#16 The story behind the hip thrust and how to build better glutes with Bret Contreras



In this episode, I am speaking to coach, researcher, author, and owner of The Glute Lab, Bret Contreras. Bret is the go-to guy for all things glutes, he has a Ph.D. in Sports Science and is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist with over 20 years experience in the industry. 

In this episode we discussed…

  • how Bret became known as the Glute Guy and where the barbell hip thrust came from
  • how he has amassed over 1 million followers on Instagram and the dark side of that
  • advice for people getting started with the barbell hip thrust
  • a few of his own client case studies and how glute strength can carry over to other lifts
  • tackling muscle imbalances 
  • the role of banded glute work 
  • how often to train glutes
  • what he sees as the most underrated glute exercise
  • and how his bachelor degree in education has helped him as a coach

Bret can be found on Twitter @bretcontreras and on Instagram @bretcontreras1

Youtube video "How often to train glutes" 

Bret's Website: https://bretcontreras.com/ 

Full Episode Transcription

Aoife 0:06
Hey guys, welcome to the Empower Her Fitness podcast. I'm your host Aoife, and this is episode number 16, where I will be chatting to the one and only glute guy, Mr. Bret Contreras. Before we began, I wanted to say thank you so much for joining me and listening to the show. If you're new here, welcome. Don't forget to hit subscribe so that you don't miss out on future episodes. Each week, I'll be discussing a different topic or strategy in relation to fitness and nutrition, with the aim of helping you to understand how to eat and train effectively for results without resorting to fad dieting. If you love what you hear in today's episode, please feel free to tell your friends about it. Or even take a screenshot and share it to Instagram by tagging me @activelyaoife, you can tag the podcast at @empowerher.fitness. And you can also tag [email protected] So most of you might know who Bret Contreras is, or at least know of or maybe be using the hip thrust in your training, which is the lift he invented. But in case you don't, here's a little summary of who he is and what to expect on the episode. Bret Contreras has his PhD in sports science, and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with over 20 years experience as a personal trainer. He also has a state of the art gym in California called the glute lab, where he trains many clients and physique competitors. He's also written a book called the glute lab, which covers the art and science of strength and physique training. I actually have that book here on my bookshelf, and I find it to be fantastic. When I caught up with Bret for this interview, he had just an hour to chat between clients. So we haven't gone into every topic in huge detail, but we have discussed recording another episode in the future. Our chat covered many topics ranging from his experience with the not so great aspects of being big on social media. The story behind the hip thrust invention, he has advice for beginners doing the barbell hip thrust for the first time. He also talked through a few case studies of clients he's worked with and what has or hasn't worked for them in regards to glute development. And he also covered how to address various glute imbalances. And finally, he let us know what he considers to be the most underrated glute exercise. And if you listen all the way to the end, you'll hear a great little story about how he transitioned from originally studying education in university to sports science, thanks to one of his lecturers. Without her, he would probably have never gotten to where he is now and never invented the hip thrust. So if you're like me and love to hear about how people find their true north, in terms of careers, you love that story. And we finished the chat off with a little about both our backgrounds in education, and how that has helped us to become better coaches by setting our clients up with the knowledge they need to succeed on their own. Welcome to the podcast. Bret, thanks so much for joining me today.

Bret Contreras 3:14
You're very welcome, Aoife, thanks for having me.

Aoife 3:17
Well done and getting the name right. As I was saying before, and we started recording, I reached out to you years and years ago on Instagram, and sent you a DM and I was so surprised that you actually responded to people. And you sent me a video back explaining, after I had some questions about hip thrusts. And we were just chatting about how you used to respond to lots of the DMs back then. But nowadays, obviously, with you being so big on Instagram it's probably not something you can really do that much.

