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The late Charles Poliquin was my most influential mentor in the fitness industry.

As a young trainer I read every single book and article he ever wrote. They covered a wide range of topics to do with holistic health, strength and physical performance.

Charles had a unique genius for breaking complicated training concepts down into a form that was easy to understand and execute.

After consuming all these books and articles I also did a number of face to face seminars with Charles. Whilst I didn’t go full ‘Poli-Clone’ mode (and in fact continued to do many other courses with other educators), Charles’s content resonated with me most.

He was a complicated man, but a brilliant mind on all things strength, fitness and performance. I owe much of my success to what he taught me.

Charles died in 2018 at the age of 57 apparently from a brain aneurism (although the official cause hasn’t been made public). He was unbelievably generous with his time as well as being highly engaging to talk to.

He was also the most politically incorrect person I ever met (and that’s saying something for someone who spent eight years in the Army). A Poliquin seminar just wasn’t possible without the procession of dirty jokes and outrageous one liners, it was always a good laugh.

He also managed to make a wide range of enemies, something that seems to be a common theme for anyone who has strong views.

Over the years I’ve found many of the things he taught me (that seemed like no big deal at the time) developed a sense of delayed significance.

I've also noted (As did he when he was alive) that many things he talked about (that didn't have scientific studies to back up his claim), were later validated in the literature.

This was classic Poliquin at his absolute best.

"Here's a method I've used for 30 years. You won't find a study that proves it but it fucking works so I don't give a shit about the twot-waffles who say it's wrong"

* Five years later a study confirms his theory.

Here are the top 10 things (in no particular order) that I learnt from Charles Poliquin.

  1. Resistance training coupled with a ‘clean diet’ is a powerful transformation tool. The basic premise of his approach was to train hard with weights, then judiciously cut out any form of shitty food. Squat, Lunge, Push and Pull. Eat high quality meat/fish, lots of veggies, some fruit and nuts. Avoid gluten, sugar and dairy. Whilst I don’t follow all this stuff all the time, it’s pretty good advice for 80% of the people 80% of the time. You can argue all you want about what the underlying mechanism of change ACTUALLY is here, but the true genius of the approach is nearly anyone can follow it without things getting too complicated.

  2. Strength training is a far more powerful training method than cardio for changing your body, even if fat loss is your goal. This is especially true for the ladies (as counter intuitive as it may seem). For most people who want to tone up and lose some ‘schmulz’ the best strategy is to clean up their diet and do more lifting. What most people want to do though is more cardio so they can avoid addressing diet. This rarely works out well for them as they just don’t build the metabolic capital that comes with putting the muscle under tension. Sure, cardio has its place, but if your want to get into supreme shape, lifting weights is where it’s at.

  3. Train the arms and train them heavy. This has a positive flow on to all other upper body lifts.

  4. Eat a diet high in Omega 3’s and supplement with a high quality fish oil to optimise levels. This has a positive flow on effect to nearly all aspects of your overall health. From brain/cognitive, to joints, to cardiovascular.

  5. The harder you train, the more you need to use a broad spectrum multi-vitamin. Training can be an extremely depleting process and with the poor soil quality our foods are grown from, you are far more likely to become deficient in micronutrients than ever before. A good multi vitamin helps you cover your bases and avoid this dilemma.

  6. The more success you have, the more haters you will gather. This is true regardless of if it’s jealous colleagues getting catty over your career success, or jealous friends talking behind your back because your body has changed …….”All she does is go to the gym now, she’s looking too muscly anyway”

  7. Earn your carbs. The leaner you are and the harder you train, the more you get (3-5g per KG of bodyweight). The fatter you are and the less you train, the less you get (.5-1g per KG of bodyweight).

  8. Avoid pro-inflammatory catalysts at all costs. From sugar, to alcohol and screen time at night. Work on zen behaviours to support hard training and recovery form all things stressful (training, work, existential stuff).

  9. Teach through story telling. Charles was a master of sharing his methods through story. Humans have been telling stories for ever and our brains are pre conditioned to remember detail when we learn via this medium. He encouraged you do the same to teach important concepts to your clients.

  10. Give credit to your mentors. Whilst we are all ‘self made’ to a degree, we all need mentors to show the way. Charles was always referencing his mentor Pierre Roy a famous weightlifting coach. I know do the same by acknowledging Charles and all the other brilliant minds that I have learnt from in one way or another. Here’s a shout out to Mark Buckley, Paul Chek, Christian Thibaudeau, Louie Simmons, Bret Contreras, Michol Dalcourt, Frans Bosche who have all helped me along the way.

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