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Most Popular Strength Coaches & Thank You to All My Readers

By August 26, 2013January 14th, 2014Announcements

I’ve been spending the last few hours checking out different social media sites and examining the popularity of various strength & conditioning experts. It’s sort of addicting! I like seeing how my popularity compares to other people in the field. Here are the sites I’ve been examining:






Google Trends

Who Are the Most Popular S&C Coaches?

Many articles have appeared over the past few years that list and rank the most popular or influential strength coaches and health & fitness experts. The problem is, there never appears to be any criteria involved in making these lists, so they’re subjective based on the author’s views and preferences. I decided to examine fitness experts who 1) have a website, 2) have a Facebook fan page, 3) have a Twitter page, and 4) have a YouTube page. I equally weighted Alexa national ranking, Alexa international ranking, Facebook fitness page likes, Twitter followers, and YouTube subscribers. Based on this criteria, here are the top eight most popular strength coaches/trainers that I could find. One caveat – I only searched for experts who I know actually train people or regularly lift heavy weights themselves.

Fitness Experts

Top Eight Most Popular Strength & Conditioning Experts as of 8/25/13

As you can see, based on the criteria I listed, Charles Poliquin is the most popular S&C coach, followed by Eric Cressey, Layne Norton, Jason Ferruggia, yours truly, James Smith, John Romaniello, and Mike Robertson. As for women S&C experts, I believe that Ms. Jenny Sinkler is the most popular:

Fitness Experts

Most Popular Female Strength & Conditioning Expert as if 8/25/13

Kudos to each of these ladies and gentlemen for continuing to put out free articles, blogposts, and videos week in and week out. It’s not easy, trust me!

Current Trends

I was very pleased to see that my website is the 2nd most popular of the group in the United States! And according to Google Trends, my popularity is at an all-time high right now!

Google Trends

Google Trends for “Bret Contreras”

You like me, you really like me!

You Like Me

Thanks to All My Readers!!!

Several years ago, I thought that in order to achieve this many fans, one would need to sell out, do a bunch of steroids, do tons of affiliate stuff, join the good ol’ boy’s club, start a fitness cult, and/or closely study marketing. Not only have I not done any of this, I’ve chosen instead to focus on sports science & biomechanics, promote critical thinking and discussion, stand up for what I felt was right, and remain intellectually honest. You’ve helped me realize that someone who loves their field and works incredibly hard can succeed in spite of any obstacles. I thank you from the bottom of my heart and will continue to do my best to consistently put out high quality information. I appreciate you for allowing me to influence the way you train!



  • Brad says:

    Now, how about most important strength coaches in terms of disseminating quality info?

    1. Louie
    2. Louie
    3. Louie

    Seriously though, congrats Bret. You do a great job. Btw, I really wish you’d put out Strength of Evidence more frequently, the methodology and philosophy of that podcast is spot-on and much needed.

    • Bret says:

      Does Louie have all of the criteria (website, FB fan page, Twitter, YouTube)? I assumed he didn’t. I tried to stick to some sort of system – if I just relied on my opinion the list would be different (and Louie would of course be on it). Thanks Brad!

  • Christian says:

    Based on the content of your site I get the impression you never really launched it to gain wide spread cudos or to make so called popularity lists. I think it is a testament to yourself for still staying evidence, no-bull dust based and still getting a stellar following. Actually reflects well upon the general health reader

  • Michael Zweifel says:

    It’s interesting to see each area each coach thrives. Your (and Robertson) website does really well, but lack (in comparison to some of these guys) in social media. While Dr. Norton’s website lacks, but his social media presence is huge.

    Also Feruggia’s and Poliquin’s big international presence. Very cool!

  • Jonathan says:

    The way you de-construct the science of lifting for us readers who aren’t as adept as yourself I find really helps in understanding the bio-mechanics and systems involved with training. It’s not the usual pseudo science you find on other websites it is factual and evidence based and I love it.

    Whilst completing my studies I work at the local gym and your articles have given me a lot more confidence to approach and instruct clients that “this works because of…insert glute guys scientific backed reasoning…” instead of the usual “because that’s the way people have lifted since the stone age.”

    Your website is favourited in my bookmarks and is one of the regular sites I visit and I will continue to do so!

    Cheers Bret!

  • John Buns says:

    Bret, it’s been very inspiring and motivational to watch you grow. Keep up the great work friend!

  • Jeremy says:

    Mark Verstergen and Mike Boyle aren’t in the discussion, it’s damage.
    Maybe, they don’t lift but they have tremendous experience in S&C.

    • Bret says:

      Jeremy, I didn’t say “best” strength coaches, I said “most popular.” I’m sure if we just polled strength coaches around the world, Mike and Mark’s names would appear. However, they stay busy doing other things and don’t prioritize writing articles, etc. This free content is what drives popularity in my opinion.

