T Nation

Bret Contreras Article?


#1

I could swear I just read an article from Bret Contreras that goes into depth on the progression and exercise selection one would undergo to properly activate and utilize the glutes. Going from bodyweight work, to assistance exercises and then on to full hip thrusts and bridges. I can't seem to find this anymore, did I imagine the whole thing or has it been taken down for some reason?


#2

It was on Facebook. Where I saw it.

Fuzz


#3

Will this help you squat 425 pounds at 242, opie? THINK HARD


#4

Thanks Fuzzyapple, I forgot it was on facebook, ha!

And uh…ok Heavytriple…


#5

[quote]rholdnr wrote:
Thanks Fuzzyapple, I forgot it was on facebook, ha!

And uh…ok Heavytriple…[/quote]
Consider your source when you’re talking about a guy who claims that the glute bridge is the best thing since sliced bread and does over 600 pounds on it but is somehow a terrible squatter who can’t properly finish his hips when maxing.


#6

Wait, Bret Contreras is writing articles about glutes now…?


#7

stumbled upon this from RDL Fitness this morning, looking for something completely unrelated… needs some grains:

[quote]
Avoid the Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is a bridge with more range of motion, which comes from elevating the back on a bench. You can also lay a weight across the hips to add a load such as with the barbell hip thrust.

The hip thrust has caught on as one of the best exercises for developing the butt and to boost sprinting power.

Like many concepts that gain traction in fitness, the hip thrust has spread for reasons beyond just its value. A guru will present some research and combine it with sheer repetition, repeating their points on as many sources as possible. Their business-minded buddies then endlessly praise it so the idea takes hold. This sways the masses and it sticks.

The hip thrust goes against our anatomy and biomechanics. The argument for this and a whole host of similar yet bad exercises tends to go as follows:

Isolation allows for a better contraction.
The exercise primes the muscle for a more functional movement.
It addresses the muscle in a special way, perhaps with a different loading pattern throughout the range of motion or some change in position.

These arguments have major flaws.

Any exercise that works a muscle through enough range of motion will lead to lactate buildup though. This may cause a feeling of effectiveness, but that hardly makes it worthwhile. Consider these reasons to avoid the hip thrust.
Reasons

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

  • Oscar Wilde

    It allows active insufficiency of the hamstrings and calves.

Active insufficiency gives us a clear signal of how poorly this exercise works.

Your muscles have an ideal length. They operate strongest in the middle portion of any functional movement. They form more connections here due to allowing a better overlap for your contraction sites. At the endpoints of any motion, the sites that allow for these connections stretch too far apart or overcrowd like a ball of yarn. Although you may feel stronger or weaker at the endpoints, these positions always involve less tension. Tension is the main stimulus for size and strength.

This does not always occur at resting length, at least in a non-laboratory setting. For example, the resting length of your biceps when assuming anatomical position is a stretched and suboptimal position. When you stand, your glutes rest in a shortened state. This calls into question any favorable comparison between this position and the hip thrust.

The hamstrings attach to the hips and knees. During normal movements, you shorten the muscle over one joint and lengthen over the other. This maintains the ideal length to create tension. With a non-functional movement such as the hip thrust, you shorten the muscle over more than one joint. This allows too much slack. This can cause the muscles to cramp. Your body would never allow you into this position, unless you make it do otherwise.

The large calf muscles attach to the ankles and the knees. When you hip thrust on your toes, they also bunch up. They shorten over both the knee and ankle.

Experts will try to spin this as an advantage. You do not get a better contraction by minimizing involvement of these muscles. You get a harmful exercise. Muscles actually contract harder when allowed to work together. The best exercises work our muscles relative to how they had to overcome gravity.

The hamstrings and possibly the calves attempt to contribute during the hip thrust, so you cannot merely turn them off. You risk injury by allowing active insufficiency.

The weight fails to match the strength curve.

The hip thrust loads the glutes as they bunch up. This is a bad effect from too much range of motion on any exercise, loading the working muscles about the same even at this weak moment. You may hip thrust a decent weight because of the short moment arm, but this matters not since it loads the muscles ineffectively.

