Author Archives: Bret

Random Thoughts

Greetings fitness friends, here are 9 random things to announce before the weekend gets underway.

1. Brazilian Support and Possible Appearance

Boy was I wrong about my assumption that Brazilians were anti-hip thrust and anti-Contreras (see HERE for the original post). In reading through blog comments and comments on Facebook, I learned that the Brazilian sports science community is pro-hip thrust, pro-Contreras, pro-science, anti-pseudoscience, and anti-bullshit. I even received personal emails from several professors thanking me for my hard work – one even tentatively invited me to speak at a big conference next year. So maybe I’ll be Brazil-bound soon and can meet some of y’all! Thank you my Brazilian friends, the support you showed me this week means the world to me. I realize that I still need to respond to Paulo – I’ll get to it in the next few days.


2. New Study Acceptance: Full Squats, Parallel Squats, and Front Squats: Glute, Quad, and Ham EMG Activity

Check this out brothers and sisters!!! My team just got a new study accepted last week in The Journal of Applied Biomechanics. Of course I’ll share the link and write up a synopsis on my blog as soon as it’s published ahead of print (probably 3 weeks or so).


3. PubMed: Squat versus Hip Thrust EMG

My team’s latest EMG study is now on PubMed – it’s so cool seeing it there! HERE‘s the link.


4. The Bret Contreras Podcast

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I have a podcast! I’m excited to record something new. Expect something next week.


5. Hip Thrusts and Quadriceps Tendon Pain

Has this happened to anyone else? It hasn’t happened to any clients I’ve ever trained, but it happens to me. Every time I start hip thrusting heavy 2-3 times per week, after 3-4 weeks my quadriceps tendon starts acting up and interferes with my squatting. I imagine that this is due to the intense quadriceps contractions that are inherent to hip thrusting. Some people are surprised about the quad activity in a hip thrust, but it makes sense biomechanically. I’ll write a blogpost on this next week.

Quad Tendon

6. Doctoral Thesis is Completed

I finished this bad boy up on Saturday night! Now to defend in New Zealand in December and hopefully shortly after I’ll have a PhD. I can’t wait to share all my findings with you; it ended up being a fascinating thesis.


7. I Finally Hip Thrusted 700 lbs

On Saturday night, right after I submitted my thesis, I finally got it!

8. Southpaw

I saw this movie last Friday night. Holy hell it was hard not to shed a tear. Such a sad scenario emerges fairly quickly into the movie which caught me by surprise. Anyway, much props to Jake Gyllenhaal; he played the role so well and his physique was shredded. Seeing actors in peak physical shape inspires me to try to get leaner.


9. What Next for Bret? 

Now that I’m done, I’d like to:

  • Revamp my blog design
  • Continue to collect data and publish studies with my team
  • Keep trying to improve upon the hip thruster design
  • Maybe write another book or film a DVD
  • Start blogging, YouTubing, and podcasting more often
  • Continue training my personal training clients well

But honestly, I’m just enjoying getting back to the old Bret. Last night I read an interesting blogpost by a fellow strength coach, which prompted me to delve into the research on the topic, thereby keeping me occupied until 4:15 am. I’m a night owl and I love studying.

Okay that’s all my friends, have a great rest of the week! BC

No Two Hips Are The Same: How Anatomical Variance Can Affect Your Range of Motion

The following is an awesome guest article from my friend Dean Somerset. Dean is sort of a hybrid personal trainer in that he knows a ton about strength & conditioning but he also possesses a wealth of knowledge pertaining to corrective strategies and rehabilitation. I have so much respect for Dean and his commitment to the fitness industry – he’s one of the good guys. Dean just released a new DVD called, Advanced Core Training, click on the link if you’re interested. Now for Dean’s article on hip anatomy.

No Two Hips Are The Same: How Anatomical Variance Can Affect Your Range of Motion
Dean Somerset

We’ve all heard it before: hip structures are different so therefore you have to squat differently than someone next to you. This should be pretty common sense, especially when dealing with as broad of a population as there is in the world. What would be a bang-up fantastic recommendation for one individual may be beyond the realm of possibility for someone else, and still so incredibly rudimentary for another person.

