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Archive for the ‘Glute Training’ Category

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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While there are many differences between bad trainers and good trainers, one of the biggest differences is the form that you’ll see poor trainers allowing their clients use in comparison to the form that good trainers insist upon with their clients. The problem is that bad trainers just don’t know what good form is supposed to look like and they’ve never been trained to look at movement with a critical eye. On a side note, they also don’t know what to do in order to fix poor movement but that is the essence of being a great trainer.

Three Types of Trainers When it Comes to Form

There seem to be three types of trainers in my opinion:

1. Wannabe Strength-Coach Physical Therapist types who are way too scared to ever load anyone up and are way too critical of form and therefore stink as personal trainers or strength coaches because they never get anyone strong or looking their best.

2. Ignorant Meathead types who just keep loading up the exercises with no concern for how the form looks and are therefore horrendous trainers and coaches because they end up injuring everyone they train.

3. Great coaches who know the balance, which is actually 90% in the direction of the Physical Therapist types. You’ll see what I mean by this throughout this blog.

I’ve now posted five different videos of Karli (my client) training her lower body. I think it will be worthwhile for my readers to roll through these videos and see what I see. On a side note it’s hard filming these videos because normally I’d coach more throughout the sets but I can’t see much as I’m looking at the camera and not her form. So Karli is getting robbed a bit due to my desire to film these videos, which I do because it serves the greater-good. More women need to be training this way, and the more videos I film the better butts we can create. Karli doesn’t mind as she’s just happy that she feels her glutes working like crazy during our workouts and her butt and legs have improved since I’ve been training her. I’m always contorting my body in the power rack to get these cool angles of Karli lifting – it’s pretty funny.

Here’s a picture of Karli prancing around Chi-Town in a bikini for Halloween; she went as a shark attack. Somebody is proud of their legs!

Five Karli Workouts

Moving on, here are the videos, followed by my observations.

Observations:

1. Very happy with Karli’s workout this day.
2. High Box squats – to be nitpicky she plopped down a little too hard on the box and her knees caved in (valgus collapse) slightly, but still very good form.
3. Sumo deads – to be nitpicky her head/neck wasn’t in neutral, she didn’t use compensatory acceleration and drive the hips through, and she didn’t stand tall enough, but still it was great form
4. Hip thrusts – perfect!

Observations:

1. Not too impressed with myself as a trainer on this day. Didn’t cue enough, went a little too heavy, allowed a little too many energy leaks.
2. Zercher squats – a little too much trunk leaning and valgus collapse toward the end of the set.
3. Chain deficit deadlifts – pretty good; didn’t quite look as natural and fluid as I’d like
4. Full range Bulgarians – awesome!
5. Band 45 degree hypers – perfect!
6. Single leg Skorcher hip thrusts – to be nitpicky I allowed cervical flexion, and on a few reps she didn’t come up to full extension.
7. Cable horizontal chops – very good but could look a little more fluid, and the vectors on the right and left sides weren’t symmetrical.

Observations:

1. I wasn’t too thrilled with myself on this day either. Allowed a little bit too sloppy of form.
2. Front squats – on max attempt form broke down a little too much for my comfort even thought it was a max, some spinal flexion and valgus collapse going on. With 95 lb set a “valgus twitch” was present on each rep at mid-range, and there was too much foot pronation. I know that Karli can do better, but I didn’t cue enough. Turns out she barely ate that day in efforts to lose weight for Halloween, which she didn’t tell me about until the next day. Welcome to the realities of being a trainer!
3. Sumo deads – Immaculate!
4. Hip thrusts – Great.
5. 45 degree hypers – Perfect! I actually prefer the kyphosis you see in the video – it leads to higher glute activation. This is hard to figure out but if you keep an arch throughout the spinal column you end up using tons of erector spinae, whereas if you allow the kyphosis you get much less erector contribution and more glute and hamtring contribution.

Observations:

1. Great workout! Form was amazing.
2. Low box squats – Great! Very impressive.
3. Sumo deads – Awesome.
4. Hip thrusts – Perfect.
5. Reverse hypers – Flawless!

Observations:

1. Very happy with this workout.
2. Front squats – awesome! Much better than last time. Some slight valgus but nothing too be concerned about.
3. Dumbbell full squat – there’s only one word to describe it – Beautiful!
4. Deadlift – decent; some cervical extension and some lumbar flexion during the second set. Nothing to be too concerned with.
5. Single leg hip thrust – great! Some cervical flexion but I don’t worry about this too much.

