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April 12, 2021 10 min read

Steve Cook is a lifestyle brand, a fitness coach, and a two-time top ten Mr. Olympia finisher. He’s been able to combine his high-level performance with real-life know-how to create a workout plan that can grow and change depending on his needs in the moment.

He’s built a workout and diet plan that’s perfect for living his life in the public eye and teaching others the secrets of getting cut and bulking up quickly and effectively.

Cooking Up a Brand

Steve Cook isn’t quite the household name that someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger is, but if you give him some time, it seems like he’s making his way there. He’s a pretty prominent YouTuber, Instagram Model, and overall lifestyle coach. His following on various social media platforms is well into the millions.

He’s got a wide reach that touches the lives of people all over the country, inspiring them to pick up the weights, change their diets, and find meaning in working out as hard as they can for the sheer love of the sport. He’s not just some guy that lucked into a great physique either. He’s placed pretty high in some of the most prestigious bodybuilding contests in the world.

He’s placed top ten in the Mr. Olympia competitions twice. In 2013 he made it to 8th place, and he came back next year to climb all the way to 5th place, which is no small feat. His social media presence is just as impressive. His YouTube channel alone has over a million followers waiting to tune into every single step of his fitness journey.

He reaches out to about 2 million fans more directly on his Instagram, and those audiences are getting more than just a glimpse into his life. If you’re a Steve Cook fan and you’re trying to figure out how to get your fitness journey started just like his, then he’s got a fitness training program just for you.

His fitness plans are tailored specifically to the client. Whether you’re an old pro trying to crack through a stubborn plateau or a new kid trying to figure out where they should even begin. Folks can hop on his Fitness Culture app to track their progress and to get a better idea of how well things are going.

It’s an excellent tool for following his custom wellness plans, and it’s great for giving you a sense of how much you’re growing and changing as you continue pursuing fitness. He’s also shown off his personal training abilities on national television if somehow you’re still not convinced that this guy can put his money where his mouth is.

On season 18 of The Biggest Loser, he was one of the coaches helping folks in a low place learn how to totally turn their lives around. The Biggest Loser has been criticized for allowing folks to slip back into bad habits after they’ve left the show, but you can’t argue with the results that they’re able to pull out of contestants in the limited amount of time they have.

bodybuilder doing dumbbell curls in a gym

Just Enough Cooks in the Kitchen

If you’re not satisfied just knowing that Steve Cook and his lifestyle brand can formulate a custom workout for you, then you’re probably looking to do the same workout the Mr. Olympia challenger centers his life around. If you’re aiming for the same heights (or higher) than Steve Cook, then this is a good place to start.

It’s going to give you an excellent idea of how hard he has to work out to keep his lifestyle up. Steve Cook’s workout is based on Pavel Tsatsouline’s workout routines. They’re simple, but the devils in the details with these workout routines. This workout routine targets down a muscle group each day and is really just two sets of each exercise. The first set acts as a sort of warm-up.

You’re going to be doing a reasonable number of reps, somewhere around ten, and after a minute of rest, you hit the ground running. The second set is just done until failure. Lots of weightlifters swear by training to failure, and it’s hard to find a reason not to. Training until failure is one of the easiest ways to know you’ve left it all on the floor when you step out of the gym.

If you’ve trained to failure, you’ve done the maximum amount of tolerable work without injuring yourself. It’s one of the best ways to adhere to the fundamentals of exercise, breaking your muscles down so they can rebuild themselves stronger than before. The two aspects of this workout work together well to create a plan that respects and protects your body while you’re training.

The initial set acts as an all-purpose warm-up. No matter what your exercise is, if you start with a low-rep set, you’re going to be getting blood flow to the muscles involved, and you’ll be limbering up enough to head injury off before it rears its ugly head. Pavel Tsatsouline’s workouts have been called “simple and sinister” by Pavel himself.

Day 1 – Legs

Do 1-2 sets of each. Do 10-15 reps in the first set and the second set to failure with a 1 min rest between sets.

