T Nation

Poliquin Interview

Many thanks to T-Nation for bringing a small chunk of such an elite and unique conditioning specialist to the masses. Part I wasn’t groundbreaking, but helpful. However, while we all have learned volumes from this icon over the years, I have to say that Part II of his interview is nothing more than an advertisement for his services.

There is almost no chance that any of us “everyday” trainers/trainees could take advantage of ANY of the techniques he talked about. I’ll admit that they are facinating but nearly useless from non-elite, non-professional athlete, ametuer point of view. I mean, I don’t give two shits about David Boston’s ankles to be frank, especially since he’s not a clean athlete. I want to learn advanced training techniques that can realistically be applied - you know, the Ian King-esque advice!



So you’d like to see Poliquin’s top 10 tips for folks who operate on a normal budget and don’t compete nationally or internationally on a multimillion dollar playing field.

Sounds good to me!

[quote]John K wrote:
So you’d like to see Poliquin’s top 10 tips for folks who operate on a normal budget and don’t compete nationally or internationally on a multimillion dollar playing field.

Sounds good to me!


Sounds GREAT to me as well… I thought i would post some articles for you guys that I have that could give some idea’s for us Average guys not on million dollar contracts…Enjoy!

By: Charles Poliquin

There’s no grand secret to success in bodybuilding. There’s no miracle drug, no wondrous plant potion, no pie-in-the-sky, miraculous 1-2 sets to brutal throw-up failure, or any special chromosomal pattern. Instead - it really takes 3 things:

Disciplined correct and regular workouts, progressive in nature.
Proper sleep and mental attitude.
Great nutrition.
However, far too many hard-training individuals short-circuit themselves with inconsistent and improper protein intake, both in quantity and how they ingest their dietary nitrogen. Believe me, I have trained and observed thousands of athletes and bodybuilders, at varying levels and have seen major changes when better attention is paid to the dietary components for success. As I see it, there are 5 fundamental, critical steps to ensure muscle gains via optimum nutrition.

  1. Ample Quality Proteins

Body size and overall activity must guide protein intakes. However, a good rule of thumb for the hungry young male bodybuilder is to eat a minimum of 1.5 grams of quality, complete proteins per pound of bodyweight. Some very hard-training individuals, lab measured to be in negative nitrogen balance over a 72-hour period at 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, have overcome plateaus in muscle mass gains and strength by increasing their protein intake to 2 grams per pound of bodyweight!

Additionally, some individuals seem to have a high level of carbohydrate intolerance (meaning they can not produce effective insulin responses to metabolize the carbohydrates), and for these individuals. I actually recommend up to 2.25 grams per pound of bodyweight. In these cases, a hard training, lean, 200-lb. male would normally shoot for at least 300 grams of protein a day. If he has difficulty with carbohydrates, he should move his protein to as high as 450 grams per day.

Believe it or not, with all we know about medicines today, frequent small doses of protein are the most effective blood sugar balancing agent!

  1. Eat Small And Nutrient Dense - But Often

Theoretically, you should ingest quality protein 5 to 7 times a day for a few reasons. As I alluded earlier, protein feedings all but stop yo-yo patterns in blood sugar levels. You will not experience the intense hunger pains, weakness, irritability, headaches, muscle weakness, sweats and dizziness some people get associated with low blood sugar.

Frequent feedings prevent overeating at any one time and can modulate the storing of more body fat. Also, digestion is much easier, and it keeps the flow of flood throughout the digestive tract at an even pace. Finally, frequent feedings elevate the metabolic rate so that your body fat levels remain lower!

  1. Absorb, Absorb, Absorb!

As Dr. Eric Serrano, the developer of NitroMine, GlutaCene, Ultra Size and his new Alpha Omega M3, has emphatically pointed out (and I agree), while there are a lot of good commercial, high-protein supplements, a high intake of any of them does not mean much, unless you have maximum digestion and cell assimilation.

While most individuals do produce an abundance of friendly bacteria and supportive digestion enzymes beginning in the mouth and on though the entire gut, many individuals have a documented increase in nitrogen balance when they use varying, digestive enzymes. This could be due to several factors including prescription drugs that they may be taking for medical conditions, the acid-base balance of their foods and plain old genetics.

For optimal protein digestion before the intestine, you might try probiotics (I like Jarrow formulas), betaine HCL and pepsin, and even a few herbal preparations can be of assistance. These include gentian root, fennel seeds and cardamom. My weightlifting colleagues from China recommend something called Conodopsis root a.k.a. Tang Shen root to help utilize more protein.

At least three commercial protein purveyors, (PRD, Optimum and Beverly) think the aspects of digestion and absorption are so critical that they have developed patented enzyme or other deliveries within their protein products!

  1. The Miracle Of BCAA’s

I strongly recommend that all of you use additional branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), especially if your goal is to increase your lean body mass. I have learned several nutritional facts about the BCAA group from Eric Serrano, M.D., and Mauro Di Pasquale, M.D., and I have been using BCAAs with athletes who have difficulty gaining size.

It is not uncommon for individuals to gain 10 lbs. of muscle in 3-5 weeks of copious branched chain amino acid supplementation. Why does BCAA supplementation work so well? Consider:

Leucine is an important regulator of protein synthesis by reducing protein degradation in humans. Leucine spares glucose as fuel.
BCAAs promote protein synthesis.
BCAAs consumed during training raise growth hormone and insulin, hence the increased anti-catabolism and anabolism from BCAAs.
The BCAAs, unlike the other amino acids, can be used as a form of energy by muscle cells.
Carli et al. [1992] showed that supplementing with branched chain amino acids prior to a workout not only prevented a decrease in post-workout testosterone levels, but actually seemed to facilitate an increase in testosterone levels following exercise.
BCAA administration has a growth effect by enhancing the testosterone/cortisol ratio.
BCAA administration reduces exercise-induced increases in the muscle concentration of tyrosine and phenylalanine. This indicates that there is a decreased net rate of protein degradation during exercise.
Post workout soreness is reduced when you use BCAAs during training.
An Italian study on natural bodybuilders revealed that 0.2 g of BCAA per kg of bodyweight 30 minutes before workouts and 30 minutes after workouts led to greater increases in lean body mass, and strength gains in the bench press and squat.
BCAAs will decrease body fat (especially visceral fat, the fat that accumulates inside the abdomen and results in that beer gut look).
I recommend taking 0.44 gram of BCAAs per kilogram of bodyweight. If you weigh 90 kilograms (198 lbs.), that is about 40 grams of branched chain amino acids/day. If you are on a restricted budget, ingest 20 grams, or don’t bother.

Over the years I have experimented with varying BCAA protocols - using them before, during and after workouts. My observations are that it is best to ingest them throughout the workout. This is as simple as taking 2-3 tablets between sets.

It was with this type of dosage, that we observed gains of up to 10 lbs. of lean body mass in just 3-4 weeks using this protocol!

  1. Protein Rotation

Most bodybuilders know of only 5 solid protein sources: beef, non-fat milk, eggs, chicken and tuna. The problem with this is that when you consume the same protein foods over and over, you are limited by the weakest amino acid in any one protein. Some bodybuilders actually develop relative states of allergies to these repeated proteins. That’s right! All athletes who train under my guidance at the Poliquin Performance Center are tested for food allergies - and it turns out that a lot of them have some relative state of allergic reaction to beef, eggs, chicken, and milk proteins.

Therefore, I rotate and substitute other protein foods such as shrimp, scallops, turkey etc. and use supplements to rebuild the integrity of the digestive track. I do not advise that my athletes eat the same protein source 2 days in a row. Usually, within 2 to 6 weeks, any allergy to a given protein is gone and the protein can be reintroduced. In my own case, I got rid of my signs of beef allergy in two weeks but it took 4 weeks to get rid of my egg allergies.

For anabolic purposes, I suggest you rotate your supplemental proteins over 3 days. For example:

Day 1 - Fish, liver or red beef proteins.
Day 2 - Whey and casein proteins.
Day 3 - Egg protein.
Athletes, who vary their protein intake more often than the norm, report increased energy levels and lessened requirements for sleep.

In summary, you CAN accelerate anabolism if your protein intake is high in quality and high in frequency of ingestion; if your digestion and absorption are maximized; if you use BCAAs before, during and after your workouts; and, finally, if you rotate your proteins.