Does this have anything to do with training history, time spent under the bar, or simply tissue health? We know joints deteriorate with age and those deteriorations cause reductions in range of motion, however I have a 72 year old client who can still squat his hamstrings on to his calves, and a 20 year old athletic phenom client who can barely crack parallel. Some of my initial consults squat like a rusty hinge, regardless of whether they’ve exercised a day in their life or not, and similar consults can hit the floor with ease.


Looking even at very elite lifters, some prefer to take a much wider stance during a squat whereas others may get away with an almost parallel and shoulder width squat stance. Some deadlifters prefer conventional whereas others prefer an extremely wide sumo stance. It begs the question of whether there actually is one optimal stance or just what may be optimal for the lifter?

Let’s even look at individual differences in size. Look at a high school football team and you’ll see a huge difference in player physical size and shape, sometimes massively so. These physical differences showcase the simple fact that we’re all different, and this fact continues on to the shapes of our joints and how much and where they can display range of motion.

Looking at simple anatomical variance, there can be a massive difference between individuals in the shape, alignment, positioning, and relative angles of attachment of specific bones and joints, meaning their ability to move will be entirely different than someone who has a different set up.

One basic tenet to understand when it comes to the available range of motion a joint may have is this: You can’t stretch bone into bone without something going wrong. If your joints run out of room and wind up pressing one bone into another, you can’t get more range of motion out of them without causing some trauma to the joint or to neighboring joints. Therefore, the shape and position of your joints will directly dictate when and where you develop this bone to bone contact, and will ultimately be the main limiting factor for the ultimate amount of mobility you can use.

Let’s focus on the hip for this discussion because hips are cool and squats are awesome.

Commonly the femoral neck angle is the most known individual difference. A femoral neck angle is usually classified into 3 categories: coxa valga (a more vertical angle inserting into the pelvis), coxa vara (a more horizontal angle inserting into the pelvis) and what is considered a more “normal” angle of roughly 40-50 degrees. The funny thing is the normal angle occurs with less frequency than the combined angles of coxa vara and valga, meaning it’s somewhat more rare to see.


Not as commonly known is the degree of retroversion or anteversion those femoral necks can make. The shaft of the femur doesn’t just always go straight up and instert into the pelvis with a solid 90 degree alignment. On occasion the neck can be angled forward (femoral head is anterior to the shaft) in a position known as anteversion, or angled backward (femoral head is posterior to the shaft) in a position known as retroversion. Zalawadia et al (2010) showed the variances in femoral neck angles could be as much as 24 degrees between samples, which can be a huge difference when it comes to the ability to move a joint through a range of motion.


Consider someone who has a femoral retroversion will likely have a bone to bone contact sooner in a flexion range of motion compared to someone who has more of an anteversion alignment, and if that difference is 20 degrees or more, that could be the difference between squatting above parallel and sitting your hamstring comfortably on your calves.

We’re not done there, though. The acetabulum itself could have a variety of alignments, all of which could affect the range of motion of the joint and affect the movement capacity of the individual.

The acetabulum could itself be in a position of anteversion or retroversion, and this difference itself could be more than 30 degrees. This means the same shaped acetabulum would give someone who has the most anteverted acetabulum 30 extra degrees of flexion than someone who had the most retroverted acetabulum, but would give them 30 degrees more extension than the anteverted hips.

The shape of the hip socket could also be different too! Some people would have a more flat shaped cup socket, but as Fern & Norton showed, there could be a focal positional change in how the socket is set, and also the shape of the socket itself. Occasionally, someone may have a focal versus global retroversion or anteversion, which makes the hip socket look more like an oval or C-shaped cup.


Throw into the mix the fact that hip sockets can also have varying depths and femoral necks can have varying thicknesses, and you have some significant evidence that ranges of motion through the joint can and will be significantly altered based simply on the genetic gifts of the individual in question. A deep socket with a thick neck is going to limit range of motion much more than a shallow socket with a thin neck ever would. The “cone diameter” is essentially the overall range of motion a ball and socket joint would have given their socket depth and neck thickness.


Now to throw even another monkey wrench into the problem, there’s the simple fact that your left and right hips can be at different angles from each other! Zalawadia (same guy as before) showed that the angle of anteversion or retroversion of the femur could be significantly different from left to right, sometimes more than 20 degrees worth of difference. This means trying to train for symmetry could be inherently wrong, and using parallel stances or symmetric set ups (both feet turned out 20 degrees, etc) could be wrong as well, depending on the individual.


