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Archive for February, 2010

Movements such as walking, running, sprinting, kicking, jumping offf one leg, cycling, skating, and freestyle swimming involve simultaneous hip extension and hip flexion. In each of these activities, when one hip is extending the other is flexing. Many strength training gurus have written about methods to train this coordinated movement pattern. For example, Mel Siff discussed some of Yuri Verkhoshansky’s methods in Supertraining, Tudor Bompa discussed some methods in Total Training for Young Champions, and Yuri Verkhoshansky discussed some of his methods in Special Strength Training.

I believe that Verkhoshansky is many years ahead of his time, as was my favorite writer Mel Siff. Here is a picture I drew that illustrates Verkhoshansky’s methods (I apologize for the poor quality of the picture):

I’ve been experimenting with different versions of these movements and have come up with two of what I believe to be the most practical methods of employing this concept. One version is performed with vertical loading, while the other is performed with horizontal loading, so between the two you strengthen the stretched and contracted positions of flexion and extension due to axial vs. anteroposterior loading. Here is a video that demonstrates my two methods:

I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth combining the two strengthening methods (hip extension and hip flexion) together or just training each quality separately, but I thought that I’d write a blog so other trainers could start experimenting with these methods. You can use ankle weights, cables, bands, or simply tie an object around the foot for this purpose. I like ankle weights. A ten pound ankle weight is too easy for me on these movements, but if I wear two of them at the same time (20 lbs) it works really well. One drawback is that you need to be high up in order to do this right (even higher than in my video).

Hope you enjoy the update!

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Today’s blog is a little bit different. It’s a dialogue between a blog reader and yours truly following a blogpost I wrote last week entitled, “Are Single Leg Glute Exercises Inferior to Bilateral Glute Exercises?” I am posting this because I believe that a lot of individuals out there share the same sentiment as the blog reader. I can tell that this reader is very intelligent, and I believe we had a great conversation. After re-reading the reader’s initial question, I realize that I misinterpreted his question and didn’t do a good job of answering him. However, it’s still a good read. I also added a few comments to my responses for accuracy/clarification purposes. Here is our dialogue:

Reader:

Is it possible that EMG activity does not equal strength development or hypertrophy? From the videos I’ve seen of you doing side leg raises and such it seems that you’re the worlds biggest apologist for pilates.

Of course I’m being tongue and cheek as you weight various movements more than they ever would, but according to your research and the ACE research above it would seem that pilates should be creating “big and bulky muscle” that it so much hates with its amazing glute activation exercises.

Bret Contreras:

Great questions and thank you for having the “juevos” to call me out and speak your mind.

In order to understand the glutes we must “wipe the slate clean” and clear our brains of what we think we know. We can’t be biased and we have to look at science/theory/research as well as practical evidence/anecdotes. I’ve experimented with EMG on most of the body’s major muscles/muscle groups, and the glutes are the only muscle group that the fitness industry didn’t do a really good job of “pegging.”

First, in addition to EMG I look at ranges of strength (analyze the biomechanics); squats hit the glutes from down low, hip thrusts hit the glutes up high. Training adaptations are so specific that getting good at one or the other doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll transfer over to one another.

Second, I look at practical experience. Some individuals get big, strong glutes from squatting and deadlifting, while some don’t.

Years ago, I got my ex-girlfriend extremely strong at squats, lunges, and deadlifts. She weighed 110 lbs but could deep squat 135 for 20 reps, deadlift 155 for 20 reps, and lunge with 30 lb dumbbells for 20 reps. Her form was mesmorizing…the entire gym would just stare at her. She might have had the nicest legs in Arizona (one random guy actually said that to her), but her butt was always a little too small. It wasn’t until 4 years later that I thought up these hip thrust variations. She was still training and still strong, but with the simple inclusion of hip thrusts her glutes blew up. She worked her way up to 20 single leg hip thrusts and 65 x 20 hip thrusts (not very impressive) and her glutes looked amazing…better than they ever did before when she was just squatting, deadlifting, and lunging. She actually had to buy new pants.