Four sub-clinical conditions that can slow down your progress in the gym


Charles Poliquin

1.Poor dental hygiene:

Recall the scene in the movie Gladiator when slaves were selected for fighting by checking the slave’s gums to verify if he was a good purchase.

If your gums are bleeding due to infrequent flossing and improper brushing, your body is constantly making C-reactive proteins which means your body is in a chronic state of inflammation. This robs protein that could be used to synthesize new muscle tissue to fight off the infection. Throughout the ages, it has been known that dental health is a reflection of overall health.

This is why over the years I have observed that athletes always go through training plateaus after visiting a dental hygienist, since teeth cleaning can aggravate inflamed gums. Look around your gym, the easy gainers always have perfect teeth.

  1. Pregnenolone steal:

Pregnenolone is the hormone precursor used by the body to make both cortisol and DHEA (which eventually becomes testosterone). In modern life, stress levels force the body to preferentially use pregnenolone to make cortisol instead of DHEA. As a result, cortisol levels rise leading to catabolism, and DHEA levels go down, leading to decreased anabolism. This condition is easily reversible if you follow a protocol based on your results of an adrenal stress index, a non-invasive saliva test that measures the adrenal hormones at 4 precise times during the day. Once your hormone profile is plotted out, a qualified health practitioner can turn the situation around in 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the adrenal stress. If you would like to assess your levels of adrenal hormones, to optimize your progress, contact Michelle @ 480-966-3840 to order a testing kit.

  1. Glycation:

Glycation in laymen’s terms is browning, like the browning that makes crust on bread. Glycation is the cross linking of proteins (and DNA molecules) caused by sugar aldehydes reacting with the amino acids on the protein molecule and creating Advanced Glycosylation End-products (AGE’s). If you want to see protein cross linking in action cut an apple in half and watch it turn brown! Very few people realize that glucose can be oxidized.

The worst glycation agent is in fact fructose. Why? Simply because it does not raise insulin. In other words, the insulin is not getting the sugar into muscle cells. Therefore it lingers around and wreaks metabolic havoc. As nutrition expert Robert Crayhon would say, “fructose is like the guest that won’t go home once the party is over.” Crayhon recommends that the average American should eat no more than 5-10 grams of fructose a day. For very active individuals, 20 grams of fructose should be the maximum intake.

One of the worst sources of glycating fructose are the weight loss bars containing high fructose corn syrup, like the ones sold by a famous Texan, verbally abusive lawyer turned weight loss guru.

There are a few nutrients like carnosine or botanicals like stinging nettle that help deal effectively with glycation. At the Poliquin Performance Center we use the injectable form of carnosine to break down those nasty cross-link bonds. As a beneficial side effect, we dramatically increase work capacity.

To check for glycation levels, ask your doctor to measure the concentration of glycated hemoglobin in your blood. In England, a study revealed that it is one of the best measures to predict mortality - far better than cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index.

  1. Decreased immune system through high carb diet.

There is a very high correlation between immune health and the ability to increase muscle strength and mass. Just look at HIV positive patients, HIV in Africa is called slim disease.

Eating a lot of sugar lowers the immune system; this is why the holiday season can also be called flu season. Any naturopathic doctor will confirm this. The number of children’s office visits for colds and flu’s rises up dramatically after Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, where they just had plenty of sweets. Thirty grams of sugar will inhibit macrophage activity for 5 hours. Macrophage activity is among the first line of defense in immunity. A high carbohydrate diet will also lower stomach acid so that essential nutrients will not be absorbed, again leading to a weakening of the immune system.

An interview on the concept of hard gaining with Charles Poliquin


by Rosella Prunetti

Q.No one has criticize the hard-gainer concept so far. I feel this concept is really lacking the mental component and is an antithesis to champion mentality. What is opinion on this?

A.You are right. I think that hardgainers are basically fulfilling a self-prophecy.

The reason why they are not gaining is that they worry so much about making gains that they talk themselves into the following:

Step 1 : making so much cortisol that they enter a catabolic state.

Step 2: further making so much cortisol, that they start "stealing "some of their own pregnenolone for making more cortisol. This condition of pregnenolone steal deplete the raw material for making DHEA which is the precursor to testosterone synthesis.

Step 3: Because they fail to make gains because of steps 1 and 2, they start having low energy in the morning because the adrenals are too fatigued to make enough cortisol in the morning to have sufficient energy.

In other words, worrying about gains leads to self-castration through the thought process. Look at the rapid gainers personalities like Dennis James and Ronnie Coleman, they are happy go lucky type of individuals.

Q.What if someone is an hard gainer, what do you recommend?

A.I would have the trainee undergo an adrenal stress index test where he would submit saliva samples at four precise times during the day. With this information, we would know when he is producing androgens and cortico-steroids. Based on this information we can prescribe him supplements that would modulate the hormones properly. For example in the case of the catabolic hormone cortisol: Phosphatidyl serine is used when cortisol are too high. Licore root is used when cortisol are too low, this is usually reflected by drops in energy levels. Too low of a cortisol level in the morning is often reflected by difficulty in waking up. Licorice root cream may be prescribed in the morning to prolong the half-life of the cortisol so that energy levels pick up.

If his androgens are low, we can address through different pathways, using botanicals or neuro-transmitters.

Q.What do you mean about botanicals?

A.There are many herbs that can increase testosterone. The fact is that they only work for 10-14 days. In other words they have to be rotated.

Q.Like which herbs?

A.The herb list is quite exhaustive, to name a few: Suma, Korean ginseng, Jiaogulan, Maca, Muira Puima, Tribulus Terristris, Catuaba, etc… Actually as you can see many of them come from the Amazon region.

Deer antlers which are obviously not an herb and the herb Avena sativa are also very good at increasing free testosterone, not so much the total testosterone count. These herbs tend to work better when used in combinations which respect the energetics of the herbs. Three years ago, I made up a concoction that was quite potent, one of my assistant tried it, I told him to back off after three days, as I caught him humping a telephone pole? just kidding, but it was in fact quite potent. One my baseball player’s wife called me requesting to take it off my clients supplement regimen because she felt he was 'excessively amorous" to put in politically correct terms.

There also quite a few classical Chinese herbal formulas to treat male infertility that work quite well in that respect.

Q.Coming back to cortisol, is there any other products that help control it?

A.Yes, of course. The amino acid glycine works wells so does Reishi mushroom extracts. Even the liver herb Kudzu does a great job at detoxifying cortisol and raising IGF-1 levels.

Q.What about eating?

A.Most hardgainers are so worried about getting fat that they end up having the caloric intake of Somalians. To get big , you have to eat big.

Hard gainers should insure to have a pig out day every 5th day, where they consume at least 50% more calories than their normal intake.

Q.What about if they complain of low appetite?

A. If appetite is a problem for the individual, I would suggest they alternate between solid meals and liquid meals. Do not rely solely on liquid meals though. From experience, the more solid food you can eat the more lean mass you will gain. The only meal that definitely should be liquid should the post-workout feed. At your bodyweight, it should have about 40 grams of protein and 150 grams of high glycemic carbs such as grape juice, pineapple juice, maltodextrin blends, For post-workouts feedings, whey has definitely a winning edge over other proteins. For post-workout feeds, a rapid rate of gastric emptying is crucial to take advantage of the window of opportunity for muscle recovery, therefore whey is best. I would also include 30 grams of bovine colostrums to the post-workout blend, if the person’s budget allows it. It does favor a faster rate of recovery.

For people who have a low appetite, I also recommend digestive enzyme blends taken right before the meal or during the meal.

If you have a low appetite before breakfast, as soon as you wake up drink a small glass of an acidic juice such as orange or grapefruit. Within 10 minutes your appetite should be up. Cold appetizers such as refrigerated soft-boiled eggs and celery can also serve to increase the appetite.

Deficiencies in vitamins of the B-complex group have also been linked to low appetite, so make to take a well balanced multiple vitamin/mineral supplement in the form of capsules throughout the day. Stay away from vitamin tablets as they often go through the digestive only partially digested. Capsules are easily broken in the digestive track and therefore their contents are better absorbed.

Periactin is an over the counter product that is often recommended by pharmacists to increase appetite. However it has the side effect of increased drowsiness, which of course will decrease your mental drive for optimal workouts. Therefore I would suggest that you stay away from them. Some individuals prefer to use on days off that fall on weekends. During those days, mental alertness is no so much of a concern, and the increased caloric intake is welcomed for restorative purposes.