Bret Contreras 3:45
You know, I prided myself for so many years, and then it's so hard to break free of that because you know, I never want to be like there's a lot of trainers that get very big egos in our industry and I'm like, come on, you're, you're a trainer, you're a coach and something now now the influencers and seeing some of their egos, it's like cringy you know, so I never want to become inaccessible and I want to be able to like people to get ahold of me. But you do get to a point where so it was during quarantine. Like no one had anything to do. It's like my DMS like doubled during that first week of the quarantine I remember starting responding to DMS at like it was like I don't know seven o'clock pm and by midnight I still wasn't done and I'm like it was every day imagine doing five hours of I wouldn't say it's pro bono because I'm reap I'm sharing people's posts and I mean you know a lot of people are asking about my brother like asking about my products and my services and stuff but yeah, it's it's it's too much like it's you can't you can't five hours a day it was and I remember I counted I think I had 44 per hour. In my regular in about 44 per hour in my, the on whatever the one like though the other folder, you know, that's like 8888 per hour. It's like, like over 2000 messages a day that I'm trying to respond to, and I'm fast you should see me I'm like, Oh, I don't dwell I don't it's like this would be best typed out this, I'll do a voice message this I'll do a video message. I'm like a machine with responding to DNS, but it got to a point where I couldn't keep up. And I would, I would fall asleep with like, my phone falling on me. And then I'd wake up, and I'd wake up feeling guilty. And I'd still try to respond in the middle of night. And I'm like, this is out of control.

Aoife 5:47
I guess that's also like a little bit of a struggle with social media these days, you know that people just spend so much time on us, and everyone is so accessible. But also, like, I guess a positive then from it is that, you know, people like yourself are that bit more accessible. And your page provides so much great information and great content for people that, you know, they can learn so much about the world of glute training that obviously wasn't accessible previously.

Bret Contreras 6:14
I mean, that's a whole we could do a whole podcast on how, how things have changed, and the good and the bad associated associated with how much things have changed, but it's just crazy. It's a whole different world out there, you know,

Aoife 6:25
yeah, a topic for another time. I think today's topic anyway, as everyone can expect, is going to be all about glutes. And I want to start off with and having you share the story of how you invented the hip thrust, just for anyone that's been living under a rock and doesn't know the story of Bret Contreras. Can you give us a little insight into what you've done and what you've created as?

Bret Contreras 6:51
Well, I think to lay it lay the foundation, I was always trying every glute exercise imaginable. And back then glute activation, low load glute activation was popular. The string coaches all started doing it and they were like, before your workout, you should activate the glutes, they're prone to inhibition, they typically shut down with people, which I don't agree with anymore. I used to preach that but I've changed my opinion over time. But yeah, they would before the workout you do like say glute bridges, you do like 10 or 20, glute bridges, you could do 50 to 100 but you just did 10 trying to squeeze your glutes at the top, you know, and that would activate them before the workout which would then theoretically enhance your subsequent performance on squats and other lifts you know, but I try to retry and glute bridges and like Goddess this feel like this has put i remember i because like some of my favourite authors on tea nation like Eric Cressey and people writing about him and I'm like, you know, I just devoured everything these guys wrote. And I got on the floor and did them and I'm like this, this has potential but it's just too light. But I, I feel this unique glute contraction, unlike any other exercise, it was too light. So I think you've warned for that like some of these coaches. You know, back then I was I follow this straight. I was always been a bodybuilder but also loved the strength coaching side of things. And so if it weren't for that, I don't know. I don't think I would have come up with it. But I was watching UFC fights. This was October 10 2006. Tito Ortiz was fighting Ken Shamrock there was a third fight I didn't care who won. I just didn't want it to be like a quick first round like, you know, fight I wanted to last the distance or something and both sides did be like hugging each other being like, wow, this amazing fight. But Tito Ortiz quickly got on top of Ken Shamrock and was in his guard who was just punching him, you know, like ground and pounding him and I was like, God, why isn't Frank trying to escape? Why is he bucking his hips do something. And I thought back to you know, I have a twin, identical twin brother, we fought every day of our lives, and we'd always straddle each other. I didn't know. You know, in MMA that's called form out. But we'd always straddle each other. And you'd be like, like, we didn't punch in the face. We were kids, but we'd like dig your knuckle into their sternum and stuff and like, torture them. And then eventually you get so mad when you're on the bottom, you would get so pissed off, you would buck so hard and they you'd finally buck them off of you and get them off. And that is one of the escapes in like Brazilian jujitsu to try to like bump your hips and try to create some room to escape. But anyway, when I was watching the photos, like I wonder why he's not even trying maybe his glutes are weak. Now I know more about MMA. It's more complicated than that. But my rationale back then was if his glutes were freakishly strong from that position, he would probably be able to escape there should be an exercise to help strengthen that that motion, that movement. And I was like, Well, how could you do that? And I'm watching the fight and I'm like, my mind starts with Wondering how could you do that? Well, I can't be like to have a training partner straddle me, I can't be like, my buddy Rob like, hey, Rob, we straddle me, I'm going to bust out 50 reps, you know, with you on top of that, for obvious reasons that you can't do that so that I knew that would never get popular in gyms at least. And so, like, How else could you add load? How could you and then I'm like, another flaw is that it's a short range of motion, and how could you add range of motion. So the original idea was actually more range of motion and then a terrible way to add load. Basically, I put my backup on a glute ham developer, it's like a, think of a back extension with a rounded pad and then my feet up on a reverse hyper think of like a high tabletop that's cushion. And I put them like a few feet away from each other, put my back on the rounded pad my feet up on the top of the reverse hyper scented SIG my hips way down deep. But to add load, I put it I used a dip belt, and I put for 45 pound plates, because that's what a man weighs around 180 pounds. And I started going all the way down all the way up all the way down and like pausing for a second. And I think I got to run 14 reps. And I felt like my glute was gonna pull. Like I felt like I was gonna pull my glutes was working so hard. And I remember just getting off of going, Oh my God, this, this is what I've been waiting for. I always wanted to have an exercise. Because back then I did squats, I did devis, I did run lunges, I did back extensions, I did they use the bands, but I never felt like like a movement were like my glutes, my entire glutes were just working so hard that they were the limiting factor. Like you ended the set when your glutes fatigued, massively fatigued, you know. So

