Everything You Need to Know about Training Your Glutes

Figure Competitor Marissa Rivero has excellent glutes.

 

https://bretcontreras.com/a-better-way-to-teach-barbell-glute-bridges-and-back-extensions/

Your butt is important.

Yes, it’s helpful for sitting and a few other essential purposes. However, it’s also a muscle group that can have a big impact on your performance and appearance.

Your glutes — the muscles around your posterior — play a key role in powering your leg movements and stabilizing your upper body during daily activities.

If you’re a physique athlete like a bodybuilder or model, then the appearance of your butt also matters. As Bret Contreras says in this podcast — your butt can be a “deal breaker” if you’re competing in a physique sport.

In this podcast, Bret Contreras, aka “The Glute Guy” is going to share his 20 years worth of knowledge on glute training with you. You’ll learn:

  • How to avoid the most common mistakes people make when training their glutes.
  • The best exercises you should use to train your glutes.
  • How and when to use these exercises in your workout program for best results.
  • How to modify your glute training for aesthetic versus athletic goals.
  • Why men and women may need to train their glutes differently, and how to do so.
  • How your genes affect your glute development.

Click the Player to Listen:

Show Notes

BretContreras.com

Strength and Conditioning Research (Bret’s monthly review service with Chris Beardsley)

The Strength of Evidence Podcast

Get Glutes by Bret Contreras, Kellie Davis, and Marianne Kane

Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening by Bret Contreras

Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body by Bret Contreras

Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy by Bret Contreras

Are All Hip Extension Exercises Created Equal?” by Bret Contreras

Glute Genetics” by Bret Contreras

How to Attain a Slender Look (like Jessica Alba & Zoe Saldana)” by Bret Contreras

Jonathan Fass

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Music

At the Mall” by Emerald Park

Falling For You (Piano Version)” by Sean Fournier

> Did you enjoy this podcast? [Click here to check out my book, *Flexible Dieting](https://evidencemag.com/flexible-dieting-book)*. Want an even more in-depth education on how to lose weight, build muscle, and get stronger and healthier? [Join Evidence Mag Elite](https://evidencemag.com/elite) and get member’s-only reports and interviews.

### Transcript

**Armi Legge:** Your butt is important. Yes, it is nice to sit on and it serves some other essential purposes, but it’s also a muscle group that can have a big impact on your performance and your appearance. Your glutes, the muscles around your posterior, like your gluteus medius and your gluteus maximus, play a major role in powering your leg movements and stabilizing your upper body during daily activities. If you’ve always wondered why sprinters tend to have big butts, this is why.

If you’re a physique athlete like a bodybuilder or a model, then the appearance of your butt also matters. As our guest, Bret Contreras, says later in this podcast, your butt can be a “deal breaker” if you’re competing in a physique sport.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the best ways to train your glutes depending on your goals. In this podcast, Bret Contreras AKA “the Glute Guy,” is going to share his 20 years worth of knowledge on glute training with you. You will learn the most common mistakes people make when training their glutes, the best exercises for glute development, how to progress with these exercises, how and when to incorporate these exercises into your workout program, how to modify your glute training for aesthetic or athletic goals, the role of genetics in glute development, why men and women may need to train their glutes differently, and how to do so.

My name is Armi Legge and you are listening to Impruvism Radio, the podcast that gives you simple, science-based tips to improve your health and fitness while helping you maintain a happy and productive life.

Before we talk about glute training, I want to remind you about something. In case you didn’t hear about it in last week’s podcast, my friend and I are building a software application to help personal trainers manage their clients with as little hassle as possible. We are doing everything we can to make sure this app meets your specific needs, so we want your feedback. If you’re a personal trainer or coach and you would like to help us build an application help you better manage your clients’ workouts, progress, and goals, please go to impruvr.com and contact us through there. The web address is www.impruvr.com and you can find all the contact information to reach us there.

If you like what you hear on today’s show, here’s how to get more like it. Go to www.impruvism.com, enter your email address in the box on the right side of the page and click the button below. After you do, you will get free updates delivered from the Impruvism blog delivered to your email inbox when they are published. You can also find links to Impruvr through impruvism.com.

Now let’s learn how to train your butt.

