Category Archives: Grill the Guru

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.


Challenging Naudi Aguilar of Functional Patterns to a Debate

Attention Naudi Aguilar,

First of all, I want to clarify something. I never knew who you were as of several days ago. But your team recently tagged me in one of your posts about bilateral glute training, and several of you decided to badmouth my methods. Had your team not done that, I would still not know who you are or what your beliefs were. However, since you chose to come after me, I decided to do my research on you, and I found your methods and beliefs to be highly questionable and flat out contradictory with regards to what published research shows, Therefore, I intend on grilling you. I decided to first post an article providing a general overview as to how people like you go about your business; this way I could teach my readers how to spot pseudoscience, hence my last blogpost. I did not mention your name, but it turns out that many people recognized the fact that the article heavily characterized your actions. This blogpost and my next one will indeed mention your name and will not beat around the bush.

You seem to be acting shocked at the backlash you are currently receiving. I want you to know that people are responding to you because you and your team are actively calling them out directly. If you and your team laid low, remained humble, and let your results speak for themselves, you wouldn’t be receiving such backlash. However, this is not the case, and you’ve been very vocal lately, denouncing and declaring dysfunctional adaptations associated with:

  1. Deadlifts
  2. Axial loaded squats
  3. Olympic lifting
  4. Gymnastics
  5. CrossFit, and
  6. All bilateral glute exercises

Moreover, you’ve implicated the entire strength & conditioning industry in a large conspiracy to cover up your allegedly superior methods in attempts to continue lining our pockets with our inferior, antiquated methods. As the late Carl Sagan once said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” To date, I’ve seen zero evidence supporting any of your claims.

Perhaps more alarming than your claims is the way that you and your team interact with skeptical individuals. Rather than provide evidence or logical consistency, your team attempts to bully the opposition and resort to ad hominem attacks. A larger concern is that I don’t think you or your team even understand the scientific process, but that’s a separate matter. I fear that although there is ample evidence to refute your claims as well as ample logical rationale, you will not consider any of it and will continue to bash popular and successful forms of training that possess sound research supporting their efficacy. To quote Sam Harris, “If someone doesn’t value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?”

Since my last blogpost, I see that your team has been accusing me of 1) being butthurt, 2) being jealous of your success, 3) stealing your methods, and 4) wanting your autograph? What in the hell is wrong with you guys haha? I’m not butthurt, I’m not jealous, I’ve watched your videos and I don’t use a single method of yours, nor have I stolen any of them from you, and I do not want your autograph. All I care about is science and spreading good information in the strength & conditioning industry. I have witnessed plenty of cult-like behavior in my time, but your team takes it to an entirely new level.

I have prepared an article that refutes some of your claims and backs it up with scientific references. However, rather than post the article, I’d first like to reach out to you in hopes that we can settle our differences in a debate.

Therefore, I hereby formally challenge you to a debate regarding various claims you have made. Since you seem to label most lifters as “beta males,” I’m hoping that you’ll act like an “alpha male” here and accept my offer.

In particular, I’d like to discuss the following:

1. Whether or not you realize that not everyone is concerned with their gait and throwing mechanics and that most people take up exercise because they simply want to look better

2. Whether or not it is okay for these individuals with aesthetics goals to perform bilateral exercises and exercises that target various muscles

3. Your claim that deadlifts are for beta males and that they do not lead to functional improvements

4. Your claim that Olympic lifting is for beta males and that it does not lead to functional improvements

5. Your claim that axial loaded squats suck

6. Your claim that all bilateral glute training conditions out the posterior oblique sling and that it does not lead to functional improvements

7. Your definition of functional training versus those of others in the industry (see a quote of Naudi’s definition of functional training toward the bottom of this article)

8. Your interpretation of human evolutionary biology and its relevance to resistance training, specifically whether we were in fact designed solely to run and throw, and whether or not every aspect of our training should be geared toward improving solely running and throwing performance

9. Assuming that running and throwing were indeed the only activities we should try to improve in training, whether or not your methods are best suited to achieve these improvements

10. Your claim that pectoral training (bench press, push ups, etc.) is dysfunctional because it interferes with throwing mechanics (see Naudi’s claim in quotes near the bottom of this article)

11. Your claim that calisthenics on bars is counterproductive because it makes you perform like a gorilla

12. Your insinuation that rotational training should be the centerpiece of functional training

13. Your usage of unstable surface training for functional improvements

14. What the general purpose of the Functional Patterns training system is – who is it for, what does it claim to improve, and what does it do better than other forms of training

15. Whether or not everyone should be adhering to your system (some of the methods shown at the bottom of this article), or if other methods are better suited for various people depending on their goals

16. Whether or not rotational training is in fact the best way to build rotational power

17. Your claim that sagittal plane training should be avoided and whether or not sagittal plane training leads to functional improvements in other planes

18. Your claim that there is a huge conspiracy going on in S&C to cover up your methods and continue promoting archaic, traditional methods

19. Your insinuation that individuals seeking increased glute mass would be better off performing  THESE and THESE exercises rather than the ones I utilize HERE and whether or not you truly believe this

20. Whether or not you have obtained a single before/after picture of a client like I do HERE showing an impressive glute transformation 

21. Whether you intend on conducting any randomized controlled research using your methods and comparing the functional transfer to those of other popular and established forms of training (powerlifting, Olympic lifting, CrossFit, gymnastics)?

22. If so, what the measures of functional performances would be – would they examine speed, power, strength, and hypertrophy (which are in general what people seek in training), or would they examine subjective measures such as gait aesthetics, throwing aesthetics, TVA function, and posterior oblique sling coordination (which are in general not what people seek in training, but even so, how would one go about measuring this anyway)

23. Whether you think that everyone should be standing all day with the posture you propose to be ideal (see Naudi’s example of exemplary posture shown at the very bottom of this article)

24. Your take on THIS article written by sports science legend Mel Siff in 2002 (13 years ago) on functional training/functional trainers and whether you think it accurately describes you and your methods

25. Your take on my article from the other day and whether or not you think it accurately describes you and your methods

And by the way, let’s make a deal. If you share this on your Facebook page, please allow me and my people to chime in and don’t block them or delete their comments. If you do this, I will do the same; I won’t block you or your people or delete comments. Your modus operandi seems to be to block and delete your opposition, but hopefully that won’t be the case this time around. But rather than go this route, it would be far more productive to simply hash this out over conversation. We could easily find a 3rd party who could host a live Google Hangout of our debate.

If you accept the offer, then I will not post another article that debunks some of your claims. But if you decline the offer, I will go forth in posting my article. I look forward to hearing back from you.



P.S. Since people might be wondering where you made these claims, I’m posting some of them below, along with links to your social media pages.