  • Leg extensions
  • Machine leg press
  • Hack squat on machine
  • Seated leg curl
  • Stiff-legged barbell deadlift
  • Calf press with leg press machine
  • Seated calf raise

Day 2 – Chest, Abs & Biceps

Do 1-2 sets of each of the following. Do 6-10 reps in the first set and the second set to failure with a 1 min rest between sets.

  • Decline barbell bench press
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Dumbbell flys
  • Concentration curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Barbell curls

Superset 1: 3 sets to failure

  • Knee raise on parallel bars

Superset 2: 3 sets to failure

  • Cable crunch
  • Decline reverse crunch
  • Crunches

Day 3 – Cardio

Day 4 – Back, Triceps & Calves

Do 1-2 sets of each of the following. Do 8-10 reps in the first set and the second set to failure with a 1 min rest between sets.

  • Straight-arm dumbbell pullover: increasing weight each set until failure
  • Close-grip front pulldown
  • One-arm dumbbell row
  • Seated cable row
  • Barbell deadlift
  • Triceps pushdown
  • Cable lying triceps extension
  • Seated triceps press
  • Calf press on leg press machine
  • Seated calf raise

Day 5 – Delts, Traps & Abs

Do 1-2 sets of each of the following. Do 6-10 reps in the first set and the second set to failure with a 1 min rest between sets.

  • Dumbbell shoulder press
  • Side lateral raise
  • Low pulley row to neck
  • Reverse flys
  • Barbell shrug
  • Upright barbell row

Superset 1: 3 sets to failure

  • Knee raise on parallel bars

Superset 2: 3 sets to failure

  • Cable crunch
  • Decline reverse crunch
  • Crunches

Day 6 – Cardio

Day 7 – Rest

Steve Cook’s workout has him in the gym six days a week, with one single rest day. There are also two full days dedicated to simply “cardio.” Cook’s cardio days are similar to his weightlifting days. Start with a little warm-up, a light jog, some active stretches, whatever it takes to get your body limbered up for your cardio.

Then when your body is good to go, get going until failure. This doesn’t mean to run until your legs are lead and you pass out, but push yourself to a safe limit. Cardio is an important aspect of this workout routine. It’s a great way to get your overall level of fitness up. Your body can’t help but benefit from cardio workouts.

They strengthen your heart and encourage more efficient local storage of glucose in your muscles. Efficient energy storage is going to help you in all sorts of ways in your weightlifting routine. First of all, that means your muscle fibers are going to be just that much larger because they have to make space for the energy you’re burning during your workouts.

Second, if your body is always ready to provide you with high levels of energy at the drop of a hat, you’re going to be able to dig even deeper during your most difficult workouts. Cardio is all about making your body more responsive to your energy demands. Oxygen will flow more readily, your muscles will have easier access to the glucose they need to keep pounding through your weights, and it burns away the stubborn fat keeping you from looking as cut as possible.

natural products for muscle growth, rich in proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins

Cooking With Cook

You don’t get that shredded with weightlifting alone. Steve Cook is careful about his diet. He’s just as dedicated inside of the kitchen as he is inside of the gym. Every bodybuilder in the world understands how important it is for your diet to reflect the work you’re putting into your boy.

It’s not just about the number of calories you’re eating. A competent diet is made up of a lot of moving parts. Your body needs the right tools to rebuild itself, and if you’re not providing your body with the nutrients it needs to craft a body that reflects how hard you’re working, then you’re going to burn out and plateau pretty much immediately.

Building your body is just like building anything else, you need material, you need time, and you need professional knowledge. 

Learning how to keep up a healthy diet is giving you all three of those things. Steve Cook’s diet needs to be high in protein because he’s a bodybuilder. Every day he’s eating between 250 and 300 grams of protein.

He still has a little bit of fat in there, your body’s not going to work well without at least a little bit of fat. Daily, he’ll try to keep his fat intake between 50 and 70 grams. During his day-to-day life, he’s not totally eliminating carbs, in fact, if you’re going to be working out this much, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot.

