5 Things You Should Do Everyday

In 1970, the average United States citizen spent $356 on healthcare. This figure rose to $8,402 by 2010.  When ranked as a percentage of GDP, healthcare costs were 7.2% in 1970 and 18% in 2010 (1). As you can see, healthcare costs have risen tremendously over the years. It is therefore in all or our financial best interests to take care of our bodies. Here are five such things that you should probably do every single day; things that will help you maintain proper functioning and prevent costly medical expenses later on in life.

Deep Squat

Why it’s a good idea:  The deep squat will help you maintain your hip flexion mobility (a technical way of saying that you’ll retain the ability to squat all the way down) throughout life. The deep squat is performed much more commonly in many Asian and Middle East countries and requires 95-130 degrees of hip flexion and 110-165 degrees of knee flexion (which is a lot of range of motion) (2,3). If you use this ability, you’ll keep it. If you don’t, however, you’ll lose it. Dr. Stuart McGill started performing this drill daily and credits it for helping him retain his hip function and prevent hip replacement surgery (4). If you’re a lifter, you want to retain your deep squat ability, as it’s been shown to lead to greater vertical jump transfer, quadricep and hamstring hypertrophy, glute activation, hip extension torque, postactivation potentiation, and deep squat strength compared to shallower squatting (5-10).

What to do: You don’t want to use extra loading on this drill, so no dumbbells, kettlebells, or barbells. Just squat all the way down as deep as you can go with your own body weight and remain flat-footed (don’t come up onto the toes). Now, with loaded squatting, it’s imperative that you prevent the lumbar spine from excessive rounding. But with the bodyweight deep squat, it’s okay to relax and let the spine sink down into the stretch. Hang out in the deep squat position for 30 seconds then rise back up. Just do this one time.  

Deep Squat

Deep Squat

Glute Squeeze

Why it’s a good idea: The majority of great strength coaches including Michael Boyle, Mark Verstegen, Eric Cressey, and Mike Robertson started noticing several years back an alarming trend – clients even athletes were showing up to the weight-room with weak and poorly activating glutes. Dr. Stu McGill even coined this phenomenon “gluteal amnesia” (11). These same strength coaches have been able to cure this “amnesia” with some basic low-load exercises. In fact, a recent study showed that prescribing isometric glute squeezes to patients who suffered from spinal cord injuries increased their usage of the glutes during gait which enabled them to walk faster (12). Your glutes are likely not functioning to their full extent, and simply performing a maximal glute contraction each day will go a long way in allowing them to retain (or even build) their neuromuscular capacity. The gluteus maximus transfers force throughout the body, compensates for other muscles when needed, and protects the SI joint, low back, knees, ACL, hamstrings, and anterior hips from pain and injury (13-23). By working on his glute function, Dr. Stu McGill was able to improve his posture, reduce hip labrum spurs, and prolong his hip replacement surgery (4). As you can see, you want to retain your glute mass and neural drive as you age.

What to do: From a standing position, take a moderate to wide stance and flare the feet out slightly. Now squeeze the glutes as hard as possible for 30 seconds. Make “fists” to increase the neural drive through irradiation. Just do this one time.

Glute Squeeze

Glute Squeeze

Hamstring Stretch

Why it’s a good idea: Stretching in general is euphoric and good for reducing anxiety and improving well-being (24). If the hamstrings are tight, it’ll negatively impact the way an individual picks objects off the ground during stoop lifting. Stretching the hamstrings will immediately improve their stoop lifting mechanics by decreasing spinal motion and increasing hip motion (25). Lifters with excessively tight hamstrings are more susceptible to deadlifting injuries. Tight hamstrings also contribute to plantar fascitiis (26-28). As you can see, you don’t want your hamstrings getting tight over the years.  

What to do: 

There are many good hamstring stretches, including ones that can be performed in the standing, supine, and seated position, so just pick one that you’re most comfortable performing. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds on each side.

Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Crucifix Stretch

Why it’s a good idea: Our society has become increasingly sedentary over the years, and this sedentarism is not so good for low back pain and function (29). And all the prolonged sitting we do is generally not very good for back pain either (30-31). The typical desk-worker is slumped over with a rounded spine and rounded shoulders, along with a forward head position. We want to “undo” this posture by stretching the shortened muscles and strengthening the lengthened muscles. Rest assured, the crucifix stretch achieves both of these criteria.

What to do: 

Stand tall and place the arms out to the sides. Simultaneously extend the spine by picking the chest up and externally rotating the shoulders by pointing the thumbs behind you. Keep the head and neck in a neutral or packed position (which resembles a double-chin). Hold this position for 3 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.

Crucifix Stretch

Crucifix Stretch

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Why it’s a good idea:  People these days are too stressed out! Increasing responsibilities and pressure takes its toll by negatively impacting our neuroendocrine, metabolic, and immune systems (32). This stress impacts the way we breathe. In fact, upper chest breathers exhibit poor cardiovascular efficiency and nervous system balance (33). The good news is that breathing retraining is very effective, and by practicing various breathing techniques, you can reduce anxiety, reduce oxidative stress, improve quality of life, achieve better balance of the parasympathetic and sympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous systems, reduce blood pressure, and reduce resting heart rate (34-41). In short, it’s well worth it to spend a few minutes per day on specialized breathing techniques.

What to do: There are many effective breathing methods that you can experiment with. Here’s one that I really like. Lay down and place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Relax all of your muscles and begin breathing deep. Pull air into your belly first and then into your chest. If you do it correctly, you’ll feel the hand on your belly rise for the first two-thirds of the breath, then the hand on your chest will rise for the last-third of the breath. Make sure your exhalation lasts longer than your inhalation; ideally around twice as long. Do this for 3-5 minutes.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic Breathing

These five activities will only take up 6-8 minutes of your day but will likely do wonders in terms of longevity and well-being in later years of life. Take care of your body and do the small things that count!