Naudi Aguilar Facebook

Functional Patterns Facebook

Functional Patterns Twitter

Functional Patterns Instagram

Functional Patterns YouTube

Functional Patterns Website

Screenshot at Feb 19 16-44-06

Screenshot at Feb 19 12-31-52

Screenshot at Feb 13 18-14-28


Screenshot at Feb 19 13-34-54


Screenshot at Feb 17 02-21-21




Screenshot at Feb 13 14-32-46

Screenshot at Feb 13 14-30-33

Screenshot at Feb 17 23-53-29

Screenshot at Feb 19 12-50-32

Screenshot at Feb 13 14-23-13

Screenshot at Feb 19 16-40-09 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-39-35 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-39-08 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-38-34 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-37-57 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-36-58 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-36-16 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-34-32 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-31-27 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-26-47 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-25-42 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-24-32 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-16-53 Screenshot at Feb 19 16-13-12

Screenshot at Feb 18 00-00-47

Screenshot at Feb 19 16-10-29

Screenshot at Feb 17 23-52-26

Naudi on Functional Training

“Functional Training” is a term thrown everywhere in the fitness industry. With the majority of fitness professionals promoting Olympic Lifting and Gymnastics as “functional training”, it seems the industry as a whole has been a bit misguided. Analyzing the “science” the majority group in the fitness industry have put forth to validate that these types of training platforms, it has become obvious to anyone with enough education that they have neglected so many variables that apply to all human beings on this planet. Specifically when we bring up the context of human biology influencing a person’s training goals. The fact is, to deem something as Functional Training, there has to be a basepoint in which people can all agree upon. We are humans. We prioritize the improvement of certain functions with the way our musculoskeletal system adapted over the course of millions of years. In short, the answer is very simple. Train for your biology. Not your ego. Then again, this is if the end goal is living longer and stronger for an entire lifetime.”

Naudi on Pectoral Training

“I don’t recommend that you work your chest. It’s really destructive. It created lots of problems in my shoulder and it took me quite a while to undo those deficiencies. Just think that one dysfunctional pattern repeated over and over and over again can create an assortment of different problems. It took us a very long time to evolve into human beings, to get very good at running, to get very good at throwing. So think about it, if I’m loading my pecs over and over again, it’s quite possible that your external oblique, your pec major, your serratus anterior, your intercostals, all become one thing. And when you think of something for functionality, like summation of forces of throwing something, you need separation of all those tissues. Something like a bench press or a chest fly or anything that builds the chest is counterintuitive to how the pec muscles evolved. From what I can speculate on is that we evolved our pectoralis major as a muscle to help us throw something and if you are overstimulating that muscle and you’re not enabling it to separate from the external obliques, the intercostals, the serratus anterior, that the fascia associations are not separated, you’re going to build a very structurally screwed up body.”

Naudi’s Example of Excellent Standing Posture


How to Become a Functional Movement Guru in 40 Easy Steps

Let’s face it, making money is hard work, especially if you stay grounded in science. Pseudoscience is much more profitable these days, plus it can be a whole lot of fun. Imagine a world with no scientific boundaries, where anything you think up in your head can be played off as factual regardless of whether or not the idea holds merit in real life. Imagine building a strong, cult-like following and getting paid to spout off jibber-jabber all day long.

Functional Bro, You're So Functional!

Functional Bro, You’re So Functional!

There are Indeed some credible and valuable functional movement experts out there – this article isn’t about them. Every year, the strength & conditioning and physical therapy industries see several new pseudoscientific movement gurus emerge onto the scene. I like to call these guys, “Self-Proclaimed Functional Movement Specialists (SPFMS),” and after studying their methods, I’ve realized that becoming one is actually quite easy.

The public seems to have desperate, undying needs to 1) be labeled as dysfunctional, 2) have a bold leader telling them how to stand, walk, sit, and move, 3) be told exactly which exercises are acceptable and which ones are not, and 4) adhere to a polarizing system that allows them to feel superior to all those who don’t adhere to the same system. Fulfilling these needs will lead to instant success. If you’re hurting for cash and would like to step it up and become a SPFMS, I’ve got you covered. Just follow these simple 40 steps:

