Tout dans la vie est une question d'équilibre d'où la nécessité de garder un esprit sain dans un corps sain.


Everything in life is a matter of balance therefore one needs to keep a healthy mind in a healthy body.


E. do REGO

Friday, October 30, 2009

The way health claims about food are regulated is changing

Food, glorious food

Oct 29th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Getty Images

BARELY a day seems to pass without a new study reporting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. A high intake of omega-3s has been linked with reduced rates of depression, cardiovascular disease and homicide. In pregnant women the consumption of these wonder molecules has even been associated with an uplift of the IQ of their offspring. The food industry has responded to this bonanza of evidence by putting omega-3s into everything from baby milk to drinks to margarine in the hope of increasing sales while bringing health benefits to fat and sickly customers.

Behind the silver lining, though, looms a black cloud: not all omega-3s are created equal. The good ones (long-chain fatty acids) come from expensive sources such as fish. The far less beneficial ones (short-chain fatty acids) come from cheap plant oils like flax seed and soya, as well as from leafy green vegetables. No prizes for guessing which type of omega-3s some less-scrupulous manufacturers have chosen to put in their products in order to imply health benefits.

The problem of dubious nutrition and health claims for foodstuffs is now being addressed on both sides of the Atlantic. America’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on October 20th that it would overhaul the regulation of such claims on food labels and issue new standards early next year. In the European Union, meanwhile, a legislative process that began in 2006 is grinding towards its conclusion.

The European legislation in question is intended to create a framework for assessing nutrition and health claims. A nutrition claim is one where a product says that it contains calcium or vitamins, say, or is “high in fibre”. A health claim relates to the alleged consequences of a nutritional claim, such as that the calcium in it “promotes strong bones”.

The European Commission asked member states to gather information from across the union so that the range of nutrition and health claims being made for products could be assessed. Most of the nutrition claims were easy to handle, as they are based on well-established science. These were appended to the original legislation in an annex. But the health claims were such a big issue that they were passed to a review panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for evaluation before being included in the legislation.

On October 1st the EFSA announced its decisions on 523 of a total of around 4,000 claims. About two-thirds of its decisions were negative. In one, for example, the panel decided there was no causal relationship between the consumption of dried cocoa extract and the maintenance or achievement of normal body weight.

Headlines have also been made by the rejection of 180 claims for so-called probiotic ingredients, which are live microorganisms, such as bacteria, that are believed to be beneficial to health. In fact, only ten such claims were rejected outright. The other 170 could not be assessed because the panel had insufficient information to characterise the strains of bacteria used.

According to Miguel Fernandes da Silva, a consultant with European Advisory Services, a company that advises on the regulation of food products, this was unfair. At the beginning of the process half of the 4,000 original claims were judged to require further information—and time was given to provide it. That courtesy was not extended to many of the rejected probiotic and botanical claims (botanicals are plant extracts that are thought to have health benefits in foods) and so claimants were given no opportunity to provide the additional data the review panel needed.

Alpha and omega

There is also a row over how the European legislation is being applied to omega-3s. It is not every day that an international consortium of concerned lipid scientists gets upset, but just such a group, rallied by Jack Winkler of the Nutrition Policy Unit at London Metropolitan University, is on the warpath. The group says the regulation of omega-3s that has been adopted so far has no foundation in science, will legalise the deception of consumers and will make public health worse. The problem, in the group’s view, is that companies are now allowed to claim that a product is rich in omega-3s irrespective of whether these are long-chain or short-chain molecules.

Albert Flynn, the chairman of the EFSA panel, says this point will be resolved when a product requires authorisation for a health claim derived from its omega-3 content, as only those products containing long-chain omega-3s are likely to be able to provide any evidence to support such claims. The Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union, however, seems to agree with the lipid biologists. It says that the labelling of omega-3s should be clear about which type is contained in a product. Where this is not already the case among its members, it said it would address the matter.

The lipid biologists have other complaints. One is that a product can now claim to be high in long-chain omega-3s, yet be of questionable value because it also contains high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are unsaturated fats found in, for example, maize and sunflower oils—large quantities of which are consumed in many countries in the West, as consumers reject the “unhealthy” saturated fats found in products such as butter and lard, and turn instead to margarines and vegetable oils (see Note to self).

Another issue is that manufacturers are keen to advertise the health benefits of their products, while keeping quiet about the disbenefits. The FDA is expected to address this in its review, and thus to put an end to cereals being advertised as full of wholegrains, whilst simultaneously being full of sugar. In Europe, the legislation specifies that not all foods may be permitted to carry health claims, and the intention is that foods of poor nutritional quality would not be eligible. However, Dr Flynn says the criteria for determining which foods will be eligible are controversial and have not yet been agreed.

Yet another problem the lipid biologists have is with the amount of long-chain omega-3s that the EFSA has recommended it is desirable to consume. This figure, 250mg a day, is, in the option of Dr Winkler’s group, too low. Dr Flynn argues that there is no agreement on the daily amount, so the EFSA has been conservative. Dr Winkler’s group says that the dose suggested by averaging the 15 studies on the matter that have been conducted over the past two decades is 566mg a day.

As the ingredients of food become ever more characterised and understood, and their links to human health established, the EFSA has a difficult problem applying a scientifically rigorous approach to health-related claims without assuming the weighty bureaucracy of a pharmaceuticals regulator. Ironically, it is precisely because long-chain omega-3s offer such large health benefits that scientists feel that they are obliged to stand up and challenge the authority, for this is a decision that could affect the health of a generation.

Research published in Nature this week reveals more evidence explaining how fish oil works. It turns out that the body converts it into a chemical called resolvin D2. This reduces the inflammation associated with many diseases, including strokes and arthritis, without suppressing the immune system. Such knowledge helps blur the distinction between a nutrient and a drug. Unfortunately for bureaucrats, that blurring also makes regulation harder.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dirty Nutrition Vol 3

Organic Not So Good?

A: Studies on organic vs. non-organic food are all over the map, with some studies showing no nutritional differences, some showing a lot. And different studies investigate different sets of nutrients, so they're hard to compare.

For example, one study found that organic vegetable soups contain almost six times as much salicylic acid (the active ingredient in aspirin) compared to nonorganic vegetable soups. And research in 2001 found that organic crops had higher average levels of twenty-one nutrients including vitamin C and iron.

Other studies haven't shown much difference in nutritional composition. Interesting, not one study has ever shown that conventionally grown food is better than organic — the best they can do is show it's no worse.

However, this misses the point. We don't really eat organic food simply because it has more nutrients, though that's very possible and hotly debated. We eat it because of what it doesn't have: poison.

Conventional crops are grown with a massive amount of pesticides and, no matter what they say, some of it remains on the crops and winds up in our bodies. Make no mistake, some of this shit does wind up on organic crops, but there's a lot less of it.

Consumers Union did a study in 2002 analyzing three large data sets of twenty major crops and found that conventionally grown samples had pesticide residues way more often than organic, and that the amounts of pesticides were higher in the conventional crops 66% of the time.

So I think much of the debate about the nutrient content of organic vs. non-organic is misfocused. You could say omega-3's are useless because they don't prevent divorce, but that's not why we eat them, is it? And we eat organic food primarily to minimize our intake of the crap they spray on regular food, not because it necessarily has more vitamin C.

When all is said and done, only about 2.5 percent of food eaten in the US is organic, and

let's face it, organic costs a lot more. It may be much more important to focus on eating more fresh food — organic or non-organic — than to have endless debates about marginal benefits of one over the other.

