Author Archives: Bret

About Bret

I'm a blogger, author, personal trainer, CSCS, lifter, and PhD student. I love the field of strength and conditioning and teaching others about strength training and biomechanics. My blog is at www.BretContreras.Com.

What’s All the Fuss About EMG?

What’s All the Fuss About EMG?

By Bret Contreras and Andrew Vigotsky

In recent months, the subject of electromyography (EMG) has become somewhat controversial in the online fitness community. In fact, some fitness writers have even gone so far as to call EMG worthless and inherently flawed, but we completely disagree. The backlash against EMG is predictable if you understand the nature of the fitness industry. When new topics, methods, exercises, or systems gain rapid popularity, they tend to get scrutinized to a much greater degree. Several online authors including Bret Contreras and Brad Schoenfeld have been heavily promoting their EMG research and experiments over the past few years, and this has caused various fitness enthusiasts to question the validity of EMG. Questioning is always a good thing, so we encourage discussion pertaining to EMG. However, it is important to be scientifically grounded or else we won’t reach a consensus.

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All About Back Extensions

Here’s an extensive video on back extensions. In this video, I discuss:

  • Proper set up
  • How to target the erectors (if that’s the goal)
  • Ways to increase glute activation (and feel it less in the back)
  • How to modify if the back of the knees are hurting
  • Cues
  • Progressions (prisoner, single leg, dumbbell, band, chain, band plus chain)
  • A simple protocol for glute building

I would like my readers to experiment with a new protocol I’ve been using on myself and with my clients. Although I can do 30 reps with the 100-lb dumbbell, lately I’ve been sticking to just bodyweight. I focus on trying to target the glutes, and I make sure I use the glutes eccentrically while getting a full stretch at the bottom. I perform 3 sets of 20-30 reps (I’ve done 3 x 20, 3 x 25, and 1 x 30/1 x 25/1 x 20, but I haven’t yet done 3 x 30 – my clients can do this though) with only 45 seconds of rest in between sets. Holy glute burn! My clients love this as a finisher. It’s a very efficient way to increase metabolic stress and time under tension for the glutes at the end of the workout without imposing a penalty to the CNS and impairing recovery. So give this simple protocol a try and see what you think:

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To Bulk and Cut or Not to Bulk and Cut

Chris Hemsworth bulked up right

If you’ve been reading fitness information for the past several decades, then surely you’ve been informed that bulking and cutting leads to better progress over the long run than staying the same weight or making gradual changes. But is this really the best strategy? Should every lifter therefore always be in either a bulking or cutting phase? In this article, I hope to convince you that many lifters should avoid bulking and cutting cycling and be content to stay the same weight while improving body composition, or be content to make very gradual changes over time.

Chris Hemsworth bulked up properly

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How to Make Your Rehab, Deloading, and Peaking More Effective

I want to alert my readers to an exciting new study that was recently published in the Journal of Neurophysiology. The study deals with mental imagery, also known in the literature as imagined contractions. I briefly mentioned this phenomenon in a T-Nation article I wrote three years ago with my colleague Brad Schoenfeld titled Why Bodybuilders Are More Jacked Than Powerlifters. I actually used mental imagery during my deloading the week prior to my last powerlifting meet, and I truly believe that it helped me achieve my goal of deadlifting 600 lbs. I also used mental imagery when I first pulled 585 lbs two years ago, which I mentioned HERE.

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