Conclusion

I hope this blogpost has taught many of you a thing or two about exercise form. A good trainer or coach knows how to get people strong while adhering to good form. They look at the various joint kinematics and see what’s going on at the foot, ankle, knees, hips, pelvis, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, cervical spine, scapulae, and shoulders. They look at rhythm, acceleration, and tempo. They know if something looks right or doesn’t. Being a good trainer is about a lot of things – being a motivator, a nutritionist, a role-model, an expert, etc.

But most important – being a good trainer is about delivering results! Getting people stronger, fitter, healthier, sexier, leaner, shaplier, more confident, pain-free, less prone to injury, and more “dialed in” with their health.

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Kickass Karli

My client Karli has been bragging to her friends about how strong she’s getting. She wanted to show her friends how she trains so she asked me to film some video clips. Here’s the deal. Karli has been training with me for around five weeks. She’s a natural born deadlifter. When she started, she had one of the worst cases of valgus collapse I’d ever seen. She had trouble doing bodyweight squats without letting her knees cave in. She also couldn’t lower her deadlifts under control and had very poor eccentric strength. I’ve been attacking her glutes like a madman and she has responded extremely well. What’s ironic is that I haven’t done any hip abduction work; just a ton of hip extension work with a focus on having her keep her knees out and lowering weights under control.

In just five weeks her booty is looking amazing and she’s getting very strong. I should also mention that she had some slight low back issues when she started training with me and those issues have completely cleared up. I’ve been having her do the following exercises:

Karli’s Primary Exercises

1. full squats, high box squats, low box squats, full front squats, Bulgarian squats
2. deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, rack pulls
3. hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, single leg hip thrusts, pendulum quadruped donkey kicks
4. back extensions, 45 degree back extensions, single leg back extensions

The last time she did sumo deadlifts, she maxed out at 185 lbs. Just a week later, she did 225 lbs. This was a huge suprise for both of us. It reminded me of the scene in Unbreakable where Bruce Willis kept piling on the weights on the bench press. Karli jumped up 40 lbs in a single week! I don’t think I’ve ever seen this big of a jump in such a short period of time. As you can see, Karli was born to sumo deadlift…knees out, upright torso, finishes strong. Here’s a video of tonight’s workout…Karli did high box squats, sumo deadlifts, and hip thrusts.

Video of Tonight’s Workout

Keep kicking ass Karli!!!

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In the past couple of weeks I’ve received three different emails from strength coaches who were writing articles and wanted to include the hip thrust. They emailed me to ask me if it was okay to include the hip thrust into their article. Although I’m always flattered by these types of emails, I want to stress something. If you like an exercise, then write about it. I’ve never emailed an exercise creator asking permission to write about their exercise. Although Anderson squats (Paul Anderson), Hack squats (George Hackenshmidt), Zercher squats (Ed Zercher), Jefferson lifts (Charles Jefferson), Dimel deadlifts (Matt Dimel), Cook hip lifts (Gray Cook), King deadlifts (Ian King), Pallof presses (John Pallof), and even the damn Kegel (Arnold Kegel) have been popularized by their creators, I’d never think to email them if I was writing an article that included their exercise (many of the creators are deceased anyway). Nick Tumminello, Mike Boyle, Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, Eric Cressey, and Stuart McGill, to name a few, have come up with great exercises and exercise variations, yet I don’t email them to ask if I can write about their exercise. I just do it.

I’m a huge fan of the hip thrust so I always love it when I see the hip thrust pop up in other people’s articles and blogs. You do not need to give me credit for the exercise. If you do, then I appreciate the gesture. But if you don’t, I’m still appreciative. I’ll actually offer a confession right now; when I scan other strength coaches’ and trainers’ programs, I check to see if there’s at least one anteroposterior hip extension exercise in the routine. If there isn’t, I feel that the routine is inferior as I believe that it leaves “room in the tank” in terms of hip strengthening and glute development. So I feel that you SHOULD write about hip thrust variations! However, I’ll still like you and hang out with you even if you don’t hip thrust. 🙂

To reiterate, PLEASE write about the hip thrust. If you like my work and you like the hip thrust, then the best thing you could do for me is to “spread the word” by writing or talking about it. I want the exercise to become as popular as possible since I believe it’s so effective. Feel free to make your own recommendations as to form, exercise order, set and rep schemes, etc. I’d prefer for you to call it the hip thrust but I’ve seen hip lift, glute thrust, glute press up, shoulder elevated hip lift, elevated barbell bridge, etc. I’ve even heard some refer to it as the “Contreras hip thrust.” Feel free to name it whatever you want, feel free to film a Youtube video discussing form, feel free to write a damn eBook about it if you feel compelled. Nobody owns the rights to a way to move the human body! All I ask is that you don’t pretend to have created the exercise. That’s just annoying.

