How to Become a Functional Movement Guru in 40 Easy Steps

Let’s face it, making money is hard work, especially if you stay grounded in science. Pseudoscience is much more profitable these days, plus it can be a whole lot of fun. Imagine a world with no scientific boundaries, where anything you think up in your head can be played off as factual regardless of whether or not the idea holds merit in real life. Imagine building a strong, cult-like following and getting paid to spout off jibber-jabber all day long.

Functional Bro, You're So Functional!

Functional Bro, You’re So Functional!

There are indeed some credible and valuable functional movement experts out there – this article isn’t about them. Every year, the strength & conditioning and physical therapy industries see several new pseudoscientific movement gurus emerge onto the scene. I like to call these guys, “Self-Proclaimed Functional Movement Specialists (SPFMS),” and after studying their methods, I’ve realized that becoming one is actually quite easy.

The public seems to have desperate, undying needs to 1) be labeled as dysfunctional, 2) have a bold leader telling them how to stand, walk, sit, and move, 3) be told exactly which exercises are acceptable and which ones are not, and 4) adhere to a polarizing system that allows them to feel superior to all those who don’t adhere to the same system. Fulfilling these needs will lead to instant success.The physical therapy and personal trainer fields are filled with an extraordinary proportion of suckers who won’t bat an eyelash over your exorbitant seminar, certification, and DVD fees. If you’re hurting for cash and would like to step it up and become a SPFMS, I’ve got you covered. Just follow these simple 40 steps:

How to Become a Functional Movement Guru in 40 Easy Steps

  1. Attend a functional anatomy course and memorize the names of all the muscles – if you know the names of muscles like the back of your hand, people will have a very hard time not taking you seriously, even if you don’t adequately understand their function
  2. Read the book Anatomy Trains and memorize the names of Thomas Myers’ list of arbitrary fascial patterns that exist throughout the body – this will wow nearly everyone interested in exercise, even if nobody can seem to come up with any good reasons as to how it alters normal established strength & conditioning practices
  3. Create an arbitrary ideal standing posture and system for analyzing/critiquing it – remember, the more dysfunction you can manufacture, the more people will rely on you
  4. Create an arbitrary ideal gait and system for analyzing/critiquing it – it will behoove you to play on people’s fears by attacking the way they walk. The more stringent the standards, the better
  5. Commit approximately 10 common dysfunctions to memory – you will want to recite them frequently when criticizing individuals’ mechanics and speculating about the negative adaptations imposed by certain exercises. Tell everyone how dysfunctional they are and make sure to let them know that everything they’re doing creates dysfunction. Fear mongering and nocebo effects form your modus operandi. Possibilities include:
    • lower crossed syndrome
    • upper crossed syndrome
    • gluteal amnesia
    • anterior pelvic tilt & lumbar hyperextension
    • posterior pelvic tilt & lumbar flexion
    • kyphosis
    • medial knee displacement
    • pronated feet/collapsed arches
    • winged scapula
    • shoulder internal rotation
    • forward head posture
    • leg length discrepancy
    • inhibited TVA/multifidus/psoas/diaphragm
    • breathing dysfunction
    • pelvic floor dysfunction
  6. Formulate a list of “bad” exercises and a list of “good” exercises – it doesn’t really matter which way you go here, all that matters is that you are confident in your lists
  7. Speculate as to which negative adaptations the “bad” exercises could impose – do not consult the literature or investigate anecdotes involving pro athletes and competitors, just conjure up some possibilities, and remember, the more severe, the better
  8. Develop unique, special ways to perform various movements – be confident and claim that any deviation from this form is inefficient and dysfunctional
  9. When editing videos, make liberal use of the slow-motion function – anything done in slow-mo will appear hardcore
  10. Wear Vibrams around the clock – this will establish credibility and help you appear more functional than others
  11. Don’t wear a shirt when creating your videos – functional bro’s don’t wear shirts
  12. Incorporate plenty of nifty training devices into your training arsenal – use a variety of Bosu balls, TRX systems, Vipers, Indian Clubs, kettlebells, stability balls, and body blades of course, because the more unstable, the better
  13. Denounce popular exercises and methods, possibilities include:
    • machine exercises
    • isolation/targeted exercises
    • bilateral exercises
    • supine/prone exercises
    • unilateral exercises
    • axial loaded exercises
    • anteroposterior loaded exercises
    • sagittal plane exercises
    • dynamic core exercises
    • explosive exercises
    • the powerlifts and their variants
    • the Olympic lifts and their variants
    • barbell exercises
  14. Heavily promote unconventional exercises, possibilities include:
    • standing exercises
    • unstable surface training exercises
    • crawling exercises
    • rolling around on the ground exercises
    • balancing exercises
    • rotational exercises
    • core stability exercises
    • cable column exercises
    • gymnastics exercises
    • dancing exercises and routines
    • mixed martial arts exercises and routines
  15. When showing off your methods, flow seamlessly from one exercise to the next – this will make you appear fluid and artistic, thereby increasing your appeal
  16. Make people feel guilty for training in the sagittal plane or lifting heavy weight – make them feel like inferior, nonfunctional, two dimensional rejects so they’ll hail you as the superior, top functioning, three dimensional legend. Bonus: refer to people who deadlift as “Beta males”
  17. Overhype the importance of fascia and its role in functional movement – fascia is interesting and potentially valuable, but muscles are much more valuable. Nevertheless, who cares about that? Make movement all about the fascia, and use words like slings, planes, trains, and meridians to make fascia seem even cooler
  18. Ignore and denounce the importance of muscular hypertrophy and strength’s role in functional movement – hypertrophy is for the meatheads. Even though activated muscles are the actuators of movement – they transform chemical energy to mechanical energy and create the force that pulls on bones that creates joint torque that creates ground reaction force that creates movement, downplay the role of muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments while touting the importance of fascial slings and pretending like these arbitrary patterns dictate how we should move
  19. Create your own subjective definition of functional training – don’t utilize accepted industry definitions, create your own, and make sure it’s polarizing and divisive (you can’t allow people to be logical about training for function as they would then do what most strength coaches do and squat, deadlift, lunge, hip thrust, press, pull, drag sleds, and perform plyos in order to gain multivectorial force and power to gain proficiency in sprinting, jumping, cutting side to side, landing, climbing, picking thing up and carrying them, pushing, dragging, throwing, swinging, and pulling)
  20. Do not actually study biomechanics or delve into the mathematics and physics behind movement – data is for geeks – you’re an artistic, creative genius. However, even though you have zero biomechanics education, go ahead and call yourself a biomechanist. After all, you sit around and ponder over the reasons why people move the way they move – that has to count for something, right?
  21. Do not conduct controlled experiments, publish research, or even read research for that matter – this is counterproductive to guruism, you cannot have doubts as a know-it-all
  22. Do not take the time to get good at any of the exercises you denounce or pay attention to the positive functional effects that they lead to – your claims will be purely theoretical, but don’t worry, this will satisfy the masses. What’s crazy is that it’ll satisfy your cult-like following even if it flies in the face of peer reviewed published randomized controlled trials
  23. Push your subjective form of “functional training” on everyone regardless of their goals – everyone in the world, including Olympic and professional athletes from all sports, powerlifters, bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, strongmen, bikini competitors, and the elderly, should train according to your superior system – it’s best for strength, hypertrophy, power, speed, agility, athleticism, and general function.
  24. Scoff at people who have aesthetics or strength sport goals – these pedestrians with their lowly, vain strength and physique goals – the noble and aristocrats train purely for subjective function
  25. Pretend to be the only one in the world that truly understands movement – essentially, you are Neo in the Matrix when it comes to movement
  26. Ignore the considerable amount of variation found in ordinary human movement – do not consider how individual variation in anatomy and anthropometry influences movement; this complicates things way too much
  27. Do not study pain research – pain science is complicated – you don’t need that, however, do claim to know the secrets to getting out of every type of pain, and make sure each of these solutions are purely biomechanical, postural, and structural in nature (and not psychological or sociological)
  28. Incorporate spiritual and holistic components into your methods – this will make you appear holier than your competition
  29. Make sure your training methods do not require participants to max out in load or effort – your training needs to appear effortless while claiming to produce superior results
  30. Make sure your methods appeal to people’s obsession with human evolution -Use homo erectus and cro magnon man to your advantage. How humans evolved to get to where we are now doesn’t really dictate how we should best train for various goals, but don’t worry, the masses don’t know that nor will they question it. Don’t actually make a list and ranking of movements that were likely carried out each day by our ancestors as that would cause you to logically conclude that standard S&C does a good job of covering the bases with gait (sledwork, loaded walking, etc.), squatting, hinging, lunging, pushing, pulling, and twisting (medballs, cables, bands, etc.)
  31. Use your subjective interpretation of human evolution to predict how we’re supposed to move as time advances – make your followers believe that it’s up to you to direct the future of human movement evolution from here on out! Ignore the fact that sexual selection and natural selection are key drivers of whether or not you pass on your genes, as this would cause any logical person to conclude that traditional training, which is centered around hypertrophy & strength, are great for survival and getting laid
  32. Be sure to incorporate plenty of exciting ancillary methodologies – even if some methods show lackluster results in the literature, appeal to people’s affinity to magic, so the more exotic the better, possibilities include:
    • kinesiotape
    • active release techniques (ART)
    • cupping
    • dry needling
    • whole body vibration (WBV)
    • electric muscle stimulation (EMS)
    • crystal healing
  33. Speak in riddles and vague but quotable sound bytes – this will make you seem like an all-knowing, wise owl
  34. Be black and white and don’t consider any gray area – you need ample enemies so that you can emerge as the hero
  35. Make sure you use plenty of impressive vocabulary to win over the common newbie – you can easily do this by pairing up a word from the first list below with a word from the second list:
    • structural, fascial, primal, functional, asymmetric, rotational, contralateral, rhythmic, compensatory, 3D, tissue, serape, synergistic, diaphragmatic, postural, distortion, kinetic, reciprocal, myofascial, proprioceptive, sensorimotor, energy, elastic, kinaesthetic, spiral, dynamic, neuromuscular
    • integration, integrity, evolution, movement, planes, trains, meridians, slings, fabric, reciprocation, sequencing, flow, release, mobilization, tensegrity, effect, dominance, breathing, inhibition, linkage, patterns, transmission, leak, syndrome, chain, lines, stabilization, facilitation
  36. When formulating your methods, create 3 word acronyms and make sure to trademark them – use the lists directly above; an example could be Dynamic Proprioceptive Patterning, or DPP™
  37. Frequently name drop physical therapy and holistic gurus and systems – however, be sure to misapply their methods to high performance training, possibilities include:
    • Janda, Sahrmann, McGill, Myers, McKenzie, Maitland, Mulligan, Kendall, Jull, Cyriax, Richardson, Lewit, Chaitow, Travell, Cook, Chek, Chopra, Dyer
  38. Build a cult-like following – do not encourage them to be free thinkers
  39. Conduct seminars around the world and certify trainers with your methods – this is a vital step in your transformation
  40. Become a monster and judge the hell out of everyone else’s movement patterns, gait, posture, and exercise selection – when you’ve reached this step, congratulations, you have arrived!

