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Best Exercise Articles by Bret



10 Things Beginning Lifters Should Know

Every experienced lifter out there can remember the first time they moseyed into the weightroom, full of fear, confusion, and insecurity. Though most of us make it past these initial stages, some lifters never do. Some lifters quit training, mostly because they don’t understand it. If only there was a seasoned lifter at every gym who could talk to beginners and educate them on what things are important and what things aren’t very important. Below are the more common sources of confusion and misunderstanding that newcomers to resistance training share.


The Ten Rules of Progressive Overload

In this article, I’m going to teach you how to go about progressive overload – the most important law in strength training. Perhaps you’re new to lifting and you’re wondering exactly what progressive overload is. Well, progressive overload simply means that you’re doing more over time. For example, you could be adding some weight to the bar, doing more reps, and/or having more productive training sessions. You won’t find many comprehensive articles on this topic as it’s pretty difficult to write an all-encompassing article pertaining to progressive overload. Due to the large variance in the fitness abilities of people when they first embark on a training regimen, it’s a little more complicated than simply telling someone to “add 10 more pounds to the bar each week,” or “do 2 more reps with the same weight each week.”


Training for Maximum Muscle Growth Explained

We all want bigger muscles, and in order to build bigger muscles, we need to get stronger – much stronger. Gaining strength through progressive overload ensures that we continue to place more tension on the muscles over time, forcing them to adapt by growing larger. Heavier weights equals greater tension which equals bigger muscles. Got it? Great!


The Truth About Bodybuilding Genetics

This probably isn't what you want to hear, but your progress is largely dependent on your genetics. Recent research shows that some individuals respond very well to strength training, some barely respond, and some don't respond at all. You read that correctly. Some people don't show any noticeable results. Researchers created the term "non-responders" for these individuals.


Glute Genetics

If you’re lucky and have great glute genetics, then good for you! All you need to do is stay lean and your butt will look amazing. Eat reasonably well and stay active (even just doing cardio) and your butt will continue to look great year in and year out. But if you’re unlucky and have poor glute genetics, your only hope is the information and advice contained within this website! Folks with this disposition will need to build their hip thrust like crazy in order to just have normal glute development.


Do Light Weights Tone and Heavy Weights Bulk? 

The myth states that lifting light weights for high reps will tone the muscles, whereas lifting heavy weights for lower reps will bulk the muscles. The underlying message here is that any man or woman interested in looking like a fitness model should stick to light weights, whereas heavy weights should be used for those who wish to look like bodybuilders. In addition, this would imply that women seeking a lean and slender appearance should avoid heavy lifting since it would be counteractive to their goals.


What to Do When an Exercise is Causing Pain and Injury

Some lifters are very lucky. They train year after year, decade after decade, performing every popular resistance training exercise, and their bodies handle it like a boss. These people have anatomies that are well constructed to tolerate full range of motion exercises in every direction at every joint. However, other lifters are not so lucky, and they inevitably encounter exercises in their training that don’t seem to agree with their structures.


21 Exercises for Injury Free Mass

This article is for the "brittle and frail" lifters; the ones who tend to break down easily and get beat to a pulp following a hard training session. If this describes you, then there's a better way for you to lift. First, let's touch upon injuries.


Why I Lift and Why You Should Too

Lifting weights is good for you. You don’t need me to tell you that, it’s common sense. Most people intuitively understand that sedentarism is not a good idea, and that exercise (especially resistance training) will do their bodies a lot of good. Below, I’ve compiled 30 great reasons why you should adhere to an exercise regimen. Each of these reasons has at least one published paper supporting the claim.


Trust Me, You Have the Time: Fitness Excuses Under Scrutiny

Let’s face it: Life is tough!  Work alone is hard enough, but we also have our daily chores and errands to run, our friendship and familial duties, various hobbies, and emergencies to deal with. In addition, we’re supposed to be trying to get ahead in life, getting sufficient sleep, and maintaining a social life, all while keeping everything in good balance. Now we’re being told to add more onto our plates – exercise – without completely falling apart?


It's My PR

Most lifters have a particular muscle that doesn’t grow like the others. No matter what they seem to do, the muscle doesn’t budge in size to much of a degree, and it won’t grow like the other muscles. For me, these are my quads and triceps – hence the difficulty with squats and bench. Pecs, biceps, delts, back, traps, adductors, glutes, abs, and calves grow just fine.


50 Commandments of Commercial Gym Etiquette 

Ever stand in the middle of the gym and look around for a few minutes between sets. You've probably seen some pretty questionable behavior in the process, so here is a list of what to do and what not to do when it comes to gym etiquette. 


First Powerlifting Meet: 20 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

As a writer, I’ve made it a goal to encourage others to bite the bullet and commit to a powerlifting competition. Unfortunately, too many lifters attend their first meet unprepared, and they end up making mistakes that are easily avoidable. Here are the 20 most common mistakes I see first-time powerlifting competitors commit.


Getting Lean:


5 Tips for Leaning Out

I wrote this article for the folks like me who have been training for many years and have put on a significant amount of muscle mass but never reached the level of leanness they desire. This applies to the majority of advanced lifters as well, since most never truly get into competition shape (I never have, for the record).


How to Attain A Slender Look Like Jessica Alba and Zoe Saldana

Women can indeed attain amazing physiques by lifting heavy weights and eating well without starving themselves. I should know – I’ve trained dozens of these types! Here's how. 


For the Millionth Time Spot Reduction is a Myth

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of being a fitness professional is having to inform people over and over that spot reduction is a myth. Here's what you need to know. 


Is Your Ab Workout Making You Look Fat?