I’ve measured the glute activity of four different individuals and some barely use their glutes when they squat. And this is with what appears to be “picture perfect form.” Structurally some individuals are predispositioned to use mostly quads when they squat. Some individuals get only 20% of MVC glute activation when squatting heavy, and this is going low, keeping knees out, chest up, sitting back, pushing through heels, etc.

Second, I’ve prescribed glute specific exercises to strong powerlifter types and was amazed at how weak some of them were. Seriously, 400 lb raw squatters and 500 lb deadlifters who couldn’t budge a 135 lb hip thrust. They had to start with bodyweight. Bodyweight bird dogs crushed them too.

If squats and deadlifts are the end-all/be-all for glute hypertrophy and strength, where is the disconnect? What is going on in these circumstances? I am a huge fan of squats, deadlifts, and lunges, but I believe that we also need to prescribe glute exercises that move the hip into hip hyperextension and keep tension on the glutes all the way through the movement. I call these “anteroposterior” exercises because their load vector is horizontal and they are usualy performed supine, prone, and quadruped.

All I can say is give them a try and prescribe them to your clients and ask for feedback. I remember years ago hearing a couple of guys in the gym say that “lunges are a pussy exercise.” I remember thinking, “A 225 lb walking lunge is the hardest thing I do in the gym.” Clearly these guys had never tried barbell lunges. Similarly, a set of 15-20 single leg hip thrusts with a controlled tempo is brutal. A set of high rep barbell hip thrusts with 315 lbs kicks my butt too. I’ve found that heavy hip thrusts can raise your heart rate more than heavy squats or deadlifts (I actually experimented on several people in the gym) which is a rough indicator that it works a similar amount of muscle yet maybe since there are no sticky points and there are no “resting spots” in a hip thrust it is an even better conditioning movement when someone gets strong at the movement.

To provide a counterpoint to your “Pilates” reference, I don’t like the analogy. They do mostly bodyweight stuff. I am absolutely certain that bodyweight single leg glute bridges and quadruped hip extensions are better for the glutes than bodyweight squats. The EMG activity of these exercises crush bodyweight squats (usually around 30-60% mean compared to 8% mean activity), plus you can palpate (squeeze) someone’s glutes while they perform the movements and realize that bodyweight squats don’t hit the glutes hard. This is supported by journal research as well.

However, if we’re talking loaded movements, now we steer away from Pilates. Are loaded hip thrusts and pendulum donkey kicks better for the glutes than squats and deadlifts? I believe that they strengthen different ranges so they’re highly specific, but I also believe that hip thrusts and donkey kicks are better for hypertrophy and transfer better to running, while squats and deadlifts transfer better to jumping and lead to more “total body growth.”

Just like the biceps seem to grow with the back and the triceps seem to grow with the chest, the glutes seem to grow with the quads and hams. It’s rare to see someone with huge arms and a weak torso or someone with huge glutes weak legs. So this builds a case for squatting and deadlifting, which is why I recommend all types of movements for optimal glute strength and development. Furthermore, squats and lunges will get your glutes more sore than any other exercises, which may lead to maximum growth via fiber damage/inflammation/growth factor release/repair. However, hip thrusts and pendlum donkey kicks will get your glutes more pumped and “burning” than any other exercises, which may lead to maximum growth via occlusion/hypoxia/growth factor release. The different load vectors may lead to training adaptations via different mechanisms (different growth factors, cytokines, and hormones) as they have different maximum contractions positions.

I recommend palpating some of your more trustful clients’ glutes (call it research) during different movements. Seriously, I learned a lot this way before I conducted EMG. The glutes aren’t always active through a full ROM on various lifts, and you can guage their tension at various ranges. Like I mentioned earlier, I also recommend giving the new exercises a try and getting strong at them. If you’re like me and a lot of people who have emailed me over the past several months, your lower body workout won’t feel “complete” without including one of these movements in your routine.

