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10 Random Thoughts – With Some Good Videos

By December 17, 2010December 29th, 2013Random Thoughts

Well peeps, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to do one of these, and I don’t really have free time right now but I’ll post anyway. Here we go:

1. Muchas Gracias!

Thank you everyone for the kind words regarding my decision to leave to New Zealand in early-February. I received a bunch of Facebook and blog comments and really appreciate it. What’s strange is that I just purchased my ticket and realized that I’d lose a day in the process – leaving Tuesday the 8th and arriving in NZ on Thursday the 10th. They’re 19 hours ahead of Arizona!

2. Bret’s Blog

When I’m in New Zealand, I will definitely continue with my blog. I’ve still managed to write blogs during the past two months and I’ve never been busier, so I don’t see anything changing. Right now I’m working on:

  • Finishing up my journal article with Brad Schoenfeld on lumbar flexion and disc degeneration. I’ve easily put over 100 hours into this review paper and believe it will a very popular article once it gets published. I feel like a creep – I’m fascinated by the human intervertebral discs so I stay up until I start feeling nauseous or start falling asleep at my computer every night, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. I’ve gained so much knowledge during the past two months of intensive-studying that I need to do a presentation. It would blow people away. I know that I’m currently the self-proclaimed “Glute Guy,” but I think I’m now the “Ab Guy” too. When you study the core, you have to study the spine. One could easily study the spine for the rest of his or her life and still not have it all figured out.
  • Acquiring some new EMG data on the glutes. I just rented the Myotrace from Noraxon and have it for the rest of the week. If I can finish this darn paper I may even try to test ten of my friends or so and publish my findings.
  • Writing a new eBook on the glutes. I’ve received so many emails asking me for a more basic glute book. I believe that now is the time for a new one. This eBook will provide different programs and simple explanations and analogies for many of the questions people have pertaining to the glutes. This eBook will also include new information that I’ve gleaned since last eBook. I suspect that people are going to love it.

If I can find time to update my blog while working on all of this other stuff, in addition to doing all my other daily stuff – training myself, training my clients, writing programs for online clients, writing articles, reading, chatting with other coaches, writing a thesis proposal, and selling my house, then I think it’s safe to say that I’ll always have some time to work on my blog. So don’t worry about that!

3. Bye-Bye to Good Reads

I don’t think I’ll be doing the “Good Reads” blogs anymore. But don’t you worry! I’m not going to leave you hanging. I’m handing over the reigns to my buddy Ben Bruno. He’ll be providing you with weekly good-reads blogs so be sure to check his blog out regularly. He may not bust out 100-post links like me, but consider that a good thing!

4. Female Strength Levels

Yesterday I posted a blog about female strength levels and I was intrigued by the response. I received emails, facebook comments, and blog comments from men (mostly fellow strength coaches who train plenty of women) who really liked the chart. However the chart seemed to ruffle some women’s feathers. Some felt that I was too lax and that “elite” should involve much more strength. I’d like to say two quick things about that:

First, I felt that the upper end of the “elite” column is very challenging. Look at the second-set of numbers in the far-right column. Those are pretty impressive!

In fact, I’ve never in my life seen a woman do many of those feats. For example, when I say “back squat” I mean to say “full squat.” I’ve never seen a woman full squat 225 for 10 reps – in person – and I’ve trained at dozens of commercial gyms and trained plenty of athletic women. There are women who can in fact do this, for example here’s Cara Heads busting out 321 lbs for 10 reps.

But this kind of strength is very rare! For my second point, which I alluded to in my original post, many of the women who claim to be at the “elite level” may or may not belong in that category. I’ve trained plenty of strong women and the first thing I have to do with them is cut down the weight and focus on technique. With push ups many let their hips sag, or their hands are too far out in front of them, or they don’t go down all the way. With squats many women use too much anterior weight shift, or they “good morning” the weight up, or their knees collapse inward. With deadlifts many round their low backs, or they create slack in their limbs and “jerk” the initial portion of the lift, or they pull with too much back. With chin ups they don’t go down all they way, they don’t go up all the way, or they jerk the initial portion, or they shrug their shoulders too much up top. The list goes on and on. Many say that they can lift a certain amount, but under my scrutiny it’s not what I call a good lift – which brings me to my next random thought.

5. If it Doesn’t Look Athletic, it’s Probably Not Athletic

I stole this from Mike Boyle and it’s one of my favorite lines. Always keep this in mind when you’re training. The goal is to look fluid, remain stable, and look effortless. Well, maybe not effortless but at least under control. Lifting heavy is safe as long as you have the mobility, stability, and motor control to move properly and prevent energy leaks. It takes time to build up this kind of movement efficiency, but you should always strive to optimize your movement quality. Take a look at how fluid these guys look:

No jerking, buckling, or shifting! That’s how it’s done, son.

6.  Karli  Sumo Deads 225 x 5

Karli’s getting strong!

7.  Steve Hammond Hip Thrusts 495 x 8

Steve is a pitcher (baseball) that I started training around five weeks ago. He’s getting real strong, real fast. I’m no longer the strongest hip thruster at BCSC (aka Bret’s Garage).

With Steve and I both thrusting so heavy, we destroyed my Hampton thick bar pad. This one lasted me several years but I had to trade her in for a new one. The bar was slipping through the cracks so the load would end up on our pelvises mid-set, which was not cool!

