Home Posts tagged "Doug Kechijian"

In Defense of the Hip Thrust

I've been a fan of barbell hip thrust and supine bridges for approximately seven years now. I'd encourage you to give my What I Learned in 2012 article a read, as it describes how our usage of these drills came about (and does so in an entertaining manner) following a meeting I had with Bret Contreras in 2009. Suffice it to say that initially, I was not a fan of these drills, but in-the-trenches experimentation eventually brought me around.

Recently, there has been some controversy over the utility of hip thrusts, as some newer research publications (here and here) have demonstrated that hip thrust training does not improve sprinting speed. Bret Contreras, the man who popularized the hip thrust, has written a detailed response to these publications. For the record, I think he's handled the situation admirably, and I commend him for all his work adding to the body of knowledge so that we can all have these discussions in hopes of fine-tuning our strength training programs.

That said, not surprisingly, these research findings have created an opportunity for hip thrust critics to say "I told you so" - and several articles have emerged to highlight its lack of efficacy on this front. That said, I found Doug Kechijian's article, 'Science' and the Barbell Hip Thrust, to be the best of the articles that have recently emerged. Doug doesn't utilize the hip thrust, but used this current situation as a means of discussing how we view exercise selection on the whole. I'd strongly encourage you to give it a read.

While I must admit that I wasn't particularly surprised at the lack of carryover to sprinting performance, I don't think it's time to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. Why? As I've often said:

[bctt tweet="Want to put an exercise in a program? You must be able to quickly and easily justify its inclusion."]

In this case, I still have plenty of justifications for including hip thrusts and supine bridges in our programs. I don't think they're ever a perfect replacement for a squat or deadlift, but I do see a role for them in special circumstances, and as assistance exercises. In today's post, I'll outline why I still find these drills to have great utility.

1. Zero Back Pain

Yes, you read that right. In close to a decade of using these drills with clients, athletes, and our coaching staff, I've never seen anyone injured during a hip thrust or supine bridge. For how many other exercises can you say that? Certainly squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, or even single-leg work. In hindsight, it's shocking that a drill that looks like it could be harmful (and this was my initial reluctance to include it) actually has such an excellent record on the safety front. Obviously, we're matching it to the individual and coaching technique, but this is still an impressive observation.

Moreover, I've sold more than 8,000 copies of my flagship product, The High Performance Handbook. It includes barbell supine bridges in phase 2, and barbell hip thrusts in phase 3. This is 8,000+ people who've performed these exercises without my supervision, and I've never had a single email from anyone about an injury. Conversely, I've answered a ton of emails over the years from customers who need modifications because squatting and/or deadlifting aren't drills they can perform pain-free. I think this is remarkably telling; hip thrusts have stood the test of time in terms of safety concerns.

Finally, I've actually seen quite a few individuals who couldn't squat or deadlift pain-free actually perform barbell hip thrusts and supine bridges with zero pain over the course of years. They've bolstered a training effect that otherwise would have been markedly attenuated.

2. Hip thrusts allow us to train the posterior chain without deadlifts in a population that may not do well with scapular depression and downward rotation.

One thing we know about throwing a baseball is that it makes you very lat dominant and tends to drive scapular downward rotation.

As I discuss in this video, scapular upward rotation is incredibly important for throwers.

Sometimes, we'll see athletes who sit in so much scapular depression or downward rotation that we choose to avoid lat dominant exercises and heavy carries/holds in their programs. So, drills like deadlifts, farmer's walks, KB swings, and dumbbell lunges are out of the mix. When you lose deadlifts from a program, you realize that you've lost a big bang exercise for training the posterior chain. Barbell hip thrusts have been a huge help to us in this regard, as they give us a bilateral option for training the posterior chain. Otherwise, it'd be just safety squat bar (SSB) squats and single-leg work, the goblet set-up, belt squats, and glute-ham raise (GHR) variations. And, a lot of people don't have a SSB, belt squat, or GHR!

Interestingly, I can actually think of several instances over the years where we dropped deadlifting from a pitcher's program - and replaced it with hip thrusts - and his shoulder pain went away. I don't think improvements like this happen in isolation, but I have no doubt that it contributed to the reduction in symptoms.

3. Hip thrusts prioritize terminal hip extension, which is actually far more important to baseball success.

I want you to watch these videos of the hips during the baseball swing (and while you're at it, check out Jeff Albert's great guest post for me: Hip Extension and Rotation in the Baseball Swing).

What I'm hoping you noticed is that while hip extension is incredibly important (for both the front and back legs), there is very little of it occurring in terms of actual range of motion. The same can be said of the pitching delivery; very rarely would a pitching come close to being a 90 degrees of hip flexion on the back hip.

