Random Thoughts

By March 14, 2012 Random Thoughts

Hi Readers, Just wanted to provide you with a quick update and some random thoughts.

1. Strong Curves Update

Here is the promo video for the book that I wrote with Kellie Davis titled Strong Curves. You can pre-order it off Amazon by clicking HERE. It comes out on August 1st.

Abs may be built in the kitchen, but glutes are built in the gym!

2. Upcoming Blogposts this Week

Tomorrow I’m going to post Part II of my Happiness/Take the Bull by the Horns article, and on Thursday I’m going to post Part II of my Guru/Advice to Future Writers article.

3. My New Favorite Way to Perform Single Leg RDL’s

Here is a single leg RDL with the hand braced for balance purposes. I’m not an athlete so I don’t give a damn about increasing my proprioception/sensorimotor skills. I just want to receive the best hamstring workout possible, and holding onto something stable allows me to be so much more productive in my sets. If you struggle with balancing during single leg RDL’s, give this variation a try; you might be pleasantly surprised at how much more effective of a workout you receive.

4. Interview on Brad Schoenfeld’s Site

Last week my buddy Brad Schoenfeld interviewed me HERE. I felt that this was a very good interview so please give it a read if you haven’t already.

5. Influence of Squatting Depth on Jumping Performance

I ran across a sweet study a couple of weeks back in the JCSR on the transfer of squatting depth to vertical jump performance. Basically, ten weeks of heavy quarter squats 2X/wk decreased subjects’ countermovement jump (CMJ) by .01% (no gains). However, ten weeks of heavy full back squats 2X/wk increased subjects’ CMJ by 7.79%, and ten weeks of heavy full front squats 2X/wk increased subjects’ CMJ by 8.29%. Go deep or go home!


  • Will says:

    I’ve been using the supported SLRDL with my non-athlete clients for a fair while now. Best exercise to teach the hip hinge on one leg.
    And for clients – mostly females – that ‘like’ to feel DOMS in the hammy’s and glutes, medium to high reps of these are money!

  • Damon says:

    Bret- I look forward to getting the book for my wife, I’m sure it will be awesome. Great news about squatting and vertical jump- I train for 3 things: get stronger, run faster, and jump higher- and squatting low accomplishes all of those. Good stuff!

  • Lauren says:

    Bret congrats on the book, Ive already placed my pre-order! And the S&C Research is amazing! It’s a great way to get a lot of information in one place. I appreciate the work you guys put into it. Cheers!

  • Steven Rice Fitness says:

    Hi Bret,
    Question on the ‘Strong Curves’ video- Kelli has a lot of thoracic flexion on the hyper extension. Is this good, bad, or not important? Otherwise, looks great, and I will promote the book and clip to women to help explain my focus on lower body work, and show the benefits.

    • Bret says:

      Steven, I’ve gone over this a ton of times but I need to film another video discussing it. It leads to way more glute activation and is a result of the posterior pelvic tilt. I used to wonder why I and all of my clients did it, but now I understand it more. Anyway it will not screw up posture since we do tons of squats, deadlifts, etc. which require a strong thoracic arch. Each lift has its own rules, and back extensions are way more glute dominant when you round the upper back and pull with the glutes. Hip ext combined with PPT is the way to go IMO and when I do my glute seminars I have everyone try it and see for themselves which style they like more – everyone always chooses the glute dominant style.

      Great question! Kellie also exhibits some shrugging when she deadlifts, and she has serious APT so her push ups look like she’s in lumbar ext. But her form has come a long way and her APT has actually improved over the past year.

      • Kellie says:

        On the contrary, I think it was the camera angle for the deadlifts as I have plenty of other videos proving otherwise. 🙂

        Steve, I noticed that about myself when I learned to fire the glutes hard in a back extension. But I definitely feel it much more in the glutes.

  • Tom says:

    Saw that you trained Kenny Dobbs, any stories or details about training would be cool to read.

    • Bret says:

      Hi Tom, only for a few weeks and then he had to travel to Europe for dunk contests. He lived over an hour away from me so we couldn’t meet too often. But he’s a freak of nature and I’d love keep experimenting on him over time. So I can’t offer much insight except to say his max strength was utterly pathetic but his RFD and elasticity were obviously through the roof!

      • Andy... says:

        Bret says:
        “So I can’t offer much insight except to say his max strength was utterly pathetic but his RFD and elasticity were obviously through the roof!”

        Reminds me of Kadour Ziani.

  • Robbie-O says:

    Holy pronation on that last pic! Great blog

    • Bret says:

      Haha! This was a pic from 2.5 yrs ago. I didn’t know that this was a big deal back then. These days I know the difference and have corrected it. I’m actually going to film a video soon on valgus collapse and pronation, the mechanisms behind it, the biomechanical consequences, the muscles involved, etc. It’s been something I’ve studied a ton in the past year or so.

      Cheers Robbie!

      • Robbie-O says:

        That would be awesome, considering it is my biggest problem with squatting, and having the least mobile ankles on the planet.

        • Bret says:

          I wouldn’t assume that it’s due to ankle mobility. It could be, but I believe with most people the hips are the culprit.

          • Robbie-O says:

            I agree with that completely. I have very poor dorsiflexion and pretty tight/adhesioned calves from years of toe walking. I like the size aspect (16″ with no direct work ain’t bad), but they are TIGHT. Look forward to more articles!

  • Dale M says:

    What if you get butt tuck when you squat deep? I think everyones agrees that you should only squat as deep as you can without butt tuck. So what causes butt tuck? Is it tight lateral hamstrings, or tight pirifinis, or weak abductors, or weak spinal erectors? What corrective excercises/stretches can you do?

