Woe Be Unto Ye Who Contradicts The Glute Master Part II

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Note from TG: This whole thing started with two lines:

“Women should avoid squats because it makes their inner thighs flabby. Don’t listen to any un-informed professional who says you should be squatting.”

I know it may come across as if Bret and I are picking on this woman, but in reality, we’re just fed-up trainers like herself who continue to prey into the fears of what most women feel: that lifting heavy weights will make them big-n-bulky. Both Bret and myself have trained hundreds of women between the two of us, and not once has it resulted in anyone growing legs the size of Kansas.

On the contrary, they’ve gotten leaner, stronger, and most important of all, more confident! It’s a beautiful thing, really. As an example, I started working with a new female client about four months ago. True to form, she had never done any “legitimate” strength training in the past and had the same fears that many women who watch Oprah and read Us Weekly have: OMG I can’t lift that barbell off the ground. I’ll get muscles!!! Eeeeeek

Fast forward to now, she’s only seen a net loss of six pounds, but looks like she’s lost twenty. She’s stronger than she’s ever been in her life, clothes that didn’t fit her months ago fit like a glove now, and what’s more, she feels sexy. Friends and family who haven’t seen her since she started keep asking her what in the hell she’s been up to. Her answer:

I lift heavy shit.

Our sledgehammer for hitting tires broke a few weeks ago, and she was legitimately pissed that she couldn’t use it. Seriously, I feared for my life. What’s more, she actually asks for squats and deadlifts to be put into her program. She’s done a complete 180 in the time she’s been training at CP. This from a woman who had always been told that lifting anything “heavy” would just make her look more like man.

Could she have gotten the same results by not incorporating squats into your program? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. All I really would have done is just to placate into her fears, and she’d probably still be wondering why she has no muscle definition and/or can’t seem to lose those last few lbs of stubborn fat

At the end of the day, I realize that this is the internet and arguing on it is about as pointless as a poop flavored lollypop. But I feel that all of this was necessary; someone had to step up and call bullshit. It’s high time that this nonsense stop.

Nonetheless, yesterday, I posted Part I of Bret’s response. Today is more of the same. Again thanks to Bret for taking the time to write out such a thorough response. If it were me, I probably would have just said something along the lines of:

Arrrrrg, ur stoopid, and I’m sick of repeating myself. You obviously can’t understand basic englitsh. Squats are tha awesome. Welcome to Pwnedville. Population: YOU!

Thanks to everyone who chimed in earlier. It’s great to know that others out there feel the same way. Okay, enough rambling – Enjoy!

Now I’ll move onto your former client/current team member’s commentary.

“Helena Collins is the most educated fitness professional not only in Massachusetts, but in the entire world. She has changed countless people’s bodies and lives through her method. All you need to do is LOOK at the people at the studio- their bodies change within DAYS.

There are so many arguments made here that are simply wrong, I know this because she changed MY body with her method. I was a stick thin 100 lb 5?4 girl with FLABBY inner thighs- it had NOTHING to do with excess adipose tissue- I couldn’t afford to LOSE adipose tissue from any part of my body- it was due to her METHOD that I was able to improve not only the appearance of my body, but it’s overall functioning capability in terms of using each and every muscle to it’s fullest potential. In fact I was so stunned by the changes in my body that I realized I had to help her spread the word and joined her team.

Also- all of those women you show in the pictures doing squats have wayyyy over developed vastus lateralis muscles… last time I checked women want LEAN and toned legs- not manly ones. There are so many false facts in this article it’s incredible. Squatting motion is not the same as ‘sitting’? Hmmm last time I checked when ‘trainers’ tell their ‘clients’ to squat they say to pretend like they are sitting in a chair. SQUATS ARE ALL HIP FLEXOR- 99% OF PEOPLE HAVE TIGHT HIP FLEXORS- THIS MAKES THE PROBLEM WORSE!!!!! I feel bad for all of the poor women that think they are ‘destined’ to have big thighs because of trainers that have no clue what they are doing.”

Dear Jaime,

I’m glad that you saw great results with Helena, and I’m happy that you like your boss. That’s important. My clients think that I’m the smartest trainer in the world as well. It’s natural for our clients to feel this way. However, you’re being a little absurd here.

1. Most educated fitness professional in the entire world? Hmm. She has 27 years of experience. There are some people with 60 years of experience. I’m not one to equate years of experience with knowledge, but knowledge is very specialized. She probably knows a ton about Pilates, Yoga, bootcamps, and the like, and even a lot about basic strength training. But she is definitely not the master of Biomechanics or the development of maximum strength, speed, power, agility, hypertrophy, or conditioning.

2. How do her clients’ bodies change within days? Is it the exercise that’s doing it? Is it the diet? Does she have some secret formula?

It seems to me that she just prescribes a diet that leads to caloric reduction and has her clients attend exercise classes. There is no doubt that women (and some men) enjoy these classes which is a great thing. I’m all about finding fun and enjoyable training for my clients.