References

  1. Jones, N. Health Care In America: Follow The Money. www.NPR.org. Accessed 11/14/13. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/03/19/148932689/health-care-in-america-follow-the-money
  2. Hemmerich A, Brown H, Smith S, Marthandam SS, Wyss UP. Hip, knee, and ankle kinematics of high range of motion activities of daily living. J Orthop Res. 2006 Apr;24(4):770-81.
  3. Mulholland SJ, Wyss UP. Activities of daily living in non-Western cultures: range of motion requirements for hip and knee joint implants. Int J Rehabil Res. 2001 Sep;24(3):191-8.
  4. Contreras, B. Transcribed interview with Stu McGill. www.BretContreras.com. Accessed 11/14/13. http://bretcontreras.com/transcribed-interview-with-stu-mcgill/
  5. Caterisano A, Moss RF, Pellinger TK, Woodruff K, Lewis VC, Booth W, Khadra T. The effect of back squat depth on the EMG activity of 4 superficial hip and thigh muscles. J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Aug;16(3):428-32.
  6. Bryanton MA, Kennedy MD, Carey JP, Chiu LZ. Effect of squat depth and barbell load on relative muscular effort in squatting. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):2820-8.
  7. Gorsuch J, Long J, Miller K, Primeau K, Rutledge S, Sossong A, Durocher JJ. The effect of squat depth on multiarticular muscle activation in collegiate cross-country runners. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Dec 18. [Epub ahead of print]
  8. Hartmann H, Wirth K, Klusemann M, Dalic J, Matuschek C, Schmidtbleicher D. Influence of squatting depth on jumping performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Dec;26(12):3243-61.
  9. Esformes JI, Bampouras TM. Effect of back squat depth on lower body post-activation potentiation. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Bloomquist K, Langberg H, Karlsen S, Madsgaard S, Boesen M, Raastad T. Effect of range of motion in heavy load squatting on muscle and tendon adaptations. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Apr 20. [Epub ahead of print]
  11. McGill, SM. The painful lumbar spine. www.IdeaFit.com. Accessed 11/14/13. http://www.ideafit.com/fitness-library/the-painful-lumbar-spine
  12. Govil K, Noohu MM. Effect of EMG biofeedback training of gluteus maximus muscle on gait parameters in incomplete spinal cord injury. NeuroRehabilitation. 2013;33(1):147-52. 
  13. Barker PJ, Hapuarachchi KS, Ross JA, Sambaiew E, Ranger TA, Briggs CA. Anatomy and biomechanics of gluteus maximus and the thoracolumbar fascia at the sacroiliac joint. Clin Anat. 2013 published ahead of print Aug 20.
  14. Alkjaer T, Wieland MR, Andersen MS, Simonsen EB, Rasmussen J. Computational modeling of a forward lunge: towards a better understanding of the function of the cruciate ligaments. J Anat. 2012 Dec;221(6):590-7.
  15. Powers CM, Fisher B. Mechanisms underlying ACL injury-prevention training: the brain-behavior relationship. J Athl Train. 2010 Sep-Oct;45(5):513-5. 
  16. Thompson JA, Chaudhari AM, Schmitt LC, Best TM, Siston RA. Gluteus maximus and soleus compensate for simulated quadriceps atrophy and activation failure during walking. J Biomech. 2013 Sep 3;46(13):2165-72. 
  17. Willson JD, Kernozek TW, Arndt RL, Reznichek DA, Scott Straker J. Gluteal muscle activation during running in females with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2011 Aug;26(7):735-40. 
  18. Hossain M, Nokes LD. A model of dynamic sacro-iliac joint instability from malrecruitment of gluteus maximus and biceps femoris muscles resulting in low back pain. Med Hypotheses. 2005;65(2):278-81.
  19. Kankaanpää M, Taimela S, Laaksonen D, Hänninen O, Airaksinen O. Back and hip extensor fatigability in chronic low back pain patients and controls. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Apr;79(4):412-7.
  20. Leinonen V, Kankaanpää M, Airaksinen O, Hänninen O. Back and hip extensor activities during trunk flexion/extension: effects of low back pain and rehabilitation. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2000 Jan;81(1):32-7.
  21. Lewis CL, Sahrmann SA, Moran DW. Effect of position and alteration in synergist muscle force contribution on hip forces when performing hip strengthening exercises. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2009 Jan;24(1):35-42. 
  22. Lewis CL, Sahrmann SA, Moran DW. Anterior hip joint force increases with hip extension, decreased gluteal force, or decreased iliopsoas force. J Biomech. 2007;40(16):3725-31.
  23. Wagner T, Behnia N, Ancheta WK, Shen R, Farrokhi S, Powers CM. Strengthening and neuromuscular reeducation of the gluteus maximus in a triathlete with exercise-associated cramping of the hamstrings. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010 Feb;40(2):112-9.
  24. Montero-Marín J, Asún S, Estrada-Marcén N, Romero R, Asún R. [Effectiveness of a stretching program on anxiety levels of workers in a logistic platform: a randomized controlled study]. Aten Primaria. 2013 Aug-Sep;45(7):376-83.
  25. Kang MH, Jung DH, An DH, Yoo WG, Oh JS. Acute effects of hamstring-stretching exercises on the kinematics of the lumbar spine and hip during stoop lifting. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2013 Jan 1;26(3):329-36. 
  26. Harty J, Soffe K, O’Toole G, Stephens MM. The role of hamstring tightness in plantar fasciitis. Foot Ankle Int. 2005 Dec;26(12):1089-92
  27. Labovitz JM, Yu J, Kim C. The role of hamstring tightness in plantar fasciitis. Foot Ankle Spec. 2011 Jun;4(3):141-4. 
  28. Bolívar YA, Munuera PV, Padillo JP. Relationship between tightness of the posterior muscles of the lower limb and plantar fasciitis. Foot Ankle Int. 2013 Jan;34(1):42-8.
  29. Aten Primaria. 2013 Aug-Sep;45(7):376-83. 1990 Volvo Award in clinical sciences. Lumbar spinal pathology in cadaveric material in relation to history of back pain, occupation, and physical loading. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1990 Aug;15(8):728-40.
  30. May S, Nanche G, Pingle S. High frequency of McKenzie’s postural syndrome in young population of non-care seeking individuals. J Man Manip Ther. 2011 Feb;19(1):48-54.
  31. Mörl F, Bradl I. Lumbar posture and muscular activity while sitting during office work. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2013 Apr;23(2):362-8.
  32. Tsigos C, Chrousos GP. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, neuroendocrine factors and stress. J Psychosom Res. 2002 Oct;53(4):865-71.
  33. Courtney R, Cohen M, van Dixhoorn J. Relationship between dysfunctional breathing patterns and ability to achieve target heart rate variability with features of “coherence” during biofeedback. Altern Ther Health Med. 2011 May-Jun;17(3):38-44.
  34. Martarelli D, Cocchioni M, Scuri S, Pompei P. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces exercise-induced oxidative stress. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:932430.
  35. Hagman C, Janson C, Emtner M. Breathing retraining – a five-year follow-up of patients with dysfunctional breathing. Respir Med. 2011 Aug;105(8):1153-9. 
  36. Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Yoga breathing, meditation, and longevity. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug;1172:54-62.
  37. Bushell WC. Longevity: potential life span and health span enhancement through practice of the basic yoga meditation regimen. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Aug;1172:20-7.
  38. Adhana R, Gupta R, Dvivedii J, Ahmad S. The influence of the 2:1 yogic breathing technique on essential hypertension. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Jan-Mar;57(1):38-44.
  39. Mourya M, Mahajan AS, Singh NP, Jain AK. Effect of slow- and fast-breathing exercises on autonomic functions in patients with essential hypertension. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Jul;15(7):711-7.
  40. Pal GK, Velkumary S, Madanmohan. Effect of short-term practice of breathing exercises on autonomic functions in normal human volunteers. Indian J Med Res. 2004 Aug;120(2):115-21.
  41. Kaushik RM, Kaushik R, Mahajan SK, Rajesh V. Effects of mental relaxation and slow breathing in essential hypertension. Complement Ther Med. 2006 Jun;14(2):120-6.