"Women should avoid squats and deadlifts! They'll thicken the midsection and make you look blocky!" Well, they're wrong. Let's dispel the myths once and for all. Let's figure how why many waists do get thicker over time and learn how to keep them tight and sexy.


Don't Be a Slave to the Scale

Everything is going great, and your day is off to an excellent start. Then, you step on the scale, and all of your glee comes to a screeching halt. You’ve gained a few pounds, and knowing this absolutely ruins your day.


How to Get Lean and Sculpted With Limited Time

You don’t have to choose between strength and cardio. That would be a false dilemma. Bodybuilders have done both activities for decades in order to optimize their body compsition, and so can you. But let’s say that your primary goal is to lean out and your time is limited. What are you better off doing – weight training or cardio?


Flexible Dieting and Foods that are Truly High in Protein

“Quinoa is a great source of protein.” Or, “I had some peanut butter because I needed to get some protein in me.” Or, “Almonds are packed with protein.” Or, “I made sure to have a Yoplait yogurt for breakfast since it’s important to have protein in the morning.” If you’re a personal trainer, I’m sure you can relate. And in case you’re wondering why it’s bothersome, it’s because none of these food sources are in fact high in protein.


Not Seeing Results? You Might Be Lying to Yourself

Are you busting your ass in the gym and not seeing the results you desire? If so, you’re not alone. An alarming percentage of lifters are unhappy with their progress, and many of them blame their genetics for their lackluster results. However tempting it may be to blame genetics, there could be a simple solution.


To Bulk and Cut or Not to Bulk and Cut

Should every lifter therefore always be in either a bulking or cutting phase? In this article, I hope to convince you that many lifters should avoid bulking and cutting cycling and be content to stay the same weight while improving body composition, or be content to make very gradual changes over time.


Strength Training in Women:


Impressive Strength Levels

Last year, I wrote a guest article for my friend Ben Bruno where I listed some feats of strength that I find to be impressive in the gym. I recently sat down and updated the list and added more exercises.


Average Female Strength Gains Over a Six Month Period

I decided to create this graph so women, personal trainers, and strength coaches could gauge their progress in lower body strength exercises and create expectations, goals, and benchmarks. The graph below represents the hypothetical average lower body strength gains for a woman who trains with me two times per week.


8 Laws of Strength Training

These 8 Laws of Strength Training make up all the ingredients for optimal strength gains. 


20 Almost Laws of Strength Training

These laws are based on what I've learned both as a lifter and researcher, and they're formed by my current level of scientific understanding, meaning they're malleable and subject to change.


The New Rules of Strength Training

I wrote this article to make a point. If you know enough about anatomy, physiology, and strength training, you could make a case for why every exercise in the book should be avoided. Conversely, you could also make a case for why every exercise in the book should be performed.


Female Strength Levels

While many women are biased because they base their perception of female-strength off of what they see advanced women doing in the gym or what they’ve seen on Youtube videos, I’m here to give you the real-life breakdown in terms of female-strength.


Training Women

I’ve really grown to love training women over the past several years, and here are some things I’ve learned along the way.


12 Observations in Training Women

Here are 12 observations that I’ve gleaned from training mostly women. Keep in mind that many of my female clientele are bikini competitors or newbies; as of yet I haven’t sought advanced powerlifters or athletes for long-term clients. If I did, my experiences would surely be different, but nevertheless my clientele have provided me with interesting and unique anecdotal experiences.


10 Training Tips for Ladies

Many of the tips in this post can apply to either sex, but they’re generally more suited for women than men. Here are ten training tips for the ladies, in no particular order of importance.


Training Tips:


What's the Difference Between an RDL, ADL, Stiff-Legged, and Straight Leg Deadlift

This post breaks down how to perform deadlifting variations such as Romanian deadlifts (RDL’s), American deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts (SLDL’s), and straight leg deadlifts. I discuss how are these performed, and what are the key differences between them.


The Bulgarian Split Squat Solution

The Bulgarian split squat is an excellent exercise. Ain’t no denying that! They highly activate the quadriceps, they create glute damage due to the eccentric stretch loading, and they build single leg stability. Here is a better way to perform them. 


How to Strip Plates Off the Bar After Heavy Deadlifts

This is a simple way to strip the weight off a bar after your set. 


I Want to Do a Chin Up! 15 Tips to Improve Your Chin Up Progress

Here are some of the things that I’ve discovered over the past 17 years as a personal trainer when it comes to getting that first chin-up. 


The Dead-Stop Reset Push-Up

The dead-stop reset push up has you starting from the bottom position. These are much harder than standard push ups for most people but they will teach individuals to control their lumbopelvic hip complexes (LPHC) and keep them static while performing dynamic push ups.


All About Back Extensions

This extensive video discusses proper set up and technique for a better back extension. 


10 Secrets To Bodyweight Squats

Like a golf swing, everyone’s squat will look a little different. But if you can’t do the exercise with proper form, loading the pattern with weight can be more risky than rewarding.


Is the Mind to Muscle Connection Valuable in Strength Training

There is an abundance of research indicating that focusing on factors outside of the body (external attentional focus) is more beneficial to performance than focusing on factors inside of the body (internal attentional focus) during exercise.


Podcast Episode 3:  Bodypart Splits vs. Total Body Training

This episode discusses bodypart split training versus total body training.



Glute Imbalances:


How Do I Know If I Have A Glute Imbalance

This is a guide to help you determine whether or not you have glute imbalances to address. 


How To Fix Glute Imbalances

Once you determine that you have glute imbalances after reading through the previous article, here is how to address them. 


2-1 Method of Fixing Glute Imbalances

Here is what I’ve come up with lately to help fix the issue with glute imbalance. 


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