Tim Collins early in his career was the most extreme hip flexion I've seen, and he's not even all the way down to 90 degrees:

In other words, hips thrusts and supine bridges reflect the shorter range of hip flexion/extension motion we see in hitting and pitching than they do for a higher amplitude movement like sprinting.


Source: Darren Wilkinson

To be clear, I'm not saying that squats and deadlifts don't train this range (especially when accommodating resistances like bands and chains are utilized); I'm just saying that hip thrusts and supine bridges train it exclusively and may provide some extra carryover.

4. Hip thrusts allow us to train the lower body without a grip challenge.

Load of gripping can also be an issue during the baseball season. Guys obviously get plenty of it from their upper body work, but when you add in the stress of throwing on the flexor tendons, more work on lower body days can push some pitchers over the edge in terms of forearm symptoms. This can also be an issue during post-operative elbow scenarios, as some surgeons can "beat up" the flexor tendon a bit more during Tommy John surgeries. With these athletes, we'll often plug hip thrusts in to replace deadlifts for 4-8 week spans.

5. The hip thrust helps to maintain a training effect in post-operative elbow and shoulder situations.

Building on my last point, we utilize barbell hip thrusts and supine bridges a lot with our post-op clients. If we are talking about a Tommy John surgery, you aren't using a safety squat bar until two months post-op, or deadlifting until closer to five months (and even then, the loading has to be severely restricted). Conversely, provided they have someone to load plates for them, these athletes can hip thrust as early as 4-6 weeks (assuming we aren't dealing with a lower extremity graft site), and loading appreciably by weeks 8-10. That's a huge deal.

Shoulder surgeries are a bit slower to come around, but you're definitely able to hip thrust well before you use the safety squat bar or integrate deadlifts. In short, if you want bilateral loading in a post-operative situation, hip thrusts below right up there in the discussion with glute-ham raises - and serve as a good complement to sled dragging with a belt/harness and various single-leg drills.

6. Hip thrusts don't create much delayed onset muscle soreness.

It's hard to really overload the eccentric (lowering) component of a hip thrust - and this may be one reason why it doesn't carry over to sprinting as much as a squat would. However, this non-soreness-inducing quality can actually be of benefit, as we often want to avoid it with in-season athletes or those trying to achieve a higher volume of work in their training programs. This is actually a perk of several deadlift variations, too.

7. Hip thrusts are a safe way to get in higher-rep sets.

In the quest to put on some muscle, high-rep squatting and deadlifting often wind up getting pretty ugly by the end of the sets unless they're regressed in some fashion (e.g., goblet squats). And, on a personal note, any time that I deadlift for more than eight reps, I get a massive headache that lasts about three days. I've found that higher rep barbell supine bridge (moreso than hip thrusts) are a good option for sets of 12-15 at the end of a session to kick in some extra volume safely. It's pretty darn hard to screw this up, you know?

Thoughts on Loading

On several occasions, I've heard folks criticize barbell hip thrusts and supine bridges because even seemingly untrained individuals can use so much weight. It's a valid assertion - but only to a point.

My experience has been that many individuals moving big weights are really short-changing themselves on the last 5-10 degrees of hip extension. They're either stopping short or getting lumbar extension (moving through the lower back). Often, when you fine-tune the technique and make them hold for a count at the top, they'll have to reduce the weight significantly. As a rule of thumb, though, I view the risk:benefit ratio with hip thrusts as being comparable to that of deadlifts in an athletic population; going heavier than 495 pounds probably isn't worth the risk or time involved. You're better off changing the tempo (longer pauses at the top) or switching to a different (and possibly more technically advanced) exercise that doesn't "come naturally" to the lifter. In short, find a different window of adaptation instead of just trying to move big weights through a short range-of-motion.

As an interesting aside to this, my deadlifts are actually significantly stronger than my hip thrusts. It's likely a function of "getting what you train," but I think it's an interesting argument against the idea that even weak people can automatically move big weights.

Last, but not least, remember that relatively untrained people can often push a lot of weight on sleds on turf, and rack pulls are usually substantially heavier than one's deadlift. Does that make them useless, too?

Closing Thoughts

New research is always warranted in any field, but particularly in strength and conditioning, a dynamic industry that has changed remarkably over the past few decades. In many cases, it takes a lot of time and experimentation to understand just how something fits (or doesn't fit) in our training approaches. Personally, I always come back to the "justifying the inclusion of a lift" question I noted earlier in this article. My experience has been that barbell hip thrusts and supine bridges have stood the test of time in this regard - and done so safely. I view them much more as an assistance exercise, as opposed to something that would ever replace squats or deadlifts. However, in the special circumstances I've outlined above, I think they will continue to fill in nicely.

