intra-workout shake
As a professional bodybuilder, Keone Pearson has to ensure that his workouts are efficient and rewarding in terms of growth. Mentioned below is the composition of a pre-workout drink that fuels his workout. It consists of:
- Stimulant-free Pump Pre-Workout Supplement with 5 grams L-Citruline, 3 grams GlycerPump, 1 gram Agmatine Sulphate, 1 gram L-Tyrosine – 2 scoops
- Caffeine – 1 scoop
- Sea Salt
Intra-workout drink that keeps the energy high during the training session consists of:
- EAA + BCAA formula
Pearson’s caloric intake varies based on the intensity and energy expenditure in that day’s training session. For instance, his caloric intake is higher on a chest day. It then reduces significantly on a leg day.
“Today is actually considered a high day because I have a high day for chest and back, not on legs, which is pretty surprising. Those are my low days.…” Pearson stated.
After getting the day’s main workout in, Pearson is back home to consume the post-workout meal.
To enable muscle recovery and growth in the arduous training routine, Pearson downs the protein shake and fruits. The post-workout meal is a hefty one and comprises of:
- Whey Protein Isolate – 1 scoop / 30 grams
- Pineapple – 50 grams
- Jasmine Rice – 75 grams
- Lean Ground Beef – 200 grams
(Energy – 756.7 cal, Protein – 80.9 grams, Fats – 18.32 grams, Carbohydrates – 35.89 grams)
Meal 4 and 5
Next two meals on Pearson’s full day of eating consist of high quality protein sources like chicken and Salmon complimented with cream of rice and Potatoes.
Meal 4 consists of:
- Cream of Rice Cereals- 75 grams
- Chicken – 200 grams
(Energy – 588 cal, Protein – 67.25 grams, Fats – 3.9 grams, Carbohydrates – 58.5 grams)
The next one is the last meat / fish based meal that includes:
- Salmon – 200 grams
- Potatoes – 200 grams
(Energy – 598 cal, Protein – 49 grams, Fats – 24.2 grams, Carbohydrates – 42 grams)
This bedtime snack is the final bit of food that Pearson puts in his body every day. Rich in protein, healthy fats and Complex carbohydrates, it keeps late night hunger pangs at bay and promotes muscle growth. Additionally, nut butters like peanut butter or almond butter contain tryptophan which can promote sound sleep.
The meal includes:
- Oats – 50 grams
- Whey Protein Isolate – 30 grams
- Almond Butter – 30 grams
(Energy – 466 cal, Protein – 41.2 grams, Fats – 22.3 grams, Carbohydrates – 41 grams)
Total caloric intake and macronutrient profile for the day:
- Energy – 3509 calories
- Protein – 303.2 grams
- Fats – 81.7 grams
- Carbohydrates – 390.4 grams
Keone Pearson is a shining example of an individual that has lived the life of discipline and hard work since his childhood days. The discipline and work ethic ingrained in his mind helped him scale the tallest mountain of the professional bodybuilding career. His story is worth following for young athletes and teenagers to understand the importance of starting out early.