Hope you appreciate my answer.

-Bret

Reader:

Wow, Bret, I definitely appreciate the answer! I didn’t expect such a long response.

I discovered your writing about a week ago and I find your ideas to be very interesting. Actually, I have taken your research to heart and begun to incorporate the exercises.

I see how weighted versions of the hips thrusts, quadruped exercises, ect. could lead to significant hypertrophy and strength gains. That’s why I contrasted you with Pilates when I said you weight the movements far more then they ever do.

However, you gave me data from a BW squat vs. BW SL glute bridge; BW quad hip extension. The ACE study used a 1RM squat and even that didn’t beat a BW bent-leg hip extension.

The data says what it says. If a 1RM squat has lower EMG activity than a BW hip extension then that’s what it says.

But I guess my confusion at that point is what exactly that means. Squats are a scientifically proven method for improving sprint performance. If a well designed study showed that BW hip extensions improves sprint performance more than weighted squats then I would be fine with that. But until that happens I can’t imagine that a BW hip extension would be better. A weighted hip extension or glute bridge I can imagine is better.

So, if my hypothesis is correct that a weighted squat is still better than BW hip extensions for improving sprint performance (assuming you added some quad work for the hip extension group), then what would that tell us about EMG? Either EMG simpliciter doesn’t suggest that an exercise is “better” or EMG tells us the potential of exercise if you weight it, or something else that I don’t know because I don’t know much about EMG.

I hope I’ve been clear. If not feel free to ignore me.

Bret Contreras:

Now we’re getting into a topic that I really love; sprinting performance.

Obviously in order to sprint faster we need to sprint, but what strength training exercises transfer best to sprinting, and which muscles should be “strongest” for sprinting?

I believe that the best exercises for the sprinting are the hip thrust, deadlift, squat, reverse hyper, back extension, walking lunge, glute ham raise, and pendulum donkey kick. Obviously plyometrics, sled-towing, Oly lifts, and jump squats will help too, as well as hip flexor exercises and core/upper body exercises.

For acceleration sprinting which is characterized by a 45 degree lean and more quad contribution, I believe the squat, walking lunge, and pendulum donkey kick are best. For top speed sprinting which is characterized by an upright posture and more hamstring contribution, I believe that the hip thrust, deadlift, reverse hyper, back extension, and glute ham raise are best.

Although overall the glutes may be the most “athletic muscle” in the body since they extend, externally rotate, and abduct the hip (running, jumping, cutting, twisting), I believe that the quads are the most important muscle in acceleration sprinting and the hamstrings are the most important muscle in top speed sprinting. Many top sprinting gurus would agree with my comment about the hamstrings.

Back to your comment; I totally agree with you! If you just did bodyweight quadruped hip extensions and expected to run faster, you’d fail miserably. We need heavy, explosive exercises that challenge the body’s musculature.

The hip thrust and pendulum donkey kick will max out your body’s glute activation. Squats, walking lunges, and pendulum donkey kicks will max out your body’s quad activation. And deadlifts, reverse hypers, back extensions, and glute ham raises will max out your body’s hamstring activation.

Specific exercises will help in different ways too. For example, the glute ham raise will help the body absorb shock and prevent the knee from extending at ground contact. Squats may get your glutes stronger when the hip is flexed forward, while hip thrusts will get your glutes stronger as the hip moves toward neutral and into hip hyperextension.

And by the way, I believe that research indicates that squats transfer to jumping more than sprinting (for example a 2006 study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance showed that a 21% increase in squat strength lead to a 21% increase in vertical jump performance but only a 2.3% increase in 40 meter sprint performance). This may have to do with horizontal versus vertical loading, which is why I like horizontally loaded exericses like hip thrusts and reverse hypers in addition to vertically loaded exercises like squats and deadlifts.

