Q&A with Industry Titan Christian Thibaudeau

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Editor’s Note: Ahead of legendary strength coach and human performance expert Christian Thibaudeau coming out to Australia for his seminar series tour with us in Sydney and Melbourne, we sat down and asked him a few questions about life and what students can expect. For more information visit our seminar pages for his Advanced Program Design & Hypertrophy Mastery Certifications.

Q: When did you get started in the fitness industry and why? What motivated you to become the industry leading figure you are known as today?

Honestly, I got super lucky, that’s why I’m not in a good position to help people get started in the industry from a business perspective. I was actually training professional athletes and international amateur athletes from the get-go at 19 years of age, so over two decades ago.

My first mentor was training pro hockey players, he asked me to supervise their training in the gym, especially on the Olympic lifts. The next year I took over the training program design completely.

What motivated me? I always had low level self-esteem, especially regarding my physical appearance. Because of that I always wanted to be respected for something physical. So I tried tons of sports, being average in some and bad at others.

To be better at sports I started weight training very early on. In fact I probably invented the “#InstaBabe training protocol” 30 years ago, because the first two years I trained I did legs every day. I figured that I needed to run fast, so legs were all that I needed.

I soon realized that I loved training more than playing sports. In fact I started disliking playing sports because during the season I would lose my “gainz”.

That’s when I decided to become a strength coach.

As far as wanting to become an industry leader, it’s never something I set out looking for. For years my only driving force was being acknowledged and respected by the late legendary Strength Coach, Charles Poliquin.

Q: Who are the two most influential people in your career and why?

  1. Charles Poliquin is my number one here because my main driving force for years was him simply knowing who I was…then it became to earn his respect and finally to become his friend. I modelled myself on him in my desire to innovate and develop new concepts in training. Without him, I would not be where I am today.
  2. Jean Boutet is my number two however, nobody knows this guy, so I likely won’t be of much interest to many of your readers. However, he was my first mentor. He was in essence the French Canadian equivalent of Mark Rippetoe. This guy was all about the big basics such as squats, power clean, deadlift, pull-ups, bench press, rowing, military press and all mostly for low reps. He taught me the importance of the basics and not becoming distracted by cool and fancy exercises.

Q: When did you first hear about Clean Health Fitness Institute and how important is it to you too have similar values and philosophies when collaborating with other industry leaders?

It’s a wonder that we are only just now doing business together and it’s a testament to the kind of person that Company Founder & Chairman Daine McDonald is. My first contact was when Daine organized the Poliquin & Klokov ‘Training for Strength Sports’ world tour in 2014. At the time I was back training for Olympic lifting at that time and loved what Klokov was doing.

I really wanted to go to the Montreal seminar and Daine offered me a free pass, but I had to decline because I was out of town giving a seminar myself.

Then I did two tours in Australia partnering with one of his companies competitors, (Whom have since closed down permanently) whom I did earn a pretty penny for. So let’s just day that my relationship with Clean Health Fitness Institute didn’t exactly start on the right foot.

Fast forward to 2018 and I made a comment on an Instagram post by his company and Daine contacted me, we then got to talking and from there we decided to organize a series of seminars in Australia in 2019.

So in summary, I basically I did everything wrong to get the relationship started but just like with getting results in the gym, we worked at it and now we are here.

As for the second question, I feel that sharing values is really important. Learn, evolve, grow which is the Clean Health Fitness Institute mantra resonates with me because I am a firm believer in the life long quest of learning.

Beliefs are another story as I almost prefer to partner with people with different belief systems than me when it comes to training, or at least with people who are doing something different than me.

See, I still consider myself the 19 year old kid who wants to learn everything he can about becoming big and strong. When I partner with someone I want to learn from him/her as much as I teach them.

Q: If you could give an 18 year old you a piece of advice now, what would that be?

I would put this into two categories:

  1. Training: Stop doing so much volume because you want to be great right now. I mean, the mentality that had you do 100 sets of bench press one morning and then 70 in the afternoon (true story) didn’t get you to 230kg it got you a bum shoulder that prevents you from pressing heavy permanently.
  2. Psychologically: Accept who you are and instead of trying to hide what you see as your shortcomings, turn them into weapons and be proud of them. You have low self-esteem? So what? It made you a hard-worker because you needed to earn the approval of others. It also made you great at reading other people (to know if they like you or not) which was your greatest asset as a coach.

Q: As a coach, whom would you consider your two main niches of client that you feel able to get results with time and time again?

Most people will think bodybuilders because I was branded as a body composition expert over the past 10 years, but the reality is I am really a strength coach first and foremost. For the first 10-12 years of my career I trained exclusively athletes and that was it.

Today, my best skill set is coaching athletes who need to be strong and powerful to compete in strength sports or those that require a lot of power. Today I train much fewer clients because I travel a lot lecturing, but for example I am still training two bobsleigh athletes for the Winter Olympics.

One is squatting 230kg x 8, power cleaning 150kg and running a 3.68s / 30m, the other one is squatting 235kg x 7, power cleaning 150kg and running a 3.58 / 30m.

I also have a very good success rate (in terms of podium made) with bodybuilders and female physique athletes. Basically if you are willing to do the work and are disciplined I will help get you the results you are after.

Q: What is the primary key take-away students will learn from attending your Advanced Program Design Certification in Australia this may?

They will understand why people are a certain way and how to have them eat and train based on why a certain way are. Let’s face it, most of the training methods out there today are well known by most coaches if you have been around for 10 years or more. Almost all the worthwhile exercises have been invented and the training technology is now close to its peak.

I used to be that if you know techniques or methods that others don’t, you had an edge as a coach. Not anymore, thanks to the internet that made all of these methods easily available to anybody.

Q: What is the primary key take-away students will learn from attending your Hypertrophy Mastery Certification in Australia this may?

It’s about more than hypertrophy, it’s about everything related to muscle. So we also cover strength training. You will learn exactly how a muscle grows, which pathways are involved in the various training methods and what should you focus on depending on the client.

Not everybody recovers well from a lot of muscle damage, but it doesn’t mean that they are doomed and will never be able to build muscle. You will also learn the best loading schemes to get stronger rapidly and which methods apply to various types of clients whether bodybuilders, physique athletes or general population wanting to build functional lean muscle.

Q: Tell us one thing about yourself nobody really knows or would guess?

I was a steroid dealer and a male stripper… On TV! So yes, I played two roles on a Canadian drama series in one I was selling steroids to a hockey player and in the other one I played the role of a male stripper as there was no chance they would ever ask me to play the role of a nuclear physicist!

For more information on Christian’s seminars in Australia this May, please click the direct links below:

ADVANCED PROGRAM DESIGN: SYDNEY 2nd-3rd May

HYPERTROPHY MASTERY: SYDNEY 4th-5th May

BOTH COURSES SYDNEY: 2nd-5th May

ADVANCED PROGRAM DESIGN: MELBOURNE 9th-10th May

HYPERTROPHY MASTERY: MELBOURNE 11th-12th May

BOTH COURSES MELBOURNE: 9th-12th May

For more information on Christian you can visit his website Thib Army HERE.

Yours in health,

Clean Health Fitness Institute

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