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Random Thoughts

By June 3, 2012January 23rd, 2014Random Thoughts

Hi Fitness Friends! I have 12 updates and random thoughts for you today. Here you go, in no particular order of importance:

1. Richard Feynman – The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Tim Ferriss posted this video a while back. For those of you who don’t know who Richard Feynman is, click HERE. He’s one of the greatest scientists of all-time and someone who I absolutely admire. I want my readers to play the video below and watch from 42:53 – 44:45.  In fact, WATCH IT TWICE!

Some of my friends wonder why I get worked up from time to time and why I don’t just turn a blind-eye to things. I’m certain that most folks will never, ever understand what it’s like to love their field (in my case sports science) and wish the field was more credible and adhered to better standards. But I prefer to speak my mind at stand up for what I believe in rather than live in regret.

2. Non-uniform changes in MRI measurements of the thigh muscles following two hamstring strengthening exercises

How’s that for a journal article title? For the record, I wanted to dumb the title down a bit! My colleague Jurdan Mendiguchia requested my help getting THIS study published and it was recently accepted in the JSCR. Cliff-notes: hamstring exercises don’t work the hammies evenly over the entire length of the muscle, and some target different hamstring muscles and parts of muscles. To adequately strengthen the entire hamstrings, we should probably be doing several different types of exercises such as RDLs, glute ham raises, back extensions, leg curls, lunges, etc.

3. The Big Rocks of Personal Training

I wrote THIS article for The PDTC for all the trainers who have been emailing me lately feeling overwhelmed by science. Have confidence in yourselves…if you’re reading this blog you’re on the right track! 🙂

4. Where Good Ideas Come From

I got this nifty video from Mike Young‘s blog and thought my peeps would find it interesting:

5. Is Diet Soda Poison?

Since people are aware of my Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper habit, I’m constantly being warned that I’m ingesting poison. You be the judge. HERE is a review paper from 2007 that stated the following:

Critical review of all carcinogenicity studies conducted on aspartame found no credible evidence that aspartame is carcinogenic. The data from the extensive investigations into the possibility of neurotoxic effects of aspartame, in general, do not support the hypothesis that aspartame in the human diet will affect nervous system function, learning or behavior. Epidemiological studies on aspartame include several case-control studies and one well-conducted prospective epidemiological study with a large cohort, in which the consumption of aspartame was measured. The studies provide no evidence to support an association between aspartame and cancer in any tissue. The weight of existing evidence is that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption as a nonnutritive sweetener.

According to Wikipedia:

A 12 US fluid ounce (355 ml) can of diet soda contains 180 milligrams (0.0063 oz) of aspartame, and for a 75 kg (165 lb) adult, it takes approximately 21 cans of diet soda daily to consume the 3,750 milligrams (0.132 oz) of aspartame that would surpass the FDA’s 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight ADI of aspartame from diet soda alone.

HERE‘s a monster review article from 2002 if anyone wants to tackle it – I don’t care to read it! But to me, this quote is the nail in the coffin:

Aspartame is a simple molecule, which is hydrolyzed entirely to its constituent amino acids, aspartate andphenylalanine, and methanol which are then absorbed. The constituents of aspartame are also derived in muchlarger amounts from common foods.

So I will continue drinking my diet soda. I will not judge you if you choose not to drink diet soda.

Until I see convincing evidence I’ll continue drinking my devil juice!

6. Critiquing the Joint by Joint (JBJ) Approach

My colleague Greg Lehman and I recently pointed out exceptions and limitations of the JBJ model in THIS article. The model is brilliant, but it needs some fine-tuning. I train mostly women and their hip mobility is usually fine, whereas their hip stability is usually not. With men it’s often the opposite. The point is that the body breaks down via losses in hip stability just as often as it does with hip mobility. Furthermore, the pelvic joints were left out of the model. So with some fine-tuning I feel it could be improved upon, but then it wouldn’t have an elegant, alternating pattern. Greg didn’t agree with some of my thoughts, which is perfectly fine. What’s important is that we keep asking questions and scrutinizing in the name of scientific advancement.

