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Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week: Phil Cohen

Amateur Bodybuilder of the Week: Phil Cohen! - Pics and info and more!

  • Name: Phil Cohen
  • E-mail:
  • Age: 28
  • Where: Delaware
  • Height: 6'
  • Weight: 175 lbs contest 190-200 lbs of
  • Years Bodybuilding :4
  • Favorite Bodypart: All
  • Favorite Exercise: Squats, Deadlift, or Bench
  • Favorite Supplements: ON Whey Protein

How Did You Get Started?

Growing up I was always fairly thin and never carried a lot of muscle or definition. I was pretty active and really into skateboarding and drums throughout high school. I have always been interested sports and hobbies that rely heavily on self-motivation and determination in order to succeed. I also had a pretty fast metabolism as a youth, making it hard for me to put on weight. I started lifting weights towards the end of my senior year in high school and, like most beginners, immediately saw results and was hooked.

All through college I was religious about hitting the gym but didn't know a thing about nutrition. I ate everything I could get my hands on. As long as I saw the scale going up I was happy. Luckily, due to my ectomorphic nature, I was able to hold off a lot of body fat and gain a decent amount of muscle despite my lack of proper nutrition and training knowledge.

After college my love for eating soon caught up to me. I topped 220 on the scales and decided enough was enough - I needed to diet. So, still clueless in the realm of nutrition, I found a random diet from a bodybuilder online. I decided that if it worked for this guy, it had to work for me. Well sure enough, I started losing weight. I lost a lot of fat and well...a lot of muscle too.

Regardless, I was pretty satisfied with my results and decided to enter a local natural show after some coaxing from a trainer at my gym. It was all so new to me. I didn't even realize natural competitions existed. I ended up placing fairly well despite my lack of proper dieting. That was all I needed to get hooked. I quickly dove head first into the life of a competitor.

Phil Cohen.
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Phil Cohen.

What Workout Plan Worked Best For You?

There really hasn't been one routine that worked best. All routines and rep ranges have their time and place. Whether it was a power/hypertrophy non-linear periodization or just an instinctive "going for the pump" split, the key has always been progressively getting stronger.

Having just come off of a successful competition season, I feel like I can improve on my physique by returning to the basics and building more thickness in my foundation. Right now I am running an upper/lower split, training each muscle group twice a week with 20 to 60 reps per group (credit due to Lyle McDonald!).

Coming off of my prep I needed a basic routine that focuses on hypertrophy and the core movements: squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, barbell row, etc. It's not always about blasting every body part from every angle possible, but more about finding something you'll stick to and something that enables you to get strong.

Day 1: Legs/Abs

Day 2: Chest/Lats/Triceps

Day 3: Cardio

Day 4: Back/Legs/Abs

Day 5: Shoulders/Chest/Back/Arms

Day 6: Cardio

Day 7: Off

Phil Cohen.
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Phil Cohen.

What Nutrition Plan Has Worked Best For You?

My nutrition has become much more of a lifestyle change rather then eating specific foods at specific times. It is important to create a balance between this sport and the rest of your life (which I'm still working on!). And for a true bodybuilder there really isn't an off-season. It can better be defined as periods of eating in a surplus of calories to put on muscle and periods spent in a deficit to take of the fat.

I have the mentality that I am always in training for that next show-whether it is a year away or just a few weeks. I'm sick of hearing people say that a certain food is "clean" or "dirty". It's silly to think a food is good or bad. It seems that some people cast a moral judgment on foods. They think that they are better then someone else if they eat plain chicken and rice 8 times a day. Sure, no one can argue that a bodybuilder shouldn't be eating the most nutritious foods available, but the key is to develop a healthy relationship with your diet.

Take responsibility, be consistent, educate yourself on nutrition, and have some method of tracking your macronutrient intake. If you're in this for the long haul then it is important to be flexible with food choices but stay within your nutrient totals. However, it's more then just eating the correct amount of calories per day. When you find the proper macronutrient breakdown for your body type and goals, then good things will follow.

Generally speaking, I like to keep my protein around 1-1.5g/lb depending on my goals. Fats I like to keep around 20-25% of my total caloric intake, and carbs pretty much fill in the remainder of my caloric requirements. I will raise my carbs and fats as needed to keep me gaining at a slow and controlled pace, but like to stay within 15-20 pounds of my stage weight. The closer you can stay in weight throughout the year, the less time you spend cutting for your next show and the more muscle you can maintain.

I started working with Dr. Joe Klemczewski a year ago and want to give him thanks for transforming my nutrition and creating a metabolic monster. I never realized that I could take such control of my metabolism just through creating the ideal macronutrient breakdown for my body and following it consistently.