The goal isn’t to stick with bodyweight glute activation exercises for athletes; it’s to keep pushing the envelope and developing explosive strength, speed, and power. But getting strong glutes all starts with having flexible hip flexors and learning how to activate them via low-load exercises.

Last, fast sprinters need strong hip flexors to minimize back-side mechanics and maximize front-side mechanics. They must rapidly transfer from hip extension to hip flexion and lift the knee high to “further stretch the rubber band.” This will lead to increased utilization of the hip extensors and more time to get the foot moving rearward just prior to ground contact. These characteristics often separate elite sprinters from average sprinters.

Are we on the same page?

Bret

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If you haven’t read Tony Gentilcore’s blog, I highly suggest you check it out. The man is hilarious, plus he knows a thing or two about training as well! In case you didn’t know, Tony is one of the co-founders of Cressey Performance, along with Eric Cressey and Pete Dupuis. Eric Cressey, I believe, is one of the top-five brightest individuals in the entire fitness industry.

I’ve been reading Eric’s work for many years, and I believe he’s done a heck of a job (along with his partners) in creating an amazing atmosphere at Cressey Performance. Here’s a recent picture that was posted on Tony Gentilcore’s blog last week; some of their athletes decided to have an “80’s theme” at their facility one day.

I don’t know the story behind this video, but it appears that it was made by some of Eric’s west-coast clients. At any rate, it’s funny as hell!

Here is another video that was recently posted involving an athlete who got his hair did upon arriving at CP:

By reading Eric and Tony’s blogs, watching their Youtube videos, and listening to the music that plays in the background during their videos, I can get a strong sense of the culture and atmosphere at Cressey Performance. I can tell you vehemently that the culture and atmosphere you create at your facility has a tremendous impact on word of mouth advertisement and client retention.

Videos like these make me feel very nostalgic, as I closed down my training studio almost exactly one year ago so I could write my eBook, focus on my writing, and acquire a name in the fitness industry. The name of my studio was called Lifts.

Owning and training at Lifts was by far the most enjoyable job I ever had. I was “El Capitan.” I could hire whoever I wanted, work the hours I wanted, and create all of the systems. I hired young and energetic trainers and we worked our butts off ensuring that our clients had a good time. We were always in good moods, we were always “high energy,” we were very motivational, and most important, we were always fun. My trainer Jordan had severe A.D.H.D. but was probably the most complimentary employee I could have hired because he was one of those guys who made me much funnier. His sense of humor was second to none and he made the clients feel very comfortable. My other trainer Michelle was a former hair stylist who would often cut our clients’ hair after their training sessions.

I’d send out newsletters to the clientele honoring the hardest workers, “biggest losers,” most consistent clients, impressive feats, etc. I created a Youtube page dedicated solely to my clients that showed clips of PR’s and outstanding performances. I loved the fact that all of my clients knew the proper names of exercises. It thrilled me to hear my clients talking about Bulgarian squats and glute ham raises. We always did group training and the clients got to know each other and became a family of their own. My clients became friends on Facebook and started hanging out together outside of Lifts. Some of my clients would tell me that Lifts was the best part of their entire day, and that it reminded them of the Cheers song (you want to go where everyone knows your name).

We trained a lot of younger females (word got around that I was the Michaelangelo of butt sculpting) who trained at the same time as each other. We’d always have a lot of fun with them. The previous owner of my facility turned the place into a Yoga studio, and when their lease expired they left black lights all over the ceilings (I guess for spin class or something?). Sometimes we’d turn on the black lights, dim the regular lights, and blast techno music while the younger women trained. Jordan would utilize this opportunity to show off his dance moves. Some would say that this was unsafe but it really wasn’t. The women loved it.

We had a records board and the rule was that I had to supervise any record-attempt. Whenever a record was set, all three trainers would do a “records dance.” We also had a board that kept track of the number of times a client complained, was excesively negative, or tattled on another client for bad form (we called it the rat board). If a client got 3 tallies on any particular day, they’d have to do an extra “finisher” at the end of the workout. Of course, this was done in good spirit.