Now I know some people out there are saying that this doesn’t really matter and is just an excuse for people to not squat to their full potential, or that everyone should be able to squat ass to grass. Well, I would say if they have the hips to do so, give it hell and work hard at it. However, if they don’t have the hips for it, they will likely develop some signs of impingement, such as anterior hip pain when squatting or doing anything involving hip flexion.

In significant cases of impingement, the individual could develop cam or pincer lesions on the bones of the femoral neck or acetabulum, respectively. This happens when repeated compression of bone into bone occurs and a callous begins to form. The only way to get rid of this is to not do flexion acitivities and probably surgical removal of the callous with the hope the labrum isn’t damaged. Even then, the outcomes could be more related to the type of hip you have.

Fabricant et al (2015) showed that 37% of asymptomatic individuals had clinically significant markers of impingement related structural changes in their hips, and this number skyrocketed up to 54.8% in athletes. He also found that post op recovery was best in patients with retroversion versus anteversion for removal of pain, recovery of strength and range of motion, and speed at which they restarted their desired activities.

There’s even a link to SI joint pain based on the type of hip set up you have. Morgan et al showed the radiographs of people with a history of SI joint pain had a 33% occurrence of cam impingements and 47% had what would be classified as deep hip sockets. Range of motion restriction at the hip affecting the nearby SI joint? You don’t say.

Now with the variations in hip structure, alignment, size, and position, comes the obvious questions of how much influence does any of this have on squat depth and performance? I’m not aware of any studies that have looked at these characteristics, but I would be open to collaborate on them. From my experience with my own training and working with my clients, I have found those who have a more anteverted positioning tend to have no problems squatting to depth whereas those who have more of a retroverted positioning tend to struggle with depth, but rock out with extension. People with more of a lateral positioning of the acetabulum tend to require a bit of a wider stance than those with a more inferior location, and tend to struggle mightily with their feet closer together.

Similarly, those who have very small cones of motion tend to be incredibly stable and rarely have their hips fatigue, likely meaning they have deeper sockets to help support their weight. If one hip is more anteverted and one is more retroverted, it may be that the individual has to stand in a slightly rotated stance to allow a squat depth to be reached. One foot may have to be turned out slightly compared to the other, which seems to commonly be the right foot.

Now how can you use this information to work in your favour? First, you don’t need to have multiple radiographs of your hips to figure out what alignment you’re dealing with or what positions would work best for your squat or hip hinge. There are some active tests you can do that are simple and very indicative, plus very practically useful for helping to determine optimal squat stance and positioning.

  1. Supported Squat

This is a simple way to determine what your best squat depth can be. Using a solid object that isn’t going to move, and ideally within sight of a mirror so you can see whether your low back is rounding or whether your hips are going through a posterior tilt, squat down as low as possible using the support for balance. Find a position where you are as deep as possible without letting your low back round. If you get to a point where your back rounds, that’s essentially the limit of your hip flexion in that position, and going further produces the dreaded butt wink.

While at the bottom, open your feet to a slightly wider position and see if you can get lower into the squat than before, then turn one foot out and in and see what happens. Narrow your stance and repeat, but concentrate on which position gives you the best depth without flexing the lumbar spine or creating pain in the front of the hip. If you can’t squat because of hip pain, get that addressed first.

Once in a position where you achieve your deepest squat, find a way to maintain a vertical posture while slowly letting go of the support, and then stand up without assistance. Use the support to lower back into the same squat position and repeat, then lower into the squat without assistance. The movement should feel fluid and easy, without obvious strain or tightness preventing you from getting to the bottom position.

You may only be able to get to 90 degrees of hip flexion with your thighs parallel to the floor, and that’s okay. You might be able to squat so low your hamstrings are pressing into your calves, and that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong, just looking at your individual abilities.

If you have the ability to squat to the floor, working on hip mobility drills and squat accessory movements is pretty much a waste of time. You’re there, and you can get there at the drop of a hat. They’re good to use as a warm up, but you won’t gain any more mobility from them. Likewise, if you can only get to parallel with support, there’s likely no squat mobility drill in the world that done thousands of times will produce the ability to squat to the floor. You might squeak out an extra millimeter or two, but that’s about it. Working more on your squat depth may actually produce low back pain, SI pain, and potentially hip impingement.

