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Interview with Will Cho | Balancing Life, School & Lifting

Interview with Will Cho | Balancing Life, School & Lifting

To start things off, please tell us a little about yourself…

My name is William Jinsung Cho, a current UCLA student (Class of 2019) studying Business Economics. Although South Korean by blood, I was born in the city of ‘brotherly love,’ or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I remained there only briefly before spending the rest of my life in 10 different places all around California, especially the Bay Area. I graduated high school in Fresno, CA (i.e. Central Valley) where I played primarily volleyball, cross country and tennis.

How did you get into fitness and how has your view on fitness changed since you first started lifting?

I clearly remember driving into my gated apartment community when I was in the 7thgrade. My arm was out the passenger-seat window, and I realized my forearm was the same size as my upper arm. I thought, “this isn’t right.” I did push-ups and sit-ups every waking hour. It was a start.

In 8th grade, my older cousin told me that if I ran 1 mile, did 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups every day, I would be ripped. Seeing how athletic his body looked as a Hapkido martial arts specialist, I took the advice and ran with it.

will cho interview

I started to run longer (up to 11 miles), faster and further, as well as incorporating a diverse number of body weight exercises to my routine – push-ups, planks, abs work. In addition, I started using machines once a week at a recreation center whenever my dad would go swimming.

I kept this style of training up until I met my 26-year-old mentor during the junior year of high school. He introduced me to free-weight resistance training, and instilled in me the ideals of honesty, humility, and not caring what people think about you.

I trained to look good, feel healthy and aspired to pass out or vomit in each session. As I enter my 4th year of weightlifting, I now train to help those around me by being an example of mental fortitude as well as aiding their fitness journeys directly though diet plans, training routines, and verbal encouragement; all for free.

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Can you explain your training and your workout style? How are you trying to improve yourself?

I like to start out with a powerlifting/strength movement for 5 sets of 3-5 reps. This includes the essentials:

? Back squat

? Flat bench

? Over-head press

? Deadlifts

? Close-grip bench press.

After I complete one of those movement, depending on the day’s muscle group, I do 4-6 hypertrophy exercises in the 8-12 rep range. I’ll throw in some drop-sets, pyramid sets, and super-sets as needed. My central goal is to look and feel athletic. More specifically, I want to lift heavier weight and grow in size, while maintaining a bodybuilding-style physique.

One aspect of my fitness I do want to expand on is cardiovascular endurance. This is obviously very important for overall health, but time constraints can hamper my ability to do so. I always advise that individuals create and pursue specific goals.

What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of bodybuilding? Are they being affected by school and lifting?

I am very involved in the Achievement Scholars Club at UCLA. The donors of the largest scholarship on campus founded this club to give back to the community. I am the Boys & Girls Club Director and External Vice President, visiting the Boys & Girls Club regularly with a group of volunteers. I used to play the alto and baritone sax. Simply put, my hobby is to value others above myself, no more no less. I try to live without much complication, although that is impossible. I study, train, diet, serve my community, and spend time with friends here and there.

will cho interview 4

What are some of the strategies you use to keep up with studies while also leading a fitness lifestyle?

(Laugh) This is a good question. I honestly study most of my waking hours. For a physiological science project, I had to record exactly what I did every day for caloric expenditure. I studied for at least half of my day, ate for around 2hr 30min, trained for 2hrs, and slept for 7hrs. It really depends on your goals. If you are working out and eating for overall health, the sessions drop to 1 hr and the eating can drop to 1hr 30min as long as you’re not talking with friends. And I honestly study for elongated durations, so maybe I’m the best person to ask.

But let me tell you, I receive excellent marks and am content with my amount of social interaction. Sometimes, you need to learn how to be alone; it can really develop your self-consciousness. It’s ALL possible as long as you don’t procrastinate too much. I am generally on top of my to-do list. If you really want to train and study at a high caliber, you have to be willing to sacrifice the unnecessary practices in your life (e.g. going out all the time, partying, FaceBook). I still do these things, so I’m not saying completely omit, just reduce idle and unproductive activities.

You live on campus with tons of other students and you are completely immersed into college. Being into fitness, do you find it difficult to be a ‘normal’ college student?

will cho interview 3

It’s all about balance. To be entirely honest, I am not a normal college student. If you want to be great in what you do, whether that is academics, training, or both (which I prefer), you can’t fit the mold of a “normal” college student. If you want to do something nobody has ever done, you need to do things nobody has ever done. I most definitely strive to be anything but average.

Although there is nothing wrong with being average, my goals do not allow me to be like my peers. It is pretty clear that my fitness goals are way out there, thus, I must give up a bit more recreation, but training is my recreation between studying. I’m being very serious.

Fortunately, I haven’t missed many college experiences because I moderated the frequency and duration of these outings and ventures. The key is to take part in these specialized activities “once-in-a-while.” Do not get lost in it, which can often occur.

will cho training

What advice do you give to other students who are trying to balance fitness with school and life? 