**Bret Contreras:** First off, Armi, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. My name is Bret Contreras. I have a blog, bretcontreras.com. I blog very frequently. I put a lot of time and energy into that. My nickname is “the Glute Guy.” I specialize in glute training. I think I have developed the best system by far for shaping the glutes out of anyone out there. I have a lot of testimonials and before and afters on my blog to show evidence of that.

I’ve done a lot of EMG experience and I’m getting my PhD in sports science. My topic will be looking at different glute exercises and their effect on performance. I also have a research review service with my friend Chris Beardsley. We review all types of sports science research and review 50 studies every month in the fields of biomechanics and physical therapy, anatomy, physiology, strength and conditioning, all of that stuff. I have a podcast with my friend Jonathan Fass and I have a service called “Get Glutes” that I do with my friends Marianne Kane and Kelly Davis and I’ve written two books now,”Strong Curves” and “Body weight Strength Training Anatomy,” which will be out in a month in a half. So I think that wraps it up.

**Armi Legge:** Definitely, man. You have a wide portfolio. One of the things we’re going to talk about today is glute development. So how did you get so interested with glute development in particular?

**Bret Contreras:** It was mostly because I didn’t have glutes myself. I actually remember I was like 16 or maybe 18 years old. I was playing golf with my sister’s boyfriend. He made some comment about how I had no butt and my legs went right into my back. I was bending over to drive the golf ball and he made that comment and I was already insecure about my glutes, but he was right.

So I thought, “You know, I’ve built my pecs and shoulders up, why can’t I build my glutes up?” I started reading everything I could on glutes and just slowly but surely improved upon my own methods and my own training and the training of others and it has just progressed upon there since I was 18. I am 37 now, so it’s going on almost 20 years of dedicated glute research.

**Armi Legge:** 20 years of focusing on your butt. That’s funny. Do you feel most bodybuilders and other physique athletes don’t do a very good job of developing their glutes? Is that an area where a lot of people can make some improvement?

**Bret Contreras:** Most bodybuilders don’t have a glute day. They have a leg day. Some of them split it into quad and hamstring day, but you rarely hear bodybuilders say, “I’m going to the gym to hit my glutes.” A lot of them will do squats for their quads, deadlifts for their back, back extensions for their back, maybe like lunges for their quads. Because of that, they end up developing nice glutes as a byproduct of training legs, so they don’t have to give it much thought. Also bodybuilders are taking lots of steroids. They tend to get big glutes just as a byproduct of taking a lot of drugs and the training that they do. But some bodybuilders do have weak glutes. For those people, they really need to step up their game.

I will tell you a funny story. Kelly Davis, the coauthor of “Strong Curves,” she’s my friend. She weighs like 130 pounds and she can barbell glute bridge like 365 for her sets. And she had that weight on the ground and a former top 10 Mr. Olympia bodybuilder came up with his friends. They were joking around how they had never seen the exercise. He says, “Let me try. I went to get down there and see if I can do it.” He couldn’t even lift the bar off the ground. Though he had muscular glutes from squatting, he didn’t have strong glutes at end rage hip extensions, so he couldn’t budge the bar. He kept thinking she was using some trickery. So he kept trying it again, going, “I think I know your trick!” And he kept trying and getting under the bar and couldn’t get it.

His lifting partners that were lifting with him were cracking up laughing and making fun of him, but that just goes to show you they have a lot of room for improvement. But I will tell you I specialize in training women. Every man will say, “Oh, just do squats and deadlifts.” They don’t work with these women. They don’t see their form. They don’t poke and prod their glutes while they’re doing squats and deadlifts to see they’re not really activating their glutes much.

These guys can say, “Oh, their form isn’t that good. They need to improve their form.” Some of the women do have good form and they still aren’t using much glute. I will take bikini and figure competitors and a lot of bodybuilder types who train these bikini and figure competitors don’t have the slightest clue about training glutes. A lot of them train women and they give them bodyweight lunges and maybe like glute bridges with their feet elevated with just bodyweight and they never get strong. They are never fully activating their glutes. They’re never doing progressive overload. There is just so much room for improvement.

