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Stefi Cohen (@steficohen) has made headlines in the powerlifting community time and again for setting all-time world records (22 of them, to be exact) in the sport, and for such feats as becoming the first woman in history to deadlift 4.4 times her bodyweight. To earn that standout distinction, Cohen—whose weight typically hovers around 120 pounds—pulled a cool 545 pounds at the 2019 Arnold Sports Festival. She also boasts a 507-pound competition squat PR and a 242-pound bench press PR, both of which were pulled off at the 2019 Kern US Open.
Cohen is undoubtedly one of the strongest women on the planet, and she’s blazing trails for countless female strength athletes who once found themselves in the shadows of the athletic world. More than 630,000 people follow her on Instagram, giving Cohen (who, by the way, is a C.S.C.S., exercise physiologist, and doctor of physical therapy) a massive platform to educate people. She’s not your typical social media influencer, but a world-class athlete and certified trainer with a doctorate who knows what the hell she’s talking about. Cohen is the sort of driving female force who proves that lifting isn’t just for the boys, and she knows better than anyone how much her voice matters.
“I think it’s a lot of responsibility, but I like it—and I think I’m well-suited for the job, as well. I feel like I’m looked up to not only by females, but also by males, and that feels really nice,” Cohen told M&F. “I’ve gotten messages from male, high-level lifters asking me for advice with their lifting and for help with their program and coaching. On the platform that I’ve built, Hybrid Performance Method, a higher percentage of people are male, so it does just show the type of influence that I’ve been able to have even being a female in a male-dominated sport.”
Cohen’s Instagram feed speaks to her passion for teaching. In addition to awe-inspiring lifting accomplishments, she posts plenty of videos and graphics to share lessons that would prove useful for pretty much anyone with fitness goals.
“It’s usually topics that I feel have been misconstrued by the fitness industry in general,” Cohen explains. “I do a lot of those just trying to help people critically think about information that they’re reading, to present it with a different lens using evidence-based information.” She also draws inspiration from the questions she gets from followers and shares anything she thinks could be helpful to all athletes in the pursuit of strength.
Cohen constantly pushes her limits both in the gym and during competition, so she has to practice what she preaches when it comes to her own workouts, diet, and everyday lifestyle. You may not be hitting the numbers that she does in the gym, but you can still benefit from her education and knowledge of all things powerlifting. Below, check out some of Cohen’s top tips for setting new PRs and staying healthy, as told to M&F.
Stefi’s training programs are available at hybridperformancemethod.com.