Photo: Oskar Bakke
In the ranking of the most popular fitness models in the world nobody comes close to Steve Cook. Idaho's 33-year-old fitness model, presenter and influencer has been on the front page of more magazines than he can remember, and his YouTube channel has 1.1 million subscribers, with more than two million followers on Instagram , If you've really taken it seriously to build a better body, then you've stumbled upon Cook's content at some point. When he was last on the cover of Men's Fitness two years ago, he told us it was his mission to make the world a fitter and healthier place – and he does not show any Signs of slowing down.
It's been two years since your last Men's Fitness cover. What you up to?
I opened a gym in St. George, Utah. It's a small town where I played college football. We use it to film my YouTube videos and it's going great. I paused for a while when I posted videos ̵
Do you feel pressured to be sincere and to influence people in the right way?
People are attacking, if they are posting something you are not passionate about. It's so obvious that you just go through the motions. And when I am passionate, it helps to arouse someone else's passion. I think all influencers want to do something they can outlast – we all have durability and want to be useful and relevant to people for as long as possible.
Are you still as passionate about training as you are?
There is a part of me that always wants to preserve a certain look, that is a certain amount of muscle and body fat, but I also want to be able to perform, whether it's powerlifting or CrossFit or Tough Mudders or Spartan Races. My training approach is very hybrid. I do not want to specialize because I want to be tall and lean and can lift or run. It is more important to me to be able to do all these things when I need it or want it than just to look for a certain way. Fitness is a huge field, and there are many different activities that fall under this roof.
You've participated in numerous bodybuilding competitions throughout your career, but these have recently taken a back seat – do you think you'll ever be back on stage in a bodybuilding show?
Sometimes I get the urge to go back on stage – usually this happens around Mr. Olympia in Vegas, because it's so hard not to be in the atmosphere – but right now that's not a priority. I never say, but I will never force myself to do anything if the passion and the excitement are not there.
What is different in the gym than back when you were younger?
For many young men, I wanted to be as big as possible and beat up personal bests every time I came to the gym. Now it's less about getting massive or squatting 500 pounds. Instead, I focus more on recovery, so I do more yoga or Pilates sessions. Why? Because I want to have a long life. That's more important than muscle mass. Trying to be as tall or strong as possible means that you are overwhelmed most of the time – but I want my training to calm me down and not always prompt. This is especially true for your 30-year-olds, when training can be a way to escape and not just physical health.
Have your goals changed?
You need to get smarter as you get older, but you still have to track progress. It's just that the progress looks like changes. It's not about squatting or bench max reps, but how mobile am I? Is my flexibility improving? Can I fit into a yoga class this week? That's the kind of progress I'm hunting for nowadays.
What advice would you give back and give yourself when you start exercising for the first time?
Do not be afraid to try things that might fail. I was told very early that nobody makes money with fitness modeling, but from the beginning I saw the potential of YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. I risked something, but I wish I had taken more risks and wanted to work for them to work. You do not want to look back and regret that you did not pursue your goal. After all, you learn so much from your mistakes and setbacks, and that knowledge will always be useful on the road. Follow your heart, even when the stakes are high and it's scary, and jump in the head first.
Where do most men go wrong when trying to greatly improve their physique or performance?
of humans never set a clear goal. You have to have a goal and it has to be realistic – without you going on the road to failure. The second is that even when people set a goal and are strong from the start, they do not plan the speed thresholds that inevitably arise. After two or three weeks, getting everything right can make it difficult for a night to be seductive. And if you beat yourself after a small setback or throw in the towel, everything can develop quickly. Does not have to! Do it again. Even if you have a hangover, do a quick or easy workout – because doing something is always better than doing nothing. The results are not fast and you will always get where you want to be – as long as you do not give up.
NEXT: Steve Cook 2016: Interview with his Breast