I will tell you most of my girls who train with me, I get their glutes burning like crazy during their workouts. They’ll be on the ground like cramping up. I’ll get text messages 30 minutes after the workout going, “My glutes are still on fire!” They’ve never achieved a workout like that before from other trainers. I give my clients very strong glute exercises.

I’ve trained a few girls who have put two inches on their glutes in one week. I read all the research. I don’t see it happening in the literature where these rapid– like most the time, your first couple months of strength improvements are due to neural gains and coordination and things like that. You’re typically not supposed to see such rapid improvement, but it happens with some women. With female competitors, it’s so important. They can have a good looking body from the front and then they turn around. If they don’t have glutes, it’s a deal breaker. If you’re a woman, you have to have nice glutes to succeed in bikini or figure. That is kind of where I’ve specialized.

**Armi Legge:** Excellent. A few things you mentioned there like a lack of progressive overload and maybe a lack of focus on the glutes in particular seem like they might be pretty common mistakes. What would you say are the most common mistakes people make when they are trying to improve their glute development?

**Bret Contreras:** Well, they’re not doing the best glute exercises. They’re doing squats or lunges, thinking that’s the best glute exercise. For some people, they can get good glute development out of that but a lot of women can’t. Once they start doing hip thrust, it’s very stable. You’re sandwiched in between the bar and it’s completely stable. The hip extension torque angle curve– the load on the hips is constant throughout the whole range of motion. You develop incredible tension on the glutes but you also have constant tension, so you get a lot of metabolic stress. You get that burn. Those are two mandatory elements for maximum muscle growth.

When they start on barbell glute bridges, barbell hip thrusts, back extensions the way I do them, which kind of involves rounding your back over and using your glutes to pull you up, bands seated hip abductions, and these different exercises, glute development takes off.

The second reason would be progressive overload. Some women will do the exercises but never get strong at them. They just kind of do them as a token, you know, “do ’em to do ’em,” using very light weight and never getting stronger. A lot of women will come to me and say, “Bret, I love your stuff. I’m a huge fan. I’m going to be in town. Can I come work out with you? I can hip thrust 135 pounds for 10 reps. I’m so excited about it. I’m very strong.” Then I’ll train them. They’ll do 135 for 10 and I can tell it’s easy so I put on 185. They’ll get it for 10. Then I’ll put on 225 and they’ll get it for 5. They are just blown away they can do 225 on the hip thrust. They never did it before. Then I’ll really push them on a back off set of 135. They’ll end up getting 20. They didn’t realize they could have pushed themselves a lot harder on it.

**Armi Legge:** Interesting. It sounds like a lot of people really need to push themselves beyond their normal comfort level.

**Bret Contreras:** A lot of times, I do little form tweaks and it makes a load of difference. Armi, think about when you learned squats. Think about when you learned deadlifts, how crappy your form probably was your first week of doing them. I know I can look back and I was probably doing quarter squats with my knees caving in and round-back deadlifts with the bar floating out in front of my body. It really helps to work with someone who had a good eye for these things and who can help improve your form. When I do that, their strength goes way up.

Also, little things like using a thick bar pad for hip thrusts. A lot of times, women will use just a thin bar pad at their gym and it hurts. When there’s pain on the hips, you can’t get good glute activation. Your glutes won’t contract as hard as possible. When you’re using thick padding, then the pain goes away and you can activate the glutes better. Little things like that make a difference.

**Armi Legge:** Interesting. One of the things you talked about a little bit is exercise selection, doing the proper exercises. You also recently published a paper on hip extension exercises. What were the key findings of that paper and what do you think were the most effective exercises?

**Bret Contreras:** The paper you’re talking about is called “Are All Hip Extension Exercises Created equal?” It was published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal a couple months back. Basically, I took three exercises that looked similar to most coaches. Most coaches would say those are the same movement patters: the good morning, the 45° back extension, and the horizontal back exoneration. All three of them are straight leg, hip extension, hip dominant exercises that involve hinging at the hips.

However, the good morning is done from standing. The back extension from a horizontal position, kind of at the middle at a 45° angle, and so I calculate the torque angle curve, the loading of the hips throughout the range of motion to show that all three are unique. The good morning was the hardest in the bottom position but easiest at the top position. The back extension was the easiest at the bottom position but the hardest at the top position. The 45° hyper was hardest in the middle position but it was still pretty high in the beginning and the end, so it had the most average tension on the glutes.

