Recently I’ve had two different people tell me that my “Random Thoughts” blogposts were their favorites. I didn’t realize that people liked these so much so I’ll definitely stick with them. Here are 25 random thoughts for the week:
I need to write my first newsletter – I’ve been slacking. I’ve had over 500 people sign up so far which is great. What’s shocking to me is that between 70 and 80% of my readers are males. This is good to know. Since I write about the glutes so often, I assumed that I had a higher proportion of female readers. Perhaps more men are “sacking up” and admitting to caring about their glutes. Or perhaps my male readers simply like all the other stuff I write about. Either way, now I won’t feel guilty posting all of my sexy-female pictures at the bottom of my posts!
I’ve been getting a lot of emails from trainers who follow my blog stating that they are starting to get known in their town for their ability to sculpt amazing glutes ever since they started implementing my methods. They’ll tell me that they are “mini-me’s”, which cracks me up! It’s good to know that little by little trainers are starting to figure out how to develop their clients’ glutes. This ability is what got me so many clients when I had my Scottsdale studio called Lifts.
3) My Mojo
In less than one month I’ll be leaving to New Zealand for three years to get my PhD. Many researchers and professors are very reluctant to speak their minds and make bold claims – probably because they’re smart enough to realize that they don’t have all the answers. The online fitness industry likes bold writers, and in truth I never want to be the kind or writer or coach who is too afraid to speak his mind. So please hold me accountable and tell me to quit acting like a sissy if I ever start behaving like a timid research professor!
I did have to laugh at myself the other day, however. I was at the dinner table and caught myself telling my friends “Recent research shows that…”. The old Bret would have kicked the shit out of me for starting a sentence that way. I have to keep myself in check and hold onto my mojo.
4) The Road to 500!
Here’s my client Steve Hammond deadlifting 485. I’m hoping that he can get up to 500 before his season starts for the confidence boost! Only 15 lbs to go!
5) Barbell Single Leg Hip Thrust
I was experimenting with Steve the other day and we came up with a new hip thrust variation. Actually one of my blog readers gave me the idea many months ago but I never got around to giving it a try. The top leg certainly helps out a bit but the bottom leg definitely does most of the work. The lift is too unstable to go heavy on if the top leg is free.
6) Bret Hip Thrusts 495 x 3 Reps
I had to step up my game on account of Steve’s amazing hip thrust strength. Here’s me doing 495 x 3.
7) Karli’s Personal Trainer Experiences
My client Karli travels a lot and always hires trainers to put her through workouts when she goes out of town. I don’t know why she doesn’t just train on her own – she knows more than 90% of trainers out there just from training with me for the past several months. But for some reason this is what she likes to do and she always has the funniest stories to tell me about her experiences.
One trainer from Equinox told her that their motto is “360 degrees” so every exercise she did involved a rotational component. Twisting lunges, cable chops, rotary medball lifts, etc. I’m all for some rotation, but every exercise? Sorry – but saggital plane lifts will always reign supreme in the muscle building and strengthening world.
Another trainer from a Crossfit studio had her do a 10 minute warm-up on the rowing machine, followed by 4 sets of KB one arm rows, 4 sets of KB swings, 4 sets of Turkish get ups, and 4 sets of KB push presses. This would be fine, but Karli had told him beforehand that she only likes training her lower body and that she likes to solely work her hips and legs (she thinks her upper body is too muscular and doesn’t want to gain any more muscle there). This is why I prescribe her squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, glute ham raises, Bulgarian squats, lunges, step ups, back extensions, reverse hypers, pendulum quadruped hip extensions, etc. I know that this trainer probably thought that Karli was receiving a top-notch lower body workout. While I’ll admit that the hips receive a good workout from swings, and the legs are involved in get ups and push presses, you still need to do regular barbell strength training exercises for physique clients if you want to deliver optimal results.
Earlier today I was looking over another one of my female client’s routine that was written by her previous trainer. It was full of combination lifts – deadlift to curls, lunge to press, etc. Some of my female clients are deadlifting 225 lbs but they can only curl 25 lb dumbbells. What kind of stimuli would their legs get from doing deadlift to curls? Some of my female clients are lunging with 50 lb dumbbells but they can only military press with 25 lb dumbbells. If they were doing lunge to presses their legs would get short-changed due to the strength discrepancy between their lower and upper bodies. This is why I don’t do combination-lifts.
It seems that many trainers want to be really cute these days. Pure rotary training, pure high rep kettlebell training, pure combination lifts. It’s fine to mix this stuff in, but you can’t transform booties if you neglect basic strength work. And pretty much all female clients want nice booties. Here’s a concept – try to actually deliver results to clients and you just might increase your clientele base!
