[Visualize] a negative outcome. We don’t want to plan for it, but we need to prepare for it so we know how to react. Can you keep it together and try again, or will you crumble under pressure?
— Dr. Stefi Cohen
Stefi Cohen (@steficohen) is a 25x world-record-holding powerlifter and the first woman in the history of the sport to deadlift 4.4x her body weight. She is a doctor of physical therapy, author, co-host of the Hybrid Unlimited podcast, and business owner passionately educating people with her NO BS, evidence-based view on all things training and nutrition.
Stefi is the co-owner of Hybrid Performance Method, where hundreds of thousands of strength seekers go monthly to find progressive strength training and nutrition programs plus tons of free articles and videos. Stefi is a creative mind and loves collaborating with the Hybrid team and partners to develop powerful content, inspired fashion, and both fitness and nutrition tools for a stronger life.
Stefi is also the co-author (with Ian Kaplan) of Back in Motion, now available for pre-order.
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…
Want to hear another episode with a world-class powerlifter? Listen to my conversation with Mark Bell, in which we discuss exercises for the new and aspiring powerlifter, idiot-proofing the bench press, using the warmup as a diagnostic tool, why it’s sometimes dangerous to emulate techniques of top performers, and much more.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Dr. Stefi Cohen:
- Back In Motion by Stefanie Cohen and Ian Kaplan
- Caracas, Venezuela, South America | Lonely Planet
- 6 Things You Need to Know About Venezuela’s Political and Economic Crisis | The Washington Post
- 66 Years Ago, Roger Bannister Became a Legend | Runner’s World
- Stefi Cohen Just Broke 3 More Powerlifting World Records Like It Was No Big Deal | Men’s Health
- The Revenant | Prime Video
- Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferriss
- Ants Can Lift Up to 5,000 Times Their Own Body Weight | Entomological Society of America
- How to Deadlift: The Complete Guide | The Art of Manliness
- Sumo Versus Conventional Deadlift: Your Definitive Guide | BarBend
- USA Powerlifting
- Famous Sayings: #26: ‘Hard Work Beats Talent…’ | Shmaltz and Menudo
- Jesse DiCocco Pulls 475 Lbs. in the Trap Bar Deadlift | John Alvino
- Train to Failure in Weight Training | Verywell Fit
- Everything You Should Know About the Bulgarian Method | Muscle & Fitness
- Top 10 Things to Know Before BUD/S | Military.com
- Sacroiliitis Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic
- Evidence-Based Medicine: A Science of Uncertainty and an Art of Probability | Journal of Ethics
- Replication Crisis | Wikipedia
- MRI Findings of Disc Degeneration Are More Prevalent in Adults with Low Back Pain than in Asymptomatic Controls: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis | American Journal of Neuroradiology
- Flexion vs. Extension Intolerant Back Pain | Ruthless Performance
- Forces on Bone – Compression, Tension, and Shear | Bone and Spine
- Load Tolerance: Reduce Your Risk of Injury | Never Too Old to Lift
- Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno
- Ketamine: NMDA Receptors and Beyond | Journal of Neuroscience
- Trunk Muscle Strength and Back Muscle Endurance in Construction Workers with and without Low Back Disorders | Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
- Back Extension Hold | Catalyst Athletics
- A Defense of Round-Backed Deadlifting | Myosynthesis
- Stable or Robust? What’s the Difference? | Santa Fe Institute
- Functional Movement Systems
- Gray Cook on the Turkish Get-Up | On Target Publications
- Single-Leg Deadlift | CrossFit
- Gray Cook: Chop and Lift Basics | On Target Publications
- Movement Variability: Connecting Strategies, Errors, and Interventions | SimpliFaster
- Why Is General Physical Preparedness (GPP) Important for Long-Term Success? | BarBend
- The McGill Big 3 For Core Stability | Squat University
- How I Dealt With Lower Back Injuries: 3 Drills I Used To Recover | Stefi Cohen
- 5 Tips To Avoid Any Injury | Stefi Cohen
- Exercise-Induced Analgesia | Better Movement
- Stefi Cohen’s Tips for Shattering Your Personal Records | Muscle & Fitness
- Kern US Open
- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
- With Winning in Mind: The Mental Management System by Lanny Bassham
- Extreme Ownership (How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win) by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
- Henry Ford Quotes | The Henry Ford
- The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin
- The Sunk Cost Fallacy Is Ruining Your Decisions. Here’s How | Time