7. Recent Article Submissions

Last week I submitted a journal article to the SCJ which I feel is my best work to date. I really hope it gets accepted as I believe it will advance our knowledge of hip biomechanics as it pertains to resistance exercise and lead to future research in the areas of transfer of training and hypertrophy as it relates to hip extension exercise. I also just submitted a deadlifting article to TNation that I spent a ton of time researching for, and hopefully this will be posted soon.

8. Annoyed Coaches Stuck “In the Trenches”

Lately I’m seeing an increasing number of blogposts from coaches who are bitter about “internet experts.” They complain that the “internet experts” aren’t training anyone. Guys, I can totally relate. Several years ago I was training folks all day long at my studio Lifts. I had no time to research or write. I wanted to become a successful writer in S&C and I knew that I had to start writing (and that my writing needed to be interesting and scientifically legit). So, I figured out a way to free up time so I could read and write more. That’s just all there is to it. If you’re a coach who wants to break into writing but is training folks all day long, you have three choices:

  1. You can accept your fate and know that you’ll probably never be a popular writer
  2. You can figure out a way to train less often so you have more time to research, blog, network, and write
  3. You can do both (train folks all day, research/blog/network/write all night), but you won’t have a social life and you won’t get your 8 hrs of sleep

Think about it. Most of the best writers and authors in our industry aren’t training folks 40 hours/week. Writing interesting shit week in and week out isn’t easy and takes time…don’t underestimate that.

9. I’m Pretty Sure Elvis Could Have Deadlifted 315 lbs

I just heard this song the other day (Suspicious Minds) and it reminded me of the video which I posted on my blog many, many months ago. Check out the athleticism Elvis displays – he kicks it into high gear at around 4:00 into the video.

You’ll see him busting out Cassock squats, plie squat isoholds, and gyrating hip thrusts. An incredible combination of hip mobility, glute activation, fast-twitch fibers, intramuscular coordination, and rapid nerve conduction velocity!

10. Evidence-Based Strength & Conditioning

Chris Beardsley and I are going to try to post a blog a month on our Strength & Conditioning Research Review website. Click HERE to read a blog we posted a couple of weeks ago on evidence-based S&C. This is a review of a recent journal article published on the topic in the JSCR.

11. Ode to Mel Siff

Mel Siff, like Richard Feynman, is a damn legend in my book. I never got to meet Mel, but many of my colleagues did. Mel wrote Supertraining, operated the Supertraining forums, grilled gurus (much more professionally and thoroughly than me), and insisted that his fans come stay at his house when they passed through Denver. They’d spend the night at his house in his basement (which contained his library with initial Supertraining manuscripts laying around) and spend the entire day talking sports science, lifting weights, and reviewing proper biomechanics. Mel lived and breathed sports science and was in it for the right reasons.

Mel’s legacy lives on!

12. High Rep Hip Thrusts with an Isohold at the End

Here I am training some figure and bikini competitors out of my condo. The video started late, but each girl is performing around 30 reps with a 10 second isohold at the end. This was their 3rd set which was a burn-out.

That’s all folks! Have a great week! I’ll leave you with some great glutes. – BC


  • Ken Morgan says:

    It’s a pity all scientists are not like Richard Feynman. It’s surprising how many scientists don’t have an open mind and especially outside their own field. They have religious beliefs for which there is no evidence at all, for example. Also, a lot of scientific research is about their careers rather than a real passion for truth. Candace B. Pert’s “Molecules of Emotion” gives a good picture of how real world research is influenced by egos, careers and financial factors.

    • Bret says:

      Thanks Ken, I was actually talking about some of this stuff today to a colleague…unfortunately such is life. In a perfect world science would be science and would be unaffected by biases, egos, careers, money, etc., but since we’re dealing with humans it comes with the territory. All we can do is strive to be the best we can be.

  • Richard Feynman, Mel Siff and figure athletes all in the same post – nice work!

  • Cool stuff, Bret. I know we talked about #8, but after I was furloughed from my coaching job and walked into the writing field, I was totally mindblown by how much time I had to put into writing. But absolutely I get both sides of the fence.

