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Random Thoughts

By April 22, 2014December 22nd, 2015Random Thoughts

How’s it going fitness peeps? I’ve got some great articles, videos, rants, and before/after pictures for you to check out. Just keeping you in the know!

Good Articles

First, I’ll post some articles by me, then by various colleagues.

Male Glutes

Ladies, are you satisfied?

Articles by Bret Contreras

I’ve been a busy little bee. Directly below are ten different articles/podcasts I wrote/recorded for other expert’s sites over the past couple of weeks.

Bigger, Better Glutes: Master the Hip Thrust

THIS is my best article to date on hip thrusts. Check it out on TNation!

Squats versus Hip Thrusts: Which is Better? Eric Cressey’s Site

THIS article was a slam dunk on Eric Cressey’s site. For glute development, should you squat, hip thrust, or do both?

Strength Defined on Ben Bruno’s Site

In THIS article I discuss my definition of “strong” and list numerical indicators of strength.

Strength is Corrective on Dean Somerset’s Site

In THIS article I tell my story and discuss the differences between my situation and my control’s situation (twin brother).

Pimp Your Program Design on Tony Gentilcore’s Site

HERE I discuss program design and list some important considerations when planning your training.

Interview With Sean Hyson

Sean asked me some excellent questions at THIS link.

Results-Based Program Design on Jon Goodman’s PTDC Site

HERE I list a simple program design strategy for personal trainers to help them achieve better gains with their clientele.

Interview With Chad Waterbury

In THIS interview, Chad asks me some great questions about strength training.

Programming the Deadlift on Jordan Syatt’s Site

In THIS article, I discuss programming considerations pertaining to the deadlift; the trickiest exercise of all.

Interview With Scott Rawcliffe

HERE is an hour-long podcast that covers a lot of ground. Scott asked me a wide variety of questions and conducted a very nice interview.

Articles by Other Folks


Haters Gonna Hate

HERE Jason Ferruggia wrote an incredible article on haters. Cliff notes: don’t pay them any attention, as they’re not your competition. They sit around and hate all day long on the internet, which explains their lack of success.

Training Frequency and Strength

Click HERE to see how training frequency affects strength gains. Chris Beardsley does an incredible job sifting through the research as usual.

It’s All in the Hips

THIS article discusses the importance of the glutes in running.

Minimalism isn’t Always the Optimal Way

Greg Nuckols wrote an excellent article HERE on assistance lifts and strength development.

Nick Tumminello Interview

HERE is a nice interview with Nick by Scott Rawcliffe.

The Belt and the Deadlift

In THIS article, Mark Rippetoe has some interesting thoughts pertaining to deadlifting and belts. I prefer to wear mine way up high, but I’d like to experiment with his suggestion

Hilarious Dave Tate Rant

HERE is a very comical rant about dieting by Dave.

Contest Prep With Dani Shugart – All About the Glutes!

In THIS article, Dani discusses her contest prep and gives a shout-out to Strong Curves.

The Workout Log

THIS isn’t an article; it’s a product (training log). My buddy Rob got it off of Amazon and it’s really cool. Thought I’d share the link in case some of you like what you see (not an affiliate link).

Eating Clean

TC Luoma wrote an awesome article HERE on clean eating versus orthorexia.

Belfies: Butt Selfies

I’d never heard this term before. HERE are 11 celebrity belfies.

The Importance of Sleep for Strength Training

Greg Nuckols wrote an excellent article on sleep HERE for strength training. Get your z’s!

Speed Training

Joel Smith interviews Mike Young about speed training HERE, and Mike delivers!

Bodybuilding vs. Powerlifting Type Training: Which Builds More Strength and Muscle?

Bradley Schoenfeld discusses the implications pertaining to his latest published training study HERE.

Tracy Anderson’s Men’s Only Method

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Tracy Anderson’s men’s only method. I keed, I keed. THIS is pretty bad, I’m not gonnna lie.

If You Want to Know About Glutes, Listen to the Glute Guy

Go ahead, call me a glute snob. I just hate lazy writers who make things up. If you’re going to write about something, do some freakin’ research.

