Sprinting Performance is Not Solely About Force Put Into the Ground

Many strength coaches repeat the same outdated concept over and over, stating that “sprint speed is determined by the amount of force you put into the ground.” Force is a vector quantity that has magnitude and direction. It’s not just the force you put into the ground; force relative to bodymass in addition to the direction of force application help determine sprint acceleration performance.

A recent study titled, Technical Ability of Force Application as a Determinant Factor of Sprint Performance, by Morin and colleagues, took a close look at sprint performance using 12 subjects including 2 sprinters. What they found was that speed was determined by high amounts of net horizontal force, which is calculated by subtracting braking forces from propulsive forces. They measured mean vertical, horizontal, and total forces, and what was very unique about this study is that they measured the forces during each step of the acceleration, which allowed them to calculate an index of force application technique involving the net direction of force per stride.

What the researchers found was that the direction of force application and the net horizontal ground reaction forces were significantly correlated with sprint performance, but vertical ground reaction forces and total ground reaction forces were not. The researchers concluded that:

The orientation of the total force applied onto the supporting ground during sprint acceleration is more important to performance than its amount.

In fact, the researchers elaborated on this during the study, stating the following:

A good example of the distinction between the technical and physical capabilities put forward in this study is that of the two typical subjects presented in Fig. 2B. Subject 11 is a national-level long jumper, has been training for sprint and long-jump for about 10 years, and has a personal best of 10.90 s in the 100-m. Subject 2 is a basketball and mountain-bike competitor, and not specialized in sprint. These two subjects have about the same body mass (68.1 vs. 69.9 kg) and similar values of maximal RF (Fig. 2B). Further, their capabilities of total force production over the acceleration phase were very close: FTot = 1.87 BW for Subject 11 and 1.89 BW for Subject 2. However, their DRF (-0.051 vs. -0.083) were the two extreme values for the population tested. This means that Subject 11 was able to maintain much higher values of RF when accelerating compared to Subject 2, despite similar RF at the first step. What is interesting and clearly illustrates the superior 100-m of Subject 11 (Smax of 9.96 vs. 8.80 m.s-1, t100 of 11.90 vs. 13.66 s, and d4 of 26.3 vs. 23.3 m) is that despite similar total force production capabilities, he had a better DRF during treadmill accelerated runs.

Mel Siff understood this many years ago. So did Charlie Francis when he said, “looks right, flies right” and prescribed his sprinters (including Ben Johnson) the reverse leg press; an anteroposterior hip extension exercise that focused on end-range glute strength, similar to the pendulum quadruped donkey kick.

The take home message for strength coaches, track & field coaches, and sprinters is that you really need to analyze vectors and forces and determine which ranges of motion require accentuated force development. Squats, Oly lifts, ballistics and plyos are staples, but end range hip extension strength and power is maximized by combining training methods including hip thrust variations, pendulum quadruped variations, back extensions and reverse hypers, sled work, horizontal jumps, and of course, sprints.

75 Comments

  • Carl Valle says:

    Why are acceleration phases indicators of total performance? Why not compare acceleration, Max speed (terminal acceleration) and speed endurance (velocity decay from fatigue).

    • Bret says:

      Hey Carl! If we’re talking about the 100 meter dash then I’d pose the same argument. But for shorter sprint performances, which are indicative of most team sports, this applies. I could be wrong, but I think that they looked at just the acceleration phase so they could analyze the directional vector using mean forces. At max speed, the vector would be vertical since braking and propulsive are equal.

      • Carl Valle says:

        The acceleration phase is very horizontal dominant and other good studies show this. But remember the forces are horizontal dominant because of posture! This study has also 100m influences as well as the velocity work is nearly that of sub-elite sprinters.

        • Bret says:

          Sure, but it’s still end-range hip extension strength (not hips-flexed strength after the first few strides). And regarding the sub-elite sprinters, are you suggesting that elite sprinters function differently? This does not appear to be the case based on research that’s in the woodworks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRZvlQTTCMg

          • Carl Valle says:

            Bret,

            Note the fact that the research supports that toe off very little power is present. Check the Mann book I sent to you. What people need to understand that the gluteus and hamstrings are firing heavy during stance phase and the range of motion is not as important as the forces and timing.

            At top speed the elites have less hip extension but the amount of work done is higher. Triple extension use to be the holy grail, now it’s myth.

            The Ralph Mann studies support the need for both hip power and hip flexion rates….

            I would be interested in research on EMG of hip extension and foot mechanics as too much love is for quadzilla football players that have great 10s. The bias on the quads doesn’t support the methods producing great 10s by sprinters who are faster with 50% of the back squat strength.

          • Bret says:

            I agree about the toe-off and lack of power (hip is already gearing up for flexion) but I don’t think we look at ranges nearly enough. Braking and propulsive are horizontal and those forces are produced on the ground.

          • george petkovski says:

            Hi Bret
            I just wanted to purchase your book, do you just have the 1 book or a few to choose from?

  • Good stuff as always.

  • Joe Bonyai says:

    Hey Bret – You know I’m a proponent of supplementary HE work, but I’m not sure the results of this study (I only read the abstract) support it’s inclusion based on GRF. You wouldn’t expect greater FV during acceleration when the athlete is maintaining a foward lean/powerline, etc.

  • Todd Packard says:

    Hey Bret,

    Great post… as always! I’m a weakling on the beach, so don’t kick sand in my face on this one. But, here’s what we advocate on our Shuttle MVP. It appears – to me, at least – to incorporate some of the technique and principles you’re advocating: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuUPTuXfETo&feature=player_embedded#at=189 Would appreciate your insights – Thanks, Todd

  • Danny G says:

    I enjoy your articles, Bret. Could you suggest a few good books, articles or websites on sprinting that explain sprint mechanics, which muscles and exercises that increase acceleration and top speed, how to program those exercises for 40 yard dash and 100 meters. By the way do you plan on coaching Olympic sprinters or something like that?

  • Carl Valle says:

    The EMG studies of track starts show an interesting paradox. Both areas need to be worked and I think a good balanced program coverers the bases. I do think max sprinting helps acceleration but the study showing force application is better than just raw force. Too many meat heads thinking the Peter Weyand study is max strength.

  • Matt says:

    Hey Bret,

    What is the brand and model of that reverse hyperextension machine if you don’t mind disclosing it?

    Thanks,

    Matt

  • Jessica Jane says:

    Side note – For those of us who don’t have access to that pendulum contraption, I’ve used a smith machine instead and it seems to work pretty damn well.. . . I also have tried using the wall as resistance and pushing with everything I’ve got to try to “move” the wall.. . .. Ouch!

    Bret, I’m waiting on that post about strengths/weaknesses for bilateral vs. unilateral exercises….. 😉

  • Rich T. says:

    The fact that both Mel Siff and Charlie Francis appreciated the importance of hip extension strength illustrates that this isn’t exactly a new way of thinking. The exercises listed all have great benefits but, similar to Carl’s thoughts, they simply need to be part of a balanced program. Focus on producing force in the weightroom but focus on optimizing force application on the track. After reading Ralph Mann’s book, it appears as if the nod goes to vertical but horizontal is absolutely present. The Weyand research has people thinking that all they need to do is jack up the trap bar, do a few heavy drags, throw in 4 x 10-15 yard sprints and 4.29 is right around the corner.

    • Bret says:

      Hey Rich, I respectfully disagree.

      Though Siff, Verko, & Francis paved the way, I think that this is a new way of thinking in that I’m stating that exercises like hip thrusts and back extensions should be programmed to much greater degrees and should be prioritized for speed development. I believe that this will lead to greater gains in speed development than the more traditional way (squats and Oly lifts only for barbell/strength work).

      In future blogposts I’ll elaborate.

      This question goes to Carl, Rich, and Joe. Do any of you guys have experience with using free body diagrams to calculate forces and torques? This is an area I’m getting into and it’s really complicated. I’d like to show how posture affects forces and torques but wanted to double check to see if you guys had any experience with this as two minds are always better than one.

      • Carl Valle says:

        The problem with limb motion capture is the lack of integration of the foot structure, since the summary of forces is not the whole story. I know people are going to debate me, but I agree with Rich, does the time improve or feel easier? I don’t mean output I mean comfort as execution must feel easy to be consistent.

        I think the specific work in the weight room can help with abnormal foot strike to support muscle recruitment, but those methods will taper off as the athlete improves speed. Then the art is not specific training, it becomes sequence and the ever timeless volume and intensity balance.

      • Carl Valle says:

        The new way needs to have fleets of 9.6 guys that normally would be struggling to break 10. Times and results must be proven over and over or it’s just conjecture. I think the methods have merit but we need to see times and not theory.

        • Bret says:

          Carl, I’ve said this to you before but the track & field guys like yourself are so lasered in on the elite. Though very intriguing, I’m also interested in seeing how typical athletic populations respond to various methods. While we’re all intrigued about the elite (including me), there are some coaches who prefer research that is more tailored to their settings, such as rugby populations. And the latter is much more practical in terms of gaining subjects for research than the former population (which would be damn near impossible). As someone who appreciates sports science, I’d think you’d be interested in a broad range of research. -BC

          • Carl Valle says:

            I am interested in a broad range but without specific direction what am I to do. Early lifters respond to anything, and only when the performances are impressive can we start looking at the cause and effect.

          • Bret says:

            Carl, please correct me if I’m wrong. Don’t you write about training methodology on your blog? And have you produced any 9.6 sprinters (or any sub 10 sprinters for that matter)? Using your logic, do you have the right to form any opinion? And have you ever written advice regarding methods that haven’t been used to create 9.6 sprinters? In other words, if I had the time to do so, could I sift through your blog and anytime advice was given regarding methods that were not used to create sub 9.6 sprinters post the exact same comment that you wrote here? Please know that I don’t think this way…I actually like hearing different views, methods, interpretations of science, etc. and use the various theories to shape my own….and I believe that there are certain methods that are better than others at every stage of development…I’m just trying to get a grasp of what you’re saying and determine if you’re being hypocritical or not.

          • Carl Valle says:

            I think I have the right to form an opinion to comment on what people are doing and share what influences and training history they have. As someone who has produced a few successes to say the least (olympic games and All-Americans) I can only comment on that level or below given my circumstances and share the commonalities of other coaches. My concern is that in order to progress the coaching field we need to have more documentation of what was really done and see if the impact is clear.

            My own beliefs are stemmed from what has happened, and not what may happen in theory. Like you said you do need to hear as many options as possible, for example the reverse leg press is a great option during the GPP.

            I loved Jon Godwin’s presentation as he is in the UK U system and likely not to be getting any dripping 10.2 guys ready to take the world stage. What is different is that his presentation was about the forces of what is going on not how to get there.

            To be clear I think that the earlier in both development and seasonal progression athletes need hip extension from about neutral and farther back with good exercises such as reverse leg press,bounding, RDLs, and more.

          • Bret says:

            Carl, you didn’t answer the questions. Have you produced any sub 10 sprinters? It’s a yes or no question. Have you written about training methods for maximum speed? Again, yes or no?

            If your answer to question number 1 is no and question number 2 is yes then you’re not only a hypocrite but also an asshole.

            Rather than respond with logic to your comments I’m just going to start turning your arguments around on you.

            You train track & field athletes for a living, and yet you’ve still never produced a 9.6 sprinter or a sub 10 sprinter for that matter. Clearly then your methods don’t work, right? Therefore why do you have a blog? Why do you write for EliteTrack.com when you haven’t produced a sub 10 sprinter; shouldn’t you write for “AverageTrack.com”? Why have you written about maximal speed or training for maximal speed when you don’t train Usain Bolt? Clearly you have no right to form an opinion, based on your own rationale, right?

            Personally I think that these arguments are stupid but that’s what you’re eluding to.

