by Bret Contreras September 15, 2010
I just can’t stay away from these “Random Thoughts” blogs. I just have too many little things to say and I don’t want to create a ton of different blogposts for each idea. Here are 20 random thoughts for the week!
1. Jurdan Mendiguchia/Matt Brughelli Hamstring article
I’ve read a ton of journal articles pertaining to the hamstrings and this is hands-down the best I’ve ever read! It’s by Jurdan Mendiguchia and Matt Brughelli and it’s called, “A return-to-sport algorithm for acute hamstring injuries.” I think they cited 146 articles in this study. This is one of my favorite journal articles I’ve ever read. If you’re a strength coach or physical therapist, you need to read this! In fact, don’t just read it once, read it five times! Click here for the article abstract. Check my blog tomorrow as I interviewed Jurdan.
If you want to succeed, you have to do two things: 1) Get out of your comfort zone, and 2) Sacrifice. I know so many people who get home from work, crack open a beer, and kick it on the couch while flipping through the channels. It must be nice!
3. Rack Pull Transfer
In this video some dude rack pulls a shit-ton of weight. Unfortunately, it won’t transfer over to his deadlift. Why? Look at the position of the knees in the pictures below. In picture number one, he’s squatting the weight up. In pictures two and three, it shows the actual bar position when the bar passes the knees. Here’s a video that shows actual heavy deadlifts. If you want to impress people with a huge rack pull, do it like the guy in picture number one. If you want the rack pull to transfer over to your deadlift, you almost need to do a “straight leg rackpull” where you don’t allow much knee flexion and focus the movement around the hips.
4. Blogs – keep it simple
Sometimes I read certain people’s blogs and I wonder what their primary goal is…to impress the high-level coaches or to help the general public. If I have trouble deciphering your blog, and I got really good grades in school, then I think you could attract more readers if you spent some extra time “dumbing it down” and making things easier for the general public to understand. I think high-level coaches are impressed when you can explain things in a more simplistic manner anyway.
5. ASU Biomechanics course
I’m taking an advanced Biomechanics course right now at ASU. My professor is Rick Hinrichs. He’s been teaching this stuff for around a quarter of a century. This is definitely the coolest course I’ve ever taken. I’m a little rusty at my math (I took Calculus courses sixteen years ago!), but the concepts all make perfect sense. Rick is a top-notch professor. He’s professional, articulate, and most important – passionate about his field.
6. Hip thrust height
Some people go to neutral with their hip thrusts, and some people take it slightly further and enter into hip hyperextension. My clients and I can always tell when we go too heavy as we don’t get the right “feel” when you use full ROM. Obviously hip flexor flexibility comes into play but I’ve found that hip thrusts help increase hip flexor flexibility through reciprocal relationships between the gluteus maximus and hip flexors.
7. Learning from Gurus
Even though I don’t always agree with certain gurus (or I’m simply “on the fence” in certain areas), I’m always teaching my clients the various theories, methods, and philosophies of strength training. I still think of myself as a teacher and try to offer up different viewpoints. I do a lot of namedropping when I coach and I’ll sometimes ask my clients if they’d prefer to do more or less of a certain activity as I try to give the clients what they want.
Many of my online clients in particular will ask some pretty good questions and I’ll work with them to create a program that they’re excited about. You want clients to be excited about the program; the placebo effect is huge!
8. Not Knowing
After spending time talking to researchers and professors over the past couple of months, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know shit. It’s a good place to be. I used to feel like I had to know everything. Now I just want to know the right people who know everything about a particular topic so I can shoot a quick email if I have a question. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a life-long learner to the bone, but there’s just too damn much to learn to ever come close to knowing it all.
9. Dealing With Unmotivated – bargaining
One technique I use with “unmotivated clients” is to bargain with them. If they don’t like a particular exercise, I’ll tell them, “how about this…if you can beat what you did last week then I’ll only make you do one set.” I had a client who hated squats beat his record for ten consecutive weeks. He was a 58 year old, 160 lb male who went from squatting 95 lbs for ten reps to 155 lbs for ten reps, all below parallel. Once they get strong at something, they tend to start liking it anyway. Pretty good for just one set per week.
