I’m getting some really good feedback on my “Random Thoughts” blogs so I’m gonna keep rolling with them. Whenever I read something that I feel is interesting or may be of benefit to my readers, I copy and paste the link for future use in my Random Thoughts blogs. If you are a fan of fitness, then I’m sure there are several links that you’ll find useful within this blog.

1. Fitcast Interview

For those who didn’t get a chance to listen to my Fitcast interview, check it out here. Overall I think I did a good job and gave a very informative interview. So far I know that my Mom loved it! If they ask me back on the show down the road, I’m going to try to be more brief, which is hard for me as I love to talk! Fitcast is an amazing resource and it’s so nice to be able to listen to fellow strength coaches, trainers, and nutritionists speak their minds. Best of all it’s FREE. I also love listening to Kevin Larraee, Jonathan Fass, and Leigh Peele talk shop as they are all great communicators/speakers, incredibly knowledgeable in regards to fitness, and quite humorous. Over time you’ll learn their inside jokes and feel like they’re part of your family (although you’ll likely consider Jon Fass to be more like your red-headed stepbrother than your real brother :)).

2. Load Vector Training

I got amazing feedback regarding my Load Vector Training blog. If you didn’t read it yet, check it out here. As a matter of fact, six different individuals who I consider top minds from the strength & conditioning field emailed me to suggest that I refine it and send it to various magazines/websites for publication. I think I’ll take them up on it as I believe it’s some really good stuff!

3. Oxygen Magazine Glute Expert

Oxygen Magazine recently published their special “Glute” edition in which I was consulted as one of their four “experts.” It’s good to see that more top-publications are realizing that I am the go-to-guy for glute training advice. No one out there has done more research (both in the literature and in EMG experiments) than me. I don’t want to come across as being cocky, but if you want to know about the glutes, you talk to me! I haven’t seen the magazine yet but my friend Roger Lawson sent me this picture message.

I know that the issue features Jamie Eason on the cover so I’m sure it will be worth the viewing! 🙂

4. What Women do I Listen to in the Fitness/Nutrition Professions?

In trying to support and promote the many great women in our profession, I would like to let my readers know which women I like to follow. They are:

Leigh Peele
Cassandra Forsythe
Rachel Cosgrove
Krista Scott-Dixon
Elsbeth Vaino
Nia Shanks
Alli McKee
Neghar Fanooni

It’s always nice when Sue Falsone and Shirley Sahrmann come out with a new article or publication as well as they’re both super-smart.

5.Mel Siff is Irreplaceable

Dr. Mel Siff died in 2003 at the age of 59 years old. In my opinion he was the smartest fitness dude to ever scour the Earth. I’m still disappointed that he passed away at such a young age as I would love to hear what he would have had to say about today’s current fitness topics. He was so intelligent it was intimidating. He was energetic and enthusiastic and really cared about advancing the fitness field. His book Supertraining is still the greatest fitness book ever written. Take a look at these articles below. Years ago Paul Chek wrote an amazing 3-part article series on TMuscle called “Back Strong and Beltless.” Mel Siff was able to take one of our smartest fitness writers and practically reduce him to an idiot. I wonder what Mel would have said about my work if he were still alive!

Mel Siff’s Response to Backstrong and Beltless Part One
Mel Siff’s Response to Backstrong and Beltless Part Two

6. Plagiarism

It’s funny when I stumble upon a site that steals my work right out from underneath me. Personal Trainer/Life Coach Danny plagiarizes my Deadlifting article from Wannabebig here, here, and here. I encourage anyone out there to spread my methods and advice. It’s always nice when individuals give credit to the originator too. But if you use someone’s exact wording from an article, the least you could do is reference the article!

