Category Archives: Random Thoughts


2015 Highlights and Random Thoughts

Hi fitness friends! 2015 was certainly an interesting and productive year for me. I hope that you all also had a fantastic and fruitful year.

Check out my 2015 highlights and other items of interest since my last Random Thoughts post:

2015 Highlights

  • Obtained PhD in Sports Science from AUT University

  • Co-author on 12 published peer-reviewed journal articles (35 total to date)

  • Presented in USA, UK, Norway, and Spain

  • Arguably got into the best shape of my life

Bret 225-lbs

Probably my best look at about 225-lbs. Right now I’m back up to 237 lbs but looking to start leaning out again.

  • Set numerous gym PRs at 38-39 years of age (squat 430, deadlift 405 x 20 reps, deadlift 500 x 10 reps, 16 bodyweight chin ups, bench press 335 lbs, hip thrust 725 lbs).

Of Random Interest:

1. 100 kg (220 lb) Barbell Hip Thrust Challenge

Fellow strong hip thrusting peeps, check out Derrick Blanton nailing 40 reps with 100 kgs (220 lbs). It took him 4 attempts over a 3 week period to accomplish this feat.  Now, he does use a tad shorter bench at 14.5″ – I use a 16″ bench for comparison. That can make hip thrusting slightly easier but he finds this to be a more comfortable height. This a brutal feat, nonetheless. The most reps I’ve ever hit with 100 kgs was 25, and I couldn’t imagine getting 15 more reps. Congrats, Derek! Think you can beat Derrick’s 40 reps or my 25 reps? Give it a try!

2. Attentional Focus for Maximizing Muscle Development: The Mind-Muscle Connection

Check out this paper I co-authored with my buddy, Brad Schoenfield, which has just recently been published ahead of print. This is a fascinating topic and the article can be downloaded for free at the moment. Click on the PDF icon under Article Tools at the link to download HERE.

My amigo and co-author Brad Schoenfield in Barcelona

3. Becoming a Better Human Seminar: Last Week for Early-Bird Discount

I’m presenting next month at the Becoming a Better Human Seminar in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was on the phone yesterday with my friend and co-presenter Alan Aragon, and I don’t think we quite realized how cold Saskatchewan is this time of year. Alan lives in LA and I live in Phoenix and methinks we might be some cold weather sissies. The only cold weather I hope to deal with will be in running from the hotel to the car.  Also there will be my buddy Eric Helms, a super-smart bro who is currently getting his PhD from AUT University in New Zealand (same school I attended), and Mike Tuchscherer, an innovative and freakishly strong powerlifter. Canadian friends who live close to Regina – you better be there! We need your warm bodies to huddle up with and prevent hypothermia. This is the last week to receive the early-bird discount (closes on Jan 17th). Learn more about the event HERE.


4. Reddit AMA

I recently participated in another AMA on Reddit to chat about Strong Curves and answer a few questions. This was a fun experience, as always. You can follow along with the conversation HERE.

5. Olympic Weightlifting Research by Chris Beardsley

Olympic Weightlifting fans, I have a treat for you. Chris Beardsley of Strength and Conditioning Research sifted through the research on Olympic lifting and summarized almost 300 studies. You can check out the summary for free HERE.

6. Bench Press Research by Adam Bentley

Love to read and think about the bench press? You will definitely want to take a look at Adam Bentley’s review article summarizing the research on this popular exercise HERE.

7. Finally Nailed a 315 lb Full Squat

I’ve always found squats to be incredibly challenging, so I’m very proud of my recent 315-lb for 10-rep full squat PR. At 6’4″, I have a large ROM with these. I actually measured it and it’s 29 3/8″ (74.6 cm). And by the way, I’m wearing blue sweatpants (courtesy of squat sponge) not jeans LOL, many of my followers thought I had jeans on. Maybe if I ever get to 365 lbs for 10 reps, I’ll wear blue jeans and a blue jean jacket, but I’d have to be way stronger and way cooler to pull off that feat. 