How to Become a Functional Movement Guru in 40 Easy Steps

  1. Attend a functional anatomy course and memorize the names of all the muscles – if you know the names of muscles like the back of your hand, people will have a very hard time not taking you seriously even if you don’t adequately understand their function
  2. Read the book Anatomy Trains and memorize the names of Thomas Myers’ list of arbitrary fascial patterns that exist throughout the body – this will wow nearly everyone interested in exercise, even if nobody can seem to come up with any good reasons as to how it alters normal established strength & conditioning practices
  3. Create an arbitrary ideal standing posture and system for analyzing/critiquing it – remember, the more dysfunction you can manufacture, the more people will rely on you
  4. Create an arbitrary ideal gait and system for analyzing/critiquing it – it will behoove you to play on people’s fears by attacking the way they walk. The more stringent the standards, the better
  5. Commit approximately 10 common dysfunctions to memory – you will want to recite them frequently when criticizing individuals’ mechanics and speculating about the negative adaptations imposed by certain exercises…possibilities include:
    • lower crossed syndrome
    • upper crossed syndrome
    • gluteal amnesia
    • anterior pelvic tilt & lumbar hyperextension
    • posterior pelvic tilt & lumbar flexion
    • kyphosis
    • medial knee displacement
    • pronated feet/collapsed arches
    • winged scapula
    • shoulder internal rotation
    • forward head posture
    • leg length discrepancy
    • inhibited TVA/multifidus/psoas/diaphragm
    • breathing dysfunction
    • pelvic floor dysfunction
  6. Formulate a list of “bad” exercises and a list of “good” exercises – it doesn’t really matter which way you go here, all that matters is that you are confident in your lists
  7. Speculate as to which negative adaptations the “bad” exercises could impose – do not consult the literature or investigate anecdotes involving pro athletes and competitors, just conjure up some possibilities, and remember, the more severe, the better
  8. Develop unique, special ways to perform various movements – be confident and claim that any deviation from this form is inefficient and dysfunctional
  9. When editing videos, make liberal use of the slow-motion function – anything done in slow-mo will appear hardcore
  10. Wear Vibrams around the clock – this will establish credibility and help you appear more functional than others
  11. Don’t wear a shirt when creating your videos – functional bro’s don’t wear shirts
  12. Incorporate plenty of nifty unstable training devices into your training arsenal – use plenty of Bosu balls, TRX systems, Vipers, Indian Clubs, kettlebells, stability balls, and body blades – the more unstable, the better
  13. Denounce popular exercises and methods, possibilities include:
    • machine exercises
    • isolation/targeted exercises
    • bilateral exercises
    • supine/prone exercises
    • unilateral exercises
    • axial loaded exercises
    • sagittal plane exercises
    • dynamic core exercises
    • core stability exercises
    • explosive exercises
    • the powerlifts and their variants
    • the Olympic lifts and their variants
    • barbell exercises
  14. Heavily promote unconventional exercises, possibilities include:
    • standing exercises
    • unstable surface training exercises
    • crawling exercises
    • rolling around on the ground
    • balancing exercises
    • rotational exercises
    • core stability exercises
    • cable column exercises
    • gymnastics exercises
    • dancing exercises and routines
    • mixed martial arts exercises and routines
  15. When showing off your methods, flow seamlessly from one exercise to the next – this will make you appear fluid and artistic, thereby increasing your appeal
  16. Make people feel guilty for training in the sagittal plane or lifting heavy weight – make them feel like inferior unfunctional two dimensional rejects so they’ll hail you as the superior top functioning three dimensional legend
  17. Overhype the importance of fascia and its role in functional movement – fascia is indeed interesting and potentially valuable, but muscles are much more valuable. Nevertheless, who cares about that? Make movement all about the fascia, and use words like slings, planes, trains, and meridians to make fascia seem even cooler
  18. Ignore and denounce the importance of muscular hypertrophy and its role in functional movement – hypertrophy is for the meatheads. It is true that muscles convert chemical energy into mechanical energy and produce high levels of tension to pull on bones and create joint torque, but never mind this. Your system needs to hone in on the magic of fascia
  19. Create your own subjective definition of functional training – don’t utilize accepted industry definitions, create your own, and make sure it’s polarizing and divisive
  20. Do not actually study biomechanics or delve into the mathematics and physics behind movement – data is for geeks – you’re an artistic, creative genius. However, be sure to mention the word “biomechanics” over and over when speaking or writing since people are easily fooled
  21. Do not conduct controlled experiments, publish research, or even read research for that matter – this is counterproductive to guruism, you cannot have doubts as a know-it-all
  22. Do not take the time to get good at any of the exercises you denounce or pay attention to the positive functional effects that they lead to – your claims need to be purely theoretical, but don’t worry, this will satisfy the masses. What’s crazy is that it’ll satisfy your cult-like following even if it flies in the face of peer reviewed published randomized controlled trials
  23. Push your subjective form of “functional training” on everyone regardless of their goals – everyone in the world, including Olympic and professional athletes from all sports, powerlifters, bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, strongmen, bikini competitors, and the elderly, should train according to your superior system
  24. Scoff at people who have aesthetics or strength sport goals – these pedestrians with their lowly, vain strength and physique goals – the noble and aristocrats train purely for subjective function
  25. Pretend to be the only one in the world that truly understands movement – essentially, you are Neo in the Matrix when it comes to movement
  26. Ignore the considerable amount of variation found in ordinary human movement – do not consider how individual variation in anatomy and anthropometry influences movement; this complicates things way too much
  27. Do not study pain research – however, do claim to know the secrets to getting out of every type of pain, and make sure each of these solutions are purely biomechanical, postural, and structural in nature (and not psychological or sociological)
  28. Incorporate spiritual and holistic components into your methods – this will make you appear holier than your competition
  29. Make sure your training methods do not require participants to max out in load or effort – your training needs to appear effortless while claiming to produce superior results
  30. Make sure your methods appeal to people’s obsession with human evolution -Use homo erectus and cro magnon man to your advantage. How humans evolved to get to where we are now doesn’t really dictate how we should best train for various goals, but don’t worry, they don’t know that nor will they question it
  31. Use your subjective interpretation of human evolution to predict how we’re supposed to move as time advances – make your followers believe that it’s up to you to direct the future of human movement evolution from here on out!
  32. Be sure to incorporate plenty of exciting ancillary methodologies – even if some methods show lackluster results in the literature, appeal to people’s affinity to magic, so the more exotic the better, possibilities include:
    • kinesiotape
    • active release techniques (ART)
    • cupping
    • dry needling
    • whole body vibration (WBV)
    • electric muscle stimulation (EMS)
    • crystal healing
  33. Speak in riddles and vague but quotable sound bytes – this will make you seem like an all-knowing, wise owl
  34. Be black and white and don’t consider any gray area – you need ample enemies so that you can emerge as the hero
  35. Make sure you use plenty of impressive vocabulary to win over the common newbie – you can easily do this by pairing up a word from the first list below with a word from the second list:
    • structural, fascial, primal, functional, asymmetric, rotational, contralateral, rhythmic, compensatory, 3D, tissue, serape, synergistic, diaphragmatic, postural, distortion, kinetic, reciprocal, myofascial, proprioceptive, sensorimotor, energy, elastic, kinaesthetic, spiral, dynamic, neuromuscular
    • integration, integrity, evolution, movement, planes, trains, meridians, slings, fabric, reciprocation, sequencing, flow, release, mobilization, tensegrity, effect, dominance, breathing, inhibition, linkage, patterns, transmission, leak, syndrome, chain, lines, stabilization, facilitation
  36. When formulating your methods, create 3 word acronyms and make sure to trademark them – use the lists directly above; an example could be Dynamic Proprioceptive Patterning, or DPP™
  37. Frequently name drop physical therapy and holistic gurus and systems – however, be sure to misapply their methods to high performance training, possibilities include:
    • Janda, Sahrmann, McGill, Myers, McKenzie, Maitland, Mulligan, Kendall, Jull, Cyriax, Richardson, Lewit, Chaitow, Travell, Cook, Chek, Chopra, Dyer
  38. Build a cult-like following – do not encourage them to be free thinkers
  39. Conduct seminars around the world and certify trainers with your methods – this is a vital step in your transformation
  40. Become a monster and judge the hell out of everyone else’s movement patterns, gait, posture, and exercise selection – when you’ve reached this step, congratulations, you have arrived!

Bonus: Kicking Things into Overdrive in Just 6 More Steps!

If you’re looking for some next level shit, I’m going to tell you how you can ramp things up a notch.

  1. Lease a facility
  2. Paint it all black
  3. Put a giant logo on the wall
  4. Put  grid lines and random markings on the ground surface
  5. Make liberal use of neon/fluorescent colors
  6. Don’t allow any loaded barbells in site (refer back to #16 above)

Who in their right mind could question you when your facility is so hardcore and functional?

You are the Neo of Human Movement!

Purpose of This Article

Most of us who have spent the majority of our lives in careers as personal trainers, strength coaches, physical therapists, and sports science researchers can see right through these SPFMS‘s – we can spot their B.S. from a mile away. I would like my readers to be able to easily identify the con artists and snake oil salesmen in our industry as well.

This article will make much more sense tomorrow. I intend on grilling another guru (this time very politely). Make no mistake about things – if you stand for pseudoscience, then you stand in my way to properly educate the masses. I will not sit back and watch my industry turn to crud on account of self-proclaimed movement experts who know just enough to be dangerous but haven’t read an actual study in their entire lives.

We have entire journals dedicated to advancing strength and conditioning, biomechanics, gait and posture, physical therapy and rehabilitation, movement and ergonomics, and pain sciences. There are hundreds if not thousands of longitudinal training studies that have examined the actual effects of exercise on functional performance, and these should provide the backbone for functional training methods. We certainly don’t know everything, but we definitely know enough to stop con-artists in their tracks.