If you want to dig deeper, check out the book America's Food by Harvey Blatt.

Cereal at Night?

A: What a bunch of horseshit.

That "healthy" post-dinner snack has sugar, trans-fats (check the label: partially hydrogenised palm kernel oil is right there, despite the "no trans-fat" claim) and high fructose corn syrup with about all of one gram of fiber and two grams of protein.

On what planet is that a great snack? Oh yes, I guess if you compare a bowl of this crap to two pints of ice cream and three chocolate brownies then the cereal is a better snack, but not by much!

Sad to say, the protein shake is probably an improvement over what most of America consumes for breakfast. But that's like saying Froot Loops are good because they're an improvement over donuts.

Anyone serious about nutrition shouldn't waste their time with crap like this. It's got 10 grams of protein, but that comes with 29 grams of carbs and a list of ingredients that include sugar, canola oil, corn syrup, and a whole bunch of other highly processed stuff.

Why anyone reading TMUSCLE would even consider this shit is beyond me! If you want a protein shake, just get some high quality whey protein powder and mix it in a blender with some berries and water and call it a day.

The Truth About "The Grapefruit Diet"

A: Yup, I remember that too. In fact, pre-Internet days there was a diet passed around called "The Mayo Clinic Diet" that was basically grapefruit at every meal followed by some bastardized (and not very good) version of the Atkins diet. People swore by it despite the fact that it had absolutely nothing to do with the Mayo Clinic (which has completely disavowed it).

The grapefruit was believed to have some special magical "fat burning" properties, and I remember spending an awful lot of time explaining to people why that was a bunch of crap.

Now it turns out there may be something there after all. In 2006, a study from Scripps Clinic in La Jolla investigated the effect of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance. (1) They took 91 obese patients and divided them into four groups. Group one got grapefruit capsules before meals; group two got grapefruit juice; group three got half a grapefruit, and group four got a placebo.

The placebo group only lost one-third of a pound, but the other three groups lost between 1.1 and 1.5 pounds. Only the fresh grapefruit group reached "statistical significance" but among a sub-group of patients with Metabolic Syndrome (pre-diabetes) all three lost significantly more weight. And insulin resistance improved in all of them.

The authors admitted that they really didn't understand the mechanism by which it worked, but the fact is that it did.

Either way, grapefruit is a whole food with low calories, high volume, and good enzymes. It can fill you up and be a part of any good fat-loss program. The red and pink varieties even have some cancer-fighting lycopene.

Soy and Bodybuilding

A: I'm underwhelmed. The amino acid profile is so-so, and even though the phytoestrogens in soy are weaker than estrogen itself, they're still estrogens. Do you really need estrogens in your diet? Much better to use whey or casein, or a combination of both.

And most soy foods — soy milk, soy lattes, soy burgers etc. — are junk food and no healthier than the crap they replace. (However, traditionally fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh can be healthy.)

An interesting note, for my book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, I interviewed fifteen notable nutrition experts and asked them to list their top ten favorite health foods. How many listed soy? Not a single one!

I wouldn't go so far as my friend Charles Poliquin — who, as I recall, said an unprintable version of "Soy is for sissies" — but I think soy is pretty overrated as a health food. Bodybuilders would obviously be better off looking elsewhere!

Fiber or Fibber?

A: There are a number of these ingredients that manufacturers use in food products that are showing up as "fiber" on the nutrition facts label, and to my mind, the jury is still out on them. The best known are polydextrose and inulin. (More on those in a minute.)

The Institute of Medicine classifies fiber into two large categories: dietary and functional. Dietary fiber comes in three flavors — soluble, insoluble, and the new trendy one called resistant starch.

As the name "dietary" implies, they come from real food. These are the fibers your grandmother used to call "roughage" and which are associated with a lot of health benefits.

"Functional" fiber refers to both man-made substances like polydextrose and natural substances like inulin.

Polydextrose is a kind of sugar substitute made from dextrose and sorbitol. It's low- calorie and low-glycemic which makes it appealing for many people. It's perfectly legal to list polydextrose under "fiber" on the nutritional facts label in the US, so manufacturers do it.

But although it's classified as a "functional fiber," truth is we don't really know if it confers the same benefits as the old-fashioned kind from vegetables and fruits. (In Canada, their version of the FDA — known as Health Canada — doesn't allow it to be listed as a fiber on the nutritional facts label.)

It's hard enough to separate the health benefits that come from fiber from the well-known health benefits that come from eating high-fiber foods like beans, fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, etc. No one seems to know for sure the benefits, if any, of adding these man-made substances to food.

At least one study shows that consumption of polydextrose significantly improved bowel function (2) and others show that it promotes the growth of probiotics, so it certainly isn't a bad thing — though whether it's equal in value to food fiber is an open question.

Inulin, the other fiber that's showing up on these products, is a natural soluble fiber that acts as a pre-biotic, meaning it feeds the "good" bacteria in your gut (probiotics). For that reason alone, it's good stuff. It also seems to lower glucose and insulin response.

The Best Oils

A: Like coconut oil, palm oil got a bad rap because it's relatively high in saturated fat. But unless it's been hydrogenated (i.e. "partially hydrogenated palm oil"), there's absolutely no reason to avoid it.

Good organic red palm oil is about 10% omega-6, 40% omega-9 (monounsaturated fat) and about 50% saturated fat, and it has a high smoke point (450 degrees) making it pretty darn stable for cooking. It's red because of its high beta-carotene content.

I wouldn't make it my only oil, but I see no reason not to use it occasionally. I trust the kind sold by Tropical Traditions.


1) Grapefruit and weight loss.

2) Z Jie, L Bang-Yao, X Ming-jie, L Hai-wei, Z Au-kang, W Ting-song, and S Craig. 2000. Studies on the effects of polydextrose intake on physiologic functions in Chinese people. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 72: 1503-9.

Dirty Nutrition Vol 3

Organic foods — Still good.

Dirty Nutrition Vol 3

Inulin is added to many health foods and can be purchased
in supplement form as well.

About Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Dirty Nutrition Vol 3

Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, is a board-certified nutrition specialist and a nationally known expert on weight loss and nutrition. He has a master's degree in psychology and counseling and a Ph.D. in nutrition, and has earned six national certifications in personal training and exercise. His books include: The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, and The Healthiest Meals on Earth. Learn more about Dr. Bowden and download one of his free audio courses at

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Get Ready For The Workout Of Your Life!

Want great results from your training? Then, have great workouts!

It should go without saying that not only do you need to train, but you also need to train hard if you seek real results. Like just about everything in life, you get out of training what you put in. Unfortunately, most people today just go through the motions during their workouts and then wonder why they don't make any true gains. Granted, there are times when you need to pull back a bit, but there are also times when you need to go hard. This article is geared toward the latter.

In order to experience any form of success with weight training — whether it be to improve body composition (a decrease in body fat and an increase in lean body mass) or to increase strength, speed, power and ultimately performance — you must have effective workouts. And just like any race, the start is crucial!

Pre-exercise preparation, including the often-neglected warm-up, can make or break your workout. It is the most misunderstood aspect of training. Traditional warm-ups are seriously flawed. Quite frankly, most people shoot themselves in the foot before they even begin!

I have spent years researching this subject, and in my journey, I've discovered some of the most effective, cutting edge techniques from many of the world's leading experts. Ready to get the results you deserve for your hard effort in the gym? Great, then let's begin.

