Unfortunately, it’s time to grill another fitness professional. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am from this person’s recent statements, because they come from a member of the sports science community. I thought that we sports scientists were on the same team. I assumed that we all share the same goal: the truth. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case.
The fitness professional’s name is Dr. Paulo Gentil. My American friends probably haven’t heard of him, but in Brazil he has a rather large following, which makes his comments especially upsetting to me. HERE is Paulo’s website – note the highly impressive résumé, HERE is his Facebook channel – note the 70,000 followers (HERE is the post he made that as of right now has 2,577 likes and 800 shares), and HERE is his Instagram page – note the 139,000 followers (HERE is the post he made that as of right now has 2,994 likes).
The post contains a video showing an absolutely idiotic way of performing a hip thrust – with someone standing on another person’s thighs, in addition to some pictures of dogs and some annoying music, presumably to mock the exercise (I don’t speak Portuguese so it’s hard for me to understand some of this). Maybe this is funny in Brazil? It seems stupid to me, but even though the individual in the picture is positioning the bench too far up on her back and even though it’s poor loading placement, you can still see her glutes contracting very hard.
My colleague Chris Beardsley and I have reviewed several of Paulo Gentil’s articles in our monthly strength & conditioning research reviews, and I’ve been very impressed with Paulo’s research. To date, he has published around 30 peer-reviewed articles – references are shown HERE. I have no reason to doubt his integrity or the findings of his published research – it all seems legit to me. In fact, some of his research has caused me to reconsider the efficacy of additional biceps and triceps exercises when compound movements are heavily prioritized (I used to think they led to significant increases in additional mass gains, but now I don’t think they add as much as I previously thought). However, the statements he made yesterday just don’t appear to be statements that would be made from a good scientist.
What I can’t understand for the life of me is why Brazil, of all places, would reject the hip thrust. I assumed that Brazil, the country known around the world for their incredible butts, would embrace the hip thrust. I just don’t understand it. More alarming is some comments I’ve seen on other pages from various Brazilian fitness professionals, accusing me of academic dishonesty. First I’ll deal with Paulo’s comments, and then I’ll address the other professionals’ comments.
Here is what Dr. Paulo said:
“The search for the miraculous exercises for glutes leads to the creation recreation of various exercises. This uncontrolled inventionism (re) raised the hip elevation, an exercise that can have many interesting applications, but has been done in many different and bizarre ways in order to hypertrophy buttocks. With the help of Boxer, we will emphasize three points:
1) higher gains in strength and muscle mass occur when working in large amplitudes, but … if motion starts at an angle of ~ 135 degrees between thigh and the trunk and ends 180, ie only 45 degrees amplitude! In movements such as squat and leg press, it can be down to the knee almost touch the trunk, generating an amplitude at least 3 x higher !!
2) angles close to stretching cause more microlesions, which promotes strength gains and muscle mass, but … the exercise hardly promotes stretching of the gluteus maximus and, to make matters worse, the stretching point is a point of rest in which there is practically no work of the buttocks.
3) an exercise to trigger the muscles you want to work, but … the studies on the subject highlight the action of the erector spinae and multifidus in hip elevation. And it gets worse when you put the burden on the stomach, because it induces the trunk flexion, further burdening the erector spinae.
Anyway, no use putting weight on the belly, give umbigada in Smith nor ask someone to step on you, because this is not a good exercise for glutes! Tip to work well the buttocks? Basic exercises such as squats, leg press, lunges, deadlifts … More science, less invention!”
I want to see what Paulo is made of. I want to test his academic integrity. Therefore, I’m going to challenge him to a debate.
I will personally fund this debate and see to it that a video or audio recording gets posted on my website and on any website that Paulo desires. If Paulo doesn’t speak English, I will pay for a translator out of my own money.
Here are the things I’d like to discuss:
1. Whether in fact the barbell or band hip thrust are “bizarre” or if that’s just perception based on tradition. If we take a step back, are they really more bizarre looking than placing a bar on the back and squatting or lunging down, or holding a bar in the hands and bending over, or sitting in a seat and pressing a sled up and down?