You Can’t Stop the Hip Thrust, and You Won’t Break Our Stride

Can you attain great glutes without the hip thrust? Sure you can. There are hundreds of excellent glute exercises, and I’ve included nearly all of them in my various books, articles, and videos. Can you get there faster with the hip thrust? I believe so, and my large following of supporters do too.

There are currently tens if not hundreds of thousands of lifters worldwide employing the hip thrust to help them attain better glute development, and this list of people is growing everyday. Why? Because it works. Lifters hear about the hype, and they try it out for themselves. Once they feel the tension in their glutes, they’re sold. After a few weeks of progressive hip thrusting, they start to notice increased glute development. If an individual is new to lifting and spends a solid year focusing on hip thrusts, it is very likely that their glutes will completely transform. Men, and especially women, want to spread the word, so they talk about the exercise on social media. Other lifters try it out for themselves, and the exercise gains momentum. (On a side note, thank you very much to all the wonderful folks out there who are spreading the glute gospel and tagging me in their social media posts. It’s helping, and you’re making a difference.)


Little by little, the hip thrust is spreading around the world…

The hip thrust is growing more popular every day. Glute training methods have progressed considerably in the past several years, and lifters who are seeking greater glute development are enjoying the advancements. The hip thrust might be just one movement in the gym, but there’s a larger movement taking place. The hip thrust “movement” is about innovation. It’s about progression. It’s about results. Those of us who are aboard the hip thrust train know the truth.

Who are we? We are a growing crowd of lifters who are excited about our glute development, and we want to share our secrets with others. We sometimes encounter criticism, usually by powerlifters who for some strange reason get angry that lifters are prioritizing a lower body movement other than the squat or deadlift, but we push on and prevail. Don’t get us wrong; we like the squat and deadlift too, but no matter what others say, we cannot be stopped, we won’t be distracted, and you won’t break our stride. We’re gonna keep on thrusting, and we’re gonna keep on seeing better results.

If You Wanna Change the World…

To all of those wanting to change the world and spread their methods or ideas, here’s how you do it. Talk about the current popular method, discuss why there’s a better way, and then show your evidence. The more evidence you have, the more seriously people will take you. Want to see my evidence? Click right HERE. You’ll see over 100 lifters who are happy to share their pics to the masses. Follow my Facebook page and you’ll see lifters every single day chiming in about their results after stumbling upon The Glute Guy. This is why my name and my methods continue to gain steam year after year – there is evidence accompanying my ideas; it’s not just a bunch of words.

Hip thrusts allowed these ladies to achieve their glute transformation goals

Brittany, Sasha, and Trisha relied upon hip thrusts to achieve their glute transformation goals

If someone out there wants to take my crown as The Glute Guy, if someone wants people to stop doing the hip thrust, or if someone wants to revamp the way that glute training is done, they’re going to have to do a little better than writing an article or filming a video. They’re going to need to start showing compelling before/after pics from people who follow their methods (and they’re going to have to be better than mine). They’re going to have to conduct scientific experiments and publish research. They’re going to have to listen to their followers and create solutions to their problems. They’re going to have to build a community, write books, film instructional videos, and answer questions. If they don’t care to go down this path, I understand. It’s hard work, and not everyone can sustain it.


If you put yourself out there, you’re going to attract criticism. In this day and age, there’s simply no way around it. Having posted more free content than nearly any strength & conditioning writer on the internet, I come to expect a certain amount of criticism. The following statement doesn’t apply to the guys that I’ll address later in this article, but many of the individuals who criticize me haven’t written a single article or posted a single video, not to mention taken the time to create a website, patent an invention, or formulate a system of training. This doesn’t imply that their criticism is automatically invalid; but I’ve found that it’s far easier to attempt to tear something down rather than be creative and innovative.

Of even greater importance is that fact that those who tend to criticize me about my glute training usually have zero evidence that they’ve been successful in helping reshape women’s backsides. Again, this doesn’t automatically mean that their arguments aren’t valid, but if I was presented some compelling data, or some logical reasoning, or a superior compilation of testimonials and before/after pics, I’d be much more apt to consider updating my training recommendations (as would my followers). Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.


Where’s the evidence?

Recently, two articles and one video surfaced on the internet, all of which criticize the hip thrust, my integrity, and my lack of physical strength. The articles and videos are filled with logical fallacies, pseudoscience, and ad hominems. Since a high percentage of my readership consists of trainers, coaches, physios, and lifters who play an active role in dispensing strength training information to the masses, I would like to use this opportunity as a teaching tool to help my readers be able to better identify poor logic and science, since they will inevitably find themselves in similar encounters in the future with fellow fitness professionals. Here are the three links (it would be a good idea to familiarize yourselves with the material included in these links before continuing on):

Avoid the Hip Thrust by Ryan Lingenfeiser

Real Strength vs. Guru Strength by Chris Bartl

Drop the Useless Hip Thruster by Chris Duffin

Before I get started, I’d like to throw out on offer. If any of these gentlemen above would like to debate any of the following points, I’d be happy to jump on Skype, record a podcast, and post it on my site. They can let me know in the comments section if they’d like to debate.

With regards to the hip thrust, a famous quote comes to mind here by Arthur Schopenhauer.

all truth quote

While some have arrived at stage 3, others are still stuck in stage 1 or 2. If you study the history of the bench press, you’ll notice close similarities between the bench press and the hip thrust. Lifters in the 1930’s and 1940’s would scoff at anyone bench pressing, calling them sissies, accusing them of cheating, telling them that the movement isn’t functional, and informing them that it didn’t work. The bench press prevailed, despite what the haters were saying, because it’s a great exercise that helps lifters achieve their aesthetics goals. The same phenomenon is presently occurring with the hip thrust. 

Surf the internet, and you’ll find plenty of articles cautioning lifters to avoid squats, avoid deadlifts, avoid military press, and avoid any other good exercise, so it’s of no surprise that the hip thrust would join the ranks of these exercises. Moreover, research any popular individual in any field and you’ll inevitably find articles or forums bashing that individual; it comes with the territory. In this day and age, no one remains unscathed. I’m therefore not surprised. 

However, what does surprise and slightly offend me is the lack of respect for my followers. Dis me all you want – but when you dis the hip thrust, you’re dissing on all the people who have seen great results from the exercise. Who’s employing the hip thrust? The list of people ranges from your everyday commercial gym-goer, to moms training out of their homes, to garage lifters, to bikini and figure competitors, to strength athletes, to physical therapists, to personal trainers, to strength coaches, to professional sports teams and Olympic athletes, to celebrities. The world is loving the hip thrust, and they’re seeing better results.

Have these gentlemen, or any other haters of the hip thrust, taken the time to examine my testimonials? I’m unaware of any fitness professional with 1/10th of the anecdotal support that I have amassed in the glute development department. I wonder what goes on in the hater’s heads when they see those pictures. Do they think I’m fabricating or photoshopping the pictures? Do they think I’m just randomly finding them on the internet and claiming them? Do they think that these types of results are the norm? If so, they clearly have no experience in the trenches. This doesn’t seem to be the case, so what gives? Do they simply turn the other cheek when it comes to testimonials and before/after pics? If this is the case, then what do they go by? Unicorn science?

