Charles Poliquin – His Favorite Mass-Building Program, His Nighttime Routine For Better Sleep, and Much More (#198)


“If you’re 80% good and 20% terrible, you can’t expect to have 100% results.”

– Charles Poliquin

Charles Poliquin is back for another round of the podcast. Charles (@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, and the first women’s wrestling US Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis, among many others.

And as I creep up towards episode #200, his first appearance on the podcast is still one of the top-15 most listened to episodes, and he’s constantly requested by listeners for a round 2.

In this episode, you to play host, and I selected your most popular questions on Facebook and Twitter. This time, Charles goes deep on several topics, including:

  • His favorite mass building program of all-time
  • Recommendations for older lifters
  • His latest thoughts on hormones and diet
  • How to differentiate a bad trainer from a good one, and a good one from the “best of the best”
  • His nighttime routine for improving sleep
  • Why most people screw up abdominal training
  • Ketosis and muscle gain
  • And much, much more!


#198: Charles Poliquin - His Favorite Mass-Building Program, His Nighttime Routine For Better Sleep, and Much More

Want to hear another episode with Charles Poliquin?  — Listen to his first appearance on the podcast. In this episode, we discuss, muscle-building techniques, how to become stronger, warmup routines, why people struggle to lose fat, and more (stream below or right-click here to download):

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

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Charles Poliquin: | Facebook | YouTube | Google+ | Twitter | Instagram

Show Notes

  • Advice for older (40+) lifters. Is it all downhill from here? [06:44]
  • How can you test your insulin sensitivity to determine if you’re lean enough to make good use of carbs or not? [09:33]
  • What’s Charles’s best routine for gaining mass? [11:16]
  • What dosage of Gotu Kola does Charles recommend for repairing stretch marks? [14:00]
  • What injuries has Charles had to deal with over a career of maximizing swolertrophy (aka muscle hypertrophy) — and how does he treat them? [14:32]
  • With YouTube giving so many so-called strength training “experts” a soapbox, how do we combat misinformation? [16:53]
  • What distinguishes a good personal trainer from a great personal trainer — and what’s the best way to get started? [19:53]
  • Which supplements does Charles recommend for improving sleep? [22:58]
  • Does Charles have any regrets? [23:27]
  • Is taking three-to-one EPA to DHA supplements worth it? [26:01]
  • What’s Charles’s beef against foam rolling? [27:38]
  • Does Charles have a go-to lifting plan for body transformation? [29:23]
  • How do we know which supplements are more effective — or if they work at all? [30:36]
  • When squatting: high bar or low bar? Type of shoes? With or without a belt? [32:50]
  • Why something as simple as chewing can have an impact on your weight goals. [34:08]
  • Is there a way to combine strength training and long cardio sessions? [40:01]
  • What’s the use of scientific knowledge if it’s not put to practical use? [41:35]
  • Is a trainer who can’t get a woman to do 12 pull-ups in 12 weeks a bad trainer? [47:05]
  • How would Charles prioritize sleep, food, and exercise? [47:50]
  • Are there any benefits to cryotherapy for the average person? [49:12]
  • Top things Charles has learned in the last two years. [51:25]
  • What does Charles know that’s not well-known among the scientific community? [53:08]
  • For someone who wants to start coaching in the strength and conditioning world, is there something more beneficial than certifications? [53:55]
  • Thoughts on intermittent fasting for trying to gain lean muscle. [55:35]
  • What is the most effective and efficient way to increase strength in a squat and deadlift after you hit a plateau? [56:53]
  • What “big idea” has Charles recently changed his mind about? [58:40]
  • What new insights did Charles gain training women wrestlers Helen Maroulis and Elena Pirozhkova for the Olympic games in Rio? [1:00:09]
  • His process for learning new languages. [1:04:59]
  • Favorite books. [1:08:27]
  • Charles discusses his “one thing.” [1:08:49]
  • What is Charles most proud of? [1:10:16]

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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56 Replies to “Charles Poliquin – His Favorite Mass-Building Program, His Nighttime Routine For Better Sleep, and Much More (#198)”

  1. Curious is anyone caught the names of the techniques Charles recommends as alternatives to foam rolling.

    I heard active release session but couldn’t make out the other two.


