Charles Poliquin on Strength Training, Shredding Body Fat, and Increasing Testosterone and Sex Drive (#91)

The Tim Ferriss Show with Charles Poliquin

“The rule is: the basics are the basics and you can’t beat the basics.” — Charles Poliquin

Charles Poliquin (@strengthsensei) is one of the best known strength coaches in the world. He has trained elite athletes from nearly 20 different sports, including Olympic gold medalists, NFL All-Pro’s, NHL All-Stars and Stanley Cup champions, and IFBB bodybuilding champions. His clients include long-jump gold medalist Dwight Phillips, NHL MVP Chris Pronger, and MLB batting champion Edgar Martinez, among many others.

Poliquin is currently teaching advanced hypertrophy, nutrition, and strength seminars alongside one of my favorite athletes, Olympic weightlifting icon and medalist Dimitry Klokov.

Poliquin has authored more than 600 articles on strength training, and his work has been translated into 12 different languages. He has written 8 books, including his latest, a short gem entitled Arm Size and Strength: The Ultimate Guide. Find much more about Poliquin and his latest at

#91: Charles Poliquin on Strength Training, Shredding Body Fat, and Increasing Testosterone and Sex Drive

In this podcast, we frequently referred to my past episode with Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can listen to my conversations with Arnold here. In this episode, we discuss psychological warfare and much more (stream below or right-click here to download):

Ep 60: Tim Ferriss Interviews Arnold Schwarzenegger on Psychological Warfare (And Much More)

This episode is sponsored by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. Get 50% off your order at Athletic

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive resultsClick this link and get a free $99 upgrade. Give it a test run…

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: After listening to Poliquin, are there any strength or diet experiments you’d like me to explore and report back on? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


Selected Links from the Episode | Facebook | YouTube | Google + | Twitter | Instagram

Show Notes

  • The story behind Charles’s passion for strength and how he quickly learned multiple languages [6:05]
  • Charles’s secret skill that only his best friends know [10:40]
  • How to eliminate stretch marks or loose skin after extreme fat loss [15:05]
  • Something Charles believes that most people find crazy  [18:20]
  • On taking huge doses of fish oil [31:35]
  • How to select a quality doctor who can administer and interpret blood testing [42:10]
  • Favorite go-to sources for research [50:50]
  • Thoughts on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) [53:50]
  • HRT challenges with DHEA-sulfate levels [1:00:05]
  • Exploring the use of Deca-Durabolin to support joint repair [1:04:05]
  • What Charles tries to eliminate from his home [1:06:35]
  • Thoughts on warmup routines [1:11:45]
  • The perfect preparation for strength workouts [1:14:40]
  • Most common post-workout mistakes [1:20:25]
  • Commonly neglected ways to decrease body fat [1:25:05]
  • On planning vacation first [1:34:05]
  • Common mistakes training female clients [1:46:10]
  • On CrossFit and training with Dmitry Klokov [1:48:50]
  • Favorite mobility exercises [1:57:40]
  • On the surprising side effects of kettlebell swings [2:03:55]
  • Thoughts on achieving maximal strength on a plant-based diet [2:05:35]
  • High-bar vs. low-bar squats. Sumo vs. conventional deadlift. [2:06:40]
  • Most bang for your buck tips to increase testosterone and sex drive [2:10:50]
  • The supplements everyone should take [2:14:15]
  • When Charles thinks of the word “successful,” who is the first person that comes to mind? [2:19:35]
  • Favorite documentaries and movies [2:21:35]
  • A purchase of $100 or less that improved Charles’s life [2:24:05]
  • On morning routines [2:25:40]
  • If you could have one billboard anywhere, where would it be and what would it say? [2:36:50]
  • Advice to your thirty-year-old self [2:40:00]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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321 Replies to “Charles Poliquin on Strength Training, Shredding Body Fat, and Increasing Testosterone and Sex Drive (#91)”

  1. Absolutely love the quote, I actually put a reminder for it to pop-up every week for a while:

    The rule is: the basics are the basics and you can’t beat the basics.”

    sometimes we like to get fancy and need to remember ourselves.

    the other thing, which I agree and actually did for a year was not taking any supplement because as he said, I did not feel like I deserved it.

    If you are not watching your diet correctly, have crap sleep and are skipping the gym more than you should taking supplements is a pure delusion unless for a specific reason (like working night shifts and taking something to sleep etc)

  2. Great episode, there was a lot of great content in this one.

    The “something that Charles believes that others think is crazy” bit was intriguing, given other anecdotal evidence that some woo-sounding “chi” stuff may be a neurological or hormonal biofeedback phenomenon (Wim Hof’s stuff, or the Chen tai chi guy being able to heat or cool his hands by 2-6 degrees at will during a Stanford study).

    Regarding the question at the end of the blog post, my vote would be either notes from trying out the aforementioned Wim Hof’s breathing method (which seems to pop up a lot lately), or something involving diet and gut microbiology impact.

  3. Thanks for a great episode. Would love to see another episode on the podcast that deals with how to research things like this and what to think about. Perhaps an interview with the author of Bad Science?

  4. Experiment for you to explore:

    *No animal protein except Cricket/Insect protein.

    I wanted to try it, but prices are still high.

    If you show it’s possible, it’ll increase demand and push prices down.

    Also, really interesting experiment.

  5. Great interview Tim! Can you give us more information on how to get the best Gotu Kola supplements that will work?

    1. Same – 2 capsules 3 times a day is about 3x the recommendation on some supplement bottles. 950mg per dose on Nature’s Way supplements, 3 doses is 2850mg, which seems like a lot…

      1. I started taking the Nature’s Way 2 capsules 3 times a day about 2 weeks ago and had a blood test a few days ago. My Doc wants me to redo it due to elevated Liver tests along with elevated Bilirubin. It looks as if Gotu Kola does have some effect on your liver as a precaution but perhaps I’m overdosing as well.

    2. The ingredients the Canadian compound pharmacies used in their topical and oral applications was the gotu kola extract, with 40% asiaticocides, 2% madecassiocide, and the 20% asiatic acid and 20% madecassic acid – which were more potent than the gotu kola leaf found in today’s supplements. The process is real in-depth, with two separate extraction processes to get the above concentrations. I’ve only seen this extract in Duderm-ST in the USA, and Madecassol in Europe and Asia (OTC medicine).

  6. Will you look at interviewing Tony Blauer? Brian Mackenzie knows him. He has great ideas on conquering fear.

    1. Yes, I’d also like to hear your updated recommendation on this Tim. This was probably the most important part of the interview for me as soon as I heard his opinion on kettlebell swings. This was one of the major takeways I got from the 4 Hour Body so if it is in fact something that should now be avoided for potential back injuries, I’d appreciate an updated opinion. Also, I think since Charles is also a big fan of Tims, I’m sure he’s aware that the kettlebell swing is something that Tim highly recommends so it’s interesting that he was very diplomatic (in my opinion) when he did NOT use the word “moronic” when referring to the kettlebell swing yet pretty much blasted all the other exercises.