THIS article is very poor. The glutes are not primarily fast twitch. There are two studies to date on the topic and both show that the glutes are a fairly even mix of fast and slow twich. Simple “rehab” type movements for high reps can indeed help with hypertrophy. Going half way down in a squat doesn’t get you half the glute activity; you can get equal activation if you use the same relative loading. Step it up Dalton, you’re a professor.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Science

This guy Henk Kraaijenhof is smart as a whip. Click HERE to gain some insight as to what HRV does and does not tell you.

Interview With Stu Phillips

Stu is also smart as a whip. Check out THIS interview he did for Erik Ledin on sports nutrition and hypertrophy training.

Graded Exposure

Physical therapists – make sure you’re following Todd Hargrove. HERE he discusses the mechanisms behind the efficacy of graded exercise.

Good Videos

Here are some great recent videos to watch.

Yohan Blake Training Clips

Check out Yohan, one of the top 3 fastest sprinters in the world, lifting weights. Just like Usain Bolt, he makes sure to strengthen end-range hip extension strength and relies upon a mixture of machine and free weight training.

4 Girl Chair Trick

This is pretty cool! My Get Glutes girls could do this with 225 lbs in their laps!

NFL Acceleration: Upright After 8 Steps

Check out Jadeveon Clowney’s blistering 40 yard dash for the NFL combine. Notice that he’s upright very quickly. NFL, rugby, and soccer guys reach top speed at around 20-30 meters and are upright very quickly, in contrast to sprinters who exhibit more forward lean and reach top speed at around 60 meters.

The Great Gatsby – Young and Beautiful 

I finally got around to watching The Great Gatsby and loved the movie. I read the book in high school and even watched the 1974 movie starting Robert Redford. I didn’t remember most of it, but watching it this time around left me fairly upset. Gatsby committed a huge blunder in life; you’re supposed to go after a woman who loves you for your true self. Anyway, the acting was fabulous, as was the song below. I may or may not have listened to it 5 times in a row.

Derrick Blanton Gives the Glute WoD a Try

Below is Derrick busting out our recommended Glute WoD, which left his glutes cramping and on fire!

UFC Jon Jones Busting Out Barbell Glute Bridges

Check out badass fighter Jon Jones doing bb glute bridges! Seems like glute training is finally starting to catch on with athletes. For example, HERE is badass Olympic weightlifter Mohamed Ehab hip thrusting a lot of weight.

Hormone Myths With Layne Norton

In the video below, Layne Norton discusses common hormonal myths associated with strength training. 

Ray Williams 904 lb Squat With No Wraps

Here’s a new world record; a raw 904 lb squat without knee wraps!

Facebook Rants

Here are my Facebook rants over the past few weeks:

I love squats and deads as much as anyone. However, they don’t maximize core muscle activation. Not in the rectus abdominis and not in either of the obliques. Any strength training expert who claims that they do has clearly never experimented with electromyography. Ab wheel rollouts, for example, absolutely crush these two lifts in ab/oblique activation, which makes sense considering that core stability is vector specific. Squats and deads resist trunk flexion, which is primarily carried out by the posterior trunk muscles (erectors), while rollouts resist trunk extension, which is carried out by the anterior trunk muscles (abdominals and obliques). Bottom line – include a variety of exercises to maximize performance, strength, and hypertrophy. One or two exercises can only do so much.

Habits are everything in health & fitness. You must get on a routine and stick to it religiously. Be realistic about your routine and don’t be overzealous, as this leads to failure and frustration. From time to time, you’ll fall off the wagon. When this happens, get right back on without dwelling over it – experiencing guilt only makes matters worse. Mind your strength, conditioning, nutrition, sleep, stress, support system, and outlook – they all feed off of each other.

Sometimes it’s very beneficial to go to the gym and do “light” sessions with the sole goal of honing technique. I did this with back extensions two weeks ago, goblet squats last week, and band hip thrusts this week. I didn’t go heavy and I didn’t come anywhere close to failure, but I used impeccable form and felt the right muscles doing the job. You can also do this in your warm-up. These sessions can be incredibly productive as they help build the foundation for future success. You may find that you experience an “aha” moment and say to yourself, “so that’s how this exercise is supposed to feel…”

Two different professional sports teams ordered Hip Thrusters last week. I hope this trend continues. In my opinion, every professional sports facility should have several Hip Thrusters, and hip thrust variants should be prioritized in terms of emphasis in program design.

