Bret Contreras: The Importance of Load Vector in Sprinting Enhancement.

The Importance of Load Vector in Physique Enhancement and Sport Training.
An Excerpt from Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening.
Available at www.TheGluteGuy.Com
By Bret Contreras, MA CSCS

Original Link: [.pdf"][1].pdf]([1)

Charlie is mentioned a few times throughout the article… Some interesting info.

Most experts in the fitness industry fail to recognize the role that the load vector plays in
determining hip extensor recruitment during hip extension exercises. As a case in point,
most articles written on glutei maximi training recommend axial loaded exercises such as
squats, deadlifts, and lunges. But axial exercises are greatly outperformed in glutei
maximi mean and peak activation by anteroposterior exercises.

I don’t expect the experts to know this, as to my knowledge, I am the first author who is pointing this out
scientifically. Although it’s been hinted about by strength coach Mike Boyle in the past
and recently inferred (during the time I was writing this book) by vertical jump specialist
Kelly Baggett, and although there have been many small-scale EMG studies performed in
the scientific literature, to my knowledge a large-scale EMG study involving dozens of
advanced and complex hip extension exercises has never been disclosed to the public –
until now.

I will discuss specific exercises and EMG data later in this book, but first let’s continue
talking about load vectors.

I just performed a Google search for “best glute exercises” and the first article that came
up was a web document written by Ray Burton, an ISSA Certified Trainer out of Canada,
entitled “Glute Exercises – My Top Three Choices.” His top three choices are reverse
lunges, sumo squats, and a special step up (a hybrid step-down/assisted pistol
movement), which are all axial loaded exercises.

I’m not trying to pick on Burton, as
articles like these are littered throughout the Internet and forums. If you gave me a full
day, I honestly believe that I could print out 300 articles, blogs, or forum posts that listed
axial hip extension exercises as the absolute best glute exercises.

Furthermore, I just took a trip to Barnes and Noble and spent about three hours flipping
through every popular book on strength training. I found books written by popular
authors including Mark Verstegen, Pavel Tsatsouline, Nate Green, Lou Schuler, Ian
King, Mike Mejia, and Men’s Health experts. Although every single book explained
ways to provide extra loading to axial hip extension exercises, not one of them showed
ways to provide extra loading to anteroposterior hip extension exercises. For some reason,
our industry feels that we should load up squat, deadlift, and lunge (axial)
movements but we should be content to stick to bodyweight bridge, quadruped, and
hyperextension movements. Has anyone stopped to think how idiotic this is?

Thank God for Louie Simmons or we’d never even consider loading the anteroposterior
vector (Simmons helped popularize weighted reverse hypers, back raises, pull throughs,
and glute ham raises).

In his article entitled “Squats and Speed?,” Kelly Baggett stated the following:

[QUOTE]“Squats allow one the biggest bang for the buck when strengthening and adding
size to the glutes, quadriceps, and hams all in one shot in that order and that’s why
they are so effective initially.”

In The Butt Book, fitness author Tosca Reno states:

“You must learn to love squats. Performed correctly, squats will endow you with
the best backside results when redesigning your glutes. Many of us have flat, even
non-existent backsides that must be coaxed into curviness by performing the
regular back squat.”

Later, she says:

“The best butt-mass builder is the back squat.”

In his article entitled, “Get a Great Ass,” popular trainer/author Chad Waterbury stated
the following:

“The deadlift is most effective gluteus maximus builder known to man – or woman.”

In fact, a YouTube video shows a lean Monica Brant (figure and fitness competitor and
cover model) doing deadlifts with 135 lbs and you can see her glutes contracting during
the set.

You can tell that her glutes are not contracting maximally (enough to exceed how hard
she could contract them on her own, which is known as maximal voluntary contraction or MVC).

If she were using the same amount of weight
with hip thrusts (which I will teach you later), her glutes would contract much harder and she would most likely exceed MVC.

I should say that Waterbury redeemed himself in his last article entitled, “The Fast Track
to a Hard Ass,” where he recommended sprints, swings, and bridges; three
anteroposterior hip extension movements.

However, he attributes the superiority of these
exercises as glute developers to their explosive contractions and fails to mention the role
of the load vector.

