More Poliquin Top Tips
1. Soreness is a Good Thing
Do you need to be sore all the time? No, but you should certainly be sore 48 hours after you initiate a new program. When an athlete is peaking at the end of his training phase, then he doesn’t want to get sore. But when you’re trying to build muscle, then yes, you should be sore to some degree after the first two workouts. The next four workouts you adapt, and then by the sixth workout you’re ready for new soreness from doing something else. The rule is, the program is only as good as the time it takes you to adapt to it. The changes in the program don’t have to be dramatic. For example, you could do shoulder-width stance back squats for six workouts then go to front squats with the heels elevated and you’ll be sore.
2. Smash Yourself Into the Ground
Hypertrophy is an adaptation to a biological stress. If something doesn’t kill you, then the more you put stress on it, the more it’ll adapt. If you’re not making progress in the gym, smash yourself into the ground for two weeks purposefully over train until you’re mentally depressed and your body is about to shutdown then take five days off. When you come back into the gym, you’ll hit new personal bests.
3. Poliquin’s Power Foods
I like buffalo. It’s rich in omega-3. All wild meats are good actually. I really like macadamia nuts, as they help build up acetylcholine levels. Blueberries are one of the best foods for the brain and they’re rich in anti-oxidants. I recommend all thin-skinned berries actually. Pomegranate juice also ranks high on the list because of its heart-healthy benefits. I like greens-type drinks because they alkalize the body. Figs are a great post-workout food; they’re full of minerals, especially if you’re Italian. Sweet potatoes are great, too.
4. How Much Protein?
The easiest way to remember how much protein to consume is via the formula 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Hence, a 200 pound individual needs about 200 grams of protein. How much at a sitting? Well, there are studies in which levels of 30 grams of protein are fed to subjects, and this amount produces a tremendous rise in blood amino acid levels.
I’d imagine that 30 grams of protein per meal is a good starting point. If you eat 30 grams a sitting and you eat 6 times daily, that’s about 180 grams of protein. But imagine if you’re a 300 lb. football player or bodybuilder. You’d either have to eat more protein per sitting or just eat more meals. The answer to this problem? Consume meal replacement powders as a protein supplement.
5. Whole Eggs vs. Egg Whites
Only dorks eat egg whites. A guy training naturally needs whole eggs. What about the reported health concerns? Well, the studies that showed eating eggs raised cholesterol were done by the cereal board. And back then they didn’t differentiate between the types of cholesterol, so the studies were invalid. Eggs canraise cholesterol HDL, the good cholesterol. If you’re going to have them, don’t be a pansy.
6. Gain Muscle, Not Fat
It’s not necessary to gain body fat when trying to add muscle mass. That’s an antiquated idea. It’s also quite possible to gain muscle while losing fat. I’ve seen it hundreds of times with my athletes. Now, a cheat day every five to seven days (depending on your metabolism) is okay when you’re trying to gain muscle.
I think it’s hard to put muscle on when eating clean all the time. But there’s a difference between a cheat day every fifth day and eating crap at every meal. Even on cheat days however, I tell my athletes to avoid trans-fats, which can do severe damage to the body. I’d rather see a skinny guy who’s trying to gain muscle wolf down a bunch of rice pudding than eat French fries.
7. The Single Most Important Supplement
The biggest limiting factor in naturally training people to getting lean and adding muscle is the consumption (or lack thereof) of omega-3s. Looking at the body structure of cavemen, they had a lot of muscle mass compared to modern man. They got their omega-3s through the meats they ate. Primitive man would break the skull open and eat the brains. Brains are 60% fat, and 60% of that is DHA, the omega-3. What they’ve found is that the more brain-sucking was going on in those populations, the faster the IQ went up.
Primitive man would also break the bones of the prey and suck the marrow, also rich in omega-3, DHA particularly. DHA is the omega-3 most responsible for brain development while EPA is most associated with reducing inflammation. Biotest’s Flameout is a great product. I like the addition of CLA to the EPA and DHA because most of the population is deficient in CLA. Don’t take all your fish oil at once though; spread intake throughout the day. Would you eat all your protein for the day at once?
8. Caveman Carbs
One thing people have to distinguish between is neo-carbs vs. paleo-carbs. With paleo carbs the simple rule is: Were they available to a caveman? Would he have access to grapes and raspberries? Yes. Bagels and pasta? No. Usually, people who are gifted for hypertrophy are gifted for carb intake as well. They can eat a boatload of neo-carbs and feel fine. Also, if you’re white, fuck it. You’ve got to come from a region where there was a lot of agriculture for a long time to be able to handle neo-carbs. If you’re from German or Norwegian extraction and come from a line of meat eaters and hunters, then neo-carbs are not for you.