Last, if you get a question about the hip thrust, you may want to point beginners to my Youtube video discussing form so first-time male thrusters don’t slap on 315 lbs and try the hip thrust (or so first-time female thrusters don’t slap on 135 lbs and try the hip thrust). Deadlifts encourage lumbar flexion; hip thrusts encourage lumbar extension. You wouldn’t try to deadlift 315 lbs on your very first attempt, nor should you try to hip thrust 315 lbs on your very first attempt. You must learn to control the lumbar spine and move at the hips. Failing to do so will result in injury. Master bodyweight first, then move up gradually in weight.

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Gluteal Goddess Workout

Since she’d seen such bootiful results, I recently convinced one of my female online training clients to come to BCSC (aka Bret’s Garage) and let me film her training session. It wasn’t a big deal as she lives about 30 minutes away from me. Her name is Kellie Davis, and let me tell you she has one hell of a backside! Here’s a close-up:

Relax tigers! She’s happily married. Kellie recently begun figure modeling and has quickly transformed her physique. She hasn’t even been training for two years and she already looks better than most figure models who have been training for half their lives. What’s her secret? Getting strong at the best exercises!

I had never trained Kellie in person but I’d seen her workout journals and some video clips of her training. I wanted to know how her form looked when going heavy. This was a great experience for both of us as she received some good feedback on her form and I received some good training clips to illustrate that a strong booty equals a nice booty.

All in all I was very impressed with her form and natural strength levels. Most video clips I get from online clients are absolutely atrocious…anterior weight shift, valgus collapse, coming up onto forefeet, folding like an accordion, rounding the low back, not using full ROM, etc. So Kellie’s form is very good considering that she’s never yet worked with a trainer in person. I told her she needs to work on keeping her neck in neutral position during squats and deadlifts (many women find this difficult as it feels normal to them…they’ve developed some sort of ingrained extensor reflex that requires them to move down in weight when they try to fix the problem), lift more smoothly rather than jerky on the first rep of the deadlift, push through her heels during her inital rep of hip thrusts, use slightly more ROM down low in the hip thrust, and use slightly less ROM up top during back extensions. I didn’t get to experiment much with foot positioning on squats but she may find squatting easier if she flared her feet more and “sat” in between her hips.

What’s great is that you can tell that Kellie knows how to use her glutes. You can really see them kicking in during her back extensions and pendulum quadruped hip extensions.

A beginner female glute workout (assuming she’s relatively fit) at BCSC might consist of:

bodyweight box squats 2 x 20
bodyweight double leg Skorcher hip thrusts 2 x 20
bodyweight walking lunges 2 x 20
bodyweight 45 degree hypers 2 x 20

Over time we keep going up in the three R’s: repetitions, range of motion, and resistance. When someone can do 20 reps of something, I move them up in ROM (for example – go higher on step ups, go lower on box squats, etc.) or add resistance (for example – have them hold onto a dumbbell in the goblet position during box squats, place a barbell in their lap during hip thrusts, etc.). When the time is right, I introduce new exercises and exercise variations.

An advanced glute workout at BCSC might consist of:

barbell full squats 2 x 8
barbell deadlifts 2 x 5
barbell hip thrusts 2 x 10
weighted back extensions 2 x 20
dumbbell walking lunges 2 x 20

In subsequent workouts, I may substitute box squats or front squats for full squats. I may substitute hex bar deadlifts, good mornings, Romanian deadlifts, or single leg RDL’s for deadlifts. I may substitute barbell glute bridges, single leg hip thrusts, or pendulum quadruped hip extensions for barbell hip thrusts. I may substitute weighted 45 degree hypers, band 45 degree hypers, reverse hypers, or single leg back extensions for weighted back extensions. Finally, I may substitute high step ups, Bulgarian squats, reverse lunges, or pistols for dumbbell walking lunges. Sometimes I get creative and throw in band hip rotations, band seated abductions, sled pushes, kettlebell swings, etc.

The idea is to become very strong over time. Kellie has gotten much stronger and her glutes have responded quite favorably to this increased strength. Here’s a video of her workout.

225 lb hip thrusts! That just happened. Kellie’s glutes are stronger than those of most men. If all women trained like this, the world would be a much better place!