94 thoughts on “5 Things You Should Do Everyday

  1. Jeremy D

    Good stuff !
    I prefer use posterior chain stretching rather than targeting the ischios.
    It’s interesting however, you prefer targeting the ischio rather than the hip flexor (psoas)

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Hi Jeremy, I thought about the hip flexor stretch for sure. I was torn between the two in fact, but I ended up going with the hamstring stretch just because in cases where people do have tight hamstrings, it will help them avoid injury when picking things up.

      Reply
  2. meg

    Hey! Small observation as a student of Stu’s.. his demonstration of the once-daily deep squat didn’t include full foot-floor contact. Perhaps he’s personally prioritizing his hip mobility over ankle in the drill.

    Anyways, great work as usual!

    Reply
    1. Will Arias

      Hi Meg,
      Could you, please, share that McGill’s paper, or book, or interview, or video, or seminar, or workshop where he doesnt implies dorsi-flexion?

      Unless he personally tailored “elevated-heels” as prescription for a clinic case of extreme talocrurial impingement/stiffness, i humbly believe the deep squat demonstrated by Bret suits most cases where enhancement of hip mobility is a priority.

      Now, if somebody needs to elevate the heels off the floor, perhaps that is a response to a limited mobility (where “temporal” hip ROM has been reached) and new strategies need to be in place so as to obtain a “sufficient hip ROM”.