      Please guide us Tim.

      Thanks in advance!

    2. Good question. I’ve never experienced pain or problems from KB swings with proper form, but this debate might be above my pay grade.

      I’ll ping Pavel Tsatsouline and see if he’s able to chime in with any thoughts.

      Pura vida,


      1. I’ve been doing Pavel’s Simple and Sinister for 18 months now. I’m 135lb male.

        I started with 35lb kettlebell and slowly worked my way up to:

        100x One Arm 32kg (70lb) swings in 7 minutes (15 second work, 30 second rest)

        10x 32kg TGU.

        I’ve injured myself ONCE. At crossfit and other training, I would usually nurse some minor shoulder/back injury once/month.

        I swing a 32kg kettlebell 5 days/week (one arm) and haven’t had an injury this year.

        The ‘force multiplier’ for me was grip strength – I bought the Captains of Crush this year, and that helped me grip the kettlebell in a safer, stronger way (I was previously ‘barbell gripping’ it, and now can grip a 32kg one handed with my fingers hooked over)

        Kettlebells are pretty damn safe

      2. Tim: I feel more so the problem arises with an average western population that has a abnormally (or more so somewhat UN-natual) weak glute and lower back. We only need to look at any tribal culture to see much stronger, firmer and tougher lower back and glute muscles that hold great posture and form of the human body/spine.

        Kettle bell swings can be quite brutal on this region for those of us that sit a lot and are beginning, or restarting training. Personally, having trained a fair amount in the past, then having stopped training for years, and working sitting for a long time, going back to training and having swings as a common part of a diverse training regime, i always find that kettle swings cause havoc on my back. It is EASY to overdo it as we as a western society easily neglect our lower back and they become very weak.

        Remember, correct FORM also relates to CORRECT WEIGHT (something the body can handle without massive damaging strain while retaining form). We need to remember that often our lower backs are actually atrophied from our western lifestyle choices, so need SPECIAL CARE when working to rebuild our backs as to support even proper posture and form in daily life. I would stipulate that its likely that if your having excess issues or pain with this that either you have an injury, or your form/weight is incorrect.

        Having said that, due to its potentially brutal nature on the lower back it can be something that can be easily substituted for those in potential risk.

      3. Tim,

        For the ease of your audience, I’m copying Pavel’s response from the StrongFirst Forum (

        “No exercise is perfect for everybody but the swing comes pretty close. At least when it is performed the way we teach it.

        Over 14 years of my kettlebell certifications we have received countless reports of improved back health and performance. “Kettlebell Simple & Sinister” has been endorsed by #1 spine biomechanist in the world Prof. Stuart McGill and leading PT expert Gray Cook. Among SFG instructors you will find chiropractors, MDs, and PTs who not only coach the swing for performance but use it in rehabilitation.

        Get cleared by a doc and enjoy all the benefits the swing can deliver.”

        It’s hard (as usual) to say it any better than Pavel does.

        In Strength,

        Eric Frohardt

      4. Tim, I’m 57 and fairly experienced with squats, deadlifts,power cleans, pressing etc. Unfortunately after a few weeks into Simple and Sinister with moderate kettle bell weights, despite good form, experienced severe low back spasm. Happened again a few weeks later after going back easy, and after hearing Charles’ rant about kettle bells and back pain, went back to a basic barbel program. Kettle bells were fun and a very efficient workout, but not for me.

    3. See my other comments, but I should add a few things:

      – I do think “American Style” swings to above the head are unnecessarily dangerous for the shoulder girdle and back. I only swing to shoulder height or below.

      – I have no particular dog in this fight. Meaning, I have used the KB swing and have enjoyed benefits without injury, but a spirited debate that surfaces good data (regardless of the side) can only help to clarify thinking. I’m open to changing my mind.

      Hope that helps,


      1. Apropos of nothing in particular interested to know which interview involved the most tongue biting from you? (maybe bury the answer in a Periscope Q&A 🙂

        Also another question suggestion to throw in the mix: “What is your own personal measure of success?”

        Keep up the great work Tim!

      2. Well, I actually do have a dog and he likes Bob Marley 😛

        Thanks for reaching out to Pavel and for always discovering more helpful information for us. I left Pavel a post on the Strongfirst link you posted so hopefully he’ll shed more light on this subject.

      1. I second Paul Chek as a guest! Also, this was a great interview. As a fellow strength coach, I regard Charles as an icon in this industry. His reasoning against swings, injuries aside, seems to miss the point movement-wise, but it’s common among barbell guys like Poliquin and Rippetoe to erroneously (in my opinion) view the kettlebell though a barbell lens, yet I would never consider either of them anything but brilliant coaches. Anyway, aside from that and calling elk gamey (no way!), I really enjoyed the episode.

      2. Definitely get Paul Chek on. Charles and Paul worked together way back when. I’ve found Paul’s principles to be completely holistic and have personally had fantastic results with them. Disclaimer: I am a bit bias as I am certified in a couple of the Chek Institute’s programs. 🙂

    4. This is totally confusing. I bought a Kettlebell because of all of the videos where Tim is promoting it and now this guy is saying it is damaging (which does make a lot of sense).

      Also this guy Chrles Poliquin is obviously an amazing expert but there is little or no actionable strength training information for a beginner who has no clue. I’m guessing that 99% of people listening are beginners with no clue about strength training?

  7. Would Charles recommend doing the 6 hour glucose test at home using a glucometer to determine insulin sensitivity? What would be the ranges for the hourly readings for optimal, normal, suboptimal, yougonnadie levels?

  8. Great episode so far! What Polliquin book would you recommend to start with? I do basic bodybuilding and bodyweight work (Ido Portal, MovNat). Thank you!

  9. I encourage you to experiment with CrossFit for 4-6 months. San Francisco CrossFit seems like an obvious choice with your past guest Kelly being there.

    The specific goal in mind is to get unbiased and educated feedback on their training methodology and to compare your health and performance data.

    1. I have been working out for about 9 months now. Consistent but with bodyweight and pull-up bars. Lost impressive amount of weight.

      I do now want to reduce body fat and not body weight. I do HIIT bodyweight exercises.

      Whats one thing I can do to reduce body fat? ( Have cut down sugar )

  10. It should be mentioned that there is evidence that nandrolone is more damaging to the cardiovascular system than other steroids such as testosterone.

  11. Poliquin learned German so that he can read the best information on weight training out there. THAT is incredible commitment.

  12. Would you discuss vegan/no-grain-diet weightlifting? .. with emphesis on bulking up .. I am currently on this challenging quest and could use all the help I can get. Thanks!

    1. Hey Dan! I am a vegan personal trainer. I’ve been up to about 192 at 5’9″. During that time I added a significant amount of coconut oil as well as natural peanut butter to my diet along with the usual salads and smoothies. I did have some grains but I’m sure you could do without. If you have any other questions lemme know!