From a performance basis, if you have a limited amount of hip flexion, you might have trouble getting a neutral spinal position during conventional deadlifts. A more stable position may be a modified sumo stance or a full sumo stance. Potentially, depending on the relative asymmetry of the hips, you may require one foot turned out or the other, and you might even require having one foot posterior of the other relative to the bar.

  1. Hip Bridge Test

This one should be fairly straight forward. Lay on your back with bent knees and drive your hips up as high as possible without arching your low back and see how much extension you can get. Most people will get to neutral, and maybe slightly more than that to about 10 degrees. Some people can get incredibly far into extension, as judged by the line from the middle of the thigh through the torso. A straight line denotes neutral, whereas a position of slightly flexed is a negative angle of extension, and a position where the hip is ahead of the torso is a positive extension angle.

If you can get to extension beyond neutral, congratulations, you have more range of motion than I do in that regard. I can barely get to neutral on a good day.

For individuals who lack extension to or past neutral, developing anything that would resemble a good kick in sprinting would prove challenging. Likewise, hip thrusts would be a bit of a struggle to get to a solid lockout, and would always look like a short range of motion.

  1. Goalie Stretch

This is a great test of the lateral capability of the hip joint in a somewhat passive manner. On hands and knees, try to open the knees as wide as possible without ripping yourself in two. When you get as wide as possible, try to sit back as far as possible without letting your low back round.

This gives an idea of how wide your stance for squats and deadlifts could be at it’s widest part. This may not be where you would have your deepest position, but just where the very outside edge of your ability would be. If you barely get your hips to make a 90 degree angle with each other, your odds of taking a very wide sumo stance or squat stance is likely pretty slim without causing some serious hip pain or discomfort.

These three tests will give you a lot of information:

  • What position gives you the best squat depth, and what your actual ability to go into hip flexion is from that depth.
  • How much hip extension you have in a gross sense.
  • How much lateral mobility you have.

From this you can determine whether you have a lot of mobility, a specific directional limitation, or are built more like the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz, always looking for the oil can.

Let’s break down a couple of scenarios and see what positions would be best for you.

  1. Low flexion, low extension, low lateral movement: You’re the proverbial Tinman. Getting to depth is always an issue, so doing higher squats to a box may be your reality. Likewise, deadlifting from the floor may be an aggressive amount of flexion, so taking somewhat of a modified sumo stance may be required to prevent low back involvement and possibly rack or block pulls. In fact, conventional pulls from the floor may be your deficit deadlift. The good news is you can carry and hold anything forever. You’re a prized infantrymen for hiking through rough terrain with a combat pack because you’ll never break down.
  2. Good flexion, low extension, low lateral movement: You can squat well, but sprinting is a challenge to get any kind of kick without having your low back do all the work. Shoulder width stance is awesome, but going much wider than this causes some lateral hip discomfort. You prefer conventional pulls to sumo, and can pull from the floor well.
  3. Good flexion, low extension, high lateral movement: You can pick your squat stance from a wide array of possibilities. Sprint extension is tough, but the lateral mobility makes you look like a ninja at times.
  4. Low flexion, low extension, high lateral movement: You can squat deep, but need to have a country mile between your feet. Wider is better for you, so sumo pulls and very wide stance squats are best to hit depth. When you move to slightly wider than shoulder width, you lose any depth and wind up feeling tight.
  5. High flexion, high extension, high lateral movement: You’re some kind of sick mobility Cirque du Soleil freak who can pretty much do any movement possible. You also likely have trouble with the odd bit of tendinitis here and there as your muscles try to provide stability that may not be present in your hip sockets, but it’s manageable.

With this information, you can choose your exercises based on what works well for you and what doesn’t, and avoid banging your head against a wall trying to form your hips into a range of motion they may never get. With this new focus you can train hard and keep your focus on the stuff that’s going to get you the best bang for your training time, without wasting copious time spent on minimal benefit drills. Train hard, train smart, and train to get the best results possible.