that's when I went outside. And I'm not a very spiritual or like religious guy at all, I just went outside, I looked into the sky. I remember I looked up, like I was in my garage, my garage gym, and I went out to the front yard and I looked up and I went from this point forward, my whole life is going to change my whole life from this point. Imagine, imagine thinking of something, and then like going out to the garage, trying it. And 15 minutes later going, my whole life is going to do not a 180. But my whole life is now going in this direction, I'm going to spend the rest of my life making this movement popular. And it actually took me a couple years to think of just the straight up barbell hip just using a bench. Like we used more range of motion i but i, that's when I started writing, I was like I gotta for people to do this. I invented a machine that let you do it my way. But I'm like, this won't move it will never become popular if you have to buy some $1,000 machine in order to do it. So how can I teach the masses how to do it from their gym. And that's when I thought of the barbell hit this off the bench. And the rest is history.

Aoife 12:56
And everything has changed from there. And now people all over the world are performing that exercise every day.

Bret Contreras 13:02
Well, it's funny because you know what baffles me is? How many just weirdos there are on social media. I just I can't relate. It's so weird because I'm busy working and I'm not you know, I don't I think if you spend all your time on social media, I think you start getting jealous you get jealous of man, all these people are more popular all these people or whatever. You know what I mean? They're hotter, they're prettier. They're stronger. They're you just start comparing yourself and you get insanely jealous. I don't have it because I'm always busy working. It's bizarre to me. But since I invented the hipsters just spent the last 14 and a half years dealing with jealous dudes that are insanely jealous of my success. And here's the thing you can't be like, you can't tell a dude he's jealous. I've never met a guy that's like, okay, I admit it. I'm jealous of you that Oh, would it be Joseph? What would it be? Joe is like no Joe's? Well, you know, they but they're insanely jealous of the hip thrusts so they bash it and I'm like, they'll say that it's unsafe. And it's like, no one hurts themselves doing hip thrusts. They hurt themselves doing deadlifts. Why are these guys writing about deadlifts. lately? It's frog pumps. Frog pumps are destroying people. It's like no one's ever heard themselves doing a frog pump. And I know this because I've spent my life in a gym and I thought up frog pumps like I don't know five years ago and no one's ever least under my watch. No one has ever heard themselves but it's so bizarre. What grown men turn into and I didn't realise that much of my life would be you know, a lot of my DMS everyday thoughts. I know when someone says thoughts, they're sending me someone else's. But there's always around five key haters around the world. There's one in Brazil right now. There's one in Australia, there's two in the US. And they're bashing my methods because I'm the popular guy to go after. It's just like there's this this guy on YouTube His name's ATHLEAN x. If you're trying to get popular on YouTube, and he makes a video and you disagree with it. You You make a video like my, my response to ATHLEAN x his recent video on this or something, because that's this low hanging fruit, he has so many followers that he's gonna have, that'll come up on the on the videos next to the video like to click on you know, because like, you try to respond to him. So you you, if you disagree with something you make a video saying why he's wrong or something you know, I mean, I think that's what I've done now is some some people realise they can get a following by bashing my methods. And I think it's such a pathetic existence you wake up, you're not creating you're, you're just looking at someone's methods and bashing them. And it's funny because all the people who do my stuff, if they're in back pain, they get out of back pain if they and they don't develop back pain if they do it, right. But it's amazing how many people had back pain in there now have no back pain because of my system. So everyone I train, I can sit there with my glue squad and be like, Look, half of them had back pain before they came to me. And within one session, they've never had back pain again. And then I'm getting accused of like, hurting people's backs with my methods. And I'm like, that doesn't happen. That's not real world. That's that's fantasy. It's fiction. It's false news. It's fake news, whatever. But these guys accused me of it. And then those guys who bash others they attract. It's like they're like they get an ISIS like following of these like, it's just this like old of weirdos that, you know, just are so negative. And then so they just I think they get a kick out of bashing people. And they get a kick out of bashing the experts like are the popular people because it makes them feel because they sit at their computer all day. They don't really work with people, they don't do anything because you can tell because they're sitting on you on Instagram and YouTube making comments all day. So that's what I realised I get these I get DMS all the time thoughts. And I don't even know how to respond because I don't want to get involved. I didn't want to deal with these idiots. But it's weird because like it was always like fine. They had their own opinions. But lately, they're making up their own science, there was a researcher who fabricated a study on hip thrusts, to show that they don't work and it came out that he made up all the data like you can tell statistically, he made up there was another guy who wanted to pretend like hip thrusts were um, he wanted to show that like hip thrusts have been around forever. So he had this guy that looked like Arthur sax, and he's got a wispy moustache and looks like his physique. And he had imposed for like, doing a hip thrust. And, like took a picture with the sappy a filter, and it looks all old school legit. Like Like, look, hip thrusts have been around for centuries.

