Your Muscle & Strength Authority Site Since 1999

Steve Cook Interview with Critical Bench’s Ben Tatar

Interview with Steve Cook.
Interviewed by Ben Tatar

stevecook66Steve Cook has become one of the most popular world champion fitness models in the world.

Steve has appeared on numerous magazine covers (including Muscle and Fitness,) he also won the Muscle and Fitness model search competition. Steve also has a social media following of over a million fans total.  Without any further ado here is Steve Cook!

CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, you have achieved some incredible accolades. I will list some huge achievements you have made and tell me what comes to mind.

a) You were the Fitbody Contest Winner:

This really is what launched my start in the fitness industry. It was a fun event that was in front of my home town. Meant a lot to me because of what I had been going through in my personal life.

b) You became the 2015 Olympia Muscle & Fitness Male Model Search Winner! (Every studs dream!)-

Such a big event! Over 240 guys entered that comp and I was so nervous stepping on stage. But I remember being confident because of the amount of work that went into preparing for it.

At the time I was in my last semester at college. 16 hard credits, working 30 hours a week and prepping for that show! I learned so much about hard work in those months. I also signed with Optimum Nutrition (ON) shortly after this comp!

c) You became the Spokes Model Search Winner-

Coming off my win of the Male Model search I couldn’t wait to enter into the most prestigious model search in the industry.
Winning the spokesmodel search was life changing!

d) You earned your IFBB Pro Status-

With the popularity of men’s board short categories the IFBB launched its Men’s Physique category. I felt like it was perfect timing and a category meant for me.

2) CRITICAL BENCH: Wow, those are some amazing achievements that will forever be with you! Steve, I know that you come from a big family of seven! How do your family members feel about all of your big fitness and modeling victories at the highest level?


They think it’s cool but it’s really no biggie to them. Most of them haven’t seen me compete.

They definitely keep me grounded and remind me that I’m still just the middle child who used to be afraid of the dark – lol.

In all seriousness they really aren’t big on social media or into fitness so they don’t really know what I do. They think it’s cool when they see me on a magazine and that I get to travel to such wonderful places.

3) CRITICAL BENCH: You were a college football player. After your days as a college football player, how did your training change?

The training didn’t change much. What did was my eating habits.

I no longer cared about just being big and strong, I now needed to be lean and toned. I added in more detail work into my training but it was mostly diet.

4) CRITICAL BENCH: Not only are you a top model, but many people don’t know that you can bench press over twice your body weight (420lbs.) Do you have any strength tips for our readers?

Start young lol. Just kidding — kinda. I started very young, lifting with my dad. I would advise people to work a bench press program specifically designed to get stronger. I benched twice a week for many years.

5) CRITICAL BENCH: There are a lot of people out there who are let’s say, “sort of ripped.” Maybe they are strong in the gym, or play sports and maybe they are considered fit to those who don’t work out much. However, they aren’t in condition to get on stage. What is your advice for this type of individual to really get his physique to the next level so he can compete or do shoots?


My advice to them would be to focus on the diet. But to also do it in a healthy way. Slow and steady will always be the best way to change body composition. Start tracking food intake and keep a training journal. Also get with a trainer or coach that knows what they are doing to help give feedback.

6) CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, you have become famous. How has being known changed your life? If you go to a public gym, I’m sure it must be hard to workout without others always approaching you.

Lol that “famous” word always makes me feel silly. I mean I haven’t done anything to warrant being famous. I owe it more to Optimum Nutrition and than anything.

It’s always fun to be somewhere and have someone tell you about how you helped them…. I wouldn’t be here without them and I understand that so I love to listen to them. Sometimes it hard to get in a workout but it’s also flattering.


7) CRITICAL BENCH: Steve, what are the five main reasons most people aren’t as ripped as they should be?

Here’s the 5 main reasons:

1. They don’t know how to diet correctly
2. Aren’t training hard enough
3. Aren’t supplementing like they should
4. Lack of self control on the diet side
5. Lack of motivation

8) CRITICAL BENCH: What types of changes do you think we will see in the fitness industry in the next ten years?

That a great question. I think you will see a shift back to more aesthetic physiques on stage. I also think you will see the more of a mainstream following as the younger generation is so into health and appearances.