8. Gym Wildlife

Nothing like a good laugh at the expense of us gym-rats to brighten your day. Behold, and observe the gym and its inhabitants as you’ve never quite seen them before.

9. PTQ Volume 2 Issue 4

I serve as Editor-in-Chief of Personal Training Quarterly and our latest publication is now available. If you are an NSCA member, click on the link to learn more about strength training for endurance athletes to training for sedentary office workers, as well as insights for improving communication as a personal trainer.  Read more HERE.

10. Strong by Bret: Coming Soon

Soon you’ll be able to follow the same program I use with my Glute Squad clients. I’ll be releasing Strong by Bret in the near future, so stay tuned for that.

Love training my lovely Glute Squad Ladies. Be on the lookout for a new program based on their workouts in the very near future.

I love training my lovely Glute Squad Ladies. Be on the lookout for a new program based on their workouts in the very near future.

Well, friends, I think that wraps up my 2015 highlight reel and recent updates. I hope that you enjoyed the random information I’ve shared as much as I have. I look forward to what’s in store for 2016 and wish you all a healthy and happy year!


Random Thoughts and Important Announcements

Hi Fitness Friends! I have some exciting things to share with you.

I Finally Hired My First Assistant!

Last week I hired an assistant. Her name is Maleah and she’s already doing a kickass job. I will be able to do more things now that I’ve acquired her help. I only wish that I hired one 2-3 years ago (I’ve had interns but no assistants)!

My Badass Assistant!

My Badass Assistant!

Arizona Strength & Conditioning Research Club

If someone were to have told me ten years ago that in ten years I’d be spearheading a journal club, I’d probably have jumped in front of a semitruck. However, people change, and my life now revolves around teaching people sports science and helping lifters, trainers, and coaches realize their full potential. Basically, I want to do my part in equipping Arizona with intelligent lifters and practitioners. I visit commercial gyms and it pains me to witness the quality of personal training and training going on in my state of Arizona.

I just purchased a projector, a screen, and 16 chairs (my gym can hold many more people than 16 but some folks will have to stand), and I’ve decided to start up a journal club to convene once per month. We will meet here in the Glute Lab for 75 minutes, and during this time I will review 2-3 brand new studies (30 minutes), provide some practical resistance training tips (15 minutes), and answer questions and have discussions (30 minutes).


There will be no charge for your attendance, and you can be an athlete, a gym rat, a personal trainer, a strength coach, or a physical therapist and you’ll be welcome, as long as you possess a desire to learn. Male or female, old or young, strong or weak, I want you here if you’re passionate about strength & conditioning. I want to grow the club and eventually plan social get-togethers, have guest speakers (live and on Skype), have debates, and more. If we continue to accumulate, we can find a gym or some other venue to meet at.

Criteria: You need to live in Arizona and you need to plan on attending most months (we will meet on Saturdays at 10 am). It’d be nice if you subscribed to Strength & Conditioning Research Review as well, but I won’t check up on that.

If this is something you’re interested in, please email my assistant Maleah at maleah@ to be notified about the first get-together in December.

Glute Lab Seminar: January 16

* The Glute Lab Seminar is open for anyone willing to travel here (journal club just local people though). So if you live in another state or country and want to visit, be my guest! 

Glute Lab Seminar

When I spoke at Planeta Barcelona in Spain in September with my buddy Brad Schoenfeld, I experienced two important epiphanies. The first epiphany is that I learned that I love Spanish sangria! Aye caramba! The second is that I need to be conducting practical seminars on a regular basis.

Bret, Brad, and plenty of Sangria

Viva Sangria! With Brad Schoenfeld in Spain

While watching Brad’s first presentation, I realized that my slides were going to be way too complex (biomechanically) for most of the attendees. I decided to throw an audible and spontaneously switch to a practical presentation. To make a long story short, I ended up spending 5 hours teaching the Spanish personal trainers the biomechanics of squat variations, deadlift variations, hip thrust variations, single leg variations, push up variations, bench press variations, and core stability variations.