Contralateral reciprocation at its finest!

Bonus: Kicking Things into Overdrive in Just 10 More Steps!

If you’re looking for some next level shit, I’m going to tell you how you can ramp things up a notch.

  1. Lease a facility
  2. Paint it all black
  3. Put a giant logo on the wall
  4. Put  grid lines and random markings on the ground surface
  5. Make liberal use of neon/fluorescent colors
  6. Don’t allow any loaded barbells in site (refer back to #16 above)
  7. Pay a boatload of money to sponsor posts on Facebook, thereby creating the illusion that your videos went viral for legitimate reasons
  8. Block all individuals who question your methods and delete their comments, thereby creating the illusion that your methods are reasonable and not commonly challenged
  9. Refuse to publicly debate any scientific person who challenges you – you cannot risk being exposed, but rather than backing down with dignity, come up with all sorts of excuses as to why it’s not worth your time and energy engaging in a debate with that individual (smoke and mirrors are your weapons of choice)
  10. Come up with all sorts of conspiracy theories as to why the establishment is out to get you and why they won’t accept your methods

Who in their right mind could question you when your facility is so hardcore and functional?

You are the Neo of Human Movement!

Purpose of This Article

Most of us who have spent the majority of our lives in careers as personal trainers, strength coaches, physical therapists, and sports science researchers can see right through these SPFMS‘s – we can spot their B.S. from a mile away. I would like my readers to be able to easily identify the con artists and snake oil salesmen in our industry as well.

Make no mistake about things – if you stand for pseudoscience, then you stand in my way to properly educate the masses. I will not sit back and watch my industry turn to crud on account of self-proclaimed movement experts who know just enough to be dangerous but haven’t read an actual study in their entire lives.

We have entire journals dedicated to advancing strength and conditioning, biomechanics, gait and posture, physical therapy and rehabilitation, movement and ergonomics, and pain sciences. There are hundreds if not thousands of longitudinal training studies that have examined the actual effects of exercise on functional performance, and these should provide the backbone for functional training methods. We certainly don’t know everything, but we definitely know enough to stop con-artists in their tracks.



  • Mark Bransky says:

    Thank you for being a fellow leader in fitness.

  • Jessephysio says:


    Thanks for taking everything I think and putting it into words like this. Beauty job! Not being dogmatic is a huge deterrent to income. People love absolutes and want to believe they’ve found someone who knows exactly how to fix them. Those that fill that niche can do quite well. The rest… Our moral higher ground is a fine substitute for a large income

  • Joe C says:

    How long did it take you to write that ? Freaking hilarious but spot on. You had me with the vibrams.

    • michelle says:

      I love this post so much. I often feel the pressure to have a”system” or reinvent the wheel and have all the answers… but I KNOW I don’t. My own insecurity gets the best of me when others are so certain of “their way” But deep down I know I am staying open to continued education and growing and that THAT is more valuable to myself and my clients then becoming the next guru. But in a culture where educations is not as valued as the money or power, it can be disheartening and frustrating. It makes me happy to read something like this and know there are like minded thinkers out there.

    • Sharon Althouse says:

      Ditto Joe C! Hilarious, I think the black walls were spot on…hahahaha…this is your best, most effective piece yet, BC!

  • Brian evers says:

    Just substitute a chiropractor for functional guru and you have a whole separate article.

    • Elena says:

      Yeah, love chiropractors, as well, lol… One of the most arrogant and dumb creatures i’ve met..

      • Shawn says:

        to Elena, Brian Evers, Shaun, and Nick

        Your personal attack on the character of a profession without providing scientific evidence why chiropractors are “dumb, ignorant creatures” discredits and undermines your argument. It is then simply an opinion and that should be stated. Please review the definitions of logical fallacies. If you re-evaluated your argument do you think that you did exactly what Mr. Contreras was warning against in his post, by not being aware of the chiropractic research?

        • erin ryan says:

          “cracking bones” isn’t science, and masks & replaces often needed true therapy which cannot be achieved in a ten minute session of contortion

          • Greg says:

            Erin and all the other Chiro bashers, You’d better start checking the science because you obviously haven’t. I guess you’re against osteopaths, physiatrists, and PT’s who ‘mobilize’ joints. Do you call them unscientific as well? I’ll be the first to admit the Chiropractic profession has some real goof balls who come up with some really ridiculous ideas and then become ‘guru’s’. It’s embarrassing, but that can be found in any profession including whatever it is you do. Many new ideas are considered ‘unscientific’, ‘crazy’ or whatever, until they are proven otherwise, but that’s how new ideas and methods are created. Do your research of the research. There are plenty of peer-reviewed journal articles and research that back joint mobilization. My undergraduate training was in physical education with many hours spent in the exercise physiology lab running tests as the tech and subject. I appreciate what other professions can do, but realize we all can have an appropriate place in the therapeutic regime. That’s why I read and research a wide variety of subjects and authors every day. After 25 years in the Chiropractic profession, I have seen many wonderful cases, but have also had the wisdom and training to join hands with the other healing professions to get the best result for the patient. I hope this will shed some light on your closed minded opinion that so blatantly screams of ignorance and prejudice. A mind is like a parachute, it works best when open.

