Random Thoughts

By April 13, 2011 Random Thoughts

Sorry readers – been super busy lately. Working on 75 things at the moment so haven’t been able to blog as much. On a good note, I was just informed that one of my journal articles was accepted so I’m officially a peer-reviewed author. Also, I just found out I’ll be teaching a biomechanics course next semester here at AUT which is very exciting to me. I’ll be giving two different presentations next month at the YMCA Build Conference – one called The Ins and Outs of Core Stability and another called 21st Century Glute Training. Here are 19 random items for your reading and viewing pleasure.

1. New TNation Article – Can’t Turn This: A Simple Plan for Rotary Stability 

This article was posted on TNation last week and I’ve received four emails from people saying that it’s one of their favorite articles. In truth this article took me a lot of time; I kept rewording things over and over and over until it sounded right. It’s funny, many people tell me that I’m a good writer but I’m really not. I’m a good mathematician and scientist, but writing never came easy to me. The only reason why my articles are good is because I spend three times more time on them than most authors. Since I’m not a natural, I have to edit and proof-read twenty times and then it sounds decent. Definitely check out the article if you haven’t already. Click here to read it.

2. Arnold Quote

The better you get, the less you run around showing off as a muscle guy. You know, you wear regular shirts, loose shirts-not always trying to show what you have. You talk less about it. It’s like you have a little BMW-you want to race the hell out of this car, because you know it’s going 110. But if you see a guy in a Ferrari or Lamborghini, they slide around at 60 on the freeway because they know if they press on that accelerator they are going to go 170. These things are the same in every field.

3. New Deadlift World Record

This just happened a couple of weeks ago. Benedikt Magnusson is a freak!

4. New Squat World Record

This just happened last week. Donnie Thompson is a strong son of a gun!

5. Perfect Booty Formula?

In truth this formula is absurd (as a former high school mathematics teacher I can tell you that the formula makes no sense whatsoever), but it’s an interesting concept! Click here to read the article.

6. Do Women Get Too Muscular From Heavy Lifting?

Check out this girl. Her name is Marilou Prévost Dozois. She lifts heavy, and she’s dead sexy! I love her little smile when she fails.

7. Types of Stretching

Here’s a cool article on various types of stretching.

8. Flex Mini

This product will not shape your butt like it purports to do, but the spokeswoman in the video is absolutely smokin’! Is it possible to be “in love” with someone’s glutes? Anyone know who she is?

Check out at 3:15 where the figure girl says that the unit works the muscles the same as squats, lunges, stiff leg deadlifts, plies, butt blaster, and hamstring curls. Oh really?

I like the claim: “100% of the subjects said that it works in some way.” Haha! Of course they didn’t measure hypertrophy.

9. Strength Training for the Upper Body Stiffens the Arteries, but not the Lower Body

This was  a cool article. Studies have shown that strength training can stiffen arteries. Researchers recently showed that only upper body strength training stiffens arteries (but not the lower body), so for optimal arterial health just do a bit of cardio after your upper body workout.

10. Five Pounds of Muscle vs. Five Pounds of Fat

There are lots of trainers who regularly visit my blog. Here’s a link to a cool product (scroll to the bottom). It’s a physical representation of what 5 lbs of muscle vs. what 5 lbs of fat looks like. I think that this is a very effective way to encourage clients to train hard and stick to their diets. If you’re a trainer, consider purchasing this in order to motivate clients. You can also purchase the one pound models, but I don’t think it would be as visually effective. Fat tissue is around 20% less dense than muscle tissue, so it takes up around 20% more space. This shows how you can stay the same weight on the scale, but lose volume and get slimmer just by improving body composition (gaining muscle while losing fat).

11. Elite Stone Trainer

Here’s a cool product for lifters who want to practice the stone lift but don’t have access to any stones. Not the safest exercise for your low back but necessary for strongman training.

12. Chin Ups – Best Lower Abs Exercise?

When I was conducting all of my EMG experiments, I was very surprised to find that the chin up outperformed every other exercise in lower abdominal activity. I didn’t do a bunch of wimpy exercises either – I did some really hard ones for the lower abs. Ab wheel rollouts, reverse crunches, hanging leg raises, lying leg throws, etc. I wrote about it in this TNation article and included a big chart detailing EMG activity.

If you don’t believe that you can selectively recruit the lower vs. upper abs check out this study, this blog, and this blog.

It’s not just doing chin ups; it’s how you do the chin up. If you do them with an arched back then you won’t activate much lower ab. But if you keep a straight line from your shoulders to knees, then you’ll recruit a ton of lower ab. Actually I wouldn’t even call it a straight line…you posteriorly rotate the hips a bit up top. See the third example in this video:

Give it a try. Actually, have a friend do a chin up this way and place your hand on his or her lower abs and see how incredibly hard it contracts. You’ll be very surprised.

13. Great Articles by Brad Schoenfeld

My friend Brad has been on a role lately, here are some links to fat loss articles:

Maximizing Fat Loss from Cardio

The Myth Of Cardio Before Breakfast-Debunked!