I realized at that time that this is my calling; it’s what I was born to do. It felt like all of my years of lifting, personal training, and biomechanics studies converged into the ultimate demonstration and explanation of exercise technique. I truly believe that this is a much needed seminar as it allowed me to discuss how anatomy and anthropometry impact mechanics, common faults, and effective cues. I also pulled something similar off when I went on a weekend vacation to San Diego to visit my family and ended up training 4 fit ladies for several hours going through the same exercises – it was a great success! It took me decades to attain the understanding of exercise technique that I currently possess, but I think I can fast-forward the average personal trainer’s understanding of exercise technique by 5-10 years in one day with these seminars.

2015-10-11 12.46.19-1

San Diego Glute Squad

This is a rather exclusive event and I’m only taking on 16 attendees so that I can devote ample individual attention to everyone. Location is here at the Glute Lab (Phoenix, AZ), date is January 16, 2016, time is from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and cost is $399. Please email my assistant Maleah at maleah@ if you’re interested in attending.

Glute Squad: 2-4 Spots Open

Most of my readers follow me on Instagram and are aware of my Glute Squad. I currently have 8 members and I’d like 2-4 more female members. We train here in Phoenix, Arizona out of my garage (Glute Lab) at noon on Mondays and Fridays. I’m looking for positive, fun-loving ladies who are also very serious, highly committed lifters. Preferably the potential members would be interested in competing in bikini, powerlifting, or both down the road, but that’s not mandatory. Cost is $200/month (less than $25/session). If you’re interested in becoming a Glute Squad member, please email Maleah at Please include pics and a paragraph discussing why you want to train with us.

Glute Squad

6 of 8 Current Glute Squad Members: Karen, Michelle, Kim, Sadie, Sam, Mary

Funding for Squat vs. Deadlift vs. Hip Thrust Research

One of my primary goals over the next decade involves significantly expanding the body of evidence pertaining to the hip thrust exercise. I would like to compare the effects of 6-8 weeks of squatting, deadlifting, and hip thrusting on performance. However, I don’t have any research assistants and would have serious problems training the subjects and measuring pre and post variables of interest. Therefore, I’m looking for researchers who are interested in carrying out this study, and I’m willing to fund it. Ideally, we’d have 15 subjects in each group (45 total) and have access to a force plate. I’d like to examine vertical jump, horizontal jump, 40 yard dash, 5-10-5 agility, medball rotational scoop toss, isometric mid-thigh pull, isometric horizontal pushing force, 3RM squat, 3RM deadlift, and 3RM hip thrust (10 performance variables!). Clearly this would be a comprehensive study requiring considerable time and effort.

squat dead hip thrust

I’d be willing to pony up $7K of my own money just to see this research conducted (I’m so damn curious I can hardly handle it). Obviously I would never censor the research and would want it published no matter what the outcome. If you are a research professor, a grad student, or a research assistant who is capable of pulling off this study and are interested in collaborating, please email Maleah at maleah@

Free Hip Thrust eBook

Did all of you see this? I promoted it on my social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) but wanted to make sure I posted it here on the blog in case any of you missed it.


It’s a free 22-page eBook on the science and practice of Hip Thrusts! Click HERE to access it.

Sprinting Review

Did y’all see this as well? It’s a summary of sprinting research, courtesy of Chris Beardsley. I was very happy to find that it was well-received in the track & field community. Click HERE to read it.

You should read this sprint review ASAP!

You should read this sprint review ASAP!

Recent DEXA Scan

Two July’s ago, I received a DEXA scan. Since then, I’ve lost almost 20 lbs. This week, I decided to have another scan conducted to see how much fat versus muscle I lost in the past year and a half. Check it out:


In 16 months, I went from 245.9 lbs to 226.7 lbs. I lost 19.2 lbs, 15.3 lbs of fat, and 4.2 lbs of muscle while gaining .3 lbs of bone. I did this just by eating less calories, with no additional cardio and no significant changes to my strength training. It has not been easy due to my legendary appetite, but the results are well worth it (see my 5 Tips for Leaning Out article).