1. Best Time To Train

In order to experience the ultimate workout, you need to schedule your training at the most appropriate time. Let's review the evidence.

Supercharging Hormones & Lubricating Joints

Research on circadian rhythms (your body's internal clock) indicate that the summation of several important anabolic hormones peak at 3 and 11 hours upon awakening. What does that mean in plain English? Well, according to science, if you wake up at 6:00 am, you're at your strongest at 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. And, according to Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin, your joints — specifically, the synovial fluid that lubricates your joints — require about 3 hours to reach an optimal level of warmth, which will help improve performance while decreasing the likelihood of injury.

Morning or Night Person

According to Dr. Ann de Wees Allen, a Board Certified Doctor of Naturopathy, the best time to train depends on whether you're a morning or night person. It's really that simple. She believes that we respond better during certain periods of the day and those are the times that we should train. This reflects our circadian rhythm — something that we're born with and cannot change.

Subsequently, there will be times during the day that we're the strongest. This doesn't happen by chance. You must recognize those times and use them to your advantage — it'll have a big impact on your performance. Does it mean that you can't work out at other times? No! But, it's a good idea to train at the same time each workout if possible — your body will naturally adjust to that time and prepare itself for activity.

If you're forced to change your workout time, though, to accommodate your schedule, then allow 3 weeks for your body to get used to the new time (especially if you are unaccustomed to training first thing in the morning). It usually takes about 3 weeks to form a habit.

Never First Hour

Dr. Stuart McGill, a spinal biomechanist and professor at the University of Waterloo, warns people not to perform demanding exercises first thing in the morning. Since discs are hydrophilic, they tend to soak up water and swell overnight, and it's much easier to herniate a swollen, water-filled spine! Therefore, McGill recommends to wait at least one hour after awakening to exercise. That is the critical period since your tissue is superhydrated at that point, resulting in an 18% loss of strength in the spine and risk of injury is heightened!

Ultimate Workout Tip #1

2. High Protein and Fat Breakfast

I'm about to hit you with a bold statement: carbohydrates induce sleep ... and what do most people start their day with? You guessed it, a high carb breakfast (and diet for that matter!) If you want to crash mid-morning — or half way through your workout — then go ahead and consume the typical North American breakfast. If, on the other hand, you plan to experience the ultimate workout, then do the exact opposite!

A high protein and fat meal will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep you awake, alert and coherent throughout the morning. The best way to accomplish this, according to Poliquin, is to eat a meat and nuts breakfast.

"When people ask me for the best single dietary tip for optimal leanness, energy and sustained mental focus, I invariably tell them to try the rotating meat and nuts breakfast. Clients ranging from NHL & NFL stars to corporate executives, rave about the increased mental acuity and focused energy they derive from this food combination. The meat allows for a slow and steady rise in blood sugar. The nuts provide a great source of healthy smart fats that allow the blood sugar to remain stable for an extended period of time. Multiple studies on employee productivity or on children's attention patterns have demonstrated that a high protein breakfast does not only impact energy and productivity levels of morning till noon, but extends into the late afternoon." — Charles Poliquin

Ultimate Workout Tip #2

3. Pre-Workout Supplements

Want a great workout? Consider some assistance. There are a million pre-workout products available today, ranging from caffeine-based stimulants like SPIKE® Shooter to neurotransmitter boosting products like Power Drive.

Many of these supplements may be combined for a potent synergistic effect; for instance, you can mix Spike or ECA with Power Drive, etc. However, I recommend you rotate the above products regularly, and most importantly, only use a pre-workout supplement when you need to.

If energy is low one day and/or you are in a high-intensity phase and require some assistance then by all means, but don't get into the habit of relying on these before each and every workout.

Ultimate Workout Tip #3

4. Soft Tissue Work

Muscle density can be a limiting factor in both the flexibility and strength of a muscle. A buildup of scar tissue and adhesions can reduce the range of motion of a joint and cause rigid muscles. Many strength coaches today recognize the need for soft tissue work pre-exercise to improve performance. You don't need a licensed practitioner to perform such work — rolling on a ball, wheel, or foam roller will do the trick.

Foam Roller

A foam roller can help to improve soft tissue quality, range of motion and overall performance. It's an inexpensive and convenient method to break down knots, adhesions, and scar tissue that accumulate over time. Does it hurt? Yes, it does, at least initially, but over time the pain tends to subside; and that's an indication that you made some progress with the tissue. At that point less rolling is needed — only when necessary.

Foam Rolling has been covered extensively in previous TMUSCLE articles and suffice it to say, if you're not doing it you're truly missing out. For a complete breakdown, check out the article Feel Better for 10 Bucks by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson.

Pay particular attention to rolling the upper back and performing thoracic extensions. Read it, do it, and learn to love it.

The FootWheel

Believe it or not, the plantar fascia located at the bottom of the foot can impede flexibility throughout the entire body. Limitations in this area can cause restrictions in the hamstrings, low back, and neck. A simple test I discovered from the book Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers led to a warm-up technique I use often prior to training legs.

For a sometimes dramatic and easily administered test of the entire superficial back line, have your client do a forward bend (as if to touch the toes with the knees straight). Note the bilateral contour of the back and the resting position of the hands. Draw your client's attention to how it feels along the back of the body on each side.

Have your client roll a golf ball or tennis ball deeply into the plantar fascia on one foot only, being slow and thorough rather than fast and vigorous. Keep it up for at least a couple of minutes, making sure the whole territory is covered from the ball of all five toes back to the front edge of the heel.

Now have the client do the forward bend again and note the bilateral differences in back contour and hand position (and draw the client's attention to the difference in feeling).

In most people this will produce a dramatic demonstration of how working in one small part can affect the functioning of the whole. This will work for many people, but not all: for the most easily assessable results, avoid starting on someone with a strong scoliosis or other bilateral asymmetries.

Since this also functions as a treatment, do not forget to carry out the same procedure on the other side after you assess the difference.

You can use a golf ball or tennis ball, or a neat little instrument known as the FootWheel to stretch and relax the plantar fascia and extinguish myofascial trigger points. Basically, it was designed to make your feet happy as many report that the FootWheel will soothe tired, achy feet in mere seconds!

While standing, place the wheel on the ground with your weight on the opposite foot. Then roll on the wheel (you determine the amount of pressure) to search and find these myofascial trigger points (areas that are tight, knotty, ropey, or tender.) Make sure to move slow and gentle with specific strokes for about 30 seconds. The goal is healthy muscle free of pain, tightness or tenderness.

Ultimate Workout Tip #4

5. Stretching Dynamics

There are two general types of stretching: static (no motion) and dynamic (with motion). Static stretching basically consists of stretching a muscle as far as possible and then holding that position.

Passive stretching involves the use of some external force (body part, partner assistance or apparatus) to bring the joint through its range of motion (ROM). Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching is often a combination of passive stretching and isometric or static contractions.

Ballistic stretching uses momentum rather than muscular control to increase ROM, whereas dynamic stretching involves controlled movements — no bouncing or jerking.

Dynamic stretching as part of a warm-up can be useful to decrease muscle damage and improve performance. Research has shown that an active warm-up or 100 concentric contractions performed just before an eccentric exercise bout can decrease muscle damage.