9) CRITICAL BENCH: Do you have any fancy exercises or exercises that are different that you really enjoy doing? How is your training different from most people in the gym?

I would like to think I tend to concentrate on the details more than most. It can be something as small as curling the wrist out on a certain movement, or focusing on the negative part of the rep that makes all the difference. Training with the great Charles Glass really opened my eyes to how biomechanics plays a huge role in developing a world class physique.

10) CRITICAL BENCH: Well, Steve at Critical Bench we wish you all the best as we know you will continue to surprise the world. In closing is there any message you would like to leave the fitness world and is there anyone who you would like to thank?


I’d love to thank ON, and everyone out there that follows and supports us. I try to be transparent with the fact that I’m all about doing things for the right reasons. At the core of that is health. Without that core everything else is unstable.

I also believe health and fitness shouldn’t be a competition… everyone has the capacity to be decent shape. Not everyone has the genetics to be a Mr/Ms Olympia but should strive for health.

It’s also something that I firmly believe we should help support others in. Make people feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

Interview With Hybrid Athlete Sarah Grace

December 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Athlete Interviews, Interviews, Recent Posts

As Told To by Ben Tatar

Sarah has been a pro boxer, a pro female football player in the LFL, a NPC pro figure competitor, and is one of the most hybrid female athletes out there.

CB: Sarah, welcome to Critical Bench. It’s great to have an elite athlete who competes in so many different professional sports. First, tell us about yourself!

SGK: I am a free spirited, hard working young woman originally from New England, Massachusetts. I have my own personal training business serving Fort Lauderdale and Aventura Florida. I am also a fitness model and women’s NPC Figure competitor.

CB: Let’s start by talking about your journey as a boxer. List for us your favorite moment, funny moment, crazy moment, and a moment that changed you?

SGK: Wow…well, my favorite moment was when I won my fight hands down and also took home a belt! Everyone was nervous because they thought my opponent was going to be super tough. Halfway into the first round I knew I had the fight when I hit her with a couple jabs that sent her head back. It shook her confidence when she felt the power of my jab!! Wooohoo! I would say a moment that changed me was when I let some drama in my corner get to my head and affect me negatively in another fight I had. I realized how much of a mental sport boxing is.

CB: What was it about boxing that you loved so much?

SGK: I not only love the physical challenge of boxing but I love the technical aspect of the sport as well. I know it sounds crazy but when I get into it I kinda like getting hit. Of course not when I’m in a fight ’cause that equals points for them, but it doesn’t faze me! (laughs)

CB: Sarah, you are a warrior!! How did people respond when you told them you were boxing?

SGK: I think they were surprised because looking at me they were kinda like “Yeah, okay.” However, once they saw me in action it totally changed their opinions.

CB: Before you boxed, you were a ring card girl. You lived the model’s dream and the athletic dream. Did you like boxing more or being a ring card girl?

SGK: I love boxing WAY MORE than being a ring card girl. I have always been a tom boy, so kicking someones ass is way more fun for me than being sexy!

CB: Very cool. What did you think of being a ring card girl back when you were one?

SGK: It was fun! I was very young so it was quite an exciting experience for me.

CB: You are extraordinarily athletic and in amazing shape. You inspire lots of people. Tell us about your training routine.

SGK: My training routine varies depending on what stage of training I am in. If I’m getting ready for a show my training is usually a typical body building style and I’ll do 2 a days where I split cardio and my lifting. If I am in the off season I prefer to do more circuit, functional style training and I will box or do some MMA for fun.

CB: We also know you compete. How do you train for your shows and what is your diet like?

SGK: For my shows I usually do chest Monday, back Tuesday, legs Wednesday, just cardio on Thursday or arms and cardio, shoulders Friday, and legs again Saturday. It tends to go something like that. My diet also depends on how far out I am from my show. Typically it consists of lots of protein, green veggies, salads, eggs, and some complex carbs. When I am not getting ready for a show I try to stay along the same guide lines but I add more healthy fats in my diet and a little more variety. Also less measuring and being so strict on my portion sizes.

CB: On top of all these accomplishments, in 2009, you played for the LFL with the Miami Caliente. The LFL is professional football and it is played in lingerie for those who don’t know. Sarah, what were your thoughts when it came to playing in the LFL?