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Before you read this blogpost, watch this video. This is the most important aspect of this post. In the middle of the post I’ll discuss some technical points about form. At the end of the post I’ll offer some practical pointers.

Moving along…something really cool happened today. Jamie Eason Twittered and Facebooked about me.

Now, I believe that I already have one of the most popular blogs in the strength training industry. In just ten months I’ve built my blog up to over 12,000 readers per week. Most days I have well over 2,000 readers. The best thing is that my blog readership keeps growing. I’ve worked my ass off on this blog and I’m very proud of its popularity.

However, my popularity pales in comparison to Jamie Eason. She has over 8,000 Twitter followers and 10,000 Facebook fans, compared to my 333 and 1,942, respectively. In case you don’t know who Jamie Eason is, she’s probably the most popular figure model in the world. Actually I don’t believe that she does much figure modeling anymore but I believe she’s on the cover of more fitness magazines than any other model. Here’s a link to her website. Many of my female clients will tell me, “I want to look just like Jamie Eason,” to which I reply, “Honey, I’m good, but I’m no magician!” I kid, I kid…

If you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ll recognize Jamie as I try to find a way to sneak in pics of her whenever possible. The visits to my blog reached an all-time high today thanks to Jamie. On the one hand, this made me very happy. And now’s a good time to officially say thank you very much to Jaime. However, after some investigation, I became quite annoyed. Here are the reasons why:

Bodybuilders Are Extremely Egocentric! (This Does Not Apply to Jamie – She’s Perfect!)

I’ll be the first to admit that I love bodybuilding. I follow bodybuilding, I read Muscular Development ever month, and I study hypertrophy-based training extensively. However, I can count on one hand the bodybuilders or bodybuilding-style trainers who know jack squat about biomechanics and/or sport-specific training. Most think that there’s only one way to train and don’t understand how to adapt exercise selection, form, tempo, exercise order, periodization, frequency, volume, intensity, density, and intensiveness in order to elicit the proper biochemical response. These acute training variables will vary depending on the goal of the trainee. They scrutinize over athlete’s form out of ignorance; the athlete is trying to be explosive, etc.

As a matter of fact this experience just reminds me that I should have my own column in Muscular Development or even Oxygen so I could help teach lifters and trainers the truth.

Jamie’s First Post

Jamie’s first post on her Facebook fan page was this video along with a comment that said, “A Favorite Glute Exercise of Mine.”

As most of my readers know, this is a video of my 13 year old niece Gabrielle. I’ve been training Gaby once a week for the past ten months or so and she already has stronger glutes than 99% of grown women. She’s the best volleyball player at her school and I suspect the fastest runner too. Last time I measured she had a 22 inch vertical jump and that was a while back. She’s strong, powerful, quick, and agile.

I was very disappointed after reading some of the comments on Jamie’s Facebook page after she posted her link. Although many comments were positive, here were all of the negative comments:

Their Comments

• I wish she’d turn her toes straight… and set the weights down with more control…

• Is it really good form to be letting the weight drop back on your spine like that? I would think lowering the weight and using slow and controlled form, really squeezing your glutes would be the most beneficial.

• Any and all eccentric contractions (i.e lowering the weight) should always be slow and controlled. This is where you are doing the most “damage” to your muscle fibers, and hence causing the most muscle repair to occur, resulting in muscle gain. I’m sure Jamie was just using this video as an example to demonstrate the exercise, not as a baseline for perfect form. As with any exercise, you should start with a weight that is comfortable for you. If those are 45lb plates, she is doing hip thrusts with 135 pounds, hardly appropriate for someone just beginning the exercise. I would start with the 45lb bar alone and execute with perfect form 🙂

• That looks like it hurts the neck/shoulder area! I’m sure it’s beneficial, though. It just looks painful. HAHA. I bet it’s a great workout.

• This method seems better if your concerned about your spine. (I’ll post the link he showed later in the blog – a link to a Smith Machine hip thrust).

• Some saw me doing that and showed me something is I think is also good. Place shoulders on a ball. One leg off the floor while one leg dips your butt down and ten back up while pushing high at the top. It also helps with balance.

My Responses

I will respond to each one of these as quickly as possible.

• It’s okay to point the feet straight, but it’s also okay to flare slightly. Her hips are abducted slightly to give her a stable base (which we usually do in a squat), and her feet follow the natural path of her thighs. Her knees are tracking just fine. There’s no danger in how Gabrielle is performing the movement. The problem is that bodybuilding-types think there’s only one way to do things. While bodybuilders usually point their feet straight ahead on lower body movements, powerlifters usually squat and sumo deadlift with their feet flared. When I coach the hip thrust, I’m not nit-picky about foot flare as I want the exerciser to feel comfortable and natural. As long as there isn’t considerable flare, there’s no need to worry.

