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Random Thoughts

By February 10, 2012January 10th, 2014Random Thoughts

Here are a few random thoughts and links for the week:

1. Hip Mobility Drills

Many people seek improved hip mobility. Personally I don’t do much hip flexibility work as I’ve found that my hip flexion and extension mobility is maintained from deep squatting, Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts, and walking lunges. I do believe that I could use a bit more hip internal and external rotation mobility but I’m not so lacking in this ROM that it requires urgent attention.

I got the video below from JC Deen. There are some unique drills in the video which I feel are worthwhile for individuals seeking to increase their hip ROM (for some folks these drills could be problematic so don’t force anything that doesn’t feel right).

Another tip that I always stress in my glute workshops is to squeeze the rear glute when performing lunge-type stretches for the hip flexors as the posterior pelvic tilt adds to the stretch’s efficacy.

2. Strong Female Hip Thrusts!

Here is one of Nick Horton’s clients performing some heavy hip thrusts. Her name is Melanie, she’s a rugby player, and she has some serious hip extension strength!

3. Bridging ROM

Kellie Davis wrote an excellent article on barbell glute bridge ROM. Make sure you’re doing this exercise properly! Many, I repeat MANY, lifters go too heavy and don’t achieve full range on this movement which robs the glutes of maximal activation. Lighten up if you need to and do it right! HERE is the link to her article.

4. Call On Me

I went out the other day with my two good friends (fellow PhD candidates) who just returned from vacation and this song came on. Every time I hear it my mind can’t help but conjure up images from the video! If there were more classes like this then I would commit to an aerobic exercise regimen!

5. The Truth About Sports Science Researchers

I see a lot of articles these days written by strength coaches and personal trainers that attack researchers and I want to set the record straight. I should mention that I’m highly qualified to address this topic as I personally know many of the sports science researchers and am aware of their backgrounds and personalities.

Most of them are former athletes and former strength coaches and most of them are humble and curious about popular training methodology. The problem is that it’s often difficult to attempt to answer questions and many times specific equipment or methods are used. Since coaches tend to assume that researchers have no clue about real-world training they often dismiss the research or researcher which is unfortunate. This is simply not true and I wish coaches were more humble and more interested in research and the scientific method in general.

At any rate, we can all learn tremendously from one another so coaches, trainers, physios, professors, and researchers should work together to keep pushing the envelope and expanding our knowledge of sports science and best training practices.

6. Obese Pets

This really upsets me! A recent study found that 25% of cats and 21% of dogs are obese – which equates to 47 million cats and 41 million dogs. Fat pets are becoming the new “normal.” Folks need to quit feeding their cats and dogs so much and give their dogs more exercise.

7. Antioxidant Supplementation

Brad Schoenfeld wrote an excellent blogpost about antioxidant supplementation in THIS article. I think Brad is the best pure writer in the fitness field as his writing style is always informative and well-constructed.

That’s all my friends in fitness! Have a great weekend. BC


  • Jensen says:

    Thanks for standing up for sports scientists. A lot of us are meatheads too. I’m on both sides of the issue as a CSCS/competitive powerlifter/rugby player and biomechanics researcher and I find it very frustrating when either side bashes the other and is unwilling to learn from a different perspective. Thanks for helping to bring down some barriers.

  • Domenic says:

    There’s alot of give and take with the strength coach vs. sports scientists issue.

    A sports scientist who publishes a paper often establishes a new standard based purely on his or her research. Before I go on a rant here, I just want to make sure…

    The Weyand Study. Bret I’ve been meaning to ask your opinion on this. If I am reading the Weyand Study correctly, it is saying that stride frequency is not as important as force into the ground.

    Weyand mentions how their slowest study participant, a female, repositioned her legs for her next stride nearly as rapidly as the fastest 100 meter sprinter in the world.

    So this woman could have a stride like this:

    covering maybe 2 feet, and the sprinter could be covering 8 or 9 feet. Is Weyand really saying this in his study? That a very slow sprinter with a very short stride can complete this short stride at about the same rate as the worlds fastest 100 meter runner? Im not disagreeing with what he is saying, Id really like to hear your thoughts.