8. Good Posture Instills Confidence
According to this experiment, subjects exhibiting good postures were more confident than when they engaged in poor postures. I love training the posterior chain because it helps reinforce good posture. I suspect that on the field, strong athletes probably “stand taller” than weaker athletes meaning that they have more bravado, stick their chest out more, rise up higher, etc. And this confidence factor cannot be ignored. It is my belief that good strength training gives athletes a psychological edge due to several factors including better posture. In addition, the experiment showed that good posture could increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol levels. Impressive!
9) Biomechanics Textbooks Suck for Information Pertaining to the Hips
Knowing what I now know about the hips, I can honestly say that most Biomechanics textbooks suck in regards to their material related to the hips. I suspect that most professors are more interested in glute medius function during walking than explosive movement created by the gluteus maximus, but come on! I have five different Biomechanics textbooks and I wouldn’t give any of them a C grade on their content for the hips.
10) No Win Situation With Coworkers
Years back when I taught high school mathematics, every time I’d enter the teacher’s lounge I’d be berated no matter what I ate. If I ate a bunch of healthy food, the teachers (most of whom were very chunky) would say something like, “You make me sick. You go through life eating that healthy? Why don’t you live a little?” Sometimes I’d bring in can of yogurt (the sugary kinds), a granola bar, and a banana and they’d react in this manner. It baffled me that they considered an all-carbohydrate meal “super-healthy.”
If I showed up with a bunch of junk food, the same teachers would start chiming in about how I make them sick because I eat crap and still look good. If I refused any snacks from the teachers, such as a brownie or cookie that one of them baked, I’d annoy them for not partaking in their gluttony.
There’s just no winning in today’s world when you’re physically fit.
11) New Twitter Peeps
My friends Ben Bruno (@BenBruno1) and Tony Gentilcore (@TonyGentilcore1) just joined Twitter. If you’re on Twitter you should follow them. They put out great blogs every week. Tony’s blog is the most comical in the industry (and very informative too), and Ben is going for “Rookie of the Year.” His blog is quickly rising in popularity because he’s a strong, innovative coach and a great writer too. Ben took over my “Good Reads” posts and is doing a great job.
12) The Fuzz Video
A while ago I posted a video about “The Fuzz” in a random blogpost. Everyone seemed to love it. Then I got this response in the comments portion of the blog from one of my readers.
Unfortunately that fuzz video is the result of someone with a degree in religious studies dissecting a cadaver and coming to erroneous conclusions. The “fuzz” is actually areolar connective tissue. We all have this tissue, it has nothing to do with muscle adhesions, and it is not deleterious. You cannot make it go away with foam rolling or massage, nor would you want to.
Gil Hedley, the guy in the video, provides his medical qualifications here:
And I quote:
I went to Duke as an undergrad, and then to the Divinity School of the University of Chicago for an MA in the study of religion and a Ph.D. in Theological and Philosophical Ethics. (I wrote my dissertation on marriage ethics in the Catholic Church.) While in Chicago, I studied Tai Chi, which, among many other things, helped me to re-conceive my body.
Can anyone else lend their expertise here? If my blogreader is right, it just goes to show you how easily we can all be duped. Here’s the video in case you missed it the first time:
13) Female Jumping Ability
I tested my 14 year-old niece Gabrielle the other day and she has a 22 inch vertical jump, a 26 inch 3-step approach jump, and an 87 inch broad jump. She’s the best volleyball player in her school but I realized that I don’t know how these figures stack up against her competition. Anyone know what some of the best female athletes can vertical jump and broad jump?
14) The Good Morning
There are plenty of ways to tweak the execution of a good morning. For instance, you can use a wide stance or a narrow stance, and you can arch your back excessively, keep it relatively neutral, or allow a slight rounding. Furthermore, you can sit back as far as possible to emphasize the hamstrings, or you can lean forward more to emphasize the erector spinae. Plenty of strong powerlifters from back in the day felt that they got more transfer from the good morning to their deadlift if they let the bar drift slightly in front of their base of support. You can’t use as much weight this way, but it really hammers the spinal erectors.
15) Am I Crazy for Leaving to New Zealand?
Here are a few of my clients that I’ve trained off-and-on over the past year. Would you leave if you were in my shoes? This is Karli, Katie, and Kellie.
FYI: Kellie Davis has an excellent blog at www.MotherFitness.com
16) Nick Tumminello Quote
Speaking of clients, one of my favorite quotes I’ve heard comes from my friend Nick Tumminello. He said something like this:
The only thing I claim to be an expert about is my clients. I know their bodies better than anyone.
I love this quote and can totally relate. I know how my clients respond to various exercises and training variables, I know what they can and can’t do, I know their strengths and weaknesses, I know their goals, fears, and insecurities, I know what motivates them, and I know how to get them results. Be an expert when it comes to your clients!