We had nicknames for every single client. When clients walked in, they’d grab their workout journal that contained their workout for the day. Their journal was always labeled with their nickname and we made personalized journal covers that had pictures and graphics that pertained to their jobs, hobbies, or interests. On Halloween the trainers would wear costumes. We wore sleeveless shirts during the summers. We had a pair of converse shoes to match each color of shirt we wore to work. We had special CD’s that we made for various clients. On several occasions, we would invite our clients to meet at Lifts on a Saturday night before they went to the bars and clubs here in Scottsdale so they could “pre-drink” and get a buzz before they went out for a night on the town.

This, combined with rapid results, are the things that get you clients. Word of mouth advertisement is the best form of advertisement and costs absolutely nothing. Within 3 months of opening up my facility, we had 55 clients. Granted, this was when the economy was doing much better, but it goes to show you how important the atmosphere of your facility is in creating a successful business. The best part about the atmosphere is that it adheres to the “steam-roller effect.” Once things get moving, they’re hard to stop. Potential clients show up to check the place out and they are swarmed by several current clients who tell them how amazing the place is and how great the trainers are. How could they resist signing up?

So, if you’re a trainer or a strength coach and you have your own facility, get creative, be unique, and develop your own culture and atmosphere. Most important, be fun!

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When I tested the mean and peak glute EMG activity of various glute exercises, I was suprised to find that barbell bilateral hip thrusts activated more mean and peak activity than single leg hip thrusts (even when adding extra resistance in the form of bands or free weight). Working backward, I tried to figure out a reason as to why this was happening.

Here is my theory:

The gluteus maximus has 3 different primary roles: hip extension, hip abduction, and hip external rotation. When the hip exceeds neutral position during hip extension, it tends to externally rotate. Check out the following video. Watch the girl on the left in particular as she squeezes her butt cheeks. Her hips externally rotate as the hips are pushed forward.

If you’ve read any of my glute articles, you’ll know that not all exercises enter into this terminal range of hip extension range of motion. Exercises like hip thrusts and quadruped donkey kicks are a couple of exercises that take the hip into hip hyperextension (the hip can hyperextend 10 degrees with bent legs and 20 degrees with straight legs in normal individuals). During an exercise like a single leg hip thrust, the gluteus maximus would want to externally rotate up top near the conclusion of the concentric phase. This would interfere with the body’s balance during a unilateral maneuver with the shoulders supported. In an attempt to avoid this phenomenon, the brain most likely wouldn’t allow the gluteus maximus to contract quite as hard as it would if balance wasn’t an issue. This explains why bilateral hip thrusts seem to be performed more explosively, with more stability, and with a little added range of motion (hip hyperextension) up top. This zone of contraction is where maximum tension is placed upon the gluteus maximus.

Basically, it’s important to perform both bilateral and unilateral glute exercises. While unilateral variations might help build coordination and hip stability, bilateral variations most likely activate more muscle and lead to greater gains in strength and hypertrophy.

Furthermore, it is very important to elevate the shoulders or elevate both the shoulders and feet when bridging. Simply elevating the feet takes the glutes out of the movement and focuses more tension on the hamstrings. This is a big mistake that I see many trainers make. They believe that by elevating the feet and increasing the range of motion, they’ll activate more glute muscle. But my glute EMG research has proven that this is not true.

Allow me to mention a couple of other things about glute training. If you’re seeking power and you’re an advanced athlete, give the variation at the end of the video shown above a try. This method (explosive hip thrusts) exposes the glutes to very high levels of glute activation during the acceleration plase as well as during the “catch” phase where the bar lands and the glutes must absorb and decelerate the load.