Advanced Core Training

If you’re interested in learning more from Dean about core training, click HERE and check out his recent DVD. It’s currently on sale for $59 (down from $97) until Aug 8. It’s just over 4 hours long and provides .7 CEC’s for NSCA members (trainers from other organizations can petition them to see if they can be granted CEC’s as well).  In the video, you’ll see/learn:

  • Detailed outline of core and hip function plus what the results of the assessment mean
  • Simplified walkthrough of the approach to core training that can be used for everyone from rehab to elite performance
  • Simple changes to variables like breathing and speed that can help change an exercise from a mobility drill to a speed and reaction drill and even to a max strength drill
  • Tons of practical takeaways and coaching cues to help viewers implement the exercises and techniques immediately.
  • Even some voodoo stuff that actually works.

August Strength & Conditioning Research Questions

Hi fitness folks! Do you know the answer to the August S&C research review questions? If not, you ought to subscribe to our research review service. To subscribe, just click on the button below and follow the instructions…


Strength & Conditioning, Power and Hypertrophy

  1. Does supra-maximal eccentric training transfer to sports performance?
  2. Does high-velocity eccentric strength reduce less with increasing age?
  3. Can plyometrics improve sprint running times in trained sprinters?
  4. Is there a box height that maximizes power output during drop jumps?
  5. Does rate of force development predict vertical jump performance in trained athletes?
  6. Do upper- and lower-body strength tests predict punching force in elite amateur boxers?
  7. Is resisted sprinting better than sprinting for improving sprint times in team sports athletes?
  8. Does improving maximal strength enhance change of direction (COD) performance?
  9. Does the order of strength and cardio during concurrent training affect muscular adaptations?
  10. Does protein supplementation enhance muscular adaptations in brief periods of training?
  11. Does altering protein distribution affect gains in muscular size in a rugby athletes?
  12. How does periodization affect gains in muscular strength, size and power?
  13. Does cycling increase thigh muscle size?
  14. What is the age of peak competitive performance in elite athletes of different sports?


Biomechanics & Motor Control

  1. How similar are the strongman log lift and the Olympic clean and jerk exercises?
  2. Why is there an optimal load for power during squats?
  3. Why are cluster sets of squats superior for force production and power output?
  4. Which hamstring rehabilitation exercises produce the most muscle activity?
  5. How do bilateral and unilateral row exercises affect back and core muscle activity?
  6. How does arm position affect core muscle activity during the Ab wheel rollout exercise?
  7. How do touchdown distance and ankle dorsiflexion affect sprint running performance?
  8. How does posture affect gluteus medius muscle activity during lateral band walks?
  9. Can sarcomere non-uniformity explain the residual force enhancement effect?
  10. Can titin explain the residual force enhancement effect?
  11. Could the residual force enhancement effect contribute to stretch-shortening cycle actions?
  12. What are the determinants of the force-velocity relationship at the sarcomere level?


Anatomy, Physiology & Nutrition

  1. Is intermittent fasting beneficial for health?
  2. Is deliberately targeting hormesis an effective strategy for exercise adaptations?
  3. What causes anabolic resistance?
  4. Can vitamin supplementation reduce hypertrophy after strength training?
  5. Do specific tension and voluntary activation reduce with age?
  6. Is resting metabolic rate altered in order to maintain energy balance during physical activity?
  7. Is the adaptive thermogenesis response effective for weight loss?
  8. Does resistance training increase resting metabolic rate?
  9. Do whey protein- or sucrose-enriched water beverages affect satiety?
  10. Does high-intensity interval training without weight loss improve insulin sensitivity?
  11. Does physical activity affect vascular insulin sensitivity?
  12. Does increasing fruit and vegetable intake improve cardiovascular risk factors?


Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation

  1. Do nerve growth factor injections affect pain in muscle and fascia similarly?
  2. Do foam rolling and dynamic stretching affect flexibility similarly in trained athletes?
  3. Can myofascial release with a tennis ball affect balance in chronic stroke patients?
  4. Is dry needling effective for myofascial trigger point pain?
  5. Does pain education enhance outcomes in dry needling treatment for chronic low back pain?
  6. What methods are effective for managing iliotibial band syndrome?
  7. Does low back pain affect changes in piriformis size in-season among trained athletes?
  8. Is gluteus maximus strength associated with superior movement patters in landing tasks?
  9. How important are placebo effects?
  10. What factors affect pelvic girdle stability and the development of posterior pelvic girdle pain?
  11. How are innominate movement patterns related to sacroiliac joint pain?
  12. Is eccentric exercise effective for shoulder impingement or lateral epicondylar tendinopathy?