            And if your concern is to progress the coaching field then I suggest conducting some research yourself and going through the peer-reviewed process to add to the literature/body of knowledge, writing a review paper on a certain topic, or writing a book that showcases the methods that you believe work well so others can benefit from them, rather than surfing the net, posting comments on blogs, and trying to use smoke and mirrors to act like you have a better understanding than everyone else (when those who know you know that you don’t).

            Last, since you understand forces and torques so well then why don’t you film a video that shows you teaching us what limits maximal speed where you draw a free body diagram? You won’t because you don’t know how to do this. Or, from a practical perspective, why don’t you show us some controlled experiments that you’ve done that showed increases in sprint speed via different methods? Again, you won’t do this because you haven’t conducted any. Finally, post some case studies where you show how you improved some max speed. You won’t do this because you don’t write articles, just short blogposts using smoke and mirrors.

            In the absence of research we use tradition, expert opinion, trial and error, and logical/scientific thinking to form opinions. I have my interpretation and you can have yours, and it’s fine if we agree to disagree. And I’m allowed to comment on which methods I believe work better than others, and they don’t have to be written just for elite sprinters as “maximal speed” is relative to the individual athlete. Many coaches want to know what works for different types of athletes at different stages of development. I write for strength coaches in general, not solely for the top elite sprint coaches in the world.

            I am working on lit reviews, videos explaining forces, and controlled experiments, busting my ass out here in New Zealand. I’ll continue to do this so I can provide meaningful information to coaches, while you can continue to surf the net and try to position yourself as somebody you aren’t, write in riddles, and use smoke and mirrors to try to fool people.

            If you do reply to this comment, please answer the questions above. -Bret

  • Rich T. says:

    Hey Bret,
    Heavy hip thrusts, which you put on the map, certainly are a more recent addition to the list. Your point about combining training methods is a good one. Years back, the NSCA Clean, Squat, Bench workout was the way to go but I’ve developed a much greater appreciation for posterior chain strength through the exercises you mentioned. So I think I agree with the fact that they need to be programmed to greater degrees. I’m just not so sure that we’re talking holy grail. One question I have is how is “to much greater degrees” represented? Is it a higher frequency? Is it increased volume? Time seems to be driving the bus nowadays and advising coaches that they have to spend more of it doing something may interfere with their business model. I don’t have experience with free body diagrams but look forward to the future blogposts to come.

  • george petkovski says:

    Hi Bret,
    I just wanted to purchase your book, do you just have the 1 book or a few to choose from?

  • Carl Valle says:

    Bret,

    I will say that I have never produced a sub ten athlete, but that would limit my population to 50% and only to the a very small population and one event. My blog on elite track is about ideas and my articles I did write come from producing people who have gone to the olympics or All-American’s in other sports. This feat is not easy but I am not attacking Glen Mills or offering suggestions for him to do a better job.

    So why the word produce? The reason is that working with elite athletes is not the same as producing them. The improvement curve and the context of how they were produced is paramount. Elitetrack is not Subtenzone.com or http://www.ninesixclub.com since we have masters, youth, college, and yes some post college athletes.

    Most of my short blog posts are not designed to be articles. If you have read many of them over the last few months they include links, videos, and downloads to other people’s work. Because I am humble enough to see that not much is left on the table because of the people before me, I only see refinements. For example your glute training information is great but how much impact will it have? My response was that early athletes would be more likely to improve faster and be less injury prone but top end performances is unknown because nobody has adopted it. If it makes a massive impact I will think about dropping more exercises and doing it more and heavier and different.

    Everyone has a right to comment on any type of training by questioning and thinking about current concepts. My fear is that people are able to make deductions without seeing if the ideas actually work or sharing the necessary details such as the one’s suggested by Rich on this blog discussion.It’s very hard to get people faster. If it was easy we would see more and more people sub ten. It takes a monster talent, great coach, and great environment. Xavier Carter had all of it and didn’t break 10. It wasn’t the coaching or talent.After rereading my responses, my only real point of contention is to see how the intervention works as the blog post was about sprinting performance, not how to get athletes stronger.

    Finally if I offended you I am sorry. I am not trying to attack and see no tone or word choice that leads to that, but again if I was unprofessional my apologies.

    • Bret says:

      Carl, if a method gets somebody faster then it works. If a hip thrust helped a sprinter increase his horizontal force and he decreased his time by .05 seconds then that might mean the difference between second place and first place. As you said, it’s not easy to get people faster. For this reason, sprinters need to be using the best possible methods to give them the best chance of setting a PR.

      But that’s not what this is about. To be honest I’m tired of your bullshit. Those of us who know you see right through you. You act surprised at my response? Oh, you pobrecito. Maybe you should learn from your past.

      You’ve been banned by forums. You’re the only “internet guru” that I know of who pissed someone off so badly that they created an entire blog about you titled, “Who Does Carl Train?” linked right here: http://whodoescarltrain.blogspot.com/

      I just read through all the posts on that blog and I realized why you annoy the hell out of people. You are a snake. I don’t accept your apology as I’ve been fooled by you on several occasions.

      Please bear in mind that I’ve given you the benefit of the doubt on many occasions. When you wrote the following blogposts that I’ll link up, you had no long-term experience with barbell hip thrusts. Who in the hell posts about stuff in which they have no experience? That makes you very dangerous.

      I was man enough to get over this blog where you claimed that hip thrusts are an exercise in fanny futility: http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/4956/

      And then there was this post where you said that hip thrusts were “bro-science” where you suggested that hip thrusts would lead to injuries and that hip thrusts don’t have an eccentric component: http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/4880/

      Where are all the hip thrust injuries? I know of zero people out of all the folks I’ve trained and all the folks I influence on the web. And I guess I’d have to explain basic muscle physiology to you as hip thrusts have a clear eccentric component.

      Seriously, explain that one to me…how is Davan right? That’s one of the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read and you agreed with it. You repeated it here on Mike Reinold’s blog where you entered a comment on this post: http://www.mikereinold.com/2009/10/best-exercises-for-gluteus-maximus-and.html

      And in this blogpost you called “Jackass Judgement” because folks are doing hip thrusts. I guess that makes me head-jackass. http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/4873/

      Had you any long-time experience with heavy hip thrusts when you posted those blogs? Of course not but you act like an expert with them. I experimented with hip thrusts with every client I trained for two years before writing about them, and based on my experience (and subsequent feedback from folks online) hip thrusts do in fact get people faster, most likely due to increased horizontal force production.

      Finally, in this blogpost you wrote the following: http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/5328/

      “Frankly increases in stride length are coming from general power of pushing down on the ground. The trajectory is about the same and it comes down to pushing. Horizontal forces are a product of pushing down period.”

      I guess now I’m going to have to explain sprinting forces to you. I don’t have time to educate you on muscle physiology, sprinting forces, and social etiquette. Maybe one of them, but not all three.

      You’d written all of these negative blogposts about me, yet I forgave you and never spoke of it. But a man has his limits and I’ve realized that you have serious issues with jealousy and envy. You are hell-bent on casting doubt on certain coaches’ theories and methods, to the point of obsession. Yet you don’t have the same critical lens of some of the other coaches in your circle.

      I acknowledge that you have a lot of knowledge about track and field and I’ve learned some valuable things from you, but quite frankly you’re an asshole and a social idiot. Buzz off.

      • T says:

        Bret, what sprinters/athletes have you worked with that are on the competitive stage?

        Say what you will about Carl but the guy works tremendously hard for his athletes and gets results. Period.

        • Bret says:

          T, I don’t work with any sprinters but that’s besides the point. This is Carl’s logic, not mine. All I did was turn his arguments back around on him.

          I don’t believe that someone needs to work with elite sprinters to understand forces or to make recommendations about strength training. Everyone acts like I’m just some research guy but I came up with these theories through training folks at my studio Lifts. I had around ten people tell me that their running times improved due to hip thrusts and I told them that we do a lot of stuff that works the lower body and it could be any of it. They all swore by the hip thrust and said that they knew it was because of that exercise. This got the wheels churning. Nowadays I receive emails from all sorts of folks saying that their running times improved shortly after they did hip thrusts, so I know that it works well for many folks. These are folks who do have experience with weights, bear in mind. So I’m pretty confident that they work, but as to whether they work better than other methods is up in the air. Now I’m in NZ researching and eventually I’ll conduct a controlled experiment to try to figure out exactly what’s going on.

          Anyway you may know him as a coach and I have no doubt that he works hard for his athletes, gets results, and cares about their performance. So Carl deserves his athlete’s respect. But he has not earned the respect of the strength & conditioning industry because we all see right through his bullshit. Most of his posts are written as back-handed compliments, smoke and mirrors to try to position himself as the world’s expert about things in which he’s not, and efforts to cast doubt on other’s methods (to make him seem like the know-it-all). It’s a jealousy thing, and he has it out for Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, and if I try to write anything about sprinting…me.

          The bottom line is that he’s writing about things in which he lacks experience which makes him an idiot in my book. Think about it; first he admonished hip thrusts due to the fact that they produce injuries. When no injuries cropped up, he admonished them due to their lack of eccentric action. When I had to teach him (and his idiot friend Davan) that hip thrusts do contain an eccentric component, then he resorted to admonishing them due to horizontal forces being a result of vertical forces and pushing down. Now (hopefully) he has learned that he’s incorrect about that too and that horizontal forces are independent of vertical forces, so he resorts to the suggesion that strength doesn’t improve speed. Only plenty of research exists showing that strength does improve speed. Then he’ll say, “how much?” “What effect will that have on times?” To those who have read his blogposts, we’re thinking, “Couldn’t we say the exact thing about anything he writes about? What effect does his HRV, foam rolling, foot stuff, or any other things that he’s written about have on sprint times?”If and when hip thrusts are shown to improve performance, he’ll come up with another argument…probably something like, “yeah but those weren’t with elite sprinters, yeah but it was only .1 seconds, yeah but blah blah blah.”

          He wrote public posts about me (see all the links above) and he was wrong. Any man with two functioning testicles would come out and publicly admit that he’s in error. I have done this in the past with my posts, but you won’t see Carl do it.

          You won’t see Carl write a post on EliteTrack.com that says, “Bret Contreras has corrected me on several different incorrect things I’ve posted in the past about hip thrusts. First, I was wrong when I suggested that hip thrusts will injure people. It turns out that hip thrusts are safe and aren’t injuring people. Second, I was wrong when I said that hip thrust don’t have an eccentric component. It turns out that hip thrusts do involve an eccentric component. And third, I was wrong when I said that horizontal forces are a result of pushing straight down into the ground. It turns out that horizontal force is not a result of pushing straight down into the ground. I apologize for being in error to my readers and want to publicly thank Bret for improving my scientific understanding of sprinting and strength training. I realize that I’ve been unfair to Bret and overly critical of hip thrusts. It will be interesting to see in the future if research shows that they fare better or worse when pitted against other methods such as squats or Olympic lifts for improving performance.”

          You won’t see this because he’s a snake. If he did try to post something along those lines he’d change it to make himself appear to superior. I don’t even care about the name-calling in the various posts; those were pretty creative and funny to be honest. I just care about the science. I’m very serious about the science and have dedicated my life to it. I realize that most coaches are set in their ways and aren’t interested in learning new methods, but stifling something on account of close-mindedness (especially when you’re wrong) is not good for the profession and continued advancement of our field.

          If I’m wrong about things in the future (such as my take on spinal flexion or my take on maximum speed running), then you best believe I’ll be the first to come out and inform readers of new research or new information even if it contradicts what I’ve said in the past. A good strength coach must evolve and be flexible and honest, especially if you have an online platform and reach out to a broader audience.

          • T says:

            Frankly I don’t have the energy right now to delve into these arguments, nor do I particularly care about the points of contention between the two of you.

