What do you get when you cross a bodybuilder with a martial artist? Answer: A person you want on your side in a bar fight! Charles Staley is that and much more. Charles is one of those rare teachers who has a special insight into the plight of the common man.

Starting out at what some would call a "genetically cursed" 140 pounds, he gradually built himself up through diligent studying, experimentation, and sheer hard work to his current 205 pounds. Along the way, he's been a Master's level discus competitor, a martial arts instructor and competitor, as well as a successful Olympic weightlifting coach. Currently, Staley supervises the training of several elite athletes in a variety of sports, including track and field, jui jitsu, weightlifting, powerlifting, and judo.

For over eight years he's developed policies and course content for the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and teaches several certification seminars a year. Teaching others is his passion, and to date he's had over 150 articles published in a variety of bodybuilding and martial arts magazines. Mr. Staley is the author of "The Science of Martial Arts Training," a book on physical preparation methods for combat athletes. Charles has some unique theories on training techniques for optimum performance and muscular growth, and that was the focus of much of this interview.

T: Do you find that a lot of people at seminars "size you up," associating a muscular physique with credibility as a strength coach? If so, what may be wrong with this assumption?

CS:

T: True! What else is wrong with judging the book by its cover, so to speak?

CS:

T: Good point there. Certain strength coaches, such as Bill Starr, often advocate the quick Olympic lifts as a means of adding mass. Do you feel that bodybuilders should incorporate the quick lifts if muscle mass is their only concern, or is the time under tension too brief to have any impact on hypertrophy?

CS:

T: What do you think?

CS:

T: I've often noticed that sprinters, on the average, have superior hamstring development compared to bodybuilders. Should bodybuilders be adding sprints to their leg training regimens or are they already doing all they can with leg curls and stiff-legged deadlifts?

CS:

T: Let's talk martial arts. Would you consider excessive muscle mass a hindrance to speed and/or flexibility, or would the added strength of such a heavily muscled man be an advantage?

CS:

T: When you're examining the top martial artists, would you say that these men are genetic freaks in terms of power and speed, or have most of them had to work extremely hard to develop these traits?

CS:

T: Bruce Lee was known for his diligent weight training. Do you think you could have worked with him to make him even better than he was?

CS:

T: You believe that getting stronger is a direct precursor to muscular hypertrophy. However, there comes a point in most lifter's careers where they will cease to gain any further strength. How could an individual at this stage hope to continue growing?

CS:

T: So how does one bust through that plateau?

CS:

T: Okay, you just mentioned that increasing volume is an important element at inducing hypertrophy. I hate to sound like Mike Mentzer, but at what level of volume would there come a point of diminishing returns? Fifty sets in a workout? A hundred?

CS:

T: Do you think that Mentzer actually gets all the success with his clients that he claims he does? Do you also believe, as he does, that some individuals have such horrible "recovery genetics" that they can only tolerate something along the lines of five sets per workout, once every seven to ten days?

CS:

T: Interesting! Can you elaborate on that?

CS:

T: Oh, I'm sure Mentzer could find a way! Is cardiovascular exercise, in your opinion, the best way to lose body fat? If so, what types and intensity?

CS:

T: Your concept of "stabilizer failure" makes a whole lot of sense. You contend that because the smaller stabilizing muscles fatigue before the larger muscle groups, it's prudent to perform dumbbell movements first, barbell movements later in the workout, and save machines for the end of the session. That seems like common sense, so why haven't more trainers adopted it?

CS:

T: Charles, some personal trainers and personal training certification organizations have given the profession a bad name. How is ISSA different from these other organizations and what's it doing to upgrade the image of personal training?

CS:

T: Thank you so much for an excellent interview.

CS:

Whether you're a performance athlete, a bodybuilder, or a martial artist, Charles Staley has a lot to offer. Maybe we can twist his arm and get him to pen a few articles for Testosterone. Then again, if we tried to twist his arm he'd probably kick us in the liver and toss us to the floor like an extra in a Jet Li movie. On second thought, maybe we'll just ask him nicely.