17) Shopping for Jeans
Any guy who trains his legs hard can relate to this. Jeans these days are just not constructed for strong dudes. I usually go to the mall once or twice a year to go clothes shopping and I’m instantly annoyed because I try on several pairs of jeans and none of them fit. Some of them don’t even allow me to fit my thighs into them. My girlfriends over the years automatically assume that I’m overly picky until they go with me and see how stupid I look in most pairs of jeans. I decided to change my outlook on the matter and be thankful that my thighs and hips don’t fit into normal jeans. Most guys don’t have the juevos to squat, deadlift, and hip thrust heavy several days per week. It’s just too strenuous for the average guy, which is why the majority of guys have chicken legs. Although my dedication makes it much more difficult to find good fitting jeans, it also makes me stand a part so I get noticed more often!
The other day I went to a store called “Buckle” and told the helper that I can never find jeans that fit. She quickly put me in my place and said, “Honey, over the years I’ve fit guys who were much bigger and muscular than you and was able to find jeans that worked just fine for them.” I laughed pretty hard at her brazen response, and was pleasantly suprised to find that she was right! It’s so nice to find a pair of jeans that fit comfortably while still appearing stylish.
18) Jessica Alba in Little Fockers
Holy Mary Mother of God! I was caught off guard when Jessica Alba stripped down into her bra and panties in Little Fockers. I think that Jessica Alba is the hottest woman on Earth. She’s definitely my “dream girl.” This scene alone was worth the price of admission.
19) Maintaining Strength In-Season
I’m amazed at how inept so many professional strength coaches are at keeping their athletes strong in-season. It’s not that hard! Just lower the volume and frequency, manage the intensity, cut out the fringe, focus on the big rocks, and schedule wisely according to their games. Your athletes should not lose much strength in-season! Some of your athletes might actually gain strength during the season if you’re doing everything right. Don’t buy into the belief that athletes can’t stay strong in-season, and don’t be afraid to just do a few progressively heavier singles on a few big lifts and call it a day.
20) Post on Craig Liebenson’s Facebook Wall
Craig Liebenson posted a picture on his Facebook wall the other day of several Asian guys squatting down in a full squat position and asked, “Too much flexion”? A bunch of PT’s, coaches, and trainers chimed in. Below is my response, and several great coaches hit the “like” button, which means that I’m not alone in my suspicions.
Although I’m a huge fan of McGill’s brilliant research, I formed a different conclusion based on my review of the entire spinal flexion body of evidence. Spinal researchers need to start examining dose-responses of spinal flexion exercise using human subjects in vivo. Is there a volume, frequency, and intensity that stimulates positive adaptation (eustress), and if so, where’s the cutoff between positive vs. negative adaptation (distress)? The dose-response is likely unique to the individual based on genetics, and some spinal structures may adapt positively while others may simultaneously show negative adaptations. Would having a healthy subject perform a set of thirty crunches every other day do more harm than good or vice versa? We don’t know the answer to this and until more research is conducted in this area we’re all just operating off of opinion. We all want our clients and athletes to be healthy, and although I don’t prescribe much core movement exercise and instead opt for mostly spinal stability exercise, I think that some spinal motion exercise could be a good thing for spinal health and athletic performance if severely limited in volume and progressed appropriately.
By the way, Craig maintains an amazing blog – one of the best in the business. He spends a ton of time on his posts, making sure to post pictures, credit other authors, and link up hyperlinks. Craig is one of the most humble guys out there and is definitely one of the world’s experts in spine and physical therapy related topics, and he knows a thing or two about strength training too. Here’s the blog he posted the following day that incorporated some of the Facebook comments: Is it Wrong to Squat Like a Child?
21) Online Cowards
This is something that I’ve never understood. I don’t go onto many internet forums, but when I do I post under my own name. For the life of me I can’t understand why grown men post under fake names. If I ever started up my own forum, everyone would have to post under their full names and include a picture for their image.
Here’s the problem. In the real world there are repercussions to your actions. In Cyberspace you can talk crap to anyone you want and nobody will know who you are. It seems that the power some of these sissies gain from this scenario is addicting, and it just leads to creepy, introverted behavior since there’s now such an imbalance between the power these types have on the internet vs. the power they have in real life. If you post on internet forums, grow up and post under your real name.
22) Power Balance Bullshit
Years back I was approached by a few guys who wanted me to be involved with their company. They heard that I was a really good trainer and wanted to see if I’d be interested in a partnership between my Skorcher invention and their product. They were selling a stupid Power Balance bracelet that supposedly made you stronger and more coordinated. They did some stupid tricks with me and I saw right through it. I asked them to explain the science to me and they told me that they’d send me something – which never ended up happening. I predicted back then that my product would never go anywhere but their bracelet would make a fortune due to the fact that most people don’t know shit about science, and worse, most people don’t care that they don’t know shit about science.