There have been several authors who have raised the issue of load direction. Legendary
biomechanist Vladimir Zatsiorsky stated that one of the advantages to sprinting
parachutes over other methods of resistance training is:

“The resistance (drag) force acts strictly in the direction of the athlete’s

Speed coach and entrepreneur Lauren Seagraves stated in his article entitled,
“NeuroBiomechanics of Maximum Velocity,” that the four primary objectives to increasing maximum velocity are:

  1. Apply greater force
  2. Apply the force in less time
  3. Apply force in the proper direction
  4. Apply force through the full or optimal range of motion.[/QUOTE]


When Contreras learns how to do EMG properly, he might be worth listening to.

Until that point, his method of ‘slapping on the electrodes wherever the hell he wants’ and drawing idiotic conclusions is as useless as his other information.

… and referencing Chad Waterbury

I wonder if Bret has ever observed what the load vector is in sprinting itself.

I’m sure the next article will be about spiralling fascial load vectors…

Lauren Seagraves is my hero.

I don’t have a problem with checking out this info but enough of Mike Boyle and some of these other clowns being experts on speed. Have they trained even one sprinter? Why haven’t these guys, who train a ton of athletes, widely publicized documented improvements?

I’m sceptical but also curious person so I did some hip thrusts in a gym session recently. Not for myself but perhaps the exercise may be useful for the athletes that I coach. Although I haven’t lifted anything heavy in the past 12 years I went up to 240kg easily (I still run so I’m not completely out of shape). What really surprised me is the lack of CNS stress, despite the heavy weight. Maybe because it wasn’t heavy enough, probably because it only involves the gluts and you use good leverages. I think that is a major drawback of the exercise, not enough of a challenge strength wise.

Even if hip thrusts hit the glutes harder than other posterior chain exercises, which I don’t think has been “scientifically” establshed, it wouldn’t make them a better alternative to squats. ALL weights are general, and the squat hits ALL the posterior chain fairly hard, Bret’s EMS ‘study’ notwithstanding. You would probably still need to do squats to hit the hams and quads in a multijoint fashion.

This will never happen. If sprint coaches are not in the know and they are continuing to spread the prowler flu- shouldn’t we see 4.1s coming out of the facilities they put their name on?

Certainly a good point.

The only “scientific research” I have come across regarding Mean/Peak activation %'s:

Original Link:


Original Link:

The winners.

Based on this experiment, here are the top three exercises in terms of mean and peak activity for each muscle part:

Glute Medius.

Mean: Quadruped Hip Circle, Band Standing External Rotation, Barbell Hip Thrust.

Peak: Quadruped Hip Circle, Quadruped Band Donkey Kick, Quadruped Hip Extension.

Upper Glute Maximus.

Mean: Barbell Hip Thrust, Band Skorcher Hip Thrust, Quadruped Hip Circle.

Peak: Quadruped Hip Extension, Barbell Hip Thrust, Bird Dog.

Mid Glute Maximus.

Mean: Band Standing Hip External Rotation, Band Skorcher Hip Thrust, Barbell Hip Thrust.

Peak: Band Standing Hip External Rotation, Band Skorcher Hip Thrust, Cable Standing Hip External Rotation.

Lower Glute Maximus.

Mean: Deadlift, Band Hip Thrust, Band Standing Hip External Rotation.

Peak: Single Leg Hip Thrust, Shoulder Elevated Single Leg Hip Thrust, Deadlift.


Nothing Bret has published or done is science. He is not a scientist and does not understand the scientific method, nor does he display even basic scientific understanding, even when he is quoting the research of others and using big sounding, scientific jargon. Real science is much more than that. Bret’s articles are purely opinion, backed up by hand selected, out of context ‘scientific data’, much of which wasn’t gathered in a scientific manner in the first place.

I parallel Bret’s use of EMG as equivalent to its use in this commerical

I parallel Bret’s use of EMG as equivalent to its use in this commerical

skip to 1:20

Yeah 50% more muscle activation; too bad nobody in the audience understands that when doing the traditional crunch shown vs. using the ‘Ab Coaster’ that the hip flexors are involved in the latter and thus account for the '50% more muscle activation.

Syrus just dropped us his secret.

Thanks Syrus. :smiley:

Its true :wink:

Reverse psychology at it’s finest.

He’s bluffing guys.


A measly 35 lb plate squat hits the erectors more than a 405 lb Deadlift.
A bodyweight chin-up is one the greatest ab exercises. Loading decreases effectiveness.

The Biomechanics of Jumping and Sprinting.

By Bret Contreras.