Glute Testimonials

By September 16, 2011 Glute Training, Guest Blogs

Many of the methods I recommend for glute training were born out of my studio Lifts which I operated for 2 years in Scottsdale. Back then, most of my clients would urge me to start writing so my methods could become mainstream. However, I had no time to write as I was too busy training clients and writing programs. We actually wrote new workouts every single day for every client which is incredibly effective but quite time consuming. This is a topic for another day. Here’s a picture of me and my trainers in our studio; this picture was used to promote a party we had at our studio. These were some of the best days of my life.

Having been a personal trainer for around eleven years at the time, I decided that I needed to start writing, so I wrote my glute eBook in addition to my first TNation article. I’m very glad I made this decision as it has paid off tremendously. Soon after I started busting out articles left and write, and I even opened up a Youtube page, joined Facebook and Twitter, and started up a blog. We did group training at Lifts and had a high volume of clientele compared to many studios that focused on private training. Over the two years many of our clients uttered similar phrases to me such as:

  • I went running the other day and blew my old records out of the water.
  • I feel my glutes so much more when I run.
  • I feel like the hip thrust exercise is teaching my glutes to activate more when I walk and run.
  • My back has never felt better.
  • My butt has never looked so good.
  • Before I trained with you, I never felt my glutes working. Now I feel them working like crazy in every glute exercise I perform.

I have so many success stories I could share, for example of various clients who completely eliminated their back pain, to a certain high school wide receiver who increased his broad jump by 18 inches and his 40 yard dash by .2 seconds in a single month, to some female clients whose husbands actually paid me personal visits to shake my hand and thank me for the changes I was creating to their wive’s booties. As soon as I started prioritizing heavy bridging, quadruped, and straight leg hip extension movements, I was able to increase my football player’s speed much more rapidly than ever before.

Before this time, I never really paid much attention to biomechanics and the literature, but all of these observations got me thinking about the different types of glute exercises and the role of the glutes in functional performance. Now, almost 5 years after I first thought up many of these methods, I can finally explain these results in biomechanical terms. It took me this long to catch up!

I receive emails every single day from people informing me of their success stories from revamping their glute training. I realize that I’m the only person who gets to see these emails, and I decided that I wanted to post a blog requesting testimonials from my readers. If you have noticed through following my glute training recommendations that you have improved glute shape, improved back health, increased running speed, improved lifting mechanics, increased sport performance, or any other thing you can think of, I’d love for you to post a comment. If you’re a coach, trainer, or physio, please discuss how your athletes, clients, and patients have improved. I want the rest of the world to get a chance to read some of the stories I see on a daily basis. 

When I came to New Zealand; exactly half-way around the world from me, I was amazed at how many people were performing the glute exercises I recommend. I asked Strini, the manager of the local YMCA here in Auckland, to write the first glute-testimonial. I should mention that Strini started off performing hip thrusts several months ago with 135 lbs and now he’s using over 400 lbs! Here is what Strini had to say:

I am part owner of Shuriken MMA Training facility and the Fitness Manager of the YMCA North Shore in New Zealand. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my fitness and the way I train, always pushing the barrier! I was first introduced to Bret Contreras by my wife who said to me, “you got to read this blog on; The Glute Guy” So I did and learnt of the craze that has got this part of NZ and most the members in the YMCA, ‘thrusting mad’. According to Bret, founder of the hip thrust, this exercise was conceived while doing a MMA session.  The idea was to enhance and improve a move called bucking in MMA (getting an opponent off you by means of explosive bridging of the body). It is a total glute and hamstring dominant exercise but also has much to contribute to all types of sport as I recently discovered.

I normally run once a week to get my road work in and increase my breathing capacity. By no means am I a runner, I do the same route of 9.4km around 42min every Sunday. After doing Bret’s hip thrust and reading his blog on how this exercise can enhance all aspects of strength and athletics I decided to see if it would make a difference to my Sunday runs.

Well, without trying too hard or even paying much attention I surprised myself by taking 2min off my running time and felt my glutes powering the run more than I’d ever felt before.

So thank you, Bret, for the addition to my arsenal of exercises. For me and my clients it has truly revolutionised the way we attack our glutes in training.

