Porter Cottrell

Bodybuilder, Firefighter, Personal Trainer

Porter Cottrell is an ex-professional bodybuilder from the 1980′ and 90’s who won a string of 1st place competitions.

Even though he was much shorter than his competitors at 5’7 inches, he still managed to earn his Pro card, and the reputation as a formidable competitor.

Porter’s fitness journey all started when his father took him to see Steve Reeves in the movie Hercules. Form the very moment Porter laid eyes on Steve, he immediately wanted to emulate his childhood hero.

Year after year, and with a few career moves from welder to fireman, Porter successfully achieved his goals in bodybuilding. He went on to compete for over two decades which all resulted in impressive positions on the stage. This is his story:


Athlete Statistics

Full Name: Porter Cottrell
WeightHeightYear of BirthNationality
215 - 225lbs (93.0 - 102.1kg)5'6" (167.5cm)1962American
Bodybuilder, Firefighter, Personal Trainer1980, 1990
Weight215 - 225lbs (93.0 - 102.1kg)
Height5'6" (167.5cm)
Year of Birth1962
ProfessionBodybuilder, Firefighter, Personal Trainer
Era1980, 1990




  • 1988 Junior Nationals – NPC, Overall Winner
  • 1988 Junior Nationals – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 1st
  • 1989 Nationals – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 3rd
  • 1991 Nationals – NPC, Light-HeavyWeight, 1st
  • 1992 Chicago Pro Invitational – IFBB, 1st
  • 1992 Grand Prix England – IFBB, 5th
  • 1992 Grand Prix Germany – IFBB, 4th
  • 1992 Grand Prix Holland – IFBB, 7th
  • 1992 Grand Prix Italy – IFBB, 5th
  • 1992 Niagara Falls Pro Invitational – IFBB, 1st
  • 1992 Night of Champions – IFBB, 2nd
  • 1992 Olympia – IFBB, 8th
  • 1993 Chicago Pro Invitational – IFBB, 1st
  • 1993 Night of Champions – IFBB, 1st
  • 1993 Pittsburgh Pro Invitational – IFBB, 1st
  • 1994 Arnold Classic – IFBB, 3rd
  • 1994 Grand Prix England – IFBB, 9th
  • 1994 Grand Prix Germany – IFBB, 7th
  • 1994 Grand Prix Spain – IFBB, 5th
  • 1994 Olympia – IFBB, 5th
  • 1994 San Jose Pro Invitational – IFBB, 2nd
  • 1996 Arnold Classic – IFBB, 8th
  • 1996 San Jose Pro Invitational – IFBB, 10th
  • 1998 Night of Champions – IFBB, 6th
  • 1998 San Francisco Pro Invitational – IFBB, 6th
  • 1998 Toronto Pro Invitational – IFBB, 4th
  • 1999 Night of Champions – IFBB, 9th
  • 1999 Toronto Pro Invitational – IFBB, 3rd



Becoming Inspired

When Porter was 8 years old, his father took him to his first drive in movie – Hercules, starring Steve Reeves. It was this moment that shaped Porter’s life forever.

Porter said, “From that point on I knew I wanted to obtain that look. I didn’t know what bodybuilding was, but that moment sparked my interest in bodybuilding.”

From seeing his first Hercules movie starring Steve, Porter took any chance he could to watch the movie which featured this iconic hero. “I watched Hercules movies every chance I could on channel 41,” said Porter.

It wasn’t long until he found out that his friend had bodybuilding magazines, this only fueled Porter’s ‘fire‘ further. As Porter said, “Every time I got an opportunity, I would run down to his house and look at his magazines.”

Beginning Weight Training

When Porter was 12 years old, his brother was given a 110 pound concrete weight set – he never opened it.

This is when Porter took the opportunity to start weight training. He opened the case, and inside was an instruction manual. Porter said, “That’s where it all began.”

Welder – Bodybuilder – Firefighter

As Porter grew older, he started his early working career as a certified welder/machinist. However, even though he enjoyed it, he knew it wasn’t something he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

A dream lingered in the back of his mind, he wanted to be a bodybuilder. But Porter was a realist, and he knew that bodybuilding wasn’t going to make him any money, or so he believed at the time.

This is when he decided to work in something that would offer his more stability, and the chance to work with people – something Porter loved.

It was the chief of the department, Chief Russ Sanders who introduced him to the Fire Service. As Porter said, “I met him and one thing led to another, and I said,’this is an opportunity not only to help people and have a great deal of self gratification in my job, but it offers me a stable career’. So I pursued it”.


Flexible Working

Throughout his competitive years as a bodybuilder, Porter was fortunate enough to work as a Fireman. This allowed him the opportunity to work different shift patterns and change his rota whenever he needed, allowing him to train or travel anytime he needed for bodybuilding shows.

As Porter said, “At the fire department, we work 24 on and 48 off. This allows me enough time to train. And almost every individual in the fire department has their off days job or career. My off day job is bodybuilding.”


Looking through his competition history, it’s clear to see that Porter had a long and healthy career in the sport of bodybuilding.

He, who won numerous Pro shows, such as the 1992 Chicago Pro Invitational, the 1992 Niagara Falls Pro Invitational, 1993 Chicago Pro Invitational, and the 1993 Pittsburgh Pro Invitational.

Porter’s Life Now

After many years competing, and firefighting, Porter decided to turn his year of experience in the gym into his full time job – he backache a personal trainer.

Although he doesn’t compete anymore, Porter is still remembered as an iconic bodybuilder form the 80’s and 90’s who continues to pass on his knowledge to his fans, and clients year-on-year.


“I train two days on and one day off. This allows my body the rest it needs to recover and grow. The one tip I would give people is (Quality not Quantity).”


Like all professional bodybuilders, Porter used heavy compound exercises to build his incredible physique over the years.

Movements such as the bench press, squat, and deadlift were all among Porter’s arsenal of exercises.

An example of his shoulder workout can be seen below.

Porter’s Shoulder Workout

  • Dumbbell Press Warm-up sets: 2-3. Working sets: 3. Reps: 8-25.
  • Lateral Raises Warm-up sets: 1-2. Working sets: 3-4. Reps: 8-20.
  • Bent Laterals Warm-up sets: 1-2. Working sets: 4-5. Reps: 8-20.
  • Shrugs Warm-up sets: 1-2. Working sets: 3-4. Reps: 15-20.


Idols and Influences

When Porter was just a child, he went to the movies with his farther to watch Steve Reeves in Hercules, ever since that moment, he knew he wanted to become a bodybuilder.

Decades later, Porter continued on his path towards deceiving his ‘ultimate‘ physique – all thanks to Steve’s appearances as Hercules.


What we can learn from Porter Cottrell

Porter has taught us that no matter how long it takes, always stay true to your initial goal. Even when things around you may change and force you to ‘re-think’ your strategy, stay focused, just like Porter did.

Follow your goals and make them into a reality by taking one small step after another, and ‘work hard’. As Porter said, “You can do anything in this world that you want to do or be anything you want to be if you believe in yourself.” – Porter Cottrell 

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I ran into Porter at the grocery store back in the late 90’s. When I recognized him I said hello and he lit up and said hi. I started to ask him a few questions on nutrition and he took time to answer my questions for almost 20 minutes.

Super nice guy. Always was…and always will be a fan.

Really nice physique as should be in bodybuilding. Flowing lines good symmetry and proportions. And great posing!

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