Functional Patterns

After 4 years of controversy and anticipation, the debate between Naudi Aguilar (HBS) and Bret Contreras (PHD).

In this debate they cover an assortment of topics that put much of the controversy to rest.

This debate is being touted as one of the most important and influential of the exercise field history.

The future of the industry has likely been laid out by Naudi Aguilar, founder of Functional Patterns.

As time moves forward, the results will showcase.

And Naudi is right about more things than just the injury prone nature of the fitness industry.

Naudi Aguilar:

And we are live. I got to say, this is a pretty surreal moment in my career. Not necessarily a moment that surprises me. I did a little research back to a post. I kind of started my relationship with the fitness industry as a whole … I think I’m going to be a controversial figure no matter how I look at it, just based upon the system that I employ and what I do, and then how I exclude certain things for certain reasons, but I did some research back onto what kind started my relationship with the fitness industry, and it was a post on Sherdog, that’s an MMA forum. And on this forum there was a strength and conditioning section, and I wound up putting up a post with an athlete, with a professional fighter, and let’s just say the response wasn’t necessarily the one I was hoping for.

It was a pretty critical response and it kind of set the tone for what my relationship with the fitness industry was going to be. You guys can look it up. If you just type in, “Naudi Aguilar, Sherdog.” S-H-E-R-D-O-G, you’ll find the origins of that.

But anyway, three days ago, that was actually the eight year anniversary of when this all went down, and I’m grateful that it happened. I’m grateful that I get these challenges because it ultimately comes down to, if nobody is holding you accountable in life, you might be inclined to want to convince yourself that things are happening or that you’re doing good things when you may not be doing good things. And although I will say that the way people came at me wasn’t necessarily the most professional, at least it gave me a reality check. And truth be told, I hadn’t done any research. Even beyond that, Functional Patterns has evolved a thousand fold since eight years ago, and the craft wasn’t really anywhere near where it’s at now, and I didn’t have as much evidence to suggest that my practice really worked that well anyway.

So, it was pretty justifiable in many regards to get the reaction that I got from them. Nonetheless, I’ve been working my ass off to try and get as many results as possible. So then when I finally did get to a point like this, which I had told people seven, eight years ago that after that particular incident had happened, that I finally understood that I guess I was somewhat radical based upon how people do things, just based up on the fact that I didn’t include Olympic lifting or power lifting or deadlifts, or anything like that, in my training.

And ultimately, it set the stage for me to understand that, okay, I’m going to eventually have to explain myself. I’m going to have to get better results. Eventually, I’m going to find myself in a situation like this where I’m with a guy, a very prolific figure like Bret Contreras, with a PhD, all sorts of accomplishments in our field. So, I’m really looking forward to what’s going to transpire here.

I think there’s going to be a lot of learning on my end, hopefully on Bret’s end, so this isn’t … This is going to be, hopefully, a mutual learning process, but nevermind that, I think it’s going to be very learning for the people that are watching this podcast altogether. And the premise here is I know there’s a lot of drama, I know there’s a lot of history between Bret and myself, but the premise is I want this to be completely civil. I have a lot of respect for Bret. Bret is a worker. The guy hustles like a mad man, and I got to give him credit for that.

As somebody who works his ass off too, even if our approaches don’t coincide, I can coincide with the guy knowing that he works really hard and I work really hard, and just because of that alone, I can find … Even that foundation, I can already find some sense of respect for the guy, even if I don’t agree with a lot of what he does training-wise.

Anyway, what I’d like to do is actually get into the introduction of this debate. The problem that I have with debates altogether is that usually there’s … It’s almost like one person is defending one side or the other. I’m going to ask questions, and if Bret has to correct me on something, I’m open to it. I have no problems with it so long as it’s practical and so long that it’s applicable to what I’m trying to do with the people that I train.

I have nothing against that. The problem with debates too, I wish I was a better speaker. If I was a better speaker, this would become a much better process for me. I’m not a great speaker, but I think I am a very good doer. I’m good at committing my actions, and I think the base of results that I’ve showcased have kind of proven that. And so, really, what’s changed from eight years ago or four years ago until now, from four years ago from when Bret had instituted his debate, or set me up for … “Set me up,” sorry.

When Bret put forth the challenge to me to a debate, I’ve been working really hard to try and get some results, and I’ll say that the industry especially in about the last three, four years, has changed substantially. Especially the last two, three years, and many more people are starting to employ Functional Patterns directly. Not just Functional Patterns type exercise, but Functional Patterns exercises. And I think that the efficacy of the practice is proving its merits, which is fundamentally why the response that I got in the outset is not necessarily correlating to the responses that I’m getting today.

So, I think that’s something that I really want to emphasize, is that four years ago and eight years ago, I was operating in a very different fitness industry than I am now. Four, eight years ago, to say that a back squat was dangerous, or that it was unsustainable, was heresy. Today, it’s not. If I make a post like that to trigger a little bit of controversy, I don’t get that same kind of response anymore. People, generally, tend to be pretty respectful, they tend to be pretty inquisitive, there are not a lot of insults or anything like that. Occasionally, you’ll get trolls here and there that pop up, but it’s down.

Before, I would get hundreds of people commenting, something would get shared on another Facebook page, or something like that, and then you’d have 100 people that would comment there saying, “This guy is an idiot,” or whatever. But as of now, things have changed substantially. And I think the main reason that that’s is that we’ve been able to showcase a pretty wide array of results.

Now, they’re not perfect. It’s not completely a perfect practice, so I can’t sit there and tell somebody that, “Hey, look, this is the final frontier of what’s going on.” I’m still scratching at the surface of what I’m trying to learn, what I want to do. Until I can get grandma to do a back flip, I’m not going to be satisfied. The premise is, I got to get myself to do back flips functionally before I can really determine that. But nonetheless, I’ve showcased a great deal of progress with the clients that I’ve had, and nevermind that, the trainers that I train and the trainers that they train, and the trainers that they train, are getting phenomenal results with their clients. So, now, we’ve surmounted thousands of results all over the world.

And if you guys have any doubts about what I’m talking about or if you have any uncertainty as to what it is that I’m talking about, I would invite that you go to my Functional Patterns page and you look at the actions that we’ve shown. If you can look at the results, that’s going to be what’s really going to tell the tale here. It’s the results, because the only thing that really matters at the end of the day are results. I don’t really care about a scientific study unless it’s going to get me results, which is fundamentally why I haven’t necessarily partaken in what’s accepted by science or what people … And I have some questions with regard to that with you, Bret, with regard to the science because maybe I don’t fully understand it. Maybe my guys don’t fully understand it, even though they do have degrees and whatnot, and they know how to read articles. But there’s some questions that I’m going to have with you with regard to that.

But the premise is that a long time ago, I predicted that people were going to get injured, and they did get injured. I don’t want to let the industry off the hook for that because I don’t want the patterns to repeat again, because every once in a while, when I do see those trolls come back, and they’ll be like, “Look man, I do the heavy back squats. I put the belt around my waist, and I feel great. I feel great.” And you can’t help but notice that they’re about 25 years old, and I’m thinking, what are you going to feel like when you’re 45 years old, bro? What’s going to happen then?

So, I want to prevent the cycle from repeating over and over again, and I want people to at least, even if they continue to do the back squats, just think about it. Take it as a thought experiment to ask yourself, “Is this really the optimal way to actually condition human beings?” Nevermind that, what I find that’s interesting on social media is that so often we see people projecting things about themselves and about their lives that aren’t necessarily accurate.

So, the dilemma that comes with science, or anything in life, is that everybody is always doing a sales job. We’re all doing sales jobs. We’re all trying to sell ourselves, and rarely do we ever bring about the points where we screw up in training. We rarely ever go down that path, and I’m guilty of this myself. Anything that I’m talking about, keep this in mind guys, I’m not seeing this as if I’m somehow exempt from this rule or from this idea, I am fully …

I realize that I fall within this category as well, and I fight it every single day of my life to ensure that I’m actually giving people relevant material that’s actually going to help them with their life. So, a big problem of what happens is, for the longest time, I would put forth my ideas and then people would say, “Well, I feel great, so I don’t care what you have to say. I’m going to keep doing one-rep maxes like crazy. I’m going to orient my training around the sagittal plane, and I don’t care what you say.” And I would then keep an eye on their accounts about two or three years later, because I would save the URL …

I know you guys are probably going to think I’m weird. But I would save the URL to see their profiles, and I could slowly begin to see the trends changing because these people were suffering from injuries. Nevermind the fact that there was a lot of industry leaders with many, many followers then saying, “I’ve gotten injured doing traditional training as well,” and that critique has subsided because I’ve made these predictions.

I don’t want to have to predict this again. At some point, this has to stop. At some point, people need to start becoming wiser about what they’re doing with their body, otherwise I think there’s going to be grave consequences to society as a whole, in the sense that there’s not very many people, really, that are in shape. If you look at the percentile of people that work out to people that don’t work out, I think it demonstrates how ineffective traditional training is towards getting people into shape because if it feels that uncomfortable to do, there’s something wrong. And if there’s something that really cool about Functional Patterns, it’s that it’s fun to do. And it’s not that it’s fun, it feels good to do.

When you go a corrective exercise properly, when you do a chamber sequence properly, it feels amazing. And that’s really the premise of what I want to focus on. We need to get everybody involved when it comes to getting in shape. And I’m going to make two more points here and then I’ll get you into your introductory statements, Bret. Sorry if I’m going a little too far here.

Eventually, what I’d like to do is conduct scientific studies. I’d be more than happy to run a comparative analysis to compare Functional Patterns to just about anybody. Whether it happens today, tomorrow, a year from now, two, three, four years from now, I have no doubts … If we get more time, it gives me more time to touch up my craft and cover up all the basis, all the patches in my theories and my application. So, if I get more time for when I conduct that scientific study, I will be more prepared, and I am very, very certain that we’re going to knock it out of the ballpark when that moment comes.

I know once we run a comparative analysis on a study that we are going to smash it. This isn’t like homeopathy, or something like that where it’s something bogus, or even something like acupuncture. This is not an alternative like the alternative medicine stuff. What Functional Patterns is something that is rooted in science. It’s rooted in some degree to … It’s an objectively-based perspective, and there’s certain foundations that I look at when it comes to understanding the human organism.

