Archive for December, 2010

In the glute eBook I wrote over a year-and-a-half ago, I included a section that discussed exercise-naming. I find it intriguing that many lifts are named after people or countries. For example, the hack squat, Jefferson lift, Pallof press, Dimel deadlift, and Cook hip lift are named after people, and the Bulgarian split squat, Russian leg curl (aka Nordic hamstring curl), and Romanian deadlift are named after countries. I suppose that I could have named the barbell hip thrust the “Contreras Hip Thrust” (which ironically several coaches including Carl Valle and Mike T. Nelson have called it), but naming an exercise after one’s self is pretty vain (even for me).

Often exercises named after countries are improperly attributed to a country that didn’t invent or popularize an exercise. I opted against “The American Thrust” because it doesn’t give any clues as to how the exercise is performed. The hip thrust sounded good to me because you simply thrust your hips forward. I know that Mike Boyle doesn’t like this name because to him the term “thrusting” implies low back flexion and extension, so he refers to the exercise as the “shoulder elevated hip lift.” When I hear the term “thrust,” I think of hips, not the low back, but I digress.

Why am I talking about this? 

Last week, I posted a video by Timothy Ferris that shows how he does the hip thrust. Here it is below in case you missed it.

Another thing I talked about in my glute eBook is something I learned from Maxwell Maltz, a cosmetic surgeon turned self-help guru who wrote a book called Psycho Cybernetics in 1960. He talked about “experts” vs. “inperts.” Experts are those who are classically trained, up-to-date with current information, and think inside the box. Inperts are those who are trained in other areas, can view a new field with a unique lens, and think outside the box. Surprisingly many of the world’s great discoveries come from inperts.

What I like about a guy like Timothy Ferris, who just wrote a new book called The Four Hour Body, is that he is a very bright guy and he’s obviously no stranger to exercise. Since he wasn’t classically trained by a particular University, Professor, Coach, or Institution, he thinks outside the box.  He didn’t perform my hip thrust exercise the way I showed the public around fourteen months ago (see below).

Instead, he performed the exercise the way he felt them work his glutes the best, which was to hinge at a spot lower down on the back and move the fulcrum closer to the hips. When I saw this video, I was a bit skeptical. From my knowledge of Biomechanics, I figured that the lift would be a little bit easier than my version and allow for slightly larger loads to be used, but I wasn’t sure if it would increase gluteus maximus activation. I was also curious as to whether it was dangerous for the spine.

I reserved any judgment until I actually performed the exercise. I’ve now performed the exercise on two occasions; once on Friday and again today. I can tell with absolute certainty that Timothy’s method works the glutes harder than my version. Both times I performed the exercise my glutes were so pumped up that it altered the way I walked. No exercise has ever had this effect on me and I’ve been training hard for 19 years. Tim helped make an awesome exercise even better. Below is me performing the hip thrust – Timothy Ferriss style.

I was right; this style does make it a bit easier. I was able to get 12 reps with 405 lbs, whereas with the traditional hip thrust I can get 8 reps with 405 lbs. The padding on the bench protects the spine so there’s no need to worry about that. The new variation is a bit tricky, as you have to prop yourself up to get your torso higher up on the bench. Notice that the elbows are resting on the bench.

The American Hip Thrust

Here’s where the “American Hip Thrust” comes into play. I don’t know what to call this variation. We have the Contreras variation and the Ferriss variation, but from now on I’ll probably stick with the Ferris variation in my own training and the training of my clients. Since there’s no “Contreras Hip Thrust” there shouldn’t be a “Ferriss Hip Thrust.”

It is important to note that there is not a single exercise that is prefaced with the word “American.” There exists no “American bench press.” Although Romania gets their own deadlift and so does Russia (the Russian deadlift is another term for the good morning), there’s no “American deadlift.” Although plenty of exercisers worldwide have been bridging and doing “air thrusts” on Swiss balls for years, heavy barbell hip thrusts with the shoulders elevated onto a bench originated in America, out of a small notorious garage in Scottsdale, Arizona. Why don’t we show these other countries what America does best? We thrust! We thrust long, we thrust hard, and we thrust often! Our glutes know no bounds!

Okay, so according to this Pubmed article France edges out the U.S. in sexual intercourse (thrusting) frequency.  But we’re second at 138 times per year! And according to this article, Brazil outlasts the U.S. in sexual intercourse (thrusting) duration. But we’re  second at 28 minutes per bout! I’d like for all the countries of the world to fear our glutes! They should wake up gasping for air in the middle of the night due to nightmares involving our glutes chasing them down. When they think of American athletes, this is what should come to mind:

Okay, so neither of the athletes above are American, and considering that 2/3 of Americans are either overweight or obese I doubt that the world fears our glutes. But if more people attended gyms and got strong at the American Thrust, we’d see a huge improvement in glute strength, power, and aesthetics. Remember, what’s good for muscular size (cross-sectional area) is good for strength and power (rate of force development). As the late sprint coach Charlie Francis said, “Looks right, flies right.”