After 24 years of lifting weights, I didn’t expect to hold onto all of my muscle while I dieted down 20 lbs, so I’ll take the roughly 80/20 split of fat loss to muscle loss. Below is what the difference looks like visually. In the pic on the left it looks like I’m sticking my stomach out but I don’t think that’s the case (I never do that for pictures) – my eating was simply out of control as I was focusing purely on getting stronger at the time with no concern for my physique. In the pic on the right I’m flexing my muscles, so it’s not a fair comparison, but you can easily note the drastic changes to my physique. Pretty cool seeing the results of will-power and consistency!


Left: July 2014 Right: November 2015

Padding for Those Prone to Hip Pain from BB Hip Thrusts

A follower of mine named Kristen (she wrote a blogpost for me last year HERE) sent me this picture.


Many women have bony hips and therefore experience excruciating pain from barbell hip thrusts. Kristen was one of these ladies, so she decided to wrap a Hampton thick bar pad (my old recommendation) around a Squat Sponge (my current recommendation) during heavy hip thrusts. Voila! No more pain on the hips.

Links to Good Reads

Here are some good reads from the past couple of weeks:

Can You Gain Weight In A Calorie Deficit? Lawrence Judd and Eric Helms

What does stretching do to a joint? We really have no idea. Part I. Greg Lehman

To do, or not to do Pain Science, that is the Question with Dr. Jason Silvernail Lars Avemarie

Three Reasons It Matters Why A Treatment Works Todd Hargrove (article of the month IMO!)

Can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? Menno Henselmans

Energy balance myths: Why you can gain fat in a deficit Menno Henselmans

How Important is Muscular Symmetry for Strength Sports? Greg Nuckols

Okay fitness peeps, I hope you enjoyed the content. Have a great weekend!


Random Thoughts – When Being Anatomically Jacked Can Benefit You and A Valgus Collapse Epiphany

Hi Fitness Brothers and Sisters! Here are 10 random thoughts/things for you.

1. Being Anatomically Jacked Up Isn’t Automatically a Life-Sentence

Check out Lamar Gant in 1988 deadlifting 672 lbs at 132 lbs bodyweight. This is still an all-time record to my knowledge.

He also hit 634 lbs at 123 lbs, which you can see HERE.

Here’s what’s crazy – see HERE for an article discussing how Gant’s 74-80 degree scoliotic spine would compress and bend to a 90-100 degree curvature which would cause him to shrink 3 inches before the bar left the ground. His scoliosis already makes him 3-4 inches shorter due to the curvature, and the compression from the lift causes him to lose another 3 inches, which is why he locks out the deadlift at his kneecaps. See the pictures below.

Gant lamar-gant-scoliosis lamargant1

Now check out Stuart Jamison.

Last week he pulled 628 lbs at 132 lbs bodyweight. Click HERE to see the video.

Stuart’s story is incredible – click HERE to read about it. He has half a rib cage, scoliosis, kyphosis, spina bifida, and diastematomyelia (a split in the spinal column). He wasn’t supposed to live past the age of 2 yrs old. But now he’s a deadlifting machine. See the pics below – he also locks out his pulls at his knees just like Lamar.

stu Stuart Jamison

What’s the moral of the story?

Don’t let your disabilities define you. Rise above. Figure out ways around them. Prevail.

And if their spines can tolerate deadlifting, chances are your body can tolerate more than you think. I see so many people fall victim to Nocebo effects because their doctor or physical therapist or chiropractor told them that they have a leg length discrepancy, or their SI joint was jacked, or their glutes don’t activate, or they have an imbalance.

Trust me, your imbalance isn’t as bad as Lamar’s or Stu’s. I’m not saying that everyone should squat heavy or deadlift heavy (see an article HERE I wrote for a good counterbalance to this post), I’m just saying that you’re probably not as jacked up as you think.