And then he looked like I looked at it for two seconds. And I'm like, those are Hampton, or sorry, those are penlight plates. that's a that's a hammer strain bench. Like that. Those are all modern equipment. Like who would go to the trouble of trying to make it look like I didn't. And that's what this generation like, I get people say you didn't invent the hip, those that's been around since the 70s. Or that my dad was doing that in the 90s. And I'll go really, that's amazing. Do you have a picture or video? No. Do you have a picture or video of anyone doing it back then? No. Okay. Then if you find one, let me know. And I'll post it and I'll credit the rightful inventor or whatever. I'll say, look, this was being done back then. And they go, Well, no one had cameras phones back then I'll go so I can find pictures of squats deadlifts like bench press dips, chin ups, Olympic lifts, London you name it. I can find a picture of it just that but it was some weird conspiracy that no one ever took a picture of a hip thrust you don't find that odd. They're like, No, they won't. They will not change their mind because they're, they're ruled by jealousy. They're, you know, you can't. It's like, some of my girls have real butts. And these girls think they're fake. And I'm like, they didn't get a bbl. That's her but is real and they will not. I'm like I have a PhD. I have Look Look at her look at her pictures, her progress pictures, look at her strength. She's just a muscular girl everywhere to like, her butt's not fake and they will never change their mind because some of these girls are such haters. It's like it threatens their they can't get a big buck because their genetics or whatever. So they have to have to think this goes buts fake and there's nothing I can do to change their mind and I've just realised that there's this discrepancy between like most of the comments you read the people who comment like all day long a lot of them are like haters that's what they do they spend their time on in order ordinary amount of time on social media, posting hate and so you read these comments and you think man there's a lot of negativity surrounding this but it's actually the the minority doing this. I just got on this weird tangent. Obviously frustrated.