      [Moderator: links removed]

  13. Hmmm, After listening to Pavel Tsatouline on your earlier podcast I have started on his Simple and Sinister kettlebell training, swings and get ups. Clearly Charles Poliquin is not a fan (understatement!). I would be keen to hear your thoughts TIm?

  14. Hi Tim. At one point in the interview Charles talks a bit about an intestinal parasite and veterans with eye problems related to the parasite. He was just making a point about scientific research vs. experience but my best bud is an Iraq War Vet and is suffering dry eye problems concerning his tear ducts. I couldn’t understand the name of the parasite Charles named. Do you have any insight on this or at least could you point me in a good direction. I tried searching for it, and came across info on veterans that suffer from PTSD see an increase in eye related issues, but no word on what causes it. Thanks. Podcast rocks!

      1. All jokes aside, you could put it on 2x speed. I would be sad if the episodes were any shorter. To many great ideas being talked about…

      1. Me too! My 5 hour drive goes by pleasantly when listening to Tim Ferriss interviews. So glad there are people smarter than me!

    1. Can you not just listen for half an hour at a time? Then you will think that Tim is putting out 3-4 times as many podcasts as normal, so everyone is a winner!

  15. Hi Tim,

    Great talk with Poliquin however can spell out those three supplements that he recommended near the end wasn’t clear on the names and dosages

  16. Wow learned a lot of stuff. For someone that’s not an athlete or gym rat things were explained clearly. Really enjoyed this. Definitely will be listening to this more than once. THANKS TIM!

  17. I’m a bit confused 🙁

    Charles Poliquin hates the kettlebell swing but other podcast guests like Pavel and KStar are advocates of it. I’m not sure who to believe, and this is bothering me because I incorporate the KB swing into my weekly workouts and I don’t want to set myself up for long-term injury.

      1. Tim,

        You should also ping Dr Stuart McGill. He is pretty much the back expert! And he loves KB!!

      2. I too have made an investment in kettlebells based on yours and Pavel’s recommendation. I’ve had lower back surgery previously and was using kettlebells to strengthen. Hearing this from Charles is quite concerning. Looking forward to the response you get from the others.

      3. I’m a physical therapist but by no means an expert in the KB swing specifically like Pavel. I’d agree its a great exercise, when done with proper form, but a lot of athletes run in to difficulty because the efferent (motor) literacy needed for the movement is more than they’re capable of — particularly with (so many) people with pelvic restriction or obliquity.

      4. I have a herniated L5-S1 disc and have always been told by my trainer’s and coaches to stay away from KB’s. I am sure that if they are done properly (appropriate range of motion and appropriate weight) they can be highly effective. However I cringe when I see people at my gym go in and try them without a trainer or proper guidance. While I did not agree with everything he said in the podcast (everyone’s physical makeup is different, so it is hard to come to a blanket conclusion about what is best for everyone) I agree with Charles and think that they are a recipe injuries (especially to the back).

      5. I’m a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor (Level 1), and l herniated my L5-S1 disc back in 2000 when I was in the military jumping out of airplanes. Lots of pain and weakness for years. But after several years I started lifting weights, including KBs. I did mostly CrossFit stuff, but the deadlifts and back squats worked great. No back pain, but I was focused on getting technique right. Same w/ kettlebells, and that’s why I’m now an SFG. Looks to me like Charles is right about power lifts, and Pavel is right about KBs. The only wrongness comes from the blanket condemnation of a proven exercise like Russian/hardstyle kettlebell swings. They’re not for everybody, but they’re not for everybody to AVOID! When done properly they benefit multitudes of people.

  18. I think I may have pulled a brain muscle… the awesome in this ep was too heavy for it to handle. Another excellent podcast. #frisbeenipples

  19. Tim – Another great episode! My dad (who is also a huge fan) and I were talking today about your podcast and thought of a great guest you should try to get…. Bill Kazmaier. We once went to a lecture/qa with him and it was the most entertaining, inspiring and hilariously funny hours of my life. The guy definitely fits the podcast as an elite performer and is also a wonderful and intelligent person.

    Just thought I’d throw it our there……

    Thanks again for all you do! Keep up the great work.

  20. Personally I feel safer when restraining the lower back so as not to hyper extend. I stop short before “lockout”. I imagine I have two metal rods/posts in my back right near my kidneys so that imagination enables me to keep my back and spine straight.

  21. Pavel, Steve Maxwell, and the trainers at ONNIT recommend kettlebell training for strength. Mr. Poliquin mentioned kettlebell swings as one of the exercises he would never recommend. Who is right? And does science back either camp?

    1. Much like the entire health and fitness world, anything done incorrectly or without instruction can be bad for you. Deadlifts and Squats, universally thought of as a necessary part of any program can be crippling done incorrectly based on your body.

      The same can be said about KB swings. I used to have back issues from them, then I switched to a wider feet approach (Pavels technique) and I now have no problems. Everything must be based on your body alignment and expertise.

  22. Tim – Because you asked, here is my answer. I really messed up my hips doing kettle bell swings a few years ago in preparation for a Tough Mudder. At this point I do a lot of squats with no weights and a simulated kettle bell arm movement action. And my hips are feeling A-OK as I’m back running about 16 miles per week. All is so very good. Namaste. (I’m not kidding — I love running).

    1. swinging a kettlebell will not hurt you. you need to use proper weight maintain a neutral back and hip hinge. Swing with your hips thrusting up and forward. If you shoulders pass the test you can go as high as you want if you have funky shoulders don’t go as high. It’s not the end all exercise it’s really just a good rest from doing heavy deadlifts. It gets your heart rate up. I think Poliquin is not crazy about them because their not as good as other exercises, like deadlifts and sumo deadlifts. You’ll never get gains safely from a kettle bell like you would a barbell deadlift. Once you start going really heavy with a kettle bell your form will probably go to shit, because kettle bells are more of a metcon movement or accessory movement for core work. Poliquin recommends stuff that will transform your strength. Kettlebells are actually better for doing one arm work and off balance stuff. Even McGill does’t really talk much about swings it more for doing static holds with the KB inverted over head so your core has to counteract torque.

      Tweet me if you w have any other questions. I’ve read McGills book, KStarrs supple leopard and all of Tim’s stuff.

      I’m a big fan of the Juggernaut website jtsstrength dot com.

  23. Thanks for a yet another awesome podcast, with lots of goodies. Quite interesting how Charles’ opinions on KB exercises are completely different to those of Tsatsouline’s (which is another personal favorite podcast).

  24. He is right, all balance training with weight work is wrong. He is right balance training won’t make you stronger. The right balance training will make you more coordinated, agile and improve the kinetic chain. Guess what, if they all improve, you can lift more. Build better muscles not bigger muscles. Power without control is a VW with a V8. Power with control is a Ferrari. Do you want only strength or to be a better athlete?