  2. Charles, great info again. I listened to your first podcast many times and I will re-listen to this one as well because I learn something new each time.

    I just bought and read the program you put together for Tim’s listeners, it’s straight forward and to the point. The Muscle Laws were quite insightful for me. I do have a couple questions about it though.

    1. In the copywriting on your sales page, Muscle Law #3 about eating 2 foods first thing in the morning. I could not find any specific mention to that in your product, could you perhaps guide me to which PDF and page number to find this info? You outline your meal plans simplistically but nothing makes direct mention to Law #3, that I can find.

    2. About the caloric (food) intake suggested in your meal plans. How is it possible to lose fat while being in a calorie surplus each day? Would you not gain muscle and remain at the same level of body fat?

    3. Does the timing of eating matter? Say, if I were to able to consume all the food your recommend in a day but do it at my convenience rather than nicely spaced intervals, would it matter?

    After listening to the first podcast and being a member of that famous Canadian gym chain I stopped washing myself with crushed oral contraceptives haha

    Thanks for all the help Charles!

      1. Thanks Justin, that is most likely the correct answer.

        As for the E book is comes in 5 PDF files

        1.How to Gain Mass Muscles (76 pages)

        2. How to Eat for Mass (8 pages)

        3. Supplementation Guide (13 pages)

        4. Best Foods for Mass (6 pages)

        5. Sample Meal Plan (13 pages)

        For context, I’m 28, I’ve been hitting the gym for years, play sports every night, could do a triathlon tomorrow if needed (about 5’8 180lbs with penis skin on my stomach). Staying on a healthy diet has been the hardest for me over the years. If I eat garbage or high carbs I gain weight quickly. I recently dropped 25lbs in 2 months from listening to Charles first podcast. His shit works.

        1. The most informative for me was How to Gain Mass. He outlines his 23 muscles laws. A lot of these I knew through trial and error but some of them were big eye openers. And again this is to gain size not necessarily max out strength.

        He then outlines 3 different work plans for 3 different kinds of people, which I guessed at what my type is. There is no new special exercise or cheat that he has you doing (cause there isn’t one). It is all about correct movement and exact time under tension, he outlines it quite simply.

        ex. Incline Dumbbell press- 4 sets: 8, 10, 12, 15 on 3010 tempo; rest 75 seconds.

        2. In Eating for Mass he has 15 muscles laws for eating. If you’re an experienced athlete or lifter then you know some of this already, but if you’re just a regular guy lifting weights at the gym trying to keep the weight off this would be a game changer for you.

        ex. How to find the carb/protein ratio that fits your genetics? The farther away from the equator your ancestors are, the more of a protein/fat diet you should have and vice versa.

        3. I don’t use supplements but he outlines his daily stack, which I’m sure helps but I can’t comment on it.

        4. Pretty straight forward, meats and veg with select carbs, cut out the processed shit food.

        5. He outlines his meal plan and the meal plans of 2 other professional coaches. This was helpful for me. But I’m not willing to spend that much time prepping and eating food in my day to day life. If your goal is to get big then following his plan would work, you’re eating a lot. I’m deciding to do about half of what he recommends out of convenience for myself and I’ll probably see half the results because of it.

        Every one wants to look better, I’d recommend this to anyone above 10% body fat who is looking to do just that. There is only so much that can be changed in 3 months, but if your looking to lose 20lbs and gain some size then thats totally possible. If you’re looking to double your squat numbers then this isn’t right program for you.

        Hope this helps anyone who is looking for more info on his product. Theres more than one way to skin a cat and I’m a fan of Charles’ methods.

      2. Hey Justin & Pat, just curious if either of you still have the ebooks and are willing to share. They appear to be quite rare/unavailable today, thanks!

  3. Glad to hear that Charles is a fan of Examine. I have found them to be a great site for information on supplements!

    1. Yes, highly recommend it. He outlines general laws of building mass, and gives multiple programs with different options for individuals with different recovery times. The programming is extremely detailed, with exact tempo, rest time, etc, as well as videos of proper form for each exercise. It also comes with lots of info on nutrition.