• Slow eccentrics always? I won’t belabor this point much more, but there are many ways to skin a cat. Many bodybuilders usually like to perform slow eccentrics. Ironically, I have videos of many top bodybuilders and they perform fast repetitions; both concentric and eccentric, and many don’t use a full ROM. This method works great for “constant tension” and hypertrophy. T-Muscle rockstar Christian Thibaudeau has written about the benefits of fast eccentric training for years. Here’s a quote from an article he wrote a while back:

A fast yielding phase: by lowering the bar or your body faster you produce more kinetic energy. There is actually some research to back up this technique, not that the results from the Westside powerlifting crew doesn’t already speak volume for the its efficacy! For example a study by Farthing and Chilibeck (2003) found that “eccentric fast training is the most effective for muscle hypertrophy and strength gain“. This is in accordance with the findings of Paddon-Jones et al. (2001) that following a fast eccentric training program led to a decrease in type I fibers (from 53.8% to 39.1%) while type IIb fiber percentage increased (from 5.8% to 12.9%). In contrast, the slow eccentric group did not experience significant changes in muscle fibre type or muscle torque.

• Any and all eccentric contractions should always be performed slow and controlled? I guess we should never play sports! Never do any plyometrics! Never try to improve reactive strength or stiffness! Again, this is an example of a bodybuilder thinking that there’s only one way to do things. They have no clue as to what we do as strength coaches.

• People should start out with 45 lbs? What if that’s too much for them? I believe that people should start out with bodyweight resistance, which is where many “out of shape” people belong.

• It does not hurt the shoulder/neck area.

• The method you posted is not better for your spine. The way Gaby was doing it is better for your spine. Gabrielle does not hyperextend her low back; she keeps it in neutral. In the video you posted, too much of the girl’s upper back is on the bench which will cause her low back to hyperextend.

• Don’t use a stability ball for hip thrusts. It decreases prime mover activation by decreasing stability and spreading much of the upper back’s surface area out over the ball thereby decreasing the lever length. I confirmed this in my EMG studies.

• The stability ball does not improve balance. While the research is eqivocal, stability balls appear to get you balancing better on stability balls, not the ground. And last time I checked nearly every client who has ever asked me to train them said they wanted a better physique, more strength, more conditioning, or better overall health, not better balance. A stable hip thrust will improve balance over what a stability ball hip thrust because it will allow for maximum glute strengthening.

Jamie’s Second Post

In Jamie’s second post, she linked this video and said this comment: “I showed that hip thrust video just because I love that exercise and I was impressed that she was 13. But, yes, her form is not the best and technique not the safest, as Natalie and Tony mentioned. So here is a great demo that Tony shared, using the smith machine. (Holding dumbbells on each hip can work as well).”

This was the same video as the guy in the previous post had linked. If you watch the video, you’ll see that his name is John Parillo. John claims to have created the exercise and even renamed it the “Parillo Pelvic Pushes.” I wasn’t even cocky enough to name the exercise the “Contreras Hip Thrust”…although some of my colleagues refer to it as that…and I’m the inventor!

Lots of people thrusted and bridged in the past but nobody ever used a loaded barbell until I came up with the movements and popularized them via my TMuscle articles, StrengthCoach.com articles, Youtube videos, eBook, and bloposts. Now I see all of these trainers copying my methods and claiming to have created the exercise. I don’t mind this too much as my goal is for the exercise to spread in popularity and benefit as many people as possible. I want other trainers to talk about it, write about it, and film videos of it. I just get annoyed when they pretend that they are the creators. It’s not in my moral inventory to do something like that.

I could have Gaby use 95 lbs and go super slow so the bodybuilding crowd would be satisfied but first of all I’m training Gaby for sports purposes and second of all even if I was training Gaby for hypertrophy purposes fast lifting is shown to be more effective than slow lifting. The key is fast lifting while under control, which I believe Gaby was doing.

Here are the comments that came from this video:

Their Comments

• sorry for harassing! 🙂 I like these two much more!

• she def needs to slow down her movements; which will improve the tension on the muscle, and the slower she moves the more she will work the muscle groups-Plus it will get rid of the jerking motion she makes at the end of each thrust that could hurt her back if she is not careful

My Responses

• You like the smith machine version more? I’m certainly no “machine hater” but the smith machine may alter kinematics and therefore be more dangerous and less effective.

