Q: I have a question about carbo powders. For the last six months I've been following the nutrition and training advice outlined in your book, "The Poliquin Principles." The results have been amazing I still haven't hit a plateau on a single body part! (Looking back at the training time I put in during my pre-Poliquin years makes me cringe).
Getting to my point, you highly recommend quality carbo powders and I've found they work excellent for me, too. However, my local GNCs only carry Cytomax and they charge a bundle for it even with the 20% discount. Do you know where I can get quality carbo powders at a great price? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
A: Here's a sneaky trick to save a bunch of money. You can go to one of those specialty stores that sell wine-making products, and ask for straight maltodextrin in bulk. (Tell them you are one of the Gallo brothers and that you're breaking away from your brother.) You can buy it very cheap there. Many veterinary supply stores also sell it in bulk. It's high quality stuff and should work as well as many of the expensive carbo powders. Remember, there's nothing magical about most supplements. With a little thought and a little extra work, you can save yourself a lot of money. But please, whatever you do, don't tell the store clerks you need it for bodybuilding purposes as they're bound to jack up the price. I revealed this little trick once before during a seminar in Montreal, and the seminar attendants descended on the local stores to buy up their stock of maltodextrin. Within a month, the store owners progressively jacked up the price until it was almost as expensive as the bodybuilding brands.
Q: I collect everything written on weight training and bodybuilding. Is there anything new you can recommend that covers my favorite hobby?
A: Yes, there's a new book called "Serious Strength Training" by Tudor Bompa and Lorenzo Cornacchia which certainly would be of interest to you. Tudor Bompa, aside from having the distinction of owning bodybuilding's best name (what else could a Tudor Bompa be other than a weight lifter?) is well known in coaching and sport science circles for having popularized the methodological basis of training periodization in North America. Tudor not only has theoretical knowledge but also plenty of practical experience since he's coached 11 Olympic medalists, four of them being gold medalists. Tudor and I have exchanged training ideas many times over the years as we have lectured together at various coaching conferences such as the International Coaching School in Victoria.
In this book, Tudor and his associate use an interesting system of 6 different training phases. Each phase is fully outlined with plenty of workout plans and each is accompanied by dietary recommendations. This bodybuilding training book is innovative in many respects. For example, there is an actual rating of the most effective bodybuilding exercises based on Lorenzo's extensive electromyography research. In other words, his research has shown which exercises recruit the greatest number of muscle fibers and this will tell you which movements give you the most bang for your training buck. That alone can maximize your training efforts.
There is also a great chapter on drug-free training by my friend Dr. Mauro DiPasquale who is undoubtedly one the world's foremost authorities on drugs, nutrition, and exercise. All in all, a great book.
"Serious Strength Training" can be ordered through Human Kinetics (US: 1-800-747-4457, Canada: 1-800-465-7301).
Q: Instead of just focusing on arm training, etc., how about showing a long-term training cycle for legs and back, along the lines of the 22-week training cycle you used with Olympic hammer-thrower Jud Logan, or the training cycle you prescribed to skier Pierre Lueders that you alluded to in your theory of strength coaching?
I also noticed that you don't recommend learning the more complex Olympic lifts. If that's the case, what variations of Olympic lifts do you rely on for training athletes?
A: Let me work backwards here. As a matter of fact, I use a wide variety of Olympic lift derivatives while training athletes in the speed-strength sports like track and field and bobsleigh. For example, I use over 70 variations of the Olympic pulls! However, these types of training cycles don't generally strike the fancy of the typical bodybuilding magazine reader. Therefore in the past, I've only presented these techniques in coaching conferences or in sport-specific training seminars. As far as the classical snatch and clean and jerk are concerned, I think they're best reserved for the training of Olympic lifters. I may, however, try to present a modified Olympic lifting based program for bodybuilders at some point. As far as outline a 22-week cycle, it's way beyond the scope of this Q and A, but I'll certainly cover mid-term strength development cycles in future issues of Testosterone.
Q: Thank you very much for providing a logical source of information, especially when there's so much confusion and crap being passed around. My question refers to the "Maximal Weights" article you wrote: How often should someone train each body part during this cycle?
A: As a rule of thumb, at least for most individuals, once every 5 days per body part should be optimal. However, stronger individuals may need more time in between body part/key lifts. I have seen many athletes get better strength gains on key lifts particularly squats and deadlifts by lifting only once every 7 to 10 days. Individuals like those just mentioned with a very high fast-twitch fiber make-up can get by with lower training frequencies. For example, I have an Olympic bobsledder who can full squat over 550 pounds at a body weight of only 208 pounds, but he squats only once a week. Of course, you also have to take into consideration that his legs are generally quite overloaded by the sprinting he does.