30 Random Thoughts

By October 28, 2010 Random Thoughts

I apologize for the really long blogpost – I intended to post a random thoughts blog last week but didn’t get around to it. As time went on I thought of more and more stuff, hence the long post. Anyway, this is definitely the most random post I’ve ever written.

1. If the Blog is Rockin’, Don’t Come Knockin’!

Last Thursday my blog had 5,969 views. I started this blog last November and had 119 total views that month. A year later I’m averaging over 4,000 views per day. As of a few minutes ago I had over 110,000 views for the month of October and there are four days left in the month. I’ve worked very hard on this blog and am very proud that it seems to be one of the most popular blogs in strength & conditioning. Below is a chart that shows the blog’s rise in viewership.

2. Epic Conversation in “Training Women” Blog

Following my “Training Women” blog, I had some amazing dialogue with several people but most notably from my friend Karla. I’m glad she had the guts to call me out as it led to an amazing discussion. I felt like I threw down some serious knowledge in the comments portion so I recommend you read through it if you have time.

3. Raise the Bar for the Glutes!

I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but we really need to raise the bar for the glutes. It’s very important to get clients and athletes moving well with their own bodyweight. Many times I have to regress exercises as far back as possible in order to start them off with an appropriate exercise variation.

Hell, I had a female client several years ago who was very tall, uncoordinated, top-heavy, and weak. It took me an entire year to get her to do a bodyweight full squat. Believe me, I understand the vast range of fitness between sedentary and athletic individuals.

But we need to raise the bar for the glutes and have high-standards if we want to see nice butts, fast runners, and reduced low-back pain. Bodyweight movements just don’t cut it.

Barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, barbell hip thrusts, barbell Bulgarian split squats, etc. are where it’s at for the glutes. Dumbbells, cables, bands, and kettlebells can be used to but we have to progress past bodyweight (unless the client is sprinting, cutting, jumping, etc.).

I think I could do 10 straight minutes of bodyweight glute bridges, low step ups, or clamshells. For me bodyweight glute bridges are like jogging – pure endurance work. Bodyweight glute bridges activate my 20% of glute MVC for me. Conversely, 600 lb barbell glute bridges activate well over 100% of glute MVC (this is possible because MVC is an isometric measurement) for me. I realize that I have strong glutes but every grown man should be able to glute bridge at least 225 lbs.

I bet if we found a frozen Neanderthal and unfroze him he’d lay down and bust out 30 reps with 225 on the glute bridge without even warming up.

In our glute articles we can’t be satisfied with bodyweight movements…we have to keep showing pictures of barbell movements so people know where to aim. Of course we can tell them to master their bodyweight before loading up, but if all we ever show in the articles are pictures of someone doing bodyweight glute bridges, low step ups, and clamshells, then we set the bar way too low and don’t give people something for which to strive. (I hate that I’m not supposed to end a sentence in a preposition – that sounded strange)

4. Barbell 1-Leg SLDL

I have never really pushed the barbell 1-Leg SLDL to see how much I could lift. Last Wednesday I busted out 2 reps with 225 and 1 rep with 275. I felt slightly unbalanced and uncoordinated, but I know if I kept at it I’d quickly be able to use 315 or so.

This is important because it indicates that there may be a considerable bilateral deficit with deadlifting. My max deadlift is around 565 right now. I’m hoping to get it to 600 one of these days (although 585 which is 6 plates per side sound really cool too). Here’s a vid of the bb sl sldl (I don’t really keep the leg straight but I keep the hips high and do down until the bar touches the floor while focusing on sitting back and keeping the chest up).

5. Fat Pets

Whenever I see pet owners with fat pets it diminishes my faith in humanity. Seriously, we’ve gotten pretty damn pathetic. Here’s what I tell people in that situation.

1. Stop feeding Junior table scraps.
2. Stop filling his entire bowl full of food every day.
3. Start out with half a bowl per day and see if he loses weight.
4. Just keep tinkering with the amount until you reach an equilibrium and you’re happy with your dog’s (or other pet) weight.
5. Then just keep it at that level.

If your pet is fat, it’s your fault, not the pet’s! This pisses me off very much. The dog deserves more competent owners.

6. Ultimate Fighter on Spike

I’ve been watching the Ultimate Fighter this year and wanted to say three quick things.

1. Josh Koscheck is just too immature for my liking. I used to really like him (I still think he’s a great and exciting fighter) but now I’m a little annoyed. Cocky fighters need to get humbled.
2. GSP is a class act.
3. I’m very glad that the UFC and MMA trainers in general seems to be improving in their strength & conditioning. It’s not uncommon now to see guys doing trap bar deadlifts, inverted rows, using the battleropes, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgERQjrWZok&feature=related

7. Back Extension Instructional Video

Here is how I teach back extensions at my garage:

This needs to be watched by everyone! Back extensions are an amazing glute exercise if done correctly.

8. Professor Richard Hinrichs Drops Some Knowledge

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video on ACL Biomechanics. In case you missed it, here was the video:

I showed my professor the video and he dropped some serious knowledge on me. Here was his response:

The first error was a time 3:02. You said that the larger moment arm for the quads (than the hamstrings) allowed the quads to produce more force. The word you wanted was torque here. The same force with a larger moment arm produces a greater moment or torque, not more force. And torque is what is important when trying to extend the knees. The second error you made is at time 4:16. I think you must have misunderstood one point I made when comparing males and females in the timing of the coactivation of the hamstrings and quads in landing. Contrary to what you might expect, females turn on their hamstrings significantly sooner in the landing process (not later) compared to males–as if to recognize that their hamstrings are weak. It is the quads to hamstrings strength ratio that is so much higher in females than males that seems to be the risk factor for ACL injuries.

Rick is a brilliant man and I am very happy to be learning from him. He’s exceptionally knowledgeable about the ACL and swimming biomechanics. I still get an A for effort!

9. The Fuzz

I’m curious as to what my readers will think about this video. Check it out:

10. Creatine on the Nose

I’ve taken creatine for so long that I don’t mix it anymore. I just put the scoop in my mouth and then wash it down with some liquid. The other day I got some on my nose when the scoop touched it. Later that day, about five minutes prior to having to train a client I noticed in the mirror that I had a bunch of white powder on my nose.

I’ve never used cocaine in my entire life but I was thinking about how funny it would have been if my client showed up and saw the white powder on my nose. What else could they possibly assume? Thank God I noticed it!

11. Anthropometry & Attachment Points as it Relates to Big Lifts

I get a lot of questions from people who ask me stuff like, “Why can I deadlift so much more than I can squat?” Actually I should expound upon this in an “ABC: Ask Bret Contreras” post but for people in this situation, know that it’s perfectly normal.

Most women can deadlift much more than they can squat (at least in my experience). The main reason why some men can squat more than they can deadlift is because they aren’t proficient in the deadlift. With practice they almost always deadlift more than they can squat real quickly. Over the years I would say that on average I put 50-80 lbs on a typical guy’s deadlift “instantly” just by teaching them the correct starting position. Most try to deadlift like a squat, and when they learn how to maximize their leverage in their hips they set an instant PR (not because they got stronger, but because they never learned how to deadlift).

I’m talking raw lifting, not geared powerliting. Wearing gear changes things a bit as the squat briefs and suits add some serious spring to the squat…but the deadlift suits don’t do much for the deadlift.

Furthermore, it’s quite common for a taller lifter to be able to deadlift way more than he or she can squat. For example, a 5’8″ female lifter may be full squatting with 65 lbs but deadlifting with 175 lbs. This is not uncommon and has everything to do with human Anatomy. More specifically, it has to do with anthropometry (the relationship between body segment lengths) and the where the tendons attach on the bones.

Leverage is huge for lifting and people don’t quite understand from a biomechanical perspective how critical “leverage” is….just by taking a couple of inches off or putting a couple of inches on a particular bone or moving the tendon insertion a couple of centimeters out can lead to much higher abilities of the muscles to move some serious weight.

Those who are well-versed in Biomechanics are able to create equations using Anatomy, Physics, and Mathematics to solve for muscle forces required to move resistance based on the moment of the resistance arm (resistance times lever distance). All you need to know are bone lengths, tendon attachment points, amount of resistance, and joint angles. Can you see why I freakin’ love Biomechanics?!

12. What’s a G6?

There’s a popular song on right now called “Like a G6” by Far East Movement.

I didn’t know what a G6 was so I had to look it up. It’s a reference to a jet airplane that Gulfstream Aerospace makes called the G650. So technically the song-writer’s are off – there’s no G6, just a G650.

You can read about it here.

13. TC Luoma is the Real-Deal

A few weeks ago I met with TC Luoma, the editor-in-chief of T-Nation. I love writing for T-Nation and I’ve always wanted to meet TC. His Atomic Dog column was a riot and I bought 4 copies of his book back in the day – one for me and one for each of my brothers. My brothers all loved the book so much that when I told them I was meeting with him they acted like I was meeting an A-List Celebrity. We had some good conversation.

Here’s a video of him talking about his book (which is called Atomic Dog – Testosterone Principles).

I believe that every grown man should own this book.

14. Isoholds

Isoholds are a good thing to toss into a workout from time to time. They’re not too CNS demanding, they can increase flexibility and add stability to new mobility gains, and they can increase muscle activation by awakening dormant muscles. Plus, variety is always nice.

Good choices of Isoholds that can all be done with bodyweight are static lunge holds, Bulgarian split squat holds, good morning holds, chin up holds, push up holds, inverted row holds, glute ham raise holds, back extension holds, and reverse hyper holds.

A sixty second Bulgarian squat hold might be the most grueling exercise in the entire world. Sounds easy but it’s not!

Try this variation I learned from Jeremy Frisch! It’s tough!

15. Smart Blog Readers

I want to give a shout-out to my blog-readers. I think I have some of the smartest blog readers on the web. Often there are very good conversations following some of my blogposts. I appreciate all of the comments that my readers leave very much.

16. Weak Point Training

I’m often amazed at how many lifters assume that you can bring up a weak point in a matter of days. For example, I get lots of emails from people asking me whether they can get a great butt by next month.

This leads me to a funny story. A couple years ago at my training studio Lifts, my trainer Jordan and I trained this 19 year old girl (we’ll call her Leslie) and her mother at the same time. Leslie had a great body to begin with and a beautiful face, but she didn’t have much of a butt.

Within six workouts that spanned over the course of two weeks, all of a sudden her butt was amazing. Seriously it was one of the greatest butts imaginable. Round, perky, etc. It went from completely flat to perfect in two weeks!

One day Jordan asked me if I noticed how great Leslie’s butt was looking and I replied to him saying, “Yeah, I don’t want to feel like a pervert or anything but I’ve never seen such rapid results in my entire life as a trainer.”

Later on that day we were training Leslie and her mom and her mom said to us, “Can you believe how great Leslie’s butt is looking? It’s remarkable.”

Both of us looked at each other and replied with something like, “Um, yeah, I guess so. I hadn’t really noticed.” We were both too chicken to tell the mom that we had noticed!

On the other end of the spectrum, I had another client who was a bit frustrated with her lack of positive results in her glute region. I tried everything with her. She got much stronger but didn’t improve much in her glutes. We did plenty of hip stretching, low load glute activation, and glute strengthening from every angle with every major glute exercise, and still it seemed like she was going no where in this regard (well, her body got much better – she lost fat and gained muscle, but her butt didn’t seem to change much).

But she kept training hard, week in and week out. After she’d been with me for a year, I dug up her “before” picture and was blown away. Her butt had improved markedly we just didn’t realize it because the adaptations occurred so slowly.

The moral of the story is that with hard work, everyone can improve the shape of their butt. For some people it takes a few weeks, whereas with others it can take a year or two. But with hard work and consistency you can overcome poor genetics and dramatically improve the shape of a particular body part. Just don’t give up.

There are plenty of bodybuilders who have “reversed” a weak bodypart and turned it into a great bodypart but it often takes them years to do so.

17. Kinematics vs. Kinetics

Most people don’t know the difference between Kinematics and Kinetics.

Kinematics describes motion without considering the forces that cause the motion. Kinematics just describes things like joint angles, range of motion, velocity, vectors, etc.

Kinetics is concerned with the relationship between motion and its causes. Kinetics looks at things like forces and torque.

Kinematic variables (translations, rotations, etc.) are related to their respective kinetic variables (forces, moments/torques, etc.).

18. Getting Stronger by Using Steriods and Gaining a Ton of Weight

This “random thought” is probably going to piss some people off. Years ago I remember scanning through a T-Nation thread by Mark Bell (known as “Jackass” on this thread and in the movie “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” he’s known as “Smelly”). This thread started in 2004 and Jackass looked really good (see below). He looked strong, athletic, and was a great looking guy. Here’s a collage from his early years.

Several years later, the thread was still going (in 2008) and he looked like this:

He looks fat, unathletic, and disgusting. But very strong! As the years went on his strength went up but his looks went down.

Right now I am 6’4″, I weigh 225 lbs, and I am natural. I don’t wear any gear when I train and I don’t take any anabolic steroids. I can full squat 365 lbs, bench press 300 lbs, and sumo deadlift 565 lbs. By powerlifting standards this is laughable.

I remember talking to Dave Tate a while back and I asked him how much I’d need to weight to “balance out my leverages” for powerlifting. At my height, he told me I’d have to weigh 350 to ever amount to anything.

I have no doubt that Mark Bell is a kind dude. I shook hands with him at this year’s Mr. Olympia convention. His brother’s movie was one of the coolest movies I’ve ever watched. Mark is ten times stronger than me, but I try to think of him when I’m fighting the urge to get stronger at the expense of staying lean.

I’ve always wanted to get my bench up to 500 lbs. I’ve always wanted a 500 lb squat. Deadlifting 600 lbs would be awesome too.

I bet if I learned how to squat in briefs and a suit, and learned how to use a bench shirt, and trained specifically for powerlifting while taking anabolic steroids and eating like a horse for 3 years, I would probably get to an 1,800 lb total in powerlifting. Big deal? There are guys totalling 1,000 lbs over that.

It would be really fun to move that kind of weight, but what’s the point? I’m not genetically gifted to set powerlifting records. I’ll never be an elite lifter. And I would end up looking just like Jackass. He has made the choice to go down that route and I respect him for it. Sometimes I think it would be fun to open my own powerlifting gym, hang out and train with huge beasts all day long, and enter competitions several times per year. I know that Mark has his own powerlifting gym in Sacremento (Team Supertraining) and has tons of friends in the sport, and I believe he and his wife started up their own powerlifting magazine called Power. My hat is off to Mark.

But at the end of the day I don’t want to go down that road. I have a decent looking face and I intend to keep it. While Mark chose to let his looks slide in efforts to raise his powerlifting total, I choose to keep my looks and never be that strong. This doesn’t mean that I’m complacent with my strength, as I’m still trying to get stronger and reach my strength goals (especially a 600 lb deadlift). It just means that I have to keep reminding myself that I train for strength and aesthetics and that I want to build solely muscle, not muscle and a ton of fat. To each their own.

19. Joe Kenn Quote

I heard a Joe Kenn quote a couple of weeks ago. He said,

I AM THE RESEARCH!

If he means that he’s doing great things in his “lab,” then I’m all for the quote. In my humble little garage in Scottsdale I’m doing some good things that I’m very proud of. I know for certain that I’m “ahead of the research.”

By the way, I really enjoyed Joe’s “The Coach’s Strength Training Playbook” and definitely recommend it.

20. The Social Network

For those of you who have not yet seen the movie “Social Media,” go see it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so captivated by a movie in my entire life. It was so intriguing! I’m usually only that impressed by movies like “Braveheart,” “Gladiator,” “The Last Samurai,” “Heat,” “American Gangster,” etc., but this movie was awesome.

21. Conversation with a Drunk Girl – Contreras is Dumber than a Box of Rocks!

Three weekends ago I was at a wedding in San Diego and I was approached by a drunk girl at the reception at the end of the night. She wanted me to go back to her hotel and go skinny dipping with her in the ocean. I was not attracted to her at all, so this was not an option.

She was getting really frisky and started feeling my pecs, then she said, “I’m ready to take my clothes off!” I said, “Why wait for the beach when there’s a fountain right over there?” She wasn’t phased by my comment and then said, “You’re coming home with me, right?” To get her off my back I told her that I had to go to the restroom, and then ran off to find the groom to say goodbye.

Apparently I pissed her off because as I was leaving the reception I overheard her telling her friends about me. She said, “Yeah, he’s totally hot but he’s dumber than a box of rocks.” Hell hath no fury like a woman scorn!

22. Quad Dominance

The other day I was watching a friend’s soccer game and I was able to “see” which athletes effectively used their glutes and which ones relied mostly on their quads. After training people for so many years you develop a s
sense for watching movement on the field. The glutes are hip extensors, hip abductors, and hip external rotators. So important for running, jumping, cutting, throwing, and swinging.

23. Glute Ham Raises Don’t Work Much Glute!

Why do people think the glute ham raise works a ton of glute? Why, why, why? The glute ham raise is primarily a hamstring exercise!

I can hold onto a 30 lb dumbbell and do a glute ham raise and it only gets my mean glute activation up to 18% of MVC. However, it does get my mean hamstring activation up to 82% of MVC.

All the glutes have to do in a glute ham raise is keep the torso erect and hips extended via isometric contraction. It’s not that hard. The hard part of a glute ham raise is controlling the descent which is eccentric knee flexion and then raising the body which is concentric knee flexion.

Here are a couple of different ways to do glute ham raises (also called Russian leans, Russian leg curls, Nordic leg curls, manual glute ham raises, manual leg curls, etc.)

24. Men’s Health: GET FIT RULE

I saw this in Men’s Health and completely agree!

“The best exercise program in the world is the one you enjoy doing.”

Amen!

25. Soreness

Most people think you need to get sore to see results. I try my hardest to prevent soreness in my clients, as I train them frequently and am always having them strive for PR’s.

I was reading in Muscular Development Magazine the other day that Jay Cutler (current Mr. Olympia) rarely gets sore from his workouts and he said that Ronnie Coleman (former Mr. Olympia) rarely got sore as well.

Some places are a little more prone to soreness than others – like the pecs and quads. The point is that you shouldn’t “try” to get sore. It shouldn’t be a goal of yours. If it happens or doesn’t, so be it. What matters is that you’re consistently going up over time, moving well, and engaging in intelligent training. If Ronnie and Jay aren’t getting sore and they’re annihilating a specific bodypart with 30 sets in a single session, then you don’t need to get sore either for max strength or size gains.

26. Speed & Agility Revolution

A colleague of mine named Jim Kielbaso wrote an amazing book a few years ago that I don’t think many people in Strength & Conditioning have heard of. It’s called “Speed & Agility Revolution” and it’s an amazing book. I don’t think I’ve read another book like it; it breaks down the mechanics involved in speed and agility training and is very comprehensive.

27. Chalk One Up for Personal Trainers!

Personal trainers help people get stronger! Even trained athletes see better results when there’s a coach or trainer motivating them. Check it out here and here.

28. Female Strength Coaches

As many of you know, I’m currently taking a graduate level Biomechanics course at ASU. I think there are 25 guys and 5 girls in the class. I’ve heard many in the S & C field discuss how more women need to get involved in strength & conditioning, but it’s not happening. It’s a male-driven field and men are much more drawn to the profession than women.

There are plenty of women becoming Physical Therapists, Registered Dietitians, and even Personal Trainers, but not many becoming Strength Coaches.

Congratulations to the women out there who are trainers and strength coaches. The world needs you! Men, we need to go out of our way to mentor and empower women who are interested in the profession.

29. Heavy Half Squats for Valgus Collapse

While I believe that valgus collapse is a full-range phenomenon and that individuals need strong hip abductors and external rotators (mainly glute medius strength as it has the best moment arm for this purpose) through the entire range of hip flexion/extension, I’ve been having some success with prescribing heavy half squats and cueing my clients to make sure they keep their knees out.

This strategy, in combination with hip abduction/hip transverse abduction isolation movements and squats with a mini-band around the knees, seems to be helpful in this regard.

30. Conversation with Dr. Carl DeRosa

Last week I drove to Flagstaff to have a discussion with Dr. Carl DeRosa, one of the world’s most intelligent spinal experts. I learned a lot of interesting things from him and found him to be extremely intelligent and surprisingly well-versed in strength training. His two sons were both involved in Olympic lifting, plus he’s a Physical Therapist, Professor, Researcher, Lecturer, Author, and an all-around good guy!

I was in such a good mood on my drive back home that I was rocking out in my car while flipping through the stations. I hadn’t heard Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” in ages and was singing up a storm while driving home. I felt like Tom Cruise singing to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” in “Jerry MacGuire.”

If someone had a hidden camera on the drive home they could have blackmailed me for a lot of money.

That’s all for this week. Hope you enjoyed the randomness!

112 Comments

  • Smitty says:

    We do the lunge and push-up EQI often in our program. Also, I just posted something similar about glute activation and GHR.

    Great stuff Bret!

  • Damn I just read your post, that was a very well-written article. Great minds think alike!!!

    I’ve thought about the angle of the ghr for a really long time (if you see in my vids I always use the top foot position for this reason – tension through a slightly greater ROM) but I should have been experimenting with elevating the back of the unit.

    Great idea man! That might just win you article of the week on next week’s good reads. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You’re an innovative man Smitty. I’m going to go experiment with it right now in the garage.

    Thanks Smitty!

    Here’s the link if anyone is curious: http://www.dieselcrew.com/extreme-hamstring-training-how-to-build-big-powerful-legs

  • Eric Moss says:

    sing loud and proud when you drive. When I do you can hear me over cop sirens and car horns. \m/

  • allie says:

    Fantasic post!!
    Love #2, you + Karla are both fantastic, great conversation in the comments indeed!
    Congrats on blog hits, + on your 1-leg sldl!
    Agree on raising the bar for glute work,fat pets ๐Ÿ™ and love the back ext info + creatine on the nose!!
    Seeing social network on friday + yes you do have a good face… Good choice. Dumber than the box of rocks… Aww, poor girl needed something to make herself feel better!

  • Derrick Blanton says:

    Bret, I am 5’9″, 180. Yesterday, I barbell hip-thrusted 430×2, and 360×7, last week 410×3. I can link a vid if you would like to check my form. The weird thing is that this is more than I can DL, and far more than I can SQ.

    I have only recently began really loading the movement for real, before I was content to do 250×15, 295×12, etc. I like to do glutes before DL’s, or SQ’s. Like an activation plus..

    My glutes are noticeably more hypertrophied than my hams, and/or quads. Is there ever a point where glutes are too strong relative to other muscles?

    • Derrick, I’d love to see a video of your form. You can email me at bretcontreras@wordpress.com. Or you can post it here. Due to anthropometry, you might just be very well-suited for the hip thrust. However, I’d also like to see your deadlift form to see if you’re setting up right and using all of your hip strength.

      Kelly Baggett and I have both stated that the glutes can’t get too strong. But obviously they can…it’s just so rare. It’s okay to drop the hip thrust if you meet the following criteria:

      1. You’re satisfied with your glute development
      2. You’d prefer to bring up the size of your hams and quads (focus instead on the front squat, Romanian deadlift, glute ham raise, etc.)
      3. You don’t play sports (in my opinion they’re excellent for max speed and acceleration)

  • Derrick Blanton says:

    Oh, and please don’t apologize for long blog posts. This blog is extremely entertaining, and is now slightly ahead of T-Nation as my #1 strength and fitness resource.

    Seriously, your passion for this field is remarkable.

  • Boris says:

    Hi Bret,

    Thanks for producing one of the top few blogs in the industry! I learn a lot from you.

    Regarding thought 29, what is the rationale for heavy half squats to aid in reducing valgus collapse?

    • Boris,

      When you have people who struggle with valgus collapse do easy things like bodyweight squats with minibands or light squats, it’s sometimes easy for them to control their hips and prevent collapse. But once you think you have everything under control and load them up heavy, they start reverting back to their old habits. This is why it’s imperative to just progress gradually.

      I’ve found that with some people it’s more about cleaning up bad habits than it is about strengthening the glute medius. If I have some people squat too low, there is sometimes too much “stuff going on” and it’s hard for them to remember to keep the knees out. But if I have them do half-squats, I can put a heavy bar on their back and get them used to squatting with proper knee tracking under heavy load. They usually have no problem “concentrating” on proper knee tracking when the ROM is limited.

      I get them used to proper knee tracking in this range, and then they start thinking “knees out” automatically; it becomes engrained as a motor engram. As time goes on, you just increase the depth gradually and pretty soon they’re squatting deep with proper hip control and sound motor patterns.

      Since I train clients’ full bodies mulitple times per week, I’ll use this strategy on a given day, and on another day I’ll practice full range squatting with lighter load (and then just try to move them up in weight over time).

      By using mulitiple strategies like the heavy half squat/progressive distance training, the full squat/progressive overload training, hip isolation exercises in the frontal and transverse plane, and miniband squats, you can probably go from A to B much quicker than if you just utilized a single strategy.

      I hope that makes sense!

      Bret

      • Boris says:

        Thanks for that. It makes sense.

        Regarding “the fuzz”, isn’t that just showing tissue adhesions which develop between muscles, nerves, etc. which transverse friction type myofascial release and “nerve flossing” aims to break down?

  • James de Lacey says:

    ^
    Agree with that last comment ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thinking about adding some GHR’s into my workout, only hitting my hamstrings with deadlifts and oly lifts at the moment

    • Thanks James! I think it’s wise to hit the hammies hard with knee-flexion work every once in a while (but not necessarily year-round). I think that next week I’ll make a hamstrings blog where I include videos of all the good hamstring exercises.

  • Creatine up the nose, nice. Had a similar experience with BCAA.

  • Planet says:

    Bret,

    I love your Random Thought posts and weekly reads. Good to have our blog flying high. Great wrokout tips. I enjoyed ur t-nation interview chat with Brad on hypertropy. Can you also bring in some blogradiotalk shows.

    All the Best.

    Planet

    • Planet – are you asking me to start my own podcast? I’ve thought about it because I think I would be really good at asking interesting questions and getting some thought-provoking dialogue but I’m really busy at the moment and if I was to do that I’d want to give it my all. It’s definitely something I’m considering one day.

      • Planet says:

        Bret,

        Yes podcast. A thought provoking session. It doesn’t have to on weekly basis – on Monthly basis. i am going to start training my GF on your lines ๐Ÿ™‚ . Bret i am looking forward to your research work & BOOK out to be publish.

  • PJ Striet says:

    Bret:

    Hilarious story about the girl at the wedding.

    I totally relate to-and agree with-point #18.

  • Jeb says:

    Glad to see your blog is raking in the traffic, Bret. I read a ton of strength and conditioning blogs every day as part of my job, and your posts are by far my favorite.

    And as an editor at a mainstream bodybuilding mag, I can assure you that no reputable style guide prohibits ending sentences with prepositions–or starting them with conjunctions. It turns out that our high school English teachers didn’t know dick.

    Keep up the great writing!

  • Julian says:

    Hey Bret,

    I’ve found that part of the GHR that activates the glutes is at the top of the movement, where your torso should be perpendicular to the ground. You’ll find that in order to get your torso in this position, it takes a good amount of glute activation AFTER your hamstrings have pulled your torso up to about 75 degrees to get that final 15 degrees. Try it out and see what you think.

    • Julian, I don’t mean to be rude but I just don’t buy it. It’s still knee flexion, which is performed by the hamstrings and gastroc.

      In order to receive my “seal of approval” a good glute exercise has to involve eccentric and concentric hip extension (and I’d make an exception for the band hip rotation…one of my favorite glute exercises but it’s very hard to learn – it’s a hip external rotation movement).

      Are you suggesting that I just pull myself up higher than I do in my Youtube video? I’lll try this out tomorrow and get back to you. Although I’m skeptical, I hate when coaches form a conclusion without testing it out. *I just ended in a preposition and I’m okay with it ๐Ÿ™‚

      • kdavis27 says:

        I always find that if you end a sentence with the word b***h, then you never have to worry about the whole preposition rule. At least that’s what I taught my English students. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Is that something you can deal with, b***h?

        See, it works every time.

        • Kellie, two awesome things you said in one day…first the text about using the entire stack at the gym just for the hell of it, and then this. You’re on a roll. Maybe you should prepare for contests more often ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Err sorry Brad but you are. A guy who sniffs BCAA and specializes in ass, yeah that’s completely normal. Right…

    Now please excuse me while I go freebase some whey hydrolysate and fast for 16 hours.

  • James W says:

    Hey Bret-

    As Jim Wendler and Matt Perryman (two strong dudes to be sure) like to say, you don’t need to weigh 300 lbs to get strong. Maybe to fly in the multiply feds with the superheavyweights, but it takes a special kind of guy to really want to become unhealthy (and, by the looks of it, frequently injured) in pursuit of being able to waddle up to a monolift and do one wide-stance rep in a funny-looking suit. I’m competing in my first PL meet in December (a push-pull meet) just for the hell of it, because I want to train for something competitive. My lifts suck compared to yours (recent PRs: 265lb BP 4RM, 425lb DL 1RM, at 6’1” and ~207lb) but there’s no reason (maybe excuse is the right word?) not to compete and test myself. Other than not wanting to wear a singlet.

    PS – The rule on prepositions isn’t that hard and fast. It’s more based on clarity — if it’s more clear and less awkward-sounding to end a sentence with a preposition, it’s not incorrect. http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html

    • James, I completely agree with you. My hat is off to anyone who competes and regularly tests themselves. I’d like to enter some PL competitons down the road just to see what I could do in a meet. I wouldn’t care about what everyone else does…I’d compete against myself. So kudos to you for entering.

      Boy am I glad I wrote that line about prepositions in my blogpost. This will make things much easier down the road. Thanks!!!

  • Nate says:

    Not to down-play the rest of the post but the TC vid was great!!! “Men don’t need to be primed”! Amen, Brother. LOL

  • Al Stewart says:

    This site is awesome. I love the content, its not often you come across a site that will freely give tips and advice. This is a must for anyone iterested in fitness. Thanks, will be visiting often.
    Al

  • Derrick Blanton says:

    Drop the hip thrust? Heresy!! No way, BC, I’m a fanatical convert to your hipthrusting way of life.

    I just wanted to make sure that I don’t rip a lagging hammie off the bone doing DL’s b/c they can’t keep up with my enormous, powerful glutes. Ha ha!

    Sent you the vid, so if it’s instructional, feel free to post it and shred my form. My glutes are trashed today, so I did hit the target muscle at least.

    BTW, Jackass just got fat, I don’t think you have to get that fat to be strong, but I suspect it’s a placebo effect, feeling “bulky”. Mariusz Pudzianowski comes to mind as a massive, strong, but low BF strength athlete.

    And you should have told box of rocks woman that you just weren’t into her. But direct honesty is harder than 20-rep squats sometimes.

    • Fair enough Derrick. Glute strength will not cause you to tear a hammie off the bone; it will protect all the synergists…hamstrings, adductor magnus, and even the erectors and quads. In theory you could end up pulling a glute but that doesn’t happen much.

      I never received an email from you…post it here and we’ll take a look at it.

      Well there are many powerlifters who go down that road and end up fat. Mariusz is a freak. There aren’t many powerlifters, Oly lifters, or strongmen for that matter who can get that big and strong and stay lean.

      You’re right, I’d rather bust out a set of 20-rep squats than tell a girl “I’m just not into you.” I may be an asshole but I’m not a fucking asshole!

      • Derrick Blanton says:

        Ok, BC, here is the aforementioned video.

        Anterior pelvic tilt issues, so I am bracing abs hard to get extension from hips, not lumbar. I believe I get to extension, but not hyperextension due to mobility. Also DL near-max as you requested.

        Thanks, Bret!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70mehrekMtI

        • Okay Derrick, depending on what level of “guru” you talk to, you’ll get different feedback. As far as the hip thrust goes, it’s hard to tell. Rant: I always get hip thrust video shots from side views and the plates block the lumbar and hip regions which is what I’m trying to see: end rant. Having seen so many thousands of hip thrusts since I first thought of them in 2006 it appears that you are indeed performing them correctly. I don’t think that you’re over-extending the low back and I believe that the movement is coming from the hips. Personally I like to see slightly higher range up top (maybe four inches higher) which would require you to drop some weight but all in all your form is good.

          The most alarming thing I see in your vids is that you turn your head on both lifts. Always remember to keep your head and neck straight forward when lifting heavy. This will not only prevent injury but also allow you to lift more weight as it can interfere with coordination and stability. Make this a habit!

          As for the deadlift, I think that your form was great! Some would say that you should arch the back a little bit more (but I think you’re perfectly fine in this area) and many would tell you to try to keep the head and neck in neutral (well, actually to tuck the chin a little as well) but personally I don’t follow this advice. I’ve always extended my neck when deadlifting to watch myself in the mirror and now when I don’t I’m weaker as it’s become habit and I get some sort of “posterior chain potentiating reflex” from lifting that way. But just know that it’s safer to keep the the neck in neutral, tuck the chin, and look down a bit (the neck should be right in line with the rest of the spine).

          Oh yeah – just thought of something else – I find that I dont’ have to brace the abs in order to prevent lumbar hyperextension, and that if I do try to brace I can’t reach hip hyperextension. So I don’t brace and it allows me to go up higher. I’m not suggesting that you should do this, just throwing it out there as something that you might want to experiment with. (I love this ending a sentence in a preposition thing!)

          Anyway you are correct; you are genetically predispositioned to be better at hip thrusting than squatting and deadlifting. I suspect that over the years your deadlift will eventually surpass your hip thrust, but it will take time. Great job with the vid!

      • Derrick Blanton says:

        Thx for the great feedback, Bret.. I agree that camera angle is not great, sorry for that. Yes I absolutely need to keep my head locked in place, great tip.

        I have had fairly debilitating back spasms several times, a few times where I was crawling around on the floor for a day or two in excruciating pain, and a 3-month window of weakness/rehab. So I really am trying to use my glutes and hamstrings as prime movers, and let the spinal erectors/abs stabilize. So far, so good.

        Anyway, this is why I’m kind of anal about bracing so hard, b/c when I first started doing hip thrusts, those bad habits started up, borrowing movement from the spine, and I felt a twinge. So I err on the side of caution b/c it is tempting in max situations to just crank the back to get that last 4″.

        I knew you would mention the neck extension on DL’s, yeah, I do the same thing on SQ’s. It is grooved for me as well, and “feels right”. I think it’s an attempt to shorten the entire moment arm of the upper body for leverage.

        Can’t thank you enough, BC. You are a very, very cool guy.

  • Bret, could you expand on your reasons for preferring a barbell for SLDL?

    I know more weight would be possible, and the balanced two-handed grip would cause more prime-mover(glutes!) recruitment. However that also means less stabilizer engagement, and two dumbbells would be enough weight for most people and still provide balance.

    BTW, don’t let the drunk girl’s comment go to your head. Most of us still prefer pictures of Karli or Jamie to you.

    • Steven – exactly. I prefer the two dumbbells because you can hinge in between the dumbbells and sit back more (kind of like doing a sumo KB deadlift) but I’d need some really heavy dumbbells to be able to load it up to what I need…130’s or 140’s for max work. I only have db’s up to 100’s. One of these days I need to buy more stuff – heavier db’s, KB’s, battleropes, etc. I’m not buying more equipment because my garage is already packed full but one of these days I’ll get a studio and expand.

      Don’t worry, I am fully aware that my readers prefer Karli, Kellie, Katie, or Jamie over me!

  • Matias says:

    That’s great that you got to go see that soccer game. Soccer players are infamous for quad dominance and tight hip flexors. If you saw any at all that were running with their glutes it was most likely more nature than nurture. Never has a coach made me do a hip thrust or anything to activate my glutes. A foam roll in my young days would have been a life saver. That’s why soccer players are always pulling a hammy or a groin even in the pros. Either they don’t know or they don’t care.

    With all the resources available to professional teams of any sport, I find it hard to believe that the trainers don’t know what a muscle imbalance is.

    Bret, what do you think is going on?

    • Matias, it never ceases to amaze me at the lack of attention to strength coaches at the professional level (or collegiate…or high school level). You’d think that every team would realize how important strength is for injury prevention and improved performance. I talk to athletes all the time and ask them about their S&C programs and I’m blown away at how crappy they are.

  • Karla says:

    Wow… I am featured on the first page. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

    I think wrt the dog comments that you missed a really important component of fat dogs. EXERCISE. Dogs NEED to be exercised in order to maintain health (mental and physical) and healthy weights. I see far too many pet owners neglecting this compnent.

    Final comment: I am on week 7 of your Hip thruster recommendation and so far so good. Am increasing gradually in weights in the gym and staying strong on the field. (Like monster strong) I am already a different athlete than I was. I cannot wait to see how this season progresses with this little glute work secret.

    • Good call Karla! I don’t know why I didn’t include that. Duh! You’re right – dogs need to be exercised regularly too.

      I’m so glad that you took my advice seriously about the hip thrust. Although I’ve made them very popular, many of the “powers that be” are still not using them with their athletes, which I feel is a huge error. The science makes sense, the anecdotes are overwhelming, but there needs to be some journal evidence to back up my hypotheses.

      Thank you for the comment!

  • Jeff says:

    Regarding soreness…I don’t workout to be sore but seems like the past few years I get sore from training more often than when I was younger 34 yrs old now. Why do some get sore and others don’t?

    • Jeff – you’re right in your assertion that some get much more sore than others. In this regard soreness seems to have a huge genetic component.

      If you want to learn about DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), read this (good old Wikipedia):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

      However, it doesn’t mention the genetic aspect and why some get more sore than others.

      I’m guessing various processes in the nucleus involving the DNA, as well as biochemical/endocrine factors such as less inflammatory agents and less pain-sensing receptors.

      Physiology is not my strong-point. Maybe Martin can take a stab at this one.

    • Assuming all factors constant, except age, which of course is an impossible or unlikely condition, it has been speculated that an equivalent amount of exercise/effort produces a greater response in inflammatory cytokines in older folks during and after exercise.

      Inflammatory cytokines may be associated with DOMS, as in more IC = more DOMS. This too is up for speculation since no one really knows what specifically causes DOMS. Then again it was a while since I looked into this and there may have been some new findings in the scientific litterature on this topic.

      • I should note that my answer shows clear signs of the “experts curse” in the sense that if you go to the wiki page you’ll get good info on some of the mechanisms, causes, etc. I’m specifically referring to

        “However, the relationship between damage, inflammation and DOMS is not yet completely understood.[2]”

        Being that there is much conflicting research on the topic and if you’ve read enough you end up being more confused than when you knew nothing about the topic.

        • I came to the same conclusion a couple of years ago when I looked into DOMS…ended up more confused. Also I contest the assertion that “concentric exercise creates no soreness at all.”

          If I took a strong lifter who took six months off of training and had him do five sets of concentric-only bench press, incline press, dips, and flies, his pecs, front delts, and triceps are going to be absolutely trashed the following day and even worse the day after that!

          Obviously once you get accustomed to various protocols and exercises your muscle soreness diminishes, and obviously eccentric exercise produces more soreness than concentric exercise, but I certainly don’t agree with that statement as it’s not an “all or nothing” phenomenon.

  • Stefanie says:

    Bret,

    First off, thank you so much for all of the great work that you do! I feel like every week I get more knowledgeable on form, technique, and program design just by poking around your blog/comments.

    Your number 28 jumped out at me because I have been so extremely motivated by the work that you have been doing and sharing, that I have decided to dig deeper into education on a reputable level. I received personal training certification (NASM) two years ago- and started training. I found that there were so many people working as “personal trainers” who really didn’t know ANYTHING. I was embarrassed to even call myself a trainer, because being lumped into “that” category of people was frightening. (Not to say that I am all that knowledgeable, but I like to pride myself on constantly learning- no egos!) I started school, with the idea of getting a BA in human nutrition (ASU) and then possibly going on to do physical therapy. While this may still be a possibility, I am intrigued at the idea of working in the field of Strength Coaching.

    I would love to hear your thoughts, especially on schooling (I will be going to ASU- I’m currently at MCC) as well as any tips on breaking into the industry.

    Thanks so much Bret!

    Stefanie
    Phoenix, AZ

    • Stefanie,

      Great comment! I’m partial to Biomechanics. I’m still trying to be the best trainer/coach I can be and if I felt that getting my DPT was the answer I’d do it.

      But I actually think that getting a bachelor’s and master’s or PhD in Biomechanics would serve you much better than getting your DPT.

      The top Physical Therapists learned 90% of what they know by self-study, attending conferences, etc. They didn’t learn it in school. PT school will teach you a bunch of crap that won’t help you become a better strength coach, like just treating the site (and not looking up or down the kinetic chain), how to put ice on people, use EMS, ultrasound, etc.

      I’d recommend that you intern with a very knowledgeable and experienced coach and one day start reading journals (Strength & Conditioning journals, Biomechanics journals, and Physical Therapy journals).

      Also, this is important! Train a lot of people and also train yourself – meaning lift weights consistently and stay in good shape.

      I would think that many doors would open for female strength coaches as your kind is a rare commodity these days.

      • Stefanie says:

        Bret,

        Thanks so much for your reply. I appreciate your comments.

        I may be contacting you in the future for some more tips ๐Ÿ™‚

        One more thing..NAU or ASU, in your opinion and experience would you suggest one over the other in regards to their Kinesiology programs?

        Thanks again!

        Ciao,
        Stefanie

        • I suspect that ASU’s is better, but they have some internal issues you may want to look into…I think their Kinesiology program is now listed under Nursing??? But their professors are quite knowledgeable.

  • rob says:

    Nice thoughts,

    I agree with you on Josh Koscheck, I used to respect him as a great fighter but his act on TUF has me wanting GSP to end his career come December.

    Perhaps whoever named the glute ham raise should have left the glute part out … words mess people up, i spend much of my time training people about fat not making them fat, i hate that word, wish it was called lipid.

    stop snorting creatine, its just as effective swallowed plus you sleep better at night ๐Ÿ˜‰

    that Fuzz video is great, where and how did you find that?

    • Thanks Rob! Nice to hear from you. I have a feeling GSP is going to mess him up.

      I could be wrong, but I believe that Dr. Yessis came up with the name…and called it a glute-ham-gastroc raise (and created the first glute-ham developer) after witnessing the Russians doing it over a pommel horse with their feet wedged in between a ladder or something.

      And the way they did it did work the glutes a little more; they started at the bottom (like the start of a back extension), did hip extension first, and then knee flexion to make it a full range movement.

      I don’t like this version because it creates so much momentum that the knee-flexion portion is easy. If your goal is to stress the hammies then I feel it’s best to do just the top portion (knee flexion) and ignore the hip extension component (which is better trained with hip thrusts anyway….and RDL’s, and heavy back extensions, and reverse hypers…).

      Now that I’m sort of popular in the field I have a lot of people who send me things. One of my clients actually emailed me the Fuzz video. Pretty cool!

  • Rob Umfress says:

    feeling so fly like a g6?

    http://www.pontiacg6.info/images/2006_Pontiac_G6_ext_1.jpg

    Thats what they were obviously really talking about. Good post Bret, I really enjoyed the fuzz video. Also, with anthropmetrics, isn’t it possible to have the bone structure to be a better squatter? My squat is slightly better than my deadlift and I can never seem to make headway on getting my deadlift up. I can get mid 400s on squat and have stalled out at 425 on deadlifts. Quad dominance at its finest.

    • Haha! Yeah, they were referring to the Pontiac ๐Ÿ™‚

      Actually the article I linked talked about how the rappers try to “outdo” each other…one song spoke of a G4, another rap song spoke of a G5, so naturally there had to be a G6 reference.

      I’ve heard of all sorts of guys who can squat more than they can deadlift (and I believe them) but I’ve trained several hundred people and all of the males I’ve trained (after several months of training) end up deadlifting more than they can squat. (raw of course)

      So I’d love to see a video of your deadlift to see if you set up correctly and get your hips into it and use your full potential.

      And sure, you could be well-suited for squatting and not well-suited for dl’ing. Short arms and long femurs don’t make for a good combination for sure.

  • John says:

    Bret, regarding the back extensions:

    Hands behind the neck combined with some scap. retraction will eliminate the kyphosis issues during the exercise along with promoting a neutral spine. Try it. This is a good way to teach where the movement should be coming from- the hips.

    • John,

      I do not like this version and let me tell you why.

      If you focus at all on what the t-spine is doing then you get more erector spinae all the way down.

      I hope you try my way and see what you think.

      I’ve been doing back extensions for probably 13 years myself and I’ve had my own 45 degree hyper and glute-ham developer for around 5 years (and trained tons of people off of them). This doesn’t make me right of course, but I feel much more glute (and I’ve measure the EMG of both types of back extensions and you get significantly higher levels doing them the way that I do them).

      For example, see the way I do them (some kyphosis):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rubjN8fflk4&feature=related

      Versus the way that Joe DeFranco has his clients do them (nothing wrong with this but much more erector and less glute):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJOjy1hl5NA&feature=related

      My way gets more glute and less erector. You have to feel it for yourself. Have you tried them my way?

      So the hands behind the neck version (like I show in this video) actually gets you less glute activation and hip involvement:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wot50I03KRc

      Another thing I’d like to add is that I don’t like to “promote” kyphosis but with all the deadlifting and front squatting I’m doing with my clients there’s absolutely no way any of them are going to suffer any negative postural adaptations as I strengthen the bejezus out of their upper back and thoracic extensors.

      Thoughts?

  • kevin says:

    Bret,
    I’ve read that keeping the knee in between the fully extended/fully flexed positions especially under a heavy force is bad for the knees because it is most stable in those positions. This is part of what makes full deep squats more knee friendly. Are you worried about this problem with the heavy half squats? Is it even true or is this just a problem with someone who doesn’t squat properly (i.e. with proper knee tracking whether it be valgus or going too far over their toes?)

    I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    • Kevin, during a half squat the ACL is at greater risk while the patella is very safe. During a deep squat the ACL is very safe but the patella is at greater risk. Quid pro quo; but I am not worried about this with Karli as 1) she’s sitting back and using her hips to spare the knees and share the brunt of the load, and 2) We only do a couple of sets of these per week, so it’s pretty low volume, and 3) I don’t have her go too heavy (she could probably use 205 for a max single on these but her form would probably break down and she’d likely end up using less hip and more knee joint.

  • Paul M says:

    Bret – I want to tell you that your Back Extension Instructional Video is freakin’ AWESOME!!! Truly! You exposed exactly the way most people are doing it and clearly showed how to really do it to get them glutes turned on!
    I’ve recently gone back to performing back extensions with a swiss ball ( no gym available here) and was experiencing mixed results: it seemed to help at times yet sometimes it also gave me some pain/discomfort. I recalled that I was messing around with my form because I could feel different muscles working at different times when I did this exercise. Now it is very clear how to do it!

    As an aside, I must admit a bit of arrogance here too. I purchased your ebook a couple of months ago (It’s FANTASTIC BTW!!) and was a bit ‘cocky’ about my new glute awareness and knowledge. Despite focusing more on glute activation and exercises recently for myself and my clients, I still was not finding the right way to use them in my back extensions.

    Your videos are great – please keep ’em coming!

  • Boris – I was “intrigued” by the fuzz but I’m never been “aboard the fascia train.” I don’t know if “the fuzz” limits our ROM as much as projected in the vid. I don’t know enough about fascia – I’ve read Anatomy Trains and tried to do some cursery research on the topic but I must admit I just don’t know. I was a little annoyed that fascia isn’t covered in my current Biomechanics class – my professor said that he hopes the authors of the book will include a chapter on fascia in the next edition. Oh well; I’ll just have to do my own research one of these days and really dive into the matter. For some reason people in the S&C industry make fascia out to be like unicorns.

    • Boris says:

      It is interesting that you say that you havenโ€™t bought into the fascia movement. Does that mean you donโ€™t do/prescribe self myofascial release or that you just want to see some research to back it up?
      As I understand, there hasn’t been much research into mechanisms of myofascial release. But, that’s what I’ve heard from others, I haven’t done a literature review on it myself. So, when you do your own research into it, let me know what turns up ๐Ÿ™‚
      But, there exists anecdotal (i.e. in the trenches, “I am the researchโ€) evidence from the realm of physical/manual therapy that myofascial release can cause marked improvements in ROM over a relatively short time. This may or may not be related to issues within the muscles themselves (โ€œknotsโ€, trigger points, contractures or other things which have been theorised to be the mechanism) or fascial connections (adhesions, “fuzz”, whatever else).
      Also, this appears to occur in peripheral nerves. Supposedly, nerves can shorten (like muscles can by losing sarcomeres) and restrict movement although I don’t know what the mechanism is. My own experience with this is that I get a wicked pain in my popliteal fossa when I do any form of hamstring stretch now that I have neglected mobility work for about a year. Nerves can also, apparently, adhere to other structures in contact with them and restrict movement in that way. Here’s a video of an ultrasound of the median nerve being “flossed” to break down adhesions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9fONeu0psA

      • Boris says:

        I know what you mean about the glorification of fascia in our industry. I think it’s important but it’s just going through the pendulum scenario. Everyone’s going a bit overboard with it and will settle somewhere in the middle.
        I haven’t had miraculous results from ART alone but ART and correct exercise progression has returned my shoulder to a pain-free, functioning state. So, to me it’s a tool to use in some situations with some clients.

      • Boris, I should have better explained myself. I not only do SMR on myself, but I also have my clients do some. I “believe” in SMR for several reasons, not only for fascial purposes. I’m also willing to admit that I don’t know everything and that I have much to learn. However, I see all of these coaches who are mesmorized by fascia and Thomas Myers and then I ask them what they do differently in their strength training as a result and I’ve yet to hear good answers. SMR – fine. Stretching – fine. Trying to make up goofy exercises to train the fascial lines? Stupid! Leave the strength training to guys like me who are in the trenches. Leave the esoteric stuff for the PT’s. Sorry for the rant.

        As for the video you linked…looks cool. But I always ask myself, “Does this do anything that strength training doesn’t also do?” Not to downplay nerve flossing but 1) I didn’t see any adhesions being broken up, 2) let’s say the sciatic nerve has shortened…can Romanian deadlifts help get it back to normal length? 3) strength training does a lot of cool stuff – increases mobility/flexibility, increases stability, adds stability in all ranges of motion and ensures that new gains in mobility are “kept,” etc. 4) I appreciate the PT’s and they’ve influenced me but as a CSCS I determine where to draw the line. 5) The muscles under and within the myofascial meridians all get trained properly with good sport mechanics – superficial front line – kicking, superficial back line – deadlifting, lateral line – agility/cutting, spiral line – sprinting, throwing, etc., arm lines – swinging racquets, throwing, pressing, rowing, etc., front-functional line – kicking, back-functional line – sprinting, etc., deep front line – breathing, walking, etc. Does this movement keep the fascia healthy?

        Should strength coaches spend most of their time reading Strength & Conditioning and Biomechanics research or Physical Therapy research? We need specialization. It’s great to cross over but at the end of the day we only have a limited amount of time for study…..now we have young coaches who have never performed a glute ham raise and don’t know what periodization means but they know myofascial meridians and diaphragmatic breathing patterns like the back of their hand. It is my belief that we need to get our priorities straight. Healthy bodies function differently than bodies in pain or injury, let the strength coaches study heatlhy bodies and the PT’s study dysfunctional bodies.

      • Boris says:

        Bret,
        That clears things up ๐Ÿ™‚
        As someone just starting out in the personal training/strength & conditioning field I know there is a lot of material to be digested and put to use before the, as you say, esoterica should be looked into. I hope you didn’t interpret my posts as a defence of the esoterica, I was merely trying to provide some discussion on the topic of “fuzz” as you requested in the blog post.
        I think you make two very valid points in your rant. The first being, the need for critical thinking is paramount in our industry as it is flooded with misconceptions and fads. The second is the need for each of us to know exactly what is within our scope of practice and what isn’t, and then becoming damn good at that which is.

        • Wow I feel like I “baited” you into that argument. Sorry Boris. I guess that makes me a master-baiter. Ba da ching! I think that you summarized my points very well…and I’m not exactly saying that fascia is a fad…it’s a tissue that needs to be understood like all the other tissues. I’ll confess that I don’t know how it gets its nutrition, whether compression is good for it, whether you should actively try to “strip the fuzz” in ways other than just plain dynamic movement, whether superficial and deep fascia behave similarly, how much communication there is with fascia and other parts of the body, and whether we need to do anything “unique” in our training (since muscle and fascia cannot be separated technically everything we do for the muscles we also do for the fascia, hence the term “myofascial) in healthy people to address the fascia and fascial planes. Most of all, I don’t know if it limits muscular growth as some claim (hence systems like FST-7 or Fascial Stretch Training 7)…I’m pretty doubtful about that one. Does it deserve more attention than tendons? Ligaments? Discs? Menisci? Hormones? The heart? Now I’m just rambling. At the end of the day, yes, figure out what you’re role is and become damn good at it!

  • Hey Bret, just wanted to say awesome blog! I’ve been trying to work back through, and there’s so much good stuff that points me to other good stuff I keep getting distracted! Especially love the weekly roundups.

    I tried Barbell Hip Thrusts last night at the gym for the first time. I’ve been working bodyweight ones for the past two weeks, in order to get my ROM and movement patterns started, and I hit 75, 125, and 175 for several sets of 5. Holy Cow! I’ve never felt the hit like that in my glutes before! Especially at the top ten degrees or so it was unreal… I’m relatively weak at these, having never done them before, but hopefully I can get them up pretty quickly to match my other numbers (Squat 375, Deadlift 455). Thanks for all the great info!

    It’s also really nice to see something from a competent, strong dude who hasn’t given up everything in the pursuit of one aspect of strength training. I feel like I can relate a lot better to your stuff because I can identify with wanting to be strong and look like it as well.

    Sorry for the ramble.

    -Jesse

  • Peter says:

    You, Dan John, and TC and Wendler are the only bright lights at T-nation now, and it’s sad that TC hasn’t written something in a while. Thanks for posting this clip, that guy is a damn genius it must have been awesome to meet him.

  • Lindsey says:

    Your posts are always entertaining and enlightening!! The videos of Karli and Kellie are awesome – it’s so inspiring to watch girls lift heavy weight!! Your training is definitely geared toward strength. What do you do with your clients who you have have trained for a while and who are happy with their strength/muscular development and who are primarily looking to get leaner? What do you differently with them?

    • Lindsey – do you know what my “secret” for getting Kellie leaner was? I got her way stronger and didn’t let her gain weight. She was already very lean and strong when I started with her. I took her off of cardio, plyos, and HIIT, and got her much stronger. She leaned out more rapidly than ever before. Of course I never push strength at the expense of good form, but it’s important to keep striving for PR’s if seeking ultimate levels of leanness in my opinion. However, with Kellie I’ve flip-flopped between full body workouts, lower-upper splits, and bodypart splits, and I’ve injected cardio into the mix as she comes near her next competition. She’s leaner than ever at this point in her prep so I’m curious to see how she’ll do. As far as training “regular” clients who aren’t that into strength and just want to be lean, I “trick” them into getting stronger but I do so in a manner that doesn’t make them hate the training. Maybe I’ll call their training “strength-conditioning” and have them do some EDT (escalating density training) where they have to beat their PR’s for a given time interval on a couple of exercises. As soon as I deliver good results, then I earn the client’s trust and they’ll do whatever I ask of them. Glad you like the videos!!!

  • Thy. says:

    lol Bret, funny that you mentioned where the glute-ham raise comes from. The fact is I’m from Ukraine and back in school one of our PE teachers was a Master of Sports in track-and-field and she actually made us do this exercise (back raises over the pommel horse) quite often just for GPP. It’s crazy that I never thought of the glute-ham raise that way despite doing the original version! I always viewed it as a new machine and exercise invented by US powerlifters.

  • Good stuf Bret.

    #3) yes, I agree. Very similar to this post I did on it about activation work vs strength training for the glutes (with your favorite exercise)

    http://extremehumanperformance.com/blog/contreras-hip-thrust-strength-or-activation-exercise/

    #5) fat pets need more diet pet food. hahaha. I agree, who is actually feeding fido

    #9) for those that have done cadaver prosection and dissection, there is fat and fascia EVERYWHERE. Get a lean cadaver if you can. Seriously. We need to keep in mind that the whole body is connected. We rip on people for body part training, yet in the same breath talk about feeling this or that exercise to isolate a muscle. Which is it then?

    #14) I am not personally a big fan of most iso holds. Something to keep in mind–where are you doing an iso hold and why? Doing them on a bench press at chest level really looks like a failed lift to me. Ditto for heavy iso pulls from the floor. I don’t like people training in things that look like failed lifts. My other thoughts involve the tissue changes that happen during iso holds–no movement = more rigid tissue. Just because it is hard does not mean it is effective.

    #19) I am the research. I still love that quote. Brillant!

    #24) enjoying a program or exercise is very underrated.

    There is an awesome research study that showed the neurotransmitter dopamine was ESSENTIAL for optimal motor learning. Dopamine is a “feel good” neurotransmitter related to enjoyment. In the study, they used the drug naltrexone to block dopamine and it severely impairs motor learning (particularly the “chunking” of two motor movements into one).

    Keep up the good work man!
    rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
    http://www.extremehumanperformance.com/home.php

    • I always appreciate your thoughts Mike. I think the truth with most stuff is in the middle of both extremes. For example, our joints all need mobility and stability. Muscles need to be strong in isolation and they need to know how to fire in integration. Free weights are great but machines can be quite useful too as they can keep constant tension on the muscles and train ROM’s and angles not seen in free weight training. I could go on and on…

      Love the dopamine concept. Do you have the study? If so please email it to me. This opens up a big door! Keep up the good work too.

  • Jack says:

    Wow, look at those great comments! Thanks for always teaching us w/great info! And have to agree with the one comment that your site is becoming my number 1 source for fitness!

    Thanks

    Jackson

    ps – love the TC video!

  • BN says:

    Great article! I’m doing my first raw powerlifting meet in Dec and if I’m doing one you should too! The singlet part will be rough though, never worn such a thing before! I’m 6’3″ 230-235 (close to you) but will compete in the 242 weight class. My goals are 420 on bench, 550 squat and deadlift I need to figure out still…

    Question I’m following 5/3/1 and for the auxiliary lifts it’s higher reps up to 20, should I do that with Weighted Hip Thrusts and Glute Bridges as well or should I up the weight and do lower reps? Thanks and keep up the awesome and informative work!!

    • Wow BN! A 420 raw bench would be damn impressive, as would a 550 squat. Most guys are either good squatters and benchers and shitty deadlifters or good deadlifters and shitty squatters and benchers. Rare is the guy who is superior at all three.

      Yes, I think you should incorporate hip thrusts (but not necessarily glute bridges) into your routine (just do them along the other auxiliary work in the 5/3/1 program) and as long as your form is solid you can do them for lower reps (3-6) which I feel will transfer better. Make sure you watch the hip thrust instructional video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCm-70-9_XE

      Best of luck!

  • Big Paul says:

    Just because Big Jay and (Bigger) Ronnie do not suffer from DOMS after doing 90 sets of flys doesn’t mean that the average ‘natural’ dude on the street should feel bad about a little ‘good’ soreness after a good workout. The same story again: steroid users dictating how the rest of us should train and feel.