    1. Do you have any literature on the subject? I’ve heard that balance is fully developed at a young age, around 12, coordination is usually optimally developed by sport practice, and agility can be increased through agility drills and resistance training. The studies I’ve read into have indicated that unstable surface training is good for relearning proprioception after injury, but leads to diminishing returns after a short period and can inhibit force production. In my experience, larger cross-sectional area of a muscle increases the potential for strength, and functional movement patterns need to be overloaded for them to develop the kinetic chain.

      1. You are right about the current research but all the current research has a flaw. We have discovered that flaw. Athletic balance has also lacked from a valid testing method. Balance may be set at a young age but is degraded by the our modern lifestyle and neural system utilization. Agree on the larger cross sectional training and is in effect that is what we do. Our methods utilize just about every stabilizer muscle you have at one time. The fittest of the fit sweat within 30 seconds. You are also right that results come very quickly. Almost too quickly making it a real business model problem. By the way look around and see that the very best athletes are starting to integrate balance training, the right kind, in their routine. Check out what TJ Dillashaw does then watch his last fight. You will see the difference. I don’t mean to be too obtuse. I have a book coming out this fall, Balance Is Power, where I will release all this information. The results are supported, mind blowing and logical.

  25. As to the KB, everyone is right. As an inexpensive, democratized (sorry Comrad Pavel) tool, the kb is pretty hard to beat. We suggest every athlete we work with keep one in their car for traveling and in their kitchen for when life gets a bit too hectic to make it to the gym proper.

    Like Dumbbells, kb’s give athletes the opportunity

    to have to create stability at shoulder/proximally (not of a closed system like a barbell (where compensation is easy). This kind of stimulus is effective and solves a host of mechanical based problems in a great deal of the athletes we work with. And for a metabolic wallup, see you in 10 minutes after some good old fashioned clean and presses, carries, loaded step ups….

    However, I can say unequivically that the barbell serves as the base language of our training. We find that anyone competent on a barbell can quickly transfer over to kb’s and that the opposite isn’t necessarily true. Basic linear progessions and heavy ass loading just isn’t possible or practical without the bar. Charles is an expert in neuro-endocrine response. I can see why he feels the way he does. Getting people reasonably metabolically fit and functionally and practically durable is one of the things that Pavel does best.

    Donnie Thompson does heavy double Kb snatches between his speed sets on dynamic days. He seems to also squat pretty heavy. (1245?)

    I think that Pavel and Dan John have done a pretty amazing job of creating a pretty cogent and complete movement practice based on having a single kettlebell in your possession. My personal training heritage based on the movement competencies described by Glassman means that there are both kb’s and barbells cycling regularly through the hands of our athletes.

    I love heavy jerking and pressing, but a trashed wrist from years of sport and injury mean that if I go heavy overhead it’s with a log or my twin 100lb kb’s.

    I guess my question is: why aren’t we all competent with both?


    1. Kelly,

      Did you happen to hear Poliquin discuss foam rolling as a complete waste of time? He said all it does is create scar tissue. I personally feel its very beneficial based on my own experience, and don’t think I will stop just because someone who focuses on power lifting says its bad.

    2. KStarr,

      Thank you so much for posting. Two follow up questions:

      1) 2:03:55 – Charles states a KB swing is harmful for your back disc structure (“no safe way to do a KB swing”), have you seen evidence of this in your doctoring?

      2) 1:12:00 – Charles states for warm ups “Foam roller is a waste of time… leads to more scar tissue”. It sounds like he is discounting foam rolling all together. I believe you advocate only rolling after warmed up. Am I taking this out of context or is foam rolling detrimental without first being warm?

      Thanks again Kelly,


      Fanboy 🙂

    3. Kelly, quick question for you. Tim asks Poliquin “What drives you nuts about warm ups [for weight training]?” The first thing Poliquin mentions is the foam roller (01:11:58). He said, “That is such a waste of time, plus it leads to more scar tissue. I only like foam rollers to distract vertebras.”

      Thanks to you, I’ve been a big fan of the foam roller (and the lacrosse ball) for mobility. This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone (who in my judgment knows what he’s talking about) say that it leads to more scar tissue. Is this something I should be concerned about?

    4. Kelly, quick question for you. Tim asks Poliquin “What drives you nuts about warm ups [for weight training]?” The first thing Poliquin mentions is the foam roller (01:11:58). He said, “That is such a waste of time, plus it leads to more scar tissue. I only like foam rollers to distract vertebras.”

      Thanks to you, I’ve been a big fan of the foam roller (and the lacrosse ball) for mobility. This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone (who in my judgment knows what he’s talking about) say that it leads to more scar tissue. Is this something I should be concerned about?

  26. That’s “Wapiti” deer right? Is it a subspecies he’s referring to, because I could only find mention of it by that spelling in New Zealand.

    1. Very intelligent dude and a great podcast, but I’m pretty certain he misspoke on this topic. I’m an avid Elk hunter in the Pacific NW and Wapiti is the Native American term for Elk (a sub species of the deer family). It’s elk meat and they live all over North America.

    2. Great podcast as always Tim. I was surprised though with the number of references by Charles about game meat that you didn’t ask about hunting. Do you still hunt?

      It’d be great to get Steven Rinella or Cameron Hanes (hunting + weights + endurance) on the show.

  27. I’m trying to figure out the practicalities of the 40 gm fish oil per day recommendation…..does this mean I should take half my bottle of fish oil capsules per day? I think I’m not getting the advice quite right.

    1. Same question. In addition 4 grams of Zinc per day for 6 months? (multiple forms where the total is 4 grams) That is a lot of pills. Is that amount right? Thanks, great podcast.

    2. Yeah, I’m trying to wrap my head around that, too. I think you should drop the capsules and go to a liquid. I use Barlean’s, and 40 grams would equal 4 tablespoons, so I’m going to try 2 in the morning and 2 before bed. The lemon zest flavor is actually pretty tasty. Every time I try capsules, it gives me nasty fish oil burps…

      1. Furthermore, what about if your also using other sources of Omega’s like flax, hemp, and coconut/MCT?

      2. The problem with plant based Ω-3’s (alpha-lipoic acid/ALA) is that we don’t convert them well to EPA & DHA, and the pathway that does is actually shut down by arachadonic acid/Ω-6’s. So if you’re Ω-6’s are high (like most Americans), you won’t do so well on flax, hemp et al, at least for the beneficial effects that fish oils will bring quicker.

  28. I came away with the thought I want a Pavel v Charles podcast or just cage match…both are the same but different.

  29. I thought kettle bell swings were one of the more crucial movements in the world of fitness. Same with soft tissue rolling?!

    1. German volume training. 10 sets of 10 reps at 55-70 percent of 1RM. One of his fav muscle building programs

  30. Another awesome show! Regarding the KB-swing: I used it for about 12 months on a weekly basis and the effect was clear…..but I stopped after getting problems with my lower back. Pain was significantly reduced after quitting the KB.

  31. Get Richard Wiseman on the podcast! He’s an interesting guy and would have lots of content for a podcast. The 59 second book and his research on ‘lucky’ people stick out as well as how to apply science and skepticism in your own life.