2. Lightbulb Moment – Valgus Collapse and Quadriceps Contractions

I’ve written like five different detailed articles on knee valgus and I’ve scoured the research and racked my brain trying to come up with the responsible mechanisms. Long ago, I realized that it’s not often weak glutes that are responsible for knee valgus since many Olympic lifters and powerlifters cave inwards at the knees. Hell, I cave sometimes and I can hip thrust 725 lbs. Many of my clients with the strongest glutes still cave. Last year, I speculated that it could be quadriceps moment arms that are responsible, but I couldn’t find any literature on it. However, all you have to do is check out the video below to see what happens to the knees when you contract the quadriceps.

You will notice hip internal rotation and inward foot flare!

In contrast, check out what happens when you contract the glutes.

You will notice hip external rotation and outward foot flare!

This realization is a VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY big deal for biomechanics and indicates that knee valgus is natural and not necessarily due to weak glutes.

So why didn’t I write this up in a separate article and dedicate a big amount of attention to it rather than just toss it into a random thoughts post? Good question – I’m too busy getting my shit together for Norway.

3. Norway Bound

Tomorrow I leave for Oslo, Norway, I’ll be speaking at the AFPT Convention. I have 24 hours of flying, layovers, and driving until I reach the destination, so tomorrow is going to fucking suck. I’m 6’4″ which makes traveling even more unpleasant as the seats are always highly uncomfortable. But our itinerary is legit and it’s going to be a fun trip – I just have to make it there without losing my mind. I’m very excited to meet and present to Norwegian coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts. One thing I’ve realized over the past couple of years is that Norway is big on glute training!

4. Barcelona Bound Later in the Month

On the 23rd of this month I’ll be heading to Barcelona, Spain to speak at the Planeta Barcelona convention.

5. Bropocalypse in Sydney, June 2016

Next June, I’ll be presenting with my buddies Brad Schoenfeld, James Krieger, and Alan Aragon in Sydney, Australia for the Bropocalypse: Evidence-Based Nutrition and Training Summit 2016. Prepare to get rocked! HERE is how Urban Dictionary defines Bropocalypse, so make sure you bring your A-game.


6. Recent PRs

I had a great week of training this week. I’m hovering at 230 lbs. Below you’ll see Thursday’s workout:

Front squat 285 x 3, 315 x 1 (I’m aware of my elbows dropping)
Incline press 260 x 3, 275 x 1
Hip thrust 635 x 3, 725 x 1
HS row 360 x 8, 360 x 10

And below is Friday’s workout:

Full squat 385 x 3, 405 x 1 (I’m aware of serious forward lean/good morning)
Bench press 305 x 1, 275 x 3
Deadlift 525 x 5
Underhand grip lat pulldown 245 x 6

Sorry for the video formatting – I filmed with the iPhone on its side and this always happens when I embed into my blog (doesn’t happen on YouTube or Instagram though). Many of these lifts were personal bests at this new weight (I was 250 lbs for much of the last 2 years), but the deadlift was an all-time 5RM PR and the hip thrust was an all-time 1RM PR.

7. Glute Lab & Office

The Glute Lab is thriving lately. My Glute Squad currently consists of over 10 ladies. It’s challenging training them all at once but what’s cool is that the experienced members are taking leadership roles and helping out the newer members, which makes things ten times easier on my end.

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. #glutelab #gluteguy #glutesquad

A photo posted by Bret Contreras (@bretcontreras1) on

In addition, this week I outfitted my very first office. I’m very proud of it and have been working away with a smile on my face. Distance calculator between cities A grown man needs his own man cave.

8. Chris Beardsley’s Recent Squat, Deadlift, and Split Squat Pages

Chris Beardley’s recent Research Reviews have been a huge success. Click on the links below to see all the biomechanical reseearch pertaining to the:



Split Squat

9. Basketball Anatomy

Check this out! Rob Panariello, frequent contributor on, recently co-authored a book with Brian Cole called Basketball Anatomy.


10. Narcos

I just started watching Narcos on Netflix – it’s based on Pablo Esobar. Holy shit, what a story! He was pulling in 60 million dollars per day and had to bury his money as he couldn’t launder it or bribe or spend it quickly enough. Obviously I don’t support dealing drugs, but these stories fascinate me nevertheless.

narcos0003That’s it for now fitness peeps! Wish me luck in Norway.


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