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/11/17

I hope that everyone had a good weekend - and that our readers who are all safe in light of Hurricane Irma. Here's a little recommended reading/listening to kick off your week. Before I get to it, though, I should give a friendly reminder that each month, Cressey Sports Performance staff and I upload webinars, in-services, exercise demonstrations, and articles to Elite Training Mentorship. This is a super affordable and thorough continuing education resource that is updated regularly, and I'd encourage you to check it out HERE.

Why "Just Stretch Your Hamstrings" is Bad Advice - This article is a few weeks old, but I'd forgotten to add it to our weekly collection when I first came across it in mid-August. As always, Doug Kechijian hit several nails on the head.

Hip CARs in the Push-up Position - This is a great video Cressey Sports Performance coach Frank Duffy posted recently. It's an excellent example of the interaction between hip mobility and core stability.

7 Ways to Get Strong Outside the Sagittal Plane - I reincarnated this old article from my archives yesterday, as I think it's a collection of important progressions for rotational sport athletes as they kick off the offseason.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 6/14/17

We're 2/3 of the way through the MLB Draft, so I haven't had much time to write up new content. I'll have some video content later in the week, though. In the meantime, here's a little recommended reading from around the strength and conditioning world:

Manual Therapy: Neither Panacea Nor Gateway to Despair - Physical therapist Doug Kechijian discusses the current "state" of manual therapy in the health and human performance worlds and shows us that "it depends" is yet again the most important answer to just about any question we can ask.

Time Management for Personal Trainers - Eric Bach and Daniel Freedman wrote up this great post on how those in the fitness industry can get more efficient.

Deadlift Grip Considerations - I meant to include this in last week's edition, but completely forgot. As usual, great stuff from Dean Somerset.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week 

 

These are the 110-pound dumbbells. It's on Instagram, so it must be true. #cspfamily #twinning #benchday

A post shared by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 3/14/17

We missed this regular feature last week, as I penned some extra original content in lieu of posting the regularly scheduled "redirects" around the 'net. Luckily, it allowed me to stockpile some stuff for this installment:

Conscious Coaching - Brett Bartholomew just released this excellent book for coaches, and it's already getting rave reviews. Add my name to the list of that list of impressed reviewers, as I'm halfway through and really enjoying it. I'd call this must-read material for any up-and-coming member of the fitness industry.

41FD7opTOFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ 

The Resilient Performance Podcast with Bill Hartman - Bill is one of the brightest guys in the industry, and I learn something each time he speaks. Put him on a call with another super bright guy, Doug Kechijian, and you get an awesome podcast like this!

The 12 Best Ways to Build Shoulders - This roundtable was published this morning at T-Nation, and I was one of 12 contributors. You'll get a nice blend of contributions from bodybuilding and performance backgrounds.

Top Tweet of the Week 

Top Instagram Post of the Week 

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/30/16

After a week in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, the Cressey family is back in Florida. While up there, we celebrated our twin daughters' second birthday. I'm not sure they're fans of the cold yet...

img_8005

With that said, let's get to the recommended reading!

30 Days of Arm Care Updates - You can see all these videos (currently on day 17) via the hashtag #30DaysOfArmCare on both Twitter and Instagram.

Settling the Great Grain Debate - Here's some great stuff on the nutrition front from Precision Nutrition's Brian St. Pierre.  

bread-399286_1280

Professional Communication: Delivery and Context Matter - Whether you're a fitness professional or rehabilitation specialist, you'll want to read this great article from physical therapist Doug Kechijian.

Jim Harbaugh's Circle of Friends Is Even Cooler Than You Think - I often say that successful people find value in unexpected places. I love the discussion about how Harbaugh pries to ask questions and elicit deeper responses in his conversations with friends from all walks of life. The best coaches I know are always looking outside their fields to find ways to improve.

Top Tweet of the Week

 Top Instagram Post of the Week

 

First offseason program for @ckluber28 is ready! #cspfamily #250IP #backtowork

A photo posted by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 11/7/16

Happy Election Week! I'm happy to report that today's recommended reading list has absolutely nothing to do with politics, as I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about the election on social media. Enjoy the following non-political reads:

The Art of Relationships Based Coaching - This article from Purdue Basketball strength and conditioning coach Josh Bonhotal is one of the best coaching reads I've seen in a long time. It's must-read.

ChjGwYlWIAAQuJh

An Interview with Doug Kechijian  - This is a fantastic interview with a former CSP intern who is currently doing a great job in NYC as a physical therapist. It's free to the public for the week (Sports Rehab Expert is normally a members-only site). 

Gym Owner Musings: Installment 3 - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, always has some great thoughts on the business side of fitness - and this series has been the beneficiary of what pops into his head.

Top Tweet of the Week

Top Instagram Post of the Week 

 

Not too shabby for November, @mattsolter. #cspfamily #giants

A video posted by Cressey Sports Performance (@cresseysportsperformance) on

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/10/16

It's been a hectic week in South Florida with Hurricane Matthew preparations on top of the baseball off-season, but we lucked out as the storm moved past us in Jupiter before coming ashore further North. Hopefully all our readers in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are safe and sound! 

