“Every strength coach I’ve ever been around, it’s glute, glute, glute — always, always, always. It’s a broken record. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase ‘You want to look better going than coming.’ ” Titans Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck
And why not? Why do NFL players run the way they do? Glutes. Why do Olympic sprinters break records left and right? Glutes. The stronger the glutes, the more powerful the person. And the stronger the glutes, the better looking the glutes. As Bret Contreras states in Chapter 3 of his new book, Strong Curves, “Butts come in all shapes and sizes. Often, what differentiates a good booty from a bad one is glute strength.”
Bret goes on to show us a simple, yet effective drawing of a good butt vs. a bad butt. “Though my drawing is rudimentary,” Bret says, “it clearly demonstrates the difference between a strong set of glutes and a weak set. The bad booty on the left lacks depth, fullness and has what are known as glute folds, where the actual buttocks show excessive folds at the separation point from the hamstring. The booty on the right is perky, round an shapely…what determines a good booty over a bad booty is the amount of muscle you carry back there. Many women feel that losing weight is the answer, but when they get down to the weight they desire, their butts don’t get any better. In fact they get worse. Remember that butts are made in the gym. You have to build that muscle and hit it from all angles to curve out your backside.”
I have been a fan of Bret’s for over three years. As many of my readers know, after about 5 years of dealing with a back injury, in and out of physical therapy, I suffered one of the worst back relapses the end of May 2010. It was unbelievable. I had never felt so vulnerable in my life as I did then. I told myself that when I could sit and walk without pain, I would never, ever let that happen to me again. And I haven’t. When I recovered and was able to move without pain, I got my butt in the gym and started a lifting program. My husband had already started Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program and was making great progress. I decided to follow in his footsteps and started squatting and deadlifting to my heart’s content. Around the same time, I had also started reading about Bret and his glute work and so, in addition to my squats and deadlifts, presses, I also added glute bridges and hip thrusts into my program, bodyweight only at first and then with the barbell a few months into the program. And I made great progress. It was a little tricky at times to get this work in at my commercial gym where I trained before opening Fivex3 Training. But I did it. And let me tell you, there is nothing like asking a couple guys if they mind if you can borrow the bar from the bench rack so you can do heavy glute bridges. When they asked what I was doing, I told them I needed to work my butt. “Go for it,” I remember one of them saying, staring at my set up. I added front squats to my program the following year. I was getting stronger and my body was changing but honestly, I did not realize at the time what was happening to my body, mainly my glutes until I had a picture taken of me the end of May of 2011. When I saw the picture of me from 2010 and then from 2011, I was literally dumbstruck. All that squatting, deadlifting, glute bridging and hip thrusting had given me a stronger, tighter, healthier body. All I wanted was to be stronger. And I was. But I also had an, excuse me for saying, kick ass body to boot. I have shown these before and after pictures a few times but they bear repeating.
“It’s all about the ass.” Mike Verstegen
If you want to know the who, what, when, where, why and how of glute training, Strong Curves is the book for you. If you want stronger glutes (and who doesn’t?), Strong Curves is for you. If you want to feel better, look better and get stronger, Strong Curves is for you. If you are looking for a fast and easy fix, Strong Curves is NOT the book for you. Because getting stronger takes time. It takes patience. And it takes consistency. Hands down, Bret and Kellie have put together one of the most thorough and comprehensive fitness books on training the glutes that I have ever seen. It is truly an encyclopedia of glute training, glute knoweldge and is essentially a step by step of “how to work towards creating strong glutes which will in turn create a strong body” book.
With this book, I now have all of Bret’s work at my fingertips. I believe that this book is an excellent resource for women who have already begun strength training and are now looking to really step up their program. It is an excellent resource for trainers and coaches with female clients who want to take their clients to the next level of fitness. Bret and Kellie’s passion for training and fitness shine through page after page after page. I appreciate Bret’s no nonsense attitude about good glutes vs. bad glutes, emphasizing over and over again that the stronger your glutes are, the better your glutes will look and the better your body will look. And I appreciated the balance between Kellie and Bret’s talk of “looking better” while “getting stronger.” We all want to look good but I feel, as many others do, that when you are stronger, the “looking better” just comes as a result of all of your hard work. And Bret and Kellie reiterate this point over and over again.
The opening chapters of Strong Curves tackle why the glutes are important and how and why it is important to build them and make them stronger. In Chapter 5, Bret and Kellie discuss the in’s and out’s of nourishing those glutes as your diet can, and most certainly will, make or break your goals. Eat the right foods ie. protein, good fats, whole foods and your body will reap the benefits. Starve yourself and you won’t see results. Your body needs fuel. You just need to make sure it is the right kind of fuel and it is enough for your body so you can make progress. Chapters 6 – 8 discuss how the program will fit into your daily life and help give you some insight as to how to apply the program to meet your goals.
I particularly love the the Female Strength Chart because it helps you define where you are in regards to your current strength and acts as a progress chart. I really love that for most exercises, according to the chart, I fall into the “Advanced” and “Elite” categories. And as Bret says, “While I believe my strong female colleagues probably think this chart is a bit “easy,” I believe it to be accurate if you consider the entire female resistance training population.” And he is absolutely right. I loved Kellie’s note about the chart too. (See below.)
After the introduction chapters, you get right into the programs. Four different programs for you to pick from that will help you reach YOUR goals.
Maybe you are already an advanced lifter looking to step up your glute training. Head right to “The Gluteal Goddess Advanced Workout.”
Perhaps you are very satisfied with your upper body and want a more comprehensive, “glute only” program. Try the “Gorgeous Glutes” program.
Whatever your goal, Strong Curves is NOT just a book with some pretty pictures and a couple exercises. From the comprehensive, yet easy to understand and digest information about the glutes and muscle building, to the detailed pictures of foam rolling, mobility work, common mistakes and how to fix them to the various glute activation and accessory exercises and the breakdown of hip dominant, glute dominant, quad dominant exercises etc. and how to do them correctly, this book keeps no stone left unturned when it comes to the how, what, when and why of building strong glutes and a strong body.
It is an incredible resource, one that you will refer to over and over and over again as you continue your journey towards a stronger body. The programs are not designed for you to do for a few weeks and then try something else. They are designed for you to utilize on a daily basis for years to come. I know that I will use this book as resource for myself as I continue to train as well as for my clients who are looking to get stronger, feel better, move better and look better.
Here is a video from June of this past summer of my hip thrusts. 245# for a set of 10. Not too shabby.