In the more enlightened training circles, when the appetite is low the following herbal supplements are recommended : Gentian root, Fennel seeds, Cardammon, Muira Puama, and Rhodiola rosea. In East Asian weightlifting circles, for the same problem Conodopsis root a.k.a. Tang Shen root is the preferred herb of choice.

Supplementing with MCT oil is another way to increase the caloric intake rapidly.

Q.What if the hargainer has a great diet and training regimen what would you do?

A.Again submit him to an adrenal stress index test, and a urine amino acid test. This test will detect any defect in his metabolism. For example he could have dysbiosis which would interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

Q.What do you mean by dysbiosis?

A.Dysbiosis is a condition where the microflora in the gut is disrupted by an undesirable pathogen. For example Giardia is such a nasty pathogen which will make you secrete cortisol basically all day long

[quote]Alphaboy wrote:

Glycation in laymen’s terms is browning, like the browning that makes crust on bread. Glycation is the cross linking of proteins (and DNA molecules) caused by sugar aldehydes reacting with the amino acids on the protein molecule and creating Advanced Glycosylation End-products (AGE’s). If you want to see protein cross linking in action cut an apple in half and watch it turn brown! Very few people realize that glucose can be oxidized.

The worst glycation agent is in fact fructose. Why? Simply because it does not raise insulin. In other words, the insulin is not getting the sugar into muscle cells. Therefore it lingers around and wreaks metabolic havoc. As nutrition expert Robert Crayhon would say, “fructose is like the guest that won’t go home once the party is over.” Crayhon recommends that the average American should eat no more than 5-10 grams of fructose a day. For very active individuals, 20 grams of fructose should be the maximum intake.

One of the worst sources of glycating fructose are the weight loss bars containing high fructose corn syrup, like the ones sold by a famous Texan, verbally abusive lawyer turned weight loss guru.


Is Polliquin making a case against fruit here?

I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but reading that article has got me thinking(in regards to low cortisol in the morning). That sounds like me. I have had a hard time waking up my whole life. Every morning its the same. I get more energy as the day goes on, and I always train in the late afternoon or evening. I also get a second wind in the evening around 9. I have never been able to figure it out. I just assumed I wasn’t a morning person. But now I am wondering if I have low cortisol. Anyone else like this? Any ideas? I would sort of describe myself as a hardgainer, but not so much as a classic one. Also, I notice that the day after a leg workout I am always tired in the morning. Anyone have any insight? I get 8 hours a night just about always.

[quote]Alphaboy wrote:

thanks for the articles, good stuff. laters pk

I know its unwise to center your protein intake around only a few main sources, and the more variety the better. However, I think rotating as Poliquin suggests is a little extreme and won’t be practical for the majority of us.

As a college student, eating 5-7 meals a day w/ adequate protein is doable, but rotating protein sources from day to day isn’t practical. I have Grow! in the morning w/ oats and some fruit, grilled chicken breast salad, turkey sandwich on whole wheat, hardboiled eggs, tuna, beef jerky, lots of cottage cheese mixed w/ Grow!, and lean beef when available. Shouldn’t this provide plenty of variety in the diet? What do you all think of this topic?


Berardi recommends alternating protein sources on a daily basis too.

I personally am going to try alternating protein to some extent. I tend to get stomach problems when I follow massive eating recommendations and I hope this might help some.

BradS: I have the same problem; I should say that I’ve always had that problem. I always remember being a young kid and waking up every morning extremely drowsy and took the entire day to get through that drowsiness and when night came around(about 9 or 10) I would have a burst of energy. Its still the same way now, although to a lesser extent, but still very noticeable. Now, I try to take a midafternoon nap if I feel I need it. I don’t know if this matters, or its just coincidence, but I have also been a hardgainer, but not in “classical” way, as you mentioned. I had the same thoughts when I was reading the article, and the only time I’ve seen my condition change is when I up my protein intake. But I’d definitely like to hear some ideas on this.

Yes, rotating protein sources is optimal. I remember Dr. JB recommending rotation. However, will it really make that much of a difference? If one is training hard, eating clean, and making wise life decisions, would changing a small detail like this make a justifiable difference?

Think it matters on the person.

I had a friend who cut dairy and wheat from his diet and lost about 50 pounds within only a couple of months.

Alot had to do with limiting food choice obviously but he also had less drainage in his throat and felt better in general.

Sucks being a college student though… can’t afford protein selection

Here are also some questions/answers



Charles Poliquin

Low Carbs For Athletes?

Q. I understand you put your athletes on low carb diets and then gradually reintroduce carbs into their diets. Why is this? I thought low carbs decreases performance? While we’re on the subject, you’ve stated that you like to have your male athletes between 4 and 8% body fat and that female athletes perform best below 12%. I understand that an athlete doesn’t need to be fat, but what’s the point of having a hockey player see his abs?

A. I put 50 to 75% of my athletes on low carbs. About 25% are kept on high carb diets. It is a very individual thing which is prescribed based the athlete’s present condition, desired goal etc. Those 25% are the lucky ones who can enjoy carbs while staying lean. Like Boyer Coe, who in preparation for the Masters Mr. Olympia would eat an entire carrot cake every night before going to bed so he would not lose muscle mass.

The reason why I have my athletes strive to achieve those bodyfat figures is that various physiological parameters such as endurance and speed are enhanced by having lower body fat values. For example your maximal oxygen consumption capacity increases just by decreasing bodyfat, as one will not need to oxygenate those tissues during muscular work, thus allowing the more functional tissue to use the available oxygen.

Speed is greater at lower bodyfat percentages because of decreased intra-muscular friction and because you simply don’t have to carry that excessive baggage.

The low carb decreases performance is only true for people who have higher carbohydrate requirements. I have plenty of clients who fare better on the international sporting scene using a low carb diet. However, you must also know that these athletes use a four-one ratio of low carb days to high carb days. That is four days low carb, one day high carb.

The high carb day can have as much as 70% of the caloric needs met through carbohydrate intake. We use the percentage of bodyfat, and the athlete’s state of well being as the gauge for carb intake. If the athlete is for example 5% bodyfat, is having a day off from training, we may use such a high carbohydrate intake. If he is at 9%, as is not at optimal speed for his speed, we may use only half a day of carbing up.

Also sudden drops in bodyweight may warrant changes in that ratio. All in all, it is something that needs fine tuning over time, and the athlete is educated on when to carb up or not. But again, some athletes do best on very low fat diet, high complex carbs, moderate protein. It is a very individual thing, and certainly is worth experimenting with.

Structural Balance

Q. The article achieving structural balance was great; however, it only included the upper body. Got any general lower body suggestions?

I have had a lot of demand for this sort of data, even though I do have have collected excellent pertinent data on the matter, I have decided not to present it in written format because:

The technical explanation for each exercise go beyond the scope of an article or this column. In a seminar setting, it takes about 4 hours to learn.

The norms are more appropriate to determine the orientation of training of athletes not for the audience of Testosterone, which is composed mainly of recreational bodybuilders.

The data is very much sport specific. For example, ham-quad ratios that are optimal for getting a medal in the Alpine Skiing World Championships will not do much to achieve international results in 100 sprinting.

Q. I really enjoyed your article about pull ups, I have a few questions on how can I make progress with pull ups considering my circumstances. I notice a few of the progressions from the articles require a partner to push the legs and waist while you pull up. Due to working crazy hours, the only time I get to workout is late at night, so I work out alone. I am able to do 5-6 wide grip (palms away) pull ups but would like to be able to do more. Considering I don’t have a workout partner who could help me perform the necessary 12 pull ups, what should I do? Should I perform the maximum amount of pull ups that I am able to do at this time (5-6 pull ups) then do eccentric pull ups. I gather it is still too early in my development to start holding on to dumbbells while I attempt pull ups?

A. I would recommend this system for improving your pull-ups. From experience, this system can increase the performance on this exercise in record time. It is basically a variation of the German Volume Training.

If you can only do 5-6 pull-ups, strive to do 10 sets of lets say 2 reps on your first workout. Every workout, strive to increase the total number of pull-ups by at least one. The key to success of this progress is the total volume of work, not all sets of pull-ups are obviously done to failure. But for your first workout, you will have done 20 reps on the pull-ups, within no time your pull-up performance will increase. Shoot for 10 sets of 6 pull-ups before your retest your maximal performance for reps on a single set. Make sure to pair antagonists muscles to be time efficient. You can pair a pressing exercise or a external rotator cuff exercise or both.