That said, here's a little content to get the week going:

Elevation Training Masks: An Analysis - I've been meaning to write a similar post up for a long time, but suffice it to say that I never got around to it. Luckily, Doug Kechijian made it happen and did a great job. Elevation masks are a waste of time and money - and have potentially negative side effects.

Gym Owner Musings: Installment 2 - My business partner, Pete Dupuis, discusses a few of the lessons we've learned in running Cressey Sports Performance for the past 9+ years. I think point #3 on early-stage "learning by doing."

The Ideal Business Podcast with John Berardi - Dr. John Berardi was been a great friend and mentor to me, and he shares some awesome business development wisdom in this podcast with Pat Rigsby. I thought the portion of the interview where he talks about the importance of saying "No" was particularly intriguing (and an area in which I need to improve!). 

Top Tweet of the Week:

Top Instagram Post of the Week:  

 Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/19/16

Another week, another Patriots win and fantasy football victory for me! I'll keep talking about it in this weekly blog until the luck wears off! 

That said, let's look at some top picks from around the web from the past week:

They Myths of Mental Toughness Training: Part 1 and Part 2 - Doug Kechijian is a super bright physical therapist who also happens to have extensive military experience. So, you could say that this fantastic two-part article comes from excellent perspectives in multiple regards.

Physical Preparation Podcast with Boo Schexnayder - This podcast from Mike Robertson is several months old, but I actually went back and listened to it a second time. There are loads of pearls of wisdom in there for any coach from any discipline.

Podcast Q&A with Dr. Stuart McGill - There was some excellent information on the lower back front in this interview for Dean Somerset's site. The discussion of calcification in the spine of lifters of various proficiency is fascinating, and is around the 18-minute mark.

Top Tweet of the Week:

Top Instagram Post of the Week:  

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/25/16

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Here's a little recommended reading from the strength and conditioning world to get the week started off on the right foot:

EC on the Movement Fix Podcast - Dr. Ryan DeBell had me on his podcast a few weeks ago, and we talked about everything from business to evaluations and programming for overhead athletes.

Recap of the 2016 Perform Better Functional Training Summit - Harold Gibbons wrote up this great review of the Perform Better presentations he attended recently in Providence. I've been presenting on the PB tour for ten years now, and I can honestly say that these events are the best value in continuing education in the fitness industry today. I'd highly recommend checking them out, if you haven't already.

PBpic

A Comparison of Different Commercial Models of Physical Assessment: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 - This outstanding series from physical therapist Doug Kechijian discusses the utility of three different clinical approaches - PRI, FMS/SFMA, and FRC - and how they all deserve a place in your comprehensive approach.

Top Tweet of the Week:

toptweet25

Top Instagram Post of the Week:

 

In your life, you have friends, mentors, and people who change your life so immeasurably that neither of those two words can possibly do them justice. Alwyn Cosgrove falls into that third category for me. In my email account, I have a folder called "AC Stuff." It's a collection of literally hundreds of emails Alwyn sent me from 2005-2008 on topics relating to professional development and starting a fitness business. Without these invaluable lessons, there probably wouldn't be a @cresseysportsperformance today (let alone facilities in both MA AND FL). This generosity with his time and expertise was remarkable enough, but what makes these interactions even more incredible is that Alwyn was doling out this advice while he was beating Stage IV cancer for the second time. Between bouts of chemotherapy, he was passing along reading recommendations. As he prepared for his stem cell transplant, he was describing the ins and outs of semi-private training to me. If that's not the very definition of "selfless," I don't know what is. Always good to see you, buddy. You should get Instagram so that you can actually read this. :)

A photo posted by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 7/11/16

Monday, Fun day! I hope you all had a great weekend. Here's some recommended strength and conditioning reading to kick the week off for you:

4 Tips for Stronger Client Connections - Todd Bumgardner provides some excellent tips for anyone - especially the personal trainer - who is in the business of dealing with people.

TRXserratus

Usain Bolt, the Movement Police, and Keyboard Sprinting Experts - Doug Kechijian is a super bright physical therapist who isn't afraid to tell it like it is - and this article is a fantastic example of his candor and openmindedness. 

With Scholarship Limit, College Baseball Careers come with a Cost - This is an excellent piece by Dirk Chatelain on scholarship limitations and their financial implications in collegiate baseball. 

Top Tweet of the Week:

toptweet3

Top Instagram Post of the Week:

 

Working on scapular upward rotation with some @officialccbl pitchers at Fenway today. #cspfamily #capecodbaseball

A photo posted by Eric Cressey (@ericcressey) on

Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!

Name
Email
Read more
Page
LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series