2. Right now my thesis has examined the transfer of squats versus hip thrusts to several different strength-oriented tasks: 1RM squats, 1RM hip thrusts, maximum isometric mid-thigh pull, and maximum horizontal pushing force (against a wall). I want to ask Paul what he predicts will transfer best to these performance tasks. I’ve also examined the transfer to power-oriented tasks including vertical jump, horizontal jump, 10m sprint, and 20m sprint…we can discuss the transference of these as well.
3. Instead of speculating about strength and hypertrophy gains, I want to know if Paul has conducted any preliminary research on hip thrusts. I want to know if he has conducted any mechanistic research (EMG, force plate, ultrasound, etc.) involving hip thrusts, if he has performed them himself for a period of time and noted their efficacy, if he has incorporated them into his clients’ programs for a period of time and noted their efficacy, or if he has conducted any longitudinal experiments measuring actual hypertrophy from any hip thrust interventions. Or, is he basing his beliefs purely on speculation and what he thinks should happen rather than what does happen?
4. In the future, I’ll be examining gains in gluteus maximus muscle thickness between squats and hip thrusts (right now I have completed an experiment on identical twins). I want to know if Paulo indeed has the hypothesis that squats would lead to greater gains in hypertrophy compared to hip thrusts in an volume equated program with no additional lower body exercises. I also want to know if Paulo would like to join me in funding a study from a 3rd party laboratory (maybe we can pick a lab in Brazil to conduct the study) where we can test his hypothesis. Hell, I’d be happy to fund the study myself if Paulo agrees to change his mind if the research doesn’t support his hypothesis.
5. Is there really 3X more amplitude in squats, deadlifts, lunges, or leg presses compared to hip thrusts? Has Paulo ever measured bar displacement or joint angle displacement in each of these lifts? Is Paulo aware that you can tinker with any of these exercises to get more or less range of hip motion?
HERE is a leg press, HERE is a squat, HERE is a deadlift, and HERE is a hip thrust. Even so, does every exercise one performs for the glutes have to involve peak tension in the stretch position? Should those seeking maximal hypertrophy of the glutes maybe include one exercise that involves peak tension in the contracted position, especially considering my recent EMG findings HERE?
6. Is there really zero tension on the glutes at the bottom of the hip thrust assuming the individual isn’t resting on the ground?
7. Out of the 3 primary mechanisms of hypertrophy (mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage), which does Paulo feel is the most important, and which does he feel is the least important? How does he think the squat and hip thrust fare in terms of these 3 mechanisms?
8. Does he really think that the erectors and multifidi elevate the hips in a properly performed hip thrust? I mean really. Has Paulo ever performed a hip thrust with a neutral spine and achieved hip hyperextension or full extension combined with posterior pelvic tilt? If so, where did he feel it?
9. Does Paulo really think that the bar goes across the stomach? Newsflash – it goes across the pelvis. I want to know if Paulo realizes that this placement induces mainly a hip flexion moment. Which muscles counter this moment and create hip extension torque? And if the knees stay bent, which hip extensors are probably going to do more work? I want to know what Paulo would think produces a more consistent hip extension torque angle curve – hip thrusts, or the exercises he listed (squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg presses). I also want to know if Paulo really thinks that hip thrusts overburden the erector spinae if performed properly, and how he thinks the erector spinae activity in a hip thrust compares to that in a squat or a deadlift.
10. I’d like to know if Paulo has seen my testimonials. Has he gone onto my social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) and seen how many women rave about Strong Curves and Get Glutes? Has he read my site for the past couple of years to witness how many lifters, athletes, and coaches experienced incredible results once they started incorporating the hip thrust? Does he think that I’ve effectively fooled the entire industry and that it’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out and I get exposed? Does he think my entire body of work is a big lie and that I’m just some sleazy, greedy jerk who is trying to make a buck off of naive newbies?
11. Does Paulo have any evidence that I’ve ever been academically dishonest? He seems to have disdain for inventors. Should all inventors be accused of being greedy? Does Paulo support his fellow Brazilians in bashing my credibility because I’m an inventor, or should one instead evaluate the methods and results before throwing out accusations?