All three of them would be useful for different purposes. If you’re trying to work different ranges of motion, if you want to be strong in all three ranges of motion, you want to do all three exercises to develop full spectrum hip extension strength. But I speculated that some might be better for different purposes. For example, if you want to get muscle damage to the hamstrings, then the good morning would be best because the tension is highest in that bottom stress position. If you want to get the most metabolic stress, like the biggest pump or the biggest burn, you probably want to do the 45° hypers because of the constant tension. If you want to get the highest glute activation, it’s probably going to be the back extension because it’s the hardest end range hip extension, which is where the glutes activate the highest, at end range, hip extensions. It was a nifty little paper and there was never anything like that published before.

**Armi Legge:** Interesting. What are your favorite glute exercises that you’ve found either have the greatest glute activation or generally do the best job at getting people big glutes?

**Bret Contreras:** My favorite is the barbell hip thrust. My second favorite is the barbell glute bridge. I like the horizontal back extension done in a unique way. I call them “glute extensions” or “rounded back extensions.” I have a video on my youtube, but you get way more glute activation doing it the way I prescribe and way less erector activation. I like band seated hip abductions. It’s a band exercise but it works really well. Then, of course, I love all types of squat variations, all kinds of deadlift variations. My favorite deadlift variation for glutes is the “American deadlift.” I named it. It’s a way to tilt the glutes at end range so you’re giving the glutes double duty. It increases the glute activation dramatically compared to like a RDL.

I like RKC planks, a plank with the glutes contracted as hard as possible, where you go into posterior pelvic tilt. I like band hip rotations. I like single leg exercises like lunges and Bulgarian split squats and high step ups. I like kettle bell swings. I try to incorporate the glutes. They do a lot of things. They do hip extension. They do hip abduction. They do posterior pelvic tilt. They do hip external rotation. And hip abduction can be in the frontal plane or the horizontal transverse plane. I do a variety of exercises. I always make sure I hit the glutes from a lot of angles and from a lot of rep ranges. Over time, I’ll get my clients very strong at 3 reps, 10 reps, and 20 reps. They’ll be very conditioned in all rep ranges.

**Armi Legge:** Interesting. So let’s say someone is doing everything right in terms of progression and exercise selection and everything else, but they aren’t getting quite the same results as someone else who’s also doing the same program. Do genetics play a role in someone’s ability to build their glutes?

**Bret Contreras:** Oh yeah. Genetics are huge. There are papers showing the glute volume of different individuals and just within the sample of their study, you’ll show a huge inter-individual variation, with some people having 5 times more glute volume than other people. You see that. You can go to the airport or the mall or something and just watch people walk around and you’ll see some people with big glutes and they might not even work out. And then you’ll see people with virtually no glutes whatsoever.

So the person with big glutes, if they just get big, muscular glutes naturally, if they just get lean, their butt is going to look great. And those people are very lucky because they could do cardio and it would look good. Those are the exception, not the norm. Most people have to work hard to get them and people with no glutes, like real flat butts, they have to do everything right to even just get normal glutes.

It’s a huge variety I’ve had. Like I said earlier, I have had three different clients so far who put on 2″ of glutes in a matter of one week. It was insane. It’s so weird. And it was all females. I’ve never had that happen with a male client. I’ve also had clients who I trained for a full year. They were very frustrated. They barely saw results. I would be curious if someone complained and I would pull out their before picture and I would show them. I would say, “Look, you have developed their glutes. Sure they haven’t improved as much as So and So’s, but they have improved.” So everyone’s glutes can look better.

**Armi Legge:** Good, good. Life is not fair unfortunately. So isn’t that true for other parts of the body? For instance, could someone have an easier time building muscle with their upper body vs. their lower body?

**Bret Contreras:** Sure. There’s very few people with perfect symmetry and even ability to develop every muscle. Most everyone, even pro bodybuilders with the best genetics and all the access to drugs, they have weak body parts that are stubborn and don’t respond well. With some people, it’s the calves. With other people, it’s their lats or their biceps or triceps or something. With a lot of people, their glutes are a weak point and it’s very hard to develop.