            My point was that Carl knows what he is doing, is well versed in numerous areas that have direct application to his athletes (therapy, nutrition, supplementation, etc.) and knows how to progress the elite athlete. His standing amongst his peers in the strength and conditioning industry is immaterial to athletes and programs that are after measurable results at the highest levels.

            I think a lot of the kickback that you receive with regard to the hip thrust is the relative value that you place on the exercise within a speed development program. I think that it is a great movement and I commend you for bringing it to the mainstream (I’ve seen videos of Pfaff’s athletes doing single leg hip thrusts) but I do not believe that it will elicit the sort of speed increases, among elite populations, that you may think. I see them as a great choice as a GPP exercise and as an auxiliary movement to complement other lifts in a complete program.

            I realize it’s in vogue to hate on Carl and I acknowledge that his online communication style can be difficult to decipher for many and come off as both abrasive and evasive. However, as someone who depends on high level performance, I would go to Carl over any other coach in the online strength community–without hesitation.

          • Bret says:

            Fair enough, but my blogs aren’t always written for elite athletes. What about the high school, college, and professional sports players? Quite often a good strength training program can put several inches on an athlete’s vertical jump and shave a couple tenths of a second off of an athlete’s 40yd in a month’s time. We see this all the time but for some reason the track & field guys only view things through their specific lens.

            And I’m sick and tired of writing a blogpost (re-read what I wrote in this post and see that I was quite conservative) wondering if Carl Valle is going to come on and do his thing.

            Last thing: Do you have experience programming heavy hip thrusts with athletes from various sports?

      • Davan says:

        Bret,

        Dragging me into this, eh? Besides the fact that you didn’t even understand what the EMG results were telling you, your entire guru existence is based on promoting a ‘new’ exercise that is likely centuries old and has been often forgotten beyond being used as a supplemental exercise because it serves a very limited purpose. I remember the know-nothing, 80 year old cross country coach having sprinters do SL hip thrusts on steps when I was 15 years old. Do you think he was reading your blog nearly a decade in the future? Do you think our team somehow went on to be dominant from using them?

        Forgetting all of that, let’s look at the EMG arguments really quick. Your poorly utilized surface EMG (inconsistent/undocumented electrode placings, not enough subjects, etc.) to measure muscular activity in some popular exercises. You then went on to determine the training effects of exercises primarily based on this data.

        Surface EMG simply measures the electrical activity in a designated area for an allotted time frame. It does not measure force output, the load placed on a given muscle group, the tension created at a given time frame, and a multitude of other important factors. Further, using it as a primary determinant of the veracity of an exercise heavily biases it towards concentric based exercises (ie where the most tension is created during the concentric portion of the movement). The ‘glute activation’ during hip thrusts is a great example of that. Compared to a lunge, where the greatest tension is created during the stretch (increasing the surface area), the greatest tension in the hip thrust is created during the top range of the concentric (decreasing surface area).

        I could go further, but you aren’t intelligent nor educated enough to really understand this concept.

        For acting like such an arrogant prick, you should at least be able to back it up. You post a bunch of videos of yourself and others with no fucking glutes doing hip thrusts. I could go to a any high school track meet and see bigger glutes on half the kids running than is present in your ‘trained athletes.’

        Interestingly, you don’t show your people doing magical things like squatting, sprinting, or jumping. Why is that? Is it because it would instantly expose the mediocrity in yourself and the people you train? Squatting isn’t sexy, but it gets the job done and it exposes the fakes, which is why most internet gurus hate deep, heavy squats. The same goes for sprinting, jumping–I don’t mean box jumps either, I mean going onto the basketball court and showing what you can do on the rim–, and throws.

        I’ll put it like this Bret–let’s see your results and what your great training can produce instead of internet BS and self-promotion via a forgotten and archaic exercise. I’d be happy to race/lift against any single one of the people you have solely trained for at least 1 full year or yourself. We’ll pick a common, easily measured lift against bodyweight, like a deep raw squat/deadlift/bench and a sprint distance <100m (really, pick any you want, have no chance anyway).

        Put up or shut up.

        • Bret says:

          Davan, I’m glad you commented as we have some unsettled business. I don’t know you, I don’t know your situation, and I don’t know your intentions.

          First I’d like to know if you’re here to learn anything new. In other words, if I give you something to consider, would it be possible to change your mind? Or are you just another grumpy track & field guy who refuses to evolve? I hope it’s the former. Last, I’d like to know if you’ve ever performed heavy barbell hip thrusts. See my response below.

          Dragging me into this, eh? Besides the fact that you didn’t even understand what the EMG results were telling you, your entire guru existence is based on promoting a ‘new’ exercise that is likely centuries old and has been often forgotten beyond being used as a supplemental exercise because it serves a very limited purpose. I remember the know-nothing, 80 year old cross country coach having sprinters do SL hip thrusts on steps when I was 15 years old. Do you think he was reading your blog nearly a decade in the future? Do you think our team somehow went on to be dominant from using them?

          I have a pretty good understanding of the EMG results; I believe it’s you who doesn’t understand them. And does me being a “guru” (I’ve never said this but you did) bother you? Last time I checked I’m not studying marketing like other “gurus,” I shipped off to Auckland so I can learn more about sports science and acquire my PhD. I don’t know many “gurus” who go to these lengths.

          By the way I scoured the internet before I wrote my eBook for an entire week (seriously, I spent around 50 hours I think), searching every combination of terms I could think of: pelvic, glute, hip, supine, floor, butt, lifts, raises, thrusts, push ups, presses, etc. I not only searched for images, but also for websites, etc. I did find many people doing bodyweight glute bridges, Swiss ball glute bridges, lying feet elevated glute bridges, and even someone doing a glute bridge with a keg in their lap. These aren’t nearly as effective as 500 lb glute bridges or hip thrusts or shoulder-and-feet elevated single leg hip thrusts.

          I never found any pictures of anybody doing the following:

          1. Single leg hip thrusts with both shoulders and feet elevated
          2. Barbell glute bridges
          3. Barbell hip thrusts (back elevated onto a bench)

          Do you have any evidence (pictures or videos) that these were performed by others? Maybe they were, but I couldn’t find any, nor has anybody ever been able to provide me with info. I’ve done my best to try to track the origins of bridging movements and surely they were being done, but not to the degree of neuromuscular challenge that my variations impose. I’ve tried to credit Verkoshansky and Francis for performing horizontal hip strengthening movements as shown in their books.

          If you do have some evidence then please send it my way and I will post a blog crediting this person. If you don’t have any evidence, then quit whining about it as I’ll be the first guy to give credit where credit is due but as of yet no such evidence exists.

          The hip thrust serves a limited purpose? Why did my clients get faster by performing them? Why do I receive so many emails from folks saying that their speed increased shortly after they started performing them? I guess they’re all just imagining things. And if the hip thrust is forgotten then why is it cropping up all over the world? I’d suggest that it’s the fastest growing exercise in terms of popularity.

          Do you have any evidence to show that they don’t increase speed? Since there are no peer-reviewed studies, and it’s pretty apparent that you haven’t experimented with them, then I guess you’re psychic, just like your friend Carl. Some of you track & field folks amaze me with your psychic abilities! Why do you guys keep commenting on things with which you have no experience? It just makes you look foolish.

          And by the way, was your team performing them with the feet elevated or the shoulders elevated? When the feet are elevated relative to the shoulders it decreases the loading on the hips. This is the way that many folks before me performed them, and my EMG and biomechanical analysis helped folks realize this. Furthermore, this is a far cry from doing heavy barbell hip thrusts with 400+ lbs.

          Forgetting all of that, let’s look at the EMG arguments really quick. Your poorly utilized surface EMG (inconsistent/undocumented electrode placings, not enough subjects, etc.) to measure muscular activity in some popular exercises. You then went on to determine the training effects of exercises primarily based on this data.

          How do you know that my electrode placements were inconsistent? I guess you’re psychic once again. I don’t base things primarily on EMG by the way, in fact, in the second article I ever wrote for TNation I listed a bunch of biomechanical factors that should be used in exercise consideration. And I still believe that EMG is extremely useful for exercise analysis, especially if you correspond it with the range of motion via motion analysis.

          Surface EMG simply measures the electrical activity in a designated area for an allotted time frame. It does not measure force output, the load placed on a given muscle group, the tension created at a given time frame, and a multitude of other important factors. Further, using it as a primary determinant of the veracity of an exercise heavily biases it towards concentric based exercises (ie where the most tension is created during the concentric portion of the movement). The ‘glute activation’ during hip thrusts is a great example of that. Compared to a lunge, where the greatest tension is created during the stretch (increasing the surface area), the greatest tension in the hip thrust is created during the top range of the concentric (decreasing surface area).

          Regarding what EMG measures, no kidding. I’ve written about this on two different occasions. But it is indeed related to muscle force. Isometric contractions are highly related but dynamic contractions require some modelling. Would you like for me to send you some journal articles on this topic? And by the way what methods do you use to estimate muscle forces out of curiosity? It’s not an easy process.

          Regarding your concentric/eccentric comments, there were no concentric-only movements in my studies. Each exercise contained a concentric and eccentric component. So there were no biases in that regard.
          I can’t argue with people who don’t understand basic muscle physiology. The hip thrust contains an eccentric component. Have you ever performed a set? You lower the weight eccentrically. It’s not a concentric-only movement, nor is the lunge an eccentric-only movement.

          True, the lunge has the greatest tension in the stretch, and the hip thrust has the greatest tension up top. I wrote about this in an article two years ago (which was the first article I’d ever seen that discussed it).
          So the lunge would have an “ascending strength curve” whereas the hip thrust is pretty neutral throughout the set (but based on experience I’d say it has a “descending strength curve” as the lockout is indeed the hardest part).

          If I filtered out the eccentric portions of the exercises, then the hip thrust still outperforms the lunge in glute activity at all ranges of motion including the bottom. Fine, let’s ignore EMG and just focus on biomechanical analysis.

          Do you know how to measure joint moments and muscle forces using biomechanical models? I do not but am trying to learn this, and it’s incredibly complicated. If you do, then I’d be happy to collaborate with you on a project where we figure this out (I can ignore our differences). I will publish the results on my blog no matter what the results show. But I’m pretty sure that you don’t know how to do this (and neither does Carl) – please correct me if I’m wrong. And if this is true, then you’re just operating off of assumptions and not science.

          The torque loading on the glutes during a hip thrust is much higher than the lunge toward hips-extended positions (which corresponds to the ranges at ground contact). As for the loading in the stretch position, I suspect that the lower glute fibers might receive an incredible load as they’re usually quite sore following a workout. But this damage/DOMS is not the main determinant of hypertrophy (as you’ve suggested in previous posts) – tension is king when it comes to hypertrophy. And the hip thrust creates much more average tension on the glutes throughout the movement (and I think it creates more tension throughout the entire range of motion – not just up top) than the lunge or squat for that matter.

          I could go further, but you aren’t intelligent nor educated enough to really understand this concept.

          Keep in mind that you still don’t realize that hip thrusts put a huge eccentric loading on the glutes, so which one of us lacks intelligence?

          Trust me; I realize where I stand in terms of my intelligence. I’m not the brightest guy but at least I don’t go around making incorrect comments on forums and attacking people.

          Just being realistic, I am much more educated that most folks. I’m getting my PhD for Pete’s sake. I read tons of research, try to learn as much about biomechanics as possible, and try to hone my practical skills as well. But the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know.

          I think I get what you’re saying; that the electrodes record higher activities during end range glute contractions due to increased surface area of the tissue it’s measuring, whereas in the stretch the tissue is spread out so its true surface area is diminished. Is this correct?