Have they taken the time to read my clients’ and my readers’ stories? Each picture on my testimonials page has a story behind it, and I’ve included these at the bottom of my random thoughts posts over the past year. Do they think my followers are all just too stupid too determine what works and what doesn’t? My people are far smarter than these folks imagine, and they’re quite capable of determining for themselves what works and what doesn’t.

hip thrust

Sammie hip thrusting 225 lbs

Once my followers started incorporating the hip thrust and other methods I espouse into their training, their results increased substantially. The difference is, I talk to these people and listen to what they have to say. If anyone does the hip thrust progressively for 6 months, they will notice a plethora of intriguing adaptations, but most of the hip thrust haters clearly haven’t performed hip thrusts on a consistent basis – it’s blatantly apparent by what they say about the exercise.

Have they familiarized themselves with the science behind the movement (for example, have they read HERE and HERE)? Methinks not. Have they conducted any EMG research? Have they taken before pictures, implemented a training program, and then retaken after pictures? If so, where in the world are they? Have they taken baseline performance tests, implemented hip thrusts, and then retested to examine the transfer of training? Have they examined the glute girth measurements of their clients? If so, where’s the data? Or, are they concerned more about what they think happens rather than what really does happen? Sadly, this is nearly always the case. 

Do they think I’ve duped the entire industry? Seventeen TNation authors have written about hip thrusts (Bret Contreras, Christian Thibaudeau, Martin Rooney, Dan John, Eric Cressey, Ben Bruno, Lee Boyce, Tony Gentilcore, Tim Henriques, Mike Robertson, Charles Staley, Dean Somerset, Jordan Syatt, Dan Blewett, John Gaglione, Todd Bumgardner, Eirik Sandvik, Kasey Esser). Other top dogs like Jason Ferruggia, Joe Dowdell, Jim Smith, John Romaniello, Chad Waterbury, David Dellanave, Nick Tumminello, BJ Gaddour, Nick Horton, Kelly Baggett, PJ Striet, Molly Galbraith, Nia Shanks, Jen Sinkler, Kellie Davis, Marianne Kane, Rachel Guy, Joy Victoria, Sohee Lee, and Christine Marie have all written about hip thrusts as well. Legendary professional strength coaches Joe Kenn, Buddy Morris, and Chip Morton employ the hip thrust with their NFL players. Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness Magazines have featured hip thrusts on numerous occasions. NCSA’s Strength & Conditioning Journal published an technique article on hip thrusts. Former Ms. Bikini Olympia Nathalia Melo and current Ms. Bikini Olympia Ashley Kaltwasser love their hip thrusts. Fitness models Jamie Eason and Amanda Latona are happily hip thrusting. Even legendary spinal biomechanist Stu McGill likes the hip thrust (and credits it for prolonging his hip replacement surgery and improving his gait)! Clearly there’s something to the exercise or these highly esteemed professionals wouldn’t be incorporating them into their arsenals. One can find videos of high level powerlifters, bodybuilders, strongmen, Olympic weightlifters, NFL players, UFC fighters, MLB players, NBA players, NHL players, and Olympic sprinters performing the hip thrust on the internet as well.

In each of the aforementioned articles/videos linked above, the individuals referred to me as a guru. I’m not a guru; I call out other gurus. My integrity means far more to me than anything, and I’m doing the best I can with the available forms of evidence to provide my readers with the soundest approach to training. If my methods didn’t work, they’d fizzle away just like other training fads. But this is not the case, and according to Google trends, hip thrusts are at an all-time high and their popularity continues to rise year after year.

I can’t help but wonder why anyone on the planet wouldn’t look at my testimonials (and see how happy are with their results) and start recommending hip thrusts to anyone who was seeking better glute development. It mystifies me. Nevertheless, I will now reply to each of these naysayers one-by-one.

Response to Ryan Lingenfeiser (Avoid the Hip Thrust)

I. Avoid Everything? 

I see you feel people should avoid the hip thrust. I see you also have articles dedicated to advising people to:


Ryan Lingenfeiser

  1. Avoid Kettlebells
  2. Avoid Overhead press
  3. Avoid Ab wheel rollouts
  4. Avoid Olympic lifts
  5. Avoid Lunges
  6. Avoid Assistance exercises
  7. Avoid Turkish get ups
  8. Avoid Thick bar training
  9. Avoid Rest-ice-compression-elevation
  10. Avoid Leg curls
  11. Avoid Leg extensions
  12. Avoid Cardio machines
  13. Avoid Cardio rest days
  14. Avoid Support gear
  15. Avoid Focusing on the stabilizers
  16. Avoid Resistance bands
  17. Avoid Advanced training techniques
  18. Avoid Wide stances or grips
  19. Avoid Functional training
  20. Avoid Peak contractions
  21. Avoid Suspension training
  22. Avoid Pullovers
  23. Avoid Powerlifting for general training
  24. Avoid Grip training
  25. Avoid Kipping pull-ups
  26. Avoid Periodization
  27. Avoid Cycling
  28. Avoid Yoga
  29. Avoid Rest, ice, compression, and elevation

Way to alienate just about every lifter out there Ryan! I’m not sure if this is a strategy designed to attract more hits to your website, or if you really feel this way. I see that you advise in THIS article for lifters to just perform 3 exercises and that’s all – a squat, press, and row. I’m thankful that your training programs at least allow for some resistance training – for a while I was wondering if our programs utilized any resistance training at all. However, I find your programming to be boring and inferior for the vast majority of lifters when considering their goals.

II. Learn How to Utilize Pubmed, or Just Stick to What You Know

Not trying to be a dick Ryan, but I can go through almost every article you’ve written and pick apart your logic and reasoning. Your understanding of biomechanics and grasp of sports science is piss-poor. For example, in your article on the Deadlift vs. Squat, you state that deadlifts overstress the hamstrings, glutes, and low back, but then you go on to state that the squat creates higher tension in the muscles. You can’t have it both ways my friend. In my opinion, when comparing the two, it would be far more prudent to list which muscles receive more tension in the squat compared to the deadlift (calves, quads, lumbar extensors) and which muscles receive more tension in the deadlift compared to the squat (hamstrings, thoracic extensors, lats, forearms), rather than just issue inconsistent blanket statements.

Multiple sets are better than one set for strength and hypertrophy; comb the large body of research and you’ll come to this conclusion on your own. Sure, the first set is by far the most important, but there’s a reason why all Olympic weightlifters, powerlifters, bodybuilders, strongmen, and Highland Games athletes perform multiple sets in their training – it’s optimal for strength and hypertrophy.