And I’m going to be more elaborately detailing this as we go along with this debate. To finalize my initial statement, my initial introduction, if human beings about 20,000 years ago, if there was a human being … And this is in a small plot in Australia. If we could have a human that could run 28 miles per hour, if a person could run 23 miles per hour in the sand and then if some scientists could transfer that over and say, “This is how fast a person would run if they were on the track,” and they concluded that a human being would probably run at 28 miles per hour, and they didn’t use traditional training to accomplish that, at some level, I am going to remain unconvinced that traditional training really needs to be there for us to resolve people’s problems and to get everybody on board with moving better.

So, the premise is that I don’t think you necessarily have to go down the traditional weight training path, or even a lot of the traditional paths. Some of them are good, don’t get me wrong. I do a lot of the traditional stuff myself, but I mix it with what I do, and I modify it, and I relate it to human biology. But what I will say is that a deadlift, a back squat, arguably even a hip thruster, they’re not going to take us to the full spectrum that we’re supposed to go when it comes to accomplishing things as humans. And I think if we want to get to that same phase as to what we once were at some point as human beings, it’s going to take much more intelligent thinking than the way we’re going about it right now.

So, at this point, Bret, I guess I’m done with my introductory statements. You can have at it, brother.

Bret Contreras:

Yeah. Well, I think … First of all, I don’t think you’re a bad speaker. I think it comes natural to you, so don’t short change yourself there.

Naudi Aguilar:

Thank you. Thank you, thank you.

Bret Contreras:

And I don’t have any debate … I have zero debate experience. In fact, you’re the first person that ever accepted a debate from me, and I’ve challenged about [inaudible 00:13:26] people, who are bashing my methods. And to me, debate is a big component of learning, and when someone doesn’t accept a debate then it makes me question their integrity because what do you have to lose? You got to be out there and open, and so many people are so afraid to get on a podcast, or whatever, show up and get on a debate, all we can do is learn from it.

So, I’m glad we’re doing this, Naudi, and I can relate to your experience in the industry because I popularized hip thrusts and a lot of other glute training methods. And like you said, back in the days when Facebook was still popular, people would share a post of mine and I would read all these power lifters bashing hip thrusts, or anything, bands, or anything else I was using. And I’d have to just sit there and read 50 people making fun of my methods when deep down I know they work for what I’m trying to do.

But here’s why-

Naudi Aguilar:

Nevermind [crosstalk 00:14:34]?

Bret Contreras:

Oh, yeah.

Naudi Aguilar:

Wow.

Bret Contreras:

I think I’ve probably been made fun of more than any popular person in our industry, just because … I think you’ve said that about yourself. But whenever you’re introducing something new, it gets a lot of flak when you’re breaking the norm. But this is why it’s important to do research.

For example, when I started formulating my theories around hip thrusts making you faster, we were using this invention I made called The Scorcher, which basically I took the rounded pad from the glute ham raise, and you put your back on that, and then I had a foot platform, angled, that you put your feet on and you’d sink really deep, and then come back up. But it stretches your hamstrings. You feel it working your whole posterior chain.

But The Scorcher is a very clunky piece of equipment. I actually might start selling them, but I don’t think many people are going to buy them because the thing is going to cost, like, 1900 bucks or something crazy, and to do one exercise off of it. Nevertheless, I love it and I hadn’t … So, when I came out with my ebook, I’m like, “I have to teach people how to do this without using this machine.” It never occurred to me that you could just use a bench.

So, everyone started using benches. And when I started using the bench, I knew it was different. You could use more load, but you felt it more in the quads. You didn’t feel it as much in the hamstrings, you didn’t get as much of a stretch, but at least I could have the masses start doing it that way. Well, just last week, me and my trainers, I showed them barbell hip thrusts off The Scorcher for the first time, and they sank down deep. They had to use 315, they couldn’t even use … You know, they can do 500 pound hip thrusts, but they’re remarking how much harder it was and how much more they felt it work in their hamstrings.

But my theories were based on The Scorcher, and then I started teaching the barbell hip thrust from the bench, and then my theory was that they’re going to help increase spring speed because when you’re sprinting, your chance to influence your speed is when you’re in contact with the ground. So, during ground contact, your hip angle is more related to in-range hip extension compared to, like, a squat where the hardest part of down deep. And so, that was my theory.

So, I conducted the first study on hip thrust and acceleration. My colleagues, actually, helped me carry it out in New Zealand, and they showed that hip thrusts led to better sprinting speed improvements than front squats. And this was in adolescent male rugby players. So, to me, that was evidence, “Hey, hip thrusts work. They work better at improving speed.”

So then the next two studies showed that hip thrusts didn’t improve speed. The next two studies published … One was, I think, the UK researchers, and the other was, I think, Japanese researchers. They both had people do hip thrusts, they got stronger hip thrusts, they did not get better at sprinting. That’s where I was like, “Huh? How can that be?” It challenged what I thought.

I’m biased because I invented the thing. It’s hard for me. You’re always going to have a … Like, I don’t see this through the same lens as other people because I want so badly-

Naudi Aguilar:

And by the way, Bret, I think it’s cool that you’re willing to admit that. I’m wondering if … I think so much of what you do, bro, is you try to do things the right way. When you conducted the study and you show cased … Because the changes weren’t massive, but you conducted the studies and you were very honest about what you were saying. So, I just wanted to acknowledge you on that, man.

Bret Contreras:

Thanks. I can read the studies and I’m going, “Well, one of the studies, they used a really slow tempo. If you want to improve your speed, you got to be explosive, and the way we do them is more explosive.” And then, “Well, they didn’t really have a tapering period. If you’re going to hammer them for eight straight weeks and then test them in speed, they’re fatigued. They’re not going to do their best. You got to give them a tapering week, or a week off or something.” But anyway, I’m not as critical with other studies as I am with those studies because when it doesn’t come out the way you want, you get really good at criticizing, but I’m aware of that.

Anyway, then another study came out just recently showing that they did improve speed better than back squats, so now it’s two to two, and there are a couple other studies showing improvements to jumping and, quote, good correlations with sprinting, but correlation doesn’t imply causation. So, anyway, now we’re at a … We need more research.

When you talk about wanting a study to be undertaken with Functional Patterns’ methodology, you really need 20 studies. And then you have a reviews and meta-analysis, and things like that. One study can only do so much. And there are also, as you were talking about studies … How there is limitations of them. And the one thing is, when you have methods, they have to be duplicatable. So, you have to stick to this rigid methodology, and that’s not what we do as personal trainers.

You know, Naudi, when you and I train people, we make adjustments on the fly based on what we’re seeing. You can’t do that in the study. Let me give you an example. I have my PhD. I’ve published 50 studies and I love research, but I will be the first person to say we use the scientific method … You have to control the variables. You can’t just do what we do in personal training.

For example, let’s say I start training someone, and I’m giving them, whatever. … I’m not going to load them up with a heavy barbell the first time I have them squat. The first time I have them squat, I might have them do body weight box squats going real deep to pull one on my box squat. Or maybe I put a dumbbell in the goblet position. I’m not going to risk throwing a heavy bar on their back. Maybe on the fourth week I put a barbell on their back, or actually maybe I’d have them do front squats before back squats or something. And then maybe one day I see they’re beat up and they’re not moving too well. Well, I’m going to switch. I’m going to either do higher reps or switch exercise variations, or do something.

With hip thrusts, I’m not trying to get them to do heavy weight right away. I’m teaching them with body weight, get them to feel their glutes contracting, things like that. And I’m sure you can relate in the stuff that you do. You’re not trying to … Say you’re giving them some rotational thing on the cable column, you’re not trying to load them up, you’re trying to get them to move well and get the right feel. But in the studies, what you’ll typically see here-

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, Bret. I’ll elaborate more deeply on that later on, bro, ’cause I have to explain a lot because I don’t showcase what we do most of the time in terms of correcting people online. Just real quick, I’ll explain more as to what I’m doing. Maybe it might be something that you might want to check out. If I’m ever in San Diego, or if you’re ever in Hawaii, and you ever want to compare notes, I could show you then you might look at what I’m doing-

Bret Contreras:

You’re in Hawaii now?

Naudi Aguilar:

I am, bro. I am. I had to. My health needed it. I could have moved to Mexico. I lived in San Diego for all those years, but I was like, eh. I needed a smaller town vibe, and based upon what I needed at this given moment, man, I was like … Hawaii seemed like the right choice for me. So if you’re ever around, you’re more than welcome to come by the gym and I’d be happy to show you what I’m doing. I’ll go into deeper explanations because there’s a lot that I have to explain. Just an FYI. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Go ahead, Bret. Sorry.

Bret Contreras:

Let me finish this point and then I’m done.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fine.

Bret Contreras:

What we basically do is we’ll take … Either it’s beginners or experienced lifters, whatever. And then, what’s the definition of an experienced lifter? That’s hard to define. Some people say it’s one year of training, some people it’s a strength standard. But anyway, say I take a beginner. My study looks at beginners, and I take them and I have to prescribe them a load, so I one-rep max them before I get the longitudinal study underway. We test their one-rep max. And how many people can do a good one-rep max when they haven’t even ever done barbell squats before or deadlifts? What’s that one-rep max going to look like?

You’ll one-rep max them, and that’s subjective too. If they’re doing a squat, is it to parallel? What if they butt wink like crazy before they get to parallel? What if their knees cave in? Is it a pretty looking squat? You have to define your standards. But anyway, if they meet the requirements and you test their one-rep max, say this newcomer gets … Say it’s a female and she squats 100 pounds, okay? The very next week, you typically dive into the program, the training program, so then you’re being prescribed a load. Maybe it’s five sets of five with 80% of one-rep max. Well, how is she going to do well with five by five with 80 lbs? She should be doing body weight squats and goblet squats, and easing her way into it. You wouldn’t just throw someone right into heavy barbell training right off the bat and with the sole goal of progressive overload. For six straight weeks, you’re just hammering them with progressive overload.