10. Power Video
Here’s a ten-minute video on Power Production. It’s pretty basic; I don’t go into detail with anything. But many people don’t really understand the various factors that come into play when trying to maximize power production. One thing that was confusing in the video; it is possible to improve fascicle length through resistance and sport training. In the video I mentioned that those lengths were genetically pre-determined but I was referring to tendon attachment points. Anyway, if you’re interested in power production, then you’ll like this video.
11. X-Ray Vision
I’m not there yet, but I wonder if some top physical therapists or biomechanists have “x-ray vision” when it comes to movement. In other words, they can “see” through the body and envision the interplay between the joints, tendons, muscles, etc. while a person is exercising. I swear I’m not on acid right now.
12. Training multiple clients at once – having a system
One thing that’s kind of cool is that I’m so detail-oriented on the front-end with my clients that it pays off in the long run. When I get a new client, I take a lot of time explaining everything to them. Often I’ll train several clients at once and not only do my more advanced clients know how to fend for themselves (they don’t need my help much), but they also serve as “helpers,” offering cues, giving spots, racking weights, etc. If you train more than two people at a time, it’s imperative that you teach them how to help out and get involved in the entire experience.
13. Online clients – poor form
There’s a big disconnect with the way we strength coaches are teaching form and the way the general public is performing the movements. At first I was pretty shocked when I started asking online clients for videos of their form on various exercises. Now nothing shocks me. It is so important for people to submit these videos, because it creates an opportunity for the coach to explain what they’re doing wrong and provide links to videos that demonstrate proper form.
14. Pendlay row
Here’s a link to a good explanation of the Pendlay row. It’s a badass exercise for advanced lifters. It’s quite different from a regular bent over row.
15. Bench – use your entire body
I think I’m finally to the point where I use my entire body when I bench. For so many years I benched like a bodybuilder (which is one of the reasons why I have pretty good pec development) but now I try to bench like a powerlifter to maximize my loads. It took me a long time to learn how to use my lats, drive with my legs, and use my triceps to their full effect. Sometimes at the end of my sets of bench I’ll drop down to 225 and crank out a set of bodybuilding-style bench press just to try to target the pecs, as they don’t get nearly as much stimulation from the powerlifting-style bench press.
16. Blog readership
Last week I hit an all-time high – almost 23,000 views on my blog. I’m very happy to be doing something right. I never thought that this many people would give a shit about what I have to say.
17. Oh really?
Here’s a link to a guy who claims that wearing a mouthpiece while lifting boosts strength by 17%. This is why it’s important to have experienced lifters in the field…we serves as bullshit detection meters. And mine’s at level 10 right now!
Supposedly it works by transferring power (I guess through irradiation transferred through the masseter and temporalis muscles) and by increasing hormone secretion (I guess epinephrine and norepinephrine).
This reminds me of the guys who used to tell me that their friend practiced some rare form of martial arts and he knew of a pressure point that could render someone unconscious if he pressed on it. My response was always, “then why don’t you see anyone in UFC doing it?” They’d say, “because they don’t know, it’s a secret.” I’d call them stupid and walk away.
To this, I say, “then why don’t top powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters use mouthpieces?” A thousand pound squatter could boost his strength up to 1,170 lbs just by biting down on a mouthpiece!”
I’m calling bullshit on this one.
18. Badass hip thruster
Here is Craig Pfisterer, a 6’7″ aspiring strongman. Tall people often have freakishly strong glutes as we have to use them more than our shorter counterparts when we squat and deadlift because our hips are further away from the bar.
19. Ines Sainz
20. The Rumble Roller
I just got my Rumble Roller today and I love it. I like it much more than traditional foam rollers for SMR purposes. Check it out here. I don’t get any commission of it so please don’t think I’m trying to sell you something. Just thought I’d pass along info for a cool new product that I found.
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