For example your workout will look this:

Set 1 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 1 of antagonist work (Dumbbell external rotator exercise 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 2 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 2 of antagonist work (Dumbbell external rotator exercise 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 3 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 3 of antagonist work (Dumbbell external rotator exercise 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 4 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 4 of antagonist work (Dumbbell external rotator exercise 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 5 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 5 of antagonist work - change of exercise (Incline Dumbbell Presses 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 6 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 6 of antagonist work (Incline Dumbbell Presses 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 7 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 7 of antagonist work (Incline Dumbbell Presses 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 8 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 8 of antagonist work (Incline Dumbbell Presses 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 9 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 4010, rest 90 seconds)
Set 9 of antagonist work - change of exercise - (Flat Dumbbell Presses 8-10 reps, tempo 3010 rest 90 seconds)

Set 10 of Pull-ups (Wide grip pull 2 reps, tempo 3110, rest 90 seconds)
Set 10 of antagonist work (Flat Dumbbell Presses 8-10 reps, tempo 3110 rest 90 seconds)

Q. I compete in combat jiu-jitsu. I have a problem with endurance and poor gripping strength. Any training protocol that would help solve that? I live in a rural area and don’t have access to fancy equipment like your athletes do.

A. First let me say that I am not a big believer in high-tech machines. All my athletes train on the most basic tools like barbells, dumbbells, chin-up bars, AND squat racks.

Here is a very low-tech approach to solving that problem. All you need is a sand bag and a platform that is three to four feet off the ground – the back of pick-up truck or a picnic table will do fine. I suggest you do it after doing your regular leg strength workout as a ‘finishing off’ exercise. Here is a twelve workout progression.

Workouts 1-4

Stand in front of the platform with a sandbag at your feet. Bend over and pick up the sandbag and put it on the platform. Pause momentarily. Pick it up again and put it back on the ground. Repeat until 50 reps are completed. Make an effort to do it in minimal time. Record the time needed to complete the set every workout, and shoot for a personal best every workout. The first time you do it, you will be quite tempted to cough up a lung. No matter how painful it is, shoot for a record time. Of course, you will probably have to pause longer between reps as the set is nearing its end. Only stop the sets when 50 reps are completed.

Workouts 5-8

For this part of the cycle, back up four feet further away than the previous workout. Stand facing the platform with the sandbag on your right side, on the ground. Turn around, face the bag and bend over and pick it up. Lift the bag and place it on the left side of the chosen platform. Being further away will force you to have to lunge towards the platform.

Pause momentarily. Pick it up again and put it back on the ground on its original resting spot. This will bring a diagonal and rotary component to the drill. Repeat until 25 reps are completed for the right side. Then start over and do 25 reps with the bag being on the left side in the starting position. Again, make an effort to do it in minimal time. Record the time needed to complete the set, every workout, and shoot for a personal best each workout.

Workouts 9-12

Stand facing the platform on which a plastic glass filled with water is placed on the middle of it. Stand with the sandbag on your right side. Turn around face the bag and bend over and pick up the sandbag. Now you are going to lift the bag up and over the plastic glass of water, continuing the motion, deposit the bag on your left hand side (the left side of the platform). Pause momentarily and reverse the process. Do 25 reps going in each direction. Once again, make an effort to do it in minimal time. Record the time needed to complete the set every workout, and shoot for a personal best every workout.

After these twelve workouts you can be sure that your endurance will have reached appreciable new heights and you will be sporting a pair of forearms that would make Popeye envious. Another added benefit is that all the trunk muscles involved in throws and takedowns will receive an appreciable overload that will transfer directly to improved performance on your dojo mat.

Q. You have a reputation as being a stickler to proper form. What are some of the recommendations you make on proper training form?

A. For the readers who have their eyes and ears open for the truth, here some recommendations regarding exercise performance. People with low self-esteem refuse to live consciously.

Trainees who use proper form usually have high levels of self-esteem. They show it by:

Their interest is progression, not in theatrics.

Lifting for themselves, not for others. They are not concerned about what the other guy thinks of him lifting somewhat lighter loads.

Knowing that lifting big loads with improper form will not get you to lift big loads with proper form as quickly as lifting in proper form at all times.



  1. You should attempt to find ways that will an exercise harder, not easier.

For example pausing the bar on the floor between reps on the deadlifts creates more overload on the neuro-muscular system than bouncing the plates off the floor. Successful bodybuilders feel the muscle not the weight!

  1. Never sacrifice style for increased poundage.

I know people who increased their bench presses by 60 lbs in one month! They simply do it by adjusting their form: lifting hips off the bench: + 25 lbs, bouncing in the bottom position: + 10 lbs, increasing width of grip: +10 lbs, not coming up to lock-out: + 15 lbs. This is one of the reasons I recommend YOU change the exercise every 6 workouts or so. When you are just about to hit a plateau, it is time to move on to another exercise.

  1. Lower weights slower than you lift them.

When weight training, you control the weight, the weight does not control you. Even though you are stronger in eccentric contractions than in concentric contractions, you recruit only half the fibers when lowering a load, so the actual tension on the fibers recruited is double. So, you will benefit more from your set by maximizing the overload on the eccentric portion of every rep.

Q. I have poor hamstrings development because of years of I train only what I can see in the mirror syndrome. I am embarrassed to wear shorts. Please help!

A. The following guidelines will help you achieve your training goal of more hypertrophy in the hamstrings:

  1. Put an emphasis on stretching. Often have seen a new growth spurt in advanced trainees legs after embarking on a stretching program. Why? Possibly because the fascia surrounding the muscles is too tight and does not allow the hamstrings enough room to grow. If you need some ideas on how to effectively stretch the hamstrings, please consult the following books published by Human Kinetics: Science of Flexibility and Stretching (2nd Edition), Michael J. Alter and Facilitated Stretching: PNF Stretching Made Easy by Robert McAtee.

  2. Train the hamstrings first in your leg workout, when your energy is highest. There is plenty of empirical evidence that muscles trained early in the workout make greater strides of progress than the ones trained at the end of a workout. Joe Weider takes credit for it as the “Weider Priority Principle”. For all I care, a lumberjack barbell set owner from Vladivostok could have come to the same conclusion.

  3. Allow for plenty of recovery. The hamstrings have a high fast-twitch make-up, thus take a long time for recovery. A 30 day hamstrings specialization cycle for someone with great quads would look like this:

Day 1: Hamstrings (15-16 sets) and Calves (6-8 sets)

Day 6: Hamstrings (6-8 sets), Quads (3-5 sets) Calves (8-10 sets)

Day 11: Hamstrings (15-16 sets) and Calves (6-8 sets)

Day 17: Hamstrings (6-8 sets), Quads (3-5 sets) Calves (8-10 sets)

Day 22: Hamstrings (10-12 sets) and Calves (4-6 sets)

Day 29: Hamstrings (4-6 sets), Quads (1-3 sets) Calves (6-8 sets)

Notice that the number of sets is significantly LOWER during the last two workout days of the cycle. Why? To comply to the unloading principle, if one lowers the volume after the third week but yet keeps up or even increases the intensity, super compensation (gains) will be of a greater magnitude than if the volume was kept constant. The exact physiological mechanism is not entirely clear, but it appears that it is of a neuro-endocrine nature.

Q. I am very much interested in achieving overall fitness, and was recently at the gym doing a ballistic stretching routine I knew from my tae kwon do classes. I was then approached by a physical therapist to stay away from it, that I was putting myself in danger, blah, blah, blah. What is the dealeio?

A. Ballistic stretching has unfortunately been given an undeserved bad reputation, thanks to physical therapists and athletic trainers who have frowned upon it, claiming it was a sure way to injure oneself.

If ballistic stretching was so stressful every martial artist who emphasizes kicking in his style (i.e. Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Savate) would be in a wheelchair. So would every rhythmic gymnast, artistic gymnast, ballet dancer and diver, as ballistic stretching is a staple of their physical preparation. Interestingly enough when the 76ers won the NBA championships in 1986, their strength and conditioning coach was a ballet teacher who used plenty of ballet type movements to teach the basketball players how to use the concept of acceleration and learn to relax the antagonistic muscles.