You can certainly make things up and see where that takes you, but judging by the fact that you’ve written over 150 articles and at this point in time only have 144 Facebook likes, 23 Twitter followers, and a 3.1 million Alexa website ranking, it doesn’t appear to be working well. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a big social media following to be right or to come up with brilliant methods, but I’m largely unimpressed with your body of work. You have some great potential as a writer, but if you based your work on science rather than “Ryan’s made-up-rules,” you’d be much more successful in my opinion.

III. The Truth About Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts don’t go against our anatomy and biomechanics; conversely, they’re well-tolerated by the masses. The length-tension relationship doesn’t dictate what exercises we should be doing; lifters should be strong at all muscle lengths which will require a variety of exercises. The hip thrust isn’t dangerous if you do them correctly, just like most exercises. The moment arm doesn’t decrease as the hips raise – it stays fairly consistent throughout (again, stick to what you know rather than spewing pseudobiomechanics). You can use thick padding to protect the hips. Proper hip thrusts don’t involve lumbar hyperextension just like proper deadlifts don’t involve lumbar flexion. There’s no such thing as hyperextension of the glutes. Hyperextension doesn’t only exist in functional anatomy for repositioning joints. Hip thrusts don’t have to involve posterior pelvic tilt, but PPT is useful in many situations. Hip thrusts are one of the most functional exercises in existence. Hip thrusts involve synergy; many muscles work together to achieve the movement. And for optimal glute function and development, you need a variety of exercises such as hip thrusts, squats, and lateral band work. Keep in mind here that I’m only looking at one of your articles – I ignored the other 155.

Response to Chris Bartl (Real Strength vs. Guru Strength)

I. Do Our Methods Really Differ Greatly?


Chris Bartl

You claim that our methods differ HERE. Let me guess, you have your clients squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, chin, and row? You might add in some additional single leg, core, or posterior chain work, right? For people who don’t tolerate certain lifts well, you might find substitutions or regressions? Hmmm, that sounds a lot like what I do. With my bikini competitors, I’ll prioritize the hip thrust and tack on additional glute work at the end such as lateral band work. If you did the same, I’m positive that your physique clients (assuming you train physique clients) would see better results. I hope you don’t train every client the same way despite their varying goals – please tell me you don’t shove powerlifting down a physique client’s throat. Nevertheless, hip thrusts are just one component of my programming, and you won’t find many S&C writers who have written more articles and filmed more videos on squats and deadlifts than me.

II. I’m Well-Aware that I’m Not Strong by Powerlifting Standards

I was the skinniest kid in my class growing up – I looked sickly and was made fun of constantly. I couldn’t even come close to performing a single chin-up when I was given the Presidential physical fitness test in grade school. When I first tried the bench press, I was stapled to the bench by the barbell. I started lifting at 15 years of age, and it took me:

  • 3 years to perform my first bodyweight dip
  • 4 years to perform my first bodyweight chin-up
  • 6 years to bench press 225 lbs
  • 22 years to reach the 300/400/500 bench/squat/deadlift club
  • 22 years to finally deadlift 600 lbs

Words cannot describe how intimidated I was of lifting weights. Back in middle and high school, I thought that something was physically wrong with me and wondered why I was so weak. I was bullied constantly by bigger students, and I hated being harassed so much that I vowed to stick with it and build some muscle. I spent my entire allowance on a gym membership and rode my bike several miles to the gym each day. I couldn’t afford a personal trainer so I just watched what other people did and tried to copy them. I’d go the library and grocery store and read the muscle magazines to try to pick up some tips. Little by little, my strength rose and my muscles grew. Never in the world did I ever imagine that I’d one day be considered “strong.” All I wanted at that time was to be normal. In 22 years, I’ve never taken more than 7 days off of lifting, and this fact makes me prouder than you can imagine.

Me as a kid

Me as a kid – that’s how I stood

I have no ego in the strength game. I’ve had incredibly strong lifting partners, and I’ve trained some freaks. I follow natural raw lifters such as Ben Rice, Jonnie Candito, Bryce Lewis, Brandon Campbell, Greg Nuckols, Layne Norton, and Mike Tuscherer, and I’m constantly in awe. I’ve seen all the videos of Malanichev, Konstantinovs, Green, Efferding, Lilliebridges, Kendall, Norris, Rubish, Byrd, Spoto, Bolton, and Magnusson. Trust me, I know exactly where I stand in the world of physical strength. There are guys who can raw squat and bench well over double what I can. I’m also well-aware of my weaknesses in powerlifting. I know that I need to work on staying more upright in the squat and strengthen my quads, I know that I need to work on keeping my elbows more tucked in the bench press and strengthen my triceps, and I know that I need to work on keeping my back more stable in the deadlift.

Despite these realizations, I’m still damn proud of my recent deadlift PR, I’m damn proud of how hard I worked to achieve this goal, and I’m damn proud that my form has improved over the past two years. I’m going to keep giving it my all, and in years to come I hope to raise my raw total to 1,400 lbs and continue to bring up my weaknesses.

However, strength isn’t just a measure of physical prowess; there’s a mental component as well. It takes a lot of balls to pump out articles on maximum strength training, knowing that you’re far from being the strongest guy on the planet. It takes a lot of strength to stick with powerlifting despite the fact that squats have never felt natural to me and I struggle with form. It takes guts to attempt to help powerlifters, knowing that the industry is plagued with meatheads who think that he who is strongest writes better programs and provides better training recommendations.

Nevertheless, I trust in my methods. I have extensively studied the science and find most strength experts’ understanding of the biomechanics to be rudimentary. A strength coach is someone who can help lifters and athletes become stronger. Some of the best strength coaches in the world are weak as a kitten. I attended the CSCCa Conference last week – these collegiate strength coaches are doing an amazing job helping athletes around the country get stronger and improve their performance while keeping them injury-free. Their strength comes in all sizes, you see big guys, medium size guys, and small guys. Al Vermeil is arguably the most successful strength coach in the history of the iron game, and he probably can’t bench press 165 lbs.

Bottom line, it doesn’t take world-class strength to be a world class strength coach. I’m not trying to “trick” my readers into thinking I’m insanely strong – I embed videos of powerlifting records every month into my blog so my readers stay abreast of recent strength feats. Nevertheless, I represent the common lifter, so my readers relate to me and appreciate my dedication. Attacking a fitness writer for being weak is very lame. Stick to the science rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks.

III. You Would Like 2 x 4: Maximum Strength

If you took the time to read through my 2 x 4 product, you’d like the system. It’s highly influenced by Dan Green, but with less volume and other modifications. It’s based around back squats, front squats, deadlifts, block pulls, bench press, close grip bench, floor press, and military press. It provides a systematic method for increasing strength while attempting to prevent overreaching and allow for peaking after 14 weeks. Accessory work is allowable and advisable, but limits are placed on volume. How could this approach go wrong? Try it and you will see results. THESE lifters all did. Or don’t, but don’t criticize a system that you’ve never analyzed or experimented with.