Last, don’t mistake these exercises for being “sissy exercises.” If you recall during my Advanced Glute Training article on TMuscle, there are 7 different categories of hip extension exercises:

1. Axial extension
2. Axial semi-straight leg
3. Anteroposterior bent leg
4. Anteroposterior straight leg
5. Anteroposterior extension
6. Anteroposterior flexion
7. Axial/anteroposterior hybrids

The first term has to do with the direction of the load vector, the second term deals with the knee action of the hip extension exercise. My research clearly shows that anteroposterior bent leg exercises reign supreme in terms of glute activation, but if you don’t believe me here’s a study conducted by ACE (The American Council on Exercise) called Glutes to the Max that shows that a simple bodyweight quadruped hip extension activated more glute maximus muscle than a 1RM squat. This means that pushing one leg rearward while facing downward activated more glute than the heaviest squat someone could perform! I’m not saying you shouldn’t squat, I’m just saying that you should not underestimate the work that the glute has to do to raise a hip rearward or raise the body upward while lying supine, prone, or in the quadruped position. Another study linked here by Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital showed that running activated twice as much glute as the stairstepper. This jives with my whole concept of training the glutes in the horizontal (or anteroposterior) vector; the same vector trained while running.

The last thing I want to say about the glutes is that you MUST form a deep mind-muscle connection while you perform glute exercises. It may take a while but focus on squeezing the glutes as hard as you can on each rep of each set. Eventually this contraction will be grooved within your motor programming and it will become second-nature; you’re body wil engage the glutes maximally without having to think about it. It took me many years to reach this level of brain-glute relationship, but it can and will happen to you if you put forth the effort. Don’t be afraid to squeeze your glutes as hard as possible isometrically throughout the day to help build up this connection as well.

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The following is an article recently written by strength coach Michael Boyle on his website StrengthCoach.Com.

The other day I was thinking about some of my former interns who I never see at conferences. Sadly, there are far too many. I often ask them if they are going to attend a particular conference that I am excited about and the response is almost always the same. “I have workouts scheduled that day so I’m not going to be able to go”. These men and women are the ones that come to mind when I say “no time to get better”. Most of these coaches are doing the same workouts they were doing ten years ago and consistently use the excuse that they are too busy to attend conferences. In fact, they are actually too busy to get better. They are so busy trying to be dedicated to their athletes that they are in fact failing them. I believe many of these coaches have the best of intentions. They view an educational day off as a step back for their athletes rather than a step forward.

I hate to tell anyone but, we are not nearly as indispensable as we think. If our athletes work out for one day without us, the world will not end. If the head coach sees you are not there for one workout he probably won’t fire you. Tell him or her that you need to take the time to get better. Think of it as practice.

Ask yourself how many conferences you go to per year? If it is one or less, you are too busy to get better. Ask yourself how many books you read a year in the field. If the answer is less than ten, perhaps you are too busy to get better. How many DVD’s have you purchased and watched this year? No time to get better?

Time spent coaching is one thing. I think that is what most of us like to do best. However if you are always too busy coaching to practice the fine art of self-improvement eventually your coaching will suffer.

Business experts and business coaches often talk about the difference between working in your business and working on your business. If you are always working in your business, you are no more than another employee. You need to spend time working on your business for your business to thrive. In coaching it is the same principle. If you are always coaching but never trying to learn, you eventually fall behind. It’s like playing game after game with no practice.

Don’t be too busy to get better. Set goals for yourself. Set a goal for the number of seminars you want to attend this year. Set a goal for the number of books you will read and DVD’s you will buy. Maybe even set a goal for the number of other coaches you intend to visit this year. I attend a lot of seminars as a speaker and ask anyone, I also sit and listen to the lectures. In addition I set a goal of attending at least one seminar a year as a participant, not as a speaker. Ask yourself honestly “have I been too busy to get better?”.