Dynamic stretching involves fast movements which place muscles under a rapid but very short-lived stretch. Opponents of dynamic stretching will argue that the imposed stretch is too small in terms of time to be beneficial and increase the likelihood of muscle pull. But, what these people fail to understand is that the correlation between dynamic flexibility and static flexibility is quite poor (r= 0.42). In other words, it is possible that someone who barely touch his mid shins in a sit a reach test (static stretch) can kick you in the face (dynamic stretch). In the same way that someone who can go beyond his feet in a sit and reach test can barely kick you in the navel. In the dynamic expression of flexibility, there is more than the ability to relax the muscles and connective tissue, there is also the ability to activate the antagonist muscle to place the muscles in a rapid stretch. So, in our kicking example, you may able to stretch your hamstrings well in slow sit and reach test, but not be able to activate the quadriceps at high speeds to place the hamstrings in a rapid stretch.

There is, however, a correct way to do ballistic stretches: it is called the pendulum method. In this method, you do not try to reach maximal range in the first stretch but rather build up to it. So for example in a warm-up for kick, you would kick at the ankle level for starters, then aim at mid-shin, then knee cap etc. until you reach your maximal kicking height. You would definitely not start with your best impression of a Jean-Claude Van Damme kick.

In my opinion, the only real disadvantage of ballistic stretching is that the gains are very short term, more precisely, you will retain the flexibility gained for only 4 to 6 hours. However, if complemented with other stretching methods like static or P.N.F stretching, the gains will become more long-lasting.

Q. I’ve been trying to adopt your nutritional techniques that I read in an article you did with Peakhealth. You described this diet as a 25 day start up phase where all (or most) of the carbs came from vegetable sources. I have avoided fruits and kept my protein at roughly 1q/lb bodyweight. I have also incorporated 10-15 fish oil capsules/day. I feel like I have tried every diet known to man and I can’t seem to figure out how to lean out. I am 5’10" 208 w/ about 11%-12% BF. My goal would be to get down to roughly 7% BF and I figured I’d try your dietary suggestions.

The problem that I’m encountering is that I can’t seem to get all my carb req’s from just veggies. I am eating 2 big salads/day and as many green veggies (broccoli, green beans, zucchini) as possible, but I can really feel the fatigue setting in. At 40/30/30 I need to eat roughly 45g of carbs each meal and that alone is almost 2 full bags of broccoli/meal. I can’t eat that much. I don’t think the training is the problem but rather the diet. I think I haven’t been eating enough for years. I have forwarded my diet that I currently doing.

At this point I just can’t figure it out. I think I just don’t have the educational background to identify the problem. Since I am currently working with the diet you outlined I ask for your help. Note: I have changed the above diet to include all veggies and incorporated fish oil. I know I have muscles under the flab, I just can’t see them as much as I want. I need guidance and I know I can make this happen.

Hopefully you can point in the right direction. Your articles and routines have taught me so much up to this point. I am a typical mesomorph, as they say, and if putting on weight was the issue I’d have no problem. I have an incredible appetite, but I’m just doing it wrong.

A. There is a few things can help you readily:

Increase your protein intake to 2 grams/lb of bodyweight.

Stay away from meal replacements products containing maltodextrin or glycerin.

For post-workouts, stick to a high quality protein and 50 grams of glutamine to restore your glycogen stores.

Every 5th day, you can have a cheat meal. Once your bodyfat is 8% or less then you can have a full cheat day.

By incorporating the given above steps you should lean out fairly quickly. You can also read Mauro Di Pasquale’s book the Metabolic Diet which shows you how to customize your carbohydrate requirements.

Q: I am interested in training for Strongman competitions. As these events gain popularity, I’m sure the training will become more clearly defined, but right now I can find no solid information on how one would combine weight room training with the actual event training. How would you mix the two given the high physical demands these events require?

A. The best way to train for those events would be to alternate cycles of general preparatory work with cycles of specific work. A 3 to 2 ratio would probably give you optimal results. Therefore you would 3 weeks of strength work concentrating of basic compound exercises such as squats, chins, deadlifts, presses and of course some grip work.

Then, for two weeks you practice the actual events 4 days a week. Don’t be afraid to lose strength when practicing the actual skills of Strongman competitions. In fact you will be surprised to see that your actual weight room lifts will go up once you return for a 3 week stint of more classical strength work.

Q. My bench press poundages has not improved in weeks. My training partner pointed out that I always encounter a sticking at about 2-4 inch’s off my chest? Any suggestions to solve my training problem. It is getting very frustrating.

A. Getting stuck in the bottom portion of the bench press is function of two issues: technique and strength ratios. Lets look first at technique.

Velocity of the descent: The best bench pressers in the World have been shown to have slower descent than less qualified lifters, controling the eccentric contraction will permit you to control more efficiently the bar pathway.

The Flaring the Lats Trick: Flaring the lats in the bottom position, as in the front lat spread, allows you to raise the bar 1/2 to 1 inch places at a better mechanical advantage. Practice this trick initially with loads lower than 70% of your one rep maximum, as it requires focused attention.

Second, lets look at strength ratios: If you have a weak start in the bench, you could either have weak pecs or weak serratus anterior muscles or a combination of both. When the given above muscles are weak, you have poor initial acceleration in the concentric range in the bench press. So to overcome your weakness, you want to give these exercises a try:

If you pecs are weak, the best exercises that will to improved bench press performance would be cambered bar bench presses and flat dumbbell presses palms facing each other.

If you serratus anterior is weak it is normally also reflected by a poor performance in the military press exercise. You should be able to military press 70% of your bench press performance. In other words, if you bench press 300 lbs, you should be able to do a seated military press with 210 lbs.

Spending a few weeks specializing on this exercise should remedy the situation. You may also include supine incline front raises as a remedial exercise in your bench press routine.

Incline Front Raises: This exercise will increase the strength of the serratus anterior, which is the main muscle that rotates the scapulae upward and helps you get out of the bottom position. Make sure that the elbows are bent 5-10 degrees to take away the stress on the elbow joints.

Q. I am being trained by a very enthusiastic young college student who is majoring in exercise physiology. His birthday is coming up, I would like to give him something around 50.00 dollars that would further his education. Any suggestions?

A. A very good gift for that price range would be the video by Paul Chek entitled Controversy and Current Concepts of Pulling Exercises. It puts to rest many of the trendy seminar bullshit concepts on upper back training that is creating more business for physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons than the leg extension machines.

Paul Chek provides once and for all sound biomechanical and neurological data on how to properly train the upper back musculature. I would say it is must-view for all personal trainers and strength coaches. Your personal trainer will surely be grateful for this gift. To purchase it contact Paul Chek seminars at 800/552.8789.

Q. I have a very weak back, mainly because I have only used geeky cables (I am pretty pissed that I didn’t read your article, “back to the basics”, earlier). However, I am not able to do even one wide grip pull-up (very long arms, to high BF, too much geeky back training), not even an eccentric one! I can however, do a couple of close grip chin ups (palms facing me). So here is what I am thinking about doing on my back only day:

Shoulder width chin-ups doing singles for a total of 20 reps.

Wide grip pull-ups 4x3 with partner holding my ankles.

Cable row 8, 6, 4.

Barbell row 8, 6, 4.

I have to do barbell rows and cable rows because of the program my training partner and I are doing. I have a couple of questions. One - is the chin-up part of the routine ok? And, two - how long a break do you have to take between the singles? (I kinda have to do all my 20 singles when my partner does his 4 sets). BTW, I am natural, on a gaining eating cycle, eating 500 cals above maintenance.

A. Answer to question 1: First, how can you be on a gaining eating cycle while you are also stipulating that you have high bodyfat. I don’t know anyone who has ever eaten anything by accident. First things first, get rid of the fat.

Second, no ankle holding bullshit chin-ups. How can you not even perform a single eccentric wide grip pull-up. Did you grow up in Chernobyl? Even Roseanne Barr can do one.

Answer to question 2: I suggest that you do close grip, semi-supinated (palms facing each other) chins, resting 90 seconds between sets.

Q. What would you say, if pressed for time, would be the best triceps exercise?

A. Any of the following three exercises would do the task on putting mass on the triceps:

  1. Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions with Chains. Since the triceps have an ascending strength curve, using chains added to the bar will help match the strength curve. Make sure that when the arms are fully extended the chains are about 1 cm from touching the floor.

  2. Parallel or V-Bar Dips. Dips are excellent for packing mass on the triceps, look at the triceps development of Olympic gymnasts. Please don’t do the dork version : hands behind back, feet and hands on a bench. People who do those normally have an IQ of 5 and it takes 6 to bark.