    • Nick says:

      Not just chiros. Massage therapists, “energy healers,” TCM practitioners, the list goes on.

    • Ed says:

      Full disclosure: I’m a chiropractor. I was a CSCS 1st and always will be. Speaking from the other side of the fence, there are plenty of chiros that fall into the “guru” tag above but the article, unless I’m misreading it, is establishing a clear delineation between supposed guru’s and real guru’s. Yet you take an entire profession and with a few clicks of the keyboard, lump them all together as if they are exactly the same. I can tell you from 1st hand knowledge, both of our/my professions has their fame whores. Lets just keep it civil and clarify, that the above sounds like “some chiropractors” or “the chiropractors I’ve had dealings with” because it is certainly not true of all chiropractors. Otherwise Bret’s stance on not sitting back and watching his industry turn to crud is a null point because if we’re all going to generalize and stereotype, no one stands a chance of saving or resurrecting their profession.

      • kuernjulio says:

        Even though I was suckered in and conned by a spudgun chiro, I still wouldn’t look down on them. A lot of them seem to operate out of the same ‘get them in for repeated visits’ playbook, but I’ve encountered physios with the same approach. Regardless of this, there are some excellent manual therapists out there, who really know their stuff. It goes without saying. I might cop some flak over this, but I think Eric Cobb’s z-health stuff is quite powerful, from my limited experience with R-phase.

  • Shaun says:

    Sounds like a chiropractor.

  • Peter K says:

    I know of one “guru” that painted his space black, put grid patterns on the floor, doesnt use barbells and uses words that he shouldnt be…..

  • Fred Barbe says:

    I’m usually not a big fan of lists, but this was a good one. As a reader, it makes you wonder about your own practice and keep you in check. Who wants to become a phoney right?! I have been a big fan of your articles for while now. Keep up the good work!

  • Chuck says:

    Dammitt Bret I was going to market one arm DB curls while doing a headstand on a bosu ball. You just killed the whole thing! I guess you think people should deadlift, squat and do overhead presses? This is 2015! You don’t need that stuff. (Insert sarcastic smilie)

  • Mr. Fahrenheit says:

    Naudi Aguilar doesn’t like this post…

  • jimmy says:

    wow this is terrible… Naudi is your god LOL

  • Graeme says:

    I thought this was tongue in cheek material by the 3 point. How true your points are though. The industry is complicating activities that are supposed to be fun and keep us active.
    My clients relate to having no ass more than gluteal amnesia or a dickie knee more than medial knee displacement. K.I.S.S.

  • Carol says:

    Is this the type of Company/Businesses you are referring to?

    • Adrian Day says:


      I can’t speak for Bret but I don’t think this could be one of the groups/gurus he is referring to.

    • Bret says:

      Hell no Carol! I watched the video on that website and applaud their efforts. They’re doing a great thing.

    • Cody Sipe, PhD says:

      Bret, thanks for backing us up. I am the co-founder of FAI and we definitely don’t want to be “functional gurus” or resemble the items on that list. We rely on what the current research tells us about what is and isn’t effective when it comes to helping older adults function better and then we fill in the gaps as best we can. I sincerely hope that is the message we get across in our lectures, seminars, articles and educational programs.

  • ulrik says:

    How many of these points have you been guilty of in your time Bret? Aren’t we all tempted to get myopic and focus on one area as our specialization?

    • Bret says:

      ulrik, I’ve been guilty of tons of things, and I’m far from perfect. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve been wrong, and I’d definitely wrong about some things I recommend right now. But I definitely do NOT belong in the same boat as some of these guys. I’ve been guilty of 1, 2, 5, 14, and 27. But I continue to improve by reading research and making friends with top researchers. Trust me, I wouldn’t grill someone for being slightly off kilter; the person needs to almost appear bat shit crazy.

  • Jennifer says:

    So funny and true!

  • jtothea says:

    Awesome stuff.

    Add one more: claim each and every bodyweight program as your own. Static squat is mine. Same with dead hangs, for any length of time, for any type of hold.

    Add another: scream at everyone on and offline that they stole from me. Myself though, I won’t cite anyone else, because I am awesome.

    Laughed hard at this one.

  • Kalvin says:

    That Naudi Aguilar piece of $&@# at Functional Patterns is the biggest A-hole in the fitness industry. This guy is quickly reaching Mike Chang status. The guy has a tat of his shitty own company on his chest. That broken piece of the circle on his logo represents his missing common sense. This guy needs to be exposed for the fraud he is. If you have more BUSO balls then 45lbs weights in your gym then your an d-bag. I can’t believe his is traveling the country giving seminars on his made up shit. I really hate that guy.

    I mean this one video he was standing on a exercise ball barefoot swinging an Indian Club. The entire time I was watching I was desperately praying that he would slip and that Indian Club would impale his eye socket. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.

    By the way check out Elgintensity. His video satire DESTROYS these con-artist trainer frauds. He goes right for their throat!

    These people should be next on your kill list:
    1.) Mike Chang
    2.) CT Fletcher
    3.) Kali Muscle
    4.) Anything CrossFit
    5.) Elliott Hulse

    Bonus Exercise:

    • Steven Sequoia says:

      Thanks for the link to infiniteelgintensity! That guy is hilarious! Thanks for the link to Naudi too! He’s just as hilarious (but he doesn’t know it!). Back in the 90’s when I first got certified as a trainer one of the instructors defined a sport as: “anything that challenges the human bodies ability to hold itself together”, and that “often the determining factor of success in a given sport isn’t athletic ability, but genetic joint integrity”.
      So this Naudi guy is doing some stupid shit that he is lucky enough that his body can tolerate…if he is training people this way, he is going to hurt A LOT of people…this is the apex of irresponsibility! I hope he garrotes himself on the cable station.

    • Teresa says:

      You mean…he’s NOT training rhythmic gymnasts? Wth…

    • Now the names that you’ve mentioned are not functional training gurus. As a 30 year fitness enthusiast and recreational bodybuilder, I actually find their YouTube channels informative, inspiring and entertaining.

  • Jim says:

    Bret, I’m inclined to agree with most of your points, however, there are plenty of people working their ass off in the gym, have increased strength, increased muscle mass, yet do not increase athletic performance. Olympic lifting probably best addresses this deficit yet to do them properly takes years of technical training under a highly skilled eye. A cursory glance at YouTube videos of people attempting Olympic lifts highlights this point. The goal is to turn on rapidly turn off rapidly and be able to repeat it over and over. The person who can do that will dominate on an athletic field of play. That being said hypertrophy has its place but the smallest most powerful athlete will likely win (big engine in a small car). Power is a function of position and efficient muscle recruitment which cannot occur with compensation or poor movement patterns. You can however be strong and move poorly as you have strengthened and reinforced compensation patterns. As with most things the truth lies some where in the middle. Their is a place for assessing movement including how one stands yet not as at the expense of strength and power but as a precursor to its efficient and effective development.

    • Bret says:

      Jim, hundreds of training studies show that resistance training DOES improve athleticism. Does it always work with the creme de la creme? No, but still they all lift weights. But that’s besides the point; they get better at their craft by sprinting, doing plyos, etc. Weights complement this by increasing engine size and power, but the athletes must blend it together into their skill. And I never said to just go out and strengthen crappy movement patterns. I have dozens of videos detailing good form on the various exercises. Assessment is a big deal and so is mechanics. But to say that squats, deadlifts, Oly lifts, etc. aren’t functional and make the body dysfunctional is absurd. Check in tomorrow for more.

