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Random Thoughts

By September 15, 2010July 20th, 2015Random Thoughts

I just can’t stay away from these “Random Thoughts” blogs. I just have too many little things to say and I don’t want to create a ton of different blogposts for each idea. Here are 20 random thoughts for the week!

1. Jurdan Mendiguchia/Matt Brughelli Hamstring article

I’ve read a ton of journal articles pertaining to the hamstrings and this is hands-down the best I’ve ever read! It’s by Jurdan Mendiguchia and Matt Brughelli and it’s called, “A return-to-sport algorithm for acute hamstring injuries.” I think they cited 146 articles in this study. This is one of my favorite journal articles I’ve ever read. If you’re a strength coach or physical therapist, you need to read this! In fact, don’t just read it once, read it five times! Click here for the article abstract. Check my blog tomorrow as I interviewed Jurdan.

2. Success

If you want to succeed, you have to do two things: 1) Get out of your comfort zone, and 2) Sacrifice. I know so many people who get home from work, crack open a beer, and kick it on the couch while flipping through the channels. It must be nice!

3. Rack Pull Transfer

In this video some dude rack pulls a shit-ton of weight. Unfortunately, it won’t transfer over to his deadlift. Why? Look at the position of the knees in the pictures below. In picture number one, he’s squatting the weight up. In pictures two and three, it shows the actual bar position when the bar passes the knees. Here’s a video that shows actual heavy deadlifts. If you want to impress people with a huge rack pull, do it like the guy in picture number one. If you want the rack pull to transfer over to your deadlift, you almost need to do a “straight leg rackpull” where you don’t allow much knee flexion and focus the movement around the hips.

4. Blogs – keep it simple

Sometimes I read certain people’s blogs and I wonder what their primary goal is…to impress the high-level coaches or to help the general public. If I have trouble deciphering your blog, and I got really good grades in school, then I think you could attract more readers if you spent some extra time “dumbing it down” and making things easier for the general public to understand. I think high-level coaches are impressed when you can explain things in a more simplistic manner anyway.

5. ASU Biomechanics course

I’m taking an advanced Biomechanics course right now at ASU. My professor is Rick Hinrichs. He’s been teaching this stuff for around a quarter of a century. This is definitely the coolest course I’ve ever taken. I’m a little rusty at my math (I took Calculus courses sixteen years ago!), but the concepts all make perfect sense. Rick is a top-notch professor. He’s professional, articulate, and most important – passionate about his field.

6. Hip thrust height

Some people go to neutral with their hip thrusts, and some people take it slightly further and enter into hip hyperextension. My clients and I can always tell when we go too heavy as we don’t get the right “feel” when you use full ROM. Obviously hip flexor flexibility comes into play but I’ve found that hip thrusts help increase hip flexor flexibility through reciprocal relationships between the gluteus maximus and hip flexors.

7. Learning from Gurus

Even though I don’t always agree with certain gurus (or I’m simply “on the fence” in certain areas), I’m always teaching my clients the various theories, methods, and philosophies of strength training. I still think of myself as a teacher and try to offer up different viewpoints. I do a lot of namedropping when I coach and I’ll sometimes ask my clients if they’d prefer to do more or less of a certain activity as I try to give the clients what they want.

Many of my online clients in particular will ask some pretty good questions and I’ll work with them to create a program that they’re excited about. You want clients to be excited about the program; the placebo effect is huge!

8. Not Knowing

After spending time talking to researchers and professors over the past couple of months, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know shit. It’s a good place to be. I used to feel like I had to know everything. Now I just want to know the right people who know everything about a particular topic so I can shoot a quick email if I have a question. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a life-long learner to the bone, but there’s just too damn much to learn to ever come close to knowing it all.

9. Dealing With Unmotivated – bargaining

One technique I use with “unmotivated clients” is to bargain with them. If they don’t like a particular exercise, I’ll tell them, “how about this…if you can beat what you did last week then I’ll only make you do one set.” I had a client who hated squats beat his record for ten consecutive weeks. He was a 58 year old, 160 lb male who went from squatting 95 lbs for ten reps to 155 lbs for ten reps, all below parallel. Once they get strong at something, they tend to start liking it anyway. Pretty good for just one set per week.

10. Power Video

Here’s a ten-minute video on Power Production. It’s pretty basic; I don’t go into detail with anything. But many people don’t really understand the various factors that come into play when trying to maximize power production. One thing that was confusing in the video; it is possible to improve fascicle length through resistance and sport training. In the video I mentioned that those lengths were genetically pre-determined but I was referring to tendon attachment points. Anyway, if you’re interested in power production, then you’ll like this video.