I was right, and they ended up partnering with dozens of high-level athletes and companies. Recently they’ve been exposed for being full of crap and are now suffering royally for their impropriety. If you want to read up on this, below are some interesting reads on the topic. The last of the four links is the best read out of the four. I’m quite proud of my integrity and refusal to associate with frauds.
Power balance, placebo and perceptions – “It works, who cares why?” vs “The fraud of Power Balance bracelets” * This is the best read of the group *
23) NEAT – Does a Body Good
NEAT stands for “Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis” and has been shown to be very helpful in preventing weight gain. Here are the conclusions from this study:
There is marked variance between subjects in the energy expenditure associated with self-selected fidgeting-like activities. The thermogenic potential of fidgeting-like and low-grade activities is sufficiently great to substantively contribute to energy balance.
Here are the conclusions from this study:
Humans show considerable interindividual variation in susceptibility to weight gain in response to overeating. The physiological basis of this variation was investigated by measuring changes in energy storage and expenditure in 16 nonobese volunteers who were fed 1000 kilocalories per day in excess of weight-maintenance requirements for 8 weeks. Two-thirds of the increases in total daily energy expenditure was due to increased nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), which is associated with fidgeting, maintenance of posture, and other physical activities of daily life. Changes in NEAT accounted for the 10-fold differences in fat storage that occurred and directly predicted resistance to fat gain with overfeeding (correlation coefficient = 0.77, probability < 0.001). These results suggest that as humans overeat, activation of NEAT dissipates excess energy to preserve leanness and that failure to activate NEAT may result in ready fat gain.
Pretty impressive to say the least! Basically 16 people consumed 1,000 extra calories per day for 8 weeks, and the unlucky folks with crappy genetics ended up storing ten times more fat than the best responders. The lucky bastards who didn’t put on much fat had remarkable abilities to ramp up their NEAT.
24) Swollen Abs
Several weeks ago I blogged about respecting the ab wheel rollout. You need to start out very light and progress gradually so you don’t get too sore.
Like a serious jackass I broke my own rule and as a result I suffered considerably. I thought that I was playing it safe by just doing two sets of one eccentric ab-wheel rollouts from the standing position. Just two reps couldn’t hurt me, right? Since I hadn’t done them in a couple of months, the next day my abs were crippled. In fact, my abs actually got swollen and were sticking out the next day very far. It took three days for the swelling to subside and four days for the soreness to dissipate.
25) Good Reads Over the Past Couple of Weeks
Sure, I said I was done with Good Reads but I just can’t help myself. I like giving credit where credit is due. Here are some good reads for the week:
– Keats Snideman – Sleep – this was an awesome blog on sleep posture. Thanks to Patrick Ward for helping out with the video.
– Tony Gentilcore – Some CP Badassery – Whenever I see clips from CP I’m always nodding my head – it’s the exact kind of gym that I’d have if I opened up my own facility, and the training is very similar to what I’d do with my clients/athletes.
– Chad Waterbury – The Science of Motor Unit Recruitment Part I, Part II, and Part III – This was a great series by Chad on motor unit recruitment. Chad’s the man when it comes to the nervous system!
– Jason Ferruggia – It Ain’t Strength Training Unless You’re Getting Strong – This was a great blog by Jason. I had to send him a shout out for this post!
– Nate Green – How to Write for a Living – This was an excellent post by Nate Green. Nate wrote a great blog several weeks ago and then had Lou Schuler edit it. Just goes to show you how much work a great editor puts into his work!
– Nick Horton – 30 Years of the World’s Strongest Man – I found myself watching this entire series late one Saturday night til around 4:00 in the morning. Damn you Nick!
– Tony Gentilcore – For Nazi Ettiquette – Great post by Tony G on form!
– Sprint Strong -Top Strength Coaches – In this post I was named as the second most influential strength coach in the world. What a great honor! I work very hard as a trainer/coach, researcher, lifter, and writer to provide you with cutting edge and sound information. It’s good to see that many find my material very influential.
– Mike Robertson – Training for Major League Baseball Players – I really liked this article by Mike Robertson on training pro’s and can totally relate to his thoughts.
– Charlie Weingroff – Thinking on Stretch – Charlie’s always thinking about mobility and flexibility gains, and here are some of his thoughts.
– Eric Cressey – It’s All About Getting Stronger – Eric stole the words right out of my mouth with this article!
– This is One of the Most Inspirational Youtube videos I’ve ever seen!
I’ll end things on this note! Have a great weekend everybody.