7 Things I Learned from Charles Poliquin

Okay, this is not from today - but it feels like it could be!

Just in case you are wondering…it is still snowing here in southern Ontario.  As I write this the ground is covered!  For those of you who think we have snow year round ‘way up’ here – let me tell you, this is uncharacteristic for us.  Usually the tulips are starting to push up this time of year.  I think I am to blame because I had the snow tires taken off my truck last Friday.  This is the Canada equivalent to bringing on a rain storm by washing your car.  Okay, enough of the weather report, on to today’s post…

A month or so ago I had the opportunity to attend a one day seminar with Charles Poliquin.  I had read some of his articles and have spoken with many strength coaches who are devout followers – which can be a little frustrating at times, but I had never seen the man himself, so I was pretty excited.

Well, I was not disappointed – although I do not agree with all of his ideas – I am sure he would not agree with all of MY ideas either so that is fair.  He was a more entertaining presenter than I had expected – a little politically incorrect which did not really phase me since I had a sense of this from some of his articles, but I am sure the personal trainer organization that sponsored the event received some complaints.

Here are the top 7 things I learned from Charles that you could maybe apply to your off-ice hockey training (again, I don’t agree with all of them, but I thought they were interesting):

1.       Androgens peak (anabolic hormones) from 20-45 minutes into the workout.  After an hour of training, cortisol (stress hormone) starts to build.  I like to keep the intense portion of my workouts to 30-60 minutes to maintain the quality and intensity, but this hormonal response further supports that idea.  So the folks who brag about how they do intense training for 2 hours a day are probably not maintaining quality and intensity, but they are probably also taking away from their gains by flooding their body with cortisol.

2.       The best strength athletes in the world only train at 2% higher intensity than those who are not.  We do not have to think in terms of adding 70lbs to our squat, just think in terms of consistently adding 2% each week.

3.       According to Coach Poliquin the best time to train is three hours and 11 hours after waking – so if you wake at 6am, then your best times to train are 9am and 5pm.

4.       Front squats are the best predictor of leg integrity.  You know I love front squats and according to Coach Poliquin if you want to see who has the lowest risk of lower body injury, look at who has the biggest front squat.

5.       It is impossible to overtrain the scapular retractors.  I use a lot of scapular stabilization in my training, so this was a welcomed concept.  Don’t worry, I will not start cutting out hang cleans just to add more retractions, but it is good to know that we can give them attention several times per week.

6.       Breathing out of your right nostril only  will wake you up and activate your brain.  Breathing out of your left nostril will help you relax.  I don’t actually believe this – I tried it and other than me looking dumb I don’t think it did anything – but maybe it will work for you!

7.       It takes 6-7 hours of stretching per week  to really improve flexibility.  I did a research article review on this in a video that you can find here – stretching for hockey goalies how much and how often?

Like I said, I did not agree with everything he had to say, but I think the sign of a good strength coach is one who is open to different ideas and who is willing to evaluate the scientific and practical merit of other philosophies.  Perhaps this short list has given you some new ideas to consider.