The structure of my diet stays the same throughout prep, but the goal changes. Instead of being at a small surplus (or maintenance) of calories, I shift to a slight caloric deficit. The goal is to burn off all of my body fat yet maintain all the precious muscle that I worked so hard to put on. To do this I like to give myself plenty of time to diet, shooting for around .5-l lb loss a week. This allows me to diet less aggressively and keep my carbs as high as possible while still losing body fat. Keeping carbs elevated will ensure me that my metabolism stays aggressive and will also protect me from muscle loss.

While my food volume will change throughout my off-season, a typical day during my last contest season was:

Meal 1: 7:30 AM

Meal 2: 12:30 PM

Meal 3: 5:30 PM

Meal 4: 9:00 PM Post Workout

Meal 5: 11:00 PM

Phil Cohen.
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Phil Cohen.

What Supplements Have Given You The Greatest Gains?

ON Whey Protein: It's hard to even consider this a supplement. It's almost a necessity for any bodybuilder. It provides convenience and flexibility for me to meet my protein needs. I have always been a fan on Optimum Nutrition Extreme Milk Chocolate Whey. It tastes so good. I take it post workout, when I'm traveling, or any time when I need a quick and easy source of protein.

Optimum Opti-Men Multivitamin: Nobody eats perfect all the time and as an athlete it is important to cover our basis and make sure we are getting all of out vitamins/minerals due to our intense training and demands that we put on our body. However it's important not to ignore the important aspects of obtaining nutrients through our overall diet as well.

Scivation Essential FA: I take these because eating fatty fish every day just isn't too practical. They are proven to provide so many benefits like promote fat oxidation, inhibit fat storage, and control inflammation. I shoot for close to 3 grams per day of the combined EPA/DHA values.



Post Workout:

Before Bed:

Why do you love Bodybuilding?

I love the discipline. I love to set goals and work hard until I reach them. I love that you are ultimately responsible for your own success. I love that you are ultimately responsible for your own failure. I love to push myself beyond what I think I can handle, only to then set the bar higher. I love the sound of metal hitting metal.

I love the feeling of the blood rushing through your veins. I love the meticulous detail of the diet and training. I love the science behind exercise and nutrition. I love setting an example for others. I love the community within competition. I love the structure the sport provides. I love the sweat, blood, and tears. I love the pain. I love the joy of success. I love the constant battle to perfection.

What Motivates You To Follow A Healthy Lifestyle?

A few years ago I was diagnosed with hypertension. My physician had to put me on some medications to control it. No fun for a guy in his twenties. I can't control my genetics but I can control my lifestyle. This past prep I was able reduce my hypertension and go off one of my medications. We are only given one body and I need to make it last as long as possible. Every day I'm surrounded by my family and those who love me. It's selfish to not take care of myself. Natural bodybuilding allows me to life a healthy lifestyle. And hey, it doesn't hurt to have that six pack at the beach.

What Made You Want To Achieve Your Goals?

I am a naturally very driven and disciplined person. It is second nature for me to set goals and work to achieve them. If I'm not working towards something productive in life then I feel like I'm taking a step backward. It's a battle between me and my genetics and I won't lose.

Phil Cohen.
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Phil Cohen.

What Are Your Future Bodybuilding Plans?

I just ended this season with a big class win at a natural pro-qualifier and barely losing the overall battle for the pro card. I plan on taking all of 2011 off and returning to the stage in 2012 for another chance at obtaining my natural pro card. I know I have a lot of work to do before I can stand competitively on a pro stage. Muscle doesn't grow fast, but I'm willing to put forth the time and energy. I will not quit.

What One Tip Would You Give Other Bodybuilders?

Big muscles don't grow over night. It takes time, lots of work, and lots of patience. It's important to stay consistent with your nutrition and train smart and injury free. If it were easy, then everyone would be walking around with bulging biceps and ripped abs. Worry about the bigger details (nutrition & training) before the smaller ones (supplements). Don't believe everything you read. Question and research for yourself, you'd be surprised just how many myths are still in full practice among bodybuilders today. And most importantly, have fun.

Who Are Your Favorite Bodybuilders?

There are too many to list. My trainer, Dr. Joe Klemczewski, has been a huge influence in my life and I have the utmost respect for him. I also admire Layne Norton for his research and the examples he has set in the sport. Other favorites include Doug Miller, Brian Whitacre, Philip Ricardo Jr., Jim Cordova, Dave Goodin, etc. But no one can top Arnold. He is the greatest American material culture icon in bodybuilding and has single handedly shaped the sport into what it is today.

What Features Do You Use On

A little bit of everything. It is my main source for purchasing supplements. I keep and update my BodySpace. I reference many of the thousands of articles. And I have also held a journal in the contest prep section of the forums throughout my last prep. The forums have been a huge source of inspiration and motivation, being able to follow other competitors and having their support in return. Ever since day one, has been a part of my journey as a bodybuilder. I wouldn't be where I am today without it.