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Retro Athlete: Porter Cottrell

The remarkable bodybuilding success of an undersized firefighter.

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Retro Athlete: Porter Cottrell

If he had quit after his rookie year, Kevin Levrone would be celebrated as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time on the basis of two pro wins and a second in the Mr. Olympia. However, what’s largely forgotten about 1992 is Levrone’s loss in his pro debut to another rookie, Porter Cottrell, who won his first two pro shows. The two were going back and forth then. Levrone won the 1991 NPC Nationals as a heavyweight, while Cottrell won the light-heavy class. And a week after Cottrell beat Levrone in Chicago, the results were reversed in a New York pro show.

Cottrell’s success came despite his relatively diminutive size. He weighed only 200 to 210 at 5’7”, but he nevertheless impressed via classical lines and proportionate development. He won all three contests he entered in 1993, and in 1994 he was third in the Arnold Classic and fifth in the Olympia. All the while, he toiled on daylong shifts as a firefighter in Louisville, KY. Cottrell retired from bodybuilding in 1999 and fire-fighting in 2009 and today works as a personal trainer. Long before there was a 212 division, he proved that a symmetrical “David” can slay bodybuilding’s Goliaths.

COTTRELL ON SHOULDER TRAINING

  • “I do one or two lighter sets before my working sets, to warm up but also to get in the groove.” 
  • “Dumbbells are the perfect tool for working shoulders. I never have to leave the dumbbell rack.” 
  • “I hit shoulders after chest in the same workout.” 
  • “I like higher reps on shrugs to really feel my traps working over a longer set.”

FLEX FACT:  CINEMATIC HERCULES STEVE REEVES INSPIRED COTTRELL TO TAKE UP BODYBUILDING AT 12.

 COTTRELL’S SHOULDER ROUTINE 

  • Dumbbell Press | SETS: 4–5 | REPS: 8–12
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral | SETS: 3–4 | REPS: 8–12
  • Dumbbell Rear Lateral | SETS: 4–5 | REPS: 8–12
  • Dumbbell Shrug | SETS: 3–4 | REPS: 15–20

FLEX

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