  4. It still blows my mind when people in fitness don’t know about examine. Glad to see Charles recommends it as a resource.

  5. Did i mishear, i swear in the podcast he said he would never charge for an ebook so he was putting it up for only 2 weeks.

    If you go to the site its there for 47 dollars.

    1. I think what he meant to say was: That he’s never made/sold en eBook of teachings before, but will sell this to TF’s listeners for two weeks.

  6. For an example of someone who’s used Intermittent Fasting to great success (for strength, muscle mass, and behaviourally) check out Martin Berkhan at

    He’s also someone who’s successfully trained others to great success (some examples His latest post (here details one of the most compelling, recent studies on the efficacy of the approach.

    Makes me second-guess some of Charles ideas, but I enjoy hearing alternative perspectives. Hypotheses worth testing at least.

    1. I agree was just going to say don’t agree how he just dismisses fasting outright as unuseful whatsoever. Thanks for your comment

  7. I can’t make out what the name of the neurotransmitter test he was talking about in between 34:08 and 40:01. Does anyone know which one he’s referencing?

  8. Ahhhh!!! My question was answered! I was just on my favorite pod cast and my favorite strength coach just said my name. So cool!

    That was amazing! I serisously wrote on my dreamline this week that I wanted to be on the Tim Ferriss show hahah. Of course I meant as a geust but I guess I wasn’t specific enough.

    Thank you for putting my question up to Coach Poliquin 🙂

    Much appreciated!

    Clay Steadman

  9. I love how he uses the ‘learning a new language’ analogy. We can’t use the same words over and over and expect to move forward, just as we can’t do the same exercises over and over and expect real progress. I am an ocd when it comes to changing my training routine but doing something and being able to explain it in a sexy way is two different things. I respect Charles wisdom, his experience and his supplement knowledge. I don’t know many people that know about schisandra berries. By the way Tim if you want to get drunk on something exotic and useful for your next drunk dealing episode, marinate a cup of schisandra berries in 2 cups of vodka or gin for a week or two, drain and enjoy. Eat the berries after. Schisandra berries lower cortisol levels and raise testosterone. Plus your booze will turn pink. ( You didn’t sound drunk last drunk dialing episode ) Thank you for this unpretentious and useful episode!

  10. The Intermittent Fasting is totally incorrect. I have used it with great results for almost 2 years. In fact, my strength went up in all lifts consistently. Reps 4-6, 6-8, 8-10, and 1 superset exercise. Upper body 2x a week, Lower body once a week. I fast until about 1-2pm, just drinking black coffee or tea and eat 2x a day. I eat minimal carbs but I do eat potatoes and sweet potatoes the night before my training day.

  11. I was really let down that the headline benefit of this podcast wasn’t even included. It was just clickbait to get you to listen and then go to his website to buy an ebook from a 1992 sales page.

    1. Yeah, I hear you Brendan. “The best mass building program is the $47 one I created”. LOL.

      Good podcast. But clickbait indeed.

  12. Awesome episode. Thanks so much! I have some future guest suggestions. Joshua Kennon is a value investor in his 30s, who wrote much of the investing content on (now moved to Aikido master Mary Heiny Sensei ( witnessed the originator of Aikido practice as a young woman. She has a keen understanding of energy. Finally, (I don’t have a specific name), an internal Toyota Production System domain expert from Toyota Global. I found many aspects of the 4H* books include concepts I learned from studying the Toyota Production System.

  13. In the summary it says Charles talks about these two points:

    – Why most people screw up abdominal training

    – Ketosis and muscle gain

    However, I never heard him mention either in the podcast. Did I miss them somehow. Can anyone point me to the time stamps?

  14. Tim, I love your podcasts but this wasn’t one of my favorites. Poliquin is definitely a legend and deserves a healthy amount of respect in that regard but I didn’t find very much content here that was of interest to me.

    I must have missed the section on ketogenic diets — did Poliquin comment on that? I’d really appreciate any further content that you can provide in the future on ketosis and ketogenic diets. Keep up the great work….

  15. You got to love Charles,

    Even apologized for eventual misspronouncation of my name.Thanks for answering so many questions.

