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Poliquin Tests

Poliquin often talks about fixing weak links in a movement. Does anybody know any of his test/methods to assessing weak links in the posterior chain or general lower body movements? He says many athletes have weak spinal erectors, glutes, hamstrings, and VMO. How does he come to those conclusions when training someone? What does he look for?

Watch what fails under a heavy load.

Many lifters will bend over as they approach the last few reps of a heavy squat, shifting the load to the quads and spinal erectors. This indicates that the glutes and hammies aren’t firing, quite likely from weakness.

Bench pressing is far easier to troubleshoot. I’m sure someone else will run through that. Primarily it involves finding at which point in the range of motion the stall occurs, and using alternate exercises to gauge ancillary strength.


There are some machines that can measure strength ratios between the quads and hamstrings. There are also a number of tests used to measure various things. I had a buddy who was in kinesiology, and he had to do all that stuff years back. I wish I remembered what they were.

He has various tests and ratios he uses. It’s not based on squat form or machines, as far as I know.

One of the tests he talks about frequently is the strength of the neck extensors. He seems to believe that this test correlates highly with fast twitch levels across the whole body.
You also cant tell where you are weak at by doing reps. you must do a max rep to see where you fail.

Has anyone interned with Charles?

Never interned for him, but we do work a lot with him, and we use his tests/assessments.


You’re around Art quite a bit too, aren’t you?

Sully-Are you based in Phx? It’d be interesting to hear your perspectives on Poliquin, I know that there’s a few people on the board here who don’t think to much of him based on personal interactions with the man.

Goldberg- Neck extensors? How would you even go about testing those? How many times you can shake your head in a minute? I also recall something that he once wrote about the caber toss. Not the Highland games version, but when you toss differently weighted balls behind you and measure the distance and plot a curve. Something about how this test related to the ability of an athlete to improve their sprint times. And I know that a number of people, including Don Alessi, belive that the vertical jump is a good indicator of overall fast-twitch fiber distribution.

Ike-Yeah, I work for him.

Paul-I’m in Boston. I’ve only met him a few times. He’s always been very nice to me. He does have a very dry sense of humor, and that may come off as unpleasant to some people. I dunno though, like I said, I’ve never had nay problems with him.

Charles has written about his upper body tests here in his article “Achieving structural balance”. From what i’ve heard it sounds like he likes to use a lot of Paul Check type tests which oftentimes I feel are unnecessary and done to impress people or seem unique. But besides that, here’s something he wrote on lower body ratios. For optimum balance between the hips and quads, and for optimal explosiveness, the power snatch should be 65% of max front squat. The caber toss refered to earlier is a test used to translate how effectively one transfers strength into power. Those who are gifted in this regard will find a disproportionate increase in the distance of each throw as the ball gets lighter and lighter.

Oh, and this is another good one. To assess the strength of the vastus medialis. Do a weighted lunge stepping onto about a 6-inch box. Step forward far enough that the knee goes out over the toes. Descend down to below parallel. Come up out of the bottom position attempting to rise straight up, if the knee moves inward at all the vmo is weak.