      Also , please consider that elevating the heels implies the modification of the COM (centre of mass), a factor that contradicts the purpose of the drill, which it looks to facilitate hip break, and isometrically activating the muscles that permit its multidimensional mobility, rather than transferring the compressive force to the knees and/or getting the torso parallel to the floor, in which case, for instance, the adductor magnus is missing the chance to be sufficiently recruited.

      Nevertheless, there is not wrong or right about elevating or not the heels, as long as you know what to do with a given strategy. That fact explains, for instance, why olympic lifters require shoes with elevated heels (more quads recruitment), rather than flat shoes, converse, slippers or even bare foot, as preferred by serious powerlifters (more posterior chain recruitment).

      The latter is, at the end of the day, the most suitable fashion for most people, including from your regular 9-to-5-behind-the-desk kind of client up to the most specific sport training for athletes, as the former (Olympic lifting) requires not only more technical proficiency but, also, adequate standards of ankle, hip and thoracic mobility…
      (Saying that, if for you as a therapist/coach is important to prescribe, for example, Snatch Squats, despite poor ankle, shoulder and/or thoracic mobility, elevating the heels in-the-air/or-a-plank might be an alternative/palliative but not necessarily a permanent/long lasting solution, unless you have a very thorough therapeutic justification for it).

      In conclusion, unless there are present anthropometric impingements, the Deep Squat, a drill originally taught to Dr McGill by Jerzy Gregorek, was created to be performed with the heels flat ON the floor, as stated not only in the Stu-Bret interview but also in “Ultimate Back” by McGill (book and DVD). Thanks for reading. Cheers. Will

      Reply
      1. Meg

        Apparently you took offence to that comment – calm down dude. At the end of the day, when he taught the squat in class, he just so happened to have his heels come off the ground.

        Reply
        1. Will Arias

          Meg,

          I appreciate your feedback, thanks. It is a shame my first post did not reflect my well-intentioned purpose. Having said that, it takes more than an anonymous statement to get me offended, particularly when somebody makes a rather interesting comment like yours.

          If I dared to ask you the origin of your initial claim is because I never heard about such modification before. I thought you would’ve gladly share such information.

          Indeed, Meg, I praise your observation skills by noticing that Dr. McGill actually elevated his heels off the floor while demonstrating the deep squat, during that class that you mentioned in your reply.

          As you consider yourself a McGill’s student, I assumed that you might find interesting the fact that all kind of squats taught or demonstrated by him in his own publications (1) (3), tutorials (2) (5) or even quoted by other authors (4) (6) don’t encourage such modification. In fact, all the opposite, Deep Squats are illustrated with “heels- ON-the-floor”, for both rehabilitation and performance set-ups. Accordingly, here some of those references:
          1 • McGill, Stuart, “Low Back Disorders: evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation”, 2nd Ed, 2007, Human Kinetics, Pages 179-181, 235-240.
          2 • McGill, Stuart, “The Ultimate Back, Assessment and therapeutic Exercise”, 2nd Ed, 2012, DVD’s, Disk 3, Backfitpro Inc, Waterloo.
          3 • McGill, Stuart, “Ultimate Back and Fitness Performance”, 4th Ed, 2009, Backfitpro Inc, Pages 155, 156, 198-200.
          4 • Tsautsouline, Pavel and Bolton, Andy, “Deadlift Dynamite”, 1st Ed, 2012, Dragon Door Publications, Pages 72-93
          5 • Carroll, Brian, June 06, 2013, “Dr. Stuart McGill: How the great ones are able to hold onto their careers”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca-njcIKOTk&list=PL279AD696A43CC955
          6 • Gregorek, Aniela and Gregorek, Jerzy “The Happy Body: The Simple Science of Nutrition, Exercise, and Relaxation”, 1st Ed, 2010, Jurania Press, Pages 12-27.