And then you test them on whatever the things you pretested them on, whether it’s a 10 or 20 meter, or 40 meter, or 100 meter. … Say it’s sprint acceleration or a vertical jump, a broad jump, an agility test, some measure of rotational power, you retest them on that and that doesn’t mimic what we do as a personal trainer, that doesn’t mimic what we do. So, I don’t think you can get a study to fully mimic what we do as personal trainers. It’ll never be as effective as an actual, personal trainer can be because it takes away the feedback we see, the autoregulation that we do. You know, it’s an art, and good personal trainers know that art very well.

So, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to … Unless you publish case studies and things like that, but the problem with case studies is that you can have genetic outliers. You know, there’s a whole body of research on you give 20 people the same program, you’ll have one person over here respond like crazy, and this person over here sees no results at all. They call them non-responders. That’s why case studies need to be not taken as gospel and considered with precaution.

But anyway, there’s an inherent flaw with all studies, but the flip side is we just have the wild, wild west where everyone is out there, every blogger, every Instagramer is making these claims. How do we know if there’s truth to it? So, that’s why we should care about research and try to be as scientific as possible and publish studies knowing that there’s always going to be limitations.

Naudi Aguilar:

Absolutely. And I think it’s awesome that you’re elaborating on things like this, Bret, because even in my community, even I thought you were true, full on, science, science, science. If it’s not evidence-based then it’s irrelevant, or whatever. Because at the end of the day, it really comes down to the fact that you have to be adaptable. When you’re working with somebody …

I have a very different way of going about things, and as we go along through this discussion, I’ll talk more about how I go about things, but you won’t really understand it … It’s like what I’m trying to do is codify gait and then I’m developing resistance training protocols that relate to gait. So, I would literally take the gait cycle, put it in slow motion, slightly suspend a human body in space, and then get it to actually perform the function of hip extension, knee extension, pelvis rotation with knee extension, hyperextension.

I’ll take any function, and I can just switch on a thing like that pretty damn quick in terms of functions on the body, and create a massive … We just got EMG’s recently, and we were showcasing that we could get peak glute contraction, peak muscle contractions, just using these things that I call IMAPs or chambers. It’s just words to describe them, but I would call them IMAPs.

So, what they do is they connect the body … What’s your opinion on the Anatomy Train System from Tom Myers? Have you researched anything on that, Bret?

Bret Contreras:

When you look at the Anatomy Trains book, it makes so much sense. You see these nice, fascial trains and Meridians, whatever you call them, where it flows right into the other. The lat going right into the [inaudible 00:27:57] glute, things like that. I’ve been skeptical because I wonder if … When you actually go to dissect a cadaver and start peeling back layers, I wonder if it’s that pretty. I wonder if I’ve seen some-

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, I’ve-

Bret Contreras:

I’ve been in a few anatomy labs dating back from when I was in college, but also in the last five years I’ve gone a couple times just to see things about the glutes. Like, you’ll hear a textbook say the lower glute max is an adductor, and I’m like, “How could it be an adductor?” It would have to attach on the inner portion of the femur to do that and it doesn’t.

But anyway, I don’t think it’s always as nice and neat as it’s brought out to be, but there’s a lot of research that I have, a whole folder on myofascial force transmission. They’ve done studies showing you can sever the fascia between two muscles and it greatly diminished the force because they work together within a pocket. So, I know that it’s important, I just don’t know what we can do to influence it. Like, if there’s one type …

I’m trying to remember Tom Myers speaking for Perform Better, and he was talking about training. And it’s like, “Okay, that’s stuff we all do anyway.” But I don’t know if you can influence it, the fascia develops with the muscles. Anyway, keep going.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah. You can influence it, and I think we found a way to do it, and we found a way to find a regression analysis to get it to influence on most people. So long as a person puts in the work, we’re actually able to pull this off. And this is one thing that maybe in the future I could show you.

It’s something that I developed about … I’ve been working on it, I think, for … If I backtrack long enough, I think six years? And it’s kind of like an exponential? It starts super, super, super slow, and then eventually it’s like … It just take off. And I’m at that phase right-

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:30:01] you’re talking about, you see them improve their function so you assume that it’s the fascial adaptations?

Naudi Aguilar:

That’s my assumption. My assumption is that the myofascial force transmission is getting improved based upon the fact that I could see … Let’s say, for example, if you see somebody running on a treadmill. When their foot hits the ground, when they’re about to have the ground force reaction, tension, and you’ll see that the pelvis will …

Let’s say, if you measure out the ratio between the amount you’re going to get of hip extension going back this way and the amount of pelvis rotation, hip hike, and lateral pelvic shift that you’re going to get coupled with that, if it’s disproportional, you’re going to see the leg go fixed and then you’re going to see the hip jam up. But when they become proportional to one another, you’re going to see that they all kind of move with each other, and that’s what ultimately leads me … You can almost see a ripple effect happens through the lat all the way down to the ipsilateral oblique, all the way down the contralateral glute. You’ll start to see these ripple patterns begin to happen.

And what that suggests to me is that we’re actually starting to get to that point where we’re able to improve myofascial force transmission. Again, I don’t show this publicly, Bret, because let me just put it this way, there’s a lot of controversy … You know there’s a lot of controversy showcased around it about myself and what I do, that it looks like clown dancing, or whatever. People have a lot of suppositions as to what it is that I do.

But I intentionally have kept this out so that when we do conduct a scientific study, I’ll be like, “Look …” I don’t want to be greedy. I don’t want to come off as greedy, but I want to make sure that Functional Patterns and all the people that are in FP that are pushing this so hard and working so hard get the credit for what it there. And these chamber sequences are really going to be the game changer. We’re-

Bret Contreras:

The one thing, as a scientist … I consider myself a lifter first, then a personal trainer, then a scientist. But anyway, the scientist aspect of me would say it could also be just neural, coordination improvements-

Naudi Aguilar:

Potentially.

Bret Contreras:

The time and sequencing of muscle activation-

Naudi Aguilar:

Yes, exactly, bro.

Bret Contreras:

So that’s why you always have to be open minded. It might be the myofascial force transmission, or it could also be-

Naudi Aguilar:

Be bone force transmission.

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:32:14]. Well, it could be the tendon, it could be improved muscle activation, it could be muscle strength. I would think it would be more coordinative improvements. There’s a lot of … Sometimes things that seem obvious-

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, and I get what you’re saying.

Bret Contreras:

Like when people have, what’s it called? It’s calls Trendelenburg gait, or something, where the hip drops tremendously. You think that’s obviously of a weak gluteus medius, and then you test gluteus medius strength and it’s not always correlated with that. That tells me it’s a motor pattern aberration and motor pattern sequencing. So, to fix that you would need some sort of … Probably the stuff you do.

But anyway, it could be myofascial force transmission, or it could just be improvements in coordination or strength-

Naudi Aguilar:

Absolutely. I’ve thought about and realized … I think it’s awesome that you’re bringing that up, bro, because I’ve thought about the same thing. It’s just the fact that the muscles are probably just working more harmoniously with one another, and it could be absent of the idea of the myofascial force transmission. So, I’m completely onboard with what you’re saying there.

But the premise, how I go about it when it comes to training people and how I change things, it’s like there’s common denominators between high level athletes and how they run. For example, anytime you’re looking at, let’s say, hip extension or hip flexion or something, at some point you’re going to notice the pelvis and the ribcage incorporate a rotation along with that hip flexion or hip extension, and often times you’ll also notice a lateral flexion of the spine, a lateral tilt of the cranium, or even a lateral shift of the pelvis as you’re potentiating the extension.

So, essentially, what I found is that if you’re missing these particular functions and not accounting for how they’re all supposed to coincide, that’s what leads to these problems happening altogether. So the reason that … We change this all the time.

About two and a half years ago, I was looking at this going, “Oh, my god, what am I going to do about this?” It was the test of my career, Bret. This was like, “Okay, if I can showcase a change here, I think I can make a case to showcase that, you know what? I’m not a fraudulent con artist. Here is the change.” And it was from that point on that I could show that ground force reaction almost consistently. The dilemma comes down to whether the clients want to partake in this or not, because they might be inclined to be vanity oriented and they don’t want to focus on just trying to fix their mechanics, but if they focus on it we can almost fix this on just about everyone. So long as they’re a willing participant and they really trust in the system, we can actually change this.

So, what I’ve been looking at are the most common denominators involved with high level runners. If I look at Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Carl Lewis, even if I look at NFL football players … Like, the most influential one on media is Barry Sanders. I love watching that guy. I’ve been watching him since I was a kid.

Bret Contreras:

He was my favorite football player.

Naudi Aguilar:

Amazing. What he would do with his body is absolutely incredible. So what I’ve managed to do is slow down the sequences of what Barry Sanders does, or a Usain Bolt does, so anybody can access that. So, when I reposition the body …

Let’s say if you’re doing hip extension … Let’s say if you’re going to do … If you put an ankle strap on and you’re going to do a hip extension, where your pelvis is rotated in the context of when that hip extension is happening is going to be really, really important in terms of how much muscular fatigue you’re going to put onto somebody.

For me, I can literally induce a … I can create a failure with a muscle almost moving no weight just depending on how I sequence it. And what’s most fascinating about all of it is that the closer it approximates to the gait cycle, in terms of what Usain Bolt does, the more trauma that gets induced. It’s absolutely fascinating, and this is what I’ve been working on.

So, when I look at something like that, I’m actually able to code it now much more effectively. There’s still so many things that I’m missing. There’s still so many times where I’m like, “What the hell am I going to do about that?” But in general, these are things that we’re actually able to correct on a pretty regular basis. And we showcase it in our results all the time. If you go to our Instagram, you’ll see the results that we showcase. We’ve been showcasing some stuff on people with neurological problems, people with autism. We cover all spectrums, as well as high level professional athletes. We’re going across that whole spectrum.

But I think at this point it would be good. I want to keep this at around 90 minutes, Bret. We’re probably not going to be able to get through all of this stuff because you’ve been trying to unpack all the concerns that you had regarding the initial challenge. I think, a lot of these, I can kind of just say … I can answer it pretty quickly. I’ll see how far we can get through this, if that’s okay with you, if we can kind of move on into that whole thing.

Bret Contreras:

[inaudible 00:37:02]. Yeah.

Naudi Aguilar:

Okay. Do you have the list in front of you in terms of what you wanted to read off and in terms of what’s there, and then just give me what your concerns were. And nevermind that, have your presumptions changed about training in the last four years? Has anything changed in terms of what you believe from four years ago to today?