    • Bret says:


      That wouldn’t be the fault of the sports scientist (who is simply publishing papers based on their findings…and these papers have to pass the peer reviewed process so they should be cautious in their recommendations, etc.), it would be the fault of the strength coaches for reading too much into it or overreacting to a single study and not being patient or considering the entire body of evidence.

      Regarding the Weyand study, I believe that most runners do in fact re-position their limbs at similar rates and it’s the force put into the ground that plays the biggest role in stride length. But Weyand’s study was conducted over a decade ago, and since then we’ve learned more. First, Weyand showed that there are time-constraints to force production and better sprinters can put more force at exceedingly shorter GCT’s. Second, research by Brughelli, Morin, etc. have shown that the direction of force is critical and that you need to be achieving significant horizontal force production to propel the body forward at fast velocities.

      At least that’s my current understanding. Now, as to what this means for how we train our athletes, that’s up to the strength coach to figure out. Does it mean that we should do hip thrusts and back extensions in addition to squats and deads? Does it mean that we should be doing horizontal plyos in addition to vertical plyos? Sled work? This is how coaches and researchers work together and drive each other to be better.

  • Connie Murphy says:

    I am hung up on the photo of the dog. Who lets their pet become so obese??!! But then again, a lot of humans look like this now too. So sad.

  • Domenic says:

    I see what your saying, its not the sports scientists who make it law its those who read it and what they read into it.

    However, lets say a strength coach writes an article. The standard thought when looking at an article that is trying to prove something is “where are the studies?”. Most intelligent fitness professionals I think you would agree would put much more stock in an article that references studies over one that doesnt.

    That brings me back to the Weyand article. I have nothing against sports scientists as long as they are doing their job. The Brughelli study you mentioned sounds interesting.

    The Weyand Study, like most studies, has lots of this 0.0050x, R2
    5 0.06, P 5 0.18, mean

    and this Speed 5 Freqstep
    z Favge
    z Lc

    a bunch of confusing mumbo jumbo giving the specifics of stride length and the components of speed etc.. However. If you really look at what he is saying this study basically says that stride frequency is really not that important a factor in speed and that force into the ground is.

    Interesting sounding. But when you consider he is not looking at the distance each stride is covering just how long it takes, and that is one of his big findings its a little hard to find the need for an article like this.

    So theoretically, lets say I had a stride a mile long. And you put me up against a grandmother with a stride 2 feet long. The research would say that the grandmother actually had a faster stride frequency. Well that basically means nothing if you dont look at the distance covered per stride (which Weyand did but he ignores it in his summary).

    I thought one of the main tenents of research is that it needs to contribute in a meaningful way to the knowledge in a particular field?

    In my eyes this study is the equivalent of a study that concluded: “larger heavier cars on average use more fuel than smaller cars”. Theres nothing in this study you wouldnt just assume through nothing more than logic.

    Your research into glute peak contraction during different exercises? Ok I wouldnt have thought the hip thrust would have so much greater MVC. That is useful information.

    I guess its the waste of time and overcomplication through wording and symbols etc… of something (in the Weyand study) that if you look at in its simplest form, you would just assume anyway.

    I do think it falls on the sports scientist to make sure he or she is doing research that will contribute in a meaningful way to the knowledge base. That being said I dont look at all sports scientists the same, just as I dont look at all personal trainers the same (though I would say there are many more poor trainers than sports scientists).

    Sorry for the rant, and I would love to be put in my place if I have misunderstood something here. Love your site BTW YOU have good interesting useful information!

    • Bret says:

      Domenic, you’ve got a good mind for this stuff. I’ll write some stuff in the future on how a coach/trainer/lifter should base his methodology. The Weyand study was actually important at the time as many practitioners failed to realize the importance of ground reaction forces. But like all knowledge we built upon it and have grown, and through coaches and scientists we continue to learn more to keep increasing speed as time ensues and figure out best training practices. Through communication we can test various hypotheses and relay findings from the lab to the field and vice versa. Keep on studying as I can tell you have the bug 🙂

  • Steve says:

    What? There was a comment about sport scientists and their research…I’m still hung-up on the “Call on Me” video…

  • Jarlo says:

    Hey, that’s me in that hip opener video! Thanks for sharing!