  • Marie says:

    Bret, I am following your site now for a while and especially the last weeks I was really impressed by the amount of real quality information you have published.
    I may not have the overall view on all great coaches on the internet, but somehow you are top on MY list and I do not stop recommending your site to others. Maybe it’s because you are doing a lot of stuff for women, but I also like your “nerd style”, how you approach things scientifically, not just giving claims and statements, but encouraging critical thinking. Thank you for that!

    • Bret says:

      Much appreciated Marie! I am a total nerd (you have no idea haha) and I love helping women with their training. I’ve definitely stepped it up lately so thanks for noticing 🙂

  • Steve says:

    Most popular oftentimes means best at marketing. i.e. Jason Ferruggia strikes me as a marketing guy. Louie, for example, does not. Eric Cressey does the marketing thing but he’s also a very knowledge trainer.

    Then there’s guys like Ross Enamait, who is knowledge and can likely outwork all of the above, yet seems to abhor marketing.

    • Bret says:

      I agree. I realize I didn’t even check Ross – I bet he’d be really high up there in popularity. His info kicks ass too. I have a lot of respect for him. But if he wanted more popularity, he’d need to get over his abhor for marketing (same goes for me). I think there’s a way to do it without selling out.

  • Sarah says:

    Hi Bret,

    congratulations and thank YOU. Your site is excellent and so is all the material that you have put out in these years (books and programmes like Get Glutes included). So you definitely deserve your popularity and, please, keep not selling out, not using marketing too much and keep speaking your mind and promoting critical thinking (your podcast with Jonathan is also great, by the way).


  • Rob Panariello says:

    I have to say I agree with Steve. I don’t take anything away from anyone on the list you presented Bret as these coaches are there for a reason. However, it should remembered that there is a difference between coaching proficiency and popularity. I’d put people like Al Vermeil (who probably forgot more than what most people know), Johnny Parker, Al Miller and Dr. Donald Chu up against any list out there. These are the guys with the rings and there is a reason why they are in multiple Halls of Fame.

    Does anyone question the brilliance of a Charlie Francis? In my opinion his protégé Derek Hansen is one of the finest S&C Coaches in the field. How many people can name the strength coaches at schools like Alabama, Ohio State and LSU? I think their sport programs do “OK”. 🙂

    How about the sports scientists who walked the talk like Dr. Mike Stone PhD who played D-1 football (and started) at Auburn, Olympic lifted, and has certainly published more research in the field of Sports Performance than most. The younger guys in the field of biomechanics like Dr. Loren Chiu and Dr. Brian Schilling who walked the talk as Olympic Weightlifters, are strength coaches and are included the next generation of top Sports Performance Researchers.

    Again, to be clear, I am not taking anything away from those mentioned on this list, I’m sure they are meant to be there, including yourself Bret as you are to be commended on how far you’ve come. However, with that said let’s not confuse popularity with knowledge, skill, and ability to coach.

    Just my opinion


    • Bret says:

      Great points Rob, which is why I said, “Most Popular,” and not, “Best.” However, you bring up a very good point which I’ve often wondered from time to time. I’ve noticed on various forums that many times people like to criticize the “online trainers” – especially the more popular ones. I’ve been criticized by people who couldn’t carry my jockstrap and labeled as a research guy who doesn’t train anyone. Meanwhile I go to the gym everyday, train myself, train with workout partners, and train clients. And the results I see with my clients are far better than anything I’ve seen from “the haters.” I know it makes other “experts” feel better to criticize those who have gotten popular, but how do we know who is truly better?

      I often dream that we could do some sort of challenge – have all the top trainers and coaches compete to see who can get the best results. But this is just a dream and would never happen in real life. And how would we measure results – fat loss, hypertrophy gains, body composition improvements, strength gains, speed and power improvements, lowest injury rates, etc., are all things to be noted, but these vary depending on the goals of the client, and different coaches/trainers are better at delivering different results (some specialize in bodybuilding, others in powerlifting, others in track & field, etc.).

      I’m a huge fan of many of the people you mentioned – Mike Stone, Al Vermiel, Charlie Francis RIP, etc. as well as you (Rob Panariello).

      But as to who’s the best? It’s just a judgment call as we have no challenges or data to compare. Some top dogs only train pros and suck at training beginners with no core stability, etc. Some are great at one area and piss-poor at others. Some have tons of research knowledge but don’t have much practical experience (others vice versa). Some have great rehab/corrective/physical therapy skills but can’t get clients incredibly strong and powerful (others vice versa). Some are stuck in the 1990’s and don’t embrace modern trends. The list goes on and on.

