Part I Sometimes, when I'm talking to Coach Poliquin about training methodologies, musc le fiber ratios, and all the

assorted high-tech, laboratory aspects of weight tr aining, my eyes start to glaze over?not because I'm bored or anything?but becaus e he has lost me; lost me as surely as if he had driven me out to the desert in the back of his four-wheel-drive Jeep of knowledge, kicked me out naked into the midst of scorpions, rattlers, and cacti without so much as a bottle of Evian wa ter, and left me to flounder out under the searing sun where I start to slowly b ake and fricassee. He'll continue expounding on the intricacies of what he knows better than any on e alive, and I'll find myself playing little games to make him think we're still sharing the same planet: "Yes Charles, yes, it's so clear?why didn't I see it b efore?" Meanwhile, I'm staring at his nose, or fantasizing about that blonde I s aw on the beach the other day, the one with that metallic thong that split her d eclivities so deftly in two as she bounded toward the surf, her bottom as brown as a berry and just as juicy... "Yes Charles, yes, don't stop, don't stop!" Don't get me wrong; I'm not exactly a lightweight when it comes to the science o f weight training. I've read more than my share of studies, articles, and books, in addition to having years and years of practical experience. And, I've played Sherman to Charles Poliquin's Peabody for practically longer than anyone else. I'm sort of a Poliquin clone; a juvenile, ill-formed, way-down-on-the-evolutiona ry-scale clone, but a clone nonetheless. Still, I'll never know everything Charl es knows, regardless of how much I tag along with him like some sort of loyal ho und dog. The point of all this is that I can now formulate my own, Poliquin-esque workout routines without too much wailing and gnashing of teeth. What I've done is take n seven of his principles and committed them to memory, so much so that I can't do a single exercise without taking them into consideration. It's kind of like t hat best-selling business book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but ins tead, I prefer the less elegant, more humble title, "A Simpleton's Guide to Char les Poliquin's Training Principles". If you learn these seven principles and apply them to your workout routines, you 'll have the next best thing to getting Charles to design your own, individualiz ed programs. What's more, you'll more than likely experience more progress in yo ur training in a short period than you have in the previous five years. Here, in a nutshell, are the seven principles I've adopted (I also gave them my own desc riptive names): The Borg Principle Anybody who's ever watched the newer versions of "Star Trek" knows about the Bor g. They're the bad-ass creatures who can't be beaten using conventional methods. Blast them or their ship with phasers, and they adapt. The only way to keep the m off balance is to set your weapons on a constantly shifting frequency so they can't adapt. Well, your body is the Borg. It's designed to adapt. When you keep doing the sam e exercises in the same order, for the same amount of reps, using the same hand grip or foot stance, the body adapts. In effect, the nervous system becomes ""ha rdwired" to that particular routine and consequently, fewer muscle fibers are re cruited, less energy is used, and fewer demands in general are made on the body. You become an expert at that routine, and after a surprisingly short time, you stop making progress. If, however, you keep shaking things up, "changing the frequency," so to speak,

you must be working intensely. much of it's due to the fact that these type II-B fibers have petered out?they just don't have the endurance of the other muscle fibers. you're breathing heavy like a high school kid at a Tracy L ord film festival. it's hard to engage them fully in subsequent ex ercises. Fine. you should juggle low-rep training (from 4 to 6 reps). the other fibers. in most cases. lower set routines. Viagra breath. and they're best stimulated with reps of between ten and twelve. or even 15-18) to make the bes t progress. Muscle fibers are "typed" according to their oxidative capacities and how fast t hey fatigue. fast-twitch fibers (the ones best suited for growth) are worked by a combination of lower-rep. After that. like II-A or II-B. intermediate-r ep training (8-10). Now. say. the body begins to adapt af ter having performed a particular routine 6 times. after all. Then. You can't very well ignore them if you want to maximize gains. The Rest Principle Somewhere along the way. It's largely habit. I n weight lifting. the type II-A guys. Therefore. it's time to shak e things up again. getti ng a monthly haircut from Rudy. low-rep movements first in the workout. When you experience strength failure. true muscle physiology types ( the kind that wear lab coats with the sleeves torn off) refer to these fibers us ing cute little alphanumeric terms. However. resistance if futile. intensity refers to how close the weight you're using is to yo . However. and high-rep training (12-15. Historically. Yes. Well. After these fibers are fatigued. The point here is that you should do your heavy weight. right? Wrong. The II-B or Not II-B Principle We just got done talking about fiber types. True. you should work your musc les in all 3 rep ranges. what happens is that the body?the mu scles?grow stronger and bigger to survive the onslaught of your attack. Research (by Poliquin and others) shows that. It's as aut omatic for them as putting two spoonfuls of sugar in their morning coffee. Except that muscles are also made up of slow-twitch fibers. These numbers refer to th eir oxidative capacity. there's a lot of evidence that doin g midrange reps is maybe the best compromise between rep ranges designed to buil d strength (between.the nervous system does not adapt. They 're like the fat truck driver who lives down the street. resistance to be coming stale is mandatory. huge SOB. to the Borg. real strong. will still be fresh. the gay stylist. 3 and 5) and rep ranges designed to build endurance (a nything above 12 or so). but can't run more than 10 feet without kissing the pavement. go on to your higher-rep mov ements. type II-B fibers are generally known as fast-twitch fibers and are the ones called on to do very heavy lifting. but in weight training. If. taking short breaks between sets got confused as "inten sity". Instead. after those fibers are baked. to maximize results. The Principle of Shifting Rep Ranges Most trainers are hopelessly mired in the old 8-10 rep range scheme. or watching Dawson's Creek on T uesdays and wondering what that Joey chick is going to look like when she gets a little bit older.

your total time un der tension was about two seconds. you have one of two choice s: reduce the weight. I push 300 po unds up only 3 times. Whenever you look at a Poliquin workout sheet. If. it's a safe will still be high and that they'll interfere with set. if I'm doing sets of dumbbell bench presses for sets of 4 to 6 reps. or reduce the number of reps. For instance. or 501. Typically. regardless of how much I huf f and puff. you'll need to reduce the weight about 4 or 5% on the next set in order to do 8 reps again. Instead. (Determining your exact muscle fiber make-up is probably a little more complicated than we want to get into here in this article). The more intense the set. Heart rate has nothing to do with your goal he re. The Change the Beat Around Principle In the previous principle. If I lift 200 pounds ten times. "Greater Orlando 225K Gr apefruit Extravaganza Race". my intensity level is very high. the al recuperation. With that in mind. if you d o a set of 10 reps. Typically. if I slow them down. Given that choice. you'll see numbers that look like 302. I'll increase time under tension. or lowering part of the movement. It all comes down to some thing called "time under tension". Muscle is not going to grow when your time un der tension is inordinately low (see the next principle for more info on "time u nder tension"). you shoul d always reduce the weight and keep the rep range the same or roughly the same. they refer to tempo. we talked about time under tension and we mentioned t he wisdom of keeping the duration of a set somewhere in the 30 to 70 second rang e. my time under tension is going to be something like 15 seconds if I do them at "normal" speed. particularly on the ecc entric. and the first number indicates how many . your time under tension should b e anywhere from 30 seconds to about 70. As you progress from one set to another and you tire. It also refers to the time your muscles are actually working an d weight. time-under-tension refers to the amount of time you spend tailgating that Ford Pinto that's doing about 45 i n the fast lane. however. The Time-Under-Tension Principle Muscle growing isn't just about reps and rest periods. In other words. run 10-miles a day and turn into one of those pairs of lungs with some sinew attached that you see whipping along the parkway every morning wearing T-shirts that say something like. For instance. but you pistoned them up and down like the pelvic thrusts of one of those horny baboons in a National Geographic special. if you're working heavy. How do you do that without doing 30 to 70 reps? The answer is something calle d tempo. let me say that people tend to rush between heavy sets in ord er to maintain a high heart rate. and depending largely on your muscle fiber ratio (some people have mo re fast-twitch fibers than slow or vice versa). They do not refer to different styles of Lev i's jeans. if you just did 8 reps at 200. or something similar. If you don't bet that your lactate levels your performance on the next more rest is needed between sets to allow for neur rest long enough between intense sets. Any more or any less is counterproductiv e over the long run. I'm not engaging in a high-intensity set. sets. If you want aerobic capacity. you can rest anywhere from 45 seconds t o 90 seconds. However. In some circles. and reps all play a part in the equation.ur one-rep maximum. On less intense sets. you should rest between two and three minute s in-between sets.