          If so, researchers discussed this in an article I read from 2001. I must confess that I don’t know how much this affects activation. For example, what percentage of reduction in surface area do you get? Is it 10%, 20%, 30%? Since area of a circle is A=∏r^2, then how much does r decrease? Even if r went from 5 arbitrary units to 3.5 arbitrary units the surface area wouldn’t diminish by more than 50%. Keep in mind that with heavy hip thrusts you can get 120% mean MVC whereas with max squats only 40%. So I don’t believe that the differences can be explained by changes in geometry.

          I bet that if I modelled for this, the hip thrust would still greatly outperform the lunge or squat in glute activation (but again we could also use other methods to estimate muscle loading). And finally, since the hip thrust shows higher levels of activation at every single degree of hip flexion-extension (including down low), your theory doesn’t add up.

          Trust me, I wonder things about the glutes, such as why they get so sore following lunges (and not from hip thrusts), why they cramp up and nearly get pulled during heavy hip thrusts, and why the glutes burn considerably through hip thrusts and not lunges. I believe I know the answers to these conundrums, but I’m always trying to learn more. Now, you’d only know this if you performed heavy hip thrusts, and I’m not sure if you have or not.

          My guess is that even though the glutes aren’t activated too much in a lunge, the lower fibers are actively stretched to a very considerable degree, thereby contributing huge amounts of passive tension to the movement (and getting damaged fibers as a result). And my guess is that since the hip thrust produces such great constant levels of torque loading on the hips throughout the entire movement, blood cannot escape which produces a considerable pump. Both of these mechanisms can lead to hypertrophy (muscular damage and cellular swelling) but mechanical tension is king in this regard. So the nod goes to hip thrusts.

          Please correct me if you feel I’m in error.

          For acting like such an arrogant prick, you should at least be able to back it up. You post a bunch of videos of yourself and others with no fucking glutes doing hip thrusts. I could go to a any high school track meet and see bigger glutes on half the kids running than is present in your ‘trained athletes.’

          How am I the arrogant prick? Do you and Carl ever look into the mirror? You two have been banned from numerous forums. I have never been banned. Seriously, does this set off any alarms? If not then you’re in denial.

          I don’t go around starting fights with folks. If I disagree with something, I go to great lengths to learn about it and then I write a constructive argument. I did this with my spinal flexion paper and I’ll do it in the future with a paper on the glutes.

          See the difference? I go out and write articles, while you and Carl go around posting on forums and blogs. You two call people names and are instigators. I don’t do this.

          That said, I don’t allow people to bully me. You and Carl both wrote stuff that were not true (that hip thrusts don’t have an eccentric component) and you called me names (I could revisit the blogpost if need-be on EliteTrack). In fact, you blatantly attacked me.

          So who is the arrogant prick? If anything I’m humble about my knowledge and am trying to learn more science and conduct meaningful experiments. You and Carl act like know-it-alls and are not proactive.
          Moving onto your next comments. What truly matters is if my glutes (and the glutes of my clients) grew. I have a twin brother who lifts weights and my hips are 5” bigger around than his. My glutes are noticeably much bigger. Genetically I’m meant to have no ass, but I’ve fought hard to ameliorate this curse.

          And my clients all saw great glute improvements in very short times. In fact, all of them would tell you that. Many of them had squatted, sprinted, etc. and not seen nearly as much results in terms of glute hypertrophy as they did when they started training with me. In fact, you’ll find videos on my Youtube of Katie, Karli, Kellie, Steve, and Gaby, and they’d all tell you that their glutes grew very well by my style of training. It works better than just sprinting, trust me. Many folks online have emailed me saying that they’ve achieved similar results.

          If there is any way to get better glute results I will change my methods but I don’t believe it’s possible. Based on my knowledge of hypertrophy, sprinting would not induce the same signalling pathways as heavy hip thrusts and wouldn’t target as many types of pathways involved in hypertrophy than hip thrusts.

          Sure many sprinters have great glutes (and better glutes than my clients) but this doesn’t mean that my methods don’t work. Since my clients’ glutes grew very rapidly, the methods are proven to work very well. If I trained high school track athletes, I could get their glutes to grow too using these methods. And many sprinters could indeed get bigger glutes through my style of training; whether this would increase sprint times is debatable. I believe it would if programming was carefully planned, but of course elite sprinters don’t have much room for improvement.

          Interestingly, you don’t show your people doing magical things like squatting, sprinting, or jumping. Why is that? Is it because it would instantly expose the mediocrity in yourself and the people you train? Squatting isn’t sexy, but it gets the job done and it exposes the fakes, which is why most internet gurus hate deep, heavy squats. The same goes for sprinting, jumping–I don’t mean box jumps either, I mean going onto the basketball court and showing what you can do on the rim–, and throws.

          Have you seen my videos? I’ve posted tons of videos on squatting. I’m a huge fan of squatting and I have all my clients do deep squats (if they have the mobility to do so). Clearly you’re just talking crap. Maybe you saw videos of Katie. Katie couldn’t squat deep due to an ankle injury she had years ago (and 3 physical therapists couldn’t restore her limited dorsiflexion) but I still had her squat as deep as she could go (which was only a half squat but it’s better than no squatting at all). Karli squatted heavy multiple times per week and was a deadlifting machine, and I even got my client Steve squatting again (he hadn’t gone heavy on them in years due to low back pain but I got him doing them again). These are just clients who I’ve filmed.

          Sometimes it sucks being very accessible online. I post all kinds of articles and videos (while to my knowledge you haven’t posted anything up) so you can tear down my methods. Meanwhile I can’t say anything about your methods or see any of your clients training because you don’t have any videos up (please correct me if I’m wrong).

          And I’ve never stated that squats, sprints, and jumps aren’t valuable. These are huge. Squats are probably the best strength movement for jumping (but most likely not for sprinting), jumping is crucial for athleticism, and sprinting is king for speed. I’ve never said that people shouldn’t do these. Read the blogpost that you’re currently commenting on and you’ll realize this. I’m just suggesting to add in hip thrusts (which I believe is the strength movement for sprinting) and back extensions due to their focus on the latter portion of hip extension ROM and the horizontal loading at this range; which is specific to sprinting.

          I’ll put it like this Bret–let’s see your results and what your great training can produce instead of internet BS and self-promotion via a forgotten and archaic exercise. I’d be happy to race/lift against any single one of the people you have solely trained for at least 1 full year or yourself. We’ll pick a common, easily measured lift against bodyweight, like a deep raw squat/deadlift/bench and a sprint distance <100m (really, pick any you want, have no chance anyway). Put up or shut up.

          Many folks have emailed me with big improvements. I really do get emails all the time. If you’d like I can post on my Facebook and ask for folks who have seen results via my methods to come on and post here.

          I have a guy I train online from Canada who is setting PR’s all the time and trying to make it onto the Canadian Olympic Skeleton team. A friend here in NZ started doing hip thrusts two months ago and told me that his strength went from 135 lbs to 405 lbs and he’s never ran so fast in his life (this is a guy who has squatted and ran for years).

          And the challenge you suggested is idiotic in my opinion. First of all relative strength levels give the smaller guy an advantage (so I’m guessing you’re smaller than me). Furthermore, I’m not a sprinter, so you’d blow me out of the water. Most important, I’m in New Zealand so how could we meet u? I never understand these types of arguments – they reek of insecurity.

          The blog I posted was about training in relation to forces. For vertical force I recommend squats, deadlifts, Oly lifts, and plyos. For horizontal force I recommend hip thrusts, back extensions, glute ham raises, sled work, and sprints. I’m not anti-technique work either. Our programs would probably be quite similar except for my inclusion of horizontal hip strengthening exercises. Would this take somebody from 10.5 to 9.6? Of course not. But I believe that it is a better strategy than the traditional methods and would lead to faster sprint times than the current focus on mostly vertical training.

          There are no controlled studies to go by, so we can rely on logic (I don’t see how you can argue about directional specificity, end range glute strength, horizontal force, etc.) or anecdotes (I have plenty of those to lend support). I’m curious to see how you respond to this post.

          • Davan says:

            lol Bret, Bret, Bret. What a joke of a post.

            First off, we don’t have to do relative weight if you’re worried–judging from your videos, I’m pretty confident in that. And how fast is your skeleton guy? All I hear from you is how people are getting faster and stronger and I hear no real, valid numbers. What is his 30m and 60m times? What is his 1RM powerclean and backsquat? You know, the stuff they actually care about and test. Again, any one of your athletes anyday. Even your ‘internet trained’ (what a fucking joke) guys.

            And now your argument is that you invented the exercises because you have never seen a picture of someone doing them heavy. Terrific for you, but that doesn’t mean you invented the exercise and people come up with many ways to increase resistance–holding medicine balls, doing them on an incline like an old XC coach, etc. The point is that the movement isn’t new nor is adding resistance to it. You decided to do them much heavier with no proven results (better athletes).

            Your comments on EMG do nothing but make me laugh. You didn’t document nor measure your electrode placings and by using surface EMG, allow for errors without precise measurements on the muscle bellies. That is what makes it inconsistent.

            Not one did I say there was no eccentric in a hip thrust or glute bridge–the question is where is the most tension and in the case of glute bridges or hip thrusts, the maximum tension is nowhere near the bottom range of motion as opposed to a squat or lunge, where the maximum tension is in the deepest portion of the ROM.

            Re: the inability of EMG to give any legitimate/useful info on the veracity of an exercise, you never once considered these points until you were absolutely dismantled on Tnation and EliteTrack, to the point you stopped posting about the subject. You still do not grasp that it is not about whether or not the hip thrusts and glute bridges have an eccentric portion or not (they obviously do), but rather that the way tension is distributed in the exercise biases the results of an EMG. Surface area is reduced during the concentric–which is where the most tension is created in both of those exercises. That is the opposite of what happens in a lunge or squat. You are still too stupid to get this through that fat head of your’s. The fact you only looked this up and considered the topic (and think geometry is simple enough to prove it irrelevant) after an anonymous person on the internet posted on a forum shows that you really don’t know an awful lot on the subject and aren’t confident enough in yourself to have conviction (because you were clearly proven wrong and it has been discussed).

            I’m done bothering with you. When you actually get a respectable athlete or attain decent strength levels yourself, we’ll talk. Until then, every single one of your videos shows people with at best average strength and you don’t have any results from anyone–in sprinting/jumping/lifting (outside of exercises nobody gives a fuck about)–to write about shows how little success your training has produced.

            Again, hip thrusts/glute bridges are nothing new. You’re talking about exercises that are literally centuries old. You advocated people do them with barbells as resistance (other people have done them more inclined or with medicine balls and whatnot). Terrific. They aren’t a special magical exercise by any means.

            And if you’re wondering why you get cramping on hip thrusts, have you ever considered the unnatural shortening of the posterior chain in that movement while you’re trying to produce powerful hip extension?

          • Bret says:

            lol Bret, Bret, Bret. What a joke of a post.

            Actually your’s is a joke. No evidence. Shoddy science.

            First off, we don’t have to do relative weight if you’re worried–judging from your videos, I’m pretty confident in that. And how fast is your skeleton guy? All I hear from you is how people are getting faster and stronger and I hear no real, valid numbers. What is his 30m and 60m times? What is his 1RM powerclean and backsquat? You know, the stuff they actually care about and test. Again, any one of your athletes anyday. Even your ‘internet trained’ (what a fucking joke) guys.

            This is the argument you’re most concerned about? Do you realize what I stupid argument this is? So if I inherited a better athlete then that makes me a better coach? I’m sure that if I made it my sole goal in life I could start training someone who was faster than anyone you’ve ever trained. Would that then make me a better coach? The fact is that I’ve made plenty of folks faster and stronger.

            Davan, who have you trained? And how much faster did you get them?

