Christian Thibaudeau YouTube Interview

Thibaudeau – A coach who ACTUALLY practices what he preaches!

Watched an interesting interview with coach, Christian Thibaudeau the other day who spoke on a range of topics including

  • high performance training and its components
  • why bodybuilding methods suck for the majority
  • progression and improvement
  • overtraining
  • fatigue management
  • program design
  • weakness correction
  • relationship between strength and bodybuilding
  • hard gainers (some very interesting points here)
  • digestive issues
  • Ben Johnson training methods

The thing I like about CT is that in a field of “science-gurus” and “experts” who are able to cross reference every statement and “gym-floor-plate-clang” with a list of Pub-Med citations and smug condescension, the guy is actually putting the time into his own strength and performance development.

The interview by Sean McGarrity stretches for nearly two hours and contains a lot of applicable theory and content. I watched it twice and summarised the main points for those who want a brief overview on what was discussed.

0:01-8:00 – preamble

8:00 -the desire to experiment creates a problem solving tool box that enables CT to select from a wide variety of techniques to use. What separates decent coaches is the capacity to pinpoint weaknesses and what exactly needs to be used to solve the issue.

high performance

10:30– most successful coaches are all based on improving performance – making the body being able to perform at the highest level  – in doing so you can induce the best physical changes in your body without the mental distress associated with the minutiae management of bodybuilding methods.

Bodybuilding will often bring out the worst if you’re not mentally strong – become too focused on looks – ruins your mind

if you train for performance – it’s more objective – more easily measurable – there’s more satisfaction training at a higher level. Not constantly elevating stress hormones so easier to get leaner.

you instinctively eat better because you want to maximise performance

13:00 – overthinking and overstressing all the details kills your results – it drains the nervous system

training high performance explosive work- makes the body more sensitive to insulin —>store more nutrients. Accentuating slow eccentrics —–> muscle becomes insulin resistant —–> training recovery becomes harder

people are addicted to stimulus and not to results —–> taking pride in doing more work  because they can’t get the results they want ——> get even less results —–> so do more work = a vicious cycle.

it doesn’t take a lot of work to get results – and doesn’t take a lot of work over that “work prescription” to start short circuiting results

22:48 – some training methods induce overwork quicker than others – eccentrics – more than 3 eccentric reps in a session too much for most

lifting with bands – took CT 21 days to recover to a normal level.

John Meadows says that using bands for more than 3 weeks for bodybuilding = lose muscles size.

Band training is beneficial but don't go overboard.

Band training is beneficial but don’t go overboard.

24:30 – best performance is achieved in first stage at overtraining

happens a lot when we achieve our best performance and BOOM! get injured

ways to test for fatigue/overtraining

– heart rate – sudden increase 7-8 beats pm/ overstressing nervous system – more related to intensity

– body temperature – volume related – metabolic systems under too much stress – too much volume if temp drops

– tap test – iPhone App – how many taps in a time period (CNS fatigue)

tap test app – good measure of CNS fatigue

– vertical jump – test state of nervous systems – could be slight change in technique that makes false result

– increase in blood pressure – sharp increase that stays elevated after session – verge of overreaching – don’t want it to be sustained.

30:00 – some people will respond better to typical bodybuilding program if hormonal profile is optimal (high test, low cortisol, optimal insulin levels)

– gains getting from program right now may be due to what you did before – eg HIT Training. – works not because system is good but because of the response to decreasing previous volume and allowing for supercompensation.

32:30 – higher performance trainees have better physiques on average compared to those that do bodybuilding routines. More failures on bodybuilding type routines.

34:00 – training in a gym environment around other high performers is probably best thing you can do to skyrocket your performance. – start to believe that believe it’s possible.

Iron sharpens iron – Training with the best will bring out your best

psychology is as important as training methods

38:00 – he most important thing for clients to achieve results is the client has to have 100% belief in you and your program.

39:48 – doubt is number one enemy of progression – it’s why Jim Wendlers 53/1 program is number 1 selling book – weights are mapped out in advance so no question as to what you need to do next. More you meet short term goals – more cumulative confidence you gain


Not optimal but a good program for beginners who are apt to spin their training wheels.

42:50 – number one mistake PTs make is designing “sexy’ programs to show off what he knows rather than giving client what they need.

Knowledge is double edge sword – too many tools – analysis paralysis

44:00 – changing program too much with varied exercises gives the illusion of “progress.”

1st week – awkward – haven’t mastered motor pattern

2nd week – slightly better – system knows the task better – decent strength gains

3rd week – rapid neural gains – muscle recruitment – coordination better – rapid strength gains but muscle development not there yet. Slower progress from 3rd week – need to build muscle is longer process – then the coach will change exercises = Boom rapid progress again

Keep basic exercises – and occasionally use sightly different methods – change exercises only if solves particular weakness in clients. without adding in overall stress (volume) in program

predictable progress is what good coaching is about- solving issues and adapting to work capacity of individual

49:00High Performance Training has 3 components

The Classic Era bodybuilders were acutely aware of the relationship between strength, high performance and muscle size.