  32. I would definitely be interested in knowing if Charles Poliquin has a specific one or two Gotu Kola supplement brands he trusts – especially after recent reports about how many pull the old bait and switch. If I’m going to buy for 6 months I want to be as sure as I can be that I’m getting the right stuff! Amazing interview – thanks again!

  33. Awesome episode, great info and funny guy! Love his scientific approach to everything, leaving no stone unturned.

    One thing that I would like to point out is, he didn’t seem to think it was possible to develop great strength on only a plant-based diet. Now I love meat and totally agree on all the benefits it provides but I am kind of baffled at how someone like Frank Medrano can develop this freak like strength on solely the vegan diet he claims to adhere to.

    It would’ve been good to get his take on it.

    For reference:

    1. I think Poliquin he deals more with the world of high intensity training (maximal strength ect.). Medrano is a calisthenics freak, but he wouldn’t be considered strong by many in that genre.

  34. Hey Yo TimTim, past few podcasts have been nothing short of astounding. Yall keep pushing that ceiling higher and higher with each new episode. Keep up the good work boss!

  35. Tim

    Again great interview partner with a lot of nuggets.

    What struck me, and others, is that he finds the KB swing and the plank no so good …

    Always a pleasure to download your podcast and thank you very much!!!

  36. Thanks for checking in with Pavel and Kelly Starrett. The conflicting expert advice on movements like the plank, kb swings, and goblet squats is confusing. It’s apparent that people on both sides of this idea demonstrate great results so the challenge remains in finding what works best for the individual in terms meeting training goals and enthusiasm for the regiment. Love learning from the best, hard when they don’t agree.

  37. Tim, you never fail to impress me. I’ve come to know several of my current mentors through you…John Romaniello, Ben Greenfield, Benny Lewis, Ramit Sethi, Kelly Starrett, and now Charles Poliquin. Thank you for all you do! Cheers!

  38. I had automatic respect for Tim the first time he mentioned Dan Duchaine (a very controversial figure that few people outside of hardcore bodybuilders have even heard of). In this interview he’s able to say basically, “Some of Poliquin’s stuff may sound like quackery to many, but here’s the method behind all this, and here’s some things that he’s figured out that apply to average Joes.”

  39. I am perplexed as to why Charles said you need meat to be strong … perhaps you could interview a vegan athlete next? Great Interview regardless. And great job on your show.

  40. Superb response from Kelly Starrett. I wanted to “like” it but the page would not allow it.

    I trained with two of Pavel’s Sr. RKC’s from way back in the Dragon Door days and have used KB’s as an ancillary workout for 13 years. If Charles Poliquin didn’t like them then it was a legitimate cause for concern. Kelly’s input – born of long experience – was very helpful in placing all of the arguments into context.

  41. Tim, you mentioned your Polish coach. Is his name a secret? I’m just interested, because I’m from Poland and love the connection 😉

    1. Cześć Robert 😉 most likely it is Jerzy Gregorek. He is also mentioned in the interview with Pavel Tsatsouline. Pzdr!

  42. I really think that the KB discussion is based off just one specific perspective. Poliquin is one of if not the leading expert in power lifting. I’m sure he has seen plenty of strong power lifters pick up a real heavy KB and then hurt themselves doing a new movement using too much weight. Pavel focuses more on functional strength, and the KB makes much more sense for people training in that area (like me I hope).

  43. Overall a quality podcast. However I had to LOL about the statement that a good doctor will spend 2 hours with you on your first visit. As an internist/pediatrician, I’m lucky to get 20 minutes with a patient. It’s exceedingly difficult to sustain a practice and take that amount of time with a patient. That being said, if your doctor doesn’t know how to interpret fasting versus non-fasting labs, find another one!

  44. On a sort of related topic, how about “stretching” (as in for martial arts that involve a lot of high kicking). Not everyone can do the splits between two semis, but it seems that for a majority of martial artists, you are either born “limber” or you aren’t, regardless of years of stretching. I would be very interested to know if you have ever come across stretching techniques (specifically “front splits” and “lotus” hip stretching) to increase flexability for those who are not naturally flexible.



    1. Pavel has a book called relax into stretching. I haven’t tried it but he says everyone can do a full split like Jean Claude Van Damme if they just do what he tells them to do in the book. So far I’ve found most things he says are true, so I would suggest checking into Pavel’s stretching theories.

  45. So I just got around to listening to this- this might be the best podcast you’ve done so far Tim. Charles definitely delivered here. Funny thing is, I was really looking forward to the sex drive and supplement stuff when I saw them in the show notes- but I had completely forgotten that they were my questions. So that was a pleasant surprise.

    My two cents on the KB swings debate- I did them for a long time after The Four-Hour Body came out, and never got injured. But I always worried about smacking myself in the legs. Now I do dumbell swings, which are safer and probably a better arm workout, but don’t do as much for your lower body or give as much metabolic effect. But the added bonus, for me at least, is that incorporating iso-lateral movements helps me sleep, and that alone is reason enough to swap some movements for iso-lateral analogues.

  46. Tim…my name is Tony Iannone. I’m a teacher. I felt compelled to write you this afternoon after listening to yet another amazing podcast!! You probably hear this 100 times a day if you hear it once…Thank you! I’ve been a follower since the 4 Hour Work Week. Your world-view revolutionized the way I prioritize (the manner in which I spend my time) each day and helped me not only complete but defend my dissertation a year ago this month! I did not make many friends during that journey and at the end of the day…who cares?! That’s not what I was trying to do. I was trying to accomplish something that very few people can say they’ve accomplished…once they start. These podcasts have given me permission to consider my life an experiment…trying different things out that I learn as I listen, taking notes, integrating them into my daily routine, and reflecting on what did/not work and why!

  47. I just want to say that I loved how Tim did not get into a debate with Charles about the KB swing. It really shows how disciplined of an interviewer Tim is and his willingness to defer to experts. Tim did a great job of illuminating Charles’ perspective on the KB swing and so much more, which is why this was a great episode.

  48. I think the controversy of KB swings being good/bad should go back towards Peter Attia’s N=1 “Let me figure out through my own practice if this is actually good or bad” approach. When he mentioned that KB swing were bad for you, I immediately thought of the question of whether or not the Nutritional Ketogenic Diet was good or bad during a previous podcast, and the ultimate answer given was ” it depends on the individual”. The one good outcome of doing KB swings though, is that they are quite difficult to do from your couch. GET ON YOUR FEET! Let’s roll.

  49. Hey Tim, LOVE the podcast and especially this one. One thing I would love to have clarified, Charles recommended 4 grams of magnesium?? My bottle from Walgreens recommends 400mg per day….is 4 grams correct? I am a bit timid about taking 10 times the recommended dose…

    Also, please reach out to me I need 5 minutes of your time. [Moderator: email address removed]

      1. I’m having a hard time with this 4 g of magnesium/d as well. I just got the threonate for myself, and it definitely helped with wakefulness this morning (I took it last night), but my 2nd round this morning does what high doses of magnesium tends to do….it loosens the bowels!!