      • Jim says:

        Hey Bret,
        let me first say I never said I am against basic strength training movements like the bench press or squat on the contrary I probably use these methods to a far greater extent than most of the strength training community and I am in favor of concentrated loading with maximal weights within 7 % of one’s maximum. If you saw me in the weight room it would like an extreme form of the Bulgarian method. Also I did not mean to imply that you teach or coach faulty movement patterns. That being said I think the statement that strength training does increase athleticism needs to be elucidated. I define athleticism as the ability to turn on and turn off rapidly in position over and over. The shorter the time it takes to reach appropriate levels of muscle tension in the correct position the better the performance. The difference between high school and pro football is velocity. The difference between elite sprinters and collegiate sprinters is velocity. The difference between a casual marathoner and the winner of the Boston marathon is velocity. It’s a matter of who can turn on and off the most rapidly and repeat it. If simply increasing strength had a direct correlation with athletic performance power lifters would also be our greatest Olympians. This is however not the case as I am sure you are aware. So there is correlation but not causation between stength and athletic performance. What then is the missing component? It’s not how much you lift but how you lift it. For example when benching or squatting one can use the time to complete the lift, for any given load, as a means of determining neurological output and efficiency and insure neurological adaptation. Any performance under a prescribed velocity will indicate that the training is no longer an effective stimulus for neurological adaptation. Continuing may have a beneficial metabolic effect but will have a deleterious neurological effect as we don’t want to train inefficiency. To train in such a manner position must be ideal. Strength training now becomes a exercise in skill and technique and progress can be very rapid. It also has a more direct effect on athletic performance. Sprinting and plyometrics are great but only if the proper muscles absorb force and propel the body. That is why I think an emphasis on proper movement should occur before we load a movement especially when doing sprints, plyometrics and Olympic lifts as the forces are so high as is the risk of injury if done incorrectly. If this does not occur force is absorbed by the wrong muscles and connective tissues increasing inflammation which at a minimum reduces the ability to train at a high level and thus adapt and reach our training goals. In the worst case, which I am afraid is all to common, it results in injury.

        • Chris says:

          Your whole paragraph in a couple of sentences:
          1. What you describe in your own terminology is called “training for power” (“velocity, turn on, turn off”…) in sports science. You deem it most important, ok. However, research shows a) strength provides power and b) specialized power training makes much more sense when your strength is already high (depending of the resistance, e..g body or light vs heavy objects, refer to Kraemer & Zatsiorsky for a basic introduction). If you do train for power, then yes there are some principles, like “maximum possible acceleration in rested, fresh state” , that allows you to perform these exercises with perfect technique and low injury risk. Nothing new there and Bret would surely agree to that – there is no conflict with what he wrote or with training for hypertrophy and strength – power training is just a specialized form of strength training for advanced athletes.
          2. There IS causation for strength –> athleticism, ofc there is! It just doesnt explain 100% of variance, as there are multiple factors to athletic performance and success.

          • Jim says:

            It is true that strength is a component of power but so too is velocity. Training with an emphasis on velocity is important because reflex arcs occur at velocity. So if we want to move efficiently we must send information at velocity. The slower we move the more compensation we display. Also strength does not necessitate athletic performance ie it does not cause an increase in athletic performance it is correlated with it. If it caused it there would be a linear relationship between strength and athletic performance in the form of speed or power. This is not the case. Strength without taking into account velocity yields some results in the novice and intermediate level athlete but quickly becomes of little benefit. It can even cause a negative correlation ie. make you slower. I am interested in assuring that the work I do in the weight room has the maximum transfer to the real world. That occurs when we take into account velocity as to move at velocity necessitates efficiency and economy of movement is causative with respect to athletic performance.

          • Chris says:

            I agree with the importance of training speed, velocity or power in advanced athletes who need that speed (for example, its pretty useless for powerlifters). Other than that…: Strength gains – among other factors – do both correlate with and yes, CAUSE improvements in athletic performance. Linearity, non-linearity or amount of variance explained are just descriptions of the exact nature of that cause-effect relationship. Your conclusion “if it caused it there would be a linear relationship” is not what causation means or implies. Look that up in any statistical textbook. Otherwise youd confuse other ppl too, who went through statistics, with your personal nomenclature 🙂 .
            Same with “velocity”. Some claims by you simply not founded in sports science, for example that you would always “compensate movements at low speeds”, and “strength makes you slower” – thats just wrong. Show us the evidence for that.

        • Steven Sequoia says:

          Jim, cool! So you are saying that I just need to maximize velocity, with no consideration of strength or coordination or skill and I can excell in any sport I want! Awesome! Thanks buddy!

        • Brock says:

          Bottom line – sport-specific power and velocity are not built in the weight room, they are specific to the movement. They are also specific to the velocity. You will not approach the velocities achieved in sport in the weight room, unless you’re talking iron sports. Read Charlie Francis and why he didn’t use “conversion” or speed weights if you need more elucidation.
          The ability to “turn on” and “turn off” is, again, specific to the movement itself and is referred to as coordination. Again, you’re not going to Minnick this in the weight room short of plyometrics, and even then you need to ensure some biomechanical compatability to the movement you’re trying to improve.
          I really hope you’re only talking about your own training with the “Bulgarian” style. There is literally no need to train athletes in such a manner short of possibly Olympic lifters, and even then I think a heavy dose of lower intensities is more important.

    • Shane says:

      Good post Bret , but I sort of agree with Jim
      . This is a 50/50 post for me ,good points on functional trainers been blind sided into one way of thinking but it’s allso ture for the strength trainers been blind sided , everyone what’s to be right but that dosnt help the regular joe who what’s to get fit , there’s a place everyone in my opinion 🙂
      I still really enjoyed the post made me laugh

      • Bret says:

        Shane, I think you’re way off the mark here. It’s not like, functional trainers have their pros and cons, and strength coaches have their pros and cons, so the best methodology is usually in the middle. To me, a good strength coach has a general warm-up consisting of good “prehab” movements including mobility drills, activation drills, and any specially tailored corrective work that addresses a particular athlete’s shortcomings. Then there’s the sprint/plyo/agility component that addresses speed and multi-directional power. Finally, you have the strength training component where you strengthen muscles and joints which builds resiliency, increases the force-velocity curve at all points on the spectrum, increases core stability, and improves movement economy. This is how the top professional strength coaches train athletes, and if there was a better way, it would get replaced and S&C would see a complete overhaul. But this isn’t the case; there is no overhaul, just fine improvements and tweaks to reflect new findings in research, new equipment, and new trends.

  • Anthony says:

    I lolled and lolled some more. Excellent work. I am so looking forward to the guru grilling now.

  • eve olive says:

    awesome bret!!! thanks, i needed that:))).

  • Steven Sequoia says:

    Another awesome post Bret! I think #35 will have me up all night putting together all of the ridiculous but sciencey sounding combinations. I bet if I googled them all afterwords I would find some pinhead somewhere that has actually uttered them. Thanks again for another spot on post!

  • Pedro Sun says:

    Damn Bret!

    I think you done started a shit storm of epic proportions. I remember the poliquin grill the guru, but this shit right here might be even better. Ladies and gentlemen, grab your popcorn cause a good ol facebook face off is gonna happen. Let us all know what he writes you in PM also 🙂

  • Gavin says:

    marvellously written. Very much enjoyed that

  • martin says:

    Great article!!..what about kelly starrett where does he stand in this article?

  • Ellie says:

    Great post!

    In case anyone is still unsure and would like a handy flowchart….

  • B Wargo says:

    Love your stuff Bret. My only complaint is that you don’t call these guys out by name.

  • gary gunton says:

    hmmm … maybe you should leave “phd student” off of your resume to be taken as a bona fide guru

  • chuy aguilar says:

    Hey Bret, you forgot to include “infect people from all over the globe so that the information is spread in numerous languages, reaching multiple cultures and nations simultaneusly”. The shit is spreading like wildfire!

  • Sascha says:

    Hi Bret
    I know it doesn’t meet all of your demands but especially #27 made me think of Z-health which I have a hard time figuring out.
    A lot of personal trainers I consider as skilled and doing their research are strongly recommending the Z-health courses, but due to the price range I’d like to make sure it’s not just some over-promoted BS Guru riding a trendy wave – what’s your view on this?