But these exercise classes do not do much for muscle shaping. If the client has good genetics for shape, then all they need to do is diet down and do some basic exercise. But if the client has a muscle that they want to improve, you have to get much stronger with that muscle to add shape. All the stretching and strength-endurance work in the world won’t do much for that muscle.

So I’d bet that her clients get lean and have great physiques with one exception – their glutes probably aren’t impressive whatsoever. I would venture to guess that I’d be very disappointed in her clients’ glutes if I waltzed into her studio one day. I don’t see how you can deliver nice glutes through hip abduction and not hip extension.

3. It’s not that hard to change someone’s body. Get them to diet and they’ll lose weight. Get them to do a ton of cardio and they’ll lose weight. Add strength training into the mix and they’ll keep much more muscle and lose more fat.

But re-shaping someone’s body and improving muscular shape in women is not easy. It takes progressive overload, consistency, and lots of effort. Just feeling the burn and sweating doesn’t get the job done.

4. I agree that women want lean and toned legs, and that the pictures in the original article weren’t representative of what women want. I don’t think that most women would mind looking like Jessica Biel. Strong and sexy.

5. I know this is probably hard for you to comprehend, but the Biomechanics of sitting down into a chair and squatting properly with external load is quite different. You’ll find that probably 90% of people initiate the sitting motion by leaning forward at the trunk, flexing the lumbar spine, and then plopping downward. The kinematics of the spine, hip, knee, and ankle joints is markedly different from proper squatting, as is the muscle activation. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen someone sit down in a chair by squaring up to it, getting a proper stance width, flaring the feet a bit, sitting back, keeping the chest up, keeping the knees out, and controlling the descent. I know the world would be in a lot less pain if we did see these kind of mechanics but unfortunately, it’s not happening.

6. Squats are all hip flexor? Sweet baby Jesus please help me! The hip extensors (mostly the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and hamstring part of the adductor magnus) control hip flexion eccentrically and create hip extension concentrically. The knee extensors (quadriceps) control knee extension eccentrically and create knee extension concentrically.

Hip flexors (illiacus, psoas, rectus femoris, TFL, sartorius, and some of the adductors) control hip flexion eccentrically and create hip flexion concentrically. Good exercises for the hip flexors include standing and seated cable or band hip flexion.

Squatting properly can increase hip flexor flexibility in two different ways; with the stretch at the bottom of the movement, and by strengthening the glutes, which could reduce the tonicity of the hip flexors via reciprocal promotion. However, if your goal is to increase hip flexor flexibility you can prescribe mobility drills and stretches during a dynamic warm-up. Ditching the squat for this reason is ludicrous!

7. I train a bunch of women and not a single one of them has large thighs. And they all squat. Do I “not know what I’m doing?”

At last, I’ll address your current client Heather’s comment.

“I understand where you’re coming from but you couldn’t be more wrong. It must be hard to believe that something that goes against your entire education could actually work. It must be hard to believe that someone else may know something about personal training that you don’t. I can understand how it would be easier to dismiss the award-givers as uninformed. However, you’re ignoring the crucial fact that Helena’s clients see incredible results… every time. She’s not a quack and she’s not at all ditzy as you have made her out to be, but I digress…

As one of her clients I guess I should be thanking you… if someone who would have otherwise signed up for one of Helena’s classes but read and believed your blog instead is dissuaded from signing up that’s one more available spot for me. Lord knows I have to stalk the web site for days as it is, waiting for someone else to drop out… but that would be selfish of me.

I could go on and on about how this woman and her team have changed my life, but that would be boring for you. Honestly, if you believe what you’re writing take a walk into Helena’s studio some day. Take a look at how amazing her clients look. Talk to them about their experience with her. The results speak for themselves.”

Dear Heather,

1. Many roads lead to Rome. Some just get you there faster than others. I have no doubt that Helena’s methods “work.” I know for certain that they won’t get a skinny girl’s butt looking better. Are her workouts fun? Sure. Do they make people sweat? Sure. Are they the absolute best for muscle sculpting? No.

2. I’m sure that Helena knows a lot of stuff pertaining to personal training that I don’t. I’m sure that I know some stuff that she doesn’t. But I’m not bashing specific exercises that she employs and saying that women should never do them. That’s where Helena went wrong in my book.

3. I believe you when you say that Helena and her team have changed your life. They seem like passionate people. But they could have changed your life while having you squat. Your quads wouldn’t have blown up like she insinuates.

Okay, that’s all for now. I gotta go train some clients! First exercise of the day for my client Karli – front squats, followed by sumo deadlifts, barbell hip thrusts, and back extensions.

NOTE: Yes, Karli’s knee collapses on her MAX effort squat. Bret addressed this on his blog (band around knees to engage the hip stabilizers = problem “mostly” solved), and plans on posting a thorough response in the near future. The point is, she still looks like a girl and moves some impressive weight nonetheless.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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