        It would be nice if Charles can be MUCH more specific on how he gets someone up to 4 grams, including his choice of products.

      2. I found a 500mg magnesium at CVS, I notticed my sleep has been much more restful the last two nights

    1. I just reached out to him via his FB page. Here is his assistant’s response as I was wondering the same thing…

      Standard recommendation in his BioPrint class that most adult men who are deficient in this, as per a lab analysis, should replenish it with 4 gr of chelated forms of magnesium.

      The best way is to take many forms of absorbable magnesium. Those usually end in -ate, such as fumarate, citrate, glycinate, bisglycinate, etc. To avoid bowel issues, these have to be titrated up slowly and combined with topical forms as well. This is what yields the best results.

      We are currently writing a pdf where the most frequent questions will find their answers, so please do not repost this yet.

    2. Yes i would like this clarified as well… I am taking magnesium but 4 grams is much higher then my current dosage… thanks guys… 🙂

    3. I was thinking the same for both Mg and Zn. 180. Is it correct, should the dosages really be about 10x what’s recommend on packages?

      1. I wonder about 4 grams as well. But I’ve taken 1 gram in the AM and then another 1 gram in the PM before. I suppose 4 grams might be okay if it were spread out enough and if you vary the type of magnesium. E.g. magnesium citrate in the AM and chelated magnesium glyconate in the PM?

      2. The RDA is largely set by two things:

        1) The minimum to prevent certain diseases, as the RDA for Vit D is to prevent rickets, Vit C for scruvy, etc.

        2) It’s a government designed number, so draw your own conclusion on that.

    4. I’m not sure if this is what Charles was talking about, but the magnesium you can buy in powdered form from a specialist sports company near me says you get 400mg of Magnesium from 2.1g of the Magnesium Citrate powder. Maybe he meant 4g of this powder? I would recommend waiting to find out exactly what Charles meant before upping your dose of actual magnesium in say pill form to 10 times the recommended dose, at least that’s what I am going to do!

      1. I would like to know this as well. Was looking at a product label for magnesium tablets that says:

        200mg of Magnesium (Elemental) from 2,000mg Magnesium Glycinat/Lysinate Chelate**, taken twice daily.

        So is that equal to 4g or would you need to take 10x the daily dose? That’s a big difference.

      2. I feel a psychological barrier to swallowing more than 15 magnesium pills at once… I hope they come out with that PDF soon so we can have some resolution on this issue! :

  50. Fascinating interview-by the way it is Dr.Richard Wiseman-although I don’t think he would be offended by being called a “wildman”;-).His books are excellent-very interesting character-well worth an interview

  51. Another reader asked about Omega 3 supplements and heard the same thing I did, that Charles had recommended up to 60g/day but that he took about 2g/day. I got on his website and looked for references to O3 and fish oil and came away with a recommendation of 2-4g/day. When Charles said 60g/day did we mis-hear or did he mis-speak? I was a little confused about the Mg supplement amount too. Any thoughts on either?

    Enjoy the podcasts immensely, thanks.

  52. Such a wide-ranging interview. And the emos with it. What I loved about CP was his life-long personal approach to personal development: and the charisma in there. A lot to learn here on simplicity; some keystone knowledge in supplementation; agility in living, having fun, learning languages. Thank you Tim and Charles.

    In terms of the KB debate – and the mockery of use of balance boards and non-linear practises – CP’s perspective is clearly one-dimensional in the gym. I get that. Being a surfer, I’ve learnt much from Laird’s cross-approaches that mimic the chaos being unloaded on your body in the ocean compared with the verticals of an olympic lift. For amusement, I vote for a CP and Laird double-header! Why not throw Pavel in too, the Christmas special.

    Tim – as always – thank you for what you are pulling out for us. My head is being re-programmed with all kinds of good stuff and happy that the TFS is my 100.00 FM.


    – PS loving also saying yes to Mizz & Maine, Meundies, Athletic Greens offers and the Standing Desk campaign….I always have this thought someone will come by and visit and spot it all, going “oh, you’re clearly in the school of Ferriss…”.

    1. P.S. Tim – idea: how about an episode that is a deep-dive on just coffee. And tea? One of the world experts in your circles…?

  53. Who was that noble prize winner for functional medicine?

    Catcher and Wilner or something I couldn’t understand…

    1. To add to vegan/no meat athletes:

      – Alexey Voevoda (Olympic Gold Medalist – Bob Sledding, Arm Wrestling World Champion)

      – Herschel Walker (Heisman Trophy 1982, 10yr NFL career, Olympic Bob Sledding 7th place 1992)

      Not trying to be funny here, but Walker also has been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, so it may worth taking his “1 meal/day consisting of soup, salad, and breads” with a grain of salt. (I’d love to be proven wrong about that.)

      Alexey is an especially interesting case as he adamantly defends his decision to stop eating meat citing A.M. Ugolev. 1991. “The Theory of Adequate Specific Nutrition.”

      I’m American, so I’ll leave it to you foreigners and polyglots (looking at you, Tim) to peer review.

      Preemptive disclaimer: regardless of the findings, you have to respect a human flag at 270lbs.

      Voevoda was also a main character in the “Pulling John (2009)” documentary on lengendary armwrestler John Brzenk. Definitely worth watching.

      Regarding the interview:

      I’ve been listening faithfully to your podcast for the last six months, and this was the one that finally prompted me to fill out the lengthy requirements to comment.

      While all of your guests are far more accomplished than I am (in almost every facet of their lives) I’ve noticed several will reach a point during the interview where they’re outside of their specific field of expertise and resort to filling the void with gobbledygook. This, however, was an episode where I noticed the exact opposite. A consummate expert, reluctantly refraining from certain topics or elaboration because of time constraints or the assumed comprehension limitations of the audience.

      I say that, to say this: schedules permitting, Poliquin and Sammy Kamkar deserve more episodes.

      Big up to Starrett for commenting.

  54. Great interview Tim. Please could we get clarification on why cardio causes insulin resistance? What is the underlying physiological mechanisms to result in this? By the same token does it there imply that endurance athletes have insulin resistence? Charles made a passing comment also about bad insulin response on the insulin stress test in figure competitors , and I am curious why.


  55. Very informative! Thank you, Tim!

    I god confused though when Charles mentioned about the cardio machines and insulin resistance… would be good to know more about it. But a simple google search didn’t bring and result for me… could you or somebody share some research on that?

    Thanks for clarifying about the kettlebels swings! I trust Pavel on that 😉

  56. Tim, great work once again.

    The most compelling points you and Charles make are in regards to empiricism and evidenced based medicine. It amazes me how quickly we in medicine will jump on the bandwagon of a treatment or line of thinking because “a study just came out showing…” only to abandon them once another study shows otherwise. Yet we undermine non-medical clinicians like Poliquin because of lack of data. Ignaz Semmelweis comes to mind, for example!