Ironically, now that I’m researching a lot more these days I’ve stumbled across a lot of information from like-minded authors/researchers that help explain Strini’s results. For example, I found a 1968 EMG study/journal article that said the following:

  • The results reported in this study would indicate that the gluteus maximus muscle is most active at the point of maximal extension or hyperextension of the hip joint. On the basis of these findings, the exercises commonly employed to increase the strength of the gluteus maximus muscle should be re-evaluated. (Fischer)

This was over 50 years ago, and it examined various standing, supine, prone, and even reverse-hyper exercises! It’s good to know that I wasn’t the only one wondering if there are more efficient ways to work the glutes. Regarding sprinting, here are some excerpts from some more recent articles:

  • Increasing velocity from 60 to 100% of maximum running velocity appears to be more dependent on horizontal force production as opposed to vertical force production. Future research should investigate the effects of various training interventions on increasing horizontal force production and stride length, and their effects on maximum running velocity. In addition, stride length may have more of an influence of maximum velocity running than was once thought. It may be that assessment procedures need to place greater emphasis on horizontal force production and also a battery of tests that allows diagnosis of an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses in both the vertical and horizontal directions would be beneficial in individualizing programs. In terms of sprint specific strength and power development, exercises that concentrate on force production in the horizontal directions may well lead to greater speed development, given that most exercises in the weight training room accentuate force production in the vertical plane. (Brughelli)
  • In other words, it seems that the importance is not so much the amount of total force produced, but the way it is oriented onto the supporting ground during the acceleration phase of the sprint. Since this may be considered a technical ability, further studies should investigate whether it could be trained/improved, by what practical means, and whether the training exercises typically used by coaches to train athletes to “push forward for a greater distance” actually and efficiently do so. (Morin)
  • Given that adaptations to resistance training have been shown to be specific to the constraints of training exercises, those exercises that mimic the sprint-running technique may be more beneficial than “traditional” resistance-training exercises in improving sprintspecific strength. (Blazevich)
  • Currently, most gym-based resistance programs focus on exercises that principally work the leg musculature in a vertical plane. It is proposed that the transference of gym-based strength gains may be improved if exercises were used that involve both vertical and horizontal force production. That is, if successful performance requires force, velocity, and power (product of force and velocity) in the horizontal plane,  improvements may be realized if the design of the resistance training program focuses on horizontal movement-specific exercises as well as traditional vertical exercises. To date, however, the effectiveness of a gymbased lower-body resistance training program with a horizontal component has not been investigated. (Randell)

It appears that many others out there question solely performing squats, lunges, and RDL’s for glute work and feel that other exercises might be of value. I speak to many of these researchers, some of them every week, and they’re the most knowledgeable individuals I know about speed and biomechanics.

Please leave a testimonial as to your experiences with exercises such as hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, single leg hip thrusts, pendulum quadruped work, or band rotary work. Thank you in advance! -BC

23 Comments

  • Bret says:

    I’ll start things off. I noticed several things after I started doing all my glute exercises. First, my glutes became much more active when walking. I could feel them pulling my body forward. Second, though I rarely run, I tested my 400 meter run one day and found that I improved my best time significantly. Third, my glutes grew larger and I could flex them harder. Fourth, my back used to ache from time to time and this has completely vanished. Fifth, my rotary power has improved. And sixth, I feel my glutes coming into play to a greater degree when grinding out a heavy deadlift up top.

  • Jensen Brent says:

    Are you going to record the lecture? I’m not going to be able to make it to New Zealand this weekend.

    On a separate note, are you working with rugby players down there? Have you been looking into the role of the glutes during scrums? I would imagine that there would be some training implications due to the more horizontal force vector, speed of movement, hip flexion angle, etc. I know that the front row players have much different body positions in the scrum than the other players but I’d love to hear your opinion on this.

    Thanks.

    • Bret says:

      Jensen, I’ll be giving this workshop several times. This one won’t be recorded but I’d like to record one in the future. My buddy is doing his PhD thesis on the scrum position and we’ve analyzed it carefully. Definitely a lot to consider in terms of vectors, joint angles, contraction types, forces, etc. It’s really a mix so I believe that squats and hip thrusts are perfect for the scrum.

      • Jensen Brent says:

        I’ll be happy to see that research when it comes out. I play flanker so I don’t contribute as much to the pushing but often the big boys ask me what they should be doing in the weight room. I typically just try to get them to do something like Starting Strength because they are all novices but I was wondering if you had any unique persepctive on the situation. Thanks for your quick repsonse.

        To add to the original intent of the article, I began adding barbell hip thrusts as an assistance exercise to my squat and/or deadlift day of 5/3/1 about a year ago. The biggest improvement I’ve seen is in back pain. There have been numerous performance increases as well in which I’m sure they had a direct role but the reduction of back pain has been the most significant for me.

  • Ian Mills says:

    I am a skeleton athlete competing for Canada. I have been active my entire life and strength training for 15 years.