  3. Overhead French Presses. This one is particularly good if your long head of the triceps is lagging. This can be done with a single dumbbell, a rope tied to a low pulley, or you can use an EZ bar.

Q. I am very interested in learning more about building muscle mass. In your opinion, what are the top five authors I can learn from on building mass.

A. I would strongly suggest that you read the works of the following authors listed in alphabetical order.

Mauro Di Pasquale M.D. He is the foremost expert on nutrition and ergogenic aids. I personally refer a lot of my clients to him. His knowledge on building strength is immense, as he is a former World Powerlifting Champion. Consequently, he has written more on nutrition and ergogenic aids, than he has on training methodology. Dr. Di Pasquale can be found pretty much everywhere, and has written for countless publications including a few of his own books (The Metabolic Diet).

Anthony Dittilo. You will find him in old issues of IronMan and current issues of Milo.

Michael G?ndill. He has a refreshing look at hypertrophy routines. He can be found in IronMan, and also has valuable insights on nutrition.

William Kraemer. He can be found in Muscular Development. William is excellent at bridging the gap between the lab and the weight room.

Bill Starr. Is a very accomplished powerlifter and Olympic lifter, which is a rare combination. He can be found in IronMan and Muscle Mag International. He was the first author to really explain the need for full squats, and destroy the mythology around it.

Q. I currently train 4 days a week, I do not, however, train on weekends due to the fact that I also enjoy socializing. My question is this - Does getting drunk on the weekends hinder my progress significantly in terms of mass gains? And do you have any suggestions as to how to reduce the damage alcohol drinking does to my weight training efforts? Thanks.

A. There is plenty of scientific evidence which demonstrates that drinking and staying up late will hinder your bodybuilding progress.

First, even if you don’t drink, staying up late is harmful to the training process. Studies on circadian cycles show that staying up late on a Friday night will mess your circardian cycles till the next Tuesday. Therefore quality of sleep, which is one the most essential recovery tools for the natural trainer will be impaired.

Second, alcohol to the point of being drunk can severely suppress testosterone. One drink a day is fine, and has been shown to have many health related benefits, such as improving HDL levels. But getting drunk is definitely out of the question. Alcohol in excess will slow down your muscle mass gains by:

  1. Interfering with energy production in your accumulation workouts by inhibiting certain enzymes.

  2. Again, messing up your sleep patterns. The reduced quantity and quality of sleep will minimize your recovery for the following workout.

  3. Decreasing your natural testosterone production, which is one of your main anabolic hormones. A study in Finland has shown that the occasional alcohol binge decreases your natural testosterone production for a period as long as three days.

I have seen many times over, people stuck at a x level of development. After changing their lifestyles, they experience a sudden spurt in growth in muscle mass and training poundages. When a kid is referred to me by a sports agency, and he is on the verge of making the pros, the first thing I insist on is abstinence from alcohol. It is all a matter of priorities. What is most important to you?

In regards to negating some of the negative effects of your partying, loading on a good anti-oxidant blend may help, but will never completely off-set the effects of partying.

Q. In the last year, I became addicted to a Diet Coke or two per day (I know–Bad girl!) This is my only caffeine for the day but I’ve now switched to caffeine-free. Anyway, I work out as usual and eat the same but it appears than my subcutaneous fat layer is increasing substantially. Is there anything about this change that could be contributing? Thanks so much.

A. Definitely, caffeine does have lipolytic effects; in other words it helps you lose fat. Plus caffeine in an effervescent medium such as Diet Coke is better absorbed than the one in coffee. Your consumption of caffeine was not excessive. In fact, studies on caffeine consumption showed than caffeine consumers had healthier gallbladders AND had sex on a more frequent basis than people that abstained from caffeine. The people that think caffeine is ultra-dangerous also tend to believe in the astrology of vitamin therapy, genetic blue-print through aura manipulation and other new age bullshit.

So relax and enjoy your Diet Cokes!

1 Like

Thanks for posting the Poliquin Q&A session. I enjoy reading his thoughts on different subjects, especially regarding nutrition.

Thats Ok! I hope it helps. And last stuff ive got…Well maybe…ha



Charles Poliquin

Q. How fast should I lose weight? I look at the winners of a recent physique transformation contest and there is no way I can match those results. What do you think is realistic for the average person?

A. First of all, weight loss in terms of pounds lost on the scale does not really mean anything. For example, in a severely restricted diet you will lose at first glycogen and water giving the illusion of rapid progress. Trying to lose too fast can be quite detrimental. You should use bodyfat levels as your true measure of fat loss. The question being of course, which method is best to measure bodyfat changes. There is plenty of electronic gadgets out there to do, but in my opinion they are not sophisticated enough yet to measure bodyfat accurately. For example, overnight, one of my colleagues lowered his bodyfat three percentage points on an electric impedance device after eating an entire salami and loading on water. The nitrates and the sodium in the salami made him retain water, which increased the velocity of the current in the body therefore made him look leaner than what he really was.

To accurately assess your body fat levels, I recommend hiring a skilled exercise physiologist to do a skin caliper. It is largely agreed amongst body composition experts that the sum of 11 sites, can monitor accurately changes in body fat. Do not bother trying to convert the sum of skinfold into a percentage bodyfat as the validity of most formulas is often questionable. The eleven sites I recommend to take the measures are: chin, cheek, pec, biceps, triceps, subscapular, mid-axillary, umbilical, supra-illiac, patella and medial calf.

As you will lose bodyfat, the sum of skinfolds will evidently be lower. You should realistically aim at lowering the sum of 11 skinfolds by 5 to 10 mm.a week. If you could convert this figure into a loss of pounds of fat, that would be 1-2 lbs of fat a week. Of course if you use the popular thermogenic stacks of ephedrine, caffeine, and forskolin, you can increase the total mm lost per week to 15 to 20 mm per week.

As a note of interest, at the last Winter Olympics in Nagano Japan, I was talking to a medical doctor who does doping control in Austria. He related to me that many herbal ECA stacks made in the USA contained around 60 mg of total ephedrine per tablet and not the standard 25 mg claimed. This will of course off-set the ratios recommended for the three thermogenic ingredients. When asked why there was so much of it in them, he replied that the ingredients are so cheap that packing more ephedra in it gives it a better reputation to the given brand. Please remember that fat that is lost slowly is more likely to stay off.

Q. I have read your theories on developing muscle mass and I find that I don’t respond very well to the “time under tension” principle. I respond much, much better to ballistic movements, i.e. moving the weights extremely fast. Moving the weights in this manner produces much greater hypertrophy, for me, than the suggested protocol. It also results in more rapid increases in strength. Why is this?

I know the reason for the more rapid increases in strength, but not why this type of training results in greater muscle size for me. You should note that for my first six years of training I was involved only in Olympic Lifting and that training started when I was thirteen years old in 1964. I have followed your “time under tension” principle for approximately five years using various rep ranges and predominately the basic exercises (with some variation), but I always get the greatest muscle size increases during the four months of the year when I am training for maximum strength and power using a two to five rep, increased multiple set training regiment.

A. That is quite possible, what it means is that you have a greater than normal percentage of fast-twitch motor units. Therefore slower tempos don’t do much for you because they do not target this type of motor units. Therefore, I suggest that the only slow work that you do be with chains, even though you will try to move the load as fast as possible, the accommodating resistance curve will keep the actual velocity of the barbell somewhat slower than if chains were not on them.

Q. What is your opinion of performing lower body plyometrics in a sand pit for hockey players during the summer months?

A. Useless. To achieve a plyometric training effect, you must rapidly switch from an eccentric contraction to a concentric contraction. The sand will prevent that rapid stretch-shortening cycle by force dissipation.

Q. When I full squat I am able to maintain a straight back but I tend to lean farther forward towards the end of the set. Should I terminate the set if I begin to lean forward or keep going. I try to follow the practice of technical limit, but is a little leeway leaning forward acceptable in the squat?

A. As soon as you start to lean forward, stop the set. You are only exposing yourself to injury. You have some issues you need to correct in your muscular performance profile, which could range from having tight hip flexors to an uneven strength ratio between the lower back and the knee extensors.

Q. Coach Poliquin, you’ve convinced me that low carbs are the way to go to get lean and stay lean. I’ve dropped about 22 pounds of blubber in the last 2 months without any noticeable loss of muscle. Can you give some general guidelines as to putting on muscle while eating a low carb diet. Specifically, how do you adjust your macronutrients in order to gain muscle while staying lean.