When I was 16 years old, I got in a very bad car accident and my low back was all jacked up. I couldn’t play sports or even walk correctly for an entire year. I assumed that I’d be plagued with a bad back for my entire life, especially after the doctor informed me that I had the youngest case of severe disc degeneration he’d ever seen. This was undoubtedly unrelated to the car accident, but still very frightening to hear at the time. 21 years later, I deadlifted 600 lbs. This was yesterday, and today my back feels no pain or soreness whatsoever. Strong muscles are great, but a strong mind can help you overcome almost anything. Stay positive and determined!

If you want to be your best at demonstrating maximum strength, then you need to be performing maximum singles. As a young lifter, I recall not feeling like anything heavier than a load that I could lift for at least 5 reps did much for me. This is because I was very inefficient at maxing out at the time. These days, I’m so proficient at lifting heavy weights that anything over 5 reps feels like cardio to me. While you can definitely get strong by sticking to medium rep ranges, if you want to reach your maximum strength potential, then heavy singles, doubles, and triples will be of great benefit to you. It takes time to get good at heavy lifting, so stick with it. Mix in high rep work (13-20 reps) and medium rep work (6-12 reps) along side the heavy low rep work (1-5 reps); no need to only stick to one rep range in your training.

I like stretching, it makes me feel good. Many of my clients do yoga, which I support. That said, if a certain stretch doesn’t feel right, nix it or modify it so that it isn’t problematic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve advised lifters who were experiencing certain joint issues to stop stretching, only to be notified a week later that the issue went away once they stopped stretching. Bottom line – your stretching could be doing more harm than good, so be aware. Definitely don’t be afraid of stretching, but learn the difference between good pain and bad pain.

Some things can only be learned in the gym. And some things can only be learned in the lab. Bridging the science with the practice of strength training will yield the best results.

When deadlifting, think of “leg pressing” the bar off the ground. Once the bar passes the knees, think of “hip thrusting” the bar to lockout. Then think of “Romanian deadlifting” the bar down eccentrically until it passes your knees.

Americans take over 5,000 steps every day. People are extending their hips literally thousands of times every day via walking, standing from a chair, and climbing stairs, not to mention during cardio and recreation.

Yet all you have to do is visit a busy public place such as an airport or mall to witness the horrific state of affairs we’re in in terms of glute development. Athletic glutes are the rare exception, not the norm. If simple “hip extension” was the solution, nobody would experience glute atrophy or inhibition, and everyone would possess impressive glutes since everyone performs tons of hip extension repetitions on a daily basis.

Obviously there’s more to it, and the glutes require more activation, good cueing, and progressive overload via faster speeds and heavier loads over time for optimal functioning.

Glute Training Feedback

Below is some glute training feedback from around the web. I sincerely appreciate all of you women and men who take the time to write me, tag me, and post pictures. It makes it all worth it!

Hi Bret, I must say your book has made me stronger in one week with the hip thrusts and some of the other training exercises that i can do at home. My butt is on FIRE! I actually seen a change in how my butt looks and I can FINALLY do some TRX pistol squats easier, my running feels stronger!! So I know it is working. I could not figure out with all I was doing why i was so weak in my glutes. Doing lunges, squats climbing Camelback Mtn like a nut every week was not doing anything! I can finally feel my glutes waking up now, getting stronger and changing!

I will be 49 next week and I honestly feel keeping my glutes strong as I age will be key to functioning well. Best, Kim

Bret, just saw your post about pro sports teams utilizing the hip thrust in their program design. Just wanted to share that I’m currently interning with a pro hockey team and I recently convinced my boss to start utilizing them in our own programming. Once the players got past the fact that it looks like they’re humping a barbell, the began to love it! A few of them were concerned about the exercise throwing them into lumbar hyperextension, but again, that was cleared up once they actually tried the exercise. We’ve even had one player start doing them on a daily basis because he says that it’s helping decrease his back pain! Keep doing your thing, Bret. Really admire your work! – Patrick



Bret, I just wanted to drop you a line to day THANK YOU!!! Because of your program, I now measure 45 inches in the hips and 28 inches in each thigh! I can hip thrust 405lb easily!!! My squat strength has increased to 355lb. I have been asked to become personal trainer at the Air Force base gym!! The attached picture is from about 3 weeks ago.