11. X-Ray Vision

I’m not there yet, but I wonder if some top physical therapists or biomechanists have “x-ray vision” when it comes to movement. In other words, they can “see” through the body and envision the interplay between the joints, tendons, muscles, etc. while a person is exercising. I swear I’m not on acid right now.

12. Training multiple clients at once – having a system

One thing that’s kind of cool is that I’m so detail-oriented on the front-end with my clients that it pays off in the long run. When I get a new client, I take a lot of time explaining everything to them. Often I’ll train several clients at once and not only do my more advanced clients know how to fend for themselves (they don’t need my help much), but they also serve as “helpers,” offering cues, giving spots, racking weights, etc. If you train more than two people at a time, it’s imperative that you teach them how to help out and get involved in the entire experience.

13. Online clients – poor form

There’s a big disconnect with the way we strength coaches are teaching form and the way the general public is performing the movements. At first I was pretty shocked when I started asking online clients for videos of their form on various exercises. Now nothing shocks me. It is so important for people to submit these videos, because it creates an opportunity for the coach to explain what they’re doing wrong and provide links to videos that demonstrate proper form.

14. Pendlay row

Here’s a link to a good explanation of the Pendlay row. It’s a badass exercise for advanced lifters. It’s quite different from a regular bent over row.

15. Bench – use your entire body

I think I’m finally to the point where I use my entire body when I bench. For so many years I benched like a bodybuilder (which is one of the reasons why I have pretty good pec development) but now I try to bench like a powerlifter to maximize my loads. It took me a long time to learn how to use my lats, drive with my legs, and use my triceps to their full effect. Sometimes at the end of my sets of bench I’ll drop down to 225 and crank out a set of bodybuilding-style bench press just to try to target the pecs, as they don’t get nearly as much stimulation from the powerlifting-style bench press.

16. Blog readership

Last week I hit an all-time high – almost 23,000 views on my blog. I’m very happy to be doing something right. I never thought that this many people would give a shit about what I have to say.

17. Oh really?

Here’s a link to a guy who claims that wearing a mouthpiece while lifting boosts strength by 17%. This is why it’s important to have experienced lifters in the field…we serves as bullshit detection meters. And mine’s at level 10 right now!

Supposedly it works by transferring power (I guess through irradiation transferred through the masseter and temporalis muscles) and by increasing hormone secretion (I guess epinephrine and norepinephrine).

This reminds me of the guys who used to tell me that their friend practiced some rare form of martial arts and he knew of a pressure point that could render someone unconscious if he pressed on it. My response was always, “then why don’t you see anyone in UFC doing it?” They’d say, “because they don’t know, it’s a secret.” I’d call them stupid and walk away.

To this, I say, “then why don’t top powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters use mouthpieces?” A thousand pound squatter could boost his strength up to 1,170 lbs just by biting down on a mouthpiece!”

I’m calling bullshit on this one.

18. Badass hip thruster

Here is Craig Pfisterer, a 6’7″ aspiring strongman. Tall people often have freakishly strong glutes as we have to use them more than our shorter counterparts when we squat and deadlift because our hips are further away from the bar.

19. Ines Sainz

You’re welcome.

20. The Rumble Roller

I just got my Rumble Roller today and I love it. I like it much more than traditional foam rollers for SMR purposes. Check it out here. I don’t get any commission of it so please don’t think I’m trying to sell you something. Just thought I’d pass along info for a cool new product that I found.


  • Clement says:

    Hi Bret,

    I’ve been interested in the Pendlay for quite some time. However, I’m still confused over the differences. From what I understand, in both the conventional and pendlay rows, the bar is lowered to the floor after every rep, but in the pendlay row you “round” your upper back and then retract your scapula when you pull, and also “cheat” a little by arching your mid to upper back explosively. Am I right?

  • Tim Egerton says:

    Hi Bret,

    That Rumble Roller looks great!


  • Hey Clement, from my understanding (I could be wrong) the main difference is there is a hip drive and an active back extension coupled with the row. The hip drive/back extension are whip like, to enable you to lift more weight and overload the scapular retractors more.

    Brett, re: X-ray vision, I think initially it is more important to see gross movement, and then look through to see the parts, if there is dysfunction. Re: blog traffic, what do you think the key to your success is, besides obviously good content, i.e how do you drive new traffic? And thanks for no. 19, made my night.

  • allie says:

    Bret, love the random thoughts posts. 23,000 blog hits- NICE! Re: hip thrust height, its best to take it above neutral, right? I definitely try to push higher than neutral and DO feel it in a bit way! (I do it with whole body on the floor.)

    • Physical therapists would say no because theoretically you could get anterior hip pain but I’ve had hundreds of clients doing them this way for four years and no one has ever gotten anterior hip pain. You do get maximum glute contractions this way, so I say go for it. Just make sure the hyperextension comes from the hips, not the lumbar spine.