IV. The Truth About Hip Thrusts

I have a very hard time believing that there are guys out there hip thrusting 800 lbs that can’t do a bodyweight squat. I’d like to know who these people are. The vast majority of lifters can hip thrust more than they can squat, with the caveat that they’ve been performing it progressively for at least six months. These are things you learn from training hundreds of people.

The hip thrust is incredibly functional. Not only does it safeguard people from injury to the knees, hips, and low back, it also transfers quite favorably to performance. Lifters and athletes who employ the hip thrust notice improved gait function at all speeds, increased hip power, stronger squats and deadlifts, increased throwing/striking power, and more. Hip thrusts strengthen end-range hip extension, which is vital for sport performance. They build glute hypertrophy incredibly well, and this added glute mass does wonders for improving functional fitness. Any added mass is accompanied by nerves. It gets innervated and the athlete figures out how to utilize it in their sport, especially under the supervision of a skills coach.

Adding glute mass isn't like slapping extra clay onto a sculpture; the motor pool innervates the tissue during movement

Gaining glute mass through resistance training isn’t like slapping extra clay onto a sculpture; any additional tissue is innervated by the motor pool

I see that you compete in geared powerlifting. Do you like when others say that the bench press isn’t functional, or that wearing bench shirts or squat suits isn’t functional? I wouldn’t agree with these folks, but hopefully this illustrates my point. But, I digress.

To say that it has no real-life application and is “anti-functional” shows that your understanding of sports science is way off-the-mark. Let’s say that we had ten groups of 20 athletes perform one movement alone for 8 weeks (3 times per week with DUP). One group did just squats, another did just deadlifts, another just hip thrusts, another just glute ham raises, another just bench press, another just military press, another just chins, another just bent over rows, another just dips, and another just barbell curls. Let’s say that we pre and post tested them on ten performance tests: vertical jump, broad jump, triple jump, 40-yard dash, 400-meter run, horizontal pushing force, backward shot throw, rotational power, T-test agility, and max push-ups. My educated guess is that the hip thrust group would fall into the top 3, along with the squat and deadlift groups. But the lifter that performed all ten exercises would see far greater improvements than the lifter who only performed one exercise. Strength training is all about synergy, and the hip thrust is a staple in S&C programming.

Usain, Be Careful, You're Adding Non-Functional Glute Mass!

Usain, Be Careful, You’re Adding Non-Functional Glute Mass! (heavy sarcasm here)

V. Most Lifters Care More About Their Physiques Than Their Strength

I’d say that 90% of the personal training clients that approached me over the years came to me for aesthetics purposes. Most clients want to look better first and foremost. Initially, they aren’t concerned with strength acquisition. The majority of my followers want better glutes, not to set records in powerlifting. Sure, strength is nice, but given the choice, the vast majority of my female followers would choose to possess great glutes over superior strength. I agree that the two go hand-in-hand, but in my experience hip thrust strength is more critical to glute growth than squat strength. Either way, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to program both in a lifter’s training, if glute growth is the goal. Training should be tailored to the goal of the lifter, not predetermined according to the trainer’s biases.

Every coach's system will differ, but here's how my training prioritization changes depending on the goal of the lifter

Every coach’s system will differ, but here’s how my training prioritization changes depending on the goal of the lifter

VI. Do You Use Anabolic Steroids?

I’m curious Chris, do you use roids? I don’t know if you do or not, but if you do, and you go around the internet poking fun of natural lifters – isn’t that like a kid who cheats on a test and pokes fun of the other students for being dumb, or a runner who finds a shortcut during a race and makes fun of the other runners for being slow? If you’re all natural, please correct me and forgive me for the question. In my experience, most juiced lifters conveniently forget how difficult it is to build strength year after year as a natural lifter.

VII. Practice What You Preach

Chris, check out this quote:

“One lifter I really look up to and can’t wait to meet at the end of the month at EliteFTS’s LTT Seminar is Jeremy Frey. His lifting and his attitude have been nothing short of inspirational for me. I recently read in his training blog about his first meet back from a major injury. He talked about how he doesn’t give a shit about any records or whom he’s competing against because he is doing it for only one person: himself.

Records and accolades don’t matter in this sport. It’s about you and only you versus a bar full of weight and it doesn’t care about medals or records. It wants to hurt you and you are the only one who can kick its ass. While training for this meet, I totally lost the meaning of why I am doing this and it’s not because of records. It’s because I fucking love lifting weights and competing. LOVE it. The gym is my idea of what heaven should be like. It’s a place where nobody is hated and everyone is loved because we are all in there for the same reason: to get bigger, faster and most definitely stronger.”

Pretty awesome, right? This quote came from you HERE. Then why all the disrespect?

Response to Chris Duffin (Drop the Useless Hip Thruster)

I. Hip Thrusts Allow for Full Hip Extension


Chris Duffin

Chris, when I saw your video, my jaw dropped. Your main premise is that hip thrusts don’t allow for full hip extension. They do. As a matter of fact, they allow for hip hyperextension. They do this so well, that spinal biomechanist Stu McGill (who used the exercise to rehabilitate his hip) noted that it naturally makes for an excellent hip flexor stretch. Since the glute (the antagonist) is contracting, it can be thought of as a natural form of PNF stretching, which has been shown to be highly effective in the literature at improving flexibility. I assumed that a bunch of people would call you out for your inaccurate conclusion, but this wasn’t the case. This actually made me depressed about the S&C industry and made me realize how far we have to go. Seriously, you’re argument is flawed. The repetition terminates when the hip runs out of ROM.

hip thrust

This is the first hip thrust picture to arrive on the internet, and it exhibits full hip extension.

The range of motion issue has been discussed ad nauseam by myself and others. It was discussed 4.5 years ago when I first introduced hip thrusts HERE, it was discussed in my first instructional video 4 years ago HERE, and it’s been discussed in dozens of articles/videos since then. For example, below is BJ Gaddour demonstrating full hip extension. HERE is a video of me achieving full hip extension with 635 lbs.

BJ Gaddour demonstrating full hip extension

BJ Gaddour demonstrating full hip extension

If someone is not achieving full range of motion, then they’re not doing the exercise correctly. However, the same could be said for squats, deadlifts, leg press, bench press, military press, chins, rows, etc. We know that some lifters will inevitably go too heavy and cut their ROM short, but lifters (especially in commercial gyms) around the world do this on every major lift. It’s not the fault of the exercise, it’s the fault of the lifter. You mentioned that lifters can use full ROM with body weight, but when they use too heavy of load, they cannot. Why wouldn’t there be a sweet spot right in between where you can still use load and achieve full ROM? I highly respect the level of strength you’ve achieved, but I’d respect you even more if you were fair on this topic.

