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Updates: Thesis, FAQ Tab, and 605 lb Deadlift PR

By August 14, 2014January 13th, 2016Announcements

Hi fitness friends, just wanted to provide a few updates:


I have less than one year to finish my PhD, so I’ve been cranking on research/data collection. I realized that very few sports scientists focus their strength & conditioning research on women, so I decided to hone in on females for my studies. Here are some things that I’ll be looking at with my thesis:

1. Gluteus Maximus EMG Review: what does the literature currently have to say about gluteus maximus activation associated with rehab, functional, and resistance training exercise? What are the gaps in the literature?

2. Gluteus Maximus MVIC Position: the gold standard in the research for maximum voluntary isometric contractions is the prone bent leg hip extension against manual resistance applied to the distal thigh. Does just standing and contracting the gluteus maximus leads to greater, equal, or less upper and lower gluteus maximus activation? Hypothesis: standing will lead to greater upper glute activation, whereas the gold standard will lead to greater lower glute activation.

3. Squat Variations and Glute Activation: which leads to higher levels of mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activation – parallel squats, full squats, or full front squats (using the same relative loading)? Hypothesis: no significant differences.

4. Hip Thrust Variations and Glute Activation: which leads to higher levels of mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activation – hip thrusts, American hip thrusts, or band hip thrusts (using the same relative loading)? Hypothesis: standard hip thrusts will be superior, but results won’t be significantly different.

5. Squats versus Hip Thrusts: which leads to higher levels of mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activation – parallel squats or hip thrusts? What about a bottom squat isohold versus a top hip thrust isohold? What about force, velocity, power, and rate-of-force-development? What about joint angles and heart rate? Hypothesis: hip thrusts will be superior to squats in terms of upper and lower mean and peak glute max activation, force, velocity, power, and RFD. Squats will be superior to hip thrusts in hip ROM and heart rate response.

6. The Effects of Squats versus Hip Thrusts versus Combined Squats & Hip Thrusts: in a 10-week training study, how does a volume-matched protocol of squats, hip thrusts, and combined squat/hip thrust compare in terms of transfer to vertical jump, broad jump, triple jump, maximum sprinting velocity, sprinting horizontal force and power, maximum horizontal pushing force, and gluteus maximus hypertrophy? Hypothesis: Combined group will lead to greatest transfer of training outcomes and hypertrophy gains across the board. Squats will be superior to hip thrusts for transfer to VJ, BJ, and 3J. Hip thrusts will be superior to squats for transfer to sprinting, sprinting forces and power, and gluteus maximus hypertrophy. I guarantee I’ll be wrong about some of my hypotheses and am excited to learn what actually does happen in training (instead of theorizing based on acute research).

Front squat


Since I’ve been so swamped working on my PhD, I decided to write a Frequently-Asked-Questions page. It’s very elaborate, so please check it out. Also, please understand that I don’t have time to answer every email I receive – I’m too busy. I’m getting my PhD while paying my own tuition (without taking loans) and also spending thousands of dollars on technology that will aid my research (I already have EMG, force plate, video capture, and a heart rate monitor, but I’ll need to purchase an ultrasound unit and a radar gun with state-of-the-art software associated with it). This is not easy! In a year, when I’m done writing up my thesis, my life can return to normal. But as of right now, I’m working round the clock.



Lately I’ve set a number of PR’s in my own training. I finally achieved a 315 lb front squat, I bench pressed 325 lbs on two occasions, I incline pressed 285 lbs, and yesterday I conventional deadlifted 605 lbs! I’d really like to total 1,400 lbs in a powerlifting meet in the next 8 months or so, so my goal is to get to a around a 335 lb bench press, a 435 lb squat, and a 630 lbs deadlift. Here are some vids:

315 lb Front Squat

 605 lb Conventional Deadlift


  • johnd65 says:

    Nice deadlift. I found myself trying to do body english to help you lock out!

    • Bret says:

      LOL! I do that too. When I train clients, I feel my glutes twitching when they’re doing their sets.

      It was actually my grip that was slipping, or I’d have been able to pull my shoulders back and lock my knees out. Usually my grip isn’t an issue, but I haven’t done any accessory grip work in the past few months. In 2 weeks my grip will be back to being a strong point as I’ll train grip every other day.

  • David Hajek says:

    Clearly the Pantera in the background influenced this PR 🙂

  • Daniel says:

    very impressive deadlift, front squat also looks good 🙂

  • James Steele says:


    If you can accomplish that much towards yours thesis in less than a year, you sir deserve more than a frigging PhD! Have you collected some of the data towards the studies already? I guess you already have most if not all of the literature pertaining to the glutes so the review paper will be less time consuming to put together.


    • Bret says:

      Hi James, yes, I’ve collected some data already – I’ve been at it for a few months. Tested five subjects this week alone. But keep in mind I have my own lab – I don’t need to reserve or check out equipment or the lab, and I have plenty of willing subjects at my disposal. I’m going through the EMG research right now and I’m picking up useful tidbits here and there – funny what you learn going through things a second time around. Good to hear from you! BC

      • Teresa Merrick, Ph.D. says:

        Hi Bret,

        Be sure to check with your institution the requirements for testing on human subjects and approvals from their Institutional Review Board (or whatever name they have for their board for protecting the rights of human subjects) for your project(s). You want to make sure you meet all their requirements to show that you ethically collected the data you will use in your thesis. My dissertation project used a simple survey, but still had to be approved properly.

  • JR says:

    Beast mode on the deadlift, man! Definitely helped along by Pantera. 😉

  • Carl says:

    What is the radar gun for Brett? Hopefully for seeing transfer of the lifts?

  • Dunkman says:

    Impressive Bret. Best of luck getting through this year. We genuinely appreciate everything you bring to your field.

  • Josh says:

    Will you still be the glute guy, the glute doctor? Professor of the glute?

  • Reade says:

    What is the radar gun/ software called?

  • Chris says:

    Great lift. 600 pound club is not easy to reach. Love seeing the progress.

  • ggs says:

    What I like about you and your blog ,books, equipment, get glutes,and all things Bret….Is that you are always moving forward…You do not sit back and just rest on your already great accomplishments…I wish you all the best in the coming years…Both professionally and personally…You deserve it…Love your music choice…My go to song to kick it up a notch is Bodies by Drowning pool give it a shot…

  • Steve says:

    Great job my man! I’m a big fan and I really enjoy and appreciate your hard work. Keep it up!

  • Jeff says:

    nice job Bret, I see you went to traditional Deadlifts (nice form by the way) . Did you try the modified sumo with the hands to the outside?

  • Ginger says:

    Love the info I get here! I bought your book Strong Curves and am getting results…but I bought it after months of dealing with painful hip flexors. The orthopedist wanted me to stretch the pain away but it wasn’t working. (And I tried for 8 months.) Two weeks with your workout plan with daily glute bridges and the pain is almost entirely gone.
    I’d love for you to do a thirty day glute challenge online, btw!

  • Charles says:

    Brett, what are your thoughts on heavy sandbag bear hug and zercher carries? After implementing these for 10 heavy 1 minute rounds twice a week my core stregnth has ballooned. I feel heavy sandbag carries are one of the most underrated things to do for pure strength. Your mid back just gets destroyed better than anything else.

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