7. Getting Over the Suck Factor

This may be one of the most important things that no one ever talks about in fitness. Whenever you try a new exercise or new routine, chances are you suck at it. Your coordination and physiology have not been given the chance to adapt to the new stimulus. When I first tried a single leg RDL I sucked at it! Same goes for a Turkish get up, pistol, the Olympic lifts, and cable chops and lifts. However, within a few weeks I was markedly better as my body gained coordination. Had I given up on these lifts right away because I didn’t like them or they didn’t feel right, I would have missed out considerably since many of these lifts are currently among my favorites. Perhaps some individuals don’t feel hip thrusts in their glutes right away as maybe their using classic synergistic dominance patterns (hammies and erector spinae) to make up for weak glutes…

The same goes for new types of training. When I first tried HIT (High Intensity Training which is characterized by one set to failure) eight years ago, I had previously been doing HVT (High Volume Training which is characterized by multiple sets usually not to failure) for eight years. My body was great at doing a lot of sets but it sucked at doing one all-out set. At first I hated HIT and thought it was the stupidest training method ever. Luckily I stuck with it, as I gained more size during my 8-month stint of HIT than from any other 8-week period of training in my life. I attribute some of this to the fact that my body was probably consistently overreaching and bordering overtraining since I used to party a lot back then while lifting balls-to-the-wall five days per week 52 months out of the year. However, I attribute some of this to the fact that I got really good at HIT training. In fact, eight years ago I could do a set of full squats with 225 lbs for 30 reps. While my max is currently stronger than it was during that time there’s no way I could get 30 reps with 225 right now. HIT training is worth exploring as is HVT, HFT, and EDT. Only from experimenting with various training protocols can you learn how to incorporate and combine methodologies in order to create optimal programs.

The moral of the story is don’t give up on a new exercise or method right away. Give yourself enough time to get over the suck-factor so your nervous, muscular, and metabolic systems can adapt and allow you to reap benefits.

8. Ideal Frequency Number for a Lift

Another idea that is rarely discussed in strength circles is the possibility that our programs are sub-optimal since we often confine ourselves to bodypart splits, lower/upper splits, or total body training programs based on weekly schedules and convenience. For example, I often do a type of squat and deadlift on Monday and Thursday and a type of bench press on Tuesday and Friday as I usually follow a lower/upper split and prefer to train during the week (so my weekends are rest days).

However, I’ve realized that I do best when I squat heavy three times per week, bench heavy three times per week, and deadlift heavy once per week (with a lighter or less stressful weekly deadlifting session to keep the nervous system primed, keep the grip strong, and reduce soreness that would incur from only training the deadlift once per week). Some people can handle more deadlifting frequency, while others can’t. The point is that we all have varying anthropometries (body segment lengths) and form so we distribute stress differently. For this reason some tall lifters who deadlift with high hips may receive much more low back stress when deadlifting in comparison to shorter lifters whose deadlifts closely resemble their squats. These taller lifters or long-legged lifters may not be able to deadlift as frequently as their shorter or short-legged counterparts. Ironically, shorter lifters and shorter-legged lifters tend to get a lot of carryover/transfer from squatting so although they could deadlift more often, they may see the best results when they purposely limit their deadlift frequency in order to allow them to squat more often. And although taller lifters and longer-legged lifters tend to get “beat up” more with deadlifts, they still need to deadlift frequently as they tend to not get as much carryover/transfer from squats.

Ideally every lifter would have excellent mobility and stability in their various joints as well as excellent motor patterns so they distributed stress across their joints as evenly and efficiently as possible, which would allow for maximum training frequency. Many lifters find that as time goes on and they get stronger, they benefit from training a lift less often. Some lifters hold onto strength better and can do higher volume and intensity to create deeper “inroads” into their recovery since they won’t be repeating the lift until a week later. Often these lifters can gain strength from hitting the movement once per week. Others lose strength rapidly and benefit from less volume per session coupled with more frequent sessions.

Some strong lifters such as Andy Bolton (the world’s strongest deadlifter) have found that doing speed deadlifts with 50-60% of their 1RM allows them to train the squat heavier and more frequently. For me this strategy would be detrimental to my deadlifting strength as my grip needs constant heavy stimuli or it weakens/detrains plus my body responds best to specificity. For example, I’ve found that box squatting and good mornings do not transfer much to my squat or deadlift, nor do speed squats and speed deadlifts. We also have different physiologies in terms of our nervous systems, endocrine systems, muscular systems, metabolisms, immune systems, etc. so we recover differently from one another.

