For several years, I was the Watson to Strength Coach Charles Poliquin's Sherlock Holmes. I chronicled his theories, revelations and discoveries. I like to think I played a small part in his success but in all probability, guys like Charles don't need any help; they get famous all on their own.

He was undoubtedly the voice of scientific bodybuilding in the 90's. He changed the sport, single-handedly dragging us out, kicking and screaming, from the mind-numbing drudgery of 3 sets of 8.

Charles Poliquin, tanned, rested, and ready to rock the bodybuilding world again.

We were happy to have him join us at Testosterone Magazine when we first began, but a couple of years later, the sirens started to call out to him. His dream had always been to start his own performance center and that's exactly what he did.

Today, the Poliquin Performance Center in Phoenix, Arizona is known throughout the world as the place to be if you want to excel in your chosen sport. But it's been too long since we spoke to him. The bodybuilding world misses him. Hence this interview.

TC: Charles, it's probably been about four years since we spoke. Did you hear about that 9-11 thing? No, no, kidding. In four thousand words or less, what have you been up to the last four years?

CP: Well, I opened up a high performance center in Phoenix. I chose Phoenix because that's a city where all the professional sports teams play–they all come through here sooner or later. Athletes know what Phoenix is like, and it sure is more interesting for the client who is single than Colorado Springs. And of course, the weather permits a lot of year-round track training.

TC: I'm glad things are going well, and I understand you're about to open up some more Poliquin Performance Centers?

CP: We're opening up three more, one in Boston around March 1st; then in Chicago about 2 weeks later; and one more around May in St. Louis.

TC: That's fantastic! So do you run these things or do your interns?

CP: All the guys I've certified before will run them. Art McDermott will run the one in Boston, Mike Bystol runs the one in Chicago, and Nelson Ayotte will head the St-Louis unit. We are also opening a satellite center in Sweden (summers only) that will cater to the Swedish and Finnish hockey players.

TC: Will you actually go to these places and work with athletes at times?

CP: Possibly, I have a lot of athletes in each of those cities anyway. Part of the deal is that I have to go round and ensure quality control. Basically what I do is train all our staff, and then all the guys who've worked for me as contractors will head up the centers.

TC: I understand you've started an elite trainer/coach certification program. How is yours better than the seemingly thousands that are currently in existence?

CP: Wherever I went to give seminars, people would tell me they were certified in this or that...it got kind of irritating because people would say stuff like, "When you squat, don't allow your kneecaps to go beyond your knee." Well hell, when you walk up the steps you do that every day.

TC: So, it's quite a thing to be a level 5?

CP: My quickest intern to get to that level was Preston Greene, but he got my home phone number when he was 16 years old! This guy was pretty resourceful. He collected everything I ever wrote. In fact, when I can't find an article I wrote, I ask him and he has a copy. Anyhow, he was involved in four or five Olympic medals in Athens this past year. He is now one of the youngest collegiate Head Strength Coaches in the country.

TC: As far as levels 1 and 2, that's when you have all your hands-on training with them?

CP: Yes. At level 1 and 2, they need to pass the tests, but they don't have to exhibit results like they do with the upper levels.

TC: So level 1 and 2 would make a guy an exceptional personal trainer or college coach?

CP: Correct. That's a very fair assumption. For example, by the time a guy's a level 2, he can write programs and do muscular assessments properly. It takes an intern about a year to complete his level 2, and the cost would be about two thousand dollars.

TC: Let me ask you a tough question. Just how recognized is your certification?

CP: In all reality? Not that recognized...yet. People who come here want the knowledge. However, people who have trained under me find jobs everywhere else because I have a good reputation. The people in the know realize that certifications in the industry are unregulated–guys are certified in kettle bells, you name it. So, when they see someone with a Poliquin Certification, it means something. When an athlete wants to increase their market value, or their height on the podium, they know where to knock.

TC: The Kenyan army?

CP: No, no, the army. The Kenyans need to put some weight on.

TC: Sorry! Hearing's not as good as it used to be.

CP: I also did some consulting for the US Army. They want to change their physical readiness test. Right now they do these things like sit-ups and whatever–nothing they'd do in combat–so I did some consulting with them on that. The test we propose would have some carryover to Iraq or wherever.

TC: Are you working on any books?

CP: Yeah, a book about strong man training is coming out. I co-wrote it with Art McDermott and it should be coming out in early spring. The market for the book is strength coaches and personal trainers that want to use strongman events as far as conditioning. Things like flipping tires and farmer's walk and all that carry a lot over to sport.

TC: When I used to train with you, I never saw you do many Olympic lifts. Was that because you were training mostly bodybuilder-types back then?

CP: Yes. We do a lot of Olympic lifting here. The thing about Olympic training is that of all training styles, the Olympic lifts will give you the most transfer to improving your first two steps when you run, and improve your vertical jump. But the problem is, people get carried away with it and think it's going to improve your table tennis.

TC: The O lifts have experienced a resurgence in the bodybuilding world. The reasoning is that bodybuilders' fast twitch fibers don't often get activated in conventional lifts by doing traditional movements and traditional rep schemes. So, are they a good idea for bodybuilders?

CP: I think if bodybuilders do multiple sets of 6 on Olympic lifts, they should gain more hypertrophy. But they can go as low as 1 rep. I think the main benefit is that it also transfers to slow lifts. For instance, if a guy is doing squats at 400 pounds, and no matter what he does, his squat does not improve, he can just concentrate on the power clean. In a few weeks, his squat will go up, because you cannot do an Olympic lift unless you accelerate, no such thing as a slow tempo O lift.

TC: Since we were talking about rep schemes, there's a big push in bodybuilding to do a lot fewer reps than what was traditionally advocated. I'm talking about 8 sets of 3 and typically, according to what you used to say at least, that was more or less for strength and not for hypertrophy. What are your thoughts on that?

CP: True, when you're prescribing it for a short time. You can definitely hypertrophy on sets of three, it just takes longer. But the advantage is you get strong at the same time. The thing is that most bodybuilders don't grow because they're too weak. If you do 8 sets of 3 or do cluster training or whatever, you use maximal weights, and your body will learn to recruit high-threshold motor units.

TC: Probably the most popular article I've been associated with in any way, shape, matter or form, was your article on German Volume Training about 10 years ago in Muscle Media 2000. Have you come up with any new techniques that you use on your guys that might have the same sort of impact on the weight-training world?

CP: Here's one thing that I figured out, I've been reading a lot about Chinese medicine for the last 10 years, and in Chinese medicine they always talk about the elements. If you look at it, it actually applies to athletes.

TC: Excuse me. What do you call him?

CP: Whore (laughing)

TC: Is that one of the Chinese elements?

CP: No, no, basically, he can do anything; a guy who can do high volume–you can beat the hell out of him with volume for 3 weeks, and then beat the hell out of him with intensity for 3 weeks. And the other two elements are wimps and they're not worth training. I should not call them that, but they are not suited for power sports; they're suited for swimming, etc. They have a very low tolerance for strength training. For most of the readers of T-Nation, they fall within the first three types.

Make sure to read Part 2 of our interview with Charles Poliquin next week. We'll be talking about some wildly diverse topics; stuff ranging from intravenous vitamin drips and hypobaric chambers, to using licorice cream to raise Testosterone levels.