I’m still working on my body but your plan has been the only plan that could give me these types of results! Bret, your research matters and your plan works! I have gained healthy mass and I don’t look too cut up or manly. The mass gives me the womanly curve I desired. Women stop me in the gym and on the street and want to know what I’m doing (or what plastic surgeon did this) and I tell them no surgery needed–just read Strong Curves! Thank you again; you’re the best:) Jessica

I didn’t anticipate showing off my booty at my wedding, but a gust of wind came up at the all-important “you may now kiss the bride” moment! At 40 years old, I’m pleased that everything under my dress looked good enough for an unexpected unveiling. Thank goodness for Strong Curves! – Renee


Bret, I wanted to show you what YOU did for me. I met you exactly one year ago (on my birthday) at the AZ training lab and ever since, my lower body lifts have been completely different!!!! Not until I really started playing with a mix of power and hypertrophy did I see a significant difference (6 months ago). Your techniques, studies, input, and hands-on demonstration really made a huge impact on me. I can never say thank you enough, you are helping so many people and I am blessed to have come across your page!!!! – Deanna


I’d been experimenting with different programs until I started focusing on IF (Intermittent Fasting) and training big lifts and lots of core work, but no cardio! After discovering Bret’s blog, I learned a lot about biomechanics and his invaluable training advice. I then added Bret’s Hip thrust and glute bridge (and also Strong Curves), I saw a remarkable transformation in my glutes and legs very quickly – these results will put a smile on any Asian girl’s face! Thanks Bret and you are truly amazing!


Hello, Bret! I hope you see this! I wanted to write and tell you how much the Strong Curves workout has helped me. I am 11 weeks into it and took pictures yesterday. It astounds me the difference in my backside, despite losing virtually NO scale weight. But more importantly, it was almost a therapeutic tool for my upper body.

I have been struggling with pain from an old shoulder/chest injury and slightly compressed disks in my spine. I love the “old school” lifting and a 5-day split, so starting your program with a bit of back each of four workout days and just one set of shoulders a week was new for me. I was so injured that I had to go really light on upper body moves in the beginning, but your methods managed to bring the volume down enough that my body began to heal and much of my pain has abated. I feel confident now to move on into my next phase of training without fearing injury from picking up bigger pieces of iron.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write the book and share your acquired wisdom and glute secrets with the rest of the world. It has helped me immensely! Nancy


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  • John says:

    C’mon Bret! The guy at the top probably doesn’t even train legs!

  • Dunkman says:

    It’s only a matter of time before we start hearing “Dude, do you even hip thrust??”

    Great stuff Brett. Just scored the 2×4 and looking forward to training with it.

  • Michele says:

    Hi Bret. I always look forward to your articles and eat them up. I have the Strong Curves book and I was a bit confused about how often you should do the workouts. It says you can do workouts A B and C one day a week but if you can do it four days a week, do workout A twice. I read the article on training frequency and strength and it was a bit advanced for me but didn’t seem to answer the question I had. If I work out 4 or even 5 days a week, should I do the workouts 4 or 5 days in a row? Break them up? And if so, what would you suggest? Thanks!

    • Bret says:

      Michele, here’s what I’ve been recommending. Do the 3 workouts per week as listed, and add in a fourth day consisting of:

      3 sets of hip thrusts (6-20 rep range)
      2 sets of any single leg exercise (8-12 rep range)
      2-3 sets of any lateral band exercise (20-30 rep range)

      So an example could be 3 sets of 10 hip thrusts, 2 sets of 8 deficit reverse lunges, and 2 sets of 30 band seated hip abductions. Hope that helps!

  • PS says:

    I just watched Layne’s video, then looked at the study he references in the youtube video info.

    The actual study does not support what Layne is asserting: results show a fairly linear relationship between testosterone concentrations and changes in muscle mass.

    Just sayin’.

    • Bret says:

      Good call PS, I just checked it out too and you’re correct.

      I recall coming across this paper:

      and this paper:

      a while back and being shocked that the nearly doubled T levels didn’t increase muscle mass via aromatase inhibitor supplementation.

      • PS says:

        In the first study you posted, both LBM and composition remained impressively unchanged through the course of the two-month treatment. My only comment would be that total T climbed from 400-470 to around 560-580, which isn’t really that big of a difference (yes, I realize free T had greater increases, which is indeed surprising, but total T is the common measure for “high” or “low T” and it is what Norton was specifically referring to in his video).