I don’t really expect people to call the exercise the “American Thrust,” I just thought it would be a fun post to write. In truth I just don’t know what to call the new variation. You can call it whatever you want, just make sure you do it!


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Around eight years ago, my friends got together for a slow-pitch softball game. Although I hadn’t swung a bat in years, I managed to crank out five out-of-the-park homeruns that day. One of them cleared the fence by at least a hundred feet. I was pretty surprised…as were my friends. My hitting power sky-rocketed from just getting stronger in the gym. I didn’t do any form of “sport-specific training,” I just got strong at exercises such as squats, deadlifts, walking lunges, back extensions, bench press, weighted dips, military press, chin ups, bent over rows, and one arm rows. Times like these made me realize the importance of strength as it pertains to unleashing your maximal power potential.

Since this time I’ve trained a whole-lotta people, I’ve read a whole-lotta books and articles, and I’ve continued to train hard myself. And I still believe that just getting stronger at basic, compound movements is critical for power. However, power is directional specific, and while strong muscles will get you pretty far, you can get a little bit further if you engage in some specific forms of strength training. I believe that in order to achieve optimal rotary power, one must get strong at big, compound lifts, while also performing rotary strength exercises, rotary power exercises, and practicing specific sports skills.

Below are five excellent rotary exercises that will help maximize your explosive rotational power.

1. The Explosive Rotational Landmine

This is quite different than the normal landmine. Notice the footwork. This allows you to move around the bar and reposition yourself so you can get maximum explosiveness on each rep. Make sure you put the women and children to bed before attempting this exercise – it’s no joke!

2. Overhead Lateral/Rotational Press

This is an amazing core exercise that works the core as a lateral flexor and a rotator.

3. Band Hip Rotations

I’ll keep ranting and raving about this exercise ’til I’m blue in the face. It’s a very difficult exercise to master. You have to set up with your body angled inward a bit toward the line of pull of the band. This way you keep constant tension on the hip rotators as you twist. To reiterate, you don’t line up facing the band, your back foot is further away from the band than the front foot. This exercise activates the glutes like crazy, trains the glutes in their hip external rotation function, and “bridges the gap” between the weightroom and the field. It works the hip internal rotators on the front leg, hip external rotators on the back leg, internal obliques on one side, and external obliques on the other side. It’s the best core exercise that you’re not doing at the moment! If you don’t feel this working the glutes big-time then you’re doing it wrong. Keep working it until you get it right. Monster-mini jump stretch bands work best for this exercise.

4. Low-High Rotary Pull

Here’s an excellent core exercise that works the lower body, core, and upper body pulling musculature in one movement.

5. Low-High Rotary Press

Here’s an excellent core exercise that works the lower body, core, and upper body pressing musculature in one movement.

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas as to how you can go about increasing your rotational power through specific rotary strength training. Spend some time on these and you’ll be belting home runs out of the park like McGwire in no time!

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Here are some good reads for the week! Tomorrow I’m going to try to put up a blog on rotary training for badasses. Hopefully I’ll have time. I filmed the videos, but I’ve been absolutely swamped working on a review paper. Can’t wait to be finished!

Chris Beardsley on flexibility. This is a great series by Chris. If you haven’t seen it yet check it out! I’m a big fan of Chris’ blog.

Matt Perryman talks about fitness. Matt needs to blog more often…he always comes out with great stuff.

Dan John shares the “Big Five” of getting big

 Regression and Simplicity – Keys to Progress in Strength & Conditioning – by Anthony Donskov (this is a paysite – StrengthCoach.com)

Ben Bruno gives us the videos of the week. Ben’s blog is already one of my favorites!

 Gadgets and Toys by Vern Gambetta – I liked this one – not what you think.

 Is Sprinting Frequency or Length Reliant? Mike Young shares a cool new study.

New study – The Science of Muscle Hypertrophy: Making Dietary Protein Count

New study – Maximizing Hypertrophy: Possible Contribution of Stretching in the Interset Rest Period

 Tom Martin breaks Ed Coan’s longstanding record and deadlifts 771 lbs at the 181.5 weight-class. That’s well over 4X his bodyweight. This guy is a strong SOB, and he’s also a sprinter!

Here’s a video of a 300 lb’er busting out bodyweight exercises like it ain’t no thang. Crazy!

Cool new study – side dominance doesn’t affect the symmetry of bilateral barbell lifts

 Tony Gentilcore turns 34 years old and therefore shares his 34 favorite things

 Ben Bruno offers some stuff worth checking out

Tracy Fober posts an awesome video – Olga rules!

Cool exercise I stumbled upon – The Bueler

Ten Tips for Good Trainers by Smitty from the Diesel Crew

David Lasnier on Single Leg Progressions

Fantastic Hamstring Movements by Bret Contreras and Ben Bruno – TNation article

Timothy Ferris Does the Hip Thrust – I’ve never tried it hinging this low on the back. I’m intrigued and will test this out tomorrow.

Greek Pole Vaulter Erika Prezerakou! Aye Caramba! Some Serious Booty!

That’s all folks!

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