[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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The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.
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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:
Hybrid Performance Method | Hybrid Unlimited Podcast | YouTube | Instagram
- 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]
- Matt Vincent
- Kelly Starrett
- Jason Silva
- Hugo Chavez
- Maria Popova
- Roger Bannister
- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Ed Coan
- Barry Ross
- Camilo Garcia
- Mark Bell
- Sherlock Holmes
- William Osler
- John E. Sarno
- Konstantīns Konstantinovs
- Gray Cook
- Stuart McGill
- Hayden Bowe
- Ryan Holiday
- Jocko Willink
- Carol Dweck
- Lanny Bassham
- Henry Ford
- Greg Lehman
- Seth Godin
- Adee Cazayoux
- Ira Fiebert
- Karim Aun
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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7 Replies to “Dr. Stefi Cohen — 25 World Records, Power Training, Deadlifting 4.4x Bodyweight, Sports Psychology, Overcoming Pain, and More (#491)”
I don’t do Twitter, and I wanted to recommend a book to you – especially after you mentioned enjoying Barry Lopez’s “Of Wolves and Men”. If you are looking for a stellar non-fiction book, I can’t recommend “Underland”, by Robert Macfarlane. It’s beautiful, haunting, and full of adventure. One of the best books of the past decade, in my humble opinion. If you appreciate good prose, a passionate author, and being immersed by fascinating details – you gotta check it out.
RE: Stefi Cohen
Hi Tim! I’m in trust that if you are meant to receive this it will happen 🙂 I will try to keep this brief but being someone who admires your intellect (A LOT) and I absolutely LOVE your podcast I wanted to reach out to you and let you know that there were many things Stefi mentioned that are simply false. One major thing being her statement “anyone can go and run” Being a biomechanics specialist running CORRECTLY is the most advanced thing one can do in their body. I get that she is a power lifter, but speaking from experience someone who comments on form, pain management and training techniques should have a solid gait cycle because that is how you measure “athletes.” Theres a method I really think you should check out / find FASCINATING. It is called FUNCTIONAL PATTERNS, which has been described as an “industry disruption” this company is literally changing the filed of movement when it comes to athletics, and getting all the gains with NO pain. Stefi mentioned a lot of injury and I would bet that in a decade, or as an elder woman she will be in a lot of joint discomfort. With functional patterns there have been evidence of bodies improving movement and strength with age. When it comes to results, pain management, postural improvement, gait health and overall well being these guys are changing the game.
These dudes are literally fixing (I know I shouldn’t say that) parkinsons, and scoliosis.
Check out [Moderator: IG link removed.] for amazing results
the guy who created FP is Naudi Auguilar if you want to check him out as well. I think if you spoke to him your mind would be blown.
Hope you are safe and healthy. With much love,
I’ve read your books, and started listening your podcasts, and I noticed you mention Yerba Mate many times, and I actually guessing how do you drink it, because as Uruguayan as I am, we grow drinking Mate, but with hot water (around 80-90 Celsius), for what I know it’s as a infusion that Yerba mate release the most nutrients (I drink between 1 and 2 liters daily). Anyways, I’m loving the content you produce, keep it going!
Regarding your five … Barry Lopez died Christmas Day
Hey Tim, great content but just wanted to highlight the newsletter emails that you send, are not very readable, eg subject line is too long. The font, size and bold is a bit less conducive for reading and strain to figure out useful stuff. But otherwise love the content.
thanks alot of information
This was exremely helpful, now I know the name of my most hurtful body part – The sacroiliac joint