9. The Breakfast Test for Carb Tolerance
The most simple field test for carb tolerance is eating carbs for breakfast. You wake and you rate yourself on a scale from one to ten for energy, ten meaning very good, one meaning you feel like shit. Then have a high carb breakfast, say pancakes and maple syrup. An hour later, if you feel sleepy and want a nap, then carbs aren’t for you. If you feel more energetic and ready to climb walls, then carbs are for you, you lucky bastard.
10. Get Lean, then Eat Carbs
People are kidding themselves about how many carbs they need. There’s a difference between a mouth and a vacuum. Forty to fifty grams per day of good carbs is plenty for most of the population. That’s why there are so many fat dieticians and personal trainers. Nutrient timing makes a difference, too. A lean 200-pound man can keep his leanness eating 250 grams of carbs a day, if 200 of them are taken post-workout and the other 50 grams spread throughout the day in low glycemic carbs. Get lean first if you want to eat carbs. The leaner you are, the more carbs you can eat.
11. The Best Time to Have a Post-Workout Meal
The sooner, the better. Scientific research points out that there is a direct correlation between the proximity of the post-workout meal and the rate of glycogen resynthesis. I believe that liquid meals work best, and adding protein to the liquid carbohydrate solution will markedly increase the glycogen content of muscle. However, if you’re training to put on mass, use 2 g/kg (0.9 grams per pound) of carbs, and 0.5 g/kg (0.23 grams per pound) of protein. If you need to lose body fat, keep the carbs at 0.6 g/kg of bodyweight (about .27 grams per pound).
12. Prevent Overtraining with Glutamine
Research has demonstrated that consuming glutamine following exercise can accelerate muscle glycogen resynthesis and glutamine levels, which are critical in the prevention of overtraining, and the creation of an anabolic environment. I recommend ingesting 0.33 g/kg of glutamine, so for a 90 kg man that would be 30 grams. If someone has a higher percentage bodyfat, I up the glutamine and reduce the carbs.
13. Take Enough BCAAs
During workout the most important thing is Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). People who claim they don’t get results from them simply don’t take enough. A 200 pound man should take 40 grams of BCAAs during a workout. I also add 9 grams of Carnosine. My athletes might go through 40 or 50 capsules per workout. We just dump about fifty capsules in a bottle and make sure they’re all gone by the end of the workout. I find that to be very anabolic.
Most people who try this protocol break their plateaus right away. BCAAs have a host of research-supported benefits including preventing catabolism, stimulating anabolism, lowering DOMS, and providing endurance, energy, and an increased rate of recovery. Military personnel in many countries now receive BCAA solutions to prevent mental fatigue during maneuvers.
14. Creatine Loading is Crucial
I think the loading phase is crucial. There is however, some evidence that taking a small dosage for a longer time will be effective, but those studies were done on subjects whose activity levels were equivalent to that of full-time stamp collectors. It’s my personal opinion, based on research studies and personal experience, that in hard-training athletes, the loading phase is of paramount importance. I recommend 0.45 g of creatine per kg of bodyweight for a 5 day period. After that, a “maintenance phase” of about 5 to 10 grams a day should suffice.
15. Beta Alanine Kicks Ass
I think Beta Alanine is great. It allows you to do more reps. I think it’s most beneficial when you work in the 4-5RM range. If you’re the type of guy who does ten sets of three (10 x 3), then it’ll allow you to get that up to tens sets of four or five (10 x 4-5). I’ve used it a lot in the last six months and my athletes are making much faster progress, especially at high doses. Up the dose until you get tingly, then back down a little. I think people should take 10 grams of it a day. Taking 3 grams a day is just far too small of a dose. That dose is like trying to fart against a hurricane.
16. Remember Your Minerals
About 54-75% of the American population is deficient in magnesium. The percentages for zinc are somewhat greater. I’ve found that both zinc and magnesium are deficient in 100% of the athletes who come into my clinic. The higher their training volume, the greater their deficiency. When I gave ZMA to my athletes, virtually all of them reported better quality of sleep, an essential factor in maximizing recovery. About 70% of them noted an increase in morning libido. If you’re active, the odds that ZMA will enhance your performance in the gym are high. Expect the results to be the greatest after 6 weeks of use.
17. Reduce Stress, Increase Gains
Stress increases heart disease, diabetes, mental disorders, sexual dysfunction, and gastrointestinal disorders. It suppresses the immune system and lowers Testosterone. Stress can lead to muscle loss and fat gain. Everyone is under stress. This is the norm, not the exception. As a result, our bodies tend to run on adrenalin and cortisol. That can be great if you’re being chased by a lion or a linebacker, but not so useful if you’re just going about your daily activities. So, take actions to control stress. Improving sleep and learning time management are the first steps.
18. Sleep Like a Caveman
We’re designed to live in caves. Your bedroom should be pitch dark. And unplug everything TV, alarm clock, cell phones: they all emit radiation. Get rid of these things and you’ll reduce stress and sleep better. Making your bedroom the Bat Cave alone will increase the amount of melatonin and GH you produce when you’re asleep. That alone will make you grow.