The quick