    • Bret says:

      Dale, I wouldn’t say “everyone” agrees. When I visited John Broz I saw plenty of his Oly guys going rock bottom and tucking a bit. Many Oly lifters do it. Many coaches ignore it. Sometimes I ignore it with certain lifters and let them go rock bottom when I’m training folks.

      The questions you ask are great and I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time as well. I even asked this question to Professor Carl DeRosa when I visited him in Flagstaff (spinal expert at NAU) a couple of years ago.

      I want to film a video discussing this as well as I have much to share about this.

    • Derrick Blanton says:

      Hey Dale, I have kind of come to a few experiential conclusions after 14-years of striving for the perfect back squat, and front squat:

      The cause of the rounding may be tight hip flexors, tight (or more likely, inhibited) hammies, poor core activation, poor glute activation, or poor thoracic spine strength.

      If your spine moves from hard arch to neutral, you should be okay. Don’t roll past neutral into flexion, though.

      Start from a completely locked lumbar spine squat depth, and progressively squat to a lower and lower depth (touch and go progressively lower box is a good tool). I can often get deeper without rounding during the same set from rep to rep, as my CNS gives permission.

      Shove the knees out and sit down between your legs, not stacked on top. Dan John’s cue to put a boulder down between your legs works well here.

      The danger zone for the lumbar is above parallel. Lock it up here. Below parallel, you have a little more room for error.

      The problem is often not hamstring length per se, as much as hamstring inhibition due to weak core, or weak thoracic spine. If you are sloppy in either of these areas, your hammies(really your CNS) will neurally put the brakes on. Then the ROM comes from the next link in the chain, the lower back. A lot of times the hamstring length is there, but lying dormant under layers of other areas of dysfunction.

      Hip flexor tightness causes anterior pelvic tilt which will pull you over in a squat. Lengthen the hip flexors, which are evil bastards of muscles. RF, too.

      Finally, SMR does more for me than stretching, both are good. Ditch the foam roller, and use a PVC pipe, barbell, or lacrosse ball. Hit the TFL, psoas, RF, and then follow up with the appropriate stretch for that area. Do it daily!

      Hope some or all of this helps. We all have our own unique dysfunctions, so your mileage may vary.

      • Bret says:

        Derrick, I agree with some of this and disagree with some of it, and I feel you’re missing one minor point as well as one huge point. But I don’t want to comment now as it needs to be its own post (so it gets adequate attention as this is a huge issue). The part I disagree with is the hammy’s involvement. I’ve heard this for years and I just can’t see how they would pull the pelvis into PPT; the knees are bent so I’d assume they’d have enough slack on the distal end to accommodate the stretch on the proximal end in hip flexion combined with APT. I appreciate you chiming in and offering sincere advice and what has worked for you! Thx, BC

        • Derrick Blanton says:

          Ha ha, BC.. If you only knew. I initially penned a 3-page “e-book” on the matter, which I decided would be totally obsessive and self-indulgent to post! So I bullet pointed a few key points, if you will.

          I love learning and considering different ideas, BC. If anyone can shed some light on the topic, it’s you!

          To elaborate (just briefly!) a bit on above theory, the hamstring length may be sufficient, but simply be inhibited due to poor core and/or thoracic stability.

          For example, take the old test of laying supine and raising one locked leg as far as possible without bending the knee, with as relaxed abs as possible. Then do it again with MVC braced abs, and voila! Magically the CNS releases the brake on the hamstring, and instantly gives you a few more inches hamstring ROM.

          I also suspect that we habitually bombard the lumbar erectors with excessive CNS info as we sub lumbar movement for hip movement. In the process, we lose proprioception of where the hammies are in their length/tension relationship. Again, the length is there, we just don’t “know it”.

          If one can groove a proper hip hinge with a planked spine at the drop of a hat, then they will have less issue with getting deep with no rounding.

          You wrote a long time ago that maximum activation requires maximum stability. I have found this to be so true in so many different, often hidden ways. The body simply will shut down agonists, when it feels unstable. Again, this is just one puzzle piece, as the body is far too complex to just say, “Lengthen the hamstrings..”

          Look forward to your extended thoughts, Bret. Thanks for continuing to drop the knowledge!

  • “Go deep or go home” – QFT

  • joey says:

    Who is the woman in the strong curves video?

  • Domenic says:

    Do you attribute the transference from front squatting to increased glute involvement in that exercise or is that difference not significant enough to point to anything?

  • Trish says:

    OMG…I can’t wait for Strong Curves!! You’ve already taught me how to change up my glute area just from tips on your posts…Strong Curves will bring it all to the next level!

  • My problem with that SLRDL variation is that I can’t hold enough weight… that is, I don’t have a heavy enough dumbell (or kb).

    In the FWIW category: After reading Ralph Mann’s book about sprinting, where he says he gets the Olympic sprinters to do squats to 90-degrees half-squats at 135-degrees (because that’s the position of your legs in the starting blocks), I’ve modified that (because I have a broken L5) and am doing 1-legged bench squats where the down position is at 90 or 135 (I use a Reebok step so I can adjust the height — when my back toe touches, I come back up).

    Annoyingly, I’m running into a similar problem… I’m just about at the limits of my weights, as well as what I can actually hold.

    BTW, I’m going to make a video… my next set of elevated weighted hip thrusts will be over 500 lbs 😉 (last week I did 495 x 6)

  • CHAITANYA says:


  • Joe says:

    Hey this book looks like it will be really great. Silly question I know, but I’m a guy… would I get a lot out of it? Is it equally-applicable for guys?

    Also, I’m interested in glute development as a means of lessening knee stress when I run. I’ve downloaded your eBook. Are there any other articles which may have direct application for runners?

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