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I’ve always been really good at helping people get strong. I’ve helped nearly all of my male training partners over the years deadlift over 405 lbs, and most of them weighed around 180 lbs. Several have deadlifted over 525 lbs. One of my training partners full squatted 525 lbs and deadlifted 585 lbs, although I must admit he was built like an absolute tank (5’7″ and 225 lbs of pure steel). These are normal folks, not powerlifters and not steroid users. They don’t wear briefs or suits, nor do they even wear knee wraps or belts. My personal training clients typically see similar results in a very short amount of time. Within around two to four months I can get most healthy guys deadlifting 405 lbs. And this is with good form too, not rounded-back, hitching deadlifts you see on the internet. When I had my training studio Lifts, I specialized in training women. I trained regular women who were not athletes. At one point I had six different girls who could full squat at least 135 lbs, deadlift at least 185 lbs, and bust out at least 6 chin ups. When I helped train a squad of high school football players, I had two different linemen parallel squatting and deadlifting over 500 lbs (and they were in high school!).

For some, this is not impressive. I venture to guess that many of today’s top trainers produce similar results. For others, it’s shocking. I’ve met tons of personal trainers who simply believe in “conditioning” and are “anti-strength.” For the record, it’s really easy to get people conditioned. Just don’t let them rest much and have them do a bunch of burpees, mountain climbers, interval sprints, sled pushes, hill sprints, or intervals on the Airdyne or row machine. Hand them a kettlebell or a jump rope, or just utilize a method that’s been popular for many decades called “Peripheral Heart Action” Training (which simply means alternating lower body, upper body, and core movements to get blood pumping to different parts of the body). Conditioning is important but it’s not very difficult to obtain. In fact, hand a ten year old kid a stop-watch and a whistle and tell them that they are going to be “trainer” for the day and I bet they could do a pretty good job of getting you “conditioned.” However, getting numerous clients to be considered “strong” is not so easy. It’s as much of an art as it is a science.

For this reason, I believe that it is imperative to have high expectations for your clients. If you’re satisfied with your clients doing lat pulldowns and never being able to do a chin up, guess what? They’ll never be able to do a chin up. If you think that half squatting 135 lbs is impressive for a male client, they’ll never get strong. It is often the trainer’s expectations that limits the client’s strength. Having high expectations is the best thing that you can do for your clients!

How does a trainer acquire “high expectations?” Knowledge, experience, and success. You have to see strong to know strong!

When I saw a video of one of Mike Boyle’s female clients busting out 3 chins ups with a 45 lb plate suspended between her legs, it encouraged me to get my female clients stronger at chin ups!

When I saw one of Nia Shank’s female clients deadlifting 225 lbs for 6 reps like it was cupcakes, it inspired me to get my girls stronger.

When I watch one of Jason Ferrugia’s female clients cranking out 13 chin ups, it reminds me how important it is to “expect” my female clients to be able to chin.

I’ve seen so many strong people train over the years and spotted enough heavy squat or bench press attempts that strength has become second-nature to me. I guarantee you that guys like Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, and Joe DeFranco have higher expectations than 99.99% of trainers out there. Why? Because they’re accustomed to “strong.”

Before I released my video of 405 lb hip thrusts or 495 lb glute bridges people only used bodyweight for glute activation exercises. Now people realize that the glutes and posterior chain are capable of moving much more weight on these movements and that glute activation exercises can be loaded to become glute strengthening exercises.

In this sense, Youtube has been a wonderful tool for “raising the bar” in terms of impressive feats of strength and athleticism.

I’m not in favor of “putting strength onto dysfunction,” as Gray Cook would say. Getting stronger at the expense of good technique causes injuries, halts progress, reinforces crappy motor patterns, and causes prime movers to become stabilizers and vice versa. In other words, allowing bad form is a disservice to your clients.

By knowing proper progressions, keeping strength balanced, ensuring good form on every rep, giving constant feedback, and designing excellent programs, you can get your clients freakishly strong.