          Interestingly enough, in one of McGill’s books (3), the last author, Jerzy Gregorek (6), is the male model demonstrating different variations of squats and mobility drills. In all of them, with the heels remain “bolted” to the floor. What makes remarkable such association, is the fact that Dr. Stuart McGill unreservedly credits Gregorek for teaching him how to perform the Deep Squat, a drill that even he included in his own hip-rehab program, which helped him avoid hip replacement as confirmed, in his own words, during the “Bret-Stu interview” (http://bretcontreras.com/transcribed-interview-with-stu-mcgill/)

          Incidentally, It is well documented the mutual contribution between McGill and some of the professional from diverse backgrounds. If you wish, I can share many additional evidence-based references from other authors that consistently provide (or provided) robustness to the deep squat strategy, where heels always remain on the floor. Alternatively, if you prefer, I would be happy to share even more extended, relevant, detailed and substantiated information about this matter that you, or somebody else, might find useful. Thanks for reading.
          Best wishes. Will Arias

          Reply
          1. Bret Post author

            Will, I think she means that she was one of Dr. McGill’s actual students (he’s a professor, remember). So she probably saw him doing the deep squat in class…

  3. volpi

    Three hot guys squeezing their butts with clenched fists, followed by peacefully napping together on a shared pillow. I can die happy now.

    Reply
    1. Will Arias

      Could you please elaborate your comment? So far, your post might imply that none of the 41 references provided are good enough for your own continued education (assuming thats the main reason of your visits to this site).
      Otherwise, perhaps you might be in a position to enlighten us with some evidence, based on scientific grounds, so as to back up your very own claims. Cheers. Will

      Reply
  4. Myron

    I get the sentiment, but it would be prudent (that is, not misleading) to compare dollar amounts in real terms since the impact of inflation accounts for nearly all of the difference in those nominal dollar amounts.

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Myron, that’s why I posted the second figure relating to GDP as I realized that inflation would play a large role in the absolute figures.

      Reply
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  6. moss

    the vertical glute squeeze iso-hold is good, but even better is the weighted supine glute squeeze, for reps.
    lie on your back, put some plates on your groin area (men, be careful!), and then perform as many reps as you can. vary the speed from slow and deliberate, to fast and furious.

    i always do 100 supine squeezes before each set of RDLs

    Reply
    1. moss

      and as regards deep squatting, I do goblet squats holding a 15 kg plate, 3 sets of 10. I find that the 15 kg plate is the most satisfactory weight to practice deep squatting on a regular basis. 2 tips: pause at the bottom, and squeeze the glutes at top!

      Reply
  7. James

    You know the best thing about this? 41 references.

    I am fed up of reading tips and articles in mens health that say “Studies Have Shown” what studies, who has written them.

    Great article Bret!

    Reply
    1. Chris B.

      If you have an excessive anterior pelvic tilt then the hamstrings are already in a lengthened state; stretching them is the opposite of what you’d want to do.

      Reply
  8. will

    Bret,

    I have a small herniation in L5-S1. Would it be wise to perform the deep squat stretch? Since the injury I have avoided any spinal flexion. When I drive i have lumbar support, when I sit I have a neutral spine. I pretty much never flex my spine out of fear of further injury. What do you recommend I do ?

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Hi will, this is a great question!

      I could argue both points. I could say that what you’re doing is ideal and you should stay in neutral and avoid any flexion whatsoever to prevent any further damage.

      I could also say that you should do very low-load things to promote nutrient delivery, maintain hip flexibility, and prevent fear-based alterations in motor-control.

      Stu McGill would likely recommend the former approach, whereas the folks at SomaSimple would likely recommend the latter approach (I could be wrong on this though).

      Sorry to not be of more help!