        I do not have access to the full text of the second study, but, going by what is reported in the abstract, there were greater increases in total T and it seems there was a small (but significant) positive effect on body composition. From the abstract it isn’t clear if muscle mass increases were specifically measured for (it only mentions body composition).

        In the findings of the third study (the one referenced by Norton), there is a very clear linear relationship between total T concentrations and changes in muscle mass all across the board.

        TL;DR: it’s not entirely clear from these 3 studies, but I certainly wouldn’t say with any degree of confidence that “if you are within the reference ranges, then for sure it makes zero difference if your total T is 350 or 900”.

        • Bret says:

          I agree PS. The study you linked was eye-opening, and it should be mentioned that raising T through T injections versus AI supplementation may have different physiological effects in terms of which precise hormones/metabolites are increased/decreased, so it may not be wise to make broad generalizations.

  • Rich says:

    ” I used to think that sled training improved sprinting speed via increasing horizontal force production, but now I think it’s due to decreasing vertical force and allowing for more efficient technique.”

    Found this one intriguing. Any plans to expand on this in the near future and what has reshaped your view?

  • tai says:

    You guys get eye candy all the time…let the girls enjoy a little hey 😉 Its about time!

  • Paloma says:

    Very interesting topics covered. Thank you, Bret. Keep up the good work!
    I specially enjoyed (but I also felt sorry for you) your back healing history. Most encouraging! Weight lifting has also cured my chronic aching back (from computer and seated working) and my rectus diastasis. I just cannot stop lifting or I get pain again and loose all my transversus strenght. Very few people understand me, though!
    I found it interesting that we are both the same age… I thought you were younger! 🙂 Isn’t it true that all weight lifters look younger than they really are?
    And last but not least, a year ago I started hip thrusting and it has definitely made a difference on the appearance of my glutes. Never had a perfect butt, so I just do not recognise mine in the mirror! Thanks again!

  • Kellie says:

    All great stuff, but my favorite part is Renee’s wedding pic. What a great shot!

  • Elaine says:

    Definitely satisfied by that picture. Damn. 😀

    I would have never pictured you liking the Great Gatsby! That’s awesome.

  • JXXD says:

    “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! Tracy Anderson’s men’s only method.”

    “Running is not good for [women].”

    Running is not good for anybody when the body is being continually degraded. A key example would be the 7-13 teaspoons of sugar which goes into most energy drinks (a disgrace). Sugar weakens/degrades collagen/elastin which in turn represents connective tissue/fascia (structure/posture/stability) & also depletes/leaches key vitamin/minerals. Caffiene is another common ingredient also working to deplete/leach vitamin/minerals in these type of drinks. Is it any wonder people need to rely on dodgy supplements. From the article, It’s All in the Hips (above), “It all starts with proper posture, the experts say.” Nope. It all starts with what you put into your mouths.

    How on earth can you strengthen something when your constantly weakening/degrading it.

  • chris says:

    hi bret! in your article about minimizing quad activitiy during the hip thrust, you report mixed results when cueing ppl to dorsiflex their feet: some report more quad activity, some less, some no change.

    imo its easy to explain these results: when cueing ppl to dorsiflex the general effect is that they use more force. now, the crux whether they increase or decrease quad activity is the direction of the greater force: if they mimic knee extension aka push their heel away from them they decrease hamstring activity and increase quad activity. if they pull their heel towards their head (isometric knee flexion), they increase hamstring activity. if they neither pull or push disctinctively, relative activity remains the same.

    its a nice trick to steer hamstring or quad activity to just the level u like.

  • The great Gatsby sure has great songs in it you should also consider buying the soundtrack CD, it’s amazing!

  • JC says:

    Lots of great stuff! The before and after by sksani is crazy!

  • Jennifer says:

    First, thank you for the BEAUTIFUL picture right of the bat in your Random Thoughts article. I am looking forward to having more time later to read all the articles in your newsletter.

    Mostly, I want to THANK YOU for your Glute training program (Strong Curves). Because of it I was able to increase my speed on the treadmill to 6.5 — I couldn’t believe it when I kept increasing the speed! I probably could have gone higher but I only had a few minutes to spare before my Pilates class so I just went with that for a few minutes. It was such a nice surprise!
    In addition to that my back issues have not been an issue, and I am enjoying seeing the progress to the shape of my glutes and thighs.

    Finally, I just want to THANK YOU and your TEAM for all that you do. You rock!

    Have an awesome day!

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