Bret Contreras:

Yeah. I think, for me, for example, my gym glute lab, we’ve had zero injuries in 13 months, maybe 14 months. The trainers have gotten hurt, just not our clients. But I think the reason why …

Okay, let’s talk about squats and deadlifts. The reason why they are dangerous is twofold. Number one, you can move a ton of weight, but you’re going down deep in positions that stretch things out and they create a lot of muscle force, so you’re going to have compression on the joints. If something goes wrong in maybe an isolation movement, it’s not going to be as dangerous as when something goes wrong when you’ve got a ton of weight on your back or in your hands, and you’re bent over or in a deep flexed position.

But that’s only one aspect of it. Probably even more important that that … Naudi, if you and I just went in and squatted with never tracking what we do, we just went in and tried to get a couple of good sets in, we’d always be fine, probably. It’s the progressive overload that’s dangerous. And it happens to all of us. Probably you back when you did heavy weights, you go up, up, up, up, up, and then you have that day where you’re not feeling real good, but you push it anyway. And sometimes you set a PR, you get away with it. Try that two or three workouts in a row? You’re going to injure yourself.

Well, with squats and deadlifts, people care so much about what they lift. That’s your vanity lift, that’s your … You put that on Instagram, you get street cred. So, if I’m going to do a seated row, or something, I don’t care. I’m not like, “Ah, crap. I’m not feeling good. I’m going to do it anyway.”

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, exactly.

Bret Contreras:

But if it’s a dead lift, especially if you planned that PR, you’re like, “I took a week off. I tapered. I ate well, I slept well all weekend. I start warming up, I feel good. I know I’m going to set a PR,” and then you go for your first couple of specific warm ups and it just doesn’t feel right. It’s really hard to then just go, “Hey, I don’t have it today. I’m not going for it.”

Many times, you will anyway, and you lie to yourself, and you’ll injure yourself, and you’ll always be able to look back and go, “My body was giving me warning signs. I ignored them.”

But the two lifts that people care about the most are squats and deadlifts. You could say bench press with males, but those … And it’s the fact that people care about them the most that makes them the most dangerous, that you don’t listen to your body. See, if I just went in and did lifts without progressive overload component, without trying to get stronger at them and just did … One day you do a goblet squat, just do a couple sets, really keeping really good form and trying to feel the right muscles do the work, and then the next time you did this.

And as long as you had a very balanced routine, you’d probably be all right. But anyway, what I did with glute lab was I just said, “We’re not going to have that many people do heavy squats and deadlifts. We’ll give them goblet squats, we’ll give them kettlebell deadlifts, we’ll have them use some of our machines,” because no one cares what they can lift up the machines. You’re not obsessed with … It’s not a number, 315, or something like that.

And then we put the focus more on other exercise, the hip thrust variations, a lot of different movements that aren’t typically as dangerous, and for that reason we’ve had a less number of injuries. And if I think back to my lack glute squad in Phoenix, we had more injuries and more … Not severe injuries, but just aches and pains. My girls would be like, “My hip hurts.” “My knee hurts.” “My lower back isn’t feeling good.” And I’d have to make-

Naudi Aguilar:

Some adjustments.

Bret Contreras:

And I don’t hear that anymore with clients. Yeah. I had to make adjustments. I’ve chilled out on the heavy barbell lifts more. I still love them, it’s just that it’s better when you have a one-on-one coach. You need an objective person there with you to do well at them. So, that-

Naudi Aguilar:

But don’t you think that’s a problem though? You don’t think that … Like, why do you think the glute max formed in the first place? Why do you think the lats formed the way they did in the first place on humans, Bret? What is your supposition, because that’s a big thing. At some point, we’re probably going to get into the mind/muscle connection, but I’m of the belief that a muscle exists because a function drove its existence to begin with. So, there was never chimp that said, “I want to have a glute max and then started developing that.”

So, do you believe that the gluteus maximum exists primarily because of running and throwing? Do you think that’s a somewhat valid argument? Or, if it’s not those functions, what functions do you think it was that took a chimpanzee, if the theory is correct about that … Which, I think it is. I think the evidence is pretty strong to suggest that we did evolve likely from chimps, maybe bonobos, just because we’re such close genetic ancestors. But if we actually developed the glute max to what it is, I operate under the presumption that the glute max was formed by running and throwing, that those functions are the ones that built it.

And the foible that I have with deadlifts and back squats is that they don’t relate to those functions at all, and prior to gym culture, those movements weren’t really that much of a focal point. If you pick something up, it’s different than actually doing a dead lift. Like, grabbing an object and using your pecs to squeeze on it, and then elevating your shoulder to use your upper traps to stabilize yourself, and then extent your body against that force. The forces are different, it seems like .. Or, not it seems like, they are different when you’re holding something as opposed to when you’re doing a dead lift.

So, the question I ask is: How are a dead lift and a back squat relevant if, at least for me, it’s clear that the development of the glutes, the posterior chain, the anterior chain, virtually all the muscles are highly dependent on running and throwing, specifically. Obviously, we could throw in upright standing posture, we could throw in walking dynamics. All those things contribute. But if I think about, what’s the most intense and impactful on the body in terms of trauma? I would have to say that running and throwing are probably the most important functions that we’ve developed, and I just don’t see how a dead lift and a back squat coincide with that.

Bret Contreras:

So, to answer your first question, this is … My greatest passion as a researcher is obviously the glutes, so I can look at my glute studies here and I’ve got 1.7 gigabytes. I wonder if it tells me how many files are in here. But I’ve got all the research. Yeah. Almost every major paper written on the glutes. Yeah. I have over 2,000 studies in this folder here, and one day I hope to publish a review paper on gluteus maximus. But that is a big theory postulated by Lieberman. He wrote that the glutes evolved from running.

I don’t agree with his opinion. I think it’s largely in part from running, but I actually think it was the primates that we … You know, you start out as hominids, and then I don’t know the exact train of evolution-

Naudi Aguilar:

Neither do I. I don’t understand the whole specifics of it either. So, yeah, you’re good.

Bret Contreras:

As we begin walking more upright … And I know there’s different theories for how we began being upright. One theory was that the sun only hits the top of your head now instead of your whole body. One theory was to be able to go through the marshes and stuff better. One was just so we could stand taller and see our predators. One was for running. There’s a bunch of different theories.

But I just think it’s for running long distances, covering long distances. It’s more economical than being on all fours. And as we became more upright, the moment arms that you use for in-range hip extension, it becomes better, more advantageous for the glutes, and so you’re going to activate it more because the glutes are now naturally more involved. At least in these ranges, for some reason, the brain activates the glutes higher at in-range hip extension compared to flex-range hip extension, which, we don’t know why. Nobody knows why at this point. And then, it’s this combination-

Naudi Aguilar:

Sorry, say that again?

Bret Contreras:

Next time you test EMG activity on someone, it’s really fascinating, you can have them get down in a squat position or a flex position, say, “Fire your glutes as hard as possible.” Then, have them stand up and say, “Fire your glutes as hard as possible.” You’ll get much higher EMG activity from a standing position when they’re at in-range.

And that’s not the same with other muscles. The biceps will be mid-range-

Naudi Aguilar:

You can track whatever.

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:46:51]. The quadriceps are in a more stretched position. They’re not at in-range, like lock out, knee extension. And that’s something that fascinates me, and I don’t know why. Probably six years ago, I emailed 20 researchers and they all had different answers, but I could quickly dismiss their answer because … Like, one of them said, “That’s to account for [sarcum 00:47:14] length.” And I’m like, “Then every muscle would behave that way.”

But anyway, I think it was a combination of everything. Like, us being upright and then learning that it’s actually very useful for running, for picking things up, for sitting, squatting up and down-

Naudi Aguilar:

You don’t think there’s a hierarchy?

Bret Contreras:

I do think there’s a hierarchy but it’s not just what it’s most used for, because you know … God, there’s a paper on this. Because of the angle of the glute fibers relative to the SI joint, for example, they cross the SI joint very … Like, the SI joint is a triangle, and then you have the glute fibers. So, they really close up that SI joint well, but they also transfer to rotation. I think it’s 71% of the force transfers right into rotation. And when I did EMG of the glute max, it’s fired really hard during rotation. But then-

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, absolutely. There’s a premise to consider that whenever you do hip extension, at some point, your hip is going to also rotate with hip extension. So, the hips aren’t going to stay square. They’re actually going to rotate, and you’re going to finish extension. So that’s probably what’s going to tell you why those lines of continuity likely exist like that whenever you’re promoting that kind of muscle activity. So, yeah. I would imagine that you’re going to get more glute max activation with hip rotation, right?

Bret Contreras:

You get tons with hip rotation. What’s interesting though is that in sports … It’s funny because I’m the glute guy and I didn’t realize this until probably six years ago, I think. It was before I presented for NCSA. I always thought of jumping as hip extension, sprinting as hip extension, cutting side to side is hip abduction, and then swinging is hip external rotation. And then I’m like, no, if you’re swinging a bat, for example, if you’re going to swing a bat or throw a strike, you’re actually like this. You’re loaded up in flexion and a little bit of internal rotation, and then as you swing, you carry out the three actions all at once.

‘Cause I’m flexed, then I’m extended. Here, I’m not necessarily adducted, but here I’m abducted, and then I rotate along the way.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yep.

Bret Contreras:

It’s the same with throwing. So, you’re kind of combining hip extension, abduction, and external rotation at the same time.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yes.

Bret Contreras:

Which is why I think … Which, we’ll delve into later. Do I think there’s a hierarchy? Yes. I think that there’s-

Naudi Aguilar:

What’s the hierarchy then? What functions do you think are the … I would guess that it’s probably running first and then throwing that develop most of the musculature on the human body.

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:50:12]

Naudi Aguilar:

This is a claim that I’ve made.

Bret Contreras:

I think you’d have to say … Okay, but you wouldn’t just say, “What delivers the highest glute max activation?” You’d also say what things we were doing the most.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yes, yes, absolutely.