      BC

      Reply
  9. Bo Dela Haye

    Hi Brett,

    my comments on your crucifix position are:
    the anterior rib position, flared out ( especially the guys next to you in the pic ) can and will cause to much lower back pressure, and is actualy showing not enough functional core recrutement ( don’t change the distance between ribs and the hips )
    also, should’nt the knees be in a more soft positon ?
    and last, it looks like all three of you are holding your breath;
    so maybe worth mentioning the importance of the synchronicity of the breathing pattern and the movement pattern.

    no disrespect to your work Brett, just being very careful with the ‘translation / perception ‘of the readers in general and how they can / will interpret information.

    i know you want the best quality product to share with your followers.

    BTW ,i prefer the brügger position as one of the correctives to the desk jockey’s problems

    thank you for all the great info you always share with the world,

    Bo de la Haye,
    movement coach.

    Reply
    1. Bret Post author

      Hi Bo de la Haye,

      Had to look up Brugger position – very cool!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgm3j66fpBA

      In regards to your comments:

      1. If you never, ever flared your ribs, you’d never stretch the abdominals or move into spinal extension. In low-load cases, I’m not worried about this at all. It feels good to do this, and I don’t think it would transfer to any heavier-load functional movement pattern. I’m aware of the ribs-down cueing and I feel that it certainly has its place for those who are prone to hyperextending (especially during squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, etc.), but for this stretch I don’t think it’s necessary or optimal. Just my take…

      2. I suppose knees could be in a softer position, but I’ve never come across any research expressing the dangers of the straight legged position. I personally feel it simply stretching the hammies, but I’ve had clients experience pain or a strange sensation in the back of the knee during straight legged movements, and I confess to not exactly knowing what’s being stretched aside from the nerves. If you have any info on this I’m all ears.

      3. We’re meatheads, we were probably trying to stick our chests out and not allow the abs to rise for the pic so we looked more jacked haha! Point noted though.

      Thanks for your insight Bo, I appreciate you taking the time to jot down your comments. – BC

      Reply
    1. Joe Musselwhite

      Anthony, I agree with your statement but I have concluded over the years that there’s no adequate definition for “smart”. Please! No offense here! Just sharing a well thought out explanation.

      It’s difficult to label someone “smart” when there’s no adequate definition. A much better word would be informed or well informed. Bret is one of the most “well informed” individuals I know of when it comes to gluteal anatomy, biomechanics, etc.

      Lastly, IQ tests do not measure one’s intelligent levels even though that’s what the majority claim. Intelligence is as hard to define as “smart” if you think about it. IQ tests measure one’s ability to use logic and manipulate signs and symbols. You can actually raise your IQ score by practicing taking different IQ tests. I know because I’ve done it.

      My grandfather (Herschel Grubb) asked Albert Einstein in a written exchange what separates geniuses from non-geniuses and Albert’s reply was an expansive imagination. Interesting huh? BTW, Albert Einstein didn’t consider himself a genius. Boy was he well informed though! LOL!

      Sorry for go off topic! Just had to share this!

      Reply
  10. Joe Musselwhite

    Great article and suggestions!

    Cheers to Will Arias for keeping the less informed in check! Will seems to know his subject matter well.

    Bret, where’s Andrew in the pic? I’m assuming he’s taking the pics.
    Thanks for ALL you guys do here! I’ve learned as much or more from your blog articles, videos, etc. than I have as a first year kinesiology student. Amazing!

    Reply
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  12. ggs

    If this is a duplicate post I am sorry…I hit post comment and it disappeared

    Love the post but I have a number six
    #6 Check Brets Blog daily
    Doing so will keep you informed and motivated to pursue your passion
    as he pursues his.

    Reply
  13. Donald

    Hey Bret,
    Just wanted to let you know I loved in the article. In particular, the picture of all of you doing the glute squeeze is really funny!

    Reply
  14. Shane McLean

    Read a similar article form another coach with different exercises. Like it. But I am a bit disturbed about the glute squeeze pic. Ha ha

    Reply
  15. Steven Trolio

    Love these tips Bret. 100% agree on the deep squat, glute squeeze, and breathing.