      Again, this list was about popularity, not knowledge, skill, and ability to coach. But if I had to make a list on “best,” I don’t know how I’d do it as I’d need to visit each coach for a week and watch them operate, and even then it would come down to my subjective opinion. For this reason, it was easy to come up with some simple criteria to make a list of the most popular coaches (not to be confused with best). Now I’m just rambling haha! Thanks as always Rob.

      • Rob Panariello says:


        I certainly wasn’t implying that you or the other individuals on this list couldn’t “coach”. I could also provide you with a list of “reseachers” whom many consider very good coaches. Often readers confuse most popular to also mean most proficient, which was the message in my post.

        I don’t know if you could ever develop a valid system to determine who is the best and I don’t know if that is even important as there are many very good professionals out in the field. Regardless of the profession or the occupation of specialization, I always remember the words of Hall of Fame Fame Coach Bill Parcells who said, “You are what your record say you are”.

        Hope you’re well.


        • Bret says:

          Definitely didn’t take it that way Rob. And I should have clarified that in the post, that “most popular” is not synonymous with “most proficient.” Hope you’re well too!

  • Craig says:

    Bret, you deserve this. I’ve been an avid reader since 2010 and always spread the word about your website. I have always been impressed with the science behind your content and even though I don’t understand most of it, I try. Many many thanks for your content and words of encouragement to those of us who are constant beginners due to life getting in the way. Looking forward to your bodyweight book.

    • Bret says:

      Thank you Craig! I’ve been trying to make my posts more understandable for the layperson and clarify complicated terms by using parenthesis next to them. I will keep trying hard to do this as time goes by. Cheers!



  • David Reid says:

    I like that you clarified “popular” versus “best”. There are guys who promote themselves non-stop versus others who never did such as Ian King and Charlie RIP. I met Charlie through Ian and one could learn a lifetime from Charlie alone. Ian is brilliant as he is blunt. Owe a lot to these two men. Keep pumping out quality info

    • Bret says:

      The Charlie Francis Training System is one of my favorite S&C books of all time, and Ian King was the best S&C writer in the 1990’s IMO.

      • Dave Reid says:

        I like your style of work. Keep putting out the high quality stuff you do. Unlike purely academic people, you also walk the walk. To many people want to wow everyone with pure science. As a person I have always sought knowledge. I have had the luxury of rubbing elbows with some rather accomplished and intelligent people during 18 years of athletic prep. I am glad to follow your work as I can sit here reading study after study myself. Thank you for your efforts

      • Colin says:

        Ian King – still stuck on the 90’s?

  • Sonya says:

    I am SO glad I stumbled upon your website/book/methods. Seriously! I saw your stuff on t nationway back and was too insecure to thrust in the gym…fast forward a few years later, I’m doing your strong curve workouts and am getting better results than I ever did with other programs and am wondering why the hell I didn’t listen to your advice earlier!

    Its only been about a month and though I’ve acheived some body recomp, which is awesome, I’m going for way more hypertrophy in my glutes. Though I feel like I have a long way to go, I’ve been getting so many compliments on my physique these days so it’s definitely working!

    Thanks for putting out such great information

  • Irene says:

    I’m trying to spread the gospel to bump you up a slot or two. I’ve already got one girl to hip thrust & I’m working on a few others so don’t worry Bret, I’ll bring more converts your way.

  • Eric Cressey says:


    Thank you for including me. It’s an honor to even be mentioned alongside many of these folks, although I agree 100% with Rob. There are some tremendous trainers/coaches out there who have paved the way for younger guys like us to not only coach, but also have an internet presence. If they hadn’t increased demand for strength and conditioning coaches and interest in the fitness world, then we wouldn’t have a platform from which to speak/write.

    The other thing I’d note is that the industry is getting much more specific with expertise nowadays. A big chunk of my following is baseball coaches, players, and parents. So, while we’re comparing apples and apples in a general sense, it’s probably apples and oranges with respect to the specific side of things.

    Nonetheless, great job with this. Thanks again for the mention.



    • Bret says:

      Thanks for chiming in here Eric. Great points! You’re someone I’ve always looked up, and you could be successful in damn near any field. As a strength coach, you walk the walk as an accomplished PL’er, you have a rare ability to understand research and break it down for the layperson, you have incredible business skills, and you’re innovative and have introduced many new techniques to the industry. Even though many of your blogposts are catered to the baseball population, I always make sure to check out your blog each week per chance that you’ll teach me something new and useful for my training. It’s no coincidence that you’ve reached this level of popularity. Keep up the great work! BC

  • Sol Mandel says:

    The survey you did of the S&C Coaches’ popularity was interesting. Congratulations on your success. I read a lot of your articles.

    I am surprised that Coaches such as Mike Boyle, Todd Durkin and Mark Verstegen didn’t make the cut.


