Broscience, Research, and Bodybuilding
A broscientist is someone who reads everything they can with an open mind, including research, then does experiments to find what works best for them – without being constrained by what has been “proven” by research. A broscientist is someone who realizes that bodybuilding is not an exact science and that bodybuilding techniques don’t necessarily have to be scientifically proven to work.
Improper ways to use research
Research IS important but its gotta be used properly. I know this sounds stupid but you must do research BEFORE you makeup you mind, not after! What a lot of people seem to do is decide on what to do based on locker room hype, then when nothing at all would change their mind anyway, they do “research” to convince themselves they are right.
Another mistake people make in using research is to rely on biased sources. For example, there are lots of fitness websites and programs out there and many of them list research which backs up their techniques. If you read them, they really seem to make sense. The trouble is that its human nature to highlight the research that supports your point and minimize or omit studies that discredit your point. Most of these people are not trying to deceive you but their view is biased to prove their point none the less.
Remember that research almost never PROVES anything, it just suggests. For virtually every study you find that suggests one thing, you can find another that suggests the opposite. The biggest mistake of all that people make is in cherry picking research that agrees with them and dismissing everything else. I call this asymmetrical research – they demand no research for views that agree with their own but demand mountains of research for any opposing views. If you want to be successful in bodybuilding you need to be just as skeptical of your own ideas as you are of everyone elses.
Research and Supplements
Many bodybuilders seem to have split personalities when it comes to research. When it comes to lifting and nutrition, they are scrupulous about demanding to know the research behind everything they do. On the other hand, when it comes to supplements their requirement for good research evaporates completely and many choose supplements based on hype read on forums, anecdotes heard in the locker room, and what the advertisers tell them.
Using research is even more important in the supplementation arena than it is in the lifting and nutrition areas. When there is research “proving” how well a supplement works, examine it with a very skeptical eye. On the rare occasion when a supplement does appear to have some research backing it, if you follow the money you will most likely find the “research” was not only paid for by the supplement company, but that it was never published nor peer-reviewed. Basically, they paid some university professor to come up with a study that proves the conclusion they desire. Buyer beware!
Right way to use research
So how is a mere mortal to figure out whats hype and whats backed by science? You need to get an unbiased expert source of information. First, hire a pro – and that’s not me!
Subscribe to an excellent research review like AARR where you get an unbiased analysis of the latest research pertaining to bodybuilding written in terms we can relate to. There is a lot of garbage research out there, let a pro weed thru it and find the gems. Many make the mistake of just reading the abstracts and often this completely misleads you. For example, in one fasting study (A ‘Controlled’ Study’) the abstract gives glowing results but if you read the full study you would find that not only did they use a very inaccurate method of bodyfat measurement but that a whopping 28% of the test subjects dropped out which completely skewed the results – you can be pretty sure the people who dropped out were NOT the ones who were having good results. Now, I don’t have the ability or the time to tease details like that out of research and I’m guessing you don’t either. Hire a pro like Alan Aragon to help you digest this stuff. (BTW, I have no affiliations of any kind with AARR or Alan Aragon.)
Learn to be a good broscientist
Then, use this pre-digested research to help you decide what nutrition and training techniques might work for you based on your goals … and then do your own “broscience” experiments and see what works best for you! Doing your own experiments requires that you measure your progress accurately and that you understand HOW to do experiments.
You cant be successful at bodybuilding if you don’t understand basic science. Take a chemistry lab and a physics lab to learn the scientific method – these are the most important classes an aspiring bodybuilder can take. Its amazing the number of people who proclaim astounding “results” and yet lack before and after photos, lack any lifting logbooks, and lack any accurate weight and bodyfat measurements. In my opinion, any experiment you do needs to last a minimum of 6 months – 3 months on your current plan to accurately gauge your baseline progress and can have something to compare to and then 3 months for the new lifting plan/nutritional plan under consideration to see if it works better or worse than your baseline progress.
Another important point to realize is that what works for one person may not work for another which is why performing your own “bro-science” experiments is so important – were all different.
There is also a strong link between mental state and physical state. You can call it the power of positive thinking or the placebo effect but it is powerful. People can get great results from a workout program if they *believe* they will. Why?
If you believe your workout program will give you great results then they wake up every morning excited to workout, they give every set 110% effort and they never skip workouts. Conversely, if you don’t think your workout will give you results then it wont because you will just halfheartedly plod thru your workout.
This is why I always tell people they need to experiment and see what works best for them. Bodybuilding is not an exact science.
So what leads to faster progress,research or broscience? Neither alone will do it, you need to use the combination! Read the research with a critical eye, use common sense to sort out what things might work for you, then do broscience experiments and see what results in optimal progress for you!
What worked best for MY physique, health, and performance goals has been 6 meals a day, 5-20 hours of cardio a week, and a 5 day split bodybuilding style workout. Am I recommending this for you? No, because I don’t even know what your goals are! Please view my how to choose a workout page to get some ideas of what might work best for you.