Also, warm-ups involving calisthenics increase performance. A warm-up consisting of a ten-exercise bodyweight circuit (where each exercise is performed for only 20 seconds) produced a higher vertical jump compared to a warm-up with static or PNF stretching. And as you know, the vertical jump is practical and a good index of leg power.

When it comes to stretching during warm-ups, you want to respect the following rules:

For instance, if you experience rounded shoulders and you plan to work your back, it may be a good idea to stretch out your chest to liberate greater ROM when rowing or pulling. Since static stretching will disrupt the optimum contraction length and temporarily weaken the fibers, it would be wise to use this form of stretching on antagonistic muscles (such as the chest) prior to working the agonists (which is the back in this case).

In general, static stretching prior to weight training is not recommended. There are certain applications for its use, but static stretching will ultimately sedate your nervous system and make you weaker: two things you don't want before pushing some serious weight. Dynamic stretching will do the opposite: rev up the nervous system and increase strength!

When performing dynamic stretches, start slow and shallow and gradually increase speed and rage with each repetition.

Dynamic Stretching Routine

For a dynamic demonstration of part of this routine, visit

Ultimate Workout Tip #5

6. Set Your Body

Neck Bridge

Activating the long cervical extensors can help reposition C5 and C6, two vertebrae in your neck that innervate the biceps. This will increase curling and pulling strength. In fact, according to Poliquin, it may increase biceps strength by as much as 10%, so try this technique just before back and biceps exercises.

Sit on a Swiss ball. Walk forward until only the back of your head is supported on the ball. Keep the hips up and make sure to accentuate the rib cage. Now try to hold that position for up to a minute. You may not reach that duration the first time; just work up to it gradually over sessions.

To make the exercise easier, lean the back of the head against a wall. Use a rolled up towel or pillow for comfort. To make the exercise more difficult, try it on the Swiss ball but hold a plate or dumbbell on the chest to increase resistance.

Holding a plate on the chest will make the exercise more difficult. Do this only after you've accomplished a full 60-second hold with your bodyweight only.

It is very important that you perform the neck bridge before upper body training only — never before lower body training. Shortening the upper neck muscles can actually impair lower body flexibility; whereas, releasing tension in the suboccipital region of the head can lengthen hamstrings and increase hip range of motion.

Set The Scapula

Performing behind-the-neck pulldowns with a tube or band is a great way to counter the ever-so-popular scapular elevation that many people experience. It's excellent for scapular depression and is great prior to upper body training to help set the scapula and save your shoulders from unnecessary wear and tear while increasing strength.

It's pretty easy to perform. While holding on to a tube or band with your arms extended overhead, simply perform a pulldown motion behind the neck. Try to pull the elastic apart as you pull it down. Hold the bottom contraction for 5-10 seconds and perform 10-12 reps. Start at 5-second holds for 10 reps and work your way up to 10-second holds for 12 reps over successive workouts.

Set The Hips

Setting the hips prior to lower body work can definitely improve performance. Ever notice someone's knees dipping inward during a squat? You should have; it's quite common!

According to strength and conditioning coach, Mike Robertson, exercises that strengthen and develop the gluteals are required to correct this condition. For instance, light squats with a mini-band placed around the thighs, just above the knees, is a great option as it teaches you to recruit the gluteals while squatting. Start off with just your bodyweight and focus on hinging the knees outward throughout the movement. One set of 15-20 reps before training is all you need.

Mini-band walks are another option. Simply double wrap a mini band around your ankles and start walking. Make sure your toes are turned out slightly and the core is braced throughout. Here, 15-20 strides should do the trick, just make sure to stay tight and tall and concentrate on the glutes throughout the movement.

Finally, glute bridges work quite nicely as well. Like the behind the neck pulldowns, 10-12 reps of 5-10 second holds will do.

Ultimate Workout Tip #6

7. Play With The Nervous System

Overshoot The Load

An effective warm-up method involves utilizing post-activation (post- tetanic facilitation/potentiation). By gradually ramping up your low rep warm-up sets beyond your working weight, it will increase strength for your work sets. There are different ways to really tap into those high-threshold fibers such as performing eccentrics or heavy supports with loads that are greater than your working weight. Another way to play with your nervous system is to add chains to the bar, which will naturally slow down the concentric speed (although the intent must always be fast). Then remove the chains for your work sets and you'll go through the roof!

Oversize Grips

Want to trick your body even further and lift even more weight? Do your warm-up sets with oversize grips then perform your work sets with regular handles and watch your strength soar! TylerGrip and FAT GRIPZ are two great tools for this purpose — check them out at and respectively.


Plyometrics can be very useful during a warm-up, but don't go overboard! They place a tremendous amount of stress on the nervous system — if you do too much prior to training, they'll kill performance.

Then again, if you do just the right amount, it can potentiate your strength! In general, though, plyometrics are best reserved for athletes. Various jumps, push-ups and medicine ball throws can be used, but make sure to perform no more than 5 repetitions per set. By the way, my Warm-Up to Strength Training DVD has a great application of the three-stance vertical jump test from my colleague, Chad Waterbury, that will increase your squat in no time.

Ultimate Workout Tip #7


What you do beforehand can make or break your workout. For the ultimate workout, you must start at the right time with the proper nutrients in place and some assistance from a proven, effective pre-workout supplement. Start the training session with the right amount of soft tissue work and an appropriate form of stretching. Then, set the body, activate the nervous system and go to it. Follow these steps exactly as outlined in this article, and you will experience a great workout and all the benefits that follow.


1. Altieri, M. (2003) Step Up to the Plate - And vibrate your way to better recovery and more strength and health. Ironman Magazine. Vol. 62, No. 8, p. 286.

2. Bazett-Jones, DM, Gibson, MH, McBride, JM. Sprint and Vertical Jump Performances Are Not Affected by Six Weeks of Static Hamstring Stretching. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 22(1):25-31, January 2008.

3. Boyle, M. Foam Rolling. Originally printed in Training and Conditioning Magazine December 2006.

4. Boyle, M. The Static Stretching Renaissance.

5. Burkett, L.N., Phillips, W.T., Ziuraitis, J. (2005) The Best Warm-Up for the Vertical Jump in College-Age Athletic Men. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 673-676.

6. Chek, P. Timing is Everything or When to Exercise to Maximize Your Results.

7. Church, J.B., Wiggins, M.S., Moode, M., Crist, R. (2001) Effect of Warm-Up and Flexibility Treatments on Vertical Jump Performance. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 332-336.

8. Clark, M Integrated Training for the New Millennium. National Academy of Sports Medicine, Thousand Oaks, CA. 2000

9. Cressey, E & Robertson, M. Feel Better for 10 Bucks 
Self-myofascial release: no doctor required.

10. Cressey, E. Shoulder Savers: Part I.

11. Cressey, E. Shoulder Savers: Part II.

12. Evans, R.K., Knight, K.L., Draper, D.O., Parcell, A.C. (2002) Effects of warm-up before eccentric exercise on indirect markers of muscle damage. Med Sci Sports Exerc.: Vol.34, No. 12, pp. 1892-9.

13. Gentilcore, T. Soft Tissue Work for Tough Guys.

14. Gray, S.C., Devito, G., Nimmo, M.A. (2005) Effect of active warm-up on metabolism prior to and during intense dynamic exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc.: Vol. 34, No. 12, pp. 2091-6.

15. Holt, BW & Lambourne, K. The Impact of Different Warm-Up Protocols on Vertical Jump Performance in Male Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 22(1):226-229, January 2008.