A. Basically, the diet for gaining muscle mass for a carb intolerant for gaining muscle is the same as the one for losing fat, with the exception that every 5th to 7th day you increase your carbs dramatically. Depending on how lean you are, you can have a high carb day or high carb meal.

Q. I’m interested in increasing maximal strength. I know the basics about the loading parameters (1-5 reps, 2-4 exercises, 85-100% of 1RM, complete set in 20 seconds or less, rest 3-5 minutes). I also understand that you like to train each body part once every five days, and change reps, sets and tempo once every 2-4 weeks So I’m quite familiar with your ideas and techniques. I’m hoping to find a way to train for maximal strength for my entire body using your principles throughout the year.

Also, let me tell you about myself. I’m 25, 5’4", 140lb, 13% bodyfat (I’m working on getting my bodyfat down, that’s to high for me!). I’ve been weight training for about 6 years. Much of it has been trial and error, until I found your articles a couple years ago. I think I have a higher slow-twitch makeup, and I have small bones. My metabolism used to be much higher, but over the past few years it has slowed down. When I try to gain weight, I tend to put on too much bodyfat. So I’m at the point that I’d rather just be strong as possible and increase muscle mass through strength training. My problem is that I tend to make gains for a few weeks and then I begin to lose strength or feel burned out. I eat very well (high protein, moderate carbs and fat) and use a few supplements, I’ve also noticed that when I follow your routines I tend to overtrain. Working full-time and following some of those routines tend to wear me down. I think it’s due to the higher volume that you prescribe. So my question (finally!) is what are your recommendations for me to gain maximal strength?

A. The answer to your question is in your questions:

a) you are slow-twitch

b) you have a conflicting goal : I am interested in maximal strength, yet you also want to make a bodybuilder’s gains.

You have to wake it up and decide want you really want.

First, relative strength protocols won’t do much for you if you are a slow-twitch individual. None of the gold medallists in weightlifting have a poor vertical jump or like to do aerobic work. The lifters at the USOC drive their cars 500 meters to avoid the walk to the cafeteria, no kidding.

Second, you can gain hypertrophy as a slow twitch individual but not with relative strength loading parameters. Only individuals like Roger Estep would gain on such protocols.

I suggest you do no less than 6 reps per set, and seek out time under tension of 40-70 seconds per set for three weeks. Make sure to completely vary your loading parameters every 6 workouts. Keep your workouts shorter than normal : 42 minutes after warm-up time should be the maximum workout length for you. I also suggest you do strength training only every 9 weeks or so, for a short-period of 3 weeks. That will be a much better ratio for you.

You have to deal with the cards that were handed to you at your birth. You cannot turn a pony into a Clydesdale. Frank Zane did not have the gifts of a Gunther Schlierkamp, yet he won a few Mr. Olympia’s by maximizing his strengths.


Low Carbs For Athletes? Part II

Q. I have been enjoying your arm articles, and have been getting great results from the routines, but alternating between agonists and antagonists is impractical for me. I get an anxiety attack while doing the A-2 exercise of the routine because someone may move in on my A-1 exercise station. Any suggestions of a good arm routine that will keep me in one place and allow me to stick to my rest intervals?

A. The bad news is that what you described above is a reality for many trainees. The good news is that there is an effective alternative. You can use what I call the staggered grip extended set system.

Here is the routine:

Exercise One:
Scott EZ-Bar Staggered Grip Extended Set
(Brachialis/Brachioradialis Overload)

Do the following steps:

  1. Scott EZ-Bar reverse curls with close grip 4-6 R.M. using a 5010 tempo.

  2. Rest 10 seconds.

  3. Scott EZ-Bar reverse curls with shoulder width grip as many reps as possible (A.M.R.A.P.) using a 5010 tempo.

  4. Rest 10 seconds.

  5. Scott EZ-Bar Semi-supinated curls with shoulder width grip as many reps as possible (A.M.R.A.P.) using a 2020 tempo.

  6. Cry and curse me and my descendants for the 2 minutes rest period.

  7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 twice, you probably will have to drop the weight 5 lbs every new Staggered Grip Extended Set.

Exercise Two:
Triceps Extensions-Presses Staggered Grip Extended Set
(Triceps Trasher)

Do the following steps:

  1. Lying Barbell Triceps to top of forehead 6-8 R.M. using a 2210 tempo.

  2. Rest 10 seconds.

  3. Lying Barbell Triceps to chin 6-8 R.M. using a 3010 tempo (A.M.R.A.P.).

  4. Rest 10 seconds.

  5. Close Grip Bench Presses (A.M.R.A.P.) using a 2210 tempo.

  6. Rest 2 minutes.

  7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 twice, you probably will have to drop the weight 5 lbs. every new Staggered Grip Extended Set.

Exercise Three:
Incline Curls Staggered Grip Extended Set

Do the following steps:

  1. Incline Hammer Dumbbell Curls 4-6 R.M. using a 4010 tempo.

  2. Rest 10 seconds.

  3. Incline Dumbbell Curls 3010 tempo (A.M.R.A.P.).

  4. Rest 10 seconds.

  5. Incline Elbows Out Dumbbell Curls (A.M.R.A.P.) using a 2010 tempo.

  6. Rest 2 minutes, while visualizing that post-workout drink.

  7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 twice, use the same dumbbells throughout the extended set.

Exercise Four:
Triceps Pressdowns Staggered Grip Extended Set.

Do the following steps:

  1. Triceps Pressdowns, Close-Grip, 8-10 R.M. using a 4010 tempo.

  2. Rest 10 seconds.

  3. Triceps Pressdowns, Medium-Grip, 3010 tempo (A.M.R.A.P.).

  4. Rest 10 seconds.

  5. Reverse Grip Triceps Pressdowns (A.M.R.A.P.) using a 2010 tempo.

  6. Rest 2 minutes, while visualizing that post-workout drink.

  7. Repeat steps 1 to 6 twice. By the way, drop the weight 10-20 lbs while performing reverse grip pressdowns in order to get the reps in.

You can go home now and put some Traumeel on those arms. I also recommend shaving your head prior to the workout, as you won’t be able to comb your hair afterwards!

Q. What is your opinion of powerlifting training for bodybuilding training? I see some guys at the gym using the full paraphernalia that powerlifters use when squatting: supersuit, wraps, and powerlifting belt. What is your opinion on that topic?

A. Unless you are in the final three weeks before a powerlifting meet, you should avoid knee wraps, and the use of a weight-lifting belt, which supports the lower back. If your lower back and knees are prone to injury, you must first be careful to restore proper body alignment by using corrective exercises such as step-ups and correct abdominal technique to support the lumbar spine.

You may have noticed during the Atlanta Olympics that most of the weight lifting World Record setters and medal winners did not use any belts for their snatches and clean & jerk. And, let’s face it we know that these lifts are way more stressful to the lower back than deadlifts and squats.

This trend became popular about 15 years ago as doctors working with European trainers realized that the belts had made the athletes forego abdominal work, (they relied on the belt) which made them more susceptible to injure their lower back. So what the coaching staff did was emphasize extensive abdominal work with junior lifters so that they would not rely on the psychological crutch of a belt. As the years went by they noticed that less lifters were getting injured because their trunk muscles could now handle the heavy loads. They had, in effect, built their own belt.

For bodybuilding purposes, if you squat and you always need to wear a belt, then you should try to have a qualified strength coach (check my listing of recommended strength coaches for one in your area) show you how to squat properly and the belt will soon become unnecessary.

The belt will also tend to impede the deep "abdominal’ breathing needed to get through high rep squatting session.

To wean yourself off the belt start by avoiding the belt while performing sets with reps above 12, then when doing reps of 10, reps of 8 and so on. Eventually you will be able to do a single without the use of a belt.

Q. I read your book, The Poliquin Principles, and I am aware that you are a big endorser of micro-increments in loads. I find that the Olympic plate companies charge way too much for those small disks. I am also looking for thick grip dumbbells as I compete in the grappling sports of judo and jiu-jitsu. Any suggestions?

A. Yes, you can contact Piedmont Design Associates. They sell a wide array of small plates in different colors and finishes. They will even stamp your initials on them so you can certify ownership if the $4.00 an hour moronic gym attendant is busting your chops and accusing you of leaving the gym with “their” equipment. They also have a very wide assortment of fat grip adjustable dumbbells and grip development tools. Their prices are quite reasonable. I have ordered from them myself so have a few of my clients and they are very reliable.