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
- Should You Go to Physical Therapy School? | Stefi Cohen
- What was Stefi’s childhood in Venezuela like, why did she eventually move to the United States, and how did she feel about it at the time? [08:38]
- Where did Stefi arrive when she first moved to the US? [14:04]
- As a 25x world-record-holding powerlifter and the first woman in the history of the sport to deadlift 4.4x her body weight, Stefi shares the details of these epic feats of strength. [15:01]
- Who is Ed Coan, and what does Stefi find most impressive about him? [18:05]
- What are the differences in how the deadlift is approached, and how does someone cross the chasm into being able to defy gravity with weight that physics might suggest is impossible? [22:12]
- If hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, how much do genetics factor into the success of an aspiring powerlifting juggernaut? What might someone with average physical attributes do to improve their deadlifting potential? [25:54]
- What goes into a competition training split, and what a typical week of training looks like for Stefi. [35:13]
- How do rehab and prehab figure into Stefi’s training? What is the question we should really be asking? [38:58]
- What has Stefi done to recover from an injury that might differ from more common approaches, and what was the wake-up call that directed this course of action? [43:50]
- You always need to consider the sources of your research because, as Dr. William Osler famously said, “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability.” [50:54]
- Because, as Stefi says, “pain isn’t a reliable sign of damage,” she lays out the problem with the question “What can we do to fix it?” and what we might ask instead. [54:07]
- Taking the first steps in trying to pinpoint what might be causing back pain and what form its relief might take. [57:52]
- My own experience with ketamine infusion and its effects on the pain from a long-term back injury, and Stefi’s thoughts on what may have transpired behind the scenes. [1:01:23]
- How someone might develop greater resilience to prevent injuries from happening in the first place or at least diminish their likelihood, and why the concept of “bad” versus “good” form is relative. [1:04:44]
- The benefits of adding certain exercises to our routine that extend our range of movement variability, and why Stefi believes it’s crucial to have a general physical preparedness (GPP) regimen if we’re training — especially in overspecialized sports like powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting, but really in any arena prone to repetitive motions, whether it’s playing tennis or sitting at a desk for hours every day. [1:12:02]
- While she stresses that there’s no such thing as a magical exercise, Stefi shares her thoughts on The McGill Big Three — bird dog, dead bug, and side plank — and why they’re particularly efficacious in decreasing back pain. [1:15:50]
- Stefi addresses the value of visualization — for positive and negative outcomes — and how she’s put this into practice. [1:19:27]
- What were the benefits Stefi gained by spending a year with a sports psychologist? [1:25:53]
- Books Stefi has gifted or recommended most. [1:29:21]
- Describing herself as someone who doesn’t really memorize well, how did Stefi manage to pull off a doctorate in physical therapy, and why did she choose not to follow through with taking the licensing exam? [1:31:26]
- In the realm of physical therapy, what is it about Greg Lehman’s approach that stands out for Stefi? [1:37:40]
- Winners never quit and quitters never win: false, in the life experience of Stefi Cohen. Bonus: what Stefi, in hindsight, wishes she hadn’t quit. [1:40:41]
- As someone who completed her doctorate while training to break 25 world records and simultaneously creating a successful business, how does Stefi approach time management — and how did she wrangle the complication of scoring less than 75 on a test at a school that kicked people out for such infractions? [1:47:31]
- Favorite failures that opened the door to unforeseen opportunities, and how pandemic and pain collaborated to nudge Stefi in the direction of a new sport. [1:57:04]
- Six things you should do for any injury [2:03:38]: Stop doing what hurts. [2:04:16]
- Don’t underestimate isometric exercises. [2:04:33]
- Increase aerobic activity. [2:04:48]
- Use pain to optimize your movement. [2:05:17]
- Turn off the pain alarm. [2:05:35]
- Understand that tissue adaptation takes time. [2:05:55]
- Parting thoughts. [2:06:30]
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