12. THESE ladies love their hip thrusts. One of these happens to be former Ms. Bikini Olympia Nathalia Melo. Are you suggesting that she’s training improperly?
13. Is Paulo open-minded to being wrong? Can his mind be changed? If so, will he inform his readership that he was off-based in his comments? I certainly am and will.
Brazilians Bashing Bret
It isn’t just Paulo bashing me; I see in THIS Facebook link that my name and integrity are being smeared by various Brazilian fitness professionals. Though some people are trying to defend me and the hip thrust, others are suggesting that I fabricated my recent EMG findings and that I have a hidden agenda for all of this science because I invented the hip thruster.
I want all of these people to know something, and I want to be VERY clear about it.
My academic integrity means FAR, FAR more to me than any amount of money could ever bring me. If someone informed me that they’d give me a billion dollars but I’d have to publish falsified findings, I’d reject their offer. To me, science is pure, and I would never contribute to poisoning the literature with shady or dishonest data. I was a big fan of the show Dexter back in the day, and I could honestly say that I could pull a Dexter and murder a rapist or serial killer with much less anguish than to knowingly put something into the literature that wasn’t accurate.
I’ve worked my ass off over the past 5 years to obtain the approval and/or friendship of sports science experts like Alan Aragon, Brad Schoenfeld, Layne Norton, Chris Beardsley, Andrew Vigotsky, John Cronin, Matt Brughelli, JB Morin, Jurdan Mendiguchia, Menno Henselmens, Greg Nuckols, Stu Phillips, Stu McGill, Justin Keough, Jason Lake, Jose Antonio, Eric Helms, James Krieger, and Jason Silvernail.
I would NEVER jeopardize losing their respect or trust for anything in the world. If I were sitting in some giant mansion with tons of sports cars but lost their support, my life would feel empty because collaborating with top sports scientists and helping push the industry forward are what make me tick.
In addition, my colleagues John Cronin (who is like a second father to me), Brad Schoenfeld, Chris Bearsley, and Andrew Vigotsky are listed on my EMG paper with me as contributors. I would never, ever, ever tarnish their names by falsifying data. That would make me feel sick and grotesque, as I have the absolute utmost respect for these guys.
Even if I were shady and dishonest, I wouldn’t be so stupid as to fabricate my EMG data or any other data from my thesis. I’m well aware that my research will be duplicated in time. How stupid would I look if different labs started publishing data that looked markedly different than mine? I’d have some serious questions to answer and it would make me look like a fool at best, and a fraud at worst.
If money were my primary motivator, I wouldn’t have taught the world how to hip thrust without my apparatus (see HERE for all the ways one can hip thrust). I wouldn’t have taught people how to do band hip thrusts without my apparatus. I started making the hip thruster because of all the emails I received from coaches informing me that they wanted a standalone unit so they could have their athletes perform them conveniently in their weightroom, not because I was scheming to get rich. I’m certainly not opposed to making money, it’s just not a primary driving force in my life.
If I were all about the money, I would ditch the hip thruster and instead focus on doing seminars and taking on online clients as I could double or possibly triple my income virtually overnight if I went this route.
But instead, I’m going to keep promoting the hip thrust and the hip thruster in addition to all of the other excellent exercises out there including squats, deadlifts, lunges, back extensions, swings, and more, and I’m going to keep conducting studies and experiments, publishing research, and trying to invent new things. This is what I like doing best, and these are the things that drive me as a human. I hope that one day I get past the point where people accuse me of academic dishonesty, and I hope to earn the trust of my Brazilian friends. I’m here to help your amazing glutes get even more amazing.
Apparently, I haven’t done a good job in the past of showing my true colors. You can trust me. I eagerly await hearing back from Dr. Paulo. If I don’t hear back by next week, I’ll post my answers and thoughts to the various questions I posed above, but I’d much prefer to discuss this in a debate as this is how true fitness professionals grow and learn to understand each other. And I promise to be nice and respectful if a debate does in fact take place.