Bret Contreras defends the hip thrust against Iron University’s critique 

What's better: a hip thrust or a "true hip extension?"

Lauren Moy
Lauren Moy
 min read
July 8, 2024

Bret Contreras, the renowned inventor of the hip thrust and a key figure in glute training, recently addressed controversial claims made by Aldo Parades, a leading trainer and boyfriend of 3x Arnold Classic Bikini Champ Lauralie Chapados. This debate has captivated the fitness world, with implications for gym routines and training methodologies globally.

The hip thrust, a movement designed to maximize glute activation, has become a cornerstone in workout routines from beginners to professional athletes. Contreras, often called the 'Glute Guy', has gained massive popularity for promoting his exercise, with multiple top IFBB Pro Olympians incorporating his methods into their training. 

Parades is also regarded as a significant figure in the glute training world, as the founder of Iron University Gym, known for its unique equipment designed to maximize glute growth. His resume is further enhanced by Chapados’s reputation for having the best glutes in the IFBB Bikini division. 

The Controversy 

In February 2024, Iron University, released a study in collaboration with the University of Miami. Using EMG technology, they compared muscle stimulation in a traditional hip thrust versus an exercise Parades coined as “True Hip Extension”. He has made further statements that the hip thrust is not a glute exercise, and it can even grow your waistline when done under heavy loads.

True Hip Extension vs. Hip Thrust

According to multiple infographics and reels on Iron University’s Instagram, True Hip Extension maximizes glute engagement by eliminating the pelvic tilting seen in a traditional hip thrust, which Parades argues engages the lower back. A traditional hip thrust puts the body into anterior pelvic tilt at the bottom of the rep and posterior pelvic tilt at the top when the glutes are squeezed. 

The Rebuttal

On July 2, 2024, Contreras responded via Instagram, presenting a detailed counterargument in a 10-slide video carousel. He emphasized several key points:

  1. Lower back pain in hip thrusts is typically due to hyperextension at the top of the rep. The "scoop" method, involving a small posterior pelvic tilt and tucked chin, mitigates this issue.
  2. EMG studies indicate that posterior pelvic tilt increases glute activation. 
  3. The degree of pelvic tilting in a hip thrust using the scoop method is minimal (15-20 degrees), while the hip extension is around 100 degrees. Iron University's portrayal exaggerates this tilt. 
  4. The UMiami EMG test cannot be considered a scientific study as it was conducted on a single, potentially biased individual, Chapados.

Call for Scientific Validation

Contreras concluded by proposing a randomized control trial, funded equally by both parties, to use MRI technology to measure glute growth from both exercises. This, he suggested, would definitively settle the debate.

As the fitness community eagerly awaits Iron University's response, this debate underscores the need for rigorous scientific validation in exercise science. Whether or not Parades and Chapados accept Contreras' challenge, this discussion highlights the evolving nature of fitness methodologies and the continuous quest for optimal training techniques.

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