    Impressed by your humbleness,

    Kind regards,

    Fedor [the] Bär

  16. Hi Tim,

    I’m Italian and I can’t understand what you say in the podcast. I’d like a written text of it or suggestions for understanding podcasts in English! 😀

  17. Awesome content, I really enjoyed both of his podcasts. I really enjoy how Charles tells it like it is. I would love to be a fly on the wall listening in on a conversation between Charles and Coach Sommer!

    Tim!!! Make it happen for us!!


  18. I wanted to SURE which magnesium and Theanine supplements he uses. When I tap it it takes me straight to Amazon with several choices???? Please help!

  19. The link to the fish oil recommended does not contain vitamin K or D as the podcast mentioned. Can the correct link be added?

  20. Do you have any shampoo recommendations? I’ve heard Charles discuss how many chemicals are typically in shampoos. Thanks!

  21. Hi Tim and Coach Poliquin,

    I’m afraid this is going to be a bit complex but I’ll give it a shot. I am 42 years old and was diagnosed with hypoandrogenism in 2013 (as a direct result of a surgical procedure that was performed in 2010). My physical and mental status took a steep downward spiral in the years that followed until recently. Fast forward to today and I have finally gotten my T-levels to where I want them to be. However, this past summer I was also diagnosed with combined ADHD (Inattentive/impulsive, I’m currently taking Vyvance 50mg with great success). I was fascinated by what you were saying about Neurotransmitter Profiling and the fact that you mentioned ADHD (thank you for that) and specific ratios for omega 3 supplementation. As you can see, my hormones and neurotransmitters are all f’d up. Will the Braverman Test still work for me if I’m currently being treated for my ADHD, how would I interpret the results, and what types of programs (Strength and Mass) do you currently prescribe to ADHD’ers? Also, can you refer me to and articles/studies related to the Omega’s and ADHD?

    Thanks for all that you do!!

  22. Has anyone used the ART therapy he talks about? I have a few different long standing injuries I need to address before beginning any strength training program. Would love some feedback if anyone has tried it.

  23. It seems the is no option yet to buy “How to Gain Muscle Mass” guide.

    It would be great if I can buy it, could you help me?

  24. Hey everyone, I bought the ebook pack and found the muscle laws and training programs pretty informative. A question: in the work-outs the exercises are numbered A1, A2; B1, B2; C1, C2…etc. Does this mean those two exercises should be done alternately? E.g. first set of A1, then first set of A2; second set of A1, then second set of A2; first set of B1, then first set of B2; second set of B1, then second set of B2…etc.

    Many thanks to anyone who knows!



    1. Duderm just released a skin-tightening supplement with the gotu kola extract. One capsule is roughly the equivalent of the 1,000mg that Charles had mentioned. So three capsules per day will get you the 3,000mg. [Moderator: link removed.]

  25. Hi everyone,

    I loved the podcast, but it seems that I am too late to the party 🙁 I tried to get the ebook “Charles Poliquin’s favorite mass building routine”, but the offer was available only for two weeks after the podcast went live. Does anyone know where I can get it?


  26. I dont think I gained a single bit of useful information from this. Most of his answers were vague, rushed, and contained some lame joke or a ‘proverb/quote’.

    I much preferred the Q&A with Dominic; even though he’s not a “world class expert” like this guy apparently is.

  27. Not a fan of the audio player. This comment comes from trying to go back just 15 seconds to hear something repeated. Check out sirius xm app or amazon’s jump back feature. Would greatly appreciate that.

    1. After leaving this comment it completely closed out the audio. Ask #2 would be to modify that feature. Wanted to leave a comment and keep listening.

  28. The part in the ebook he doesn’t talk about is how close to failure you should be on the rep schemes. Something like 4 sets: 10, 12, 15, 20 reps. What does this mean drop the weight on every set so that you can just barely do 10,12,15,20. He explains alot of simple things in the ebook but skips this detail. On his web site he has free articles that explain how close you should be to failure on other protocols for example german volume training use a weight you could do for 20 reps but do 10 rest 60 sec and do another 10 for 10 sets that to me is clear and I understand

  29. What was that book something about “difference between fantasy and goal” at the end I can’t find it on amazon.

    Great interview and loads of knowledge to implement