SGK: Well again I love sports and I am a huge football fan. I was super excited to get out there and take some broads out! (laughs) Football is an awesome sport!!

CB: What was harder boxing or playing in the LFL and why?

SGK: I would say boxing was harder because football is a team sport and when you mess up hopefully your team has your back. Boxing is just you in that ring and your opponent. May the best man win!!

CB: Was playing in the LFL what you thought it would be?

SGK: I didn’t go in with a lot of expectations but the game of football itself was more complicated than I anticipated, so that was a challenge. You know, we didn’t grow up learning the game in elementary and high school so it was like a crash course on everything.

CB: Speaking of great football players, you also have videos of you training with NFL pro bowl living legend Brendon Ayanbadejo. How did you meet him, and what is it like training with an NFL living legend like Brendon?

SGK: I met Brendon probably 7 or 8 years ago when my best friend and I crashed her fiancées house where Brendon was sleeping. I woke him up and introduced myself and ever since then we’ve been friends!! (laughs) I truly enjoy training with Brendon. He inspires and motivates me!

CB: What has it been like being friends with Brendon?

SGK: Brendon has been a great friend to me. He is a real down to earth guy with a super positive attitude! I really appreciate and enjoy his friendship!

CB: Outside of Brendon, name us some athletes who inspire you.

SGK: Wow…that’s a tough one. I gain inspiration from other female athletes like Dara Torres, Mia Hamm, and Figure competitor Ava Cowan. I am all about woman being mentally and physically strong. Sports of all kinds build your confidence and mental strength. Girl power!!!

CB: What motivates Sarah to be a fitness bombshell?

SGK: I like challenges! I’ve seen what I can do with my body and it motivates me to keep pushing to be the best. I also hope to use it to grow my business as a personal trainer and as a model!

CB: What makes Sarah happy?

SGK: Doing what I love and having good friends and family in my life

CB: How do you want to be remembered?

SGK: As a determined, hard working, honest, caring, sexy beeatch!! (laughs)

CB: You will be remembered as all of those and more! You’re a hybrid, professional athlete superstar in so many sports as well. What is your advice for young girls who would one day like to be in the best shape possible?

SGK: Stay focused! Set goals for your self! Pick a sport and become the best you can at it!!

CB: What was it like for you to do a figure contest?

SGK: Well, I had done quite a bit of modeling and bikini contests when I was younger so when it came to getting on stage that was easy, but learning to pose for figure and compete against so many other great athletes has been new to me!

CB: What was it like competing in the NPC?

SGK: I have always wanted to compete in the NPC and I think its a super professional organization. Definitely more competition. You have to bring it!

CB: You did just that and always excelled. What has it been like being a personal trainer for you?

SGK: I think I have a gift for teaching and really I enjoy being able to inspire and potentially change someone’s life. Sometimes I feel like a psychiatrist, and that can be draining at times but like any business it has its ups and downs.

CB: Sarah, let’s hear your top 10 fitness tips.


1. Always incorporate squats and deadlifts in your leg routine.

2. Don’t just do low intensity cardio but incorporate intervals as well.

3. Switch up your routine every few weeks.

4. EAT! don’t be afraid to eat, thinking you will get fat. Make sure its real food, not processed and low in sugars.

5. Don’t stretch before you lift. Incorporate an active dynamic warmup that mimics the movements you are going to perform in your actual workout. Stretch after.

6. Consume your protein shake with fruit right after your workouts.

7. Give your self a rest day or two. You will come back stronger.

8. Don’t over train. You don’t need 3 or 4 hours in the gym a day. It’s counter productive to your muscular development.

9. Incorporate single leg training into your leg routines. It will improve your overall leg training and stability.

10. Strengthen your core by doing full body movements, not just crunches. It will make you stronger in all your movements.

CB: These are great tips. Everyone should print these 10 tips out and put them on their refrigerators. Sarah, It has been great talking to you, Sarah. In closing who would you like to thank?

SGK: I would like to say thank you to all the people who support me and encourage me in what I do. Thank you for following me on twitter, facebook, my website and YouTube channel! And thanks to my friends and coaches who believe in me!  You can connect with me at these links: