Skip to main content

A Few Random Thoughts

By November 27, 2010December 29th, 2013Random Thoughts

I’ve got fifty random thoughts lined up…been so busy I haven’t been able to post them. I figure I’ll just post a few at a time so I don’t overwhelm people.

1. Here’s a hilarious quote from Dr. Stuart McGill

 As you know, you’re taller when you wake up in the morning than when you go to bed at night. This is because the discs are hydrophilic, that means they suck up water while you sleep and when there are no stresses present.

After rising, hydrostatic stresses of just walking around and using the muscles during the day compress your spine and the fluid is squeezed out, decreasing the anular tensions in the disc. So, when you wake up the extra height in the discs are analogous to a full water balloon ready to burst and if you bend, you build up much higher stresses in the disc. In fact, the stresses are three times higher than when you perform the same bend two or three hours later.

Now I’m not talking about getting up and going for a walk or perhaps a boxer going for a jog first thing in the morning. I’m talking about heavy bending exercises, like for example the good-morning exercise or doing sit-ups. Somehow people thought that this would be a good thing to do in the morning. It’s the worst possible thing you could do for the back first thing in the morning. I personally have a more favorite morning exercise, it’s what I like to call a “great-morning,” but I don’t think my wife would appreciate me talking about it! Full spine bending first thing in the morning is a great way to damage your back—an unwise thing to do.

2. Here’s a thought-provoking quote by Justin Harris

Steak generally has generally higher calories. It has saturated fat which gets converted to cholesterol, which gets converted to androstenediol, which gets converted to testosterone. For some competitors, natural competitors, that’s very important. But the other thing with steak… steak has a slightly lower bioavailability than chicken but the protein ratio is better for raising iron levels. If you can increase the iron level , it increases your hematocrit (the amount of red blood cells in your blood, which) you can increase your blood volume, which can give you a fuller look. You look at your bicep and only about 30% of your bicep is actual contractile tissue, actual actin and myosin. If you dehydrated it out… look at beef jerky. That’s the actual amount of actual tissue in the area. The rest of it is water, glycogen. If you can double the amount of blood vessels and double the amount of blood going through those blood vessels in your bicep, that’s going to add size to your bicep, and that’s something [a benefit] of the iron from steak.

3.  Sitting Does Not Raise Intradiscal Pressure (IDP) Moreso than Standing???

Sitting versus standing: does the intradiscal pressure cause disc degeneration or low back pain?

4. It is Indeed Possible to Isolate the Upper Abdominals from the Lower Abdominals

A study conducted by several researchers including Dr. Stuart McGill on belly-dancers showed that they could isolate one over the other during low-load precise movements. This study provides some pretty conclusive evidence and should silence the naysayers. Not that it really matters…if you want six-pack abs diet down and get lean!

Neuromuscular independence of abdominal wall muscles as demonstrated by middle-eastern style dancers

5. A Better Way to do GHR’s

I know I’ve talked about this before but here’s a good visual. Take a look at how the hamstrings relax at the top of the motion in this video (go to the 2:40 mark):!

A better way is to elevated the back side of the glute-ham developer so you keep constant tension on the hammies at the end-range of the movement.

That’s all folks!


  • Ben Bruno says:

    That quote from Dr. McGill is hilarious!

  • Norm says:

    I am a huge fan of the site Bret! Love the info, insight, and occasional humor. But I have just a few questions.

    -Is McGill’s quote from this article complete BS? I lift between 5-6am and don’t really want to give up my deadlifts and squats.

    -If you had to choose between a GHD and a 45 degree back extension, which would you choose and why?

    -What brand is your equipment? Mainly, the squat rack. Is there is any chance of the Skorcher making it back to production?

    • Norm, no it’s not BS! It’s something you need to consider. If I remember correctly, during the first hour of awakening you lose around 50% of the extra disc height and after two hours you lose over 90%. This does not mean that you can’t squat, deadlift, etc. in the morning. It just means that you should try to wait an hour (two hours is better) after you wake up to lift and that you especially need to keep a neutral spine when lifting. If you haven’t hurt yourself yet then you might be fine in this regard, but if you start hurting your back then you could consider moving to front squats and power cleans, for example, where the encouragement of lumbar flexion is minimized. But don’t sweat it unless it becomes an issue.

      I’d buy the GHD…you can do more stuff off of it…back extensions, single leg back extensions, inverse curls, glute ham raises, straight leg sit ups, etc.

      Maybe one day I’ll bring the Skorcher back, but in this economy I don’t want to do anything with it!

  • Uh oh, bodybuilders and gym rats will now take up belly dancing!

    • Daniel says:

      I have been recommending belly dancing for years now on forums where people come and ask how to isolate their abs, subtely hinting that they are sissies.

      • BTW, someone wanting incredible ab control can also study yoga. Look at some youtube videos of “nauli kriya” However I don’t see any superior/inferior isolation, but there is lateral control.

        • Daniel says:

          I have heard from yoga teachers that practices like uddhiyana bandha have helped them to develop flexibility in the hips that they could not have reached with just static stretching. The effects of such exercises go beyond the obvious effect it has on the abs.

  • Bianca says:

    Hi Bret,

    thanks for this interesting post.

    I have three questions and I’d really appreciate your help.

    1) What exercises are indicated to target the upper part of the glutes?

    2) What exercises are indicated to target the lower part of the glutes?

    3) You were mentioning in a previous article that the best butt ever has the A shape: I really don’t understand what you mean by A shape, though maybe it’s quite obvious. Could you please post a picture of an A-shape butt and also a picture of a “non-A shape” butt, so that I can get an idea? (I’d like to know what category I belong to and thus what exercises would be best for me).



  • DPG says:

    I’ve read all your article and have found them very helpful in designing my training programs.

    Question: you advocate the use of hnaging leg raises, but i know that form is critical on this exercise and when one does a quick search on how to perform the exercise you have tons of variation (with straps, without; bent knee, legs extended; full range of motion, short range of motion, etc).

    How did you do it that acheived such good mean and peak activiation?



  • Jason says:

    Regarding article #3: The abstract specifically mentions upright sitting. I can buy that upright sitting may have more normal IDP that previously measured. But isn’t the point that most folk don’t sit upright? It is far easier to slouch in a seated position than in a standing position. Sitting is that slouchy position is what is going to increase IDP and increase all the shear forces in the posterior elements. Were the prior studies measuring IDP done in a an upright sitting or in a bad-posture hypercurved position?

    Your thoughts?


Leave a Reply


and receive my FREE Lower Body Progressions eBook!

You have Successfully Subscribed!