    For me, I’d replace the hamstring stretch with something more dynamic that still promotes hamstring flexibility. Maybe something like a single leg lowering movement or some KB swings with a maximal hip hinge. Or even better, just sitting around in some cossack squats is also AWESOME for some adductor action.

    Crucifix stretch is definitely a good one, but seems to me like most people would progress out of it rather quickly. I like a big ole TRX chest stretch and a big lat stretch at least once a day. I would also consider some type of t-spine mobility drill over this one.

    Either way, no list is going to be perfect, and 99.9% of people are going to have great success from doing these everyday.

    Hope the glute lab is going great!

    Reply
    1. Derrick Blanton

      Steven, how ’bout the prone frog stretch, with a gentle glide into deeper and deeper hip flexion? This would be a regression of the Cossack SQ hangout, which is def. a good call on your part. But you have to walk before you can run, me thinks.

      So maybe a progression might be: frog stretch, sumo squat hold stretch, Cossack static hold, Cossack dynamic lift.

      It has had a remarkable open up the hips effect for me. I’ve about decided that the couch stretch espoused by K.Starrett, and really all stretches that provoke the “pain face” as he calls it, are counter-productive b/c they provoke anxiety.

      So I like stretches that are deloaded first, (good call on the TRX straps), and then segue into the more loaded variations.

      I’m interested in your thoughts, b/c you are a very bright dude! Good stuff. DB

      Reply
      1. Steven Trolio

        Thanks for the reply Derrick! I also like the prone frog position and I would agree that it would be more appropriate for most people to start out there before getting into deep cossacks with a flat heel and flat lumbar.

        I had to look up “couch stretch” as I don’t really follow Mr. Starrett much, but I like to implement that stretch as well (on a bench, chair, whatever). Most of the time, I think a simple deep iso lunge with a rear glute squeeze and some good PPT is superior for hitting the quads and hip flexors, especially if you create tension by pulling both feet in toward each other.

        If we could create a list of 5 things to do everyday INCLUDING regressions and progressions based on level of fitness and training experience, that would be good a way to optimize the list for a greater number of people.

        Reply
  16. Pingback: Thursday 11/21/13 - 5 Tips: Deadlifts & Overhead Squats

  17. Bradley

    Easy, effective and practical tips everyone can apply, sharing it with everyone in my office!

    Can’t help bursting into laughter at the “Glute Squeeze” picture! Looks more like Harlem shake to me!

    Reply
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  25. Mitchell

    I am going to agree with Bret. The deep squat is a very powerful core exercise, that is good for the hips, legs, and our respiratory system. If done regularly throughout our life time, provides us a solid foundation of muscular strength and energy that is so needed for our journey of life. Most guys when training regularly focus more on their upper bodies and hate working on their legs. Working on our lower bodies regularly will also give us twice to three times a sexual powerful advantage over those guys that don’t. Well done Bret : )

    Reply
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  41. vincent meyer

    I have a 15 year old daughter who has femoral antiversion that has not corrected itself as she has gotten older. She is 6′ 1″ and a good athlete but im worried that she has an increased chance of injuring her knees due to the way they turn in as her thigh moves forward. Any of your thoughts regarding this matter would really be appreciated!

    Reply
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  43. Rob Hudson

    I was wondering what specific assessments the “great” strength coaches use to determine poor glute activation and more specifically determine gluteal amnesia?

    Reply
  44. Jiannis

    Thank you for the great article Bret.

    I have one question. Shouldn’t there be some kind of active-passive hanging movement included in a daily routine?
    My understanding and personal experience is that it is quite essential.

    Reply
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  46. Kristin

    this “making fists” – would that be à good Idea to try in body weight activation exercises as well? Like the glute bridge, clam etc. Thanks for a great article!

    Reply
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