training program

Training Program & My Worse Mistake

The biggest mistake I have ever made is what in reality got me to be successful in strength coaching

The mistake being – believing there was out there a “magical” training program that worked for every body, all the time, and for ever, as many coaches did back then. Although some experts promise a lifetime of continuous results from doing the same routine day after day, ad nauseum, it’s a very cruel lie. Not only will your body adapt, but you’ll probably quit because you’d be bored silly. I believed that someone out there, had come up with it, I just had to find it. Keep in mind, that was 1975, and Googling was not an option.

I was raised a French-Canadian Catholic, which meant that I had to go to church every Sunday, or… I would of course, based on Catholic shame/guilt tactics, burn in hell. To be quite frank, I thought going to church was a waste of time. Actually, the only thing I liked about church from age 8 was looking at the beautiful Lucie Lemieux who was my grade school crush. Actually, all the boys in my class had a crush, except Bob, turns out he had a crush on Alain. Back then, the Beatles were popular, so I had long hair, and she used to sit behind me at school and comb it. But I digress…

My Hopeful Beginning

So one day, at 14, I decided in my vast experience and infinite wisdom, that I had heard enough of the boring stories given in a pedantic tone (the real reason being that Lucie had stopped going to church; her mom had given her freedom of choice…). So I walked by the St-Joseph church and decided to go spend the 50 minutes or so the service took at the University library. So first, I went into the periodicals room. And I stumble on a Belgian periodical on Kinesiology in French. Read it. There was an article on arthritis and joint dysfunction, and I was hypnotized. Here is my calling I recalled: “learn kinesiology”. I had already been introduced to strength training by my karate sensei, so I decided to look up weight training material. I barely spoke English so I read up everything in French pretty quickly.

To learn more, I had to learn English rapidly. So every Sunday, English-French dictionary in hand, instead of going to church, from 10 till 10:50, I read every weight training, kinesiology, nutrition book I could. I remember distinctly having to look up “peak” in the dictionary to understand what the author meant by “biceps peak”. I actually learned to say in English: ‘Does pronation increases brachialis recruitment?” before I learned how to say “Where are the washrooms?”

Searching for the Perfect Training Program

At 17, my father told my brothers and I that going to church was pointless hypocrisy, as he figured out that standing in a church makes you as much a better Catholic as standing in a garage makes you a car.  However, I kept my habit of going to the University library for hours on every Sunday. It didn’t take me long to figure out that English had its limits too. So I learned German, and read every German periodical/book that the Sports Information Resource Center had.

By 1982, I had not found the magical training program yet, however I figured that success leaves clues. Hence I started to look at what was common not in all the readings, but the successful coaches. Knowledge and wisdom are two different things. So I sought training leaders, and started visiting all the coaches who were producing strong athletes. My quest took me to Germany, the former Soviet Union, Finland, and all over the US. By 1982, I refined my search by applying the Bruce Lee axiom: “Use what is useful, reject what is not”. Then, came the concept of individualizing what works.

In the end, if I didn’t naively believe in the magical training program, I would not gotten to where I am now, where people come to save time, money and energy in their training endeavors. Looking for the magical training program turned me on many physiological scientific concepts.

For example

  • What is the difference between a front or a back squat.
  • Why the eccentric component is so important?
  • Why neurotransmitter profile is vital in exercise prescription?

Just recently, an internship student complained that acetyl-l-carnitine resulted almost immediately in loose bowels. I told him, he is probably acetyl-choline dominant, and had no need for the supplement. He went through the test, and… he was very dominant in it.

Lessons From Experience

You can now understand now why I get miffed when someone post on my Facebook page ” Come to EAST London!” Why? West London is too far for you? You can’t handle the two extra stations on the Tube?Poor you! Want me to pack you a lunch too? Learning properly requires two tools: a funnel and a laser. The Internet offers a lot of information, a lot of it being useless. Some things can’t be learned by DVD, books, or Webminars. A DVD won’t correct your technique. Hence the extreme popularity of the internships I offer with the smart ones, the ones who want to be ahead through learning success tools.

All of those tools are great and have a place, but you have to keep a balance between practice and theory. If you are passionate and have the will to learn, you will go where you need to in order to get the best information. Most of all, don’t be afraid to experiment! This is how you learn what works and what doesn’t

Coach Charles R. Poliquin