    • Chris says:

      If you look at the features Z-health claims, its clearly guru-bullshit – only that it isnt that blatantly exaggerating. And they may even do a good job at what theyre doing. But its the claim that they´ve reinvented the wheel, that they are different than any other training system.
      When you see those kind of claims, there you have bullshit. Instead, what really good coaches do: They dont claim they do everything different, that they have a “superior” method (neurological training), some secrets. No, theyd just claim that they are very diligent, informed, always trying to keep themselves up to date at sports science and experienced with athletes. Thats what people like Eric Cressey and Bret Contreras claim.
      Z-health boasts that it employs “non-traditional exercises” ), “puts the athlete in the center” (duh!) and that all problems are neuro-based (hint hint quite a few of Bret´s points from 19 onwards applicable 🙂 . What Z-health does is constantly introducing “novel exercises” into your training, meaning no progressive overload with the same boring, but massively effective basic exercises. Its the licence for exercise hopping that every 16 year-old dreams of clad in a “scientific” coat: “See, you dont need to do these same boring mobility and strength exercises – you can dance on a bosu ball today and stretch your ear muscles next week and thats much better. ” Just think of someone who does this and of someone who does a great, solid strength program with progression and accompanying mobility – who is stronger, healthier, faster, more balanced after one year? Seriously?
      And lastly, use common sense: Training information, the basics, are available for zero bucks. Bret and dozens of other good coaches give away free content every week. You dont need to pay for any information to get “further” or “better” one. What makes sense paying a coach is coaching and improving exercise technique, or revising your training plan. Not hundreads of dollars for the “secrets of neuroscience”. Bullshit, 99%. 🙂

      • Sascha says:

        Hi Chris

        Didn’t get a mail saying someone replied to my post – hence the late answer.
        I see what you’re saying but at the same time you also mention that they may do a good job at what they’re doing which makes me think that you aren’t writing them off as a waste of money.
        I agree they live up to a lot on the guru list but just because a product is wrapped and sold by the big fat marketing department doesn’t mean it’s necesssarily a crappy product – which is exactly why I wrote the question.
        As I understand it they don’t teach you how to use neuroscience as a reason to alter regular training; They use it to optimize on the regular training as small changes can have a major impact. Just like squatting down before a jump creating pre-tension can make you jump higher.
        And yes, I can find out that’s how I’m able to jump higher if I know kind of what I’m looking for and where to find reliable answers but if I just plot in “Optimal way to jump high” in google I might also spend hours going through a lot of unnessary crap. This is why I’m willing to pay for education even though you could pretty much find all of the information online today.
        So my point is really to sort out if Z-health is worth paying for (no matter the wrapping) or if it’s really just a can of bs that practically won’t make a difference to know about when working with clients as a personal trainer.

      • Kyle Davey says:


        I can see why you feel that way about Z-Health. Dr. Cobb and the Z team do make some pretty substantial claims. They do claim to have a fairly novel approach and that they do things differently than other professionals.

        You mention Eric Cressey in your comment as a guy you look up to and contrast him to the Z Health guys. No doubt–I don’t think anybody in our industry questions Eric Cressey’s significance, diligence, commitment to excellence, and influence on our field. A friend of mine.

        Interestingly, Eric has taken Z Health courses and he personally wrote a review on the first full course, R-Phase (which he hosted at his facility) here: A few key quotes from Eric’s review:
        “Generally, when I go to seminars, I’m looking to walk away with bits and pieces here and there that I can incorporate into my own philosophy – and Dr. Cobb and Kathy provided that and a whole lot more.”

        “With all that said, you’d be wise to check them out in seminar.”

        “Perhaps most importantly, Kathy and Dr. Eric Cobb are highly professional and friendly. Unlike some fitness industry presenters, there are no swollen egos or “that’s beyond the scope of this presentation, so you’ll need to attend my five-day seminar and buy $2,000 worth of products to get the answers.” They give you what you pay for and a whole lot more; it’s definitely a very wise investment.”

        Full disclosure: I’m a “Z trainer,” and I have to agree, they do take a fairly novel approach and do think of things differently than where I’ve learned elsewhere (PRI, DNS, FMS influences). I’m also a “strength guy” who is fairly strong: Deadlifting about 530, squatting over 400, and not too far from KB OH pressing the beast with one hand…currently pressing the 44kg bell.

        Z health gets a bad rap because it looks like foo foo stuff. It does look like fitness guru steal your money bullshit at times…I admit it. But it’s not, and even Eric Cressey himself agrees and recommends it.

  • stew smith says:

    Excellent article. SS

  • Jess says:

    Very funny, and hits the nail on the head with some problems in the fitness industry. My belief is much of this stems from newly certified trainers entering the world of the big box gym (especially 1-35). In order to make sales quotas you’re encouraged to basically point out any dysfunction you can spot in your attempt to sell personal training. Will strengthening the glutes of someone with lower back pain help them? Probably. Do they need to hear “due to your gluteal amnesia and your anterior pelvic tilt you are experiencing lumbago AND IT WILL GET WORSE!” Most people, no. The science behind how the body functions is fascinating, and it is easy to get caught up in it, and forget our main goal as trainers and coaches is listening to our clients and helping them meet their goals.

  • will says:

    Pretty sure he is talking about the functional patterns guy Naudi Aguilar who seems to have a cure for all pain.

  • Athlete107 says:

    Bret, you’re a pussy .We all know this is about Naudi. why don’t you let this man know how you feel about his training methods instead of bashing him on a post he may not even see ? Sounds to me like we got a hater over here . You clearly threated by him lol. I used to follow your info but Naudi’s has helped me 100x more…

    • TheseNuts2YourChin says:

      Finally, someone said it! I was scrolling through the comments thinking I can’t be the only guy who is thinking this. It is obvious Bret is not a critical thinker rather just verbally vomits the disfunctional mental conditioning that was shoved down his throat. For Bret to question what he was taught is to question his whole existence. It’s obvious he identifies this with who he is. And it’s obvious this is all about ego.

      • I’m sure you’re not the only one…plenty of brainwashed FP followers probably think I’m not a critical thinker too. The difference is that I have more credibility due to my PhD, my 40+ published journal articles, and the mere fact that I’ve never backed down from a debate. This doesn’t mean I’m right, it just means that most people will probably side with me since Naudi will not debate me and has zero evidence to bring to the table. But this is not ego, this is science.

  • Brett,
    I wanted to congratulate you on a fantastic article, it is incredibly well written and thought provoking. These are exactly the kinds of catalysts we need in our industry to open up conversations and promote free will and free thinking. Which will result in helping us all to become better versions of ourselves and deliver an enhanced service to our clients and community.



  • Jim says:

    Chris you are absolutely right, I misspoke when I used the term linear causation. However my point remains that it is correlation not causation. Also I state that strength training can make you slower because of the potential for fiber conversion from type 2b to type 2a which does occur in powerlifters. This can be avoided while still increasing strength but you have to move at near maximal velocity for a given load. I also stand by my statement about compensation. It is not that slow movement necessitate compensation but that they make them more likely. Motor reflex arcs are rapid. I want to move along reflex arcs because they are efficient. There are exceptions but moving slower than you are capable allows for compensations to occur.

  • PS says:

    Here is the thread where Naudi introduced himself on the sherdog strength & conditioning sub-forum, before “making the big time”. He was torn to shreds, and shorty thereafter erased his account and never to be seen again.

    This was four years ago, but remains as one of the most epic threads in the forum’s history. Make sure to get the popcorn ready:

  • Sean says:

    I think the first paragraph perfectly describes CrossFit

  • CJ Cleary says:

    Don’t know which one I like better, this or Dean’s “Bulletproof Abs of Steel”.

    Love the fact that you care so much for the industry as a whole and want to educate others to see past all the bs put out there.

  • Brian S says:

    Awesome read. I’m guilty of some things here, especially the research one. But I still it’s still necessary to include studies, depending on the nature of the article.
    Anyway, thanks for this piece. I will apply most of the advice in my business.