• Why does she need to slow down? Is there only one way to do things? How will it improve tension on the muscle? When you accelerate the bar you create more tension.

• The slower she moves the more she will work the muscle groups? Somebody kill me right now! I thought that “super-slow training” was extinct…apparently there are still some die-hards trying to resurrect it. If you want to activate as many high-threshold motor units (HTMU’s) as possible, you must lift with the intent to move fast. I tell people to control the weight so they don’t spring up too quickly with their hamstrings and fail to use the glutes at lockout, but I never tell people to lift as slow as possible. Not trying to be rude, but that’s just idiotic! Science has done away with this theory. Regardless of science, that’s not even what any of the top bodybuilders do, nor the powerlifters, nor the weightlifters, nor the strongmen, nor the athletes. Do you buy DVD’s, watch Youtube, or dare I say read any journals?

• I don’t see any jerky-motion. Maybe I’m blind. How is this un-safe for the low back? Please tell me the mechanisms of injury. Is she flexing the lumbar spine? No, so no disc herniations. Is she hyperextending the low back? It appears she might at the bottom of the lift due to the majority of her upper back being placed on the bench (not how I teach it), but she definitely doesn’t hyperextend up top like you suggest. So no damage to the posterior elements of the lumbar spine. You could argue about spinal load but if you go that route then I’ll make you be consistent with your approach and therefore you’ll have to take nearly every great exercise out of your program due to spinal loading. Remember the load on the spine comes from both external loading as well as “internal” loading via contractions of muscles that are connected to the spine.

Jamie’s Third Post

In Jamie’s third post she posted this video along with this quote: “Here is one I found with really great form and control. Really squeeze at the top.”

I know that bodybuilders avoid low reps like the plague, but in Gaby’s defense she was using a 3-RM load. It’s much tougher to use great form when going this heavy. We go this heavy because I’m training Gaby for sport purposes and we’re teaching her body to explode. In Gaby’s video, she ramps up her nervous system and contracts a ton of motor units all at once to perform the lift. This is why she’s getting so fast and explosive. We do squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, sprints, plyos, etc. which all influence the nervous system and cause adaptations. This is how you train an athlete!

I like the lady’s form in the video but first, she’s using training plates (light weight), and second, I believe her form could still be better. From what I can see, she could still learn how to use the glutes a little more.

Their Comments

• I do a similar exercise, and it is GREAT for the butt. The one I do, you have your shoulders on a stability ball instead of a bench, and you do 12 reps then hold it up for a 12 count.. Do that 3 or 4 times without ever dropping to the ground. It’s a killer! But you definitely don’t want to start with too much weight regardless of how you do this exercise. You have to work your way up.

• Im going to assume this works abs too.

• much better control and contraction and she is using training weights not 45’s…

• So I tried it…I found it difficult to balance the bar on my hips and even with the pad, the bar was pretty uncomfortable on my hips. I felt it in my low back a little afterwards…but I’ll try it again

• It works the abs more if you use the stability ball instead of the bench.

• Could be dangerous without the correct form!

My Response

• Ahhhhhh! Don’t use a darn stability ball! If you want nice glutes you need strong glutes. Tell me how in the hell you’re going to use a lot of weight while using a stability ball. If you want nice quads do you squat on a Bosu ball? If so then you’re stupid and I can’t talk to you. The glutes like stability. Read my EMG research in my eBook or in some of my articles and maybe it will all begin to make sense. I have more dramatic before-and-after pictures than anyone in the field in terms of glute shaping results so I’m pretty sure that no one is getting better glute-results than me. No one! I’ve never once had a client of mine use a stability ball for hip thrusts.

• It does not work the abs much. The abs don’t have to brace much to stabilize the spine in this movement. Stabilization of the spine has more to do with glute strength and proper hip motion than core contraction in the hip thrust. I know this because I tested the EMG activity in many different muscles while performing the movement on multiple individuals.

• Again, Gaby was using 155 lbs and she weights 105 lbs at 13 years old. She was performing a 3RM. The girl in this pic is using much lighter weight and is not receiving nearly as much glute activation as the woman in the video. In my eBook I show the amount of glute activation you get with various percentages of loads.

• It’s definitely uncomfortable on the hips, which is why I recommend getting a Hampton thick bar pad. It makes the exercise pain-free, you won’t feel a thing. My clients have never performed a set of hip thrusts without the Hampton thick bar pad.

