Sean Harley's heavy lifting has put him on the map, or more precisely, on the cover.
Harley, 33, a businessman, weightlifter, bodybuilder and fitness model who works out five to six days a week, has appeared recently on the covers of nine muscle or fitness magazines.
The Omahan who is a native of Richland, Neb., a town of about 100, said he picked up the bodybuilding and training bug while earning a business degree and playing football in college in Fremont.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder said he parlayed that start into fitness modeling work and a job at a GNC store in Southern California before returning to the Omaha area in 2007.
“My time out there (San Diego and Los Angeles) kind of ran its course,'' said Harley, who also competes in professional bodybuilding competitions.
Today, Harley and a business partner, Heath Murray, 34, run a gym, I Think Fit near 156th Street and West Center Road, and a supplement operation. They also train people from about 30 countries via their website: ithinkfit.com. The supplement business, Rock Solid Supplements, offers proteins, fat-burners and pre-workout powder mixes.
He posed for the magazine covers, some of which earned him a paycheck, mostly to promote his businesses, said Harley, who is also a personal trainer.
Among the nine covers: Iron Man, Muscle & Fitness, The Perfect Body and Physique. In 2012, Harley had three foreign Muscle & Fitness covers in Finland, Australia and Dubai.
He said he's done it all with what sounds like an uncomplicated workout routine, a specific diet and no performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). And he said he competes against those massive bodybuilders who take PEDs.
“I don't think I need (PEDs),'' he said. “I don't want to put my health at risk ... And as a role model, I like to teach the natural way.''
Harley said his workout routine of five to six days a week for one hour a day targets one body part each day.
“It's kind of a typical bodybuilder's split,'' he said. The routine also includes sprint work and time intervals.
Harley said he admires Layne Norton, 29, a Floridian considered an authority on natural bodybuilding who has a Ph.D. in nutritional sciences.
“He's built quite a name for himself,'' said Harley. “He's on the cutting edge of bodybuilding ... the science of it.''
In preparation for bodybuilding competitions and photo shoots, Harley said he loads up on protein, carbohydrates and fats at key times during the day. He also consumes a lot of fish, chicken, egg whites, oatmeal, sweet potatoes and flaxseed oil.
“And then after a show,'' Harley said, “I reward myself with some pizza and beer.''
Harley said he's coming out of his off-season, which runs from about Thanksgiving through April, and is preparing for an International Federation of Bodybuilding pro competition in New York in late May.
He said he's eating more and building muscle as he prepares for New York, where he hopes to line up a professional photo shoot. Harley said he'll then use the photos to solicit magazines, because more covers mean more promotion for his businesses.