    I hope your article does well too!

    • Bret says:

      Most people have no idea! I think I spent 30 hours researching for the last article I wrote, and this is a TNation article. For journal articles it’s much more.

  • Andy says:

    Feynman and Elvis in the same blog post? Two of my heroes!

    Suspicious Minds had that long outro where he’d traditionally do his kata during live shows. Elvis was a serious martial artist and had a specially made, double-wide black belt (no shit) in kenpo.

    Enjoy your devil juice.

  • Ted says:

    Bret, This was a topic of discussion in the comments section of your Poliquin blog post: what is your opinion on Thibaudeau and Shugart? Thanks. 🙂

    • Will Arias says:

      Hey Ted, I reckon the Poliquin topic belongs to May 2012. Now its the chance to breath, smell the flowers and enjoy the fresh air. Father Time will tell when its the appropriate occasion to talk about it. The rational state of mind will be back when the emotional aggressions leave for good. Furthermore, It might sound corny but there are more important things attached to science than nurturing egos , blaming methods or calling names to other members within the industry. The more knowledge we get, the more capacity will have to generate our own opinions. Why is great about reading about the greatest thinkers is the fact we can compare and elaborate our own methods. And what i appreciate the most about Bret Contreras is the fact he shares his knowledge, passion and even resources with all his readers. For instance , thanks to the links provided by Bret i’ve been enhance my appreciation of leaders such as Paul Chek and learning about people like Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, Nick Tummnello, Brad Schoenfeld, Craig Liebenson, Dan John, Mark Rippetoe, Nick Horton, Paul Taylor, Mark Buckley and even female coaches like Kellie Davis, Molly Galbraith, Nia Shanks, Negar Fonooni, Ximena Gonzalez and Rachel Guy (yep, nothing better than learning from the top girls in the business to coach and understand women). So, I’m very grateful and hope to keep learning every day as much as possible… and I’m sure you too, Ted, just like all the positive readers of this great blog. Cheers. Will

    • Bret says:

      Ted, I stopped replying to the comments on that blogpost; they were never-ending! I can say without a doubt that Thibs is absolutely brilliant when it comes to topics in sports science. I still read TNation almost every day but I just read the articles…I don’t get into the other stuff. Thib’s articles back in the day were amazing and I can go back and read them in amazement. Haven’t read much stuff by Shugs…I liked his velocity diet back in the day, it’s the only diet that’s “idiot-proof” enough to allow my step-bro to lose a ton of weight quickly haha. I realize that everyone has people in the profession who they wish I’d grill. Remember in my initial grill the guru post – I said that I was sticking to cocky/arrogant guys. Thibs is incredibly professional and humble IMO. I have guys in mind who I want to grill and I’ll stick to them, but next time around I’ll be more professional.

      • Derrick Blanton says:

        Read this today as I perused through the T-Nation live spill, sifting through the spam, looking for a useful tip or two..

        “@ Alex… I will say this though. Everytime I see a question by you, I REALLY do not want to answer it. First because of your recent “studies” questions. Second because you are a level 0 customer which means that you have never bought a single product from Biotest… this means two things (1) all you do is take… (2) you will not benefit from my methods optimally since they are designed to work in combination with our peri-workout protocol.”

        Christian Thibaudeau

        Yes, I see what you are saying, Bret. He exudes humility and professionalism. But what really stands out is his commitment to integrity! Since his techniques are not useful without buying their supps, he politely discourages his pesky inquisitor..He sounds like an egomaniac cult leader sanctioning a young follower.

        Give me a fucking break.

        • Derrick Blanton says:

          Rant, Pt. 2:

          He also sounds like he suffers from borderline personality disorder. “All you do is take”..


          The dude’s just looking for advice on an exercise to hit his tri’s while minimizing pec involvement. He’s not asking you to whip him up a sandwich while he watches the game with his feet up on your coffee table..

          So calm down Koresh, and go have some Kool-Aid, er, Brain Candy…Just don’t look in the mirror. Remember what happened to your knuckles last time. That’s it. You know what? We’re gonna ban that Level 0 asshat. He never did appreciate all that you did for him..