The first step is just learning how to develop joint mind-muscle connection. Learning how to use them. I can’t tell you how many people I train who can barely contract their glutes voluntarily. They aren’t going to be using them well during exercise if you don’t know how to contract them voluntarily. Once they learn how to use their glutes with different exercises, with light loads, then you start to build up the loads while telling them, “Don’t ever go too heavy to where you stop feeling the glutes do the work.” That happens a lot even with me. I’ll sometimes go too heavy and my glutes stop doing the work, if I go too heavy with certain movements. So you have to always remind yourself if you’re doing this for aesthetic purposes, you have got to keep the tension on the glutes.

**Armi Legge:** You just mentioned a second ago how you’ve seen women put on huge increases in glute development, but men are generally not quite as spectacular with that. Are there any differences in how women or men should train to develop their glutes?

**Bret Contreras:** I just think that a lot of men use their glutes better when they do squats and deadlifts and things like that. Most of the women I get, they see such rapid progress because they’ve never trained their glutes in that fashion. They never received an adequate growth stimulus. Say a man has been training for three years and he has good form with squats and deadlifts and lunges and back extension, things like that, and then he starts doing my program. He might only have a 25% increased growth capacity from training with my methods for a year or two, whereas a woman might have 100% increased growth capacity.

I trained my client Sammy last year. I think I doubled her glute size. She literally doubled her glute size in 6 months of training. She got so much stronger. Her before and after, I mean there is so much glute mass there. She had done contests in the past, but her other trainers just gave her bodyweight stuff and they never had her go heavy. She weighs 123 and after 6 months of training with me, she was hip thrusting 385 pounds. She could do 225 for 20 reps, hip thrust. She was kettle bell deadlifts, the 203 pound kettle bell, this mammoth, monster kettle bell that I have, she could do it for 15 reps. She could deadlift a 103 pound kettle bell for 15 reps. She could do 100 pound back extensions. She is so strong, but her previous training left a lot of room for growth.

I just think women aren’t using their glutes as well as people think they are. These men who don’t specialize in this, especially like powerlifting types who don’t train other women, they just assume tell women, “All you have to do is squat and deadlift.” If you look at the testimonials on my blog, all these women are saying, “I heard the typical advice, just squat and deadlift and don’t do any of these other sissy exercises. Then I finally started doing your program, Bret, and my glutes took off.” That’s why these powerlifter types don’t have the before and after pictures that I do. They don’t have the experience.

It’s very frustrating to deal with these arrogant types of people who don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t have the experience. If they did, and it’s funny because I train a couple of wives of powerlifters, and they’ll tell me, “My husband tell me initially don’t even bother with that stuff. Just squat and deadlift.” But then their wives start working with me and their glutes took off and made their husbands just dance and they say, “I can’t believe how well my wife’s glutes have developed, stick with doing what you’re doing.” It’s kind of funny how that works.

**Armi Legge:** Yeah, it is funny. You had an article recently, talking about how different people may need to alter their training for glute development based on different aesthetic goals, like models vs. bodybuilders vs. bikini competitors, that sort of thing. So how should somebody change their training to develop their glutes differently based on their different goals?

**Bret Contreras:** It’s very difficult to look in the mirror and kind of try to envision, “OK, what do I look like now? What do I want to look like? And what needs to happen in order for me to look the way I want to look?” A lot of women will look in the mirror and just see the areas they store fat and they just want to be smaller. They just want to lose fat. They don’t care about muscle.

They don’t realize if they were to take all the fat off them– well, when you lose weight, you don’t just lose all fat. You lose muscle with it. Even bodybuilders who slowly taper down still lose muscle. They don’t realize that it’s really hard to keep the muscle, keep the shape, and just lose the fat, so they’ll think they just need to do cardio and things like that. A lot of them will think their butts are too big when their butts are just too wide from carrying fat, but if you took the fat off, it would have no shape to it. It would have no depth, no three dimensional pop, you know?

The first thing I do when I have a client is kinda try to get them to understand what needs to happen. But I will say that everyone starts off training the same way. You have to learn to activate your glutes. You need to get good with bodyweight. Then once you start progressing, if a model gets to the point where they say, “I like the way I look right now,” then I go on maintenance mode. Maintenance mode is very easy. You just do a couple sessions a week. You aren’t so focused on progressive overload. You don’t try to get them to break records. You do some variety. You give them a good workout. You get them sweating. You get them activating their muscles.