It relies upon a dangerous setup.

When loading the hip thrust, the barbell, even with a pad, rests on the vulnerable bone of the front hip without much muscle support.

It encourages hyperextension of the spine and hip.

Just because your muscles can move through a range of motion does not mean you should load it throughout that full range.

Hip thrusts lead to hyperextension of the hip. Loading hyperextension can place harmful forces on the joints due to the weak position.

Hyperextension may feel like a powerful contraction due to the bulge you see and feel when your butt tenses up, but this results from shortened fibers that actually produce less force. Hyperextension may happen during sprinting in the final phase but you do not propel yourself from this position. Hyperextension only exists for repositioning, like a leg extension to move your foot or overhead movements with your hand.

Hyperextension of the lower back especially must never occur. You should maintain a neutral back during all exercises to stay safe.

The hip thrust can also cause a severe posterior pelvic tilt.

Hip thrusts encourage these mechanics by design.

It is a single-joint, isolation, non-functional exercise.

Isolation?

is inefficient.
places shearing forces on the joints.
allows less tension for growth.
avoids synergy, or when muscles work together for better performance.
creates muscle imbalances.

Some differences in activation for each portion of the glutes do exist. The upper and lower parts have different functions. They work together for hip extension though.

Skills are either specific or not at all. Hip thrust proponents claim they develop horizontal force development as occurs during sprinting. Instead you just use an exercise that develops these muscles less effectively. Become strong and transfer that strength toward sprinting. Achieve this by practicing sprinting itself.
Squat Instead of Using the Hip Thrust

The barbell squat will build up your butt and improve lower body power best since it also best addresses hip extension. Using good form then involves all the muscles in a balanced way. If you are worried about such concerns as lower back and knee stress along with CNS fatigue on squats then instead make sure you avoid overtraining.

Stay away from having an extensive list of exercises. You either work the muscle at a weaker or stronger length, with the best range existing close to the middle if you choose the right ones. The best movements involve many muscles and safely load the joints.

The squat will hit the whole lower body. If you need more stabilizer work, perform intervals with a functional movement or practice your sport. Ignore the hip thrust. [/quote]


#8

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
stumbled upon this from RDL Fitness this morning, looking for something completely unrelated… needs some grains:

[quote]
Avoid the Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is a bridge with more range of motion, which comes from elevating the back on a bench. You can also lay a weight across the hips to add a load such as with the barbell hip thrust.

The hip thrust has caught on as one of the best exercises for developing the butt and to boost sprinting power.

Like many concepts that gain traction in fitness, the hip thrust has spread for reasons beyond just its value. A guru will present some research and combine it with sheer repetition, repeating their points on as many sources as possible. Their business-minded buddies then endlessly praise it so the idea takes hold. This sways the masses and it sticks.

The hip thrust goes against our anatomy and biomechanics. The argument for this and a whole host of similar yet bad exercises tends to go as follows:

Isolation allows for a better contraction.
The exercise primes the muscle for a more functional movement.
It addresses the muscle in a special way, perhaps with a different loading pattern throughout the range of motion or some change in position.

These arguments have major flaws.

Any exercise that works a muscle through enough range of motion will lead to lactate buildup though. This may cause a feeling of effectiveness, but that hardly makes it worthwhile. Consider these reasons to avoid the hip thrust.
Reasons

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

  • Oscar Wilde

    It allows active insufficiency of the hamstrings and calves.

Active insufficiency gives us a clear signal of how poorly this exercise works.

Your muscles have an ideal length. They operate strongest in the middle portion of any functional movement. They form more connections here due to allowing a better overlap for your contraction sites. At the endpoints of any motion, the sites that allow for these connections stretch too far apart or overcrowd like a ball of yarn. Although you may feel stronger or weaker at the endpoints, these positions always involve less tension. Tension is the main stimulus for size and strength.

This does not always occur at resting length, at least in a non-laboratory setting. For example, the resting length of your biceps when assuming anatomical position is a stretched and suboptimal position. When you stand, your glutes rest in a shortened state. This calls into question any favorable comparison between this position and the hip thrust.