    • Bret says:

      These guys don’t prioritize blogging and writing articles. Mark is busy helping run and expand Athletes Performance, Boyle has MBSC, trains his pro’s, and has his endeavors such as, and Todd runs his facility too. Mark probably does tons of traveling, Mike and Todd do a ton of speaking, and their lives are probably going very well. If they suddenly changed gears and decided to maximize their social media status then I’m sure they could rise very quickly, but I don’t think it would make them happier as they already have enough stress in their lives.

  • Derrek says:

    “In THIS blogpost I break down the most popular S&C experts (not to be confused with the best, although many of the coaches listed are in my opinion the best)…”

    Bret, I’m a big fan but I have to keep you honest on this one. You did kind of say those listed are the best. You’d be correct in that they are the best at marketing.

    How do these “coaches” have so much time to research, write countless articles, and coach? It’s because they don’t spend the majority of the day coaching, but rather at a computer. You’d be shocked to see what some of these popular trainers consider coaching if you saw some of the sessions in their facilities. Let’s not confuse these personal/group trainers with strength and conditioning coaches.

    There’s a reason why we rarely hear from actual professional or collegiate strength and conditioning coaches. Ones that actually train athletes. It’s because they spend all their day training their athletes among the various other responsibilities required of a strength and conditioning coach.

    Again, I’m a big fan of your work Bret. This list just struck a cord.

    • Bret says:

      Derrek – I certainly see your point. But consider this.

      I grilled Poliquin last year so you know he’s not my favorite person in the world. However, I determined my criteria and let the chips fall where they may. Poliquin came out as numero uno. The point of this blogpost was to have some criteria and not just rely on subjective opinion (my “best” list would differ compared to yours because we follow different people, have attended different seminars, have read different books, have different preferences, etc.).

      Another point to consider. I used to train people all day long and had no time to write or research. Now my days are a good blend, and even though I’m training less, I’ve gotten much better at it through research. My EMG & force plate experiments, all the biomechanics and physical therapy articles I’ve read over the past few years, etc., actually made me WAY better at training. In fact, I just started training a couple of clients again that I trained several years back, and both of them have remarked to me that I’m much better than I was three years ago. I can tell too; I see things much more clearly now regarding movement, hypertrophy training, programming, etc.

      Therefore, I actually feel that the coaches (collegiate and pro) who spend their entire days coaching and don’t make time to read, research, attend seminars, etc. are actually not improving to the greatest degree possible and should modify their schedules to allow for a better blend. This is not to say that that blend should include a ton of time studying marketing, but if your income relies on it, then you can’t be stressed about paying the bills. For example, I’m saving up to buy some more sports science equipment, so the more money I make, the better of a researcher and trainer I’ll become. So I better not be shy about putting myself out there or I won’t reach my full potential, if that makes sense.

      Just some thoughts to counter what you mentioned, but again, I definitely see your point.

  • JAIME says:


  • Derrek says:

    I appreciate your response Bret. I like your points on how you became a better coach, but I’d argue that the increase in your ability as a coach would have increased over 3 years just from coaching alone. You would have become wiser, more efficient and, anecdotally, would have learned what worked and what did not. I’m not saying you’d be a good coach, but you’d be better than you were 3 years prior. Of course, add research to the mix and your coaching would increase at a greater rate.

    Regardless, I got away from the whole point of the article, which was about “popularity.” I guess my first posting should have focused more on the fact that just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good. Just look at Crossfit or Tim Tebow.

  • Adrian diems says:

    Bret, thanks for all the articles especially the ones relating to developing the glutei
    muscle group, a couple years ago I read in Muscle mag magazine that one of the
    most popular, knowledgeable trainer in the USA was Mr. Charles Glass, a weightlifter himself. Is you list only for 2013? again thanks for all the information and most of all for the ladies buns of still you shared with your fans…I am inspired anytime I see a well-shape-well-toned-gorgeous-desirable in your blog. Keep it up. Un monton de gracias…Adrian, Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin

  • Adrian diems says:

    Bret, I did not have the time to edit my prior email, there are a few misspellings but the message is understandable…Adrian

  • Brett Matthews says:

    Porco, what in the hell man?

    You get what you pay for in the fitness industry and Sorinex is one of the best.

    So, Bret should not make money? He should sit out on the street, use food stamps and social security, perhaps borrow the library’s computers to get his information out to the world? Maybe his university will give him his Phd for free.

    Of course he’s making money.

    He’s a business.

    How do YOU put food on YOUR table?

    Do you work for free?

    If you do, who’s bankrolling you?

  • Abi says:

    What are your thoughts on Michael Matthews book ‘thinner, leaner, stronger’ who advocates a more split routine for women? Love reading your blog by the way, thanks

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