But if they’re trying to build glutes, you’re always trying to set PRs over time. Not every workout, but every month they’re going to get stronger in different movements. Over the course of a year, they get dramatically stronger at everything. That increased strength does two things. It increases their muscular strength and it also leans them out. If you don’t gain body weight, if you stay the same weight but you get a lot stronger, you’re going to have more muscle and therefore less fat.

**Armi Legge:** We talked about what somebody should do if they have too much body fat and they want to get better glute development. What about somebody who is either underweight or under muscled who is doing either no strength training or hasn’t made much progress. What should they do to get better glutes?

**Bret Contreras:** Well, they need to make sure they’re activating their glutes correctly, make sure they’re adhering to proper form, and then just get way stronger. Get way stronger at the hip thrust, the barbell glute bridge, build the squat, build the deadlift, and get strong in all rep ranges. Low reps, medium reps, high reps. At the end of the workout, do some band stuff or some high rep stuff to get a big burn, but make sure they’re going up in strength over time.

**Armi Legge:** Good, good. This is a related question. Do you believe that people should change for aesthetics or performance first if they want to develop better glutes?

**Bret Contreras:** It’s both. My training draws from powerlifting and bodybuilding and athletic training, but I would say it’s bodybuilding but bodybuilders are very cliquish in the sense that they’re very dogmatic. They don’t like to do new exercises. A lot of bodybuilders will do Smith Machine squats. The way they do their form doesn’t work the glutes optimally with different things.

I’ve developed my own exercises, my own techniques, I kind of have my own system, but it draws from bodybuilding, from powerlifting, from everything, athletic training, like how you train athletes. You do a lot of single leg stuff and things like kettle bell swings that aren’t really popular in bodybuilding. But essentially, it’s kind of both. I don’t look at it like you’re training for performance because if I was training an athlete, I wouldn’t train Him exactly the same way. I would be more concerned with heavier loading and doing explosive movements. With my clients, I don’t do a ton of explosive stuff. I do more high-rep, kinda burn out stuff, but I still do get them strong with lower reps, but we also do a lot of high-rep and medium-rep stuff.

**Armi Legge:** So let’s say someone is training their butt off literally. What are some of the most common injuries that somebody might run into when they are training their glutes a lot, or even injuries just around the gluteal region?

**Bret Contreras:** Let’s say they’re squatting a ton but their knees are caving in. That’s called knee valgus, or medial knee displacement. It’s characterized by femoral internal rotation and tibial rotation. You will develop patellofemoral pain. You will develop knee pain. You could get ACL tears if you’re in sports and you are landing that way. That’s why you have to learn how to have the knees track properly over the feet and not let them cave in. If you’re doing a lot of deadlifts and your lower back is rounding, or if you’re doing deep squats and you lose the arch and have that butt wink or posterior pelvic tilt at the bottom and cause the lumbar spine to round. You could get low back pain, disc herniation, things like that. You have to make sure you have a good arch in the low back.

If you are doing, for example, hip thrusts, and you don’t use your glutes well. You’re using hamstrings and erectors and anterior tilting the pelvis, the femur can kind of jam forward in the hip socket, the acetabulum, and create anterior hip pain. There’s just a lot of different things that can happen, so properly working glutes protects the hips, the low back, the sacrum, the knees, and kinda allows for proper force transfer throughout the body.

**Armi Legge:** Cool. Excellent. Here’s a semi-related question just to physique training in general. Can people continue to gain strength while losing lean body mass during a diet?

**Bret Contreras:** Oh yeah. That happens to people all the time. They’re losing weight, their strength goes through the roof. Interestingly, they’ll still lose muscle mass. I’ve never had someone lose a ton of weight while gaining lean mass. I know it’s possible.

