by Bret Contreras August 08, 2011
Bodybuilders are masters of their craft. Many of them have excellent mobility and motor control. Best of all, many of them refrain from going too heavy and use loads that allow them to control the weight and feel the targeted muscles working to their full extent.
Here is a video of Brandon Curry hitting his hammies and glutes. Notice a few things:
1. During seated and single-leg leg curls he’s really stressing the contracted position to maximize the pump.
2. During weighted 45 degree hypers he really stresses the stretch position to maximize the stretch.
3. During sumo deadlifts he keeps the knees slightly bent and moves mostly at the hips to maximize the tension on the glutes.
4. He uses two benches with the hip thrusts so he can get a stretch in the hammies down low and really squeeze the glutes up top.
5. He performs straight leg deadlifts with the t-bar row and lets the weight drift out in front while keeping the back arched to get a big stretch and load in the hammies.
While maximum strength is very important for hypertrophy, going a bit lighter and feeling the muscle do the work can help out considerably via several different mechanisms including cellular swelling.
Though I can hip thrust 405 x 10 reps, sometimes I’ll do a set of 30 reps with 135 or a set of 20 reps with 225. I’ve actually done 315 for 20 reps once which burned so bad I could hardly walk, and once I did 100 non-stop bodyweight reps and I was sore for 5 days. I’m always amazed at how pumped my glutes get from going lighter for higher reps.
Usually bodybuilders aren’t so concerned with progressive overload and quantity; they’re more concerned with quality. Listen to Kai Greene discuss this in the second video linked below – he states that, “You’re contracting muscles against resistance.”
Obviously bodybuilders are not always the best examples as they consume boatloads of performance-enhancing substances, but I believe that the best approach to muscular hypertrophy is to blend together maximum strength and progressive overload with pump-style higher rep targeted training.
If you’ve seen Big Ronnie Coleman’s videos you know that he was strong as an ox. Here he is deadifting 800 for 2 reps. LIGHT WEIGHT!
1. See how light he goes and see how he keeps the knees out and focuses on moving the hips forward during the Jefferson squats?
2. Notice the high rep ranges with the seated abduction work and pendulum donkey kicks?
3. Watch him squeeze his glutes at lockout in the stiff leg deadlifts (similar to the American deadlifts I posted on Youtube a few months ago).
Once you’ve focused on glute training for a few years like I have, you can easily tell when someone is or isn’t using their glutes, and bodybuilders who specifically train their glutes develop amazing gluteal activation. This is why Brandon Curry can do bodyweight hip thrusts and Kai Greene can do 95 lb Jefferson squats and 135 lb American deadlifts and have great glute development. As you can see in the pic below, it’s worked for Kai.
Get strong, but sometimes go lighter and get a nice pump and really feel the muscles working. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
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