  • Jones says:

    Take a look through Mr. Aguilar’s YouTube channel, and sort it from oldest to newest. Three years ago, he had a much, much more impressive physique, and his pad work was snappier and more precise. If he has been following his own training methodologies, they have degraded his physicality and althleticism noticeably in a very short period of time.

    I would like to acknowledge it’s quite possible that Mr. Aguilar acquired an unrelated injury that has stalled his progress along the way. But when you put yourself on display with the arrogance that he has, you open yourself up to these kinds of thorough criticisms. You know what they say about extraordinary claims and the kind of evidence they require.

  • joseph crozier says:

    So good.

  • Evolving says:

    There is this thing called evolving. FP is just that. Don’t be scared to try new stuff just because it hasn’t been tested scientifically if people are getting results, biomechanicly then that is the proof. With time as FP grows the methods will be tested scientifically that is evolving. If its make your stuff obsolete, then don’t be scared to try something new. Everything you know or do now will be wrong tomorrow/weeks/months/years later.

    • Brock says:

      The simple question, before research even needs to start – who has he trained? What results has he gotten? I fully agree that research is usually behind the times, as Buddy Morris says, “training tells us what works, science tells us why.” But until somebody is getting results in an absolute, numbers-based sport (T&F, swimming, weightlifting, powerlifting), you’re pissing in the wind. There are numerous gurus until now, and will continue to be after now, claiming to get heretofore unheard of results with secret methodologies that only they understand, but when the rubber meets the road, the numbers aren’t there. Go read the Jay Schroeder thread on Charlie Francis’ forum for a more thorough description of the phenomenon. At least if you’re going to play the “research will catch up one day” card, play it from someone who is getting results.

  • This made my day. This outlines why I hate people and our business. It’s pretty similar to “Soccer Moms and Johnny Cubicles” selling multilevel marketing nutrition products. Oh wait, the people you discussed here at least have an education in what they are “selling”…. sort of.
    On another note, chiros are getting killed here. I’m not a chiro. I will say, like personal trainers, a good one can make all of the difference in the world. That’s maybe 5-10% of the entire industry though. More often than not, they are snake oil salesman who are trying to cross sell you vitamins. The goods ones, will keep you going and keep you healthy.

  • Duff says:


    Regarding #23, a particular guru blocked me on Facebook when I politely questioned whether his functional training method was in fact for everyone all the time regardless of their goals.

  • Erikka says:

    I laughed out loud while reading this! I shared a clinical space with a chiropractor for 3 years while simultaneously working part-time for a “fitness” company. Longest 3 years of my life listing to all their bullshit. Both spouted the word “functional” just to make themselves sound smarter and more legit, but it was nothing more than a marketing ploy. God forbid they listen to my suggestion of working on hip mobility and glute strength before they through some poor soul on the Bosu or have them balancing on one leg contorted into some yoga pose. They were functional experts after all!

  • Andy says:

    Sweet article Brett that could be applied from exercise professionals to elite athletes to the physios and other therapists who treat. I think many of us, if we are honest, have been sucked into at least some of these things, if not most, at some stage in our career. Whether we have sought to monetise it might be another.


  • Carlos Bruno says:

    Far from US but suffering with the same Functional Movement Gurus… Strange, new, unstable with light loads are the revolutionary exercises.

    Amazing text!!
    Congratulations from Portugal

  • Jill says:

    This article is really negative. Is it possible to prove your point without being so vehement? Because, what you are trying to convey is actually a really important message.

  • Bobby says:

    This post made me excited. I would absolutely subscribe to a “Grill the Guru” monthly newsletter if you feel like making one.

    But I’m curious what you have against the things mentioned in #14. Or if you’re referring to programs built exclusively around those things. Seeing things done by guys like Max Shank and Dewey Nielsen inspire me, regardless of the rest of the programming

  • Chrys says:

    funny article and spot on. I have to say I have taught and practiced many of the theories you mention which have changed. I think over emphasis of any one concept as the answer is probably not as helpful as looking at the individual and watching movement , then see how they can move more efficiently. It may incorporate working with fascia, alignment, function, strength, et al. . These concepts are not inherently wrong, but to latch onto one as the “answer” is where many of us get trapped. I findt students always want the cookbook prescription for working therapeutically with a client. The answer is there is no answer or system that works for every condition as they are all unique. But to be able to do that takes experience and years of working with clients.

  • Margarita says:

    I had to share this! These are the before and after pictures of the functional patterns guru Naudi Aguilar, after 3 years of practising and imroving his method. The pictures has been taken from his youtube channel after sorting by date. I am sorry but he is so aggressive that deserves to face the facts.

  • Ken Jakalski says:

    Hi Bret!
    Your insights remind me of Mel Siff’s Guru Terminology Kit.
    Mel would have loved this.

  • Chris says:

    So it seems that everyone has an opinion on what works and what doesn’t, and even why that is. The only reasonable conclusion is that each individual must do their own research, and seek an expert based on their goals. I think that very few “gurus” are actually faking all of it, most of the techniques espoused by functional motion folk are based in fact as solidly as the tried and true exercises like squats and dead lifts. The rift between the different approaches appears because the goals can be wildly different. I do ballet, and am working on becoming a structural integration practitioner. My goals are going to be completely contrary to someone who wants a big booty. Hypertrophy is a good goal for ANY individual who is lacking overall strength, but once you have achieved an even muscle balance and tone for the whole body then goals begin to divide. Do you need to get stronger and faster without increasing mass? Do you need a massive range of motion? Do you want to be springy? Do you want an efficient stride that recycles the most energy(ultra running)? Do you want to pick up cars? Do you want to fill out your clothes more? These goals all have their own training regimen that will maximize results. I doubt there is a single individual on this earth that knows the best ways to train a body for the myriad ways the human body can be sculpted, because we as a species can do so many things. Anyone claiming they do is probably an egomaniac, which I think was the only concrete and irrefutable idea shared in this article. The place where the “new age functional guru” ideas tend to become so polarizing towards the traditional gym goer is when it comes to the long term health issues associated with extreme hypertrophy. It is possible to be enormously muscled and have no imbalances and no pain or joint issues. But where many people fail is that they go straight for hypertrophy before balancing. I know Bret doesn’t train people like that, but that is the problem all the people in health related fields see on a daily basis. At the end of the day its on the individual who trains to determine what works, the experts arguing loudly about whether there is a correct way to do things is just a side show.

    • Chris says:

      First of all, I want to make clear that this is the original Chris speaking 🙂 .

      Second: Fellow Chris, theres no problem in different goals, thats not the question here. Thats what Bret even criticizes explicitly : “#23: Push your subjective form of “functional training” on everyone regardless of their goals”.
      The problem is how you find the right means to reach the goals. And theres the rift between science cultivated with experience vs well, only experience, or theory, or ideology, or esoterics, or… you get the idea.

      • Chris says:

        Hello Original Chris! I think everyone pushes their own ideas, its called marketing. I don’t think that having to do research is a “problem” its just reality. I wouldn’t completely trust anyone about any subject that I don’t understand at all. In this wacky modern era of the internet and the availability of more information than we can absorb we all get to call the shots, we can try something and if we like it or the results then it works. I don’t think someone like Naudi Aguilar of FP would tell you that doing single leg squats on a bosu ball while wielding some weird weight in one hand is going to be the most effective way to build the glutes. Because his training doesnt focus on hypertrophy. Most of the “functional training” ideas are for elite athletes who have already done the work of getting a great body and aren’t looking for aesthetic changes but are honing very specific details of their movement. I have yet to see any claims (granted I don’t go out of my way looking for them) saying that complete novices should go straight into advanced techniques. The close mindedness on both sides of the table is the problem. How many years were people doing squats before science backed them up? Thousands? millions? It will take many many years for scientific studies to get around to studying all the different aspects of strength and movement function. If someone doesn’t believe in experiential (which are typically subjective) results then they can stick with what they do believe in. On the other side of the debate are the gurus saying don’t do this don’t do that. Bullshit. All movement is functional, if done correctly. Specificity of training is the reason why some exercises wont provide functional gains for every individual. Also, this is for Bret, how can you tout the value of scientifically verified exercises and ignore the science of fascia and connective tissue( and talk about it like its unimportant. sure the research isn’t done yet but its coming. Years from now if you keep up in the field of fitness I guarantee you will acknowledge the importance). Cheers all, just loving some conversation on these subjects!