8. Box Squat Instructional Video

9. Rack Pull Instructional Video

By the way here are some examples of piss-poor rack pulls. I don’t care if you’re doing 1,000 lbs – it’s not going to transfer much to real deadlifting!

10. Ab Wheel Rollouts – Take it Slow!

Ab wheel rollouts are an amazing ab exercise. The problem with any great exercise is that they sometimes work too well. The ab wheel can create some serious DOMS – probably more than that of any other exercise I’m aware of. I’ve experienced it myself on several occasions – I pushed it too hard on rollouts and had crippled abs the following day. I’ve received emails from several individuals saying that they strained their rectus abdominis by performing these. They can lead to hernias too if not gradually progressed upon.

My advice: Take it slow on ab wheel rollouts. When you start doing them, just do one set. See how you feel the next day. If you feel okay, do two sets on the following workout. Build up slowly and allow your abs to adapt to the loading. I hadn’t done them in a couple of months and I did just one set of ten reps from a kneeling position – which is very easy for me – as I think I can do around twenty kneeling rollouts, and I was still sore the following day! I stopped ten reps shy of failure and only performed one set and was still sore. Thank God I didn’t do a set of twenty, or do 2-3 sets of 10 reps. Take it slow and build up over time and avoid having pointless crippled-abs. Here are some inspiring ab wheel videos:

No music – just a man and his ab wheel

This 71-year old man would whoop your ass! Over 100 kneeling ab wheel rollouts!

That’s all peeps!


  • Daniel says:

    Good luck with your PhD, what will you do with your home gym when you are gone?

  • Thatta boy Steve! I didn’t realize Hammond was training with you Bret. Nice!

  • D.Morales says:

    Hey Bret,
    Just wanna say a big THANK YOU! Reading about your work ethic makes me wanna step it up a few notches! For the benefit of my clients & mine

  • Good stuff Bret! I really liked your explantions of box squats and rack pulls. You were right..those examples were pretty poor for sure..


  • Amir Siddiqui says:

    Bret – do you actually subscribe to the journals? Or do you use library access?

  • Dush says:

    Sometimes people rack pull to put mass on the upper backs not just for deadlift lockout.

  • A.H.A. says:

    I am really looking forward to your review of Tim Ferriss’ new book. When will it be done? 🙂

  • Damon says:

    Once again great blog! Good luck in New Zealand. Your chart on female strength levels really puts stuff in perspective, can’t wait show my female clientele. Your “Good Reads” will be in good hands with Ben. I appreciate all you’ve done in regards to furthering my knowledge, you’ve really made my brain go into overdrive. Thanks.

  • bianca says:

    Hi Bret, thanks for all the replies to our many questions. Mine is still unanswered, though. Will you still be taking online clients while you are in New Zealand?



  • bianca says:

    Oh, sorry. Another question: when will the new Glute Book be available? I can’t wait to purchase it and read it.


  • H says:

    Hi Brett,

    Congrats on your next move, it will be one of the most amazing things.

    Will your next glute book include tips on how to specifically get a bigger, rounder butt? If so, I will be buying it. There are many of us who want the butt to grow and have that C shape, rather than have it small and tight.

    It would be wonderful to know which exercises are actually growing the butt, and whether sprinting and walking/running upphills is of any benefit. Also, we’ve all heard that lunges, squats and a series of other exercises are good for the butt, but what do they actually do? Do they grow, shrink or just change the shape of the butt.

    And the burn that I always get when doing thrusts, what does it specifically do? As you can see, I have many questions. If some of these will be included in the e-book I will be buying it.


  • tarun says:

    Hi Brett, I had posted this on another old blog post but i guess you didn’t see it.

    i have a question for you. a lot of the RKC people recommend holding a volleyball or med ball between your legs and squeezing it in order for maximum hip extension with no external rotation compensation. what do you think of that?

    it’s pictured here, step #2

    • I think that squeezing a ball in between your thighs when you do anything is stupid. I don’t do it when squatting, briding, or anything else. What’s the point? To work more adductor? To effect more glute activation? To effect more VMO activation? It just doesn’t feel athletic so I avoid it.

  • nidin says:

    G’Day from down under. If you ever come to sydney, drop a line. P.S the weather in N.Z is unpredictable, always be prepared. Make sure you get your hands on some of the best whey in the world.

  • Steve says:

    Hey, Brett, just to get you ready for New Zealand rugby mania, here’s a video of some All Blacks demonstrating ball skills:

  • Ronnie says:

    Both the guys with the “bad” rack pulls seem to be strongmen and apparently Nick Best’s rack pull is good enough to transfer to a raw 815lbs DL (youtube). From what I understand, Nick Best is also a former (quite successful) powerlifter so I’m thinking that perhaps he actually knows what he’s doing. Just a thought…

    • Ronnie – their rack pulls are feats of strength done for bravado purposes, which don’t add to their deadlifting total. They’d deadlift just as much as if they omitted this type of rack pull. If, however, they rack pulled the way I’ve shown, they’d see more carryover – though they’d have to drop the load a bit.

      • Ronnie says:

        I totally agree with you on the carryover part. I’m just thinking that a former powerlifter knows this and is lifting like that for other purposes. I read some article on t-nation about rack pull variation and I recall that this “more quads” pull was mentioned as an alternative and was typically used by strongmen because it transferred well to some strongman event.


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