At any rate, perhaps our programs are too “inside the box” and would benefit from some “outside the box” thinking. Whether you get strongest by training a certain lift once every other week or five times per week, as long as you aren’t damaging your joints then that is your ideal frequency for that lift. Perhaps it would be ideal to construct our programs based on these ideal training frequencies. Here’s an example:

In this example, the squat and bench press are trained heavy three times per week, while the deadlift is trained heavy once per week (with one lighter session in the form of speed rack pulls). Hip thrusts, chin ups, rows, incline press, military press, curls, back extensions, and core exercises are sprinkled in for balance. Of course, every lift you add in may alter the recovery and therefore frequency of a main lift if it hampers recovery of certain muscles or severely taxes the nervous sytem. For example, you may be able to squat four days per week if squats were the only lower body lift you performed, but add in deadlifts and two heavy plyo/sprint sessions and suddenly you can only squat twice per week. But the point is to simply consider training frequencies per lift and attempt to formulate a unique program based on ideal training frequencies for various lifts.

9. Alan Aragon is a Total Badass!

Check him out! He’s a nutrition/research geek during the week, and a lead singer/rockstar on the weekends! If you don’t subscribe to Alan’s research review service, you’re missing out!

10. Personal Training Experience Over Strength Coaching Experience

I’ll take my personal training experience over my strength coaching experience any day of the week. Let me explain.

Years ago I was an assistance strength coach for a high school football team. While the experience was amazing and allowed me to learn a ton about being a strength coach, I believe that my experience as a personal trainer has helped me tremendously.

As a personal trainer, you have more time to screen and assess individuals. You have more time to teach proper form. You can give cues and observe literally every single rep of every set they perform. You can make adjustments mid-workout based on client feedback. You learn the best possible motivational strategies for each individual. You gain a deep understanding for anthropometry/somatotypes and how the various body types move. You can get creative and utilize unique protocals that can’t be used as a strength coach. Your creativity and right-brained learning are maximized as you’re constantly thinking, monitoring, adjusting, and tinkering in order to get the training effect you’re seeking. It seems to me that the most creative exercise specialists tend to do a lot of personal training…

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I believe that everyone trainer should get some experience as a personal trainer, small group trainer, and strength coach as they’re all different. For example, strength coaching requires excellent planning and systems-creation. Each type of training makes you better at a certain aspect of coaching.

11. World Record Muscle-Ups Performance

This badass busts out muscle-ups like they’re nothing! Muscle ups require some serious upper body strength and are an amazing exercise. Most individuals will never be able to do a muscle up simply because they’re too advanced!

12. Matt Perryman Articles

I love Matt Perryman’s articles! He’s definitely an expert at program design/periodization for strength and hypertrophy purposes. Check out these articles:

This one will teach you the basics of periodization
This one defends linear periodization
This one includes a sample auto-regulatory program

13. Great Reads for the Week

Robbie Bourke’s Book Review of the Female Brain – I Loved this Review!

Keats Snideman’s Article on the Importance of Big Toe Mobility in Sport Training

Massages May Actually Hamper Recovery Following a Workout

Weight Training May Be Better than Stretching for Developing Flexibility

Women’s Physiologies and Metabolisms Function Differently than Men’s!

If You Have Insulin Resistance then You’ll See More Fat Loss from a Low Carb Diet as Opposed to a Low Fat Diet

Tim Eagerton’s Blog About Anatoly Bondarchuk’s Indicators for Triple Jumpers

Tony Gentilcore’s Humorous/Scary Article About Actresses, Bone Density, and Health

Some Athletes are Prone to Exercise-Induced Low Testosterone and Benefit from Backing Off a Bit

Mark Young’s Excellent Blog About Confirmation Bias

Awesome Gray Cook Excerpts From His New Book Here and Here

Great Thoughts on Barefoot Running

Great Blog by Eric Cressey on Mobility/Activation Training

That’s all for Random Topics this Week. I think I’ll have a couple more blogs this week so be sure to check back. Have a great rest of the week!


  • carla/MizFit says:

    Thanks for the shoutout and links to myriad things I’ve missed along the blog/article reading way.

    (And you KNOW I already own that Oxygen mag. Congrats!)

  • Mark Young says:

    I love random thought posts! Thanks for the shout out on the article.