16. Jiao C, Turman B, Weerakoon P, Knight P. Alterations in grip strength during male sexual arousal. Int J Impot Res. 2005 Oct 27

17. Jordan MJ, Norris SR, Smith DJ, Herzog W. (2005) Vibration training: an overview of the area, training consequences, and future considerations. J Strength Cond Res. Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 459-66.

18. Landry, G. Top 10 Reasons To Exercise In The Morning.

19. McGill, S. New understanding for back pain.

20. McPartland J M, Brodeur R R, Rectus capitis posterior minor: a small but important suboccipital muscle, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, January 1996

21. Myers, T.W. Anatomy Trains — Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 2002.

22. Nosaka, K., Clarkson, P.M. (1997) Influence of previous concentric exercise on eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Sports Sci: Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 477-83.

23. Poliquin, C. Breakfast of Champions.

24. Poliquin, C. (1997) Loading Parameters for Hypertrophy Training [Seminar].

25. Poliquin, C. Question Of Strength. Golden, CO: Muscle Media 2000, Inc. December, 1996. (pg. 58)

26. Pollard, H. & Ward, G. A Study of Two Stretching Techniques for Improving Hip Flexion Range of Motion. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies, September 1997; 20:443-447.

27. Robertson, M. 18 Tips for Bulletproof Knees.

28. Robertson, M. Getting to Know The Squat.

29. Schleip, R. How Upper Neck Muscles Influence Hamstring Length.

30. Sports Medicine Institute International. A Guide To The Foam Roller.

31. Sports Performance Bulletin (2005) The weekly newsletter for athletes and coaches. Issue 3 - 17th Subject: Prepare To Win With Warm Up Secrets [Email]. Available at

32. Winchester, JB, Nelson, AG, Landin, D, Young, MA, Schexnayder, IC. Static Stretching Impairs Sprint Performance in Collegiate Track and Field Athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 22(1):13-19, January 2008.

Get Ready For The Workout Of Your Life!

The FootWheel kneads out those plantar fascial knots.

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Fat Gripz

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When you eat may be as important as what you eat.

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A proper warm-up may be the difference between a
so-so workout and a new PR!

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A great physique begins with a great workout.

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Did someone mention motherfucking foot massages?

About John Paul Catanzaro

John Paul Catanzaro, B.Sc., C.K., C.E.P., is a Certified Kinesiologist and Certified Exercise Physiologist with a Specialized Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Science. He owns and operates a private gym in Richmond Hill, Ontario providing training and nutritional consulting services. For additional information, visit his website at or call 905-780-9908. Check out John Paul's DVD, Warm-Up to Strength Training, for some powerful techniques to increase strength and improve performance. It has received a thumbs-up from many experts including Drs. Eric Serrano, Mark Lindsay, and Ken Kinakin as well as Olympic strength coach, Charles Poliquin. Visit for more details.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Advanced Glute Training

Let's cut the BS. A strong, powerful gluteus maximus is what separates the elite athlete from the average athlete, the average bodybuilder from the professional, and the guy who builds the ultimate body from the dude who can't gain weight or strength no matter what he tries.

Most guys have no junk in their respective trunks, and are seriously limiting their potential. Don't think you're one of the afflicted ass-less? Go find a mirror, turn around, and give your nether regions a good once-over. Flex the hell out of 'em while you're at it. Chances are pretty good you you're not even filling out your Dockers. And if by chance you do have nicely rounded glutes, I bet they're one of your weakest body parts.

Whether your goal is to increase your squat and deadlift, your sprinting speed, or to simply to look better naked, the info presented here will help you tremendously.

I'm not gonna lie; I get a bit heavy on the science-speak. But if you can spend the next fifteen minutes reading this article, your knowledge of hip extension exercises will be greater than that of 99 percent of all trainers and coaches.

But the best part is applying what you learn and building some serious lower body muscles with serious power. Sound good?

Let's get our asses in gear.

Hip to the Basics. What Exactly is Hip Extension?

Hip extension is involved in running, jumping, squatting, lunging, bending, climbing, and thrusting. (Insert your own sex joke here.)

The hip is the juncture between the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelvis and hip extension occurs in the sagittal plane and involves straightening the hip when it's bent forward (flexed). The key to understanding hip extension is to focus on the angle created by the linear approximations of the spine and femur, which create the hip angle.

In anatomical position, the hip angle is a straight line, or a 180 degree angle. Hip flexion decreases the hip angle and brings the knee closer to the shoulders while hip extension increases the hip angle and brings the knee back to 180 degrees. If the angle increases past 180 degrees, the action is referred to as hyperextension, since the hip joint extends past anatomical position. Got it? If not, here's a quick chart:

There are many types of hip extension exercises, including squatting movements, deadlifting movements, lunging movements, bent and straight leg bridging movements, quadruped movements, straight leg hyperextension movements, and movements that combine hip extension and knee flexion. This article will examine the differences between these exercises and the benefits of each.

All in the Family — the Hip Extensors

There are five primary hip extensors and possibly fifteen secondary hip extensors. The five main hip extensors are the gluteus maximus, the hamstring part of the adductor magnus, the long head of the biceps femoris, the semimembranosus, and the semitendinosus.

Each primary and secondary hip extensor belongs to the adductor, hamstring, gluteal, deep hip rotator, or hip flexor group. Here's a complete list of potential hip extensors, all of which are supported by at least one literary source. (See how many you can pronounce.)

Varying Hip Extensor Contribution

It's futile to guess which hip extensor muscle or muscle part is the strongest or most important in a certain exercise or sport action, as the proportion of hip extensor recruitment varies depending on the load vector, knee action, hip angle, and numerous other factors.

For example, at a certain position in a certain exercise, the long head of the biceps femoris might be the most powerful hip extensor, while thirty degrees later into extension during the same exercise, the gluteus maximus might become the most powerful hip extensor at that moment.

During hip extension exercises, a certain hip extensor muscle can be highly involved at a particular range of motion only to die off later in the movement. Conversely, a certain hip extensor muscle can be dormant at a particular range of motion only to become the prime mover later in the movement.

Classification of muscles that act on the hip into functional groups only holds true for a particular joint position, because the axis of motion changes relative to the muscles as the joint reorients itself dynamically, causing muscles to have opposite roles (for example abductors as adductors). This is referred to as "inversion of muscular action." A muscle of a joint with three degrees of freedom (such as the hip joint) may have secondary actions that can be altered and even reversed.

The most common example is the dual flexor-extensor role of the adductor muscles depending on their position in the flexion-extension axis. In addition to adducting the hip, the adductors flex the hip early in hip flexion, and then extend the hip early in hip extension when the thigh is significantly flexed forward.

Especially during compound movements and movements that involve a lot of muscle, the same muscles are not dominant during the entire range of movement. For example, the glutes may be highly involved in the deep portion of a squat, yet the gluteal contribution dissipates as the movement rises.

The glutes may be minimally involved in the deep portion of a back extension yet the gluteal contribution increases as the movement rises especially into hip hyperextension. The adductors may contribute heavily to the initial portion of a back extension yet completely die off as the movement rises.

More Than You'll Ever Need to Know About Your Ass

You still awake? On the right are some nice ass pictures, sort of a reward for just hanging in here with me. Now that we're refreshed, let's move on to the thing you're sitting on right now — your ass.