    And yes, absolutely hip mobility can be maintained and even gained from proper range of motion in weight training. But I’ve also found that my flexibility helps me attain better positions in my squats and Olympic lifts, so that I can lift heavier and not be fighting against immobility.

    Yup, don’t force anything in stretches, your knees can especially be vulnerable to going too fast in hip rotation work.

    Thanks again!

  • Domenic says:

    Thanks for the reply Bret, I will keep studying. Now I guess I should contribute to this thread in a non-rant way.

    I was wondering your thoughts about tight glutes. Watching this hip mobility video, I am reminded how tight and inflexible my glutes are. Over the years of training I’ve noticed not many people have tight glutes, its a pretty uncommon thing to see… I might have just come upon something that is a big factor in glute tightness but I was wondering your thoughts on the matter…

    • Andy... says:

      My problem with hip thrusts/glute bridges is that even though they provide maximum tension in the end-range contracted position where the gluteus maximus is at its optimum length-tension relationship, the hamstrings are in a disadvantageous/POOR position because they are shortened due to bent knees and it reduces their contribution. Supposedly, it’s only the hamstrings & adductors that fire during the push-off phase in sprinting, the glutes only become active just before foot-down to prepare the body for impact with the ground. It makes me a little sceptical of the exercise that also seem to be big on quad activation. Just how much strength in the glutes do we actually need for that “preparation” phase?.

  • Sol Orwell says:

    I’ve never understood the hatred for sports science researchers. If anything, coaches should be contacting them and help them design “better” experiments.

    • Domenic says:

      I dont think there is a hatred for sports science researchers more than there is a stereotype of personal training being one of the biggest joke professions there is…

  • Esmee says:

    It’s so upsetting to see obese pets. Their lifespans are so short as it is, what is strange to me is that people will say, well I want him to be happy. As though happiness equals…unlimited eating? I don’t know, it’s weird.

    I wish someone loved me enough to monitor my food intake and obsessively read about nutrition to make sure I’m eating the absolute best diet possible. That might be annoying though, so I do it for my dog.

    Most people don’t bother to do that for their kids much less pets…

  • Mike says:

    I have a background in chemistry, which is a well established field of science, and when I look at the average sport science paper I find the lack of scientific critique most disconcerting. Way too often researchers see what they want to see in the data and do not even consider alternative explanations. In my view sport science researchers need to start their careers in a more fundamental field like physics or biology, not just studying it but doing research as well so that they learn the rigors of hard core science, and only then move onto more practical fields like sport science. Otherwise it stays a relatively immature science if I may say so (obviously a generalisation, as there are some (but not enough) brilliant minds working in this field).

    • Domenic says:

      Very good point Mike. There are so many subjective elements when it comes to sport science. But think of research as a whole. What types of people are doing research? The types of people that will do exactly what the teacher says, study hard, memorize where they need to, study for the GRE, pass the GRE, apply to schools, follow protocols in experiments.

      In other words, robots. Not often the type of people to think outside the box or even see things big-picture wise. However, what they do see, they will often be extremely accurate with. Even if major things have been overlooked.

      So you have the two elements of research. All the writing of research papers, knowing what research has already been done etc…

      And the other side which is more of an art. Having the vision to see something outside the box that really improves the knowledge base in the field, not just manipulating data to be technically “correct” or in the ballpark on your conclusion.

      The difference with chemistry and exercise science is that there arent many people running western blots out of their garage, but there are millions of people working out reading a study saying, that doesnt make any sense at all.

      • Bret says:

        Mike, trust me there are some papers that are extremely advanced. For example there are biomechanics papers and physiology papers that I can barely follow. When you say, “average” paper then I would agree…because we strength coaches are busy knowing the practical side of things while learning the science on the side. It’s the strength coaches and personal trainers who most often come up with the innovative things in the field (but they don’t know science that well), whereas the hardcore scientists can scrutinize, study, experiment, and explain the science (but they aren’t coming up with innovative things). This is why we need to work together. Strength coaches should reach out to scientists and develop relationships, as should scientists. There shouldn’t be any animosity as each has their role. Just my thoughts.

  • Tom Watson says:

    Hi Bret,
    What are the options for doing back extensions without a hyperextension bench? Is this okay – and is he going up to high?
    Cheers for your help!

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