        • Chris says:

          First, youre making the same, frequent mistake as another poster in this thread. See Bret´s and my answer to him on the subject “science too slow” and “science vs personal experience”, especially hammer that Galilean example of mine into your head 🙂 .
          Second, those exercises promoted by Aguilar both accomplish very little that makes sense for basic training. And for specificity, theyre simply not specific enough! So athletes are much better off doing a) effective strength training and then b) sports specific training. Not that training that fails in both categories.

  • Marc says:

    Unfortunately in our society a person opinion isn’t valued unless you have a pretty little paper hanging on your wall. I understand your point in this article but come on science is so rigid.

    • Bret says:

      Marc, I’m not saying that all of these things are a bad thing – that wasn’t the point. It was to poke fun of the methods that these types of people resort to, and to educate people so they could spot these types. I didn’t intend it to mean that fascia is stupid, or that unstable training doesn’t have its merits, or that whole body vibration isn’t worthwhile in various situations, etc. I’m not sure how you interpreted this article, but it wasn’t my intention to be appear dismissive of anything that lacks a ton of research support.

  • JH says:


    Bret – I know nothing about you, as your claim to have known nothing about Naudi, yet you did a bang up job of writing an article on him….congrats, your a heck of a writer, for such a big guy (do you shave your chest?) who can type on a computer and put words together with bold print and highlights…that is what writers do, congrats. That tells who you really are and identify yourself as, and that is being a writer/’blogger who happened to study physical educational areas in college and loves to write about the fitness industry. That’s all good, glad you found something you are passionate about.

    Naudi, whom I have watched since he was a teenager, and is very hard worker, I don’t believe you came from the same background as he did, and it kind of shows in the stat’s. But upon a quick review of your work…. you really get off on writing…and maybe the occasional video on you dead lifting huge prove a point you have some street cred.

    Your article you wrote comes across with such arrogance that you are above getting your hands dirty, and to physically challenge a debate as way to end all this nonsense…..shit dude, the British lost the war fighting so pridefully, do your history. I must say, looking at the number of magazines and articles you have and write into, and the fact you got your Master Degree and PhD candidate – you have worked hard to get your name out there and also take your interest far into the college education system. Congrat’s on those accomplishments. But upon review, you spend way too much time to the on your website to make those past accomplishments (college, magazines) the first and foremost reason people should listen to you…..and that is most likely from your college days…that is what you and myself were taught when we get educated into those systems. But when you take it to the School of Hardnox, things are different, the past is the past, and things are messy. But I am sorry man, that is not how your move forward, to show people why they should listen to you because you can write a good essay or have incredible ability to put words together on paper/computer….or deadlift the most weight….that in itself is an educated way of poking fun of the very thing you say is a snake oil saleman. What the heck do you think those magazine your write in are about….? How about college? How many kids are buried to shit in debt getting a master’s degree? Cmon man!

    Here is what I found thru a quick review of how your portray yourself – from your website –

    About Bret ( What I found on your website proves my point – a blogger, author….)
    I’m a blogger, author, personal trainer, CSCS, lifter, and PhD student. I love the field of strength and conditioning and teaching others about strength training and biomechanics. My blog is at http://www.BretContreras.Com.

    It’s a big world out there, may the best man win.

    Best to you.

    • Bret says:

      JH, you have the wrong impression of me. It’s not so much that I want people to listen to me, I want people to care about science and the truth. Also, I’m not that strong, yeah my deadlift is pretty good, but my squat and bench aren’t. So I don’t think of myself as some freakishly strong guy, or some freakishly intelligent guy, etc. I’m just really passionate about my field, and I want people to fairly portray their methods and other methods. For example, it really bothers me that Naudi says that deadlifting is for betas. Most of the experts in the industry are trying to get people to not be afraid of deadlifting since it’s a valuable exercise. I’m not saying that one has to deadlift, but an expert has greater responsibility and should be honest and fair about their systems and other systems.

      • Joe says:

        I don’t like Naudi Aguilar because he attacks people verbally who simply ask him questions. He can’t deal with being questioned and he tends to throw a tantrum whenever he feels unease. However, there are educated people out there who say that barbell dead lifting and barbell squatting have negative effects. Steve Maxwell said that Barbell squatting is one of the quickest way to gain muscles, but these muscles are not transferable to many activities such as martial arts. I can’t find the source anymore, but Steve Maxwell claimed that there are other ways to become a more explosive athlete besides dead lifting. One can gain lots of muscle mass from barbell squatting but become stiff and less mobile for martial arts according to Steve Maxwell. Here is a link to Steve Maxwell site with an article that I have read. I’ve had first hand experience with barbell squatting and I though it made me too bulky and slow just like Steve Maxwell’s article. I think Steve Maxwell has great insight in all sort of training since he has a lot of experience in the fitness field. Also, I am looking forward to trying the glute thrust someday because many sources I have read online that seems credible claim that the glute thrust is the ultimate workout for glute activation.

      • If you actually cared about science and “truth” than maybe you’d acknowledge the fact that FP is getting results and typically eliminating pain from people, on a daily basis all over the world. Yet you can’t accept it because it attacks your cognitive dissonance.

        • What kind of results? Zero hypertrophy, zero strength, zero gains in functionality. FP is the silliest system I’ve ever seen in my life. There’s no purpose to it. Some system theoretically created to improve arbitrary things that the majority of people don’t want. I don’t have cognitive dissonance. On the contrary, you don’t understand sports science. There’s nothing special that FP does with eliminating pain…people could simply stop lifting heavy and going for PRs and instead lift light weights, or do zumba, or do Yoga, or stretch, or whatever.

          • Sam says:

            Part of the issue is that the results your looking for are things like hypertrophy. Talk about an arbitrary goal. The results he gets are mostly from people in severe pain due to conditions like scoliosis. I’ve seen FP practitioners relieve partial paralysis in a woman’s face that she’d had since she was a child. I’ve seen them help improve muscle function and association in people with cerebral palsy. You mock FP because you don’t see high level athletes touting the system. How about regular people whose body mechanics don’t work for them?

            Your solution to pain is “lift light weights or do Zumba or yoga or whatever.” How about the people who can’t fucking walk because of the pain it causes them? How about the countless people who’ve been injured by yoga and traditional lifting? You want to see FPs results? Change your definition of “results”. The amount of spines FP has straightened is unreal. The amount of spines deadlifts and barbell squats have compressed is equally impressive.

            You crap on Naudi for looking at the body holistically and then market yourself as “the glute guy” as if strengthening the glutes answers all the body’s problems. You increase people’s insecurities by placing emphasis on butt size. You use your scientific apparatuses to measure the activity of glutes during a twerk. So after all that, I ask you: who’s the one who’s really doing injustice to science?

          • Sam, FP hasn’t straightened any spines…y’all are full of shit. You make people stand crooked and draw these silly lines and then make them stand straighter. It may fool idiots but not anyone with an actual education. I don’t make anyone insecure, you guys make people insecure by calling attention to every single possible ailment and acting like you know the solution. It’s called fearmongering and it’s not good for pain as it doles out nocebo effects. And get real…some dude with a high school education who doesn’t understand science isn’t going to come up with anything useful.

          • I have to give credit where it’s due: I learned self-myofascial release (SMR) from Naudi’s channel, and it’s helped me tremendously with muscle, joint and back pain. Also, I’ve found a lot of his advice sensible and effective. Also, I feel the kinds of exercises he and others like him recommend, are enjoyable.

            BUT when I’ve tried to look up SMR, I haven’t found much in terms of studies in the field. He doesn’t mention any science in his videos. He cites only books as references but no scientific papers. AND he seems to be getting increasingly loud and venomous whenever contradicted or confronted.

