“The basics are the basics and you can’t beat the basics.” – Charles R. Poliquin of StrengthSensei.com
Charles was a guest on Episode 91 of the Tim Ferriss Show Podcast. The 3 hour conversation is chock full of polarizing ideas designed to transform your body.
I curated the content that was most important to me below. Hope it can help you too.
Q1: What are people doing wrong when they warm up?
A1: Foam Rolling is a waste of time and leads to more scar tissue. Skip it.
A2: Warming up on electronic cardio equipment (treadmill) increases insulin resistance. Increased insulin resistance makes you fat. Skip it.
A3: Training your core by exercising on unstable surfaces is nonsense. Stick to squats, deadlifts, pull ups, and V ups. Skip the surfboard on a bosu ball.
Q2: Can you design the perfect warm up routine? For a 5×5 Squat Workout.
A1: There are two goals for warming up. Both relate to the brain and body. One, the brain and body should know what the movement is. Two, the brain and body should know the load or volume is going to increase.
A2: Mobilize relevant body parts. If you’re going to do a squat workout, mobilize the ankle. If you’re going to do a deadlift workout, mobilize the hips. When stretching, do 8 seconds of a static stretch hold, then finish with a two second contraction. For example, use a calf machine to mobilize the ankles. Perform a static stretch for 8 seconds (heel down). Then finish off with a voluntary contraction for 2 seconds (heel up). Ending with a contraction resets the pattern, better preparing the body for strength movements. You are more likely to get injured if you don’t finish a static stretch with a contraction.
A3: Follow this sequence if the goal is to squat 5×5 at 100kg. Start with just the bar at 4-5 reps, then move to 60 kg at 3 reps, 75 kg at 2 reps, 85 kg at 1 rep, 90 kg at 1 rep, 95 kg at 1 rep. This prepares your brain and body to handle the upcoming weight.
A4: You can also do an over warmup, also known as a proprioception set. After the aforementioned 95 kg rep, you can do one rep at 105-110 kg and then jump back down to 100 kg for the 5×5. Paul Carter is a huge proponent of the “P-Set”.
Q3: What are the most common mistakes people make post workout?
A1: Training hard causes an increase in cortisol levels. Make every effort to suppress cortisol immediately after exercise. Replace glycogen storage with complex carbohydrates. Post Workout Carbs should be high in glycemic index, high in insulin index, and low in fructose. Good carbs are white rice, maple syrup, kiwi, apricot, pineapple, or figs. Charles developed a supplement powder called PentaCarb.
You also need fast acting proteins like whey. A lot of people are intolerant to regular cow whey protein and don’t know it. If you want to try goat whey, you can try Tera’s Goat Whey. If you’re fat, focus on making yourself more insulin sensitive. You need to deserve your carbs. More on this below.
A2: You have to deserve your carbs. Criteria consists of: HbA1c of 4.8 or less. Or if you’re a male, 10% body fat or less. Linear alba (3 rows of abs) must be visible when you’re standing up. If you don’t meet these requirements, skip the post workout carbs you think you deserve. Stick to whey or branch chain amino acids and high quality fats.
Q4: What are some common mistakes people make when trying to decrease body fat?
A1: Steady state cardio. Running on a treadmill increases insulin resistance, which will make you fat. Train for strength instead. Squats, Deadlifts, Pull Ups.
A2: Eating a low fat diet. The right types of fat are great for you. Incorporate high quality fats in your diet. Put grass-fed butter on your veggies. Blend MCT Oil into your coffee. Cook your protein with coconut oil or EVOO. Your blood sugar levels dictate your carbohydrate intake. See more on this in the next question below.
Q5: What has Charles changed his mind about in the last decade or so?
“How many grams of carbs you can afford will be determined by levels of muscle mass, volume and intensity of training, percentage of body fat and insulin sensitivity.”
Most people drink too many carbohydrates and eat the wrong types of carbohydrates. Carbohydrate intake depends on your insulin sensitivity. The 70% Rule: Good For 70% of the population. The other 30% is 15% outliers on each end. The 70% rule for carbohydrates is they should be 40% of your diet, IFF you’re healthy.
Blood Sugar metrics to determine if you’re “healthy”.
HbA1c: Measures the damage glucose has made to your hemoglobin, an oxygen carrying molecule. Measure HbA1c every 90-120 days. 5.9% is the “normal” warning point. 4.8% or lower is an “optimal” level. HbA1c is a lie detector test for carbohydrate intake. To decrease HbA1c, reduce carbohydrates, increase protein and fat. Supplemental magnesium is another good way to lower HbA1c.
Morning Glucose / Insulin: Basal tests that give you reference values. Measure morning glucose daily. After a 12 hour fast, your result should be 70 mg/dL or less. 70-99 mg/dL is the “normal” range. Your cardiovascular risk increases 5% for every digit above 70 mg/dL. If your morning blood glucose is 99 mg/dL, your cardiovascular risk increases by 145% (99 – 70 = 29 * 5% = 145%). “Optimal” morning glucose is 70 mg/dL or below.
Reactive Insulin Test – The most underrated test for determining health. Submit blood for morning draw. Then eat 2 rice cakes with a tablespoon of jam. Wait one hour and test again. The end result should be no more than 17 mg/dL more than the previous fasted result. Having normal morning insulin is like having a normal ECG at rest. If you work out for 10 minutes and your ECG skyrockets, you know your heart is in trouble. You can tell if an organ is healthy by what it does when you stress it. Doing a reactive insulin test measures how healthy your pancreas is.
“There are 3 Rules To Success: 1) Hard Work. 2) Hard Work. 3) Hard Work.” – Charles R. Poliquin of StrengthSensei.com
- On Warming Up: Skip foam rolling and electronic cardio machines. Instead, focus on static stretching finished with a contraction and then getting your mind and body familiar with the range of motion and ready for more weight / volume.
- On Fat Loss & Muscle Building: Skip steady state cardio and novelty exercises like balancing on a bosu ball while doing curls. Instead stick to squats, deadlifts, and pull ups.
- On Post Workout Meals: Carbs with high glycemic and insulin index + low fructose. Fast acting protein like whey. If regular cow whey protein upsets your stomach, try goat whey.
- On Deserving Your Carbs:
- HbA1c of 4.8 or lower
- Fasting Blood Sugar of 70 mg/dL or lower
- Reactive Blood Sugar of (Fasting Blood Sugar + 17 mg/dL) or lower.
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