- If there is one thing I've harped on for a while, it's that people who are naturally gifted aren't the ones to go to for information. This might seem contradictory to the fact that I tell people to go to these seminars because you will get information from two of the best guys in their field but allow me to explain.
- Dmitry made a comment to me that one of the biggest problems he seems with people is their inability to keep their rear heel on the ground when the front foot is very far forwards. Not only that, but when in the bottom position of anything squat related a lot people have trouble with this. Dmitry had no idea how to fix it even though he was asked all the time. It's because Dmitry was naturally very flexible. So it wasn't something he ever had to work on.
- I bring this up because so often on the net, people copy the routines of guys that have great lifts, bypassing the fact that many of those guys were BUILT for that lift, and are great at it naturally. Those really aren't the people you want to go to in order to get great at that lift. It's the people that have good or great particular lifts that had to work their ass off to get there in order to achieve those results.
- Charles had a great number of mobility exercises that were not only practical, but worked fairly quickly. The mobility drills that Charles implemented were essentially ways to mimic what the lifter was trying to accomplish in that manner. So if a guy couldn't get his heel on the ground, he had a great calf stretch (great meaning painful) that mimicked the motion the lifter was trying to get mobility in. Not a bunch of weird bullshit I often see on the net.
- Dmitry was big on slow eccentric and concentric training for making the muscles stronger. This is something that is often scoffed at by most, but Dmitry was a HUGE believer in it. People have made fun of TUT and things like "superslow reps" for a long time, but I knew from experience that it had great merit. Dmitry liked to do a lot of his squats and deadlifts slow in both the concentric and eccentric portions. So he would do snatch grip deficit deadlifts with a very slow concentric, making the glutes work as hard as possible the whole time, keeping tension on them. This clearly worked, as I watched the body of the participants shake after a few sets. One of the girls there remarked to me "I'm so tired after just a few sets."
- To add to this, Dmitry was BIG on getting the muscles stronger in order to build the lifts. This had me nodding in agreement a lot. It's something I don't see a lot of powerlifters doing in their offseason when not training for a competition. That is, they are still in "build the lift" mode and not in "make the muscle bigger and stronger mode". The latter will carryover directly into the former. What's funny is, the old timers knew this but it seems to be lost on a large portion of the guys lifting today. I see guys not training for a meet still trying to hit 1 rep maxes in the gym the whole offseason. I honestly believe this is due to youtube, and I'm not even kidding.
- Spend your offseason trying to get bigger, and get the muscles involved with the lift stronger via reps. Not "testing". I've harped on this so many times, but it was great to hear that Dmitry had the exact same philosophy.
- Despite his weight class, Dmitry was generally 265+ pounds when training for the Olympics. He would diet down to make the 105 kilo class.
- Charles knows all sorts of witchcraft to make you mobile, like....instantly. Had I not been there to see all of this shit I would have told someone they were a liar. It's the strangest stuff I've ever seen in 25 years of lifting. One day he made everyone more mobile in the shoulders by doing the craziest shit I've ever seen, and then on another day he made someone Jean Claude Van Damme leg split flexible in seconds by doing something totally unrelated to their lower body. He said "I don't have time to stretch out big guys so I do this instead." If you want to know what it was, go attend one of these seminars. Watching this shit is worth the price alone.
- Dmitry doesn't like foam rollers. He likes to use the barbell for that. He has a bunch of ways to use the bar like most people use the foam roller. And he does this a lot. He puts the bar in the rack at waist height and then puts his low back on it, and goes up and down. Then sits on it and does hamstrings. He will lay sideways on a bench, and run the bar up and down his body. Basically, he used the barbell for all the ways most people use foam rolling. He thought foam rolling was silly when all this time you had a barbell to be doing this shit on.
- Charles has forgotten more shit about strength, speed, and power than I currently know. And I know two or four things. But he had a way to test for every predictor in terms of athletic success. And this isn't conjecture. It's from years and years of actually application in the field. It's another reason why I don't care for these fucking science lab rats who put out studies yet have zero application of their "studies" outside of control groups. But Charles could tell you, based on just about any athletic function, where a guy needed to get stronger, and how much stronger, in order to improve a certain part of his athletic performance. This is the kind of stuff that people should be paying attention to. Not some PubMed bullshit performed on a dozen people for 6 weeks.
- For example, Charles talked about increasing sprinting ability. You can increase sprinting from a strength standpoint, by getting the optimal strength balance between the vastus medialis and the hamstring. Of course, Charles had ways of testing this, and correcting it as well. And these are the kinds of things he knows that puts him ahead of so many other people in the strength and speed world.
- On day 1 of Dmitry being there, after he was done with his Olympic stuff and the class cleared out for lecture he asked him to go train with him. Well how am I going to say no to that? So I asked him what we would do. He wanted to bench press, oddly enough. All he did was 5 sets of 12-15 at 225. Very smoothly and controlled. While we were benching, he looked around at the massive gym we were in and goes..."I don't understand all of these machines?" "You mean, you don't know how to use them or don't like them?" I said. He hesitated for a moment then said "Both." I laughed and then he said, "Everything you want to do, can be done with barbell. Just barbell. In Russia just barball only. And everything can be done. If injured, then yes, I can see using them some that, but otherwise, barbell only."
- If you plan on attending one of these seminars, don't fuck around in Charles class. He will yell at you and tell you get your shit straight. I applauded this because there's nothing I hate worse than being in a group trying to learn something, while people are laughing and talking and make it difficult to hear the speaker. You've been warned.
- Charles has an assistant named Juan Carlos, who knows the Poliquin stuff very well. But also, he is a great dude, and because he's from the Dominican Republic, talks just like Al Pacino in Scarface. So all week I was talking to him in a very exaggerated Scarface accent. Juan is not only a smart guy, but incredibly thoughtful and courteous. The time I got to hang around with him was entertaining to say the least, and I am looking forward to hanging with him again very soon.