Q. Coach Poliquin: What is your opinion of Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell method of training? You talked a little about Louie in your book, but that was mostly about the reverse-hyper machine. What is your honest opinion of whom many call the Dean of Powerlifting and his methods? Thank You!

A. First of all - his system works. He certainly has the results to prove it. Even though his program is mainly geared towards improving the competitive results of powerlifters, I have plenty of colleagues, on pro teams who have made use of plenty of Louie’s concepts.

His advice is followed from people all over the World ranging Swedish National Powerlifting members to rugby strength coaches from New Zealand. In my trips abroad, I have met with Louie Simmons fans from Sweden and Austria.

Louie helped pro-bodybuilder Mike Francois prior to his win at the Arnold Classic, by showing him how to further his hypertrophy gains with incomplete rest interval training and by rotating his exercises. Louie has also helped a host of submission fighters with their strength conditioning.

I have personally used many of his training devices in the training of my athletes. For example both Pierre Lueders (Olympic Gold medalist in bobsleigh) and Casey Fitzrandolph (Word record holder in 1000 meters speedskating) have labored away on his reverse-hyper device.

Louie’s empirical observation that using “relatively” light weight while maximally accelerating it combined with the use of maximal weights to make strength gains, has been backed up by science in recent research. This technique is also known as compensatory acceleration. In this manner, the CNS will practice improving the rate of force development with high loads. Training in such a manner in the bench press has been shown to improve both strength and power better than conventional strength training. If you want more detail go read: Jones et al. The Effects of Compensatory Acceleration on Upper Body Strength and Power. J. Strength and Cond. Res. 10(4): 287, 1996.

So why else is Louie successful? One of Louie’s secrets is his passion for coaching. When Louie gets excited about something, he makes Tony Little sound like George Bush overdosed on Valium! The atmosphere in his gym, the West Side Barbell Club, is nothing short of electrifying. There is very little talk outside of encouragements and calling the weights desired on the bar. They work as a team, challenging each other to progress.

Louie Simmons certainly has brought a lot to the strength coaching community, and therefore I have the highest respect for him and his associate David Tate. In fact, if you have the chance don’t hesitate to attend one of their information packed seminars.


Q. I have been doing the “MAX-OT” training program that Skip LaCour does, i.e. doing one bodypart a day, once a week using low sets. For example, for chest I do a total of 5-6 sets of 4-6 reps (everything is 5-6 reps 4-6 sets for large bodyparts and 4 sets for smaller ones). I have been lifting for 9 yrs. I am 5’8" 220 lbs. at 11% bodyfat. My question is should I alter my training around a little? Perhaps german volume, maximal weights, 1-6 principle etc. for a cycle of 4 weeks each? My goal is to reach 225-230 at 8% bodyfat. Thank you. Please respond.

A. The question is very easy to answer, how long have you made progress on the MAX-OT? Have you plateaued? A program is only as good as the time it takes you to adapt to it.

In training with any one method alone, increases in maximal strength and size may be retarded after some period of training. Few people realize that in order to maintain increases in maximal neural activation and hypertrophy the training intensities must be periodically varied and/or kept at progressively increasing levels (H?kkinen and Komi, 1982; Komi, 1986). If the neuro-muscular system is allowed to adapt to constant training loads, that is, if the stimulus is always presented to the body in exactly the same way, its efficiency will diminish. From a biological standpoint, variety in strength training during longer training periods can be regarded as profitable in increasing the functional capacity of the neuromuscular system. Within logical and appropriate limits, variety is injected in the following forms:

Magnitude of loading, number of R.M.

Tempo of loading

Modification of the choice of exercise

Order of exercise

Training mode

Sequencing of training sessions.

According to German strength expert Schmidtbleicher, an athlete reaches strength potential faster if methods favoring the development of muscle mass are used first, followed by methods favoring motor-unit activation enhancement (increased recruiting and firing rate of motor units, i.e. neural drive training). Therefore, one must force adaptation of the neuro-muscular system through volume (accumulation phase) and then stimulate it through intensity (intensification phase).

In the accumulation phase, the goal would be to increase the cross-section by enhancing myofbrillar growth, and anaerobic substrates storage. In an intensification phase, high loads and a low number of repetitions would be used to recruit high threshold motor-units. The great voluntary effort (and excitation) normally associated with brief bursts of maximal exercise is known to recruit the highest threshold motor units (MUs) to make use of their greater strength and rate of force development.

This form of training variety eliminates the physiological and psychological causes of progress stagnation caused by an overemphasizaed specialization on volume or intensity. In this manner strength and muscle mass can be built at higher and faster rates.

Q. Coach Poliquin, I very much enjoyed your article for prime time training for arms. Is it possible to employ such a staggered grip/prime technique method to other bodyparts as well? Secondly, do you feel it would lead to overtraining if applied to the whole body? Your input would be very much appreciated.

A. Answer to Question 1: Yes, the concept can be applied to any bodypart. Answer to Question 2 : No, but after 5-6 workouts like that for each bodypart, you will need to change the training methodology.

Q. I have not gained weight in a while, my training is great, but I can’t seem to put any weight on, no matter what? Any suggestions?

A. You may want to look into two supplements that have worked with some of my clients who have encountered the same problem. Add colostrum to your post-workouts shakes. Colostrum has had a bad reputation in the early eighties as being ineffective. However, there are two scientific papers presented last summer that recently showed that colostrum has an anabolic effect. You may want to use 6 Colostrum capsules from Kal with your post-workout shake.

Use protein digestive aids. You may be deficient in the protein digestion department. A great remedy to this problem is Super Digestaway Protein Maximizer by Solaray. I recommend taking 3 capsules with each solid meal. That again often helps people break through hypertrophy development plateaus.

From experience, very ectomorphic clients who use both supplements will often gain an additional 5 lbs of bodyweight within the first two weeks of use. You are more likely to find those supplements through a Mom and Pop health food stores, or you could order them directly at a discounted price from CinemaPark health foods at 602/274-2402, ask for Judy or Laura.

Q. I am looking at the NFL combine numbers. I see athletes lifting 225 lb for a extraordinary amount of times. Myself, I can do it about 18-20 times, but its a real struggle to get that. I have put on 50lbs on my bench in the last 12 months(355 to 405) and only added one rep on my 225 lb rep out bench press. I see guys who weigh less than I and do 225 for the same amount of times that I do, but these same guys cannot do 350 or 400lbs, so my question is how do you train for muscular endurance. I greatly appreciate your help.

A. With your level of maximal strength you should be able to do 40 reps at 225 lbs within 8 weeks. There are many ways you can increase your strength-endurance levels. Here are two options you can do after your maximal strength work:

Method I

Do 40 total reps with 225 lbs.

In this system do a max attempt at 225 lbs. Lets say you do 20 reps. Rest the time it took you to 20 reps, lets say 60 seconds if you did them on a 2010 tempo. Then do as many reps as possible, lets say now you can only do 8 reps, then rest 24 seconds (assuming the same tempo was used).

Do as many reps as possible, lets say 5 reps, then rest 15 seconds, go on until you have done 40 reps for that day. I don’t care if it takes you 20 sets the first day; strive to reduce the number of sets each workout. In time, you will crank 40 reps in one set.

Method II

In this method, you apply the Kaizen principle as outlined in my book The Poliquin Principles. Do your regular strength workout for chest. At the end of your strength work you will do one set of 40 R.M.

You may have to use 200 lbs for the first workout to complete 40 reps, the key is to add a very small amount of weight every workout. I suggest add 1.5 lbs to the bar and keep the reps the same, in no time you will be doing 40 reps at 225 lbs. You can buy fractional plates by contacting John Szimanski at 864-963-5640.

You may want to alternate between the two strength-endurance methods. Make sure you keep accurate strength records from workout to workout and you will be on your way to achieve your strength endurance goal

Bump this way back up so i can find it again, fucking unreal read.

I don’t mean to be a cynic here but following these overly complicated articles got me in trouble throughout the years of my lifting (ie: training coming to a halt and losing my mental sanity and hating a hobby that I once loved).

Well thats your fault then isn’t it :slight_smile:
Nothing wrong with reading… just dont OVER THINK what he says and add 500 new things to your program.
Do 1 a month xD