    By the way, I gave you and Dr. Gawande kudos on my most recent blog post on Orthopedics Today. Hopefully, you can reach a new sector with this introduction to the Orthopedic Surgery community.

    All the best!

    Article can be found on Healio Orthopedics under the Blog section. (wanted to follow the comment rules)

  57. I’m pretty sure the book/blog Charles refers to at the end of the podcast that taught him to simplify his life is “Zen Habits” by Leo Babauta.

  58. I want to preface this by saying I am not vegetarian and don’t hold any strong opinions about the diet but found it interesting that Charles mentions that he has never seen it in a world class athlete. The most decorated olympic weightlifter currently competing, Ilya Ilyin, is a vegan and has 2 olympic championships, 4 world championships and several records in both the 94kg and 105kg weight class. I believe only his most recent 105 class records were under a vegan diet but I am curious what he thinks about Ilya. Is he simply a physical anomaly training under suboptimal conditions? Another less accomplished but note worthy vegan weightlifter is Kendrick Farris of the United States.

    1. “At 18 years old Ilya decided that he wants to switch to vegetarianism eventually. Until only just recently he hasn’t been able to fully commit to it. He ate meat during preparation for London 2012”


      Jeff, you claim that Ilya Ilyin is a Vegan winning world and Olympic competitions, yet he won all those records while on a diet eating meat.

      What are your sources of info? The only source I found was the above mentioned webpage with an interview where Ilya admits he “want to be a vegetarian.” Note that he never said “Vegan.” If he’s serious enough to be a “Vegan” then why would he say “Vegetarian?”

  59. Hi Tim,

    Loved this episode, thank you so much for interviewing Charles. I wasn’t familiar with him before, but now I’m excited to learn more and use his teaching to improve my strength training routine. I was especially grateful that you asked questions about common mistakes trainers make with women–I find that so many strength training programs are geared towards men and it can often be intimidating.

    I’m interested in finding a quality strength coach here in Washington DC–any recommendations on how to find one? Not really sure where to start other than gym trainers, and based on what Charles shared, I’m super skeptical of the quality I might find there.

    Thank you!


  60. Really enjoyed the episode and made me think a lot about my own diet and strength training.

    One question that has come up – Does Poliquin reject the idea of a Cheat Day or even Cheat Meal? He continued to emphasize that “you must deserve your carbs” and carbs generally came into play right before, during, or right after a workout. Does this mean, in his opinion, there’s no room for a cheat day or meal where carb intake doesn’t necessarily surround a workout?



    1. yes check out his strength sensei website and search up cheat meal, he has an article on recommendations

  61. Loved this podcast and everything Charles has to say.

    Except for his knock against steady state cardio for fat loss. This is largely dependent on context. As a woman who has been barbell training for four years with plenty of muscle and ~ 10lbs of body fat to lose, I find that adding three easy 45 minute runs a week to my strength program helps me get leaner. This is instead of eating 250 calories less than I would on those days.

    Genetics plays a large part in how people react to exercise and it’s up to each person to determine what kind of programming will help them achieve their goals, especially aesthetic ones.

  62. I totally loved this podcast. Charles Poliquin is the funniest and coolest guy ever! LOVE LOVE LOVE! Thanks Tim!

  63. Read the McGill study carefully. If the person has intolerance to shear load on the vertebrae, the kettle bell swing will cause pain and is not recommended for them. I personally am intolerant to shear loading, and the kettebell swing instantly lights me up and makes my toes go numb.

    1. Absolutely, you are right. The thing is you’re one of the FEW who would actually be intolerant, but according to McGill’s work, you are absolutely correct….

  64. I’d like to see an experiment using unilateral exercises.

    On one side do Pavel’s “grease the groove” technique on the other side do more of a traditional strength training approach.

    Hopefully you don’t end up looking like Quagmire when he discovers internet porn.

  65. On kettlebell swings, Poliquin seemed to be particularly critical of crossfitters in this regard. They swing the KB almost overhead when they do the exercise rather than to chest height which is how Pavel and the SFG recommend doing it. Incidentally, I first heard of Poliquin when Pavel referred to him.

    KB swings have been part of my training for nearly 10 years and I have not had any problems. Of course, form is everything.

  66. OK, I’m adding to the request for more info on how foam rollers create scar tissue – seems like a very controversial claim and rather counterintuitive based on everything I’ve read, including material from Kelly Starrett.

    1. I agree Lloyd, as the most I’ve done daily is 10 g (shot glass full) of fish oils, and liquid is the only way to go to get that level. My first days on that had pretty loose bowels for about a week, but I have seen it suggested that if you are really sick, and can still stand the loose stools, to keep going at that pace or higher!!

      Design’s for Health is a good brand, and I have also used Standard Process & NutriWest’s products (I’m a Chiropractor with access to all three companies). NutriWest’s product is similar to Barry Sears products from what I can tell, with EPA:DHA::2:1, recommended for adults (opposite for children, as they need DHA for their brains, which is what SP actually has as a liquid). I ended up not responding well to the product from NutriWest, and tried VitaminShoppe’s high potency, lemon flavored, and seem to have gotten the same result. (800:500::EPA:DHA).

      Words of warning on supplementing this high a fish oil. You may not need it for that long. Get a good fatty acid test analysis (blood draw or spot test), comparing your arachadonic acid (AA, Ω-6) to your EPA (Ω-3). The ratio for those should be 4:1 to 1:1, as you need the Ω-6’s for regular inflammatory responses, especially important for physical training. “Toxic Fat” by Barry Sears gets into the details in the first 120 pages or so. But once you get into the above range, don’t overdue it!!

      I think if your diet is complete crap, you may need more fish oils initially, but as you balance things out, keep that number checked periodically to determine if you need to increase/decrease supplements accordingly.

  67. Tim, I have been doing the kettle bell swing as you recommended. What is your thought about that exercise now?

  68. Dear Tim,

    You are always talking about muscle hypertrophy on the show. I have been big all of my life and now that I am older, I am two years older than you, I find that any time I hit the gym with any regularity I get bigger and bigger. Can you please devote a show to how ex athletes who were big, ie. Powerlifting or offensive linemen, managed to decrease their muscle mass while still maintaining tone and strength after they stopped competing in their sport.

    1. Charles mentioned 3 grams, which is an amazing amount, still trying to figure out how to do this…

  69. Great show as always!

    One thing I found intriguing was the reference to certain peptides for joint repair. Tim – how can we find out more about the specific peptides Charles was referencing?

  70. Great interview and I have tremendous respect for Charles, his knowledge, and the work he’s done in the industry. He’s one of the best minds, without question. With that said, I do strongly disagree on his points about the Kettlebell swing. My interpretation is that he was referring to the American Style swing which is a different animal from the Russian Style swing.