II. Hip Thrusts Don’t Cause “Late Glute Firing” and They Transfer Just Fine to Performance

Hip thrusts cause late glute firing? Now I’ve heard it all. Ask fellow powerlifters Greg Nuckols and Quinten Cody (see articles HERE and HERE) if bridges and hip thrusts screwed up their glute firing. I hope you’re not judging the effects of hip thrusts by examining my form on deadlifts. I pulled that way long before I ever did hip thrusts. You see plenty of lifters who perform hip thrusts pull with an arched back, and you see plenty of lifters who don’t perform hip thrusts pull with a rounded back. When examining glute EMG, you don’t see delayed glute firing with roundback deadlifters or with people who perform hip thrusts, and the glutes are firing whether the pelvis is neutral, posteriorly tilted, or anteriorly tilted. I agree that it can help roundbackers better achieve lockout, but this doesn’t incriminate the exercise, as deadlifting mechanics have more to do with discipline when pulling than whether or not the lifter is performing hip thrusts.

When you showed your examples in the deadlift, I don’t agree with you in the posture that demonstrates optimal glute activation. The hip thrust does not “de-stabilize” the spine either – no exercise does that. And if you only standing exercises transfer to real life functional movements, then do you also avoid push-ups, bench press, incline press, inverted rows, seated rows, chins, pulldowns, hip sled, leg extensions, leg curls, planks, side planks, ab wheel rollouts, sit ups, back extensions, glute ham raises, and Nordic ham curls? Or is it just the hip thrust? Are you consistent with your logic here? The truth is that each of these exercises transfer to everyday movements just fine, they’re very useful for physique clients and strength clients alike, and best results are seen when you combine various patterns and force vectors. If you hypothesize that a training study for say 12 weeks involving 3 days/week of progressive hip thrusting would yield zero transfer to functional performance, then I’d have to say that you possess poor biomechanical instincts.

Any exercise that is good for glute growth will improve torque generating ability in hip extension, hip external rotation, hip abduction, and posterior pelvic tilt (see HERE), and there’s more to functional training than meets the eye, according to the literature (see HERE). You seem to think that squats and deadlifts are the end-all, be-all, but a huge percentage of my readers couldn’t care less about what they squat and deadlift – they just want to possess great glutes.


Many women just want to look good; their priority isn’t powerlifting strength

III. I’m Not Just Trying to Sell People Something

Chris, you think I’m just trying to sell people Hip Thrusters? This has never been about the money. It’s about spreading sound glute training methods and helping others achieve their goals. It’s about improving sports performance, decreasing injury, and building better booties. It’s why I taught the world how to hip thrust off of standard benches, and why I taught the world how to do band hip thrusts out of power racks. If I was just trying to sell people Hip Thrusters, this strategy would make me the world’s worst businessman. The people who have bought Hip Thrusters are very happy with their purchases and have seen good results.

I’ve spent approximately 2 hours per day for four straight years answering people’s questions on the internet – this equates to almost 3,000 hours of pro bono work. I’ve been late to meetings and appointments, skipped out on needed sleep, and made sacrifices with my social life just to help others and spread my training methods. Since I’ve gone this route, I’ve attracted many fans. That’s what this is all about – improving the way the world trains.

If I make a buck or two along the way, then that’s great. I created the Hip Thruster because women and coaches were emailing me requesting a special unit. I’m pricing the unit as low as I can go – Sorinex and I must both make some profit. If people want to hip thrust at the gym, they can go that route. If they want to hip thrust more frequently out of the comfort of their homes using bands, they can buy Hip Thrusters. I believe that the Hip Thruster will lead to greater results compared to exercise equipment that is for more costly, especially when shipping is factored into the equation, including the reverse hyper, the 45 degree hyper, and the glute ham developer. Nevertheless, there’s nobody forcing people to make purchasing decisions.

Nobody's twisting anyone's arm, forcing them to buy a Hip Thruster

Nobody’s twisting anyone’s arm, forcing them to buy a Hip Thruster

IV. Alternative Exercises

Chris, the exercises you showed in your video as alternatives were good glute exercises. Tinkering with bands to add a horizontal force vector as in the case of the Ukranian deadlift you showed will increase glute activation and ensure greater end-range hip extension torque requirements. Blending two force vectors together as you’ve done in your video is very useful for teaching people how to groove it all together. However, I prefer to just do the different lifts independently. For example, do your squats, do your deadlifts, and do your hip thrusts.

On a side note, I feel the same way with banded squats (bands around the knees). Instead of doing them, I prefer to do regular squats, along with band seated hip abductions (two separate exercises rather than one combined exercise). With regards to band loaded deadlifts, I prefer to rely on American deadlifts so you involve the pelvic action.

If powerlifting strength was the goal, then maybe your approach would be ideal, but I prefer to maximize axial vector efficiency with squats/deads and anteroposterior vector efficiency with hip thrusts/back extensions. Your lifts are a bit more complicated so the average lifter may need some time to gain proficiency at them.

Either way, you’ve created a sound system. You do low load hip thrusts for cueing, heavy squats and deadlifts, band deadlifts and Ukranian deadlifts, and more. I do heavy hip thrusts, along with various squat/lunge, hip hinge, and lateral band work. Both of our systems are going to be highly effective for building glutes. I don’t think that either of us should be dissing each other’s approach. I’m just glad that you do add in glute activation work and more glute specific exercises into your arsenal, as they’re of great benefit to the general public.

V. Practice What You Preach

“A warrior lives his passions and never compromises following the path towards his dreams.”

Great quote, right? It’s yours. Originally, I wasn’t going to reply to your video. But when I clicked on your website, I saw this quote and decided to respond. This is a true story. In honor of your motto, I won’t compromise on my path for improving the way the world trains their glutes. Also on your blog are the tabs: Be Strong, Create Things, and Work Hard. This pretty much describes me, so I’d think that you and I would get along just fine if we met in person.


I’m not sure if this article will even make a dent in the opinions of Ryan, Chris, and Chris. I would imagine that they would be able to see the flawed logic in the others’ claims, but possibly not their own. Either way, I wrote this article for my readers and fans. These types of articles will undoubtedly continue to surface on the internet. Have confidence in your training and don’t let them deter you.

I tried my best to remain professional in this article, and I wish I didn’t have to go this route. We should be building each other up, not tearing each other down. We should be supporting each other, not bickering. We should be working together to promote the sport of powerlifting and increase awareness of sound glute training methods. We should be focusing on what we agree on, not just on our disagreements. We should figure out ways to experiment and resolve our disagreements. We should be complimenting each other, not just criticizing each other. Therefore, I’ll end this article like this:

Ryan Lingenfeiser, you have great potential as a writer. You’re very persuasive and passionate, and you have an admirable work ethic.

Chris Bartl, congratulations on your physique and life transformation HERE and on your powerlifting success. My hat’s off to you. Stay passionate!

Chris Duffin, you’re a total badass. I’ve posted a couple of your videos on my blog over the past year. Your life story is very impressive as well. You’re strong as an ox and I’ll be cheering for you on the sidelines. You’re one of the strongest dudes on the planet, and that speaks for itself. Stay passionate as well!

I hope that one day the three of you change your minds. Until then, please forgive me and my people while we ignore your advice and thrust away.


Viva la hip thrust!