The hamstrings attach to the hips and knees. During normal movements, you shorten the muscle over one joint and lengthen over the other. This maintains the ideal length to create tension. With a non-functional movement such as the hip thrust, you shorten the muscle over more than one joint. This allows too much slack. This can cause the muscles to cramp. Your body would never allow you into this position, unless you make it do otherwise.

The large calf muscles attach to the ankles and the knees. When you hip thrust on your toes, they also bunch up. They shorten over both the knee and ankle.

Experts will try to spin this as an advantage. You do not get a better contraction by minimizing involvement of these muscles. You get a harmful exercise. Muscles actually contract harder when allowed to work together. The best exercises work our muscles relative to how they had to overcome gravity.

The hamstrings and possibly the calves attempt to contribute during the hip thrust, so you cannot merely turn them off. You risk injury by allowing active insufficiency.

The weight fails to match the strength curve.

The hip thrust loads the glutes as they bunch up. This is a bad effect from too much range of motion on any exercise, loading the working muscles about the same even at this weak moment. You may hip thrust a decent weight because of the short moment arm, but this matters not since it loads the muscles ineffectively.

It relies upon a dangerous setup.

When loading the hip thrust, the barbell, even with a pad, rests on the vulnerable bone of the front hip without much muscle support.

It encourages hyperextension of the spine and hip.

Just because your muscles can move through a range of motion does not mean you should load it throughout that full range.

Hip thrusts lead to hyperextension of the hip. Loading hyperextension can place harmful forces on the joints due to the weak position.

Hyperextension may feel like a powerful contraction due to the bulge you see and feel when your butt tenses up, but this results from shortened fibers that actually produce less force. Hyperextension may happen during sprinting in the final phase but you do not propel yourself from this position. Hyperextension only exists for repositioning, like a leg extension to move your foot or overhead movements with your hand.

Hyperextension of the lower back especially must never occur. You should maintain a neutral back during all exercises to stay safe.

The hip thrust can also cause a severe posterior pelvic tilt.

Hip thrusts encourage these mechanics by design.

It is a single-joint, isolation, non-functional exercise.

Isolation?

is inefficient.
places shearing forces on the joints.
allows less tension for growth.
avoids synergy, or when muscles work together for better performance.
creates muscle imbalances.

Some differences in activation for each portion of the glutes do exist. The upper and lower parts have different functions. They work together for hip extension though.

Skills are either specific or not at all. Hip thrust proponents claim they develop horizontal force development as occurs during sprinting. Instead you just use an exercise that develops these muscles less effectively. Become strong and transfer that strength toward sprinting. Achieve this by practicing sprinting itself.
Squat Instead of Using the Hip Thrust

The barbell squat will build up your butt and improve lower body power best since it also best addresses hip extension. Using good form then involves all the muscles in a balanced way. If you are worried about such concerns as lower back and knee stress along with CNS fatigue on squats then instead make sure you avoid overtraining.

Stay away from having an extensive list of exercises. You either work the muscle at a weaker or stronger length, with the best range existing close to the middle if you choose the right ones. The best movements involve many muscles and safely load the joints.

The squat will hit the whole lower body. If you need more stabilizer work, perform intervals with a functional movement or practice your sport. Ignore the hip thrust. [/quote][/quote]

That guy’s a clown.


#9

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

That guy’s a clown.
[/quote]

That was kind of my impression. There’s a couple good points, but still…
I saw that a lot of his articles were just “Don’t do [anything besides squats, DL, bench, etc.]”

I still figured the timing of this post and my stumbling upon it warranted something.


#10

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:

[quote]knokkelezoute73 wrote:

That guy’s a clown.
[/quote]

That was kind of my impression. There’s a couple good points, but still…
I saw that a lot of his articles were just “Don’t do [anything besides squats, DL, bench, etc.]”

I still figured the timing of this post and my stumbling upon it warranted something.[/quote]
I mean he may be a clown, but compared to contreras…


#11

It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.

And this guy released a book on powerlifting???