Bret Contreras:

So, you’d have to take someone … Right. You have to take someone and track … Like, say you had a camera on them, or even better, say you had positional markers on them and you tracked their joint angle movements all day, then you would say, “How many times did they stand up? How many times did they walk? How many times did they run? How many times did they sprint? How many times did they throw something? How many times were they climbing? And then you’d calculate all those things, but then you’d also have to factor in how much that activity works the glutes. So, I do think running was probably a huge … Running is probably the main one, but also-

Naudi Aguilar:

Walking? One would imagine walking has a lot to do with that, right?

Bret Contreras:

Well, the thing is, walking … But I don’t think walking activates the glutes to not even 5% of MBIC. So, it’s not developing a high [inaudible 00:51:16] stimulus. I think when you go faster-

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, I think if you measure how people walk, too. That’s a lot of it, too. People’s gait cycles … I mean, this is what I spend my time doing, is measuring the gait cycle. So, people’s walking gait wouldn’t contract the glutes very much. I can get people to walk and actually really feel their glutes based upon how I make adjustments on them. But another thing that-

Bret Contreras:

Well, you’re touching a whole other topic, Naudi, is power walking, how you can walk … Well, think of kettlebell swings, like RKC, the hardstyle swing versus just swing … What is it? Like, the Gilroy … I don’t know. The one that’s for the test for endurance. They have a totally different style. It’s just like if I do a, quote/unquote, proper deadlift, it’s way harder for me than to just round back it up because I’m really good at round backing, because one is more economical than the other.

So, I’m not sure. If we’re getting someone to walk a very long distance, that’s a whole other debate of which is the best, the most economical way? And I’m not saying your way is not better for that, it’s just that it might be better for performance and not endurance, if that makes sense. So, that’s another factor.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah. We test this stuff pretty frequently with people, people who run and what not. I mean, I still operate under the presumption that there is a hierarchy. And when I think about where the human organism originated, it was out of Africa and it seems to be that it was mainly on the Savannah.

So, my presumption is that we were probably doing a lot of running, which is why … Running and probably throwing at some point. I think throwing rocks happened to be very impactful in our evolution in terms of our ability to succeed. I mean, when you have a whole tribe of humans throwing objects at a lion, or something like that, one would think that would be pretty affective for survival and what not.

So, I still operate under that presumption.

Bret Contreras:

This is an area of interest for me too. So, maybe a lot of … I have no idea. Maybe a lot of the women and a lot of the men sat around and picked berries, or something. I don’t even know if there were berries in the Savannah, but maybe they were more the gatherers. And then you had the hunters that really had to be in good shape and they were the ones responsible for hunting down this saber-toothed tiger or wooly mammoth.

But here’s what’s interesting about evolution, and this is the main … Maybe the biggest divide between Functional Patterns and … ‘Cause I hear you, Naudi. You’re saying, like, if you and I were just friends that hung out, you’d say, “Bro, why do you do this to yourself? Why do you just hurt yourself doing hip thrusts last month, and then the year before that it was squats, and then the year before that you hurt your back doing deadlifts. Why do you do this to yourself?”

And you say that bodybuilding, power lifting, these are vanity things, and while I appreciate that and I can go, “Yeah. I actually wish that it wasn’t so …” Like, you’re saying that humans should evolve to not care about these vanity things so much, but-

Naudi Aguilar:

No, no, no. Hold on. Can I just interject real quick?

Bret Contreras:

Yeah, sure.

Naudi Aguilar:

Bret, I’m right there with you, bro. I want vanity, but I think the function needs to drive the vanity. I don’t want to be any human, I want to be the baddest human that’s out there. I want to be the guy that’s hunting the saber-toothed tiger in terms of movement, and I think if I’m going to do that, I’m going to be really good at sprinting and I’m going to be really good at throwing, if I’m going to be doing that.

So, the premise of where I’m coming from is that I am all about vanity. Everything is about vanity. In the last three weeks, four weeks, and I’m saying this conservatively so I don’t sound like a complete idiot in case it’s anti-science, but I’ve packed on seven pounds of muscle just doing Functional Patterns movements. I just tested it, and I was like, “You know what? It’s about time.” I’ve codified running and throwing somewhat well enough to where I can start getting my body to start putting on mass. So, I’m about the vanity too, it just has to coincide.

But then, at some point, we have to ask ourselves-

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:55:26].

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, go ahead?

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:55:30]. You’re factoring in natural selection, and that’s a very important component to evolution, natural selection. So, put you and I out there on a mission to hunt down the wooly mammoth, and I don’t train for endurance. I don’t hike well. I can’t run long distances. So maybe you can kill that wooly mammoth and maybe I die in the process, and so, my genes are weeded out and then you influence evolution by natural selection. You know, the strongest survive, and these characteristics get passed on. But there’s also sexual selection, and that’s like the peacock with the fancy feathers, that that’s going to get chosen for a mate. And this is a whole other component to evolution, is the sexual selection.

I think Darwin was the first person to notice this and then it got expanded by some other researcher. But in humans, think back to why you started lifting as a teenager, Naudi. For me, it was … Well, most people, it’s for three reasons. Number one, they get tired of being bullied and want to stand up to bullies. Number two, they want to attract females. Or, number three, they’re told by their coach, “You need to start doing this for sports.” And it’s something you don’t even enjoy but your coach tells you to do it.

So, for me, that’s where the sexual selection comes in. It’s like, people start lifting, they want to do bodybuilding, they want to do the isolation movements and work their pecs and things like that. And I think that’s going to be a big obstacle to change on your mission, Naudi, is how do you disentangle that component from the equation?

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, the way I’m going to do it is by getting results at it, brother. That’s what I’m working on. So, it’s like, whether I do it or not-

Bret Contreras:

But does your system develop all the muscles?

Naudi Aguilar:

Yes.

Bret Contreras:

Because I don’t know enough about the Functional Patterns systems, but do you train biceps and things like that, these vanity muscles?

Naudi Aguilar:

Yes. So, if I was to ask you-

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 00:57:45].

Naudi Aguilar:

‘Cause hypertrophy is directly linked to performance, and I agree with that, I just didn’t get that hypertrophy needs to orient to a particular function. So, I guess we can transition-

Bret Contreras:

Actually, it’s not that well-correlated, and there’s even one researcher who went so far as to say that hypertrophy and strength and completely not well-correlated.

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, there you go.

Bret Contreras:

But it’s not as correlated as people think.

Naudi Aguilar:

Okay, okay.

Bret Contreras:

But I actually think it depends on the action, which we can talk about. I actually think it’s more important for rotation than anything. You might disagree. But anyway, that’s one of the questions we’re supposed to get to.

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, what I wanted to get into is in terms of … If you were to compare a marathoner compared to a 100 meter sprinter, what would be the main difference that you would notice in the two in terms of their physicality?

Bret Contreras:

Yeah, more muscle mass. Right.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, so my theory and my hypothesis is that if you can run pain-free, if you can sprint pain-free, and if anything, if you can change the mechanics of how you run, that in and of itself will contract all the muscles you need because it’s respecting our evolution.

If you look at the most common denominator out of all really, really good athletes where running is involved, they all … Well, not all of them, but a lot of them run pretty fast. So, my premise is that if you can run fast, if you can run more effectively, you can get lean because if you want to get lean you just do long-distance running, but even … You can do interval training too, and that’ll get you lean, I’d imagine as well. But you could also do sprints, and if you do sprints, that’s going to build all the muscles.

And the whole premise of all the movements that we do at Functional Patterns is to respect gait. So, when we think about running gait, throwing motions, if we stress the muscles in a particular … Because we’re eventually going to get into the whole concept of specificity, whether the hypertrophy is going to transfer over into specific environments. So, what I’m saying is that you don’t have to blend them, that the specificity itself is the hypertrophy if you understand what the position is. If you understand where to put the position of the entire body, you can get the pec to contract with the oblique, and get it to contract with the glute, and get it to contract with the abductors and the vastus lateralis, you can make that entire thing and create a …

You know when you get a pump or a burn working out? I can do the exact same thing. The only difference is that it actually respects the gait cycle. That’s the premise. So, within time, what I’m going to do is showcase results that … Where at that cusp, we’ve already done it. I’ve already taught enough practitioners to do this. In the next year, we’re going to be able to showcase real results on people actually putting on muscle. You’ll see it by around February next year, I’ll predict, then you’re going to start seeing FP practitioners starting to put on more mass. You’re going to start seeing their clients put on more mass, and that they’re going to get leaner, mainly because they’re going to be allowed to run more.

If you could sprint at a high velocity, at high speed, then at that point, all the muscles that are needed to be able to sprint at a high speed and sprint in a way that can be somewhat similar to that of an Usain Bolt, then you’re going to have more of a predisposition of looking like a Usain Bolt if you run like a Usain Bolt. You’re going to have a higher predisposition of looking like a Carl Lewis if you run like a Carl Lewis. You’re going to look like one of these people if you actually move like them.

So, that’s what I mean in terms of vanity. I think that vanity and functionality completely coincide. They’re not mutually exclusive. Neither is specificity training and resistance training, and hypertrophy. They all coincide perfectly with one another as far as I’m concerned, and that’s really what I’ve been working on. And it comes back to that same premise that there are hierarchies as they relate to human structure, and if we respect those hierarchies it gives us an entirely new possibility.

Like I said, Bret, I would love to show this to you because if you saw it, I think you, as a science guy, as a guy … Well, I don’t call you a science guy. You seem to be everywhere, bro. I’m all practical application. I don’t classify myself as much as a science guy. I’m not a big reader. I’m the kind of guy that … You know, I’m in the gym or I’m in my laboratory working with people, and what not, and I have people that are on the opposite end of the spectrum that I get to kind of bounce ideas off with. So, I’m over here. You’re the guy that’s on both ends of the spectrum. You’re over here.

So, I think that this would be a really interesting thing to show you at some point, if you’d be open to it, just to show you what I’m doing because I think if you felt the sensation, Bret, you’d be like, “Holy shit, this is very profound.” And this is what happens. I can get a whole group of 50 people through a whole week of just brutal beat downs in terms of training, in terms of our workouts, and now have a single one of them talk about … They’ll literally be like, “It’s not that I don’t feel the pain from doing the workouts. All my pain just goes. You did that one chamber sequence, Naudi, and then my SI joint reset.” And I know it sounds bogus, but I think if I had the opportunity to show it to you at some point, if we ever meet or something like that, Bret, I would love to show it to you. I’d like to see what you think about it, ultimately.