Grill the Guru: Respectfully Calling Out Dr. Paulo Gentil

Unfortunately, it’s time to grill another fitness professional. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am from this person’s recent statements, because they come from a member of the sports science community. I thought that we sports scientists were on the same team. I assumed that we all share the same goal: the truth. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case.

The fitness professional’s name is Dr. Paulo Gentil. My American friends probably haven’t heard of him, but in Brazil he has a rather large following, which makes his comments especially upsetting to me. HERE is Paulo’s website – note the highly impressive résumé, HERE is his Facebook channel – note the 70,000 followers (HERE is the post he made that as of right now has 2,577 likes and 800 shares), and HERE is his Instagram page – note the 139,000 followers (HERE is the post he made that as of right now has 2,994 likes).

The post contains a video showing an absolutely idiotic way of performing a hip thrust – with someone standing on another person’s thighs, in addition to some pictures of dogs and some annoying music, presumably to mock the exercise (I don’t speak Portuguese so it’s hard for me to understand some of this). Maybe this is funny in Brazil? It seems stupid to me, but even though the individual in the picture is positioning the bench too far up on her back and even though it’s poor loading placement, you can still see her glutes contracting very hard.

Who in the hell would perform a hip thrust this way and stand on someone's thighs? This doesn't create an effective loading scheme and makes it seem like Paulo has a hidden agenda.

Who in the hell would perform a hip thrust this way and stand on someone’s thighs? This doesn’t create an effective loading scheme and makes it seem like Paulo has a hidden agenda.

My colleague Chris Beardsley and I have reviewed several of Paulo Gentil’s articles in our monthly strength & conditioning research reviews, and I’ve been very impressed with Paulo’s research. To date, he has published around 30 peer-reviewed articles – references are shown HERE. I have no reason to doubt his integrity or the findings of his published research – it all seems legit to me. In fact, some of his research has caused me to reconsider the efficacy of additional biceps and triceps exercises when compound movements are heavily prioritized (I used to think they led to significant increases in additional mass gains, but now I don’t think they add as much as I previously thought). However, the statements he made yesterday just don’t appear to be statements that would be made from a good scientist.

What I can’t understand for the life of me is why Brazil, of all places, would reject the hip thrust. I assumed that Brazil, the country known around the world for their incredible butts, would embrace the hip thrust. I just don’t understand it. More alarming is some comments I’ve seen on other pages from various Brazilian fitness professionals, accusing me of academic dishonesty. First I’ll deal with Paulo’s comments, and then I’ll address the other professionals’ comments.

Here is what Dr. Paulo said:

“The search for the miraculous exercises for glutes leads to the creation recreation of various exercises. This uncontrolled inventionism (re) raised the hip elevation, an exercise that can have many interesting applications, but has been done in many different and bizarre ways in order to hypertrophy buttocks. With the help of Boxer, we will emphasize three points:

1) higher gains in strength and muscle mass occur when working in large amplitudes, but … if motion starts at an angle of ~ 135 degrees between thigh and the trunk and ends 180, ie only 45 degrees amplitude! In movements such as squat and leg press, it can be down to the knee almost touch the trunk, generating an amplitude at least 3 x higher !!

2) angles close to stretching cause more microlesions, which promotes strength gains and muscle mass, but … the exercise hardly promotes stretching of the gluteus maximus and, to make matters worse, the stretching point is a point of rest in which there is practically no work of the buttocks.

3) an exercise to trigger the muscles you want to work, but … the studies on the subject highlight the action of the erector spinae and multifidus in hip elevation. And it gets worse when you put the burden on the stomach, because it induces the trunk flexion, further burdening the erector spinae.

Anyway, no use putting weight on the belly, give umbigada in Smith nor ask someone to step on you, because this is not a good exercise for glutes! Tip to work well the buttocks? Basic exercises such as squats, leg press, lunges, deadlifts … More science, less invention!”

(Paul Gentil)

I want to see what Paulo is made of. I want to test his academic integrity. Therefore, I’m going to challenge him to a debate.

I will personally fund this debate and see to it that a video or audio recording gets posted on my website and on any website that Paulo desires. If Paulo doesn’t speak English, I will pay for a translator out of my own money.

