Snapshot of Takeaway Points
- Increased exposure to an exercise provides numerous benefits
- Whatever exercise you start the session with, you must end with as well
- Initial brain child of Charles Poliquin’s mentor, Pierre Roy
As is often the case, this protocol was first thrown at me by my mentor, the late great Charles Poliquin. He first heard about it from his mentor Pierre Roy. Pierre Roy is known for coaching Olympic Weightlifters so he knows how to get people strong. When Charles was first introduced to it, the protocol was utilised to increased strength. Charles then adapted it to also use it as a volume/accumulation protocol for hypertrophy/muscle gains. Below I’ll show you all the protocols and how and when to use them.
The Original Protocol
As with movies, the original can often be considered the best. This is my belief with this protocol as it can be applied a multitude of ways to a variety of populations. The premise of the session is simple:
Whatever you do first, you also do last
The idea is to perform a movement when fresh, and then when fatigued. Here’s what Pierre Roy might have programmed as an Olympic Weightlifting session for someone who needs to improve their back squat:
- A) Back Squat: 3 x 3 reps, 20X0, 240s rest
- B) Full Snatch (From Blocks): 5 x 2 reps, 240s rest
- C) Back Squat: 2 x 5 reps, 32X0, 180s rest
The back squat is performed with lower reps and therefore heavier weight at the beginning of the session when you are fresh. Then once again at the end of the session with higher repetitions and therefore lower weight and in this instance, with a pause. You take advantage of performing the movement fresh and with a pre-fatigue. The pre-fatigue element will test your testicular fortitude and also recruit the remaining lower threshold motor units leading to hypertrophy.
The squat may negatively affect performance in the snatch in this instance, depending on the lifter, but the goal is to improve the weakness of the squat so it fits the purpose.
This protocol can also be utilised in a rehabilitation setting or to focus on a major weakness of a client. The concept is simple as you double the exposure to the weak movement pattern, with two repetition ranges and therefore motor unit recruitment. Here’s an example for someone who presents weak external rotators of the humerus:
- A) Unilateral External Rotation (Dumbbell, Elbow high, on Knee): 3 x 6-8, 4110, 120s rest
- B1) Flat Press (Dumbbell, Neutral): 8,6,4,4,6,8, 4110, 100s rest
- B2) Pull Up (Pronated, Wide): 8,6,4,4,6,8, 3011, 100s rest
- C) Unilateral External Rotation (Cable, Side on, 80°): 2 x 12-15, 3011, 90s rest
Charles always loved a good tri-set! Especially on arms as he proudly displayed. He took the same principle and applied it into a tri-set for one muscle group. The goal would now change to a hypertrophy or muscle building goal instead of a strength focus. The same rule of whatever you did first, you also did last still applied. He basically created the pre & post exhaustion routine from hell!
Here’s the outline:
- A1) Isolation movement
- A2) Compound movement for same muscle group
- A3) Same movement as A1
Here’s an example routine for Brachialis from the master himself, Charles Poliquin:
- A1) Standing EZ Bar Curl (Pronated, Mid, Pause on Eccentric): 3 x 4-6 reps, 3210, 10s rest
- A2) 80° Incline Zottman Curl: 3 x 4-6 reps, 4010, 10s rest
- A3) Standing EZ Bar Curl (Pronated, Mid): 3 x 3-5 reps, 5010, 120s
I’m not sure where I first saw this concept, I want to say Stephane from Kilo Strength so I hope I’m right! Here you apply Charles’ tri-set method with his infamous German Body Composition principles.
- A1) Lower body movement
- A2) Upper body movement
- A3) Same as A1
Example for quads and back
- A1) Barbell Back Squat (High Bar): 3 x 6-8 reps, 4210
- A2) Lat/Cable Pulldown (Supinated, Sh.): 3 x 6-8 reps, 3012
- A3) Barbell Back Squat (High Bar): 3 x 6-8 reps, 3010
The benefits of this workout are a full body session, whereby the body has to work hard at clearing substrates from different areas in the body. Having the blood go from quads to back and then back down to quads is challenging due to the distance it has to travel. Add into the mix having to clear lactic acid from an all-out set and you’ve got yourself a possible vomit session on your hands!
The example above is advanced, due to the challenging neurological nature of the movements selected. You can though make the protocol match the client. An easier version could be:
- A1) Leg Press (Duck Stance): 3 x 10-12 reps, 3020, 10s rest
- A2) Bilateral Lateral Raise (Dumbbells, Pronated, Prone on 50°): 3 x 10-12 reps, 2012, 10s rest
- A3) Leg Press (Sumo Stance): 3 x 10-12 reps, 3020, 120s rest
Easier exercises, lighter weights involved and even a slight change in foot position for the last exercise to further fatigue different fibres.
This protocol I can lay claim to. It is closer to that of the original protocol. The only difference is to do with exercise selection. You want to select an exercise that will potentiate the next exercise in the workout. The slight nuance is the original wants a pre and post exhaustion whereas here we want to potentiate the nervous system. Here’s an example I’ve used often to get increased kilos lifted in the log:
- A) Front Squat: 3 x 2 reps, 20X0, 240s rest
- B) Log Clean & Push Press (1 x Squat Clean): 3 x 3 reps, 12X2, 240s rest
- C) Front Squat: 3 x 5 reps, 4040, 180s rest
The way the session is set up, the front squat will potentiate the log press. The increased weight lifted in the initial front squats will potentiate the nervous system to be able to lift more on the log press. The rest is maximal on the initial front squat and the tempo is what I would call non-fatiguing. Both of these factors further help potentiate log press performance. Not only will you stimulate the quads but also the abdominals and upper back which should transfer to better log pressing.
You get the advantage of a potentiation and then still get to return to the lift you want to overload by front squatting again.
As I always say, success leaves clues and using something both Charles and Pierre have utilised is usually a good idea! I use this principle often simply to create overload or greater exposure to a movement pattern and it works wonders. From general population to high level athletes, it works on all.