The average weight of the gluteus maximus is 844 grams, weighing over twice that of the gluteus medius and minimus combined (421 grams). Often the gluteus maximus measures over 1 inch thick and measures over 66 square cm in cross section. The gluteus maximus comprises 12.8% of the total muscle mass of the lower extremity.

On average, the fiber-type composition of the gluteus maximus breaks down into 68 percent slow-twitch and 32 percent fast-twitch. It has a force equivalent to 34 kg and a static power equivalent to 238 kg. Although it's often stated that the gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle group in the human body, it's simply not true for everyone. (Although it's pretty damn powerful.)

Concentrically, the gluteus maximus accelerates hip extension, hip external rotation, and hip abduction. The upper and lower fibers of the gluteus maximus function differently from one another, with the upper fibers being more involved in hip abduction, hip external rotation, and hip hyperextension.

Eccentrically, the gluteus maximus decelerates hip flexion, hip internal rotation, and hip adduction. Isometrically, the gluteus maximus stabilizes the knee via the iliotibial band (which is taut at 15-20 degrees of flexion) and the sacroiliac joint via the latissimus dorsi and sacrotuberous ligament.

Surprisingly, the fibers of the gluteus maximus that insert into the iliotibial band (approximately 70-85% of the total muscle fibers) can actually produce extension of the knee joint.

The Four Primary Benefits of Gluteal Strengthening

Most guys' glutes are terribly weak and underpotentialized. Due to the multidirectional action of the gluteus maximus and roles as hip extensors, abductors, and external rotators, increasing the strength of the gluteus maximus can increase and improve:

* This was a non-scientific study, however. Further research may be needed.

A strong, powerful gluteus maximus is often what separate the elite athlete from the average athlete.

As athletes advance, they learn to incorporate their hip and leg musculature into their movements to a much higher degree. For example, beginner shot-putters use predominantly their upper body muscles when throwing, whereas advanced shot putters use predominantly their leg muscles.

The correlation between athletic achievements in beginner athletes' arm strength is .83, whereas the correlation between athletic achievements in beginner athletes' leg strength is .37.

That means they're not using their legs enough!

For advanced athletes, the correlations flip flop to .73 and .87, respectively.

In other words, in order for athletes to advance, they must learn how to derive maximum power from the hips and legs. In order for this advancement to take place, a foundation of adequate core strength and hip mobility is an absolute prerequisite.

Length-Tension Relationships

Length-tension relationships dictate the amount of muscular force that can be produced at a given time. This phenomenon has to do with the number of cross-bridges that can form at a given joint angle. A muscle contracts best when it is at its optimal length, which is either at resting length or slightly stretched at 1.2 times its resting length, depending on the muscle. When a muscle is either shortened or overstretched, it cannot produce its maximum force.

During hip extension exercises, the knee action that occurs while the hips are extending or extended helps determine the muscular activation due to length-tension relationships and various muscle contraction types.

There are five types of knee actions that can occur during hip extension exercises: extension, semi-straight leg, straight leg, bent leg, and flexion. For example, at the bottom of a squat the hamstrings are shortened and can't contribute as much as they can during a deadlift.

Directional Load Vectors

In the body-planes model (frontal, sagittal, transverse planes), a jump and a sprint are both sagittal plane activities; there is no distinction between the two even though they propel the body in two different directions. I created load vector terminology to more adequately describe movement in sports and the weight room.

When creating the model, I used the direction of the load in the weight room rather than the direction in which we propel the body in sports (they are opposites). Load vectors refer to the direction of the resistance relative to the human body. Since load vectors are relative to the body, one must consider both the position of the human and the direction of the resistance in order to determine the load vector. The following diagrams depict two ways of illustrating the six primary load vectors in sports and strength training:

In sagittal plane hip extension, there are three main types of load vectors; axial, anteroposterior, and a combination of axial and anteroposterior. In axial hip extension exercises, the direction of the resistance comes from top to bottom (or vice versa) in reference to anatomical position.

In anteroposterior hip extension exercises, the direction of the resistance comes from front to back (or vice versa) in reference to anatomical position.

In axial/anteroposterior blend hip extension exercises, the direction of the resistance is halfway between axial and anteroposterior at a 45 degree angle relative to the human body.

Free weight and bodyweight axial hip extension exercises are usually performed while standing, while anteroposterior hip extension exercises are performed in the supine, quadruped, or prone positions.

Axial activities include squatting, deadlifting, and jumping. Anteroposterior activities include hip thrusting, back extensions, and top-speed sprinting. Axial/anteroposterior blend activities include walking lunges, 45 degree hypers, sled pushing, broad jumping, and acceleration sprints.

Load vectors profoundly impact muscular activation in hip extension exercises. When a guy intends to move his hips upward with maximal force, as in the case of a vertical jump, squat, or deadlift, the gluteus maximus muscles aren't activated nearly as much as they are when he intends to move his hips forward with maximal force, as in the case of a sprint, hip thrust, or reverse hyper.

Wolff's law states that if loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading. The direction of the loading causes the collagen fibers within bone to conform to the lines of stress experienced by the bone.

Axial loading causes different bone adaptations than anteroposterior loading. Similarly, muscles become stronger over time to resist various loading patterns as well (not through collagen adaptations but through sarcomeric hypertrophy and increased HTMU stimulation).

Although most guys have significantly tapped into their axial hip extension strength capacity by performing years of squats and deadlifts, they haven't scratched the surface regarding their anteroposterior hip extension strength capacity.

For example, if you've performed military press (axial loaded) for years but had never performed a single set of bench press (anteroposterior loaded), your deltoids and triceps would be sufficiently developed, but your pecs and triceps would have much room for increased development.

If you've performed squats and deadlifts (axial loaded) for years but have never performed a single set of hip thrusts or weighted back extensions, your quadriceps and erector spinae would be sufficiently developed, but your glutes and hamstrings (anteroposterior loaded) would have much room for increased development.

Here's a good rule to keep in mind: squats and lunges are the kings of quad exercises; deadlifts and good mornings are the kings of erector spinae exercises; hip thrusts and pendulum quadruped hip extensions are the kings of glute exercises; and weighted back extensions and glute ham raises are the kings of hamstring exercises.

Angular Kinematics

At the hip, the femur rotates inside the acetabulum. In axial loaded hip extension exercises, full hip extension is reached at the lockout position (0 degrees) and tension on the gluteus maximus muscles is dramatically reduced (like the top portion of a squat). In anteroposterior loaded hip extension exercises, full extension is reached at 10-20 degrees of hyperextension, and tension on the gluteus maximus muscles is maximized (ex: top portion of hip thrust).

In axial hip extension exercises like squats and deadlifts, hyperextension is dangerous because of the awkward angle on the spine and subsequent compressive forces on the posterior portions of the intervertebral discs and facet joints.

However, in anteroposterior hip extension exercises like hip thrusts and back extensions, hyperextension is much safer, as the hips can hyperextend 10 degrees with bent legs, 20 degrees with straight legs, and 30 degrees while being forcefully pulled back.

As dictated by length-tension relationships, since the gluteus maximus muscles contract best at resting length, then anteroposterior loaded exercises are going to be superior to axial loaded exercises because there's maximum tension placed upon the glutes at neutral and into hyperextension, where the glutes are in their strongest contraction zone.

Peak Activation Positions and Glute Zones

While mean activation is the average level of activation throughout an entire repetition or set, peak activation is the highest level of activation reached during a repetition or set.