Some clients aren’t built to squat. They’ll never be good squatters, but they can become excellent deadlifters. Some won’t be good pressers but they can be great pullers. Give your clients something to go home and brag about to their family! My clients are always aware of their strength levels because I make it important to them. I always laugh when I overhear my female clients talking to each other while using “meat-head” terminology. They say stuff like, “I full squatted 135 for 3 yesterday,” “I’m going for 115 on the bench press today,” “Last week I did 50 non-stop Bulgarian squats,” or “I got ten chin ups last week.”

In our industry, we like to talk about the importance of free weights and bodyweight exercises over machine exercises. I bet that I could see better results with my clients using solely machines than 95% of trainers could by using any exercise they wanted (free weight, bodyweight, or machine). This is due to the fact that I have high expectations, I’m a great motivator, and I design superior programs.

Do your clients a favor and get them strong with good form. It all starts with having high expectations and knowing what “strong” entails.

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A nice booty is a rare thing these days. When you train people all day long, you get a good sense of what a nice butt looks like – male or female. One time as I sat at the mall waiting for my girlfriend to complete her shopping extravaganza I counted the number of “great butts” that walked by. Out of 100 individuals (females and males) who passed me by, there wasn’t a single butt that I would consider “great!” I counted 8 “good butts,” but no “great butts.”

I think that I speak for almost all men when I say that I can certainly appreciate a nice booty! While often a nice booty is a factor of genetics, it is also a factor of hard work. A nice booty needs just the right amount of muscular shape and bodyfat. A nice booty is usually the result of lots of hard work in the form of sports, strength training, and/or dancing. Stop being active and your glutes will slowly start to atrophy away. The good news is that everyone can dramatically improve the shape of their butts.

Lifts

When I had my training studio called Lifts, I was turning out nice butts left and right. Seriously, Lifts was a butt-shaping haven. During my two-year lease, I had four different males show up at my studio who simply wanted to shake my hand and thank me for whatever it is I was doing to get their girlfriends’/wives’ butts looking so great. They’d say, “I don’t know what you’re doing but just please keep doing it!”

Here is a picture of one of my client’s gluteal progression over the course of a year (yes, she also got breast-enhancement surgery):

Personal Training or Home Workout?

A workout supervised by a good coach or personal trainer will always trump a workout that can be done at home. A good trainer/coach knows how to perfect your form, get the right muscles activating, improve your mobility, and strengthen the right muscles so your body can look its best. A good trainer knows how to hold you accountable and motivate you to achieve incredible workouts.

However, there are many individuals out there who can’t afford a personal trainer or even a gym membership for that matter. There are also individuals who are self-conscious and do not want to work out in public. Finally, there are people who are confined to their houses because they are raising kids or working around the clock. For these people, I filmed this video to provide a butt-sculpting workout that can done in the convenience of one’s own home.

Home Butt Workout

It’s Not Just About Doing the Exercises; it’s About Getting Much Stronger

The biggest two mistakes that people make when trying to improve the shape of their butts is that they never learn how to use their glutes in the first place and they assume that just because they are doing glute exercises their gluteal appearance will improve. You can’t just do the same workout week-in, week-out. You have to do more over time. You must push yourself to reach new personal bests. Each month you should be stronger than the previous month. Do this, and you’ll be very happy with your glutes!

Spread the Word!

If you stumble across this blog, send it to as many woman as you can. Nearly every woman I know wishes her butt looked better. If she performs the following weekly workout, her butt will begin to look better very quickly:

Do 2 sets of each exercise:

Day One

hip flexor stretches
glute bridges
side lying clams
bird dogs
Bulgarian squats

Day Two

hip flexor stretches
quadruped hip extensions
side lying abductions
prisoner full squats
hip thrusts

Day Three

hip flexor stretches
single leg glute bridges
quadruped hip circles
high step ups
single leg hip thrusts

I have a dream. A dream that people will work hard and take pride in the appearance of their glutes. A dream that I can go to a mall, beach, or airport and see an abundance of nice butts. A world full of better butts is a better world indeed! I hope you enjoyed the blog.

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