14. Rachel Guy Thrustin’ Some Serious Weight

Here’s my friend Rachel moving some serious weight on hip thrusts. Since she’s been doing them her glutes have gotten curvier and sexier.

15. Great Interview With Nick Tumminello by Brad Schoenfeld

I always love hearing what my friend Nick Tumminello has to say. Check out this interview. Here’s a picture of Nick and I with legendary strength coach Al Vermiel. If he wanted to, Al could whip both of our butts at the same time without even trying.

16. The Ben Bruno Effect

The Ben Bruno Effect is when Ben Bruno posts a Youtube video making something look easy, but when you try it, you fail miserably because you have normal genetics. Ben is freaky strong for his size. Check him out here doing deficit reverse lunges with 305 lbs of extra weight for 10 reps!

17. Glute Medius Exercises

The simple side bridge exercise has been shown in the research to activate 74% of MVC for the glute medius! Here are some not-so-common dynamic exercises for the glute medius:

This is a 45 degree side raise and the key is to lengthen the glute medius eccentrically and then contract it concentrically to pull you up. You’ll get some spinal movement but if you do it right you’ll feel it in the glute med.

This is a side lying hip raise. You can straighten the top leg out if you want, or keep it bent.

19. The Race

This race is phenomenal. Check it out. So inspiring! I don’t know how she did it.

All done! Hope you enjoyed the randomness.


  • Julian says:

    the last video was great. that just proves to people that you never give up, work hard and results will show. great randomness.

  • Dale says:

    On the artery stiffness study, wonder what the implications are, if any, for total-body workouts ?

  • James says:

    Hi Bret, Regarding your New TNation Article – Can’t Turn This: A Simple Plan for Rotary Stability & in particular the half kneeling cable anti-rotation press exercise. I was just wandering, if you don’t have access to a cable machine, can you think of a possible equipment alternative (same movement just with different equipment)?.

    • Bret says:

      James – you can use bands. Attach a rope (or long bar such as the Cook bar) to bands and it works well (but not quite as well as the cables).

  • Marianne says:

    I wonder does the artery stiffness, only in conjunction with upper body strength exercises, have anything to do with the body compensating for gravity. I mean, the lower body exercises tend to work with gravity, but upper body exercise tend to work against it – just a thought! The body does this by releasing adrenaline (or noradrenalin for you Americans) – this response is a systemic one.

    This is great information for trainers dealing with clients who have high BP.

    As for that “butt machine” … all I am going to say is OMG !

  • Meg says:

    Hi Bret,
    I have a question about glute training during pregnancy. I’m rapidly approaching that time in my pregnancy where I’m not supposed to lay on my back. Most of the best and greatest glute exercises you identify involve this, and I’m not sure what to replace them with. An added difficulty is that my belly is now getting in the way of most big lifts. Any suggestions to help me avoid losing the gains I’ve made in my glutes during the next 5 months? I’m modifying a lot where I can, but feel limited in my knowledge about this. I don’t recall you addressing this in the past, and I’d really appreciate your input. There’s just not a lot out there on training during pregnancy. Thanks in advance!

  • Rob King says:


    Haven’t been here in a while and do I ever feel like I missed out.

    1 blog post and I learned more stuff than anywhere all week.

    Back to my daily readings, thank you bro.


  • Derrick Blanton says:

    “The Race” brought back some memories. I was a middle distance runner in high school. I was not great, but I have never worked so hard, so consistently, at any physical endeavor since, and I’m almost 44-yrs. old. This includes running a few half marathons, a marathon, and going from 150-lb runner to a 185-lb meathead. Something inside me changed during those two years.

    It also reminds me of Matt Hughes’s MMA fight with Frank Trigg. Near the beginning of the fight, Trigg kicked Hughes in the balls, undetected by the referee. Hughes, in a great deal of pain, managed to fend off Trigg who closed in to finish. Hughes turned the tables and won the fight by submission. The literal message: Sometimes you get kicked in the balls, and have to fight through it!

    Finally, Bret, you know I dig your stuff, but the American Deadlift seems to be a hybrid movement that does justice neither to fast-twitch hammies, (better load with RDL, or the glutes..(better targeted by your signature movement, the barbell hip thrust.) After all, one movement can’t hit everything well, although a nice deep back squat comes darn close!

  • Derrick Blanton says:

    Hope that ADL/RDL comparison didn’t come off harsh, BC. I freaking love the “MacGyver” approach you have to coming up with exrcs. The gliding leg curl comes to mind as an instant classic!

  • Dale says:

    Bret –

    The subject of rotary stability reminded me of a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for awhile. I have acquaintances who are huge HIT proponents and they do not recommend unilateral lower-body exercises due to the danger of LATERAL stresses on the spine. I must confess that I have never even heard of the term. Is this a real concern ? Any thoughts ?

  • Matt says:

    Quick question – Is there an ideal ratio of internal to external rotation strength (in shoulders) for an average or “normal” person, i.e one that is not engaged in sport specific training?

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