How a Passion to Turn Pro Keeps This SHW Bodybuilder on Plan

After a rocky childhood and addiction, winning bodybuilder Sean Mickle finds his love of muscle and his new wife keep him very focused.

By Robert DaStrongman Racine

A first place finish in the Super heavyweights at the August 2012 Jay Cutler Classic earned Sean Mickle the chance at a bodybuilder's dream, the opportunity to compete at the national level for a pro card. The road Sean, who is trainer in Maryland, took to get here was not easy, smooth, or straight, but are real champions made on the straight and narrow? As Sean said to me, “With the right heart, mind, determination and willpower we can overcome anything.” And as you’ll soon find out, Sean wasn’t kidding. 


As a Force Recon Marine in Iraq, Sean faced many things that would shape his life and future. One such moment occurred on March 10, 2006. Four well-placed shots from Sean stopped a car loaded with bombs from crashing into his Marine compound. But his heroism wasn’t enough to erase his years in Iraq. In fact, it was a trigger of sorts. Sean came back home and escaped into a bottle of Jim Beam, which helped him forget the reality of war and of his childhood, which he spent trying to escape a parent who was an alcoholic. When he left the Marine Corps and got a job as a Special Agent with Amtrak, his drinking did not stop. In fact things got worse and despite friends telling him to get the drinking under control, Sean persisted. “I felt invincible when I was drinking,” he says.

But he wasn’t invincible. Not at home, not with friends and not on the job. Sean says his greatest challenge, while drinking, was facing his kids. To escape their disappointment and concern, Sean turned to his favorite bourbon that much more. But the price he paid for his escape was immense. Sean lost his job, wife, children and finally the respect of his friends and family. “It was the hardest four years of my life,” Sean says.


Sean was returning from his grandmother's funeral in May 2010 when he decided he had lost enough. Instead of stepping on a plane and heading home, Sean checked himself into a VA hospital for alcohol rehab. It was time to put some memories to rest. Over the next 54 days, Sean began to heal. He learned that the past is gone and that what we do, day by day, matters. To build that road from alcoholism to recovery, Sean found that he needed a new mindset. That mindset? “Create a plan and execute it 100 percent” says Sean. The simple rule helped him turn his life around, give up drinking and begin to mend.



In the Marine Corp, he used to hear two phrases:
“Keep it Simple, Stupid”
“Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”
These have been the mantras of Sean’s recovery and bodybuilding success.


As a pastime, Sean returned to the gym and discovered a passion for bodybuilding. At first the gym was a place to heal and let out frustration, but his passion started showing real results as he put on impressive muscle and burned off bodyfat. A friend encouraged him to train to actually step on stage and compete. Competing appealed to Sean, and he began to build a plan for success.

Sean only spends sixty minutes lifting weights in the gym.
10 minutes for warmup and 50 minutes of lifting.
Sean keeps it intense with 30 seconds rest between sets.
Cardio for Sean consists of
40 minutes on the treadmill at three mph.

The plan came to fruition in 2011 when Sean stepped onstage for his first competition in Virginia Beach. He placed first and hasn’t looked back. Next came The Arnold Classic where he placed 15th, among the best bodybuilders in the country. It was a slight bump in the road, but definitely not a roadblock, Sean says. His most recent win at the Jay Cutler classic gives him the opportunity to step on stage at the 2013 Junior Nationals, where he can turn pro. He’s turning up the heat on both his training and diet to get ready.

Sean has a hard time putting on mass so his diet
consists of seven meals spaced three hours apart.
His macro breakdowns are:
50g protein, 50g carbs, 20g fat.
He thinks of food as fuel.

Success in bodybuilding can be a tough, lonely life. The training, discipline, strict diet, subjective judging and financial cost can take its toll on any but the most dedicated athletes. Sean’s not flinching. In fact, he’s carefully planning his run at turning pro. Along the way, he’s also smelling the roses. In early September, Sean eloped to Las Vegas to marry a woman he calls: “the love of his life.”

The real story Sean wants you to remember is his story of triumph, against really bad odds. “I fought through all that and here I am,” says Sean. He is a man with a plan.

Author Robert DaStrongman Racine is a journalist and a competitive athlete, who has been competing in North American Strongman (NAS) competitions for eight years. He won the 2011 Central Florida Strongman in masters division and is now turning his focus to bodybuilding. You can follow his life and training at