Science For Smart People
In the strength and conditioning world, you generally have two camps: those who base everything they do – from exercise selection, what order they place said exercises in, # of set/reps they prescribe, even rest periods – off of what some scientist or researcher has to say on the matter.
I can respect that. Truly, I can. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that much of what we’ve seen in the past 25+ years in the realm of (enhanced) performance training is the direct result of some very smart people doing a lot of painstaking research.
But I’d also be delinquent if I didn’t note that what’s seen in a lab – where most everything is conveniently controlled – isn’t necessarily what you’d see in the weight room where everything isn’t so neat and orderly.
In short: results in a controlled environment don’t necessarily equate to the same results out in the real world where projectile vomit comes into play.
Which takes us to the other side of the camp, where those who like to take more of an “in the trenches” approach reside.
These are the people who tend to throw research by the wayside and will just haphazardly do whatever it takes to get the job done, often taking the mentality that “no pencil neck geek who wears glasses, has never lifted a weight in his or her life, and watches Jeopardy “for fun” is going to tell me how to train my athletes!!”
This, too, is flawed (and not surprisingly, often leads to a lot of games lost due to injury).
I like to think that I’m more of a middle ground kind of guy. As much as I absolutely abhor reading and dissecting research (babies are made from rainbows and Chuck Norris’ beard, right?), I understand that it’s an important component to better understanding the human body and how that parlays into writing safe and effective programs.
NOTE: thankfully, guys like Bret Contreras and Chris Beardsley do most of the research for me!
And guys like Mark Young provide insight on how to actually interpret research.
As well, the weight room can serve as my own “lab” so-to-speak. I don’t always need some random study to tell me that something works.
“See that barbell on the floor?” Lift it. Repeatedly.”
Voila – we now have a badass in the making.
Anyhoo, jumping into the nutritional world, the dichotomy between research and nonsense gets a little murkier.
The mass media certainly doesn’t help matters, what with peeps who should know better, but unfortunately are more concerned with television ratings than giving people sound advice – yes I’m talking to you, Dr. Oz – opening their mouths.
Like this gem, where he told everyone that raspberry ketones are a fat loss miracle (amongst other monstrosities).
Compound this example with the latest “research” (please note quotations, because I could find better research in a cow’s anus) of egg consumption being compared to cigarettes at increasing one’s chances of heart disease, and it’s not hard to understand why many health professionals – myself included – can’t help but bang our heads against a wall.
“Science” isn’t always science. Or, at least what’s pawned off as science by some researchers (and then regurgitated by eager reporters looking for a quick story) isn’t always truthful or remotely correct. Not by a long shot.
Of course if you’re like me, research can be confusing if not downright impossible to read, and being able to analyze it is akin to long division, or figuring out why it is people actually care about what the Kardashian’s are doing.
Bringing this to a nice – albeit brief – conclusion, what follows is a video by Tom Naughton which does a fantastic job of explaining the faux pas that is “science” and “research.” Especially as it relates to the mass media.
I thought it was fantastic, and I think you will too. It’s super entertaining and he does a wonderful job shedding light on some of the shady happenings behind the scenes.
Definitely worth the 4o+ minutes if you have it.