    I completely agree with you about SC.com. I think this is a MUST for strength coaches…especially beginners.

    And plagiarism sucks! Damn mofos stealing others’ ideas without credit. Pisses me right off.

    • You’re very welcome Mark! It was a great article. I’m not really pissed about the plagiarism I just thought it would be a good opportunity to teach others in the industry that this stuff always gets back to the originator and what proper etiquette entails. Thanks!

  • EC says:

    Great post Bret, full of great stuff.

    How about a progression article/video for muscle ups? I saw JC Santana was doing some good progressions with bands recently.

    Regarding the plagiarism on the “certified pt’s” blog. A quick look and I realised that this guy has stolen articles from Jason Ferruggia as well. Poor form, he needs shutting down.

    • That’s a great idea EC. I actually feel a little sorry for the little fella. I respect anyone out there who is trying to help others get better bodies and especially those who read up and try to improve their skills (which cannot be said of 90% of professionals in other fields). He just needs to learn to give credit where credit is due. I don’t think anyone is really visiting his site or that his online activity is earning him more clients, so I’m not too concerned about the plagiarism.

  • I agree with Mark, random thought posts are awesome!

    I’m taking your advice…and am going to be more active on the strengthcoach.com forums. I’ve been a member for a while, but just as an observer.

    The suck factor totally sucks!


  • Matt P says:

    Bret, regarding the plagiarism, you can slip him a DMCA take-down notice. If he doesn’t comply, pass it on to his web hosting company and they’re legally obligated to act on it.

    You don’t even need a lawyer, just a sternly-worded letter will suffice.

    Cheers for the props, also 😉

  • Thanks Jaison!!! Glad people like my random thought blogs because I certainly like writing them!

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    1. Buttload (sorry glute-load) of content!

    2. I’m seriously thinking about joining the Strength Coach forums. I will probably get banned, but it’s totally what I’m looking for in a forum. Might as well go after it.

    3. That muscle up dude is sick! At first I thought he was going to kip, but he really didn’t. There was some swing, but not really a kip. The way he exploded on top of those muscle ups was SICK.

    4. Here is a cool, smooth, L muscle up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q8KMnWUsvg

  • PolyisTCOandbanned –

    1. Buttload is fine in these parts!
    2. I’m not sure if the Strength Coach forums would be “down your alley.” Many people prefer more active forums with more arguments/debates. The StrengthCoach forums are very tame/polite, you’ll never see any name-calling or anything like that, and it’s not nearly as active as something like the TMuscle forums.
    3. I concur.
    4. Sweet video. Olympic gymnasts are freaks! Did you ever read this interview?


  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    4. Yeah, I’ve seen that one. I’ve tried doing some of that stuff in the past, but never like those guys. Now I just do weights. More controlled, really and I have some joint issues. there’s a different article by sommers, where he talked about sticking with things and not getting disappointed if you don’t get big gains immediately. Said strength training is a slow process. kind of an obvious point, but something about it stuck with me and really put me at ease with my own training. I don’t really worry about ramp rate rate as long as the slope is positive! (and as a weak newbie, I still gained like 70% in a year and felt good every week with my little gains…) So…that’s the one thing I got from Sommers. Since, i’m not working planches!

  • Good point. At this point in my life I’ve been training for 17 years now and I realized that it’s not important to go up on everything over time. Dan John mentioned this in an article a while back. You can still see gains from using the same weight over time but gaining control and improving form. I pick a few lifts that I want to get stronger on each year (usually a type of squat, deadlift and press) and the rest of the exercises I do I just focus on “getting a good workout.” For example, I’m always trying to up my 1RM bench press, but if I do lateral raises, face pulls, hammer curls, chest supported rows, etc., I’m not trying to beat any records. I’m just trying to use good form and feel the right muscles working. It’s a good feeling to no think you have to go up on everything every year as that can be overwhelming/intimidating.

  • Zach says:

    “It’s always nice when individuals give credit to the originator too. But if you use someone’s exact wording from an article, the least you could do is reference the article!”

    lol you better hope Alwyn Cosgrove doesnt read this, it might make him feel bad

  • Leigh Peele says:

    Thanks for the shout. I will make sure to take the popped collar and stepchild comments to our off topic.

