This is an interview I did a while back with Mark Young. Mark is an extremely intelligent individual for whom I have much respect.
Mark Young: A little while back strength coach Bret Contreras busted onto the scene with his article Dispelling the Glute Myth on Tmuscle.com. Some were inspired by his ideas and others just thought he was downright arrogant for talking smack about some of the other coaches in the industry. As it turns out, I was one of the latter, but after I got over myself I decided to contact him only to find out that he’s a pretty smart and humble guy just trying to make a splash with his first foray into the fitness world. I asked him to do a quick interview for my blog and he was all over it like a frat boy on a keg.
Hey Bret! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Since you’ve been dubbed The Glute Guy you’ve obviously got a serious fixation with the glutes. Are you just an obsessive butt man or what?
Bret: Thank you very much Mark for taking the time to interview me. Yes and no. As a typical testosterone-producing male, of course I appreciate a nice butt. In fact, if there’s a hot little minx running around with a perfect butt, I find it nearly impossible to focus on anything else. My eyes hone in on a perfect [female] booty like a hawk on his prey. The problem is, nice booties are very rare. I remember being at the mall once and counting how many nice butts I saw (male or female) out of 100 pedestrians. There were around five decent ones and none that I would consider “great.” A girl with a perfect butt can get a grown man to do almost anything and can pretty much rule the world.
But I digress. I am interested in the glutes from a performance standpoint as well. The glutes are the primary hip extensors, hip abductors, and hip rotators, which make them critical muscles involved in running, jumping, cutting, and twisting…pretty much every major motion in sports. Strong, powerful glutes often separate the men from the boys so to speak in terms of athleticism. So if one was to become fixated on a single muscle group, the glutes make the most sense to me as the area upon which to become fixated. But I wouldn’t consider myself a “glute-only” guy. I’m also “obsessed” with all other major muscle groups. As I write more articles people will realize that I have a ton of knowledge to share regarding the entire spectrum of muscles, movements, and energy systems.
Mark: Okay cool. So tell me what it is about training the glutes that you think everyone has been missing. You’ve obviously got some different ideas. Can you expand upon that a little bit?
Bret: If you’ve read my articles and/or my eBook, you’ll know that I’ve come up with plenty of exercise ideas for the glutes. However, I tend to focus on getting people strong at the hip thrust and pendulum quadruped hip extension while using great form. This is tricky because often beginners do not possess adequate glute strength and/or hip range of motion so they contort their spines rather than stabilize the core and use solely hip motion to perform the lifts. This is why it is important to address hip flexor quality and length, start out with just bodyweight, and progress wisely. At the end of a workout, I tend to throw in a set of standing band abductions or standing band external rotations as well. For beginners, I would just throw in a set of side lying abductions or side lying clams as they aren’t yet strong enough for the bands. Of course, the glutes are also used when doing squat, deadlift, and lunge patterns as well as plyos, sprints, agility drills, explosive lifts, and sled work, but the targeted glute work helps out dramatically in terms of improved performance.
Mark: Your views on load vectors are very thought-provoking. Can you briefly explain this concept?
Bret: Gladly! It is often said that there is a gap between the weight room and the sports arena (track, field, court, ring, etc.). It doesn’t need to be this way. Jumping is axial, so are squats, deadlifts, jump squats, and Olympic lifts. For optimal sports performance, do them all! You’ll hit all ends of the force curve. But force is directional-specific. Running is anteroposterior, so are hip thrusts, back extensions, reverse hypers, and sled pushing. Do them all! Cutting is lateromedial, backpedaling is posteroanterior, and twisting is torsional. This is why it’s important to add in slideboard and agility drills, multi-directional lunge and sled dragging, and rotational work with bands, cables, a tornado ball, and/or a landmine unit. The trick is to learn how to blend all of this training together without overtraining. If you do it right, your athletes will get stronger and more explosive from every direction. The days of just squatting and power cleaning for leg power are long gone.
Mark: Very interesting. What’s been on your mind recently in terms of strength training and fitness?
Bret: Recently I’ve been paying attention to the different types of trainers and strength coaches. Bad trainers suck at everything. Decent trainers seem to fall into one of two “camps.” The “functional, overly-cautious” types or the “hard core, balls-to-the-wall” types. The functional types need to be better at getting their athletes strong. Many of these types truly have “paralysis by analysis” and are incapable of producing strong athletes. The hard core types need to be better at producing clean movement. An athlete will never maximize his or her power and agility if he or she isn’t moving efficiently. Strength is good, but not at the expense of altering good movement patterns and using sound exercise technique. Great trainers can produce clean movement and get their athletes very strong while exhibiting great form.
Great trainers are also good at improving all qualities while providing a fun, challenging workout. People like gaining strength, power, and conditioning. They also like to feel certain muscles working and they appreciate variety. Finally, they like moving better and more efficiently. That’s why you need to address the whole gamut of fitness; foam rolling, stretching, prehab, power work, strength work, energy system development, etc. One dimensional trainers can’t hold a candle to trainers who have a sound understanding of the various training principles. In my opinion, to excel as a trainer you need to have a good understanding of bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, strongman, track & field, mixed martial arts, sport-specific training, and physical therapy. If a trainer doesn’t work out then how in the hell are they going to learn new techniques? You have to give certain movements and methods time and be in good condition in order to reap the benefits. The trainer or coach who doesn’t work out cannot progress as fast as a trainer or coach who does work out.
People in this field often say that nothing is ever new. I see their point, since most exercises or methods have been performed somewhere, sometime in the past. However, I completely disagree that nothing is ever new. My training evolves considerably over time. I get much better as a trainer each year. This time next year, I’ll know much more and the way I train will improve. Scientific advancements, trends, and new equipment dramatically alter the strength and conditioning industry. Sure, your big rocks may not change much, but your small rocks certainly will. Ten years ago I never heard of foam rolling or glute activation. Ten years from now, there will be new principles that I’ll need to know in order to be an awesome trainer.
Last, the best trainers are positive, high-energy, motivating, caring individuals who can dramatically influence what their clients do during the 22-23 hours of the day that they’re not around their clients. Eating right, sleeping well, thinking positively, and paying attention to posture are things that great trainers can get their clients to do which will greatly speed up results.
Mark: Wow Bret, good stuff. Where can my readers learn more about you and find more of your stuff?
Bret: I’ve just recently got a blog up and running so check you can that out HERE. I also have a Twitter account, I’m on Facebook, I have a Youtube account, I’ve written articles for http://www.StrengthCoach.Com and http://www.TMuscle.Com, and you can buy my eBook at http://www.TheGluteGuy.Com.
Mark: Thanks Bret, I appreciate the interview!
Bret: Thanks Mark, keep on truckin’!