But I think that there’s a grand, unified theory that’s going to give us everything that we want. We can get the vanity, we can get the functionality, we can get the pain management, and we can prevent injuries, at least … Contact injuries is a tough one. Preventing contact injuries, that’s a pain in the ass. But I think we can definitely do somethings to prevent soft tissue injuries.

So, I think if we understand what the human being is fundamentally, and if we work from that foundation, we’re going to be much better off as individuals on multiple levels, from a physical level, from a psychological level, all aspects of our life.

Bret Contreras:

So, I’m kind of the opposite. I like to geek out with biomechanics. I like to look at why every exercise would be useful, why every muscle should be trained uniquely, why every movement needs its own drills. But this is where science is important. So, I am of the opinion that when you look at sprinters back before weight training was popular, they weren’t nearly as muscular as they are now. I think the weights make sprinters … I think they’d be lean, but wouldn’t be as [crosstalk 01:03:51]

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, I think steroids could be made a case too, bro.

Bret Contreras:

Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Naudi Aguilar:

Like, come on, man. We got to throw that into the mix too.

Bret Contreras:

There’s that too, but even if you [inaudible 01:04:03] natural and we just sprinted, I don’t think he’s develop nearly as much muscle mass as he would with weight training. But if you think that you system does that and you can show, “We had a group of 12 people do this and a group of 12 people do this, and here were the results, and we tested all the muscles.”

I’m of the opinion that you can look at every muscle group, the delts, the biceps, the triceps … Now, there are some researchers that think you don’t need isolation movements. They’ve done some studies, but there’s only a few studies on this. They show that the biceps grow just fine when you’re just doing chin up and rows, and the triceps grow just fine when you’re doing presses and things like that, but you’re saying just with sprinting.

One thing about sprinting is it’s such a rapid motion, the muscles need time to develop maximum tension. They can get very high levels of EMG activation in a very short timeframe, but it’s that the muscles actually need enough time for all the cross bridges to form and develop the maximum tension on the muscle, which maximizes growth. So, it’s on a spectrum. I think you could probably get 80% of the growth in some muscles, but then muscles like calves and quads, glutes, hamstrings, from sprinting and things like that. But could you get 100% of the development? No. But then some upper body [crosstalk 01:05:35]

Naudi Aguilar:

Oh, no, bro. The upper body is incredibly important when it comes to how it relates to the … This is where the myofascial force transmission thing may matter. I was under the presumption a long time ago that the upper body wasn’t as involved, that the upper body would be relaxed. It’s not necessarily the case at all. If you look at somebody like a Justin Gatlin, I don’t think he developed his pecs by doing bench presses. I’m sure you might argue that. I think he developed that based upon how he runs.

And the arm swinging maneuvers, in terms of spiral patterns in the shoulder, spiral patterns in the femurs and all that stuff, the upper body reciprocates the lower body. So, on my end, I tested myself this morning. I haven’t ran in a while, I ran five miles this morning. And Bret, I am not a runner.

And let me throw this into the mix too, man. I could have been a pretty decent lifter, and weighing … What was I? Like, 135 pounds. I could bench press near 300 pounds. It’s not great but it’s a decent amount. I could back squat. I can’t remember what I could back squat.

Bret Contreras:

That’s really good.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah. I have the capacity to be a decent lifter, probably not a great lifter. My sister, I think she had bench pressed 185 pounds, I think she weighed only 110 pounds. For a while, because nobody was doing it, she had broken the world record. She had a little trophy or whatever. I could have gone down that path, but I chose the path of being a runner, and I’m a 5’4″ tiny little human with these tiny little legs trying to run, and I’m trying to learn how to do that. It’s very humbling.

But with that said, I managed to get out there and do five miles today like if it was nothing. I did it barefoot. The only thing that I feel sore, which tells me that I’m not preparing for, is the pokey rocks because Hawaii’s got some volcanic rock everywhere, and I’m just poking, jabbing into my foot. And of course, I didn’t prepare for that, so my feet are a little bit sore. But when I got down with the run, my delts felt like … My biceps … My triceps, because of how I used them.

If you know how to use the arms, if you use the arms as a vortex, if you use your trunk as a vortex, if you use your legs as a vortex, they all reciprocate one another in a motion. If you use the cranium as a vortex when you’re running, you use them all, again, as a system that’s always assisting … It’s reciprocating from one end of the spectrum to the other, and when you get those types of unities in the muscle contractions, you feel an entire pump from head to toe. I’ll feel it all the way in my [suboccipit 01:07:57]. I’ll even feel it in my masseters, depending on who I do the technique.

Now, … I’m not telling somebody, “Hey, swing your arms like this or move your legs like that.” This is what’s awesome about it, Bret, is that I think weight lifters are going to love me at the end of the day because I’m going to be like, “Bro, we’re going to go down to bodybuilding. It’s going to be more complicated, but when you actually do it” …

Let me put it this way. If somebody said, “Naudi, I want to do a physique competition.” I’ll be like, “Go hit up Bret Contreras. This is what he does. I’ve seen him get great results with that, so go hit him up.” But if somebody told me, “You know what? I want to look pretty good and I want to perform really well,” I would ultimately have function bodybuilding protocols that I do within Functional Patterns that respect gait. And when you mix that with the actual function of running, they kind build on one another. The resistance training that I employ with clubs or with pulley machines, and what not, it’s not …

That’s why I say, Bret, I would have to show you in person because it’s not what I’ve showcased online. I would have to show you. I would be more than happy to show you. When you saw it in person, then you might be like, “Oh, shit. This makes a lot of sense.” And you’re understand, the amount of trauma that I can induce on a body without having to load them up … I’m talking about literally doing one-rep maxes on every single exercise without having to lift a heavy load. And the way that I go about that is by … If you have myofascial restrictions on your body, we’re going to battle the myofascial restrictions on your body. If you feel like you have an imbalance, we’re going to fight the imbalance coupled with the motion of a pulley machine, or a kettlebell, or a club, depending on what the exercise is.

Going back to the whole premises, I’m trying to attain everything, Bret, and I think if you run better, if you know how to sprint better you’re going to stimulate every muscle. Your sternocleidomastoid are involved in that. Your suboccipitales are involved in that. Your platysma is involved with that. Your pec major is involved with that, your abs. All those muscles cross those segments. I can show you on Usain Bolt that there’s nothing that’s really that passive when it comes to running. At some point, muscles do switch off, for sure. It seems like that’s the case. When we put it on EMGs, muscles do seem to switch off.

But what I will say is that every muscle will get contracted if you run correctly, it’s just a premise of how you’re going to get a person from point A to point B to run better, is the question, and that’s what I’ve been working on, and that’s what we’ve really been showcasing results with, ultimately in this midst of all this stuff.

Bret Contreras:

So, obviously, I’m a body builder, a power lifter. I don’t do Olympic weightlifting, but I love watching it. I love strong man. I’m a strength athlete guy, but if you … That would be, in our field, an extraordinary claim so it will require extraordinary evidence, but if you start coming out with that, I know a lot of people would love to get out of … Wouldn’t have to be confined to the gym and could see better results just running, and things like that, then I know people would love that.

One area where I will commend you on is just being out of pain. I did a little experiment where I didn’t squat or deadlift for a whole and I just did other movements, and then when I came back to squatting and deadlifting, I didn’t lose much strength at all because I was out of pain and they felt good. … When you’re in pain, that inhibits muscle activation, so you’re never going to build your best body or get your strongest if you’re in pain. And I think that’s something-

Naudi Aguilar:

Absolutely.

Bret Contreras:

That’s really hard to get out of when you’re obsessed with these different exercises and when all you know is to go to the gym and do these movement patterns. But the one thing that I’ve always wondered, a question I wanted to ask you is: do you think it’s something special about your system or the fact that you’re taking them away from the gym and getting them away from this progressive overload, “I have to hit a PR every month.”

Naudi Aguilar:

Bret, let’s face it, I’m going to be biased, but with all the biases that I have, down to my soul, I try and be as honest as I can with myself, man. But I think FP is just really special. I think, at some level, when you do it … There’s a reason that people, when they do it, they don’t leave. It’s like a vortex, it’ll suck them in, and they’re like, “Oh, my god. I feel so damn good. What the hell is going on?”

And it’s because people think, “Those movements don’t look difficult,” but it’s not about the movement, it’s about the segments. Like, if I’m going to throw a punch, there’s going to come a point where my hips are going to rotate but my ribs aren’t going to rotate, then my ribs are going to rotate but my fist isn’t going to move, and then from there my shoulder is going to protract but my fist isn’t going to move, and now from there, the fist can fly forward. So, when you understand how the specific sequences work with regard to that, in terms of when the hips are going to move with the head or whatever it may be, you’re going to develop the muscle.

So, in terms of what gets people out of pain, it’s not the fact that we’re not challenging them. Bro, I brutalize people. I leave people … I can’t say that I’ve got anybody to vomit, because I don’t think that’s good, so I always hit that threshold, but bro, I can beat the crap out of somebody working out. It’s not that FP is easy to do. It’s very difficult to do, not just from the perspective of technicalities because there’s so … So, if you’re talking about moment arms and different functions going on in the body, what I’m trying to do is talk about coordinating 10 different things at once, and when you coordinate those 10 different things at once, it’s extremely taxing on the body, ridiculously taxing.

So sometimes we’ll show little video snippets of people absolutely struggling. What I’ll do in the future, maybe I’ll even send you come videos or something, I’ll send it to your email and I’ll show you what we can do in terms of glute activity, or quad activity, or adductor activity, calf activity, whatever you want, I’ll get. Calves are a little bit tougher, but I can get the calves to fire too. I have other means of getting the calves to fire just because there’s so much leverage that you get at the ankle joint, it’s hard to load them without having a lot of weight, but there’s ways of hacking that too.

But the premise is that what we do is really taxing on the neural muscular system, and it’s taxing on a level that duplicates the fatigue that you would get, or the burn that you would get, doing bodybuilding minus the joint compression. So what we account for is taking a muscle to a length potential, and then creating a contractile potential within that length potential. And if you’re always maintaining a length potential through an entire motion, this is where I would say you get functional movement.