    From several years of practical experience, I can say the the Russian style swing offers many benefits when performed with optimal technique. My personal experience is that of a physical therapist and also a person who’s experienced a major low back injury many years ago – and the swing has been KEY in “optimizing” the health of my back. There are countless anecdotal reports of benefits of using the (Russian) swing to improve back health, not impair it.

    And, the work by Dr. Stuart McGill helps to shed light on the unique forces in the spine and who may or may not benefit from the Russian style swing. I think the key point (or misunderstanding) here is the difference in the American Swing and Russian Swing – the American swing is very much biomechanically different (and I’ve written extensively about this myself).

    His point about the vertical bar path in OL is spot on, of course, and this is critical for weightlifting. But, in the Russian swing the point is to project the bell only horizontal to approximately ***shoulder height (the intent is not to go overhead as in the American style which places much more demand on the spine and shoulders and promotes more faulty mechanics).

    Ah, lots to debate and discuss, just my 2 cents and again, I have nothing but high regards for Charles.

  71. Why are so many men on Viagra and various sex stimulating drugs. Is this poor eating, alchohol, carbs or what can you teach men about how to get it up naturally to an old age?

  72. Great Podcast! I was wondering if anyone can provide a citation for the study that Poliquin was discussing regarding glucose levels and cardiovascular disease risk in non-diabetic patients. It was around the 38:45 mark.

    I’m a physician and would love to use that study to try to motivate my patients to eat a healthier diet with less sugar/processed carbohydrate despite not having diabetes. I did a quick search on pub med and came up empty, but I will keep looking.


  73. This was a great episode, very entertaining and also informative. I was curious after Charles mentioned that cardio was bad, what is the best method to reduce body fat in the quickest time? In the interview he mentions a man losing like 280 lbs in a very short time, but we know that can’t be all dieting. Since he doesn’t agree with kettlebells, what other workout methods can be used?

  74. Does anybody have suggestions for finding a competent PT in Illinois that is affordable and treats the body as a whole?


  75. Great interview Tim! Can you get Coach Cristopher Summers on to show what can be accomplished without either KBs or DBs and also as an contrarian view on the flexible and strong spine as opposed to the stiff and braced fanatics 😉

  76. I’ve listened to about 40 minutes so far-it is very interesting, but I have some concerns..

    1) he made a comment early on about Chinese medicine being validated. I do not see this in the notes you posted. I’m not sure what he is talking about. His theory about fire, water, earth and dopamine and other neurotransmitters is interesting…but…not sure what he is referring to in western medicine that validates Chinese medicine.

    2) The herbal remedy to help remove loose skin or stretch marks. Any studies on this? I can understand if it maybe can improve some stretch marks but is there a medically plausible explanation for how taking this supplement orally for 6 months can remove a lot of excess skin?

    If someone was really 400 lbs and went down to 200, they usually need surgery to remove that much loose skin. If the supplement works, I have no idea how. And what would it be doing to the rest of your connective tissues?

    3) Fish Oil. I do not know where to begin, but I will say this–looking at SICK people with heart problems, taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement does not seem to do anything to help with known heart disease.

    I don’t think there are any studies on taking 40 to 60 g a day of fish oil…but..

    how can you physically take that much? even in supplement form that would be a ton of pills. Can you physically eat that much fish on a regular basis that had 60 g of omega 3 fish oil in it? And if so, what else would be in the fish (mercury etc) that would be a problem?

    Then Paul notes he takes 2 g a day. So which is it?

    He also notes in working with Mario DiPasquale that omega 3 seems to treat everything. This kind of broad generalization is a sign that maybe…maybe this needs a bit more scrutiny.

    4) He went off how on 2008 a journal finally validated cluster training. That he knew about in the 1970s.

    An alternative viewpoint–there are COUNTLESS training recommendations that pass from coach to the athlete. Not all of them are successful. Humans also have their own bias when looking at the athlete and the situation.

    While it is nice that cluster training was validated per the study in 2008, think of hundred or thousands or routines that started in the 1970s that did not pan out. A study like what was published can provide some needed validation. If Charles had tried something other than cluster training…but had some inherent bias and continued to use it, maybe the study would have ended that.

    The whole point of evidence-based medicine is that in many situations the most dangerous thing a doctor can say regarding a treatment is “…in my experience…” we tend to focus on the positive and downplay the negative. Our memory is not perfect. A well-done study can cut through bias to provide better-validated information and ideally prove that the improvement noted (or harm ) was more likely than not due to simple chance alone.

    In terms of Bias, is Charles working with such high level athletes that nearly any regiment would help them, but if he worked with more slobs like myself he would need to be more selective in his advice?

    In a study environment is someone was taking anabolic steroids or another ergogenic aid, that could be controlled for. If you are working with a ton of high level athletes looking for an edge and they are taking anabolic steroids on the sly…that tends to improve results quite a bit.

    5) I have no doubt Charles is a wealth of information and experience, but does he have any conflicts of interest or disclosures? Does he get a fee for recommending a brand of omega3 fish oil he likes?

    1. I don’t believe he meant to say ‘treat’ rather than ‘preventative measure’ when it came to omega 3 supplementation. I found numerous studies on pubmed, and in my university’s database covering omega 3 supplementation and positive preventive effects.

      I think he’d be able to infer whether the study was used with anabolic assistance or not. High level athletes aren’t easy to train, their adaptive system is less responsive than the average population simply because of training age; techniques need to be more selective and personalized. I also don’t believe they’d be taking them on the “sly”, elite trainers, the nutritionists, the coaches, and the teammates know and are usually well versed on the subject. Plus, its no secret that the competition is taking them too.

      I believe he is an amazing elite trainer because he is selective and individualized in his advice on every level. Nobody gets to the top without training slobs first anyways haha.

      1. Just because there is a study in pubmed does not mean it is a good study. To be honest, you really have to be careful since there is overwhelming bias to publish studies with positive findings. Then are the items under study really important?: Is looking at LDL levels more important than number of heart attacks or people that died from a heart attack? Hard ends points are more important than soft ones.

        But Cochrane did look at a bunch of good studies and they say this

        “It is not clear that dietary or supplemental omega 3 fats alter total mortality, combined cardiovascular events or cancers in people with, or at high risk of, cardiovascular disease or in the general population. There is no evidence we should advise people to stop taking rich sources of omega 3 fats, but further high quality trials are needed to confirm suggestions of a protective effect of omega 3 fats on cardiovascular health.

        There is no clear evidence that omega 3 fats differ in effectiveness according to fish or plant sources, dietary or supplemental sources, dose or presence of placebo.”

  77. Does anyone have more information on the Braverman test that was mentioned? I could only find limited info on

    1. The link above is Braverman’s site. His book for the original test is called the Edge Effect, which has a long form version of the test (I suspect you can retake that one a couple of times w/o testing bias).

    1. Would you say that Homer Simpson is a lean and healthy looking character? I hope not. Thats the idea; that the average person is as healthy and lean as Homer Simpson, and therefore that most averages should be taken with a grain of salt.