            And now your argument is that you invented the exercises because you have never seen a picture of someone doing them heavy. Terrific for you, but that doesn’t mean you invented the exercise and people come up with many ways to increase resistance–holding medicine balls, doing them on an incline like an old XC coach, etc. The point is that the movement isn’t new nor is adding resistance to it. You decided to do them much heavier with no proven results (better athletes).

            I don’t know if I invented them. Nobody can show me any article, picture, video, etc. so I have no one else to credit. And I have proven results as people I trained got faster.

            Your comments on EMG do nothing but make me laugh. You didn’t document nor measure your electrode placings and by using surface EMG, allow for errors without precise measurements on the muscle bellies. That is what makes it inconsistent.
            How do you know I didn’t measure my electrode placings? Psychic?

            Not one did I say there was no eccentric in a hip thrust or glute bridge–the question is where is the most tension and in the case of glute bridges or hip thrusts, the maximum tension is nowhere near the bottom range of motion as opposed to a squat or lunge, where the maximum tension is in the deepest portion of the ROM.

            Actually you did say this. Why are you and Carl so dishonest? Birds of a feather. Here is your exact quote:

            “I wonder if people have ever considered that there is really no eccentric loading on most of these movements.”

            No eccentric loading? I can’t argue with someone who doesn’t understand simple biomechanics.

            I asked you earlier how you know that squats and lunges have more tension at bottom ranges than hip thrusts and you didn’t answer. So I’ll ask again. How do you know this?

            I currently don’t know how to calculate it biomechanically. Do you?

            Furthermore, why is this range more important than end ranges?

            Which range corresponds with ground contact?

            Please answer these questions.

            Re: the inability of EMG to give any legitimate/useful info on the veracity of an exercise, you never once considered these points until you were absolutely dismantled on Tnation and EliteTrack, to the point you stopped posting about the subject. You still do not grasp that it is not about whether or not the hip thrusts and glute bridges have an eccentric portion or not (they obviously do), but rather that the way tension is distributed in the exercise biases the results of an EMG. Surface area is reduced during the concentric–which is where the most tension is created in both of those exercises. That is the opposite of what happens in a lunge or squat. You are still too stupid to get this through that fat head of your’s. The fact you only looked this up and considered the topic (and think geometry is simple enough to prove it irrelevant) after an anonymous person on the internet posted on a forum shows that you really don’t know an awful lot on the subject and aren’t confident enough in yourself to have conviction (because you were clearly proven wrong and it has been discussed).

            Davan, I wrote about these exact topics in my “Advanced Glute Training” article long before we got into it on EliteTrack (years before). I suspect that this is what gave you those ideas – my articles. So it’s you who didn’t understand these things until I taught you.

            And I didn’t get dismantled at all – some people emailed me saying that I made a fool out of you. Maybe it’s you who got dismantled? Didn’t you get kicked off the forum?

            And I looked this up long ago (I read a study on the topic over a year ago – and by the way the author’s dismiss it saying that it’s overestimated). You can’t get it through your fat head that you’re probably wrong about this. How much of an overestimation do you get here? What percentage?

            I do not believe that squats and lunges put more tension on the glutes at the bottom range than hip thrusts. Maybe the lower fibers but not the upper or mid fibers. I could be wrong though, so how do we go about figuring out who is right? There has to be a way. I’ll try to figure out how to calculate it biomechanically and be proactive unlike you (who will rely on suspicions).

            I’m done bothering with you. When you actually get a respectable athlete or attain decent strength levels yourself, we’ll talk. Until then, every single one of your videos shows people with at best average strength and you don’t have any results from anyone–in sprinting/jumping/lifting (outside of exercises nobody gives a fuck about)–to write about shows how little success your training has produced.

            You track & field folks are all the same. Who have you trained Davan? Any sub ten sprinters? I guess nobody can form an opinion unless they’ve trained elite athletes.

            Again, hip thrusts/glute bridges are nothing new. You’re talking about exercises that are literally centuries old. You advocated people do them with barbells as resistance (other people have done them more inclined or with medicine balls and whatnot). Terrific. They aren’t a special magical exercise by any means.

            They’re nothing new yet you can’t find any proof that people were doing them. Everyone was doing them yet no pictures exist. That’s amazing; a phantom exercise.
            I’m pretty sure they’re better for speed than most of the stuff you throw into your programs but I wouldn’t know as you don’t have any articles online, probably because of your crappy personality.

            And if you’re wondering why you get cramping on hip thrusts, have you ever considered the unnatural shortening of the posterior chain in that movement while you’re trying to produce powerful hip extension?

            Yeah, that would cramp the hamstrings, not the glutes. It’s called active insufficiency. One more reason why the hip thrust yields such high activations – the hamstrings are shortened so the glutes have to do more.

            So basically you’ve provided no evidence whatsoever to support any of your claims. Just as I suspected.

          • Davan says:

            Who said you have to have coached sub 10 sprinters? I said 1 athlete who can challenge a stubbty white guy in any area of athletics. Carl’s coached a couple 10.0x guys before it was common and multiple Olympic hurdlers to their PRs. I could give a fuck about training people other than myself, but I laugh when a self-proclaimed guru/glute guy can’t get people to be halfway decent in a single athletic endeavor to save his career.

            This is going in circles and circles. At the end of the day, you either blindly have faith that the electrical reading given to you by an EMG on an exercise that was abandoned decades ago tells you the answers on how to substantially improve speed and power in the lower body or not. The fact is, they are marginal exercises compared to squats/lunges/Olympic lifts and the results prove that. Plenty of people doing heavy hip thrusts now without a whole lot to show for it. I don’t see people improving .3-4 in their 60m, adding 100lbs onto their deep squats, adding 9-12″ onto their broad jumps specifically after the including of hip thrusts. The fact is that it doesn’t happen.

            Years before? YEARS before, Bret? Get the fuck out of here. I was the one who responded to you on Tnation before you even heard of EliteTrack and posted on the exact same topic.

            And the way you have done those exercises, there is essentially no eccentric. You guys aren’t resisting on the way down. There is an eccentric action to nearly every exercise, however, in this one there ends up not being much of one because you just drop down after the concentric portion of each rep, losing most/any tension created at the top range.

            My beef has been with how you quantify how good an exercise is with its measurement on an EMG. You seem to think it is nearly one of the most important things–myself and others point out that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • Bret says:

            Davan, just as I suspected you didn’t answer any of my questions. I’m sorry that I’ve made a name for myself and you’re some douchebag that nobody has ever heard of who lives his life on internet forums. Clearly this bothers you.

            In fact, what’s your last name so I can look you up? Oh wait, you’re scared to tell people your last name. I’m going to be very honest hear – I think that people like you who post on forums without putting up their last names are the biggest pussies in the world. You suddenly become very tough and assertive when in real life you’re probably some tiny little dweeb. I’ve seen it millions of times before. I’ve never gone onto a forum without posting my real name, because that’s what real men do; something you wouldn’t know about.

            I guess it makes you mad that my methods have taken off because people try them and realize that they work. If an exercise works it stands the test of time. Just as the bench press evolved over time, so with the hip thrust. When science emergest to confirm what many already suspect, you’ll be crying in the corner eating crow.

            Your posts reek of jealousy – you don’t know how to calculate torque loading on the joints but pretend to know the answer (psychic!). You don’t know which ROM corresponds to better transfer from weightroom to track; stretch or ground contact (psychic again). You won’t conduct any controlled studies to be of any value but will instead piss an moan on internet forums until you get banned because of your unprofessionalism. You clearly haven’t trained anyone good or you’d be bragging about it and I’ve probably increased people’s speed to a greater degree than you have; it’s just that I don’t make it my sole mission in life to train track athletes (when I had my studio I focused on women who wanted better butts and had more success than anyone I’ve ever seen in this regard).

            When I use logic to refute your claims about EMG, or when I use biomechanical analysis to talk about exercise, you change topics. You say the exercise was abandoned years ago when it’s only been out for 5 years and is taking off in popularity. You make absurd statements saying that it’s not adding 100 lbs to people’s deep squats (no shit, that’s not what this is about) when it’s the combination of exercises within a program that determine results, and I don’t know many logical strength coaches who would argue that someone who does squats and hip thrusts will have more comprehensive hip strength than one who does only one of them (one has an ascending strength curve while the other has a descending strength curve). And no strength exercise is dropping .3-.4 seconds off people’s 60m’s so again this is absurd and doesn’t mean that the hip thrust isn’t effective.

            And you’re still too idiotic to know that hip thrust have a huge eccentric loading. You’ll keep saying this forever yet you’re wrong. The way I do them has a huge eccentric load, especially up top in the range that corresponds with ground contact. I guess every researcher, coach, and therapist who appreciates EMG is just stupid because we like to use science rather than our psychic abilities like you. And I’ve pointed out in this post that I use a lot of information to determine an exercise’s effectiveness – first I do them and see how they feel (I’ve pulled a glute on hip thrusts before and they get my glutes burning like no other movement), then I analyze the vector (horizontal just as in speed training), then I’ll look at EMG, then I’ll look at other things such as what’s going on at other joints, the kinetic chain type, ranges of accentuated force production, etc.

            You are critical of EMG and cast doubt on the methodology but don’t know how much it affects activation levels (clearly I know more about this then you as I’m trying to figure out how one would model for this). Is it 20%? If so that isn’t much because the hip thrust still blows the squat out of the water in glute EMG activity. Basically you really don’t have any good arguments here.

            If you reply, please let me know your full name. Please tell me who you’ve coached and how much faster you got them (you brought this into the argument, not me). And please tell me how you calculate torque loading on the hips and how you know what transfers best to sprinting (biomechanically, not because you’re psychic).

        • Davan says:

          Tiny little dweeb? lol Bret, anyone with half a brain can figure out my name, where I went to school, where I grew up, where I work now, results from track meets nearly 8 years ago, videos of my lifts/sprints, etc. It isn’t hidden and never has been. Jealousy because I haven’t trained people? Bret, I improved my 55m by over 4 tenths in 3.5 years in actual recorded races. And it was to an actually respectable level I improved to, not polishing shit.

          Since I’m a dweeb who is quiet in person, when are you back in the states so we can see who has the results to back up their arguments? I’ll pay my own way to fly out to where you’re based.

          I’d love to see you post a video of you running a 100m. I’ll take all under bets on the over/under 12.5 seconds HT result. The same for squatting 405 ATG without shaking or benching 315.

          Frankly, I could care less about internet fame, bro. I work in finance now and have little cares to get involved in the scam that is internet gurudom and internet coaching. I just laugh at the absurdity of your comments and the need you feel to bring me up out of the blue.

          • Bret says:

            Maybe my internet scamming wisdom can help teach you what eccentric contractions are. And I didn’t realize that the fastest and strongest guy automatically has the best program and methods. Here I am trying to figure out a good study design to measure which hip extension exercises work best for increasing athletic performance measures on a group of individuals; using statistics and the like. I didn’t realize that all I needed to do is look at what the fastest guy is doing and copy him, and also rely on his psychic wisdom regarding things he’s never tried.

  • TR400 says:

    Bret,
    I was waiting for you to do exactly what you did in that last post. Awesome original post, and your last roast of Carl “the speed guru” is a CLASSIC. Keep winning and ignore the hate man. And this is coming from a sprinter.

    • Bret says:

      Thank you TR400. I’ve ignored the hate for years now and will continue to do so in quest of scientific truth. I appreciate the words of encouragement.

  • T says:

    I understand where you are coming from and by elite I don’t necessarily mean world class sprinters running sub 10. I think the track guys have the advantage, or disadvantage depending on the coach, of cold, absolute numbers that should clearly reflect the programming used to achieve them. And even then it’s not that simple, if the hip thrust takes away from recovery or takes up too much in terms of the strength program of the athlete, so as to short change a more pressing aspect of development; the athlete will get slower. Is the hip thrust at fault? Of course not, bad programming is. It’s equally unfair to simply plug in an general exercise and attribute performance increases to it.