Healthy levels of carbs in your diet are going to give you plenty of energy to get through your workouts and all the way to the end of your day without crashing. Your body needs energy, don’t make it dig through your other resources to get a little bit of the good stuff. If he’s trying to trim away at the remaining fat in his body he’ll cut the carbs out entirely, but he’ll go back to a more full diet when photoshoots and competitions are over.

He also supplements his diet with things like whey protein, creatine, and casein to keep his hunger from eroding his willpower. He also keeps up with his multivitamins and BCAAS no matter what he’s getting ready for.

Meal 1: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 8 egg whites
  • one serving of peppers and spinach 
  • 60-80g oats

Meal 2:

  •  7oz lean meat like turkey, chicken, white fish, 
  • 70g carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, or Ezekiel bread

Meal 3: 

  • Post-workout shake with 40g protein powder
  •  50-100g waxy maize

Meal 4: 

  • 7 oz of lean meat
  • 70-90g carbs like sweet potato brown rice whole wheat pasta
  • one serving of vegetables

Meal 5: 

  • 7 oz lean meat
  • one serving of vegetables
  • 10-20g olive oil

Meal 6:

  • Protein bar

Meal 7: 

  • One and a half scoops of casein protein
  • 10-20g of almonds
Fit man stretching at the beach

Rest Days

There aren’t a lot of rest days in this workout routine. You’re really only going to have one day to let your muscles take a minute to breathe. This routine is split up in a way that allows each muscle group some time to recover slowly, but some of your body’s best work is going to happen on day 7 of your workout. 

This is the day you should spend some time stretching and working on your flexibility. A good rest day still involves a little bit of effort on your part. You should be continuing to feed your body ample amounts of protein, fat, and carbs. You might not be exercising to your limits on these days, but your body is still expending energy and working diligently.

You need to continue with a diet that’s going to support your body when it’s chipping away at the repairs that need to happen after you’ve spent a week working yourself to the bone. Steve Cook is a huge proponent of cryotherapy. On his rest days, he’ll go to a facility, but there are home remedies if you don’t have the means or the proximity to a cryotherapy spa.

It’s a little counterintuitive, but icing your body after a hard week has tons of health benefits.

You’re going to be treating a lot of swelling and giving your body the opportunity to truly recover from the near-constant shock of your workouts. Combining this with a good stretching routine will keep your boy limber and relaxed even when you’re packing on tons of muscle every week.

Keeping Up With Cook

This is a pretty intense lifestyle, but if you’re trying to look cut like a professional bodybuilder, then this is the kind of life you have to live. If you’re coming to this fresh off of the couch, then you’re probably going to bounce right off of it. Advanced lifters are probably already familiar with a lot of the aspects of this lifestyle. No matter who you are or how your life, you can learn a lot from Steve Cook’s workout routine.

You can see that no matter who you are, you’re going to need to take your rest days seriously. You’re going to learn very quickly that you can’t brute force muscles into existence, ironically. 

Building muscle is about understanding how your body works and helping those processes along. If you’ve got the grit, then you’re only halfway there. You need to have the forethought and planning that it takes to hold up a lifestyle that’s this well-managed.

If you want to get like Steve Cook, you’re going to need notebooks and pre-planned meals. You’re going to need to plan your day out and keep your motivation. You’ll need to come with the understanding that this is an incremental process, and you can’t just give up on it when it’s hard. If you’re ready to devote yourself to this kind of life, then you’re going to see an incredible payoff, but if not, you can still come away having learned something new and useful.

You, Me, and Steve

Steve Cook’s workout routine is simple, but it’s hard. Working yourself to failure before moving on to your next exercise is brutal. You need to have incredible mental fortitude to battle through that almost every day of the week, but if you can dig deep and do it, you’re going to be forging your body into an almost perfect tool.

It’s nothing you’re not capable of, but you’re going to have to work your way up to it. Getting the kind of body that makes money just from being in a picture is a full-time effort, your discipline has to be pretty tight, but once you’ve got the blueprint, you can start building the body you want.