Unknown Speaker 19:43
Yeah, I think it's like it is just a matter of like separating yourself from that. Isn't it really interesting. That's the minority. The majority of people understand what you're doing and they believe in it and now, they are all about training glutes the right way. So yeah, let's go on to that. As a first question, let's take somebody that's say getting started in the gym and trying to the hip thrust for the first time, what would your best cues and tips be for that

Bret Contreras 20:14
for that person? Well, okay, so this is hard to answer because I've had people who needed to start with bodyweight. And I've had people start off their first session using 315 for Okay, so I'll tell you two crazy stories. One, I'm in New Zealand. I'm getting my PhD. Living in Auckland entacapone I just got my place right on the beach. And I there's a CrossFit literally like, like, one minute walk from my place, and I just want to train there. I don't want to do CrossFit, but I love CrossFit gyms. So I go to this guy, I'm like, I'll train there at night. Can I just have a key? And he's like, Where do I know you? And I'm like, I don't know. Maybe you've read my blog. He's like, you're breaking tourism. I was reading your blog today's like, I'll give you a key but you have to train me once. Like, you know, this guy is from Zimbabwe. He's jacked, huge buff jack dude. And he squats like he squatted and dead lifted like around like for like 495, like, almost 500. But I watched in his squat, his deadlift was so upright, it's almost very squatty it's not a hinge. And so I'm like, I think you'd benefit a lot from from doing hip thrusts and back extensions. He so I taught him glute bridges, not first. I mean, they didn't have like nice benches to do hypnosis. So I hadn't do glute bridges, and I put 135 on the bar. So 60 kgs around. He can't budget. I'm like, What? He cannot budget. So I'm like, come up, push. I'm gonna try. I think I can, like, encourage him. I realise it's too early. So I take the bar off and I'm like, do bodyweight. So I'm like, Alright, he's doing bodyweight glute bridges. And, you know, when someone looks when they're like maxing out, they're trembling all over. He's trembling from a bodyweight Glute Bridge. I had him do five reps and he's trembling. This guy could squat and deadlift, 500 pounds. He's trembling from a five rep max, Glute Bridge, or a five rep Glute Bridge. So I was like, Okay, I had him do three sets of five. But I said, All right, then I try to teach him I wanted to see if it was a fluke. I had him do back extensions. But the way I teach them with the rounded upper back and the feet flared, same thing, he gets the top, he's like convulsing. So I just look, I said, I want you to do, like, three sets of 10. Maybe you can't do it at first, but basically do three sets of 10 of both of these every day for a month. Every day for one month. Well, one month later, he's like, this guy loved me, just from doing bodyweight glute bridges and back extensions. Really squeezing the top, he puts 60 pounds on his deadlift. So like, yeah, like, like 25 kgs on his deadlift in one month, without even focusing on deadlifts. That's such weak. Now, did he have weak glutes, I think he had strong glutes in the stretch position. You have to have strong glutes to get the squat out of the hole and get the deadlift off the ground, but not for locking out so we had weak glutes at lockout. So anyway, that's one extreme Okay, now, I'll tell you the other extreme. I was trained at this gym in Tempe called revolution. And these guys are these big badass power lifters. And I learned a tonne training there, through these guys was awesome, great, great for the time in my life where I wanted to learn more about powerlifting and about getting as strong as possible. These guys were total BS, but there was this guy named Steve and he had never, never done a hip thrusts before. Any sits down, I brought a hip thruster to the gym. And the guys were you know, start doing hip thrusts. They did a lot of banned hip thrusts, especially they loved warming up their glutes before they did squats. They love doing as glute activation, but I put 315 on the bar and Steve decides to just do 20 reps. He's never going to have to us he did 315 for 20 his very first time doing them.