- Charles made a great point about picking athletes based on strength vs speed. Strength has the potential to increase by more than 300%. While speed only has the ability to increase by 10-20%. So if you have the choice of two athletes, this is pretty simple. You pick the fast guy and make him stronger. The stronger guy has less potential for getting fast. I know this seems like an obvious quote, but you'd be surprised how many people don't get this. Strength has a lot higher ceiling to be attained. Where speed does not. This is all genetic based of course, so if you're talking athletes, the guy that is fast right out of the gate is always going to be fast. Where the slow, but strong guy, probably isn't going to get a lot faster than he currently is.
- Charles favorite lift for developing the posterior chain is the snatch grip deadlift. I have known this for a long time but hate this lift. LOL. One thing I have noticed the last few years are people doing this lift off a box. In other words, the plates sitting on boxes, reducing the range of motion for the lift. This made ZERO sense to me. The entire purpose of doing a snatch grip pull was the EXTEND the range of motion, so that the glutes and hamstrings became more involved. When you reduce the range of motion, you lose that effect. So why would you do this? I really have no clue. It's like people don't know how to leave well enough alone and get the benefits from something just as it is.
- I really don't know how Dmitry does it. The guy has done almost 100 seminars in the last year plus. He still shows up each day full of energy and enthusiasm and does inhuman lifting. Sometimes twice a day.
- As per the above point, Dmitry talked about how in Russian, they planned their training cycles out for a year at a time. "12 months out, you do this. 10 months out you do this. 8 months out you do this. During competition training, it's all competition. Nothing else. Nothing outside of that. You train hard, twice a day, most days." This really resonated with me and made me really think about how serious they take their training, where in America we constantly think of training as a hobby, or just something we do that we enjoy. I'm not saying they don't enjoy their training, but their mental approach to training is completely different. Training is a SERIOUS thing. And they take a long time to prepare for competition. "Training only." He repeated this phrase several times to me.
For some misc shit -
- The Canadian people are really friggin nice, and polite. I mean overly so.
- But they can't drive. Every cabbie I had made me feel like life was about to end in seconds.
- Also, you Montreal people have no idea what a stop sign is. You really don't. I almost got ran over a dozen times because you just speed right through them with no regards for pedestrians.
- Due to peer pressure I ended up drinking part of a pumpkin spice latte. It was delicious. Fine, I'm a basic bitch.
- I have too many Dmitry jokes to list. So for some of them.....
- I told Dmitry a joke..."what's red and bad for your teeth? A brick." He didn't laugh. The next day at lunch he looks at me and goes "I think about joke....red...brick....teeth. It's very funny. I like it."
- Dmitry made me sit "bitch" at lunch one day. So he made me sit on the inside of the seating at lunch. I told him "I will get you back." So that afternoon I arranged it so that he was forced to sit in the back with me on the ride home. When he got in I said "look who is sitting bitch now." He didn't laugh at that either. I told Ed Coan this and Ed said "I woulda put my arm around him at that point." I wasn't comfortable enough to do that yet.
- In one of the group photos Dmitry was actually touching my butt. I asked him why, and he laughed. So I touched his butt back. Be jealous ladies.
- The last night there, Dmitry ordered dinner. For both of us. I mean I didn't even get a say. He ate a grilled chicken ceasar salad and drank white wine. "No vodka?" I said. "No, I never drink vodka." So there you go.
- His preferred training music is hip hop. NOT RAP. He was very adamant there was a difference in rap and hip hop.
- I made fun of the various people's accents over the course of the week. By the end, I had times where I almost forgot how to speak normally. I'm not even joking. The last night of dinner with Dmitry I was literally speaking in this bullshit Russian accent and I had to catch myself. When I talked to Juan, Scarface would appear. My Australian accent needs work I think.
- I did get to set Dmitry straight on one thing about lifting. He told me "powerlifters no need for speed or explosiveness." I told him I did not agree. That speed was often the reason someone made or missed a lift. He said "when he does deadlift, and bar slows, he can still make the lift. Because why?" I said "right, he can grind it out." He nodded, as if he had won. I then told him "but if he doesn't have enough speed at the start of the lift, then he will fail at the transition point. So if you don't have enough power from the bottom, then you don't make the lift. So you do need speed and explosiveness." He contemplated this for a while and goes "yes, I see. Very good."
No matter what, when I write these I always feel like I'm forgetting to mention something.
I want to give a HUGE thank you to Charles Poliquin for inviting me out. I have so much respect and admiration for Charles. Mainly, I am grateful for our friendship and his ability to call me and tell me I'm a "fat cunt". Love you, buddy.
In all seriousness, I feel honored to have the ability to ring Charles up just to talk about training and life, and learn from a guy who has talked the talk and walked the walk for so long.
I want to say thank you to Juan for keeping me entertained all week, for being a man with tremendous courtesy and thoughtfulness. Juan comes across as super intense when you first meet him, but it's all just on the surface. Underneath, he's an incredibly gracious dude and I look forward to spending more time with him.
Thanks to Daine for the blind date. LOL. I suppose that's another story all together, and one I will write about after we kick things off for next year.
Thanks to Dmitry, for being very Russian (inside joke), and for letting me annoy the fuck out of him without stabbing me.
Thanks to Vince of ATP who gave me a very good sleeping supplement that I used with great success while I was there.
Also a big thanks to so many people that made the trip worth remembering. I had a time for the ages and it was easily the best trip I've taken in a long time. Though I was pretty exhausted by the end of each day, I came away from the trip with enough awesome memories and experiences to last until I go to the Dominican Republic next month. HAH!
Some links to check out below..........
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