while the last number refers to how long it should take you to raise the weight. Some of you who are new to Charles' workouts may have noticed that he often labe ls his exercises as "A1" and "A2" or "B1" and "B2".seconds you should take to perform the eccentric portion of that particular lif t. or a set of squats followed by a set of leg curls. For instance. the muscular system. or even the cardiovascular system. I'll show you how I use them to constantly formulate new. "A1" is usually the first exercise for a particular set for a particu lar body part. so what this means is that if you're working in a 4-6 rep range. they hardly ever talk about the neurologica l system and that's a big mistake. Other examples include doing a set of barbell curls. Well. Next wee k. The next number refers to the pause taken between the eccentric and the concen tric portion of the movement. There are plenty of other Poliquin Principles. the trainee rests fo r the predetermined amount of time and then goes back to his second set of A1. if you do a set of dumbbell bench presses. Okay. neural recuperation is ignored. Hooters while she's doing dumbbell flyes. This supposedly allows the athlete to recuperate in-between sets. but my feeble brain can only dige st so much. if you're working in the 8-10 rep range. No one is sure why. t hey'll pretend to pull a loose thread on their toe-jammy socks while sneaking a peak at Ms. the tempo should be a little quicker so that you won't exceed the 30 to 70 second ti me-under-tension frame. followed by a set of tricep s extensions. research has shown that you'll achieve better recuperation by p erforming a set for an antagonistic body part in-between sets. Consequently. do a set for your lats in-between and th en go back to your next set of dumbbell bench presses. Ever wonder why 99 out of a 100 trainees do multiple sets of a particular exerci se in succession? For instance. followed by another set of bench press. a "5" means you should take a count of five to lower the weight . Part II . followed by a nother set of bench press. these are the ones that I use to formulate my workout programs. It's like buying panties for my wife out one of those big Victoria's Secrets clearance bins: they all look so nice. Anyhow. but you can bet it has to do with the neurological system. Along the same lines. But. After completing A2. The Yin and Yang Principle Muscle builders always talk about the endocrine system. they'll do one set of bench press. amazingly. This refers to the order of exercises. while "A2" refers to the second exercise and that exercise is alm ost always for a dissimilar body part. you have to adjust the tempo in order for that set's time under tension to reach at least 30 seconds. but I can only fit so many in my wheel barrow. incredibly effectiv e workouts without rupturing too many brain cells. For instance. You'll experience less of a drop in strength in between sets. In between.

In the beginning. I arranged a seemingly logical split: Day Day Day Day Day 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: Chest and Back Biceps and Triceps Off Quads. So. As I mentioned. Anyhow. especially if you're new to Charles Poliquin's ideas. bad analogy. I've m apped out the first exercise (using the appropriate Poliquin Principles) for eac h body part I'm going to work that day and only the first exercise. Before I go into the gym. grandmother. as I m entioned. I need a little lee way to do what I want to do occasionally. I looked at the whole thing as a checklist and I c ouldn't relax and enjoy myself until I had methodically gone through the whole t hing. I don't do well with set-in-stone structure. I was lucky if I didn't get confused and mistakenly devise an elabo rate tap-dance routine: De Camptown Ladies sing this song. geez. I can still th row lumps of stale bread at the pigeons that congregate around my park bench. As an exampl e. I eventually got pretty good at it.. etc. they 're essentially worthless unless they can be incorporated into a workable routin e. or that girl walking by who I've never met but who h as a perfectly glorious rack? Anyhow. I practically had to book some time on a Craig Supercomputer t o help me figure out a Poliquin workout for myself. I made my choices based partly on cold log ic and partly on emotion. hams. It felt too much?like work. My aim is to keep my shoulders healthy so that when I'm eighty. picking out only seven was a little like trying to pick my top seven f avorite Hanson songs?okay. but I think that anyon e who habitually works chest and back is already getting plenty of shoulder work . the "written-down" portion of my chest and back workout will look like this: A1) Incline Barbell Bench Press Weight Used Sets Reps Tempo Rest 1) 4 4-6 402 120 seconds 2) 3) . with all the o ther things I had to factor in like speed of contraction and muscle fiber types. Should I pick my dear.. though. I made some of them easier to understand. etc. Therefore.In Part I of this article. dear. First. Regardless of how well I explained them. I mean. Hopefully. I devised a system using the Poliquin principles listed above and made a workout that had some structure. Of course. I combine structure and spontaneity. but was variable enough to suit my pers onality. oh da-doo-da-dey?. picking some that worked particularly well for me or t hat suited my personality. but I found that I'm a little too go al-oriented and compulsive and I found that a completely pre-planned workout was causing me too much anxiety. I carefully picked out seven of Charles Poliquin's pr inciples and tried to make them a little easier to understand. calves Off* *I don't work shoulders directly?I know that sounds nuts. I adapted. or to have another choice or two in ca se the machine or weight I want is being used by some yutz who's telling his ent ire life story to his personal trainer in-between sets. Trying to pick seven was like trying to choose which seven of my family or friends would get to go into the shelter with me when one of those Hollywood-movie asteroids blows up my town.

my "A2" movement might be close-grip chins for a 15015 tempo. So. and quads and hams. no pause. Th is incorporates the "Yin and Yang" principle explained in Part I of this article which. rest two minutes. these are the only two exercises that are set in stone for this particula r workout. doing 4 sets of on e rep each. and these a re the fibers that have the least endurance. I'll ensure that my time under tension will be close to 30 seconds. that simply means I'll do one set of the A1 exercise (the incline pres ses). I find myself thinking about the next set w hile I'm still doing the current one. Tempo: Note the 402 tempo indicated in my example workout. For instance. I know I'm not hitting it hard enough on the subsequent m . 15 seconds on the way up and 15 seconds on the way down). by keeping careful records of the fir st movement for each body part. followed by a 2-second conc entric or lifting phase. By doing these slow. in a nutshell. mentally. Reps: Sets of relatively low reps target the type IIB muscle fibers." the one th at says your body becomes "hard-wired" to a particular routine? Well. I do these low-rep sets early in the workout while these particular muscle fiber types are still fresh ( the "IIB or not IIB" principle). as mentioned. After that sixth workout. with a tempo of 15015 (that's right. Remember the "Borg Principle. it's true. and the "change the beat arou nd" principle). completely-planned-beforehand wor kout doesn't work with me. This tells me that I should take 4 seconds to lower the weight. I can determine if my workouts continue to be ef fective. More on that later. which again suits these muscl e fibers best (the "time under tension" principle. But. you might consid er pairing chest and back. but let's take a look at the parts of this exerci se prescription and see which principles they employ: The exercises themselves: Note the "A1" and "A2" designation? For you Poliquin n eophytes. Therefore. and you really shouldn't do the same exercise or group of exercises more than 6 times in a row. I'll rest for another two minutes and then go on to the second set of the A2 exercise. I'd strap some additional weight onto my waist. but it's the absolute correct th ing to do if you're after additional strength and size. if I fail to either increase the weight or the reps on ea ch subsequent workout. and type IIB fibers?which are being targeted here in my first group of exerc ises?respond better to longer rest periods. the completely structured. It may be difficult for traditional muscle builders to wait this long between sets. Again. You're probably wondering why I record these first two exercises and no others. I'll pick two new movements for chest and back. controlled reps. Well. Rest: Again. different muscle fiber types respond better to different rest perio ds.4) A2) Wide-Grip Chin-Ups Weight Used** Sets Reps Tempo Rest 1) 4 4-6 402 120 seconds 2) 3) 4) **With chins. Likewise. and I'll continu e to do so for the next five workouts. biceps and triceps. I'll record my weights and reps achieved for this workout. says that you experience better recuperation when you do another set for the antagonistic body part in-between sets. For instance. Now. my "A1" movement might even be dips. and then go on to the A2 exercise (the chins).