    PS- Be nice to puppies Bret.
    PSS- Don’t be so nice to that Perryman guy. I hear he is a pirate.

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    How did you find Stif smart? His level of knowledge or raw intellectual ability (even outside of fitness, like if he were in calculus class or something)? how would you compare him to LyleM or AlanA?

    • Siff was in a world of his own. Lyle may be the current king of physiology and research (with Alan being a close second), but Siff was right up there with everyone in physiology, physical therapy, etc. but the only guys in his league in terms of biomechanics knowledge were Zatsiorsky, Verkoshansky, etc. What made Siff so special was that these others guys didn’t know all the issues and topics and didn’t venture into our strength/fitness world too much like Siff. Siff had his own forum, offered “camps,” and seemed to be intrigued by everything. He chose not to sleep much because he was so excited about fitness.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

        So, more knowledge/interest than raw IQ? And the ranking of AA and LM was interesting. I guess LM might know more about general training topics. I kinda think AA is more of a truthskeeker and fact-based. And cooler, of course. 😉

  • Rich says:

    Mel Siff was number one, everyone else is trying to be number two( please no potty jokes! )

    I hope you’re not putting LyleM and AlanA is the same class as Mel Siff?!

    Good one on Cosgrove!

  • Good stuff man and nice work on the article in Oxygen! Awesome!

    I loved the weight training for flexibility research and gave you a hat tip on my blog for that study. Good stuff.

    The ideal number for a lift is as often as possible, as long as you can make progress. This is where type so auto regulatory training come in (nice article by the Perryman Pirate too). If not the specific lift, take something that is common.

    Take deadlifts for example. I can’t currently DL every day, but I can probably do some FORM of a DL almost every day and will be doing that again this early Fall.

    Options include (but are not limited to)

    thick axle bar
    both palms down (double overhand)
    pinch deadlift
    trap bar DL
    Dimel DLs

    Off axis options like suitcase deadlifts, single hand, jefferson lift, B Stance, etc

    You get the idea. The key is to determine WHICH exercise and at WHICH load EACH day. This can be done with testing.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    • I suspected you’d like the weight-training/flexibility research! As for your comment on deadlifting every day in some form or another, I wonder the same thing. I could certainly find a way to deadlift every day in the form of various stances, bar positioning, center of gravity, implements, loading strategies, speed of execution, etc. Of course, any good lifter has to wonder which frequency/volume/intensity parameters work best for the individual which can only be learned through experimentation, learning, and observing. In other words, I’m certain I could deadlift every day and even go heavy most of the time but would it make me stronger faster than if I were to deadlift twice per week, or even once per week. Good scientists consider these things and are open-minded to new possibilities.

  • PolyisTCOandbanned –

    Intelligence is an interesting thing to discuss. In my education courses in college we learned about the 7 Multiple Intelligences: logical/mathematical, verbal/linguistic, body/kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Every individual has unique blends of these intelligences. There also exists left and right brain intelligence; left being more associated with logic and right being more associated with creativity.

    I believe that Lyle is one of the brightest guys in the field but he seems to have serious social issues. Those who know him will tell you he hates everyone and everything including himself! He’d probaby be the first to admit this. In terms of nutrition, fat loss, and physiology he may be the brightest out there (save for perhaps some obscure PhD’s who you’ll never know of anyway) but personally I don’t want to listen to Lyle because it is my personal choice to avoid such negative people. Perhaps he is very high in logical/mathematical and body/kinesthetic intelligence but low in interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Altough I find Lyle to be off-the-charts in terms of left-brained intelligence, I don’t find Lyle to be creative and possess extraordinary amounts of right-brained intelligence, at least as it pertains to biomechanics.

    There is a way to disagree politely and respectfully, which is the way Mel Siff operated. When you resort to name-calling it reeks of insecurity. I believe that many of Lyle’s comments also reek of elitism which is highly annoying to me as there is much gray area in strength & conditioning as it’s very much an arta-scienza.