It’s hard to describe. I can’t really put it into words. You think I’m a good speaker, but I don’t think I’m a particular great speaker, but I just always visualized that systems are always getting length, and since we’re always operating from this perspective of length … And it’s not passive length. It’s not like, “Okay, I’m bending down and stretching and getting my hamstrings to lengthen.” The idea is, how do I get my entire anterior chain to connect simultaneously with my posterior chain? How do I get them to talk to one another? And when you get them to talk to one another the right way, what you begin to realize is that your body is actually a traction suit. You can create joint decompression with muscle activation. It’s meant to be this way.

And the reason it was meant to be this way … The reason it is this way … I don’t know why it’s meant to be this way. The reason that it is this way goes back to running and throwing. These are de-compressive actions. Even though there is a lot of brute force when you hit the ground, or even there’s a lot of brute force on the shoulder when you throw a ball, if you sequence it properly, it’s all joint decompression.

You’re taking your lumbar, whenever you throw a ball or a spear or something, and you’re just taking your thoracolumbar fascia because your lats are going up and forward, and you’re just going, “Ah, there’s my lower back getting release.” “Ah, there’s my hip getting released.” You know? All those things come together. So I think what gets people out of pain doing Functional Patterns is the fact that we’re taking the active components of ranges of motion and applying them with humans, and it works really, really well.

And nevermind that, I actually saw you on a lecture talking about how pain … How there’s two camps when it comes to pain, where you have one side where they talk about the biomechanics, and the opposite side where they say it’s all mental. Could you elaborate on that, Bret? Because I thought you did a really good job describing that. Could you explain that for us?

Bret Contreras:

Yep. But first, I wanted to … Before I get into the pain science stuff, when you talk about throwing being de-compressive, it’s interesting, Dr. Stu McGill did a story once where he basically put a certain amount of torque, but the same amount of torque with people doing spinal flexion, spinal extension, lateral flexion, and then rotation. And the rotation, holding that same amount of torque, it didn’t get any muscle activation up extremely high, but it used the most muscles because there’s no pure rotational muscle that really … Like, you go, “Look at that, that spirals around the body and when it contracts, it’s going to twist everything.”

So the way the body does it, use a lot of the muscles, the obliques and all these different muscles, and multifidi, and all these different things turning on together. And just in the case with the lumbar spine, because there was so many muscles in core muscles activating at one, none of them activated very highly, but they were all activating at once, that actually created the most compressive forces out of all the different spinal actions, between spinal flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation.And thinking back to when I was doing Pallof pressing, I would actually get a sumo stance and do a Pallof press hold for three seconds and come back in. And I got to, one a certain cable column, I could use the whole stack and my lumbar spine would actually crack.

Naudi Aguilar:

Oh!

Bret Contreras:

I’m not saying that’s good-

Naudi Aguilar:

Obviously.

Bret Contreras:

it’s good to do-

Naudi Aguilar:

Hold on. Was it a subluxation or a cavitation?

Bret Contreras:

I think it was a cavitation, yeah.

Naudi Aguilar:

I don’t know if that would be a bad thing, bro. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing.

Bret Contreras:

I don’t even [inaudible 01:18:06], but my point is, I don’t know if it’s good to be putting that … My back, I don’t think, ever cracked from doing deadlifts, and that people think is the most … Well, in the literature, the most compressive in sheer forces I’ve ever seen was from a deadlift. That doesn’t mean it’s the highest, it’s just the highest ever tested. I would guess they are the highest though. But anyway-

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, I want to actually just interject real quick.

Bret Contreras:

[crosstalk 01:18:31] in and of itself does put surprisingly high levels. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. Hell, it’s [crosstalk 01:18:39]-

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, let me put it this way, Bret, because I think this is really important, brother. Let’s talk about unstable surface training. I don’t do it that often. It accounts for, like, .01% of my training because I spend my time doing so many other things when it comes to training, but there’s some advantages that come with it, mainly just finding a central balance, a center of mass.

I don’t use it that often, and not all stability training is equal either, but when they conducted the studies … Or, I think it was just a study, one study, or how many studies was it, Bret?

Bret Contreras:

There have been a ton of studies on that. But there was a training study by Eric Cressy showing lesser performance benefit or results compared to traditional training. That was the main paper that gained a lot of strength, [inaudible 01:19:25] about it.

Naudi Aguilar:

Okay. So, this is what I would argue. I don’t think whoever conducted that study knew how to actually use an unstable surface training. … And it’s not really unstable because it’s connected to the ground, so on some level it’s not like it’s unpredictable. You can predict the pattern.

If you’re talking about a Dyna Disc, that’s a horrible tool. I would never recommend a Dyna Disc. But if you’re talking about a BOSU ball, I love BOSU balls. There’s a lot of benefit that comes with a BOSU ball, but you got to know how to use it. It’s like saying that boxing doesn’t work because I’ve never boxed a day in my life, and then I try using boxing for a fight and get knocked out, and then make the correlation that, “You know what? Boxing is an ineffective practice.”

I just think that when people talk about something like unstable surface training, or let’s say if they talk about rotation, I genuinely don’t think that they’re accounting for all the factors that are involved in it, Bret, because I don’t think they’re assessing it to the degree that I am. But when you do it properly-

Bret Contreras:

Well, yeah, though. This happens all the time in … You see a study that says-

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, the hip thrust, right?

Bret Contreras:

Well, say you had a study on hip thrust and squats, and one was better for something than the other. Then people are, “Oh, see? This is better. Do this. Just do this.” And you’re like, “Well, what if he saw better results doing both?” Or, what if it was squats versus Bulgarian Split Squats, or lunges, and one comes out ahead, and so everyone is like, “See? This is better. Do this.”

No, you should do both of them. You’d see better results combining them, but you have to be a good coach and know how to combine them intelligently.

Naudi Aguilar:

Absolutely, absolutely. Now, actually, can-

Bret Contreras:

Now, let me [crosstalk 01:21:00].

Naudi Aguilar:

Yes, get into the pain. Go into the pain, if you can.

Bret Contreras:

This is important because me, being a biomechanical guy, when someone is in pain I always want to label them as their dysfunctional somewhere, or I need to fix this aspect of them and then the pain will go away, and it’s always going to be a biomechanical explanation because that’s all I’ve ever learned, is biomechanics.

All I have is a hammer, so I’m going around looking for a nail, because it’s all I have. That’s in my nature. That makes sense to me. This person’s knee is hurting, I go to help this guy not use his knees as much and use his hips more, or something. Or I got to look at his program design and have him stop doing so much knee dominate stuff, or whatever.

Interestingly, there’s not a lot of correlation between damage and pain. So, you could take 100 people and MRI them. Say you give them full-body MRIs, and you looked at their shoulders and their lumbars, their discs, their intervertebral disc, their hips, their knees, you’d see all kinds of degradation and damage and herniations in these things, and it’s not well correlated with pain. You have these asymptomatic subjects who have … You know, their knees are obliterated but they feel no pain. Their hips, I think 67% of hockey players have serious labral damage on their hips. I think 25% of people have a disc herniation, and they don’t even know it.

Anyway, this just shows you that if something transpires gradually over time, and you don’t have this acute injury, your brain could not even process it as being a threat. On the flip side, you could have someone who is in excruciating pain, and then you MRI them and nothing shows up. Under an MRI, they look fine.

So, for that reason, the pain researchers who have been studying this stuff, they acknowledged that and they looked at a lot of other factors that can be involved, and either-

Naudi Aguilar:

What do you think about this, Bret? Let’s say you have a person with a lumbar herniation, and then you take that portion of the spine and you bend it, do you think that person would feel pain then?

Bret Contreras:

Yeah.

Naudi Aguilar:

See what I’m saying? That’s what I’m thinking about. Is that not a decent correlation to draw? Because you’re not challenging that range of motion, because your body is compensating, you’re pretty much turning that place into an isometric fix point while the rest of the body moves, and that’s why you don’t feel the pain. But if you were to actually challenge that range of motion, most certainly you would probably feel the pain, right?

Bret Contreras:

Yeah, I would think-

Naudi Aguilar:

I would draw that assumption.

Bret Contreras:

Yeah. If you had a disc herniation, I would think so too. Yeah.

But here’s the problem, there’s always a flaw with research too, because I sit there, my bias as a strength coach, I look at the pain guys and I’m like, “All these pain researchers, I don’t know any of them who lift heavy weights themselves or have a gym where they-

Naudi Aguilar:

Or even move.

Bret Contreras:

Or they do progressive resistance training, and then they’re saying … Because they’ll make statements like, “You can adapt to any single movement. You could adapt to squats with your knees touching each other if you wanted. You could do round back deadlifts, and adapt to it, and be just fine.” And I’m going, “No, you can’t.”

If I did that in my gym, I’d have so many injuries, and at some point the injury has to be related to pain, and I’m sure you agree with me on that front.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yep.

Bret Contreras:

But the point isn’t for me to go abandon my biomechanical model and be totally on this side as a biopsychosocialist, the BSP model, or whatever, is to understand both sides and then choose where I stand on a spectrum-

Naudi Aguilar:

No.

Bret Contreras:

And that’s why it’s important to know both sides and to understand that … I’ll give you an example.

I remember my … It was my step-sisters husband, and he was having excruciating back pain. I’m like, “It’s because you have a weak core. You need to be doing side planks and planks, you need to get your glutes activation,” and I gave him the standard advice. God, this must have been 14 years ago.

And in my head, I just knew it because this worked so many times. When you have someone in pain, we start training them, their pain goes away, so I just think everyone needs this. And it got worse. Anyway, he went and got an MRI and he found that he had something. I can’t remember the exact diagnosis, but it was something where the nerve root went underneath the muscle, and when he contracted that muscle, it aggravated it, it made it worse. What I was giving him made it worse, and that’s because all I had was a hammer.

In that sense biomechanics still explained his pain, but my understanding … I didn’t know enough back then to understand that.