    I think the argument that they are making is that the lower level athlete will often see general means result in significant performance increases, while the elite athlete becomes less and less able to milk gains from general means. So in their mind, if the hip thrust is such a breakthrough, why aren’t we seeing athletes achieve higher levels of performance than they previously did before it’s inclusion? I’ll be the first to admit that this is a flawed argument that could just as easily be made about the squat or any other general strength exercise, however I do understand their reluctance in terms of accepting a paradigm shift in terms of training, especially when certain methods have been proven to work and achieve podium results in the past.

    I am the only “athlete” that I have used them with and I worked up to a few easy reps at 495 the first time I tried them, I tend to go for higher reps, 15-20, with around 225-315 when I program them. I have, however, used them extensively with my past general population clients, typically with a heavy DB or KB, with great success.

    • Bret says:

      T – These are the types of arguments I like; fair and unbiased. I agree with everything you wrote. I’m fascinated by the intertwining blend of qualities that factor into maximum acceleration, maximum speed, and maximum vertical jump, and am fully aware of the role that increased strength plays (and what happens when theory doesn’t hold up and the athlete is supposed to get faster because he got stronger but he doesn’t). And by the way, I’ve mentioned in the past that [based on my limited experience with sprinters] sprinters tend to naturally be good at hip thrusts and am intrigued by the fact that you could bust out 495 x 3 your first time, as it took me a few years to work up to this weight. My guess is that sprinters have much stronger glutes (relative strength that is) than the average population (or even the average athlete).

  • James says:

    I don’t think Carl Valle or Mike Young will be producing any world class athletes any time soon.

    For some reason they both seem to be fixated on just producing greater ground forces. They must surely realise how they go about doing this in the weight room could easily be detrimental to sprint performance, elastic energy, length/tension relationships etc etc.

    Again, Carl Lewis didn’t lift any big weights until the back end of his career in which he ran his slowest times.

    Still no talk coming from them on Usain’s great technique, his use of the spine, the head, the torso… Nothing on technique at all. They just keep on harping on about force & how limb speeds don’t matter (kiddin’ me right)?. Usain is beating guys to a pulp in the first round of heats that can squat, oly, bench 2-3x than what Usain is putting up. I’m seeing semi professional powerlifters that sprint unable to break 11 secs for the 100m. It’s not ringing any alarm bells unfortunately. It seems to me there unwilling to “think outside the box”. I can assure you, Glen Mills & Pierre Carraz are outside of it in a big way.

    • Bret says:

      James,

      I appreciate you coming on here and commenting. I didn’t see your comment before and must have overlooked it.

      I’ll confess, I don’t like the “Carl Lewis” argument much. Had he done some heavy and/or explosive strength training in his prime it could have helped or hindered his performance, but we’ll never know.

      I don’t think that Mike Young or Carl Valle over-value the importance of strength training as they both realize the limited role it plays especially as genetic limits are approached. Using Glenn Mills as an example, I know he’s talked about Usain needing extra leg mass from heavy strength sessions. It obviously works great for some and not so great for others. There are so many variables at stake and we have plenty more to learn about this over time.

      I believe that Mike and Carl have overemphasized vertical force production at the expense of horizontal force production especially at max speeds.

      However, Mike does it in a classy way so I have much respect for him. And I believe that Mike does value technique and spends considerable attention to it; rightfully so.

      I would like to see more research in sprinters using various techniques in terms of the adaptations you mentioned as I think there is still much to be learned in this regard.

      I agree with you that the many track and field coaches don’t think outside the box. Most of the ones I know of seem to despise innovation at the expense of stifling progress and assume that they know all the answers and that no improvements will ever be made to speed training. I loathe this type of thinking and want no part of it, and will keep searching for improvements, even if they only add up to .05 seconds here and there.

      Cheers!

  • I did not get threw all the comments in detail to be honest, but I respect both Carl and Bret, along with their thoughts/opinions/experience. Relax, go a have a beer and figure it out.

    Any matter like this is pretty easy to settle by setting up an experiment to determine what positively transfers from the weight room to the track. The cool think about sprinting is that it is easy to measure!

    The only thing worth discussing to the n-th degree is experimental design. No study is ever perfect, it is just data to be used to set up another experiment. Run your own experiment and please share the data so I can learn!

    I don’t coach high level sprinters, but I am sure there are multiple ways to get a better result. Physiology is complex, so there are always multiple paths to the same result. The key is to find 1) something that works 2) the most efficient path.

    Yes, I do have experience drawing free body diagrams and taught Statics in college for several years in addition to a MS in Mechanical Engineering (Biomechanics).

    While they can be very helpful, the end result is still speed during a test.

    The downside is there is always another level to the diagram (as Carl pointed out regarding the foot).

    How far down do you want to model? At some point, it is impossible to do by hand; hence the reason all the computer modeling for engineering works is now based on finite element modeling. Even the high end work there (for example car crash modeling where many many events happen at very very fast speeds) involves many many systems and non-linear mechanics. The same can be applied to sprinting due to the very short times you are dealing with. I am sure someone has started this type of model somewhere.

    I am not saying this is impossible to do, it is just a massively huge task! Grad students spend YEARS just trying to model OEN property of bone accurately. Add in the nonlinear, anisotropic mechanics of tissue, not to mention elasticity changes in soft tissue with training, and it gets messy really fast.

    What is always much better to know WHAT than why. What helps increase linear speed the fastest is much better to know than why.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    • Bret says:

      Mike, I’m not talking about crazy models that factor in all sorts of stuff…just simple forces and torques. This isn’t easy and I believe just requires a force plate, though I know that much more complex models exist, for example ones incorporating EMG, and I’ve heard of ones incorporating isokinetic strength, etc. I’m interested in learning more about this over time but I agree that it still doesn’t tell us what methods work best for increased speed (though it can help us make predictions).

      As for conducting simple experiments, I agree. But you won’t see Carl so this as then he wouldn’t be able to show off his psychic powers.

      One small bone to pick; I don’t think sprints are easy to measure as hand-held times aren’t very accurate (one study showed a .3 second difference in 40 yd times if I remember correctly), and most folks don’t have timing systems. I totally agree with your line of thinking and that the key is to find something that works as well as the most efficient path. That’s what most of us are after…but some folks are more interested in showing off their psychic powers and making erroneous statements in efforts to whitewash a particular method despite having no experience with it.

  • Carl Valle says:

    Bret,

    Just an FYI.

    My comments on the sprinting suggestions of doing a max effort attempt on sprinting was the injury risk focus. Notice I had nothing to say on the exercise, just the advice you shared on going for maximal speed in a 100m dash to the online community. With anything new, attempting maximal efforts to newbies is not a wise option (my opinion) as I have seen injuries with many weekend warriors because the track doesn’t have lines like the Bench Press at the local gym! I am glad you suggested sprinting but the methodology doesn’t seem like something everyone who has coached speed would suggest. Why not have every football player at do that protocol and see what happens. A risk with any maximal effort motion exists. High velocity and high force coordinated motions are not easy.

    I put your quote in italics to make sure you knew I was focusing on that. I would have said what joint or structure the hip thrust was causing damage to. Note no quote on that because not much information is on that.

    The eccentric comment was based on your videos and the focus on the glut bridge (isometric emphasis). Also I was comparing eccentric load of sprinting and other athletic motions to weight exercises in general, including the hip thrust. Are you saying the hip thrust has higher eccentric forces than sprinting to the glute system?

    Your technique may be great but the eccentric action is still less….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N-nTfRNxQc&feature=related

    You have a video of heavy loads with gentle landing, but even your own client has a rapid drop and the weights make some noise. This and other videos on the net is what the hip thrust shows as many deadlifting methods are similar, meaning very little eccentric lowering. Bridge, Thrust, Curl, I don’t care about the name is this is what we see.

    As for pushing down that is the general action. Sure some lateral and rotational forces exist but because I didn’t include them doesn’t mean I am not aware of them. I understand horizontal forces exist as I add spikes each year to ensure friction is maximized at the right time and place. One influence to horizontal forces is the landing before the center of mass and the toe off after it. Still nobody is cuing pawing back to get more horizontal forces and to tap into the glutes. The stretch reflexes pull the the foot back and newton does a lot of the rest.

    I have seen sprinting in slow motion for years, but the reality is the landings are happening in a fraction of a second much of it is trying to minimize breaking by minimizing contact time while putting forces down. Of course I know about application of force because the great JJ Hunter nearly 10 years ago quoted Tellez about applying forces properly.

    Glute Bridges- I am not against them or any exercise but one muscle group and one exercise we can’t fall in love with. You decided to call yourself the glute guy and have focused a lot of resources on the hip thrust. Because of this you have vested interest and perhaps a little bias? We can’t have that in the sport science world because do you think any research study you create will show any poor relationship with hip thrusts? If you do will you be the calf crusader or adductor assassin?

    I have quoted your article on elitetrack on spinal flexion because it deserved praise. During this entire series of posts I tried to be professional but you took things personal and yes I was hard on you in the past but I no longer have the same tone. You have committed to the Horizontal forces being more important and that may be the truth if you look at the fact terminal velocity is max speed, but the demand vertically hits a time window that ground contact time must be less or more is done early on foot strike.

    I was blogging before anyone mainstream, all the way back in 2003 and shared 200 pages of stuff that was pretty good. Much of it I don’t like sharing because it was thin on science and hence why I took it down. Still, conceptually it’s good and I wouldn’t change much but I would clean up the physiology and some mechanical issues.

    I am not a snake, but if I was I am a rattle snake as I am not keeping quiet of my presence… because I publicly disagree on many things I have taken a lot of heat. It’s far easier to be popular by drinking the kool-aid in order to be in an inner circle, but I never endorsed something I didn’t think was good or helpful to the field.

    • Bret says:

      Carl, just an FYI:

      Nice attempt to try to save face but you’re being dishonest and posing once again.

      My comments on the sprinting suggestions of doing a max effort attempt on sprinting was the injury risk focus. Notice I had nothing to say on the exercise, just the advice you shared on going for maximal speed in a 100m dash to the online community. With anything new, attempting maximal efforts to newbies is not a wise option (my opinion) as I have seen injuries with many weekend warriors because the track doesn’t have lines like the Bench Press at the local gym! I am glad you suggested sprinting but the methodology doesn’t seem like something everyone who has coached speed would suggest. Why not have every football player at do that protocol and see what happens. A risk with any maximal effort motion exists. High velocity and high force coordinated motions are not easy.

      TNation readers are more educated than the typical online reader and better versed in sports science topics, and the whole point of me writing that was to caution folks not to just go out and jump right into a max 100 meter dash. But whatever. I’ll concede that I could have been more cautionary in this regard.

      I put your quote in italics to make sure you knew I was focusing on that. I would have said what joint or structure the hip thrust was causing damage to. Note no quote on that because not much information is on that.

      Still worried about hip thrust safety? Here’s a novel idea:

      First, try to analyze the biomechanics and determine what structure would take too much of a beating. If you do this you’ll realize that there is no reason to fear them.

      Second, do hip thrusts for a couple of months. Aren’t you an assistant strength coach? I would think that you’d therefore have access to gym equipment. Why not experiment with them and see for yourself if they’re dangerous? If you do this you’ll realize that they’re perfectly fine.

      The eccentric comment was based on your videos and the focus on the glut bridge (isometric emphasis). Also I was comparing eccentric load of sprinting and other athletic motions to weight exercises in general, including the hip thrust. Are you saying the hip thrust has higher eccentric forces than sprinting to the glute system?

      Carl, you’re not telling the truth.