  • At CP, we call the the Rumble Roller by a different name: The Violator.

    We’re cool like that

  • Smitty says:

    “At CP, we call the the Rumble Roller by a different name: The Violator.”

    Yeah man, it violates those muscle, definitely!

    I just got believe no one has made an anal reference yet?


  • Dan says:

    There was an article in Men’s Journal a month or 2 ago about the new high-tech mouthguards that many professional athletes are now using. (I couldn’t find the article doing a quick search.) There seemed to be a correlation between proper jaw alignment and how it translates to the musculoskeletal structure, thus leading to enhanced performance and balance. I’m certainly doubtful of the 17% strength gain, but for general sports, the product seems to perform as advertised.

  • Peter says:

    Really am a fan of number 19 and 9. I try doing stuff like that with my guitar and piano students, but it never usually works.

  • Good points Bret. Thanks for sharing.

    I like 12. This is real important in my setting, in which the coach-to-athlete ratio is horrible. I make sure to have heavy detail on the front end as well. If I’ve been doing my job well, I have many athlete/coaches to help expedite the process.

    This is also why I really like the classroom sessions I’ve done with some of the athletes.

    It’s so important to create a culture as to how things are done from a techinical standpoint, but also tactical. This works the ‘nurture’ side of nurture vs. nature. Culture is a powerful force once it’s in place.

  • Joey Taraborelli, CSCS says:

    I seem to like #19 the best, but I’m not sure why…

  • Ad says:

    Bret, please give us a review on the rumble roller after using it a few times as compared to the hard foam rollers. Thanks.

  • Nick Horton says:

    Nice. Well, if you’ve got random thoughts, here are my random responses (gotta have something to do while I’m drinking my coffee):

    1. Hammy Article – I’ll make sure to read it. (If I can get to it, I’ll try and review it on my blog).

    2. Success – I tell my athletes, “If you want to succeed, you have to fail … A LOT.”

    3. Rack Pull Transfer – I have felt that because of the knee position in a rack pull, it carries over far better to the Oly lifts where we end up in exactly that position before the top of the 2nd pull. We just add a shrug to it.

    4. Blogs, keep it simple – Indeed. Most readers are looking for info they can practically use. My own blog has been a great tool for attracting clients, and that’s my target audience – people who want to do what I coach.

    5. Bio course – right on brother! More science is always good. The calc will come back to you fast. When I first went back to school to get my math degree, and had to take calc as a freshman, it had been 8 years since I’d had math, which I had failed out of in high school (too much time smokin’ weed and chasing girls!)

    6. Hip Thrust Height – I’ll keep that in mind. I’m going to buy a thick pad so we can start using a loaded barbell. The one legged stuff is just getting silly. I’m excited to test out how it affects oly lifters when they go heavy on hip thrusts for a while.

    7. Learning from Guru’s – being a “discerning sponge” is my motto. Our job is to bring our A-game to our clients. Amen.

    8. Not Knowing – I am at the point in my career as a coach where I know enough to know I don’t know enough! 🙂

    9. Bargaining – good trick. I am lucky in that I have had to do little of that. I tend to have a “filter” style of marketing which lands me clients who will do anything I tell them to for the most part. Also, I am so damned jovial and upbeat that I think they feel bad and guilty (like they are going to let me down) if they complain too much (I have a powerful Santa quality). I also do a shit-pile of motivational-type speaking with them (learning what it means to have the “mind of a champion”, etc).

    10. Power Video – Great stuff! I think that’s a good intro for athletes who are willing to look under the hood a bit. I’ll link to that on my site this week.

    11. X-ray Vision – Acid? maybe not. Peyote? Probable.

    12. Training multiple clients at once – That’s the only way I travel, brother. I do nothing but large group training and I do it the same way you do. I focus like a maniac on them for about a month, then it tappers down, and they become more self sufficient. The top guys are always around to help the newbies, and that creates a killer atmosphere.

    13. Online training – I don’t do it so I haven’t the experience. But, I’m not shocked by that at all.

    14. Pendlay Row – A great exercise for getting people to stop using their hips and start using their backs on rows. Ironic, though, as there is more movement generally with these.

    15. Bench Press – back when I DID bench (I started out in Powerlifting) it took a long time to learn how to use the whole body. I haven’t benched in 3 years, though.

    16. Blog Readership – congrats!! You write useful stuff, and you make it fun, that’s the key. I moved my own blog from to a selfhosted platform a year ago, and it didn’t take my stats. Before I left I had 210,167 visits. But, my new stats tell me I’m at 53,000 this year. If I do the math that’s … shit … um … 263k and change (brain hurts). Odd that so many people would be interested in *Zen and the Art of Olympic Weightlifting*!