          I know, I know. When did the laughter stop? Why don’t these Level 0, study-reading, soul-sucking idiots buy more Indigo??

          Why, Shugs, why? Just… why? (sniffle)

          Don’t these ungrateful fuckballs get it that you only want your special methods to work… I mean.. work “optimally”.. in a synergistic way with your powerful nutrient re-partitioning agents?

          How can you expect to build a decent set of horseshoes without nutrient re-partioning agents? It’s like, IMPOSSIBLE!!

          • Sven says:

            Derrick, all your comments on the T-Nation livespills have been hilarious. Thank you!
            By the way, he also got a bit pissed off, by his own admission, because someone asked a few questions about including 70% of bodyweight to calculate the actual load during squatting…Apparently strong people just don’t do that, ever…

  • Trina says:

    Amen! That’s my favorite soda too!!! Thanks!

  • I am simply being carried away by what you have emphasized in #8. Yes, it is really true that one of the most powerful ways to win the heart of a people interested in physical fitness is thru our writings or articles published in blogs. I myself find it also difficult to do since I needed to personally attend the needs of my clients thus limit me to spend more time in front of my computer these past few days. But, I guess this article is a reminder for me to spend more quality time express my thoughts, share my ideas and know hows over the internet to maximize the potential to reach more people. Great stuff, thank you dude! 😉

    • Bret says:

      Training ourselves…training others…reading…writing…having a social life…sleeping…so hard to juggle it all!

  • Andy... says:

    Thankyou as always Bret.

    “Cliff-notes: hamstring exercises don’t work the hammies evenly over the entire length of the muscle, and some target different hamstring muscles and parts of muscles”.

    It would have been nice to list all the possible consequences.

    With regards to #4. Where Good Ideas Come From.

  • Julie says:

    How do i get glutes like the girl holding herself up in the picture? shes got some strength but she doesnt look all bulky or too toned

    • Bret says:

      Well…of course genetics plays a huge role in things, but train mostly glutes. This is your best chance of looking like that.

  • Great post, Bret. Love the aspartame stuff…I’ve written a bunch about aspartame for my Weightology Weekly subscribers. You do a google search for aspartame and there are people who think it’s the cause of every disease known to man. Here’s a toast to more Satan juice!

    I had the chance to meet Mel once at a conference. First thing he said to me was that I was “argumentative”…haha. Had a great time with him and it was cool to meet him.

    • Bret says:

      Thanks James! Good to hear from you. Glad to see you’ve written about it too…so many folks believe it’s the worst thing known to man. I suppose that coming from Mel, that was a compliment haha. Cheers!

  • Rees says:

    Have you looked into the affects of artificial sweetners on the bacteria in your gut?

  • #1) Nice Old School quote from above. 🙂
    #2) I haven’t had a pop since I was 13 (1989). I know a pop (we call it “pop” here in the midwest) here and there would not cause me to grow a 3rd eye or anything like that. But it has kind of become a competition… how long can I go without a pop touching my lips? So far, it has been an easy 23 years. 🙂


  • Nidin says:

    Hey bret,awesome post. Since you are a fan of Feynman, I think you would enjoy his book ‘Surely you must be joking Mr.Feynman’. It is a casual read and is very interesting.

  • Maciek says:

    Hi Bret! Sorry for my english if it’s bad. I have random question for you, so I think it concerns to the tittle of your post at least :).
    I love your ’emg articles’ (just like the other ones). Did you analize the activation of medial deltoid for prone trap raise? I think it’s very good exercise for this muscle, what do you think? Can we expect next emg researches from you? Greets from Poland!

  • Kevin Petrecca says:

    In some people, Aspartame can cause some nasty reactions. I also avoid aspartame even if i am not allergic to it. I am more inclined to use natural sweeteners such as Stevia or Xylitol because they are much better than Aspartame based sweeteners. ‘;,”, With appreciation medicine side effects webpage

  • Joy says:

    Unfortunately my mother will forever think aspartame is the devil. Personally I am glad I can do some diet sprite and lime on hot days.

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