Naudi Aguilar:

That’s the premise of what I tell these pain researchers, is like how many dysfunctions are you even able to categorize? If you’re going to talk about dysfunctions, at what level are we going to measure them? At a foot level? At an inch level? At a 16th of an inch level? Are we going to go down with a microscope and see how much compression is actually happening at a certain place? How far can we really measure it? I think that’s a fundamental question, can science really measure the compression in an area and can the naked eye actually witness the dysfunction happening in space? And if you don’t have the eye to see the dysfunction, how can you correlate that it’s not biomechanically-induced?

Bret Contreras:

Well, I’d like to challenge you on something you might not like right now. I just don’t like the word dysfunction at all because it implies … Well, take Usain Bolt, for example. He has one leg that’s a couple inches longer than the other, and even when he sprints, one leg is producing a lot more force than the other, and he’s the fastest guy in the world. I think everyone has unique anatomy and movement-patterns, and things like that.

And if everyone has dysfunctions, shouldn’t we just be like, “Everyone is just unique,” and not dysfunctional. It’s just that you’re going to be better at this than that. Your movement challenges are going to be this instead of that.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, but Bret, it’s not like I’m saying that you’re a bad person because you have dysfunctions. I’m just saying, “Hey, that doesn’t work.”

Bret Contreras:

Yeah, but it-

Naudi Aguilar:

It’s like, it could work better.

Bret Contreras:

But this is what the point-

Naudi Aguilar:

It could work better.

Bret Contreras:

But this is what I learned from the pain scientists, and this is where I’ve changed in the last five years or so. I learned that words matter. And I’m sure that you don’t do this anyway, Naudi, when you have a client, but some people actually do. It’s like they want to win you over with their knowledge of dysfunctions and labels. And so, you’ll come into them …

I think the worst offenders of this are the rehab … The people who are working with … Basically anyone heavily involved in rehab: physical therapists, manual therapists, chiropractors. … They work with a lot of my clients and my clients come back to me, 100% of the time, they say, “Oh, turns out I’ve got-”

Naudi Aguilar:

That didn’t do shit. It didn’t go shit.

Bret Contreras:

Well, I’m talking about, “I’ve got all these things wrong with me. My glutes don’t activate.” And I’m like, “Your glutes activate fine. You know how to activate glutes. How does he know that? He just looked at you?” “I have a weak core.” How does he know you have a weak core? Did he test your core?

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, this is a-

Bret Contreras:

“I have [adhesions 01:28:40].” How do you know if you have adhesions? You just guessed?

Naudi Aguilar:

The thing is, what I do, man, is I put them on a treadmill and I take a lot of their clothes off, and I say, “Hey, you see when your foot hits the ground? You see what Usain Bolt does when he runs? You see what you do? Do what Usain does.” And I understand that Usain has particular …

Let me put it this way because people will be like, “You know, Usain has unique characteristics and maybe that’s what makes him great.” Potentially. I’m not closed off to that idea.

Bret Contreras:

I’m not saying that the leg length discrepancy made him better, I’m just saying he was able to overcome it.

Naudi Aguilar:

Oh, I’m not saying that you can’t overcome a dysfunction. What I’m saying is, what if you can overcome that dysfunction, and then you get to run? That’s the premise.

Bret Contreras:

Oh, okay.

Naudi Aguilar:

It’s ambitious.

Bret Contreras:

No. God, my first T Nation article I wrote, something that pissed off a lot of the track and field guys. I said, “Usain Bolt would be faster if he did hip thrusts.” And it’s funny, if I was Usain Bolt’s coach, I guarantee you I would have been too focused on the strength and conditioning and not enough on the sprinting. And my strength and conditioning would have interfered with his sprinting, and I would have made him slower. I am 100% [crosstalk 01:29:48]-

Naudi Aguilar:

Bret, you know how many people I’ve talked to that are like, “Oh, yeah, man. I could get Usain Bolt to run faster.” I don’t even make that claim. I think he runs fast enough.

Bret Contreras:

Well, I posted a blog post of his training, and he uses a lot of machines, a lot of cables and things. He’s working out hard but he’s not crushing himself so that he has energy to sprint. He’s not drained. In some of my weight training sessions leave me so drained, if then you said, “Go run,” I wouldn’t necessarily [inaudible 01:30:20] to the running because I’m so wiped out. You got to still make the focus on what you’re trying to improve.

But back to something I wanted to say to close out this pain thing. When you tell someone they’re dysfunctional, they have gluteal amnesia. If I was like, “Oh, my god. Your glutes don’t activate. Do you have back pain?” And they’re like, “No.” Well, I just planted that seed. It’s called a nocebo effect, it’s the opposite of a placebo effect. You actually manifest those symptoms because you think you’re supposed to get it.

So, for that reason, I keep it to myself. If I see someone doing something, I just keep it to myself and I’ll just give them something, and I’ll compliment them.

Naudi Aguilar:

Oh, same here.

Bret Contreras:

I’m always complimenting instead of being like, “Oh my god, you are so dysfunctional. We’ve got to get you out of-”

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, I think there’s nothing wrong with telling a person that their dysfunctional as long as you show them how you’re going to do it and then you’re like, “This is how we’re going to solve in. Now I’m going to show you on video how we’re going to do it in about two, three months.” And then when you solve it, then they’re like, “Oh, shit.”

Bret Contreras:

Yeah, and that, and also-

Naudi Aguilar:

Which is what nobody is doing.

Bret Contreras:

And also, to remind them, “Don’t worry, everyone has certain-”

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, man. Dude, we’re all-

Bret Contreras:

You make them feel weird. Like, “There’s something wrong with me.” And that’s the opposite of what you want to do when you start training someone. You want them to … They’re already insecure and have all these doubts, and you want to squash those doubts and insecurities, and compliment them. Let them know, “You’re not alone. You’re not strange. You’re strong. You’re going to be fit,” but I think a lot of people … Unfortunately, they rely on these labels, and they don’t know that these labels stick.

It’s like when the doctor says, “You should never do this again.” And these people believe their doctor and never exercise again because they were told that, which neither of us do.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah.

Bret Contreras:

But we have to mind our words. The words we say matters.

Naudi Aguilar:

Yeah, that’s true. I agree. I agree. I think associations matter to words, and sometimes you got to be careful with that kind of stuff. Nonetheless, maybe we could replace the “Dysfunction” with the term, “Imbalanced,” and say that there’s an imbalance here, where there’s not reciprocations happening in the body. Maybe we should say that and come to an agreement that that’s probably the better term.

Bret Contreras:

[inaudible 01:32:26]

Naudi Aguilar:

But anyway, Bret, we’ve reached about that 90 minute mark. We didn’t actually get to cover too much of what we were talking about, bro, but I had a lot of fun, actually. It was really fun talking to you.

Bret Contreras:

Yeah. I didn’t think we’d stick to a script, Naudi.

Naudi Aguilar:

Well, man, I appreciate everything, bro. And I apologize for any unnecessary drama, but honestly Bret, people went really hard on me, man, and they went really hard on me for many years. I’m the kind of guy that people are going to say, “Turn the other cheek.” And I’m going to be like, “I can’t do it.” It’s not in me to turn the other cheek. I got to throw punches back.

So, sorry that you kind of got in the middle of that. I never intended for you to get in the middle of that stuff, man.

Bret Contreras:

I’m the same way, Naudi. I’m a fighter. And in the case with you, I don’t take it personally. It’s water under the bridge, so yeah. Hopefully we can …

Like, my main point with you, Naudi, is I like what you’re trying to do with your Functional Patterns stuff. I have what I do. I don’t see them like you do. I don’t see them as one in the same like you do, I see it as I’m trying to maximize someone’s physique so I use these methods. If someone comes to me and they want to do another goal, then yeah. If your system had more evidence-

Naudi Aguilar:

Okay. So, how about this, Bret? How about this? And this is a question that I wanted to ask you, what if everybody wanted to start improving their sprinting and throwing? Would you have to change your training in order to accommodate the client?

Bret Contreras:

Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Naudi Aguilar:

Okay, okay. And I’m not meaning to be offensive here. You’re ultimately going to serve the client based upon where they’re at instead of … Because what I’m talking about, I think running is a biological need, just like your LDL and your HDL needs to be at certain levels and your blood pressure needs to be at a certain level at certain times, I think that there are biomechanical needs that need to be met with all people. And I think that running and walking and throwing, I think these are markers that people need to have.

You think at some point you might even just mix some of that stuff in for the sake of trying to get your clients more sustainability as you move forward?

Bret Contreras:

I’m not where you are on that, but this is why I came up with my force vector concept. I do a lot of stuff in the sagittal plane, but I always also do stuff from … I look at things in vectors. You’ve got up and down, your vertical. You’ve got forward and back, your horizontal. You’ve got your left to right, your lateral. And then you’ve got your torsional or rotational, and I make sure to have all of those that I train in a weight room.

Now, if I wanted to make them athletic, I’d need to be doing sprinting drills, acceleration drills, agility drills, med ball work, all these things, but I like to think what I’m at least going half with are by strengthening their … We give them cable rotational exercises. We give them lateral exercises. At least we’re performing the movement that is to get the muscle strong, that way I’m at least laying a good foundation if they want to go down that path.

Naudi Aguilar:

Okay. I see where you’re coming from. But yeah, man, I do appreciate you coming on. And if I’m in San Diego, maybe I’ll hit you up and I’ll just show you what I’m doing.

Bret Contreras:

Yeah.

Naudi Aguilar:

At my end, I’m grateful that you came down, Bret-

Bret Contreras:

And if I’m in Hawaii, [inaudible 01:35:58].

Naudi Aguilar:

If you’re in Kawaii, because that’s specifically where I’m at. If you’re ever in Kawaii, you are always welcome to come by, bro, and check out what we do. I’d love to just … You could come by, we could bounce off ideas, whatever. Maybe you could help me with these damn EMGs because I’m not so astute with these types of things.

You never know, man. Hopefully, at some point, we can meet up. I’m just glad that we’re able to close this book and come to an amicable conclusion as to the supposed conflict that we had with one another.

Bret Contreras:

Yep. I agree. Totally agree.

Naudi Aguilar:

Hell yeah, brother. Hopefully we’ll be in touch. I wish you the best, brother. Have a great day, Bret, and thanks for stopping in, man.

Bret Contreras:

You too, Naudi. Thanks man.

Naudi Aguilar:

Take care, brother.

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