    Ever since Bret started writing my S&C programs in April 2010 and I have incorporated his focused glute training into my weekly routines, I have seen the following improvements,

    – I have not suffered the nagging hamstring injuries that I did before
    – I know exactly when my Glutes are on and when they’re off, as well as what I have to do in order to activate them prior to max effort sprints
    – 30kg increase in my Squat
    – 20kg increase in my Front Squat
    – 10kg increase in my Clean
    – 60kg increase in my Hip Thrust from the first time I tried it
    – a tenth improvement in my 30m sled push
    – 2 inch improvement in my vertical jump

    On a side note, I have also added about 40 yards to my Drive…although it hasn’t helped my short game yet 😉

    And of course, the jeans have never fit better

  • Marshall Roy says:

    I know everyone’s going to chime in about how your glute training methods have changed their squats, deadlifts, sprints, etc., forever—but I want to bring up something that I’ve only just discovered:

    Strong glutes have taken my PRESSING to the next level. Specifically my overhead press. Active glutes are critical for overhead pressing stability, and I credit my incorporation of heavy barbell thrusts, single-leg thrusts, and ultra-high step-ups (which I saw on one of your YouTube videos awhile back) as huge factors in getting me a clean & press with the Beast kettlebell (48kg) and for taking my max reps with 225 on the bench from 8 to 12.

    Also my GF is *obsessed* with my derriere.

    Problem: I have to buy new pants. (I can live with that.)

    Thanks for being such an educator. Looking forward to following your ideas for a long time.

  • Kellie says:

    Oh, where to begin? I remember when I started training seriously for my first figure competition I did a dumbed-down and backward version of the single leg hip thrust. It was utterly brutal and I could barely get through 3 sets of 5. After meeting and working with Bret, I learned the correct way to train and activate glutes.

    As a figure athlete, having strong solid glutes definitely allows me to stand out amongst the crowd on stage. But, in the gym is where I really notice the difference. The other day I was training bb glute bridges with a modest 295 pound load. I performed 3 sets of 10 and a line of guys came over to ask what that exercise was all about. I explained to them the mechanics behind it as taught to me by Bret, and they all wanted to try the exercise. With a bar unloaded to 135 pounds, not a single guy could get it off the floor properly.

    Sure, I got a good chuckle out of the whole ordeal, but I sincerely hope they stick with it and reap the benefits of the exercise. Each day I training with Bret’s glute specific exercises, I am approached by a multitude of people wanting to try them.

    Hip thrusts and bridging exercises have helped incredibly with my lifts and my runner’s ability. In fact, for the first time in years I am taking another go at track and field and plan to entire the spring season as a 100m and 200m sub-masters sprinter for USATF. I will be pined against collegiate athletes, so this will be the true test of how much these glute exercises improve my performance. I can’t wait to start my timed sprints and see how much these methods have improved my speeds. I’m sure it will be a significant amount.

  • James de Lacey says:

    I like it! Used to get some lower back pain usually after deadlifts. This was before even knowing about hip thrusts, I started them thinking they would help my deadlift and my back.

    During the 1st months it didn’t, deadlift was still improving but my lower back was still getting sore. I wasn’t hip thrusting much so I kept persisting.

    As soon as my hip thrust numbers got way higher, my back pain disappeared after deadlifting and my lifts have sky rocketed!

    For people looking to use this to fix back pain, it’s not a quick fix and you gotta get you glutes super strong before you start to reap the benefits.

    Really want to attend your seminar but I have my 1st season tennis game! If only you were having it next Saturday 🙁 Hope it goes well!

  • Jake says:

    First time I did heavy hip thrusts, after reading your first t-nation article, was before a basketball game and my speed and acceleration was noticeably improved in the game. Most of all though, just incorporating the concept of horizontal vectors into my training has greatly helped train and activate my glutes and is helping me overcome a right glute imbalance at the moment by doing single leg glute bridges and other similar exercises against a horizontal load. Thanks a lot!

  • Kerry Ratcliff says:

    I started doing “THRUSTIES” as we call them at the Y about 5 or 6 months ago. At first it was just something my amazing trainer – Ruth Naidoo(Strini wife)made me. Then it became and addiction. Something we had to do. I entered my first bikini / sports model comp and Ruth developed a program focusing on glutes as it was an area I was not happy with. Within a few weeks I noticed a huge difference in strength and shape. By the time I got on stage my butt had changed dramatically. THRUSTIES are a part of my workout- Ruth has me doing a version of them a min 4 X a week. ITS AN ADDICTION – I cant get enough ! THANK YOU !!

  • Tom says:

    Gained so much athleticism from working my glutes through hip thrusts and glute bridges, definitely thinking the glutes are the most important muscle for sports performance thanks to reading your work, thank you. I gotta ask, Bret, have you been taking any interest in the Rugby world cup over here in New Zealand?

  • Mitch says:

    I discovered Brett’s exercises by accident. The effect of emphasizing specific glute training has exceeded all expectations.

