T Nation

Charles Poliquin

I was just reading a Q&A by Charles Poliguin. I came across in answer that has really got my curiousity going. The question was along the lines of “I would like to gain muscle and strength but I am small boned and have mostly slow twitch muscle fibers and I overtrain easily”.
Charles first part of his response was that slow twitch individuals won’t respond to relative strength protocols but can gain hypertrophy using the TUT of 40-70 seconds keeping reps above 6 and also keep workouts to :42 minutes after warmup. All of this I was aware of and agree with but his last part of the answer is what shocked me “I also suggest you do strength training only every 9 weeks or so, for a short-period of 3 weeks.” Is Charles suggesting taking 9 weeks out of the gym for slow twitch individuals or lowering the reps and training for strength every 9 weeks. I can’t imagine him suggesting that much time off. Can someone help me please understand this quote.
Thanks in advance

He meant train as per usual (high TUT) all other times, then switch to the 3 week heavy lifting, then go back again. Don’t stop for 9 weeks. Cheers.

Hey Jack, that was my question that I posted to Charles Poliquin!!! I couldn’t believe he answered it. But the info was cool. Basically, he told me to keep my workouts short and stick to higher rep ranges to gain muscle (since I’m more of a slow-twitcher). And he meant to use lower reps and heavier weights for only three weeks of every 12-week cycle. Or in his words, do 9 weeks of higher reps and and follow that with three weeks of low reps and heavy weight.

I overtrain easily in that I can't train with weights more than two days in a row. In fact, I've followed Ian King's protocol (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) for quite a few months in the past. It burned me out. I've found that I get my best results when training one day on, one day off, one day on, one day off. Poliquin also recommended this type of training to someone in a recent Q&A in MuscleMag.

I do stay active on my “off” days with GPP, bodyweight exercises or some sort of cardio. I just can’t hit the weights intensely two days in a row. Poliquin’s advice was helpful, but I really want more strength…so a few months after doing what Poliquin recommended, I started getting into functional strength training and most recently, Renegade training. This suits me well, and I’ve been enjoying it. But I’ve had to listen to my body much more to prevent overtraining.

Wow Nate Dogg,
That is a coincidence. After reading it over a couple of times I figured it out.
If I wanted to ask Charles a similair question. I think he is a genius it is just that I overtrain on all of his programs. Nate Dogg you have tried just about every training program out there. So you are not interested in gaining muscle anymore. My plan is to put on about 10 pounds of mass and then concentrate on functional training and strength. I saw your current training split in a post somewhere but I can’t remember where. I also remember something about you training 5x5 style how was that was it similair to Pavel’s training. My current plan is to cycle between
20 rep squats, modified Poliguin routine 40-70 TUT time, and maybe the new Pavel routine in Muscle Media (it is based around the deadlift and bench press and promises big mass gains).

Jack, I still want to gain lean muscle mass, but whenever I gain, it’s a small gain unless I gain fat (my bodyweight has flucuated between 130-155lbs). I’ve tried a variety of routines, and a few worked well until I gained fat. Then if I dieted down, I almost ended up back where I was in the first place! The biggest thing I did was to fix my diet. After the Biotest seminar in Orlando back in February, I finally realized how to get my diet on track. I always ate well, but my protein intake was too low and many times I was only eating enough to maintain my weight. After that, I switched from a higher-rep hypertrophy program to the 5x5 and the 6x2(4) using Poliquin and Pavel’s recommendations. I was about to start Staley’s CPT when I started talking with Coach Davies. That’s when I started Renegade training. I enjoyed that, but felt very overtrained and my joints were killing me! So now I’ve switched it up so that I’m on a hybrid Renegade-Westside program (I can post that if you wish to know). That seems to work well for me because it’s the best of both worlds. I get to train heavy each day in the gym (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun) while also doing hypertrophy work on the same days and then I do my Renegade training (GPP, kettlebell, etc) on Tues, Thurs, Sat. My Renegade days are shorter workouts 20-45 minutes, and they are more like restoritive work or for cardiovascular conditioning.

I would still like to add more muscle mass, but I'd rather do it by training for functional strength rather than training specifically for hypertrophy. Even though I think I have more slow-twitch fibers, my body is beginning to respond better to lower reps (like King has said, training age affects rep ranges).

A few of my friends have commented on my physique lately, and they have said that I am looking good. My back has been getting the most compliments. Now, remember, I’m not big and never will possess a lot of thickness at my size (5’4", currently 142lbs, ~11% bodyfat, very small boned). But I do have some pretty decent shape and size. Yes, I have my weaknesses (arms, shoulders, hams), but I’m working on correcting them. I know I’ll never be big, so that’s why I began concentrating on functional strength. I guess I have a physique similar to Pavel, but I think I have more muscle than he does (at least by appearance). But he is by far much, much stronger!

Your training plan sounds good. I've done some light sets of 20-rep squats, and they were killer, but I never used them exclusively. Using Poliquin and Pavel's methods should work well for you. Give it a good month or two and let me know. If you stop having fun or if it doesn't seem like it works, don't be afraid to change it up! As for what didn't work for me, GVT never worked! I would get very sore the first week, but after that, I just didn't get much out of it. I know many others swear by it, but it just didn't work for me.

Nate Dogg,
Thanks for the update and reply. I agree with you on GVT. I read somewhere that small boned trainer should only use it for only one session every 8 weeks to shock muscles. The Pavel routines for mass seem very similair except for 5 reps and avoiding failure. Just out of curioustiy have you seen the latest routine in Muscle Media and why didn’t you stick with 20 rep squats.
Thanks again for your input

Jack, I have not seen the latest program by Pavel in Muscle Media. I may have to take a look next time I’m at the grocery store. Does it look pretty good? Give me a run down. As for the 20-rep squats, it was similar to GVT. A good shock that gave tremendous soreness, but I could never use heavy weights. So I never stuck with them. I would do ass-to-the-ground squats with 135-155lbs for 20 reps…one or two sets…then finish with a little more weight for less reps, or I’d use the 20-rep squats at the end of a heavier squat routine. Good for shock, never really tried it long enough to get more out of them. But many swear by them.

I tried 3 cycles in the past of 20 rep squats in the past. The first two did absolutely nothing for mass gain. Then I tried them with the emphasis on breathing. I took 3 deep gulps between the first 10 reps and 6 deep gulps of air for the next 10 and put on about 5 pounds after 2 weeks. I stopped because I started a basketball league that just ended. Did you concentrate on the breathing portion because I guess this is suppose to be the amazing part of the routine.

Jack, I didn’t do the breathing when I did them. I’m sure that would have made a huge difference and also would have let me handle more weight. Good point! What’s your next step, my man? I did some kettlebell work today! It was fun…and quite a workout! Tomorrow, I’ll be back in the gym doing box squats and plenty of hamstring work! Another fun day! Still can’t wait for my dragging sled to come in…then it’s go time! :slight_smile: