Charles Poliquin was a very influential strength coach and author who was brought to the attention of the general public via the Magazine Muscle Media 2000 and the online website Testosterone. Net.
I recently listened to a podcast which referenced Charles, who passed away in 2018 from heart issues. His family had a genetic history of heart issues and that lead to his untimely demise unfortunately. The first podcast was the PowerAthlete which is hosted by former NFL All Pro John Welbourne. John is a huge strength aficionado and references Louie Simmons, Westside Barbell, Fred Hatfield and growing up in George Zangas’s garage in Southern California where the Thompson Powerlifting Team was created. On an episode, John referenced that he called Charles Poliquin after he retired from the NFL to discuss how John should train going forward.
John described humorously how Poliquin described a large number and amount of performance enhancing drugs that he recommended John take now that he was no longer going to be drug tested by the NFL. Like it or not, performance enhancing substances are plentiful and every strength coach, whether they recommend them or not, are aware of their use and at times, abuse.
The second mention of Poliquin of via social media which I found interesting recently was all time powerlifting record holder Matt Wenning’s description of his interaction with Charles. Matt is very candid in his criticism of the modern day online fitness information environment in which real world accomplishments, formal education and a proven track record of helping others get stronger are ignored by the masses who prefer hype and slickly marketed crap. Matt described how he conducted a seminar in Colorado and Charles attended as a student. Matt went on to do joint seminars with Charles following his attendance at Matt’s presentation. Matt said that Charles had extensive experience in training Olympic athletes as well as professional hockey players- but not in training high level powerlifters and strength athletes. That is why Charles sought out attending Matt’s seminar- to always have a white belt mentality and to learn from the best. Matt held all time world records in geared lifting as well as raw, in edition to having a masters degree in biomechanics.
Matt created an excellent YouTube piece on Charles explaining the reasons for Charles’ success. The first reason is because Charles spoke at least 5 languages, English, Spanish, Russian, German, and French. Many of these countries had excellent strength training printed materials- but in their own language. This gave Charles the ability to learn from many different sources of information.
Matt did another YouTube video with Colorado Strength following Charles death to play tribute to him. Matt described how Charles sacrificed his health and ultimately his life to help so many achieve their competitive goals in approximately 20 sports. Charles never slept enough and put his health needs last- a lesson that was not lost on Matt.
Matt described how Charles taught him about adding tempo as a variation to his programming for people who were trying to develop their muscular hypertrophy. Once Matt retired from competitive Powerlifting, he focused on improving his body composition and hypertrophy. Matt sells an excellent hypertrophy manual, which I have. The program is based entirely on Charles’ German Volume Training, which he popularized in the 1990s, also known as doing ten sets of ten of a compound movement.
Matt conducted seminars with Charles and the greatest powerlifter of all time, Ed Coan. Ed also happens to be a mentor to Josh Bryant.
My good friend, mentor now, and former training partner Josh Bryant of Jailhouse Strong conducted seminars with Charles and often quotes him in his books and content to this day. In 2014, Charles created a YouTube video recommending Jailhouse Strong, Josh’s book, and referenced Josh as the premier bench press expert in the world. Since then, Josh has trained more 700 and 600lb raw benchers than anyone in the history of Powerlifting.
Josh credits much of his muscle building knowledge to many of Charles’ concepts that he introduced to the general public such as rest pause work, cluster sets, and wave loading. Like Matt, Josh has created YouTube and written content based upon the German Volume concept of ten sets of ten repetitions with a compound movement as a way to build muscular hypertrophy. Josh has authored approximately 10 training based books about programming for strength and muscles building and most of these books have numerous references to Charles and his training principles.
There are numerous YouTube videos of Charles speaking which I suggest you search and watch. A good amount of these videos show how expertly Charles would train people’s arms for maximum muscular development. Charles had an impressive physique himself which was highlighted by a very large and muscular pair of arms. I have Charle’s original book, The Poliquin Principles as his Modern Trends in Strength Training and Winning the Arms Race. These are fantastic sources of information which I recommend any person interested in getting bigger and stronger get and follow.