• If you feel it in your back you’re doing it incorrectly. We strength coaches spend a great deal of time with newer athletes teaching them the difference between lumbar ROM and hip ROM. We get them to activate their glutes, move at the hips, and keep their low back in neutral. When people have weak glutes, they create what’s know as “false hip extension” as their synergists must pick up the slack so the erector spinae and hamstrings take over. Great glute activation can take time. In bodybuilding it’s know as the “mind-muscle connection.”

• The hip thrust doesn’t work more abs when on a stability ball! I did the research. Stop spreading mistruths. When you use the ball you can’t use a lot of weight. I get my clients great asses because they get strong! It’s not about pumping away with bodyweight or pink dumbbells and bouncing around on stability balls. This is serious business. You need to learn to lift heavy via progressive overload.

• Every exercise could be dangerous without good form. At the end of this blogpost I’ll teach you how to do the exercise correctly.

Conclusion

If you want to know about the hip thrust, listen to the inventor – yours truly. I’ve been doing this movement myself and with clients for almost four years now. I know how to get people really strong by gradually progressing and ensuring good form. If you want to learn about good form when going heavy, consult a strength coach (CSCS), not a bodybuilder. Better yet, come ask me. I’ve read nearly ever journal article ever written on the glutes. I’ve performed more EMG studies than any other individual on the glutes. I’ve created more innovative glute exercises than any other individual. And I’ve done more for advancing the effectiveness of “glute training” than any other individual.

As strength coaches our methods will differ from bodybuilding. I study sport-specific training, bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and strongman training. I also read journals and textbooks, attend seminars, and try to learn as much biomechanics, physical therapy, and physiology as humanly possible. If there was someone else who knew more about the hip thrust than me then I’d consult them…but there isn’t!

Here are some basic rules about the hip thrust:

1. Master bodyweight before adding extra weight. Move up in gradual increments over time.

2. Place the upper back against the bench in the same spot you place the barbell when you squat (low bar position). Don’t place the upper back too high on the bench as it will decrease the exercise’s effectiveness by decreasing the lever arm length.

3. Don’t allow the lumbar spine to flex or hyperextend; brace the abs slightly and move solely at the hips; not the low back.

4. The knees should be at right angles at the top of the movement. Make sure the knees aren’t too wobbly and aren’t squirming around during the movement.

5. Push through the heels and don’t come up onto the toes during the movement.

6. Variety is good; heavy weight for low reps, medium weight for medium reps, light weight for high reps, pause hip thrusts, explosive hip thrusts, single leg hip thrusts, etc.

7. Don’t let the bench slide back. Some don’t need to anchor the bench (depending on how much the bench weighs), while others do. I always anchor mine so it doesn’t move.

8. Most important – buy a Hampton thick bar pad! No pain on the hips – ever.

Best of luck readers! I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

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Megan Fox’s Butt

When I saw this photo last year, I instantly fell in love with Megan Fox.

She became my dream-girl overnight. You can say all you want about her personality, blah, blah, blah. Personality is overrated. You can imagine my disappointment when I came across these pictures the other day!

Say It Ain’t So!

Megan Fox’s butt sucks! When I saw these I felt like the dejected 1920’s schoolboy who just found out that Shoeless Joe Jackson was involved in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. “Say it Ain’t So, Joe!”

How can one of the hottest girls in the world NOT have a great butt? She’s rich! She’s already thin. It would be so easy! Ugh! Give me two months to train Megan and I will have her butt looking unbelievable. This would translate into millions of dollars for her over the course of her career. And once her booty was “Gluteus Magnificus,” it’s quite easy to maintain. Building it is much harder than keeping it.

I am quickly becoming known as the “World’s Greatest Glute Sculptor” for good reason. Not a single individual on Earth has combed through the literature pertaining to the glutes, conducted EMG experiments on the glutes, and created glute exercises and protocols like I have.

Online Clients

I have two online clients I’d like to mention right now. I should also mention that I’m not even training these two people in person. If I was, they’d see even better results!

Kellie Davis

The first is figure competitor Kellie Davis. Kellie first began training 18 months ago and performed a combination of strength training (bodypart split, supersets, giant sets), plyometrics, and low-intensity cardio. Kellie started training with me just over 2 months ago where we dropped the cardio and plyos and focused on progressive overload via upper/lower splits 6 days/week. In the final month we dropped the volume and frequency (upper/lower splits 4 days/week) while maintaining intensity and adding in two 20-minute HIIT sessions per week. No extreme dieting measures and no low-intensity cardio has been used in our training. Kellie takes no sports supplements or performance enhancing drugs. Not even creatine!