    This is why I’d rather listen to Alan any day of the week. Both Alan and Lyle surf/comb the journals daily and seek the truth. Alan is very humble and will tell you that Lyle is the top-dog but as I said before, they’re both damn smart. But Alan seems much more positive and happy which is important to me. Lyle has his bachelor’s degree in biomechanics but I’ve found a few of his statements in regards to exercise to be incorrect so I don’t believe that Lyle is the end-all/be-all in terms of biomechanics…just nutrition and physiology. But he certainly possesses a ton of training related knowledge and is worth listening to if you aren’t bothered by name calling.

    There are certainly some smart folks on his forums.

    • Zach says:

      “I don’t want to listen to Lyle because it is my personal choice to avoid such negative people”

      I’d listen to a negative genius over a positive moron any day of the week. there are plenty of positive people in the industry, but none with the same knowledge as Lyle. if you aren’t following his work solely cause you don’t like his personality, you’re really missing out on a lot of nutrition information you won’t find anywhere else

      also, not that this is related to fitness, but i’d like to point out that all of the recent research has suggested that “Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences” is false. the whole “logical/mathematical” and “body/kinesthetic” types of intelligences just did not hold up in the studies. look into some of Dr. Bouchard’s work for plenty of evidence refuting the “seven types of intelligences” theory

      • Zach, some can handle negative people and be fine, I can’t. I get sucked in and find myself being negative. I try to surround myself wit positive people. I agree that Lyle is the man when it comes to nutritional info. But I don’t believe that he’s the man when it comes to Biomechanics, which is what I’m more interested in. Do you agree? He’s said a couple of things that just weren’t correct in this area. I learned about the Multiple Intelligences theory when I was in undergrad and just “accepted it.” I never realized that there were a bunch of people who disagreed with it. Check out this page, bunch of opponents. http://www.igs.net/~cmorris/critiques.html
        Thanks for the heads up.

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    See my username. (literal LOL!) 😉

  • Rich says:

    Just in case, my comment about putting Lyle and Alan with Mel was in response to PolyisTCOandbanned’s post. I really wish Mel was around today to provide commentary on the industry.
    While I don’t know the man, I have to admit that some of Lyle’s posts on charliefrancis.com were as you described. By no means does he have to make people happy, but civility would be nice.

    • Yeah I realized that you were commenting about Polyis’ post. I was in for a rude awakening when I went to his monkey island forum and frequented the “hatin'” forum. He pretty much refers to everyone in the profession except Alan Aragon as a bunch of “booger-eating retards.”

  • PolyisTCOandbanned says:

    I feel like I’m getting you in trouble, Bret.

    P.s. That banded hip thrust girl…wow!

  • I hear ya on the DL experiment.

    I agree, the key is not more for the sake of more, it is the minimal effective amount.

    Having said that, IF (bit IF) you can pull conventional at a heavy weight more often day in and day out, you will make more progress as frequency is very powerful from multiple stand points (protein synthesis, motor learning, etc)

    You are also making more linear progress towards your goal.

    This assumes you are doing better each time you pull (more volume, density, weight on the bar) to trigger a positive adaptation (I would throw in not decreasing movement quality also). If pulling 500 lbs requires me to drag my right leg around all day, I will pass (to each their own).

    Rock on!
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    • Mike, it’s funny; I would agree in that we often don’t train lifts with nearly enough frequency but sometimes the deadlift is its own animal. In other words, what applies to other lifts sometimes doesn’t apply to the deadlift; it’s in a world of its own. Beginners can and should train the dl very often with slightly higher volume. Once you get up over the 500 lb barrier your body tends to develop “protective” mechanisms as gains don’t seem to keep going up linearly. This is when higher frequency may not work. I currently train the deadlift twice per week almost exclusively with heavy singles. Often there seems no rhyme or reason to my deadlifting gains…I’ll remain stagnant for two months then jump up twenty pounds and I don’t know why…was it a certain exercise, programming, etc. We tinker with so many things that there are too many variables to be able to narrow it down to a single factor so often we don’t know what caused the deadlift to raise. More often then not it may be simply because “the body works in mysterious ways.” There are waves of stagnation and waves of progression which is why I love auto-regulation. Great thoughts though. I always enjoy listening to a smart scientist-type who desires a stronger deadlift. -Bret

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