      Here is Davan’s exact quote: “I wonder if people have ever considered that there is really no eccentric loading on most of these movements.”

      You said, “Davan is correct.”

      This means that you agree with his assertion that hip thrusts lack an eccentric component.

      Furthermore, you then went onto Mike Reinold’s blog and saw that someone had linked my article. You couldn’t stand that it was getting attention so you posted the following:

      “Sprinting at top speed is vertical and the glute system acts as a postural supporter with humans. Vertical displacement is higher with faster sprinters. Also bridges have no eccentric action as plyos such as lateral heidens will do more for the medial glute than those JOPT exercises. Maybe for stroke patients but for a running back getting ready for D1 performance no way.”

      I won’t delve into the topic of whether sprinting at top speed is vertical and will save that for another day. But maybe I need to rewrite what you wrote:

      “Bridges have no eccentric action.”

      How can we get anywhere if you keep making stuff up?

      You’d been involved in the weight training community for over a decade yet you are so ignorant about biomechanics that you didn’t realize that hip thrusts contain a huge eccentric component.

      It shocks me that you and your pal Davan are that ignorant, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

      Want to know another reason why I know you’re fibbing? You posted the quote on Mike Reinold’s blog on October 26, 2009. As of that date there were no videos of me performing any isometric glute bridges or any glute bridges where the eccentric portion was not controlled. Where are these videos (prior to this date) where folks weren’t using eccentric actions?

      Your technique may be great but the eccentric action is still less….

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N-nTfRNxQc&feature=related

      How do you know that the eccentric loading is less in a hip thrust than it is in a max sprint?

      In the video above, Gabrielle (my niece) is trying her best to control a heavy load that’s pulling her forcefully into hip flexion, requiring a huge eccentric load to the glutes through a large ROM. I don’t think it’s possible to perform heavy hip thrusts without an eccentric component as you’d have to shut everything down up top and come crashing to the ground with weight on your hips – your body doesn’t let it happen.

      But I digress…..since you are supposedly the expert, please tell me how one would go about figuring out the loading on the glutes with hip thrusts and with sprinting?

      You can’t because as I’ve said previously, you don’t know how to do this. Maybe one day you can learn advanced Biomechanics and attempt to figure it out, or you can pay someone to figure it out for you. But at the time you wrote those posts you werejust speculating.

      You have a video of heavy loads with gentle landing, but even your own client has a rapid drop and the weights make some noise. This and other videos on the net is what the hip thrust shows as many deadlifting methods are similar, meaning very little eccentric lowering. Bridge, Thrust, Curl, I don’t care about the name is this is what we see.

      So if the weights make noise then this means that there is no eccentric activity occurring? Brush up on your biomechanics before making these comments. Gaby is trying her best to control the eccentric loading on the glutes but she’s unable to do so because this is quite challenging with heavy loads. You’d know this if you lifted weights yourself but that might ruin your oyster physique.

      It often takes me a couple of months to get some of my clients to be able to control eccentrically what they can deadlift or hip thrust concentrically, which is another topic of interest as we’re supposed to be 120-150% stronger at eccentrics so it shouldn’t be tough. But in reality it is for certain lifters. I learned this through training folks with these methods; maybe you should try to do some learning in this regard before commenting.

      Bridge, thrust, curl? Who calls this exercise a curl? I’m trying to get into the twisted mind of Carl Valle to see why that was written but for once I’m stumped.

      As for pushing down that is the general action. Sure some lateral and rotational forces exist but because I didn’t include them doesn’t mean I am not aware of them. I understand horizontal forces exist as I add spikes each year to ensure friction is maximized at the right time and place. One influence to horizontal forces is the landing before the center of mass and the toe off after it. Still nobody is cuing pawing back to get more horizontal forces and to tap into the glutes. The stretch reflexes pull the the foot back and newton does a lot of the rest.

      How in the world is sprinting “pushing down?” It’s a cyclical action. I would personally call it more of a “pull with a stiff landing” than a push if we’re talking about maximum speed.

      Watch this video and tell me how the general action is “pushing down.”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRZvlQTTCMg

      Guess what happens when you push down too hard? You increase stride length at the expense of stride rate and end up slowing down. This is why I don’t like the “bouncing ball theory” that is used so often in the sprint communities [throw a rubber ball down harder onto the ground at an angle and it travels farther….sure it does, but there’s an optimal amount where too much or too little result in speed decrements].

      “The stretch reflex pulls the foot back and Newton does the rest”? Wow!

      I guess the muscles don’t have to do any work on the way down; it’s all just recoiled elastic energy stored from the eccentric phase. I guess our hip extensors don’t need to be strong and stable during ground contact because Newton does things for us. Sure at max speed the MTU’s at GC function somewhat isometrically, but during acceleration concentric action is paramount. Even so you need strength in all ranges.

      I have seen sprinting in slow motion for years, but the reality is the landings are happening in a fraction of a second much of it is trying to minimize breaking by minimizing contact time while putting forces down. Of course I know about application of force because the great JJ Hunter nearly 10 years ago quoted Tellez about applying forces properly.

      Well maybe you should watch more slow-mo sprinting so you can gain better understanding.

      Furthermore, it’s “braking,” not “breaking.” That’s a pet-peeve of mine.

      “Applying forces properly”? This is your quote:

      “Frankly increases in stride length are coming from general power of pushing down on the ground. The trajectory is about the same and it comes down to pushing. Horizontal forces are a product of pushing down period.”

      Again, this is WRONG. Quit trying to use Tom Tellez or JJ Hunter to get you out of your incorrect statements.

      Glute Bridges- I am not against them or any exercise but one muscle group and one exercise we can’t fall in love with. You decided to call yourself the glute guy and have focused a lot of resources on the hip thrust. Because of this you have vested interest and perhaps a little bias? We can’t have that in the sport science world because do you think any research study you create will show any poor relationship with hip thrusts? If you do will you be the calf crusader or adductor assassin?

      I know you’re not against exercises or muscles, you’re against people. You have it out for certain folks which is not good science. Of course I have some bias – we all do. Name somebody who doesn’t. We’re all influenced by our personal experiences and mine are telling me which direction to lean.

      In my glute eBook I say that the hamstrings are the most important muscles for max speed, and that the quads are the most important for a max jump. So clearly I’m not “in love” with one exercise or one muscle group. In this blog I mentioned squats, deadlifts, Oly lifts, back extensions, and reverse hypers, in addition to hip thrusts.

      I might be “the glute guy” but I’m a science guy and my methods will evolve as I learn and grow in knowledge and experience. If I find through research that hip thrusts aren’t necessary for sprint speed then I’ll quit recommending them for speed. I’d do the same thing with squats, sled work, and Oly lifts as well. But it’s the total program that matters and as of yet all I have is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the hip thrust might be better than any of these other methods aside from sprinting for speed development.

      More importantly, who questions a man’s academic integrity without having any evidence of dishonesty? This is unheard of in the field of academia. Do you have any idea as to how serious of an allegation this is? This is akin to calling someone’s mother names. It’s fine to question methods, conclusions, etc. especially when done politely. Why resort to name-calling? Just focus on the science. And now you’re questioning my integrity when I’ve never done a damn thing to deserve it?

      You are a maggot Carl.

      I have quoted your article on elitetrack on spinal flexion because it deserved praise. During this entire series of posts I tried to be professional but you took things personal and yes I was hard on you in the past but I no longer have the same tone. You have committed to the Horizontal forces being more important and that may be the truth if you look at the fact terminal velocity is max speed, but the demand vertically hits a time window that ground contact time must be less or more is done early on foot strike.

      I took things personally when you resorted to calling me names even though you’d never met me or experimented with my methods. I don’t know too many people who take kindly to that. I’m human, not a freakin’ robot. I realize the need to have thick skin but you take things too far.

      I have committed to horizontal force because guys like you, Mike Young, Weyand, and Mann are always focusing on vertical force. Horizontal force gets downplayed, when both are important. If you won’t admit this then you don’t have a good understanding of what we currently know right now.

      And you say, “this may be the truth.” Which one is it, horizontal or vertical? Why are you changing your tone on this? You’ve ripped on me about this many times before. You said the following in a blogpost:

      “Bret Contreras needs to meet the Gravity Guy and understand basic physics.”

      What don’t I understand about gravity Carl? I’ve always said that we need a well-balanced program that includes strengthening, explosive, and reactive exercises in the vertical and horizontal planes.

      What in the world is wrong with this advice? Absolutely nothing is wrong with it. You just can’t handle someone else creating new methods that might work better than existing methods.

      What could possibly be wrong with wanting sprinters to develop glute strength that is range-compatible with ground contact?

      I see right through your crap Carl. This is about jealousy, and your world revolves around it.

      I was blogging before anyone mainstream, all the way back in 2003 and shared 200 pages of stuff that was pretty good. Much of it I don’t like sharing because it was thin on science and hence why I took it down. Still, conceptually it’s good and I wouldn’t change much but I would clean up the physiology and some mechanical issues.

      You took it down? Wow. That sounds pretty absurd to me. Why would you take it down if it was good? My guess is that you made tons of errors (which you do quite often as I’ve pointed out in these comments) and had to clear out your own house since you go around patrolling the internet trying to knock down other people’s houses.

      I am not a snake, but if I was I am a rattle snake as I am not keeping quiet of my presence… because I publicly disagree on many things I have taken a lot of heat. It’s far easier to be popular by drinking the kool-aid in order to be in an inner circle, but I never endorsed something I didn’t think was good or helpful to the field.

      You’re right, you aren’t a snake; you’re a maggot. Who questions someone’s academic integrity with no evidence of dishonesty? Gentlemen give each other professional courtesy.

      You’ve taken heat because of the way you go about things, not because you disagree with others. I disagree with many folks but I’ve been more polite and professional about it which is why I’m not hated amongst my peers like you are.

      You have attempted to whitewash hip thrusts. Based on current evidence, one could make a damn good argument as to why they should be included and prioritized year round for strength development, just as folks do with squats.

      You keep blogging about them over and over, coming up with new reasons to cast doubt on them. In fact, you’ve been writing about them for nearly 2 years now, yet you still have no experience with them. All I see on your part is “reactivity” and no “proactivty.”

      Here I’m going to break down the anatomy of a typical Carl Valle blogpost. http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/4880/

      Brett Contreras (see original here) suggesting borderline bro science on sprinting for better butts.

      • Misspell Bret’s name
      • Refer to Bret’s logic as “bro-science” to cast doubt on new methods even though you’ve never experimented with them and even though they might indeed have merit.
      • Mistake the entire concept of the article, which was “hip thrusting for better butts”, not “sprinting for better butts”

      Good points but the application is a bit untested and this could spell injury.

      • Give a quick back-handed compliment to disguise the blogpost as positive and not negative.

      If the above is suggestion from training from guys in the trenches this is another case for friendly fire.

      • Cast doubt on the writer in question and say he’s not “in the trenches,” (which is not only wrong as I was training people, but it’s also hypocritical as the Carl doesn’t even work out and looks like a giant oyster

      In a previous discussion on this topic, Davan commented on the eccentric action of the glutes being important in triggering a cascade of important adaptations. He is correct.

      • Link to what another poster wrote to try to lend credibility to the claim, even though he’s wrong.
      • State that he’s correct because he (Carl) is too ignorant to understand basic muscle physiology

      One of the issues with strength exercises or plugged in modular corrective work by wannabe PTs is that eventually sprinting, cutting, jumping, and throwing still needs to be done correctly.

      • Poke fun of “Wannabe PT’s,” insinuating that you are superior to guys like Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson who have helped popularize corrective exercise
      • Bring up irrelevant information (who ever said that sprinting, cutting, jumping, and throwing don’t need to be done correctly?)

