Hitting the Gym: Strong Curves with Bret Contreras

A little while back, I wrote about my fondness of Millionaire Hoy’s free YouTube workout videos. I still love ’em, but I’ve put them on the back burner for now. I’m sure I’ll get back at it this winter when I’m not getting as much of a cardio fix from running outside.

I dropped off the Millionaire Hoy train last spring when I sprained my ankle. His videos involve lots of jumping around, which wasn’t ideal for a healing ankle, so I sought out something new that focused more on weight training and less on HIIT type stuff.

I stumbled across Bret Contreras’ Strong Curves program. This is based on a book that has a serious cult following. Apparently, Contreras is the glute guy – and glutes happen to be the “en vogue” muscle of the day. That’s lucky for me, because in my ankle repairing physio, I discovered that I actually have very weak glutes.

Bret-contreras.jpg

Apparently this man is the guru of women’s butts.

This was somewhat shocking to me, as I’d always done lots of bodyweight squats and lunges and stuff as part of dryland training for snowboard season. It turns out I’d been doing them all wrong, relying on various leg muscles to do all the work while letting my glutes chill out. My weak glutes meant I’d been running (and actually even just walking) inefficiently. Say whaaaaat!

So I humbly turned to the Glute Guru and his Strong Curves program. You can get the 36 page free PDF right here, FYI.

A little bit about the Strong Curves program:

  • It actually consists of several small programs with ridiculous names (Booty-ful Beginnings, Gluteal Goddess, and the like) that are divided into different weeks. The weeks progress… or something… to be honest, I just printed out the whole stack and did each workout once. Once I worked my way through the stack, I started over.
  • It’s not all glutes. While there are lots of hip thrusts, bridges, and squats, there are also exercises for your abs, arms, shoulders, and back peppered throughout (usually it’s glutes + one or two others per workout).
  • Each workout takes me between 45 and 60 minutes to do. I always start off with 15 minutes on the bike to get warmed up.
  • Most of the workouts involve gym equipment, though there is one program that’s 100% bodyweight focused.
  • The workouts are all structured like this:
    • Part A: Two exercises, A1 and A2. You do three sets of each, alternating back and forth (A1, A2, A1, A2, A1, A2). They usually work different muscles so you get a little break by switching around.
    • Part B: Same idea as Part A but with two new exercises – B1, B2, B1, B2, B1, B2.
    • Part C: Three sets of a new exercise. I think you’re supposed to do the sets in a row, but I alternate them with the exercises from Part D.
    • Part D: Three different exercises, only one set each. The way I do it is C, D1, C, D2, C, D3.

A lot of these exercises were new to me and I wanted to make sure I was doing them right, so every morning before a new workout, I’d open YouTube and look up video demonstrations while I ate breakfast. I started seeing a few of the same faces over and over, so here are the YouTube personalities I would recommend for learning the basics:

Buff Dudes

The Buff Dudes look ridiculous and at first I thought they might be a joke, but they’re actually my favourite instructional videos. The videos are informative, straightforward, and full of helpful cues.

Scott Herman Fitness

I don’t know Scott Herman, but I do know that he never, ever wears a shirt. I’m not sure of the reasoning – he wants us to see his muscles move as he demonstrates exercises? He wants to prove he knows what he’s doing and has the muscles to prove it? He’s incredibly vain? Who knows. If you can get past the shirtlessness (come on – nobody goes shirtless in the gym!), he’s very helpful and covers a wide range of exercises.

Girls Gone Strong

Girls Gone Strong’s videos are refreshing, since they don’t feature a massive dude with 0% body fat. Their weakness is that they don’t cover a lot of the exercises in the Strong Curves program. Still, whenever they do happen to cover the exercise in question, I find them to be a great resource.


My gym is somewhat limited in equipment (e.g., no squat rack), but I make do with what I’ve got. Whenever there is an exercise I can’t due do to lack of equipment, I usually Google “[exercise name] alternative” and I can find a good substitute that works the same muscle group.

I do the Strong Curves program in addition to trail running (and lately, road running) and yoga, hiking, or whatever else I’ve got going on. On average, I do about two or three days a week of the program, and I definitely feel like I’m getting stronger. Plus, the whole glutes activation business has revolutionized my running, which is a bonus – hopefully I’ve dodged a few future injuries by getting putting in this work.

At the very least, I find the program to be pretty fun. It’s nice gaining confidence with heavier weights and I’ve come to look forward to my gym days.


If you’re serious about Strong Curves (more serious than I am), I’ve heard the book is super helpful:

strong-curves

You can also check out the Reddit group here.

Happy gains. (Just kidding – that feels weird to say.)


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2 thoughts on “Hitting the Gym: Strong Curves with Bret Contreras

  1. Well, I just don’t know what to say. Or rather, write. I agree with avoiding/reducing injuries, obviously. But seriously? Those images just gross me out. And ‘building a better butt’ is just not an interesting book cover for me. I found it hard to pay attention to your take with the distractions of 6-pack abs, shirtless men, and the promise of better butts! Just seems so superficial. I sort of feel like i need a shower now. Sorry!

    Like

    • I know – I roll my eyes at a lot of it. If you can ignore the superficial and focus on the fundamentals (i.e.: stronger butt makes for faster running and longer day snowboarding), that’s where you get the good stuff.

      And that Scott Sherman guy really needs to put a shirt on.

      Like

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