    I’m a marathoner and triathlete with an extensive strength training background. I’m also running around with multiple disc herniations from a very active lifestyle. Every season it’s been a battle in dealing with hip and low back pain which always occurs on long runs and bike rides. After starting specific glute training about 1 year ago, I have completed this season with little to no discomfort. I ran in the Boston Marathon at the start of the season and just finished a half-ironman distance triathlon this past Sunday. My time was great but more importantly I completed this race with absolutely no back or hip pain– a first. My times have improved as well.

    Moreover,if that wasn’t enough my wife also digs my new derriere.

    Thank you Brett for all your hard work. Love your blog.

    Mitch

  • Tom says:

    Bret: You have been writing my wife’s glute training program for just over a year now. I have been coaching her, spotting her and training with her for most of your program. We have done a lot of glute specific training over the last 14 months!

    I had a total hip replacement 23 days ago. I was walking with a single crutch after 3 days, after 1 week I was walking with a cane and after 2 weeks I was walking without any external support. This morning I was back on the gym, starting the strength building phase of my rehab.

    I have no doubt that my recovery has been greatly accelerated by strength training work I was able to do prior to surgery. When arthritis limited my ability to do deadlifts and squats, I was still able to complete heavy lifts doing glute bridges and hip thrusters. Your glute program allowed me to train around my arthritis, adding strength to my posterior chain. My recovery is much easier since I know how to either activate or isolate each major muscle. Thanks.

  • Richard says:

    Hey, Bret

    Just want to say as a general comment that I’m really enjoying reading the info on your website, particularly the glute training paradigm, and it’s effect on the enhancement of specific sports. I’ll have to try out the hip thrust stuff you have posted on Youtube…
    Mind you, do you think that the affect of the hip thrust, is similar to that of doing the two-handed kettle bell swing? I have read an article by Tim Ferriss, who posits that the swing is great for developing the posterior chain
    check out http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2011/01/08/kettlebell-swing/
    Let me know your thoughts on this.

    Cheers

    Richard

  • Phil says:

    Bret hello from Sydney,

    Like Tom I discovered the hip thrusts because I will shortly be having a total hip replacement, and what it has done for my glutes is just amazing. I am the only one in my gym doing them but I can see people looking but they don’t have the balls to ask. Strangely there are some rather large ladies looking at me as well. Would be interested to hear from Tom how long after the op you were able to start working bodyweight hip thrusts and progress from there?

    Question for Brett, my wife and a lot of friends row surf boats. Its a power sport lasting less than 6 mins and last season many of the crews were blowing their arses out near the end of the races on a consistent basis. They have a coach who doesn’t believe in glute work, focussing purely on squats. Do the quads fatigue faster if they are forced to work harder to compensate for weak glutes.

    • Tom says:

      Phil: I started to do Glute Bridges 4 days after the operation. I haven’t yet added BW Hip Thrusts back into my rehab – now at day 27. I plan to start those in another week once I am sure of my mobility and basic strength level. Good luck with your op. Tom

  • Esmee says:

    I feel like I should comment because I have been kind of stalking you online ever since I read about hip thrusts. I’m not an athlete, I work in an office and decided recently, yet again, to get back in shape. It’s always been a cycle of hitting the gym and then giving up in frustration when my pants get too tight in the legs. My quads would get huge and my butt would still be flabby. Been gym-ing it up again since June and the change is amazing. My hamstrings and glutes are pretty close to stunning…if you ask me. I always thought I just had stumpy, unattractive legs and the real problem was that I had no hamstrings or glutes.

    Absolutely everything is easier as well, just moving around in the world, I feel like I have much more power and support, it’s weird — I had no idea.

  • Coach Kevin Smith says:

    I am a high school football , strength and speed coach. I also teach speed and agility classes in the offseason. Our athletes work very hard inthe weightroom, but we were missing something still. I contacted Bret about a year ago, and implemented his advice into our training program; namely the weighted hip thrust with our varsity kids. since this time, we have 42 players that can power clean 205 or better; that is an increase of 87% for us. Our squats went up a team average 73% and we have 23 kids that vertical jump 26 inches or better now. Now these numbers are not staggering compared to other schools, but the improvements we have made are incredible by just adding one exercise.This success has also transferred over to our speed. We have had a remarkable improvement in our pro agility runs as well. Our program contained the squats, rdl’s, single leg squats,and none of these had the impact that the hip thrust has had for us. Bret is always there to answer any questions I had to help our program. Thank you again Bret for everything!

  • Trish says:

    Bret,

    I want you to know that I’ve been following your “free tips” to rebuild my “posterior muscles” after losing a whole bunch of body fat. Your tips have rebuilt my butt, I no longer have a “flat” butt (I hated that thing!) Now my jeans are a little tight, but in a good way! One of my clients at the gym (I’m a CPT) said…”OMG…look at your butt, it’s all sold muscle!”. OK…so, “thank you” and I’m looking forward to Strong Curves”! You rock! I tell everybody about “the glute guy”!

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