      Low back issues are often correlated with foot pronation distortions and foot strike can feed positively or negatively to glute recruitment.

      • Bring up something entirely irrelevant to try to invoke confusion and position yourself as superior in knowledge (a smart person would be thinking…couldn’t hip thrusts help improve foot pronation distortions…and isn’t low back pain also linked to weak glutes in general and poor lumbopelvic stability?)

      Sprint postures and specific rhythms must be used or you will find the same problems down the road.

      • Despite quoting me and linking my article in the blogopst, now start veering off on different topics unrelated to my article.

      While not ideal, the olympic lifts sweep the entire kinetic chain and recruits the entire subsystem.

      • Include some riddles (if Oly lifts are not ideal then why mention them here, and what “subsystem” are you talking about?)

      Poor lifting mechanics can overload the anterior system and decrease glute recruitment, therefore forcing those that follow the Boston Stomp Method to be slaves to corrective measures.

      • Further position yourself as superior to other coaches (I’m assuming that the Boston Stomp method refers to Mike Boyle’s Oly lifting methods and that you’re absurdly inferring that this technique alone will cause folks to require corrective exercise)

      The basic lifts are not easy and requires slow and safe improvements.

      • Inject more riddles (what coach has ever said that they don’t require safe improvements?)

      [Credit Photo of Olympic lifter with anterior bar path from Mike Boyle youtube]

      • Quote the source (Boyle) and be sure to throw in the phrase “anterior bar path” to cast doubt on Mike’s credibility and Oly lifting knowledge

      In one fell swoop you manage to talk crap about several different coaches…all who are more popular than you. This is pure jealousy at work Carl. Now you’re trying to call into question my academic integrity…pure maggot!

  • Hi there Bret.

    I think I gotcha on the force body diagrams now, but still not sure of the end purpose–which is fine since I am sure you will share it with us once it is ready.

    I do agree that timing is an issue and we must always operate within the limits of our measurement system. The first step is always to measure something though, and then refine it. I know you are not stating this, but I see it all the time—I can’t measure this or that to .00001 so I am not going to measure anything! ha!

    Again, this all very simple. Design an experiment and show your data! We can then discuss ways to make the design better and go again.

    “What gets measured, gets manged”–Peter Drucker

    Thanks for the reply Carl. I can say first hand that your overall tone has been much improved over the years; so I commend you for the work on it.

    It seems the internet promotes disagreements more than agreement.

    If I disagree with someone, that does not mean I now hate them as a person. I can disagree or challenge their ideas in a polite and respectful way in order to learn more. 2 things happen. Either you are right and I will then change my mind or I am right and hopefully you will change your mind.

    Either way, it is better. Too often it seems to degrade into high school name calling, nothing learned, and pissed off people.

    All of this get confounded by personal basis and emotional attachment to ideas, products and the way we do things. I am no different here either, as hard as I try to be true to what is correct. We are all wired to always attach an emotional context to everything; so we need to keep that in mind too.

    This is my last comment here.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    • Bret says:

      Hey Mike, I agree with your point about not needing to be uber-accurate for the sake of experimentation. And most of all I agree that we need to be flexible in our thinking as we learn more science. My supervisor says this all the time…”this is what I believe today, but next week it’s subject to change.” Thanks, Bret

  • Jason says:

    Hey Bret, Just wanted to say I have used the hip thrust with some back pain patients with great success.

    When I was more heavily involved with bobsled, I had programmed the exercise into some training blocks with a few athletes and felt it help keep back problems at bay.

    Keep up the work, I enjoy your blog.
    Jason

  • Another View says:

    Hi Bret,

    There seems to have been some conflict here and I can definitely understand your frustration with some of Carl’s blogs as I feel they have previously been often caustic to the point of personal insult which is unprovoked and unjustified. To be honest I think many in the industry (and other industries) are hugely passionate and obsessed with their job and the concepts, and start to invest their overall self-esteem and happiness on their ability to achieve and feel unique and superior. Most of the general populus hate their jobs and will not go home and research for personal enjoyment and I think fitness surpasses even more lucrative (e.g. legal and medical) professions will not invest the same overall time to thinking about work related matters.

    Unfortunately (often through the internet) this can manifest itself in an inability to give due respect to others and Alwyn Cosgrove brings up an excellent point on the gray area that exists between “hobby” and “career”. When this confusion occurs we see great self-esteem investment and conflict, and I am as guilty as anyone else of this.

    Objectively, however, I will say that both Carl Valle and Mike Young repeatedly achieve very impressive results in very well trained athletes in areas like max velocity in which it is very difficult to achieve improvements.

    All personal issues aside their respective results are excellent. I can relate to their thought processes as both are generally very evidence-based. Both coaches certainly well and truly account for the issue of force application vs pure force.

    Moving on, I have a few (hopefully 🙂 ) constructive questions:

    1.

    Have you considered an intervention trial of traditional programming (squats, o-lifts, lunges etc) as a control group versus traditional programming + hip thrusts as an experimental group?

    This seems to fit with your PhD topic but obviously time and resources might mean this is difficult (you have made many great points about the feasibility and usefulness of conducting studies on the “elite” above).

    I would be interested to see a comparison following such a trial of:

    glute vs quad EMG and hypertrophy, running mechanics, running speed at various parts of trial/race e.g. acceleration, max v, speed end etc

    As you say 0.05 is massive and I bet all coaches would be excited to see that kind of difference.

    2.

    How transferable are gains in the hip thrust at higher loads and lower velocities in a bilateral stance, supine posture with shoulders on ground etc

    to the sprints at lower loads, higher velocities, unilateral stance, standing posture etc?

    Just as it would seem squats do not transfer perfectly, and very little beyond a certain point, to acceleration and especially max velocity, what is the situation for hip thrusts?

    I think these questions stand as reasonable, logical and pertinent independent of their source (no ad hominem as I know neither yourself nor Carl personally) and would greatly appreciate if you could present a response

    • Bret says:

      Great thoughts Another View.

      I will be looking at a lot of this stuff with my thesis. The problem is narrowing it down so I can actually graduate one day! These are the exact questions I’d like to attempt to answer, insofar as one experimental study can do.

      And though I could attempt to answer these right now, we really won’t know until a good experiment is conducted. In addition, I have hundreds of papers printed out which I need to sift through. I’ve read tons of abstracts but I haven’t delved into the full papers yet. So I don’t want to really form too much of an opinion before I’ve really analyzed in depth what’s out there. -BC

  • Dave says:

    Bret, when you refer to using fbd’s and a “biomechanical model” are you refering to inverse dynamics calculations?

    • Bret says:

      Dave; yeah. I can do this with single joint movements and have a cool journal article in the woodworks, but not with multi-joint movements. Do you have any knowledge in this regard? BC

  • Cory Kennedy says:

    Bret,

    I have read many of your articles in the past, as well as Carl’s and Mike Young’s, etc and I know you are all capable of great work. What I am not a fan of though, is taking a great discussion topic and turning it into a playground name-calling contest. Regardless of what anyone else has said or implied in the past, this is YOUR site, with YOUR name all over it, and I’m very disappointed that you took the discussion to such a nasty place. You mentioned many times your search for science but quickly turned to insults.

    As for the original topic, Mike T Nelson is right on, and I believe Carl was implying the same thing, that we just need to publish a study where you investigate hip thrusting as it pertains to max speed ability before we claim its effectiveness in that regard. Hand-timing may be unreliable but EVERY university could get timing gates, so this really isn’t a deterrent…
    As for horizontal force production, I think the biggest question in the research right now has to do with the concept of NET horizontal force. There is no doubt horizontal force is generated at some point otherwise we wouldn’t get go to the finish line. Traditionally, it has been observed that propulsive forces are greatest in the acceleration phase, and a large component of that is the body lean present at this time. If you take a FBD of a vertical GRF and tip it over at a 45° angle, it now has a large horizontal component, even though the muscles/joint actions acting on it may not have changed…
    Obviously max velocity is a different animal, but as you mentioned in one of your replies, it is about MINIMIZING braking forces, otherwise braking force and propulsive force tend to cancel each other out. Hip extension plays a huge role in preparing the leg for ground contact and it would be great to see evidence of how the hip thrust contributes to this! Especially as it pertains to different variations, with different loading parameters and velocities…
    I think the argument of elite vs sub-elite stemmed from the idea of validity and whether emails from clients saying they felt faster constituted as evidence to support causation. I have no doubt hip thrusts will play a role in increased strength, force production, and overall athleticism to a certain extent. The question becomes, at some point can it be a limiting factor for max speed? Just like Mike T Nelson said, let’s find out!
    I have no doubt that you will try to get these answers from your lab and we can continue to talk about the science behind sprinting, jumping, and many other aspects of human performance!

    Cheers,
    Cory Kennedy

  • Antonio says:

    hey bret, in running and sprints i find it hard to maintain a tall posture and end up leaning foreward, is this a matter of quad dominance or something??? Also I cant understand why I am decent in barbell hip thrust and suffer so much with bird dogs…are these 2 issues related??

  • Darren says:

    I know that this is an old argument and I’m not sure if Bret still checks this post, but I’d like to ask a few questions anyway’s.
    I have read a few papers that suggest that the quads are the main contributors to propulsive force during
    the first 15 – 20m only because of the relative anatomical joint angles of the hips and force vectors. However, whilst in the upright position it is the Hamstrings that are the instigators of forward velocity via hip extension during the stance phase, whilst the glutes act to stabilze and prevent the hip from dropping. The quads apparently stabilize the knee joint during this phase, where as the glutes only actively concentrically contract to pull the hip (femur) down during the downward swing phase.

    So my question is, if the glute’s only actively concentrically contract during the downward swing, and it is the hamstrings that provide the horizontal propulsive forces, whilst the glute’s contract isometrically during the stance phase; how can hip thrusts benefit horizontal propulsion during sprint running when apparently the hip thrust isolates and concentrically/eccentrically contracts the glute’s and places the hamstring’s into active insuffiency? Surely during the stance phase, if the research I have read is to be believed, then the hamstrings produce the most force at a much greater length than would be seen during a hip thrust?

    You’ll have to bare with me, if this seems to be a poor or muddled question, I’m not quite as clever as some of you guy’s. But to me it seems that the hip thrust isolates the glutes to some degree, with the range of motion and force being applied not being relevant to the sprint stride, anatomical joint angles or force vectors.

    It strikes me that if you were to turn the hip thrust into a vertical position, the ROM would mimic the recovery phase of the backward swing, where the foot has already left the floor. Where as in sprinting the recovery phase of the back swing would be split between the hamstrings as a knee flexor and the psoas as a hip flexor, in order to pull the knee through to begin the downward swing phase. In which case, the hip thrust would bare no practical or functional correlation in contributing to the sprint stride or forward velocity.

    It seems to me that numerous things contribute to increase sprint speed, but it does seem doubtful that the hip thrust is one of them.

  • I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few people are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy I came across this during my search for something relating to this.

  • Ryan says:

    It seems that you don’t disagree with the original statement. Anybody who argues that speed is not related to force to the ground does not understand the mechanics of running. However vertical force is almost 95% of the amount of force you need, because moving forward isn’t the greatest resistance – going up is.

    The study you quote used only TWO actual sprinters. That is hardly a pool to pull adequate data from. I still say Peter Weyland has a great amount of data and I think he agrees with what I wrote.

    • I realize that vertical force is much higher than horizontal especially at top speed, but I still don’t think it’s the bottleneck and I think we could always produce much more in running if we needed to but it would slow us down. But the correlation at max speed with vertical force may be related to characteristics of top sprinters; fast twitch fiber types, smaller plantarflexor moment arms, etc. Basically they can continue accelerating because their neuromusculoskeletal systems can continue producing net horizontal force under decreasing GCTs.

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