The Classic Era bodybuilders were acutely aware of the relationship between strength, high performance and muscle size.


1) being able to accelerate quickly – being explosive

2) being very strong – in basic methods

3) being able to sustain power for longer periods with shorter rest periods – 80% of capacity for 20 mins. Can be achieved through density work or carries – farmers walk, kettlebells.

4) weakness correction – fixing one weakness at a time not too many at once.

54:00 – Advising the “hard-gainer” to force feed with multiple meals may not be giving him… the best advices

program design concentrates first on strength component and then exercises to fix weaknesses

58:00 force feeding hard gainers over-stresses digestive system -becomes less efficient at getting nutrients

– not eating too frequently is better for hard-gainers

Advising the "hard-gainer" to force feed with multiple meals may not be giving him... the best advices

Advising the “hard-gainer” to force feed with multiple meals may not be giving him… the best advices

– really put a lot of carbs and protein before workout – contracting  muscle pulls nutrients into muscle.

– hardgainers should really focus on performance training – stronger and explosive – but won’t gain as much in 1-3 rep range – “train like a woman” – less efficient at recruiting high threshold motor units so 3-5 reps lowest rep range – 6-8

– do better using shorter rest intervals – recovery rate between sets.

– lower amount of fast twitch fibers or difficulty recruiting them.

– doing explosive heavy work reprograms fibers (slow twitch fibres begin to develop faster twitch characteristics —> then switch to hypertrophy training)

– hardgainers or burned out people need to INCREASE frequency drastically reduce session time

1hr:04 – hardgainers should perhaps train 6 times a week for 30 minutes —–better to train 12 times 20 minutes — reason is hard gainers becomes better acclimated to stress and body doesn’t respond as hard.

Adding more sessions of shorter length has been, for me, the best thing for building work capacity and hypertrophy

107: 00 – muscle growth is less about tearing the muscle fibers muscle than the body sending the signal to adapt. As more mechanical load is imposed on the body the more growth it will induce. The stress has to be on muscle and tendon skeletal structure to adapt – only build muscle tissue if it perceives a threat to survival .

– need to have a certain strength level for higher rep work to be effective.

– John Meadows started off at Westside – can squat 180kg at 20 reps.

Meadows built a brutally strong strength base before concentrating on hypertrophy

111:00 – eccentric accentuation – mTOR- loaded stretching – you don’t need much eccentric work for mTOR to be activate. Emphasizing decreases insulin sensitivity and increases inflammation in muscles and tendons. Some inflammation desirable – Excessive inflammation chronically tendons and muscles = less growth.

Muscle protein synthesis 24 hours after session dictates a significant part of the growth process. You need to turn on the signal to build muscle without excessive inflammation

116:00 – fasted cardio not a good way to get lean.

Early morning fasted cardio does more harm than good.

Early morning fasted cardio does more harm than good.

Losing fat not about just using more calories – it’s about creating an optimal anabolic milieu

Cortisol highest when wake up.—–>then fastest cardio increases cortisol even more

because of increased need for energy will lead to increased cortisol needing nutrients for fuel – muscle amino acids, glycogen, burn more muscle for fuel.

Hormonally optimal to be leaner – explosive work–do cardio while some nutrients are available – small amount of protein and carbs.

If cortisol levels are high and you jack it up then it stays elevated for longer periods of time – adrenal stress – water retentive – muscle gains, recovery

124:00 If you want to be lean you should do carries, farmers walk, sandbag walk etc

– very low intensity – brisk walk blood flow mobilise your fat.

1 minute farmers walks and carries are your best bet for burning fat

126:00 – eat foods that are easier to eat/digestible

– reduce fiber and vegetable for a while reduce bulk in system

– better to eat less frequently

– you have to make changes gradually

– high quality curcumin best thing for fast digestive relief – IBS and Chrohn’s Disease.


1hr:32 – Ben Johnson – training revolved around half squats (to 90 degrees) and then ¼ squats for 3 weeks to minimise injury

his program was minimalist – bench, chins, half squats, reverse leg press, reverse hypers

Ben Johnson - one of the best athletes of all time could bench 405x2 at a bodyweight of 175lbs

Ben Johnson – one of the best athletes of all time could bench 405×2 at a bodyweight of 175lbs

Johnson of Canada prepares for the men’s 100m ahead of the Seoul Olympics during a training session in Toronto

– not everyone is built for the full squat – long legged person turns it into hip and back exercise.

– half squat is more stressful on knees than full squat.


  1 comment for “Christian Thibaudeau YouTube Interview

  1. October 22, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Thanks for the write up!!


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