Here are the things I’d like to discuss:

1. Whether in fact the barbell or band hip thrust are “bizarre” or if that’s just perception based on tradition. If we take a step back, are they really more bizarre looking than placing a bar on the back and squatting or lunging down, or holding a bar in the hands and bending over, or sitting in a seat and pressing a sled up and down?

2. Right now my thesis has examined the transfer of squats versus hip thrusts to several different strength-oriented tasks: 1RM squats, 1RM hip thrusts, maximum isometric mid-thigh pull, and maximum horizontal pushing force (against a wall). I want to ask Paul what he predicts will transfer best to these performance tasks. I’ve also examined the transfer to power-oriented tasks including vertical jump, horizontal jump, 10m sprint, and 20m sprint…we can discuss the transference of these as well.

3. Instead of speculating about strength and hypertrophy gains, I want to know if Paul has conducted any preliminary research on hip thrusts. I want to know if he has conducted any mechanistic research (EMG, force plate, ultrasound, etc.) involving hip thrusts, if he has performed them himself for a period of time and noted their efficacy, if he has incorporated them into his clients’ programs for a period of time and noted their efficacy, or if he has conducted any longitudinal experiments measuring actual hypertrophy from any hip thrust interventions. Or, is he basing his beliefs purely on speculation and what he thinks should happen rather than what does happen?

4. In the future, I’ll be examining gains in gluteus maximus muscle thickness between squats and hip thrusts (right now I have completed an experiment on identical twins). I want to know if Paulo indeed has the hypothesis that squats would lead to greater gains in hypertrophy compared to hip thrusts in an volume equated program with no additional lower body exercises. I also want to know if Paulo would like to join me in funding a study from a 3rd party laboratory (maybe we can pick a lab in Brazil to conduct the study) where we can test his hypothesis. Hell, I’d be happy to fund the study myself if Paulo agrees to change his mind if the research doesn’t support his hypothesis.

5. Is there really 3X more amplitude in squats, deadlifts, lunges, or leg presses compared to hip thrusts? Has Paulo ever measured bar displacement or joint angle displacement in each of these lifts? Is Paulo aware that you can tinker with any of these exercises to get more or less range of hip motion?

HERE is a leg press, HERE is a squat, HERE is a deadlift, and HERE is a hip thrust. Even so, does every exercise one performs for the glutes have to involve peak tension in the stretch position? Should those seeking maximal hypertrophy of the glutes maybe include one exercise that involves peak tension in the contracted position, especially considering my recent EMG findings HERE?

6. Is there really zero tension on the glutes at the bottom of the hip thrust assuming the individual isn’t resting on the ground?

7. Out of the 3 primary mechanisms of hypertrophy (mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage), which does Paulo feel is the most important, and which does he feel is the least important? How does he think the squat and hip thrust fare in terms of these 3 mechanisms?

8. Does he really think that the erectors and multifidi elevate the hips in a properly performed hip thrust? I mean really. Has Paulo ever performed a hip thrust with a neutral spine and achieved hip hyperextension or full extension combined with posterior pelvic tilt? If so, where did he feel it?

9. Does Paulo really think that the bar goes across the stomach? Newsflash – it goes across the pelvis. I want to know if Paulo realizes that this placement induces mainly a hip flexion moment. Which muscles counter this moment and create hip extension torque? And if the knees stay bent, which hip extensors are probably going to do more work? I want to know what Paulo would think produces a more consistent hip extension torque angle curve – hip thrusts, or the exercises he listed (squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg presses). I also want to know if Paulo really thinks that hip thrusts overburden the erector spinae if performed properly, and how he thinks the erector spinae activity in a hip thrust compares to that in a squat or a deadlift.

10. I’d like to know if Paulo has seen my testimonials. Has he gone onto my social media pages  (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) and seen how many women rave about Strong Curves and Get Glutes? Has he read my site for the past couple of years to witness how many lifters, athletes, and coaches experienced incredible results once they started incorporating the hip thrust? Does he think that I’ve effectively fooled the entire industry and that it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out and I get exposed? Does he think my entire body of work is a big lie and that I’m just some sleazy, greedy jerk who is trying to make a buck off of naive newbies?

11. Does Paulo have any evidence that I’ve ever been academically dishonest? He seems to have disdain for inventors. Should all inventors be accused of being greedy? Does Paulo support his fellow Brazilians in bashing my credibility because I’m an inventor, or should one instead evaluate the methods and results before throwing out accusations?