For instance. Just make sure you ch ange your program after every 6th workout or so (that's every 6 workouts for tha t particular body part or parts). wheezing. I'll throw out the Yin and Yang principle when I do them.. there are as many exercise possibilities as there are walrus bones in . Sure. we can temporarily ignore the Yin and Yang principle during high-rep sets. Let me reiterate that the above exercise combo isn't my entire chest and back wo rkout. They've barely brok en a sweat and they're laughing at all the low-endurance fibers that are gasping . after I've done these first two low-rep exercises. my te mpo will probably be about 202 or somewhere in that range. i. with only 45 to 60 seconds of rest in-between sets. I free-wheel it. Since I'm doing 8 to 10 reps. wait ten seconds again.6. but given that you're doing work specifically for muscle fiber types that have great endurance . In other words. doing a combination of exercises that employ the Poliquin Principles but change constantly from workout to worko ut. do 6 more reps. Obviously. and massaging their bruised sarcomeres. I've got several options here for doing high-rep sets.ovements. B) Incorporate a slightly faster tempo. Since. In this just-mentioned scenario. I'll often do t wo exercises that: A) Work the muscle slightly differently. the Yin and Yang principle is designed to allow for greater recuperation of a muscle groups. Consequently. w ait 10 seconds. but I'm still fatiguing the hi gh-threshold slow-twitch muscle fibers. I might. After resting for 45 seconds to 60 secon ds. but generally. You. Time to put these high-resis tance fibers to work with some high-range rep training. by doing higher reps. I don't wa nt to do incredibly slow reps because that will bring my total time-under-tensio n beyond the 30-70 second range I've established for myself. rep-scheme where I do 6 reps to failure. on occasion. If that's the case. do three sets of vertical be nch presses (machine).6. For instance. after I've completed all three sets of flyes. I'll want to do some mid-range rep training (approximately 8-10). That leaves your slow-twitch fibers. and bent-over rows instead of chin-ups. too. I'll do the same exercise for three consecutive sets without bouncing back and forth between two exercises for two antagonistic muscle groups. I'm using heavier weig hts than I might for a straight-out set of 15-18. I'm working the fiber types t hat have greater recuperative abilities. and r educe the weight and do a final 6 reps. This keeps me amazingly fresh (mentally) and allows me to keep making far mo re progress than I might have had I stuck to a completely pre-determined workout . Okay. flat-bench dumbbell presses inste ad of incline barbell presses. Hardly. There are other options. But after this. again doing 12-15 reps (per arm) and taking only 45-60 seconds of rest in-between sets. reduce the weight. doing a 6.e. Then. simply write ou t your entire program beforehand using Chuck's principles. Consequently. however. so we've done a few sets in the low-rep range and the middle-rep range. C) Require less rest. I'd do the next set. I might do three sets of dumbbell flyes for 12 to 15 (or even 15 t o 18) reps each. I might do three sets of one-arm dumbbe ll rows. I'll rest only about 60 seconds in-betw een sets. may prefer a lot of structure. Th at means that a good portion of your total number of muscle fibers have been rec ruited and put to work.

but it just isn't going to work that well. but the key is. The key to being successful in this and any endeavor is to be creative. are occasionally meant to be broken. of course. at least for me. Deciding to use hedge clippe rs to remove an ingrown toenail certainly falls under the category of creative. to employ as many of the Poliquin principles as I can in each workout. is it? . Experiment. Rules. and I don't always hold fast to every principle 100% of the time.the dumpster of an Eskimo diner. but keep the basics in mind.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.