The greatest peak glute activity in a squat and lunge occurs down low in the bottom-range or "stretched-position." The greatest peak glute activity in a deadlift occurs at lockout or "mid-range position." The greatest peak glute activity in a hip thrust occurs into hyperextension, which is the end-range or "contracted position."

All glute zones need to be trained for maximum gluteal development, maximum glute strength, and maximum glute power. Glute strength is zone-specific; it's possible to be strong in one zone and not another. For example, you may have strong glutes down low with the squat but not-so-strong glutes at the top of a deadlift or into the hyperextension range in the hip thrust.

Ideally, you should strive for optimal strength in all three glute zones. In sports, rate of force development (RFD) is the most important factor in producing explosive force. Muscles need to be strong at all ranges of motion so their pulses can summate and produce maximum propulsion.

Although it's important to perform movements explosively, it's also important to use heavy enough weight to where you feel the resistance all the way through the movement. During hip-hyperextension movements, some guys with strong hamstrings and weak glutes will fling the weight up at the bottom and fail to use the glutes up top.

Often they'll fail to achieve full range of motion (ROM) because of their weak glutes and tight hip flexors. This is akin to someone who has strong pecs, front delts, and lats but weak triceps flinging the weight up on a bench press and failing to control the weight up top to incorporate the triceps.

This strategy is suboptimal as the guy would also benefit from having strong triceps. It's imperative that you learn to open up your hips and use for glutes. For some this is automatic, for others it just takes time.

The 7 Categories of Hip Extension Exercises

All sagittal plane hip extension exercises fall into one of seven categories:

Each of these categories has unilateral (single limb) and bilateral (dual limb) counterparts. The first term refers to the load vector and the second term refers to the knee action while the hips are extending or extended.

Axial extension exercises

Axial extension exercises include squats, lunges, Bulgarian squats, step ups, and single leg squats. They are loaded from top-to-bottom, involve simultaneous hip and knee extension, and are stretched-position exercises.

Stretched-position hip extension exercises produce more glute soreness than contracted-position hip extension exercises due to the level of micro-trauma they deliver to the muscle fibers. This is because the muscle is producing its strongest contraction while the muscle is being forcefully stretched. The eccentric deceleration and subsequent reversal into concentric acceleration can lead to extreme levels of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

This explains why squats and lunges produce the most glute soreness out of all hip extension exercises, especially in the lower glute/ham tie-in area which is hit hardest. In addition, at the bottom of a squat or lunge, the hamstrings are shortened, which decreases their contribution and forces the glutes to take on the brunt of the hip extension requirements.

And if you employ the "sit back, chest up, knees out, spread the floor, go deep" technique then you'll maximize the stretch in the glutes and their force contribution in the squat.

However, stretched-position hip extension exercises don't produce much muscular tension at the top of the movement (at the exercise's lockout). Due to the decreased muscular tension up top, blood is left free to dissipate and escape the area, which explains why squats and lunges don't provide a pump or burning sensation in the glutes. Stretched-position hip extension exercises also work the quads the best and produce the greatest adductor magnus soreness.

Axial Semi-Straight Leg Exercises

Axial semi-straight leg exercises include deadlfits, good mornings, and single leg RDL's. They are loaded from top-to-bottom, involve hip extension with semi-straight legs (as well as slight knee extension at the lockout), and are actually mid-range position exercises.

Mid-range position hip extension exercises lie in between stretched position hip extension exercises and contracted-position hip extension exercises. They can produce glute soreness but not to the same degree as stretched-position hip extension exercises. They can also produce a mild-pump but not to the same degree as contracted-position hip extension exercises.

For example, at the bottom of a deadlift, the hamstrings are in an excellent position for maximal contraction. As the movement rises, the glutes become more important and are mandatory for providing the forward hip translation necessary for lockout. Mid-range position hip extension exercises target the erector spinae better than any other exercises.

Anteroposterior Sraight Leg Exercises

Anteroposterior straight leg exercises involve hip hyperextension with straight legs. They're loaded from front-to-back and they incorporate the upper glutes in addition to the lower glutes. They function similarly to axial semi-straight leg exercises by having good hamstring involvement down low and increased glute involvement up top.

They're straight leg contracted-position exercises, which are the best hamstring activators and the greatest pump, burn, and cramp producers in the hamstrings. Examples of anteroposterior straight-leg exercises are back extensions, reverse hypers, and straight leg bridges.

Anteroposterior Bent Leg Exercises

Anteroposterior bent-leg exercises involve hip hyperextension with bent knees. They're loaded from front-to-back and work the upper glutes in addition to the lower glutes. They're the best total glute activators because the knees stay bent, which decreases hamstring involvement and forces the glutes to pick up the slack.

They're bent-leg contracted-position hip extension exercises which produce the highest levels of both mean and peak glute activity because the glutes are worked pretty hard at the bottom of the movement but especially hard at the top of the movement at the hyperextension range.

Due to this phenomenon, muscular tension never subsides and blood is literally trapped and incapable of escaping. This explains why hip thrusts and pendulum quadruped hip extensions produce the greatest pump, burn, and cramping sensation out of any other hip extension exercises; the constant tension pools the blood which can be good for occlusion/hypoxia and fascial stretching, in addition to being good for both sarcomeric and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

However, during these exercises the glutes aren't placed under the same amount of stress at the bottom range of motion as squats or lunges, so they do not produce nearly as much glute soreness. Examples of bent-leg anteroposterior exercises are glute bridges, hip thrusts, pendulum quadruped hip extensions, bent leg back extensions, and bent leg reverse hypers.

Anteroposterior Extension Exercises

Anteroposterior extension exercises involve simultaneous hip hyperextension and knee extension. They're loaded from front-to-back and work the upper glutes in addition to the lower glutes. They produce a consistently high level of glute activation throughout the movement as well.

At the bottom of the motion, the hamstrings are shortened and the glutes are optimally loaded. As the movement progresses the knee straightens and the hamstrings become more active. The lever arm increases and the hips can hyperextend 20 degrees with straight legs (as opposed to only 10 degrees with bent legs).

But the knee-straightening produced by the quadriceps allows the hamstrings to lengthen, which increases their involvement and takes some of the burden off the glutes. This makes anteroposterior extension exercises second only to anteroposterior bent-leg exercises in mean glute activity. Examples of anteroposterior extension exercises are pull-throughs, Kettlebell swings, and reverse leg presses.

Anteroposterior Flexion Exercises

Anteroposterior flexion exercises involve simultaneous hip hyperextension and knee flexion. They're loaded from front-to-back and work the upper glutes in addition to the lower glutes. They begin with straight legs, which is optimal for hamstring involvement. As the movement progresses, the hamstrings work dual roles as knee flexors and hip extensors.

At the top of the movement, the knees are bent, the hamstrings are shortened, and the glutes are contracting very hard. Anteroposterior flexion exercises are second only to anteroposterior straight-leg exercises in mean hamstring activity. Examples of anteroposterior flexion exercises are glute-ham raises, stability ball leg curls, gliding leg curls, and sliding leg curls.


Hybrids are blended vectors that contain an even mixture of axial and anteroposterior components, which create 45 degree-angled vectors. Exercises like sled pushes, stadium sprints, 45-degree hypers, and walking lunges are hybrids.

Feel Your Glutes!