12. THESE ladies love their hip thrusts. One of these happens to be former Ms. Bikini Olympia Nathalia Melo. Are you suggesting that she’s training improperly?

Courtesy of Muscle & Fitness Hers

The lovely Nathalia Melo. Photo credit: Muscle & Fitness Hers.

13. Is Paulo open-minded to being wrong? Can his mind be changed? If so, will he inform his readership that he was off-based in his comments? I certainly am and will.

Brazilians Bashing Bret

It isn’t just Paulo bashing me; I see in THIS Facebook link that my name and integrity are being smeared by various Brazilian fitness professionals. Though some people are trying to defend me and the hip thrust, others are suggesting that I fabricated my recent EMG findings and that I have a hidden agenda for all of this science because I invented the hip thruster.

I want all of these people to know something, and I want to be VERY clear about it.

My academic integrity means FAR, FAR more to me than any amount of money could ever bring me. If someone informed me that they’d give me a billion dollars but I’d have to publish falsified findings, I’d reject their offer. To me, science is pure, and I would never contribute to poisoning the literature with shady or dishonest data. I was a big fan of the show Dexter back in the day, and I could honestly say that I could pull a Dexter and murder a rapist or serial killer with much less anguish than to knowingly put something into the literature that wasn’t accurate.


I could do this with much greater ease than falsifying data in the literature…

I’ve worked my ass off over the past 5 years to obtain the approval and/or friendship of sports science experts like Alan Aragon, Brad Schoenfeld, Layne Norton, Chris Beardsley, Andrew Vigotsky, John Cronin, Matt Brughelli, JB Morin, Jurdan Mendiguchia, Menno Henselmens, Greg Nuckols, Stu Phillips, Stu McGill, Justin Keough, Jason Lake, Jose Antonio, Eric Helms, James Krieger, and Jason Silvernail.

I would NEVER jeopardize losing their respect or trust for anything in the world. If I were sitting in some giant mansion with tons of sports cars but lost their support, my life would feel empty because collaborating with top sports scientists and helping push the industry forward are what make me tick.

In addition, my colleagues John Cronin (who is like a second father to me), Brad Schoenfeld, Chris Bearsley, and Andrew Vigotsky are listed on my EMG paper with me as contributors. I would never, ever, ever tarnish their names by falsifying data. That would make me feel sick and grotesque, as I have the absolute utmost respect for these guys.

Even if I were shady and dishonest, I wouldn’t be so stupid as to fabricate my EMG data or any other data from my thesis. I’m well aware that my research will be duplicated in time. How stupid would I look if different labs started publishing data that looked markedly different than mine? I’d have some serious questions to answer and it would make me look like a fool at best, and a fraud at worst.

If money were my primary motivator, I wouldn’t have taught the world how to hip thrust without my apparatus (see HERE for all the ways one can hip thrust). I wouldn’t have taught people how to do band hip thrusts without my apparatus. I started making the hip thruster because of all the emails I received from coaches informing me that they wanted a standalone unit so they could have their athletes perform them conveniently in their weightroom, not because I was scheming to get rich. I’m certainly not opposed to making money, it’s just not a primary driving force in my life.

If I were all about the money, I would ditch the hip thruster and instead focus on doing seminars and taking on online clients as I could double or possibly triple my income virtually overnight if I went this route.

But instead, I’m going to keep promoting the hip thrust and the hip thruster in addition to all of the other excellent exercises out there including squats, deadlifts, lunges, back extensions, swings, and more, and I’m going to keep conducting studies and experiments, publishing research, and trying to invent new things. This is what I like doing best, and these are the things that drive me as a human. I hope that one day I get past the point where people accuse me of academic dishonesty, and I hope to earn the trust of my Brazilian friends. I’m here to help your amazing glutes get even more amazing.

Apparently, I haven’t done a good job in the past of showing my true colors. You can trust me. I eagerly await hearing back from Dr. Paulo. If I don’t hear back by next week, I’ll post my answers and thoughts to the various questions I posed above, but I’d much prefer to discuss this in a debate as this is how true fitness professionals grow and learn to understand each other. And I promise to be nice and respectful if a debate does in fact take place.