My advice is to focus your eyes on your ultimate goals and let nothing stand in your way, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize meaningful relationships. When people pressure you into being the norm, just realize that when you leave college, it will only be you, your close friends and family, and your accomplishments. Pursue your passion and do it unapologetically.

Practice saying ‘no’ respectfully without being exasperated by to the deceiving backlash those around you may provide. I like to focus on discipline, consistency, and a ‘no excuses’ mindset when training. This allows me to study without delay and work on my personal relationships with the utmost determination. Let the activities in your life complement each other. An abrasive lifestyle is not an enjoyable or lasting lifestyle.

5 Day Will Cho Training Program


Day 1: Back/Biceps

Set/Rep Scheme


Deadlifts 5 x 3 @ 3 rep max (work up to this)
Assisted pull-ups 3 x 10 Do strict pull-ups if you can.
T-Bar Row OR Bent-Over BB Row 4 x 8-12
Sitting rows 4 x 8-12
Hammer bi-curls 1st set: 3 RM
Add 2 reps and decrease weight by 2.5 thereafter
Lat pull-down 4 x 8-12
Spider curls 1 x 10
1 x 15
1 x 20 drop sets
You can also do these on an inclne bench w/ DBs.
Also, I often do this rep scheme w/ preacher curls as an alternative.
Single arm rows 4 x 8-12
Shrugs 4 x 12-15 BB or DB. Drop set @ end if needed.

Day 2: Chest/Triceps

Set/Rep Scheme


Flat Bench (BB) 5 x 3 @ 3 RM (warm up to this)  
Incline dumbbell press 4 x 10
Flat dumbbell press 4 x 10
Inner chest lower machine 4 x 10 squeeze @ top –> slow eccentric contraction (negatives)
Inner chest higher machine 4 x 10 squeeze @ top –> slow eccentric contraction (negatives)
Skull crushers superset with close grip barbell bench press 3 x 10 skull crushers
12 rep close grip barbell bench superset
Superset: Skull Crushers + Close-Grip Bench Press 3 x 10 SC
3 x 12 CGBP
2 sets on each –> low, middle, high

Day 3: Legs

Set/Rep Scheme


Back Squats 5 x 3 @ 3 RM (warm up to this) Warm-up & stretch as needed.
Front Squats 4 x 10
Calf raises 4 x 12 Standing machine OR seated machine OR Grab a 25lbs plate & put on the ground, hold DBs @ your sides, stand w/ toes on plate & heels outside
Leg Press 3 x 15
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 3 x 8-12
Leg extensions 3 x 12 + drop set
Leg Curls 3 x 12 + drop set Do these as a superset to leg extensions

Day 4: Shoulders

Set/Rep Scheme


Overhead Press (BB) 5×3 @ 3RM (warm-up to this)
Seated Press (DB) 4 x 8-12
Lateral Raises 4 x 12-15 Pinkies up. Do drop sets @ the end for extra credit.
Arnold press 4 x 10
Front Raises 4 x 10 Superset w/ Rear Delt Raise
Rear deltoid raise 4 x 12-15

Day 5: Arms

Set/Rep Scheme


Close-Grip Bench Press 5 x 3 @ 3 RM (warm up to this)
Barbell Curls 3 x 10 Superset w/ DB Tricep Extention
DB Tricep Extention 3 x 10-12
Drop set hammer bi curls 1st set: 3 RM
Each succeding set: +2 reps, -5lbs
20 sec rests
Tricep Push-Down 3 x 10-12 I use a straight bar.
Spider curls 1 x 10
1 x 15
1 x 20
You can also do these in an incline bench w/ DBs.
Also, I often do this rep scheme w/ preacher curls as an alternative.
V-Bar Push-Downs 3 x 10-12
Death curls 1 x 4 45lb and 5 10lb
1 x 5 45lb and 3 10lb
1 x 6 45lb and 2 10lb
1 x 7 45lb and 1 10lb
1 x 10 45lb
1 x 15 45lb
1 x 12 45lb
1 x 10 45lb
1 x 2 45lb
LAST SET: Hold @ bottom for 10s, concentric for 10s, hold @ top (isometric) for 10s, eccentric for 10s, quickly do a curl = one rep.
Superset: Skull Crushers + Close-Grip Bench Press 3 x 10 SC
3 x 12 CGBP

Day 6: Legs

 Set/Rep Scheme


Back Squats 5 x 3 @ 3 RM (warm up to this) Warm-up & stretch as needed.
Back Squats 4 x 10
Calf raises 4 x 12 Standing machine OR seated machine OR Grab a 25lbs plate & put on the ground, hold DBs @ your sides, stand w/ toes on plate & heels outside
Leg Press 4 x 15
Lunges 3 x 10 per leg
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts 3 x 8-12






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Brian Kudler

Brian Kudler

Writer and expert

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