Here is Kellie’s transformation in the past 18 months:

Pretty damn astounding! The picture on the left was taken 18 months ago and the two pictures on the right were taken very recently. Kellie had trained for 16 months on her own and had seen unbelievable results. She came to me two months ago and her butt has gotten even better in such a short period of time. Here are her results from two months ago. Each row was taken around two weeks apart.

Of course, she already had a nice butt and hamstrings prior to training with me, but now they’re even better. They’re definitely her strong point!

Ian Mills

The second online client is Olympic Skeleton hopeful Ian Mills. He’s been lifting heavy weights for quite some time now, performing squats, deadlifts, cleans, split squats, plyos, and sprints. So his glutes were already developed. However, I added barbell glute bridges, hip thrusts, and pendulum quadruped hip extensions into his routine. In the past two months, here are some of Ian’s comments to me (which he sent via email):

“I caught my wife staring at my butt today and when I looked at her she says, “Wow! where’d you get that butt”? So I say with a look of obviousness, “Bret, my trainer, he’s the Glute Guy!”

“There is a neat phenomenon that happens when I do pendulum quadruped hip extensions/weighted donkey kicks. Without getting too out of breath, I break out into a crazy sweat when doing this movement…..I love it. So powerful! And it correlates perfectly with how I push my skeleton sled”

“Since starting on your program, the intensity of isometric contractions and muscle density in my glutes and hamstrings has gone through the roof…and I can still touch my nose to my knees! This program gives me the confidence that my glutes will fire properly and my hamstrings will stay healthy when I do my all out speed workouts”

“I am totally starting to notice my increased glute firing/contraction force while sprinting. I can seriously feel my hips being thrust forward when I am running tall…its wicked. I wonder if the hip thrusts have anything to do with it :)”

If I had a dollar for every client who told me that they feel running more in their glutes after performing my exercises for a couple of months I’d march my ass right on down to Sizzler! I get emails and Facebook emails almost daily telling me how glute bridges and hip thrusts are helping people’s glute strength and glute appearance tremendously.

In fact, here’s a message from my Facebook friend Keda Ley:

“FYI Your hip thrusts have literally saved my ass. I thought it was damned to eternal atrophy, but it has literally bounced back. I’ve gone from 38″ to 40″ (I’m not a small girl), while my waist has remained the same, which only means one thing: booty meat! LOL”

Bret’s Rules for Rapid Glute Hypertrophy Results

1. Make sure the hip flexors aren’t tight. Tight hip flexors inhibits the gluteus maximus neurally and mechanically

2. Make sure the glutes are activating properly via proper hip extension rather than “false hip extension” or lumbar extension/anterior pelvic tilt

3. Prescribe stable exercises first, worry about unstable exercises down the road if you want

4 No Swiss balls! The glutes like stability

5. No pull-throughs (have you ever seen someone use any decent load with a pull-through? The hip thrust kicks the holy hell out of the pull through)

6. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, back extensions, and pendulum quadruped hip extensions are good. Barbell hip thrusts and barbell glute bridges are great!

7. Constant tension is paramount

8. Most important factor – get very strong in higher rep ranges at barbell glute bridges and hip thrusts. These are the two best glute hypertrophy exercises

9. Glute machines are okay if in a gym (although the pendulum underneath the reverse hyper beats any machine)

10. No kettlebell swings or single leg RDL’s. Again, we want stability and constant tension. Provide a stable base, get strong, and trap the blood in the glutes to release muscle building growth factors, hormones, and cytokines. Nothing against these lifts but for beginners seeking rapid glute results they’re not optimal.

My 13 year old niece’s glutes are stronger than plenty of men’s, and she only trains with me one day per week (for the past 8 months).

Advice for fellow fitness folks trying to deliver great glutes:

Learn from the strength coaches and physical therapists and use proper form and proper progressions (gradual).

Learn from bodybuilders and form an intense mind-muscle connection and get strong in medium to higher rep ranges (especially for the gluteus maximus which is a 60% slow twitch muscle). Finally, seek the pump which is possible with hip thrust and barbell glute bridges. The pump is great for hypertrophy!

Train like an athlete in terms of exercise selection and frequency (but use higher rep ranges) and train like a bodybuilder in terms of volume and methods (but use better glute exercises).

If I was in L.A. I’d be going after all the female celebrities and transforming their butts left and right. So there you have it! More glute tips from The Glute Guy.

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