I’ve trained men and women. Men who have lost like 100 pounds. I’ve trained a few different men and I’ve trained some women who lost like 60 pounds over the course of like 6 months to a year. The goal, of course, is to keep their muscle and have them lose fat, but their strength will go up so much higher in load, and they’ll lose a ton of body fat, but they still will lose some lean muscle mass, which is interesting. It just goes to show you that sheer strength is highly correlated with muscle size, with physiological cross sectional area of muscle, but also there’s a ton of neural components to strength. There are a lot of different ways you can increase your strength through neurological efficiency.

**Armi Legge:** Does that happen with extremely well trained athletes who might need to lose 5 or 6 pounds or so to get to reach their contest weight?

**Bret Contreras:** No, not typically when they just have to lose a little bit of weight. You don’t see these dramatic strength losses. And with athletes who just need to diet down, usually they can catch back up. Say a powerlifter who needs to make weight, he’ll balloon back up to his normal weight right after weigh in, so they don’t see this huge strength decrement.

**Armi Legge:** Interesting. One other thing about dieting in general, especially for females. It seems like if they diet, their butts kind of disappear. No matter what they do, either their breasts or their butts almost dissolve almost when they diet really hard. What have you found to help prevent that?

**Bret Contreras:** Yeah. You nailed it there, Armi. This is so true. I’ve trained several bikini competitors whose butts looked amazing two weeks out, and then come stage time, they look flat and so I think what’s going on there is they lose a lot of the intracellular water and things like that. To prevent that, I try to not do this dramatic and radical peak week voodoo stuff you see. I try to make sure they look great a couple weeks out so they can just coast in there. I don’t recommend doing all these crazy sodium and carb and water manipulation tricks. This way they are in shape. They’re strong.

Some bodybuilders tell their clients not to train legs two weeks before the show because it makes them retain water. I have seen no research supporting that. It may happen but you can train glutes. I want their glutes to stay strong all the way up into their competition. So yeah. A lot of them, even though they’re kinda dieting down, a lot of them are still achieving strength records all the way up to the show. With men, you don’t typically see that. Men will typically lose up to 10% of their strength on squats and deadlifts, but with the women, they’re not doing these huge, dramatic weight loss. They don’t have to lose too much weight so they just keep getting in better shape. They’re at their ideal weight and then I just keep increasing their strength throughout their contest prep.

I don’t recommend them tapering, say weighing 140 and then getting them down to 120 the month before the show. I want them to weigh maybe 5 pounds over and then just focus on progressive overload and then maybe increase their conditioning and decrease their carbs a little but up until the show but keep pushing the strength. Then they end up peaking at the show and looking their all time best.

**Armi Legge:** Awesome. That’s very helpful. So Bret, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show. Where can people learn more about you and your work?

**Bret Contreras:** Like I said in the beginning, my blog bretcontreras.com, and from there, I’ve got links to my social media like twitter, facebook, youtube, things like that. That’s kind of the hub to all of it.

**Armi Legge:** Here’s a little, semi-irrelevant secret for you. If you’ve listened to a lot of podcasts, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the jingles, music, and sound effects sound the same. That’s because they are. Most podcasters use the same free sounds that come on their computers, which is what I’ve been doing. Unfortunately, these jingles suck for the most part and are really boring. So, since I got up early this morning and needed to feel productive, I found some cool, creative commons music to use on the podcast. Sadly, it’s not Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepson, but it’s still pretty good for free music. Anyway, I hope you like it and you can find links to the music in the show notes for this podcast at impruvism.com.

If you enjoyed this podcast, the best way to show your appreciation is to leave a positive review and ranking on iTunes. To do so, navigate to impruvism.com/itunes and you’ll be redirected to where you can leave your comments. You can also search google for “Impruvism Radio” and find the same page. Thank you for listening, and I will see you next week.

### References

1. M Contreras B, B Cronin J, J Schoenfeld B, J Nates R, Tiryaki Sonmez G. Are All Hip Extension Exercises Created Equal? Strength & Conditioning Journal. 2013;35(2). Available at: https://bretcontreras.com/wp-content/uploads/Are-All-Hip-Extension-Exercises-Created-Equal.pdf.

2. Preininger B, Schmorl K, Roth von P, et al. The sex specificity of hip-joint muscles offers an explanation for better results in men after total hip arthroplasty. Int Orthop. 2012;36(6):1143–1148. doi:10.1007/s00264-011-1411-7.

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