I don't want to get arrested for inciting mass-molestation, but I seriously recommend that you find someone (preferably Jessica Alba, Vida Guerra, or Shakira) who will let you squeeze their entire butt cheek while they perform various glute exercises. I recommend that you have your volunteer perform a bodyweight squat, good morning, lunge, single leg hip thrust, quadruped hip extension, lying abduction, and clam.

If you have access to weights and bands, then throw in a barbell squat, deadlift, lunge, glute bridge, hip thrust, band standing abduction, band seated abduction, and band external rotation. I believe that you can learn a ton about the glutes from this ten minute activity (or six-hour activity if you're lucky enough to get Shakira).

Putting it All Together

I know, I know, now I've gone and screwed everything up by adding more components to program design. In addition to considering the workout-split, frequency, volume, intensity, density, and fluctuation of training stress, it's also important to consider variety in exercise selection.

Variety prevents habituation. This is why templates work well. As long as one works hard on at least one movement each week from the various categories, then strength for that pattern should remain elevated.

Some of the many variables to consider with hip extension exercise include resistance type, center of gravity, limb number, kinetic chain type, contraction position, knee action, load vectors, level of stability, ROM, stance width, contraction type, tempo, and strength type (effort method).

Your Weekly Glute Fix

Here's a template that can be split apart depending upon the number of times per week you hit the lower body. The following categories should be trained on a weekly basis for optimal strength development:

Hybrids, anteroposterior flexion, and anteroposterior extension exercises can be thrown in from time to time in substitution for other categories. Furthermore, more targeted work can be incorporated as well as hip abduction, hip external rotation, hip flexion, hip adduction, hip internal rotation, knee flexion, and knee extension exercises.

Just in Case You're Wondering What Exercises to Pick

Here's a chart that hones in on the levels of glute activation I received from various exercises in reference to MVC.

Bilateral Axial Extension Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Full Squat 315 35.6 114.0
Sumo Squat 315 27.6 85.4
Front Squat 265 35.0 91.7
Low Box Squat 315 20.0 103.0
High Box Squat 345 28.9 105.0
Zercher Squat 295 45.0 92.7
Lever Squat 270 26.8 95.2
Kneeling Squat 495 66.8 159.0

Unilateral Axial Extension Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Walking Lunge 225 27.7 94.7
Elevated Static Lunge 100 25.1 64.4
Lever Lunge 90 33.8 70.7
High Step Up Bodyweight 25.0 189.0
Low Step Up 95 lbs 17.9 45.1
Bulgarian Squat 185 21.7 54.2
Single Leg Wall Slide Bodyweight 11.0 26.4
Single Leg Box Squat Bodyweight 17.3 39.1
Blast Strap Pistol Bodyweight 17.9 36.2

Bilateral Axial Semi-Straight Leg Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Deadlift 495 55.0 110.0
Sumo Deadlift 495 51.9 98.4
Hex Bar Deadlift 495 37.6 73.8
Good Morning 265 34.0 87.7
Romanian Deadlift 405 24.3 69.6
Snatch Grip Deadlift 455 43.1 95.2
Hack Lift 335 32.8 121.0
Glute Punch 230 26.0 77.5
Seated Good Morning 185 8.9 25.2

Unilateral Axial Semi-Straight Leg Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
King Deadlift 95 27.6 55.6
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift 200 31.1 66.4
Bulgarian Deadlift 225 46.8 69.5
Single Leg Good Morning 95 21.2 55.4
Single Leg Glute Punch 90 22.7 55.9

Bilateral Anteroposterior Bent Leg Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Hip Thrust Blue Band 94.5 224.0
Hip Thrust 405 84.1 180.0
Hip Thrust 275 plus 2 Red Bands 119.0 235.0
Bent Leg 45 Degree Hyper 2 Red Bands 67.1 135.0
Bent Leg 45 Degree Hyper 100 46.0 155.0
Bent Leg Back Extension 1 Red Band 48.6 139.0
Bent Leg Back Extension 100 46.0 149.0
Bent Leg Back Extension 100 plus 1 Red Band 89.8 158.0
Bent Leg Reverse Hyper 150 111.0 163.0

Unilateral Anteroposterior Bent Leg Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Pendulum Quadrupled Hip Extension 100 112.0 185.0
Single Leg Hip Thrust Red Band 43.5 120.0
Single Leg Prisoner Bent Leg 45 Degree Hyper Bodyweight 33.6 99.8
Single Leg Prisoner Bent Leg Back Extension Bodyweight 41.4 105.0
Single Leg Bent Leg Back Extension 25 plus 1 Red Band 65.9 134.0
Single Leg Bent Leg Reverse Hyper 100 122.0 199.0
Quadrupled Hip Extension Bodyweight 26.4 135.0
Single Leg Glute Bridge Bodyweight 26.1 119.0

Bilateral Anteroposterior Straight Leg Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Reverse Hyper 180 43.7 123.0
45 Degree Hyper 2 Red Bands 43.8 125.0
45 Degree Hyper 100 36.4 96.7
Back Extension 1 Red Band 36.4 130.0
Back Extension 100 42.4 105.0
Elevated Straight Leg Glute Bridge 50 14.9 66.8
Poor Man's Back Attack Purple Band 48.4 143.0

Unilateral Anteroposterior Straight Leg Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Single Leg Reverse Hyper 100 97 203
Single Leg Prisoner 45 Degree Hyper Bodyweight 39.2 108.0
Single Leg Prisoner Back Extension Bodyweight 45.3 151.0
Single Leg Back Extension 25 plus 1 Red Band 65.9 134.0
Single Leg Elevated Straight Leg Glute Bridge Bodyweight 22.9 118.0

Bilateral Anteroposterior Extension Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Pull Through 260 81.8 143.0

Unilateral Anteroposterior Extension Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Bird Dog Bodyweight 39.9 135.0

Anteroposterior Flexion Exercises

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Natural Glute Ham Raise Bodyweight 5.5 9.9
Stability Ball Leg Curl Bodyweight 3.0 7.4
Glute Ham Raise Bodyweight 14.1 44.2
Glute Ham Raise 50 30.7 104.0
Glute Ham Raise 2 Red Bands 16.2 82.3
Sliding Leg Curl Bodyweight 20.9 102.0

Abduction Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Standing Band Abduction 1 Red Band 18.6 46.1

Transverse Abduction Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Band Clam 1 Red Band 27.1 57.8

External Rotation Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Standing Cable External Rotation 30 20.1 48.2

Adduction Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Standing Cable Adduction 100 3.4 6.0

Transverse Adduction Exercise

Exercise Resistance
Activation %
Activation %
Seated Swiss Ball Adduction Swiss Ball 2.5 4.4


Hip extension may never be as sexy as benching a few hundred pounds or strapping some plates around your waist for weighted chin-ups, but focusing on the different force vectors and exercises will have a bigger impact on your training than you may think.

Advanced Glute Training

Contest glutes.

Advanced Glute Training

Jamie Eason's back seat takes a back seat to no one.

Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training

The Glute Bridge demonstrated by Katie Cole.

Advanced Glute Training

The Hip Thrust demonstrated by Katie Cole.

Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training

Pauline Nordin, vying for the Nobel Glute Prize.

Advanced Glute Training Advanced Glute Training

Vida Guerra, favorite of glute fans everywhere.

Advanced Glute Training

Jamie Eason's glutes, pleasing AND functional.

About Bret Contreras


Bret Contreras received his master's degree from Arizona State University and has been a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and fitness studio owner for the past several years. If you have comments or questions for Bret, or if you'd like to purchase Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening, please visit his website at or email him at

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