            So, I’m a little confused on how to reconcile all this, Bret. I am dead against pseudoscience and am well aware of the placebo effect and confirmation bias. Is there really any benefit to SMR? Is there any value to being able to balance yourself on a gym ball? I want more of a scientific analysis on these phenomena. Are there any other resources you can point me towards?

    • Brock says:

      So we’re supposed to give Naudi credit because “he’s a hard worker,” despite the fact that he’s clearly an idiot? GTFO with that. And don’t give me the “he’s just trying to make a living” BS, because it’s the worst copout in existence. Guess what? I’m trying to make a living too, and constantly having to fight that bullshit while doing so. So stop making excuses for snake oil salesmen, because it only makes it harder for people who are trying to do it the right way.

  • Phenomenal! Unfortunately marketing is winning against physiology.

  • Mike Kneuer says:

    Sounds like you’re talking about the dude from Functional Patterns on Facebook. Spot on buddy!

  • kim smith says:

    Oh poor little Naudi Eloy Aguilar. This just made my day!

  • Dominic says:

    This Is so spot on!! I just called this guy out for being a moron. He acts like a child. Short man syndrome for sure….haha

  • Kait says:

    I’m new to personal training with a background (and hopeful future) in physical therapy. I just ended up in an intense argument with a trainer who tried telling me that everything in the physical therapy and personal training world is useless and that I should learn everything on the website functionalpatterns to be a trainer with integrity. I’m pretty traumatized from the whole experience, but I’m relieved to find that there are great trainers like you, Brett, who decode the bullshit.

  • Juan J Suarez says:

    I wish some of you burn in the fire of hell (functional burning of course). I was enjoying this interesting article till some of you mentioned in the comments Naudi Aguilar…¿who is this?-I asked myself. After a short search in google (very good web search positioning would be another point in that list) I found an illustrating video of a man making sudden movements with poor technique and bad boy face in a sometimes slow-mo, sometimes unfocused video…I’m waiting at the hospital to treat my bleeding eyes:P, thanks Bret for introducing me the funny side of the intrusiveness in this field of science, and of course for being at the same time part of the serious side. Greetings from Canary Islands!

  • OK and how does “Dynamic Proprioceptive Patterning or DPP” look like? Can I do this on a bosu and an overhead barbell press?

  • Al Lyman says:

    Very funny article, Bret. Nice work! I will say, some of the comments throwing particular specialties of clinical care such as chiropractic, aren’t fair or objective. In my experience over 25 years in this field, I’ve learned there is good and bad in every profession. I know some great chiros who are among the smartest people I know, well read, and always give their patients what they need to heal and improve, which some portion of the time doesn’t involve doing chiropractic. They also don’t sell “snake oil.” And on the other hand, I know some dumb physical therapists who really have no clue. I coach some in fact. And they’re running successful businesses, in large part because of the health care machine and the letters after their name.

  • Brian says:

    Great article Bret! Touching upon the debate above regarding strength in relation to athleticism and sports performance, show me one sport of any kind where it would be preferable to be weaker rather than stronger. Just one! Even endurance athletes benefit from having a superior strength-to-weight ratio (relative strength).

    General strength training creates a foundation from which all other physical abilities can benefit from. Power is the ability to apply force QUICKLY; so yes, you need to train velocity in movement, but strength supplies the force. How do you increase force production? Strength training.

  • Alex says:

    Thanks for the info Bret, I was just able to explain to a client with a tight shoulder that if they prey to the Sun God Ra, it’ll be fixed in less than 21.321 minutes.
    Can’t wait for the money to roll in

  • Jayson Ball says:

    I think I just made a lateral entrance to the 4th dimension just reading this.

  • Jumar Ilano, ACE-CPT says:

    This is gold!

  • Vinh Diesel says:

    Cupping my trigger points helps reduce pain in my body. However, I don’t like Naudi Aguilar’s attitude.

  • Preston boatright says:

    Funny stuff you wrote for sure not sure how accurate it is though. Glute master lol

  • joe says:

    Stuff like this guy:

    “secret origins from russian special forces”

  • Ian says:

    This was very helpful. I saw it awhile back, though you seem to have modified and refined it a bit.

    You said you would call him out by name if he didn’t agree to discuss his methods and research, etc.

    Did that ever happen, or are you simply moving into a more general space and showing compassion?

    As a N00b, I greatly appreciate the assistance in choosing helpful over hype.


  • Jev says:

    Who would you recommend to read on gait and posture? Any recommendations are welcome!

  • Kris Anne says:

    Hi Bret,
    Loved this article. Thanks so much for mentioning that psychological aspects can lead to pain as most people only want to look for structural reasons for pain. Although occasionally this could be the case, so much comes from within us- our thoughts, emotions, etc. I chased the structural route to help with some of my pain issues but it wasn’t until I found Dr. John Sarno (not sure if you know who he is) and his work with TMS that I really began to heal. On another note, I have followed your glute training methods with loads of success, started a hip thrust revolution at my gym and have become known as the booty-queen, lol. Keep up all the awesome work that you do and thanks for being a leader in the industry.

  • Marcelo Bonilla says:

    FP lol!!

  • Haha I love this article and definitely one person that springs to mind. I do not understand why these gurus don’t want to debate their ideas if they truly believe in them. I also talked about functional training in my latest podcast here:
    Yet again another great blog post Bret!
    Thanks for the content

  • Tom Myers says:

    Dear Bret – Your blog post just came across my desk, and made me laugh out loud. BTW, I agree that Anatomy Trains may have no application to personal training practices, but probably does to assessment , maybe. I dunno, not my field, I am a manual therapy guy.

    I will take issue with the word ‘arbitrary’, and would be pleased to show you why in the dissection lab, or have a conversation about it. But thanks for giving me a laugh, and total support for taking on the guff, both ancient and modern, which pervades this young industry.

    • Tom, props to you for being professional here. I would love to take you up on your offer and am open minded to changing my mind. I commend you for your commitment to science as I’ve seen your work in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies and can tell that you are dedicated to the advancement of science. I have visited two cadaver labs over the past couple of years (in addition to taking Anatomy & Physiology both semesters way back in the day in undergrad) and I have a folder on the topic of epimuscular myofascial force transmission filled with published papers. As a PhD biomechanist and CSCS I would love to discuss this with you as we’re both aware of its role in movement, but we need to determine if and how it can be best improved upon/impacted in manual therapy and S&C practices. Kind regards!

      • Nick says:

        I would be curious to read some of those papers. It does seem that the pathways are somewhat arbitrary and I would to see what you have read on it.

  • Bojan says:

    This is functional patterns BS.
    Really good article.
    I came across searching for functional patterns review.
    That guy was always seems like a jerk and charlatan and you prove me that is truth.

  • George Locke says:

    “if you know the names of muscles like the back of your hand, people will have a very hard time not taking you seriously”
    make special note of the muscles *in* the back of your hand!

  • chris wood says:

    sounds like your talking about Paul Chek

  • Ali says:

    😂😂 Feels like a lot of this article is directed T that functional patterns dude hahaha
    Loved it

  • You forgot one: PRODUCE CONSISTENT AND SUSTAINABLE RESULTS, which you rarely seem to do

  • John says:

    You wanted a debate with Naudi, well you got it:

    • John, I can’t see this because I’ve been blocked.

      I’ve been blocked by Functional Patterns and by Naudi on IG.

      I hear he’s been telling people that I blocked him. That’s not true.

  • Mitch says:

    This give me way to much satisfication to read, awesome work Bret Contreas

  • Sahand says:

    I was wondering if you plan to carry through with your challenge to debate Naudi Aguilar of Functional Patterns over training methodology, now that he has accepted? I am not sure if you have seen his public acceptance, but he does a detailed response to your original blog post breaking down his perspective point by point. I would like to see the debate happen if you still believe your original post to be truthful. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Naudi’s response here

  • Kristiyan says:

    Bret, Functional Patterns Naudi Aguilar has accepted that debate challenge. A lot of people are looking forward to it. When are you planning to make it happen? I do hope you guys keep it in the science part and nobody is attacking the other on non-reasult or non-proof related topics as it happened over the internet.

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