And I'm like, this guy could become a freak like three and he did it with good form. Like you could tell he was using his glutes. He wasn't hyperextending his spine or anything. So I bet you he could have done a 500 pound hypnosis very first time doing them, you know? And so you got that's that so I just told you to powerlifter Well, yeah to two power lifters or I don't the other guy was a crossfitter. But two guys involved in strength sports. One extreme where the guy needs to do bodyweight and one where the guy could do 500 pounds right from the get go. So I can't tell someone where they start. Some people need to start with bodyweight usually I start women off with around 65 pounds. But here's the deal when you train them, it's so nice because you get them on a bench, you get them in a position, you go come up to the top, then you pick up the bar and you set it in their lap, they're already in good position, it's so easy to teach it that way. And they do 65 pounds and you haven't go down and you teach them to you know, the proper form, move, keep keep your head looking forward, move more and more from the sternum down, post your pelvic tilt at lockout, and then they get, you know, 12 reps. And then you do three sets of 12 and their glutes are burning like crazy. Sometimes they might start with 95 pounds, sometimes it might be 135. But yeah, it's usually between somewhere between body weight and 135. What's nice is when you start at 135, well, that's like 60 kgs. With big plate, that's a big plate. Now you don't have to start with someone, you Okay, when you when you have when you can do 60 kgs or 135, you have to have you have to have someone set it on you like in this instance, we have a training partner, a trainer, or you have to deadlift the bar up, stand up with the bar, sit down on the bench and then slide down. It's like more complicated and weird. But once you can do 60 kgs, or 135 those are the big boy plates. Now you can sit, you sit down, you roll the bar over your legs, and then you can kind of crawl up and get into position and then thrust so that's the nice thing, but my tips would be don't I think that's the number one mistake people make is they see people on Instagram using all this weight, especially strong dudes. You right off the bat, there are a lot of power lifters that oh hip, those are stupid. I don't feel them in my glutes. That's weird, because every dude even I mean, I've trained some strong dudes over over the last, you know, decade. Every one of them felt their glutes like crazy, but they thought they could start off with like, 500 because they see somehow someone else doing it. No, you need to start off with like, you know, if you're a strong dude, start off with like, 185 you know, and, and feel the glutes and then work your way up gradually. But that's, that's the big big flop people make is starting off too heavy. And I think men and women have opposite problems, their men will start off too heavy. And then they hear they don't lock out, they arch their back too much. They fill it in their back. They don't they summon hammies they don't do whatever they don't feel in their glutes because they're going too heavy. A lot of women will start to light, they're like, Oh, I could never do that. And that's one thing that's nice about me is if the if the woman has experienced, I'll be like, hey, I want you to try this. And it's it's 135. It's 60 kgs. And I'm like, try this and they're like, Oh, no, I can't do that. And I'm like, just try it. If you can't do you lifted six inches off the ground, you put it back down and no big deal. And lo and behold, they can do it. They just didn't think they could.

Unknown Speaker 27:47
Yeah. Well, that's a really good story and comparison of those two examples. And just like how everyone's starting point is going to be different. I want to ask you a few questions on that. The first one that comes to mind is you mentioned about activation exercises and how your opinion on that has changed. Do you think there's any value in doing like some banded glute work before you're training or doing activations? And if so, in what sort of rep range.

Bret Contreras 28:15
So here's the deal, my powerlifting friends that I mentioned in Tempe, they love doing that. They swore by it, a lot of them thought if I do this stuff before I squat it, I don't feel it in my hips as much it makes my hips feel better. So I'm not going to tell them you're doing it wrong. But I train mostly women, they're mobile, they're fine. They don't hurt, they're not pain. They don't have to spend a lot of time warming up. So no, I don't do any of it. You know what I do? Do I want them doing active mobility like you know, dynamic mobility drills, which are lunges, goblet squats, just go deep. Stretch the muscle, you know, like under load but not a static stretch. Just do things that move your muscles to long muscle lanes. You know, we do three sets of 10 bodyweight squats, maybe some lunges, maybe some leg swings, but if they have a warm up routine, they like I don't mess with it. Go do your thing. And then let me know when you're ready and I'll train you but if they're new, I just be like do three sets of 10 bodyweight squats resting about 40 seconds in between sets, and then do some lunges, do a goblet squat, whatever. Now you're ready to go. Now you start on the exercise and you start because here's the deal. Think of all the movements that you do for glute activation. You might do glute bridges, you know I do bird dogs or quadruped Ed hip extension, you might do lateral band walks while we're doing all those movements with load. So you're gonna do lighter weight to warm up and then you do your working sets. We're straining the same patterns, but we're getting higher glute activation because you're using good form. Pushing some weight utilising progressive overload. We don't need to do that. And why why do people make glutes so unique? Do you do pec active Before your bench, you know, shoulder activation, we do lat act, it's the only muscle that people do glute activation. I think the glutes. Yeah, I do think in some ways, but I do think some of the hysteria around and has been overhyped big time, like, Oh, you have gluta amnesia, you're everyone's glutes are inhibited, because you sit all day long and your hip flexors get shortened, you get adaptive shortening of the hip flexors, your reciprocal inhibition of the gluteals, then you get synergistic dominance of the hamstrings and they get overused and blah, blah, blah. And I think that's all just made up stuff. I think it's all just use just use, you don't use them all. They atrophy and you got to decondition you just got to train them and get stronger with things.

