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“Hip Extension Research and Application for Speed” Just Fly Performance Podcast #83: Bret Contreras

Today’s episode features Bret Contreras, returning for his second podcast appearance.  Bret is one of the world’s foremost experts on strength and performance, and is the expert on all things glute and hip extension training.  If you are interested in getting athletes faster, Bret’s knowledge is first-priority info.

Last time on the podcast (ep 31), Bret talked all things hip thrust, hamstrings, squat depth and cueing.  This time, Bret is back to go in depth on the recent research that came out regarding the hip thrust exercise and speed.  After a promising New Zealand youth study showing superior speed adaptations compared to a front squat, a couple of studies dealing with college populations showing no transfer (Study 1) (Study 2) to sprinting faster.  

Bret wrote in depth on this afterwards, but in this podcast, Bret gives a vast array of ideas that coaches have thrown out there as to why those studies may have not shown transfer to sprinting faster (21 of them to be exact!).  Most of these reasons don’t hold water, but a Bret noted a few that do, and those few are actually very important guideposts when considering any strength exercise that might transfer to speed or dynamic sport movement.  This alone makes this required listening, in my opinion, for any strength coach looking to get athletes faster.  

Outside of this, Bret went in depth and unplugged on how so many well-meaning sports medicine professionals end up setting athletes up with nocebo effects by telling them how “dysfunctional” they are when Bret sees otherwise when those people end up training with him.  He also talks about the common fallacies of corrective exercise.  Between Bret’s 21 topics on the hip thrust and speed, and this bit, this podcast is a heavy hitter.  It’s always great to have Bret on the show, and this episode is another gem.

Today’s episode is brought to you by SimpliFaster, supplier of high-end athletic development tools, such as the Freelap timing system, kBox, Sprint 1080, and more.  


Key Points:

  • What’s new in the world of Bret Contreras
  • The equipment in Bret’s gym, and why he chose it
  • Early case studies lending to the hip thrust and Skorcher’s transfer to running speed
  • Discussing the discrepancy on studies where hip thrusts did and did not increase your speed (20 reasons)
  • Issues with sports medicine professionals who do harm due to the nocibo effect
  • Bend range vs. end range hip torque in athletic performance


“As you start rising up (on the Skorcher) it’s not like when you are on the ground, you are actually using your hamstrings to pull you up because you get this deep stretch, and you use your hamstrings as knee flexors to pull your body up and then the hip extensors take over at the top”

“I made (my 45 degree back extension) a 70 degree hyper, it’s a lot more hamstrings, it’s more like a goodmorning”

“We are getting faster and I know it is because of the hip thruster…. I would feel my glutes working like they do on that machine (when athletes are running)”

“One study showed a 35% boost in hip thrust strength, and a 31% boost in squat strength, from only hip thrusting, which makes the hip thrust the best accessory exercise for the squat, ever”

“Every study ever looking at anything athletic, whether sprinting, jumping, running, the spine always moves…. the second you put a barbell on your back, you are not longer in neutral”

“People think the hip thrust is a glute isolation movement, no it is not, quad activation is through the roof”

“So X study hammered subjects for 8 straight weeks and then tested them right afterwards, of course there were no sprint improvements, the subjects were fatigued”

“When you publish studies, you have to define the tempo, there were 4 seconds per hip thrust rep in one of the studies, that’s so slow!”

“Insufficient hip range of motion and insufficient hamstring stretch, I think that’s a big issue (with hip thrusts and speed transfer)…. The bottom of a barbell hip thrust, the hamstring EMG activity is rock bottom…. Let’s make the hip thrust a more hamstring domiant exercise by elevating the feet… but that’s hard to do if you don’t have Skorcher”

“I think physical therapists and manual therapists do harm because their profession forces them to dole out all these nocebo effects”

“I’d say 9/10 people come to me and say “I have this, this and this”, and they don’t!”

“The human body is amazingly powerful, resilient… I would never like strength and conditioning practitioners to use the word ‘dysfunctional'”

“A lot of issues in strength and conditioning don’t require corrective exercise, they require modifications in program design”

“You can find athletes who are amazing who don’t have big glutes, from all sports”

About Bret Contreras

Bret ContrerasBret Contreras, PhD is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) in the USA.

He graduated from Arizona State University with a Masters Degree before achieving his PhD in sports science, in the field of biomechanics from Auckland University of Technology. He since contributed to the field of sports science extensively, with his primary contributions being regarding hip extension joint actions, specifically the hip thrust exercise, as well as in relation to the contribution of the gluteus maximus muscle to lower body sporting movement.

A famous strength coach, speaker, and researcher, Bret is widely regarded as the world expert on the gluteus maximus and in the resistance training exercises used in its development.


One comment

  1. Bret:
    I appreciate your work and your defense of the hip thrust. The podcast left me wondering though. How would you program the weight training for an athlete looking to develop speed?

    Thank you for your time.

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