#12

[quote]dt79 wrote:
It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.

And this guy released a book on powerlifting???[/quote]

I thought he squatted as assistance to his hip thrust.


#13

[quote]dt79 wrote:
It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.
[/quote]

While I get the sentiment, your quote shows a lack of understanding of the bio-mechanics of the Big 3.

Anyway, I agree that Bret isn’t the sharpest but he is far from the worst “fitness” writers. His biggest mistake is overselling the whole glute stuff. Instead of just saying that doing hip thrusts could be a useful exercise, he went full-retard about it.

OP: Just do some hip thrusts - shit isn’t so hard.


#14

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:

[quote]dt79 wrote:
It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.
[/quote]

While I get the sentiment, your quote shows a lack of understanding of the bio-mechanics of the Big 3.
[/quote]

Explain please.


#15

You can lift more weight on the hip thrust because of the short moment arm and other obvious reasons. The weight you use in one movement versus another has nothing to do with the usefulness of the first.

The fact that he hip thrusts much heavier than waaaay more proficient squatters while still being unable to properly use his glutes on the bench (leg drive) or on the squat shows that the movement in itself isn’t magical, but that in no way means its not useful.

[quote]dt79 wrote:
It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.

And this guy released a book on powerlifting???[/quote]


#16

[quote]jeremielemauvais wrote:
??? You can lift more weight on the hip thrust because of the short moment arm and other obvious reasons. The weight you use in one movement versus another has nothing to do with the usefulness of the first.

The fact that he hip thrusts much heavier than waaaay more proficient squatters while still being able to properly use his glutes on the bench (leg drive) or on the squat shows that the movement in itself isn’t magical, but that in no way means its not useful.

[quote]dt79 wrote:
It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.

And this guy released a book on powerlifting???[/quote]
[/quote]
Oh, I’d say it’s pretty much useless. Bird dogs and glute bridges without any added weight during warmups will get the glutes properly activated, IMO.


#17

[quote]jeremielemauvais wrote:
??? You can lift more weight on the hip thrust because of the short moment arm and other obvious reasons. The weight you use in one movement versus another has nothing to do with the usefulness of the first.

The fact that he hip thrusts much heavier than waaaay more proficient squatters while still being able to properly use his glutes on the bench (leg drive) or on the squat shows that the movement in itself isn’t magical, but that in no way means its not useful.

[quote]dt79 wrote:
It would be unbelieveably stupid to keep doing hip thrusts as an assistance exercise if it ends up exceeding your squat.

And this guy released a book on powerlifting???[/quote]
[/quote]

I didn’t write that the hip thrust is useless.

My point is if you are essentially turning the hip thrust into a max effort exercise such that you lift nearly 200lbs more than your squat, something is wrong somewhere.

It is not about an exercise, it is about how the person does an exercise and the benefits derived from it.


#18

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
Instead of just saying that doing hip thrusts could be a useful exercise, he went full-retard about it.[/quote]

Made me lol. I was sold into starting to do hip thrusts to get that posterior pelvic tilt at the top of the movement. I always had a severe case of duck-butt after squatting, but adding in a few sets of moderate weight hip thrusts (5-10 reps worth) helped even that out.

[quote]HeavyTriple wrote:
Oh, I’d say it’s pretty much useless. Bird dogs and glute bridges without any added weight during warmups will get the glutes properly activated, IMO. [/quote]

Aren’t hip thrusts just glute bridges with your back elevated? What’s the advantage of doing glute bridges instead of unweighted hip thrusts?


#19

I think that would do the job just as well. Point being that loading up weight on either movement won’t do anything useful.


#20

[quote]HeavyTriple wrote:
Oh, I’d say it’s pretty much useless. Bird dogs and glute bridges without any added weight during warmups will get the glutes properly activated, IMO. [/quote]

I think you are missing the point here. Hip thrusts aren’t meant to be done for “activation” purposes but rather glute hypertrophy. I think Bret’s EMG evidence is rather compelling in that regard. However, the vast anecdotal evidence suggest that the traditional lifts done with proper form are more than enough for producing big butts.