    PS. I really enjoy reading this blog.

    • Thanks Big Paul! My point was that if you get sore, so be it. But you shouldn’t “seek” soreness or use it as a barometer for a good workout. I know plenty of people who guage the effectiveness of their workout by the level of soreness the following day, which just isn’t rational.

  • Omar says:

    Bret – Thank you for another great post. I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it. Form being equal, is the 45 degree back extension better than the roman chair one for the glutes? What about erectors and hamstrings?

    • Omar, great question.

      The back extension (parallel with the ground at the top of the movement) surpasses the 45 degree hyper in gluteus maximus, hamstring, and erector spinae activity if the load is kept constant. This is one of the items for which I presented much EMG support in my glute eBook.

  • I’m both a personal trainer and a massage therapist, and I think studying and treating fascia is much more appropriate for bodyworkers than trainers. Incorporating a variety of full body exercises and mobility drills, with good mechanics as you suggest, is enough for most trainers.

    • I agree Steven! And I think that great trainers should cross over and learn about what PT’s and LMT’s have to offer but only after they possess a sound foundation of biomechanics, sport, and strength training knowledge (which takes a long time to develop).

  • Bret, You have impressive records in the weight room (for my standards anyway). What are your times in the sprints?

    • I’m not sure what my sprint times are. I need to time them one of these days. I need to measure my vertical too. Haven’t tested them in years. Since I train year-round for strength, my power development is always lagging. Around five years ago I did eight weeks of plyos and put five inches on my vertical jump. I credit this to possessing a good foundation of strength, which allows for rapid improvement when switching gears and focusing on reactive and explosive strength.

  • Bret, to your knowledge, do any elite level sprinters utilise loaded hip thrusts/bridges?

    Could you make the argument that they don’t need to because of the amount of sprinting they do, they are already training hip hyperextension sufficiently – I can’t recall the exact figures, but when you’re running I do recall ground reaction forces are pretty high – would this be enough work for the glutes?

    I guess my question will depend on the actual direction of force as it is applied to the ground in sprinting – I haven’t bothered to check my biomechanics book – it’s end of semester exam time, so I’ve been all about pathology today.

    • Nick – I’ve spoken to several high-level track coaches who train some of the Olympic-caliber sprinters and they’ve indeed implemented hip thrusts. I can’t name actual athletes but the coaches are all aware of the exercise and most are starting to implement them. Some say they’ve been doing “variations” of the hip thrust for years, usually the single leg version. You could definitely pose the argument that you made. In fact, you could use Carl Lewis as an example that strength training isn’t necessary at all…he didn’t start lifting until he was 35 or so. Does a jumper need to squat if he’s jumping? I believe so. Does a sprinter need to hip thrust if he’s sprinting? I believe so. I’ve seen WAY too many scenarios over the years where an athlete sky-rocketed in a short time from focusing on increased strength. The fact of the matter is that several factors blend together to create optimum performance…limit strength, strength-speed, speed-strength, reactive strength, and rate-of-force-development (RFD), and no coach knows the exact formula for maximum results. Furthermore, this “recipe” varies from one athlete to the next. As for the direction of force, sprinting involves both vertical and horizontal GRF’s, but for max speed research indicates that horizontal is more important than vertical. Your Biomechanics text probably won’t mention this. See my blog interview with Matt Brughelli.

  • Thanks Bret,

    I would be loathe to make an argument to not train based on one elite level sprinter – as I’m sure you wouldn’t.

    On the other hand, what about recreational (male) trainees? If they squat and deadlift and sprint, would that cover the main directional vectors?

    I’m not against hip thrusting per se, but just looking at the minimal exercises one needs, when you consider the need for unilateral, squat patterns, posterior chain patterns (deads etc – which one could group hip thrusts in as well) there is already a lot of demand for lower body training – not to mention running and jumping. Just seeing what we can get away with.

    • Nick, depends on the goal of the lifter. Are the goals maximum hypertrophy? Maximum strength? Maximum athleticism? Maximum power? Is there a particular sport the lifter is trying to become best at?

      If it’s maximum hypertrophy, then isolation exercises need to be mixed in.
      If it’s maximum strength, then it depends on what “strength” the lifter wants. If it’s powerlifting one could probably do quite well just doing the 3 powerlifts, but better results could still be seen from adding in some auxiliary movements.
      If it’s maximum athleticism and/or power, then the various vectors need to be trained via strength and power in my opinion, which requires a couple of exercises from each vector.
      If it’s maximum performance in a particular sport, then it depends on the vectors, movements, ROM’s, muscles, etc. primarily worked in the sport.

      So if you’re seeking maximum linear acceleration and speed, I’d say that the minimum requirements for optimal performance would be 1. a compound quad dominant lift, preferably a type of squat 2. a compound hip dominant lift – preferably a type of deadlift 3. an explosive lift – sometimes jump squats and sometimes power cleans or power snatches (deadilfts can be dropped during phases that focus on cleans or snatches) 4. a type of anteroposterior hip strengthening movement – preferably a hip thrust 5. sometimes the glute ham raise 6. sometimes replace the squat with a unilateral quad dominant lift such as the Bulgarian split squat.

      So one month could be: power clean, full squat, hip thrust
      Another month could be: half squat, deadlift, glute ham raise
      Another month could be: jump squat, Bulgarian split squat, RDL, hip thrust
      Another month could be: power snatch, pause squat, rack pull, single leg hip thrust

      The list goes on and on. It’s the “Same but Different” mentality…same movement patterns, different variations.

      You could “get away” with just sprinting and jumping. You could “get away” with just squatting, cleaning, sprinting, and jumping. But I’m thinking “optimal” results here. I’d also feel more comfortable adding in a couple of upper body lifts and core exercises too. Of course this is my opinion.

  • Exactly what I’m after, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

  • Hi bret,

    I have recently started up a sprint blog and a website:

    http://sprintcoaching.wordpress.com/
    http://www.speed-development.co.uk

    How would you feel about doing an interview on the blog?

    Paul

  • Alan Aragon says:

    Epic blog post, Bret. Very informative & engaging. And, I also really appreciate how you didn’t use a dude as your trainee to demo the hip extension exercise. Keep up the good work man, looking forward to meeting up again in May.

    • Thanks Alan! I may not be a freaky-genius like you but I am definitely smart enough to know to use a female for my model ๐Ÿ™‚
      Looking forward to seeing you in May again too! It’s gonna be a good time. You keep up the great work too. -Bret

  • Chris says:

    “The Fuzz” was great!

    Over 20 yrs. of practicing bodywork I’ve broken up a lot of “Fuzz” and never really thought of it that way.

  • Karli says:

    I really like the dog in the bottom RH corner of the Glute Ham Raise video! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • TomC says:

    Unfortunately that fuzz video is the result of someone with a degree in religious studies dissecting a cadaver and coming to erroneous conclusions. The “fuzz” is actually areolar connective tissue. We all have this tissue, it has nothing to do with muscle adhesions, and it is not deleterious. You cannot make it go away with foam rolling or massage, nor would you want to.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areolar_connective_tissue

    Gil Hedley, the guy in the video, provides his medical qualifications here:

    http://www.gilhedley.com/ghabout.php

    And I quote:

    I went to Duke as an undergrad, and then to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago for an MA in the study of religion and a Ph.D. in Theological and Philosophical Ethics. (I wrote my dissertation on marriage ethics in the Catholic Church.) While in Chicago, I studied Tai Chi, which, among many other things, helped me to re-conceive my body.

    • Very interesting Tom! I believe you, but I’m curious as to how you know this? Have you any dissection experience/medical training or are you just well-versed in anatomy & physiology?

  • tony says:

    Bret,

    is there a benefit in doing the GHR over the seated leg curl?
    since both are working from the knee.

    thanks.
    tony

    • Tony, yes. The GHR “kills two birds with one stone” as far as the hamstrings are concerned; it works them as hip extensors and as knee flexors. In the case of the seated leg curl you’re only working them as knee flexors. The hamstrings have to contract very hard just to keep the hips extended and prevent the trunk from flexing. This is why you get much higher hamstring activation in the GHR in comparison to the seated leg curl.

  • Zach says:

    I don’t know if this is true or just broscience but I have heard from reputable sources that creatine is more effective when it has dissolved completely, which is why micronized is advantageous over plain monohydrate. Thus, there may be some benefit to mixing it into water rather than putting it directly into your mouth.

  • tony says:

    Bret,
    Thanks. that makes sense. i havent tried them yet but i will surely give them a go.

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