    17. Mouth piece – Wow. That’s some powerful bullshit!

    18. Badass Hip Thruster – this dude is very strong. Now we know he also has a strong booty!

    19. Ines Sainz – Thank you, indeed. This is why I’m an “ass man”.

    20. The Rumble Roller – that’s looking like a powerful way to release some tightness!

    OK, enough of this. Off to go lift heavy shit above my head!

  • Zach says:

    lol #17 ftw. ive checked out that guys blog before and he’s the typical internet marketer who happened to pick fitness as his niche. he promotes every single crappy product like it’s a miracle and he once even admitted that he doesn’t even have a personal training certification, yet still considers himself an “expert” in the field. god do i hate those fitness internet marketers, why can’t they just pick another niche and stop corrupting the fitness industry

  • Karli says:

    That Hip Thruster is insane! He’s badass not only because of how much he put up, but he’s doing it WITHOUT A PAD on the bar! Beast.

  • Bret, I have never tried the barbell hip thrust before. I am totally impressed with the tall strongman guy using so much load, WOW! I still find a properly done Kettlebell swing to be a great way to get someone’s glutes to function athletically…..basically grooving a powerful hip extension. But you have got me thinking about incorporating your hip thrust movement both personally and with clients!

    Thanks bro!

    • Give it a try Franz! Your twin loved it. KB swings are to hip thrusts as jump squats are to squats. All are good, but swings and jumps work on speed-strength, elasticity, RFD, etc., whereas hip thrusts and squats work more on maximum strength, increased CSA, etc. They all go hand in hand!

  • I appreciate the mention in your blog for my mouthepiece article. I don’t even mind that you disagree with it. I’m always up for healthy debate.

    All I ask is that before you blast anything as being B.S., you first consider that there may actually be stuff out there that you don’t know.

    There’s hard research going all the way back to the 70’s on the use of a mouthepiece to increase strength and power and they’re now using it in Olympic training.

    Thanks for your consideration and you’re always welcome to comment on my blog with respectful and professional feedback, even if it’s to debate one of my posts.

    (Nick Horton – Start at paragraph 2 above)

  • Brock says:

    Hey Bret, about the rack deadlift. Having read some of Louie Simmons’ stuff, that’s exactly why he doesn’t do much (if any) work with partials. Basically, when you have to move heavy weight, your body will simply put itself in the most advantageous position to complete the lift, not the position it needs to be in to recreate the lift. Just more proof to support it I suppose!

  • I was wondering why I was getting so many views on that video. Now I know haha.

  • Nick Horton says:

    While you aren’t wrong to call me out as being offensive (for that I apologize) I think the research you’re talking about is in the category, “Interesting in theory, but has little practical value.” Quite a bit of theoretic research ends up in this camp.

    That isn’t to say it isn’t valuable. But, 17% strength gain is a bit silly to expect for anyone who is all that advanced.

    By advanced I mean they have the ability to control their use of adrenaline and other hormones (that is, psych themselves up) for big lifts. Advanced lifters can “turn on the switch” and then “turn it back off” when they need to.

    Most Olympic weightlifters actually lift with their mouths extra WIDE open … and scream a lot. The mouth piece would just get in the way.

    I absolutely understand the idea that ways of amping up the adrenal gland can produce better lifts – and a mouth piece might do this for lifters who aren’t all that advanced – but, a better approach is to teach them how to do this without the need of a gimmick.

    This approach is more like the Kia (or yell) in Karate. They are teaching you to spike certain hormone levels at the exact moment you need them. Relax, relax, explode!

    I’d be worried, even if it DID work well, that it would become a crutch.

    Again, I’m sorry that I wasn’t exactly tactful. But, I spend my days coaching strong dudes lift big weights. And this little thing did click my BS button.

    • Understood Nick and again, I actually enjoy professional debate. It makes us all better trainers and test subjects, eh?

      I find that keeping my teeth clenched on a mouthpiece does allow me to push harder and it’s saved my teeth as well. I could never figure out why my dentist was asking me if I grind my teeth while I sleep because as far as I know (or felt…although hell…I AM asleep) I don’t do that.

      However, I became very conscious after that that during my big lifts, I WAS grinding my teeth naturally at the hardest part of the lift.

      That made it clear to me that there was something to the theory and I do feel stronger with the mouthpiece and my dentist bills are cheaper too! 😉

      Thanks for commenting back brotha!

  • kdavis27 says:

    @8: Just keep in mind that John Milton went blind attempting to read every book every published. Of course, this was all done by candlelight. But, you get my point.

    @15: I never knew there was difference between bodybuilding bench press and that of a powerlifter. Now that you mention it, I bench press like a powerlifter. Cool to know.

    @18: Agree totally. Josh has freakishly strong glutes.

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