Unknown Speaker 30:42
Yeah, absolutely. What would you say if somebody had problems, say, activating their glutes on one side, as opposed to the other say they were feeling like one side working when they're doing the hip thrusts, but not the other? That's a question I had from somebody for this podcast. And so what would you do in that case?

Bret Contreras 30:58
It was a very frequent In fact, I'm filming. I think I'm filming a YouTube video on this tonight. So yep. This is a very commonly asked question that I get all the time. And again, I'm going to tell you some stories here. So I trained this dancer. Like Yeah, stripper like she, she had the craziest glute imbalance I've ever seen like one glute was massive, the other was tiny. And the opposite erector was massive. And the other erector was tiny is so bizarre and she thinks is because she, for like 10 years, she did lap dances always sitting on one side, she like she had one glute that looked better. So she always leaned into that or something. I don't know that that was her rationale, but I could not. I'm the glute guy, I could not fix this gluten dance. I mean, I went from like, just doing you know, I really I used to write articles on this, I had the two to one method you two times more volume for the weaker side than the other side. Then I had do in glue lab, I wrote it with my book. gulaba wrote about this do single leg, ankle weight reverse hypers. Everyday just for the weaker side. And then for this woman, I went crazy. And I had like one bilateral day and two unilateral days where she only worked the weaker side. So think of train the glutes three times a week. One day, she would actually do like bilateral squats and hip thrusts, etc. But the other two days, it was just only glute work for the weaker side. And I still didn't make much of a difference. It's like I was just dumbfounded. This happens when you train enough people when you ever get the confident trainer that things they they know everything or the one that the trainer that speaks in black and white, they those guys don't really trained people they sit at their computer, you know, they just pretend like they do is when you we actually work with people all day long. For enough years, you don't have all the answers. You're just mystified you know. So I if I What if I had her only train the weaker glute for a full year and never even touched the other glute Could I normalise them? I don't, I don't know. I don't know crazy. But that's what I've had to do. In some circumstances, it just depends on the degree of imbalance. You can do the two to one method, you can do single leg ankle weight reverse hypers. Or you can go to the extremes of only training the weaker side. It just depends on how severe the imbalance is. But one thing I will tell you is imbalances are normal. It's functional. Think about golfers in baseball, or like in martial arts, you're going to have one side that's stronger. You don't that's not a weakness. You don't go oh my god, I need to you don't perceive that as a weakness. You're like, if you're a right handed baseball, you know, you swing right hand in baseball, you don't go, I've got this massive imbalance I can produce this much power in my right handed swing. But not only this much part of my left handed swing, you don't care about your left handed swing, you want your right hand and swing to be as great as possible. Think of any racquet athlete that swings or a football quarterback, they're going to throw a lunch farther with the one hand than the other hand. Quit thinking you're in balance it's functions, advantageous, advantageous functionally to be you grew up kicking with your right leg, you know, your left, hip extensors sometimes stronger and your right hip flexors some stronger, that's very normal. So it's normal to be imbalanced. It's not you shouldn't just be in perfect balance what's but it's not normal to have a crazy imbalance, you want to converge them a little bit. So don't freak out. If you've got a little bit of imbalance or you feel one side working more than the other as long as it isn't look crazy different then you're probably okay.

Unknown Speaker 34:39
That's a good way of looking at it. And I think everyone needs to understand that your your body's not going to be perfectly symmetrical and there's always going to be some degree of imbalances. Another question I had relating back to your original stories there was with people who have started to feel hip thrusts more in their hamstrings or in other areas. Would that be mostly do you think? Due to going too heavy on the weight or technique?

Unknown Speaker 35:03
is both like it could be either one or a combination of both. But yeah. One thing I like doing I miss I miss, you know, before COVID was given seminars frequently and I miss given seminars because it gives me a chance to kind of show off I like to, you know, I'm bored, I like to show off my skills, and it's a challenge I'll go, who in here does not feels like they don't feel the glutes much when they hit thrust. And you know, I'll get a few people that raise their hand and I want to work with them, I want to see, I want to put my skills to the test. And I'll see if I can tweak with their form and get them to feel their glutes. And I almost always can. But there I have my tool, my tool bag, you know, I can try to use a shorter bench, a taller bench, I can try to put their feet farther away or closer, I can have them widen their knees and abduct a little more or less I can have them I can have them try the hinge method or the scoop method. Like one's a more post your pelvic tilt, the other is more hindering your torso as a whole unit. I can you know you can slap a glue loop around their legs and that obviously helps them feel their glutes more right away. But you also try different, like have them do high reps or drop set and people typically fill their glutes very well. It's just that they maybe they weren't pushing themselves hard or something, you know. So yeah. Lots of tricks that I always think it's funny because I might be like, Okay, let's try this and like, no, that's worse. And they're like, Okay, let's try this. No, no, that's I don't feel it at all. Let's try this. Nope, try this. Nope. Then I'm like, Okay, try this. And they're like, yes. Oh, my God. Oh my God, I feel like it's your genius. And it's like, I failed six times. But the seventh time I figured out and they love me for

