by Bret Contreras August 14, 2014
Hi fitness friends, just wanted to provide a few updates:
I have less than one year to finish my PhD, so I’ve been cranking on research/data collection. I realized that very few sports scientists focus their strength & conditioning research on women, so I decided to hone in on females for my studies. Here are some things that I’ll be looking at with my thesis:
1. Gluteus Maximus EMG Review: what does the literature currently have to say about gluteus maximus activation associated with rehab, functional, and resistance training exercise? What are the gaps in the literature?
2. Gluteus Maximus MVIC Position: the gold standard in the research for maximum voluntary isometric contractions is the prone bent leg hip extension against manual resistance applied to the distal thigh. Does just standing and contracting the gluteus maximus leads to greater, equal, or less upper and lower gluteus maximus activation? Hypothesis: standing will lead to greater upper glute activation, whereas the gold standard will lead to greater lower glute activation.
3. Squat Variations and Glute Activation: which leads to higher levels of mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activation – parallel squats, full squats, or full front squats (using the same relative loading)? Hypothesis: no significant differences.
4. Hip Thrust Variations and Glute Activation: which leads to higher levels of mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activation – hip thrusts, American hip thrusts, or band hip thrusts (using the same relative loading)? Hypothesis: standard hip thrusts will be superior, but results won’t be significantly different.
5. Squats versus Hip Thrusts: which leads to higher levels of mean and peak upper and lower gluteus maximus activation – parallel squats or hip thrusts? What about a bottom squat isohold versus a top hip thrust isohold? What about force, velocity, power, and rate-of-force-development? What about joint angles and heart rate? Hypothesis: hip thrusts will be superior to squats in terms of upper and lower mean and peak glute max activation, force, velocity, power, and RFD. Squats will be superior to hip thrusts in hip ROM and heart rate response.
6. The Effects of Squats versus Hip Thrusts versus Combined Squats & Hip Thrusts: in a 10-week training study, how does a volume-matched protocol of squats, hip thrusts, and combined squat/hip thrust compare in terms of transfer to vertical jump, broad jump, triple jump, maximum sprinting velocity, sprinting horizontal force and power, maximum horizontal pushing force, and gluteus maximus hypertrophy? Hypothesis: Combined group will lead to greatest transfer of training outcomes and hypertrophy gains across the board. Squats will be superior to hip thrusts for transfer to VJ, BJ, and 3J. Hip thrusts will be superior to squats for transfer to sprinting, sprinting forces and power, and gluteus maximus hypertrophy. I guarantee I’ll be wrong about some of my hypotheses and am excited to learn what actually does happen in training (instead of theorizing based on acute research).
Since I’ve been so swamped working on my PhD, I decided to write a Frequently-Asked-Questions page. It’s very elaborate, so please check it out. Also, please understand that I don’t have time to answer every email I receive – I’m too busy. I’m getting my PhD while paying my own tuition (without taking loans) and also spending thousands of dollars on technology that will aid my research (I already have EMG, force plate, video capture, and a heart rate monitor, but I’ll need to purchase an ultrasound unit and a radar gun with state-of-the-art software associated with it). This is not easy! In a year, when I’m done writing up my thesis, my life can return to normal. But as of right now, I’m working round the clock.
Lately I’ve set a number of PR’s in my own training. I finally achieved a 315 lb front squat, I bench pressed 325 lbs on two occasions, I incline pressed 285 lbs, and yesterday I conventional deadlifted 605 lbs! I’d really like to total 1,400 lbs in a powerlifting meet in the next 8 months or so, so my goal is to get to a around a 335 lb bench press, a 435 lb squat, and a 630 lbs deadlift. Here are some vids:
315 lb Front Squat
605 lb Conventional Deadlift
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