Unknown Speaker 36:55
got there in the end. I guess that's the lesson then to just play around with your positioning for the hip thrust if you're not feeling in the right places, because everyone's going to be a little bit different.

Unknown Speaker 37:08
But then also, like, do I always I don't even pay attention when I do military press. I know it works my delts well, but I kind of feel it everywhere. I don't stop the set because my delts are burning. Like I kind of feel it all over it my back muscles, my upper back muscles, my triceps. My You know, when I do squats, I don't know, I kind of feel it more in my quads. And I don't know, it's like, I don't care. People care too much about glutes. It's like, you know, you should that's why I like promoting this new strong lifting I'm involved in it's like, train for strength and your physique tends to come around, you know, people care so much about filling their glutes and getting the burn and getting a pump that it might sometimes detract from just get strong with good form. Some days, you're gonna feel it more than others. It's not the end of the world. But yeah, you're gonna work your glutes if you're using good form and in going up in weight, it just might be that you feel your quads. Your it's like your quads are knocking on the door so hard that you don't see your glutes are locking, you know, like your hamstrings, it doesn't mean your glutes aren't working, you're just being overpowered by something else, but they'll still get bigger, you know?

Unknown Speaker 38:21
Yeah, absolutely. I liked what you said about training for strength and your physique will come around because that's something I always talk to my clients about as well not to be super focused on how your body looks and getting to look a certain way or getting to a certain level of leanness but more so to focus on your training and your strength because that's what's going to result in your physique changing but also build your confidence as well.

Bret Contreras 38:47
And it's fun you end up liking you know liking the strength gains you you'll start because you're like I want to hit thrust three plates per side for 10 reps or something you know, but when you get there you start being proud of your strength and when you're proud of your strength like me, I've got some chunk on my midsection I got some belly fat i don't care i can deadlift 635 pounds you know what I mean? Like what is that pages? Three? Almost 90? I don't know but um, you you start to feel like an athlete like look at that a lot of athletes not all of them are 5% body fat you know a lot of them are you know, you know they carry some but their play strut their stuff because they're the best in the world that you look at these. What is it the ESPN body issue the magazines and like they're they're naked and showing off their their bodies. Not all of them look like bodybuilders, you know? But they're confident they'll pose naked for a magazine because they're the best in the world at their sport or their position or something. You know what I mean? So They, they that's what I noticed. Like, the stronger I got, the more you look at power lifters, some of them have their little book bellies. But they're not they're jacked everywhere else but men are kind of better than women at one thing. You guys look in the mirror, you tend to look at like, laser in on your flaws. Me I can have a belly but I look at the mirror I just blur out it's like that's blurred out. I don't need my my eyes don't even go there. My eyes will go to my delts my traps. My You know, my pecs. My quads like I'll be like, Damn, look at my legs are looking huge right now. I'll turn to the side, my belly, stick it out. I don't care. It's like I can. Because I just have like, because I'm like, I'm two months out, you know, I'm two months out from being shredded. You tell yourself that, you know, you couldn't get into shape if you needed to. You just need to quit eating so damn much. So we, we can we can. There's a cartoon, like a meme on that or where this was before memes. But it's like has a beautiful woman looking into the mirror. And she what she sees in the mirror is this very heavyset woman. And then the man is heavyset. And he looks in the mirror and his reflection is his back is this jagged, muscular Dude, I think there is on a hole not saying everyone's like that there are some men and some women that are opposite. But on average, I think that it's probably due to societal pressure and things like that. But because I've never met my girls that have the best glutes don't think they do. They could. They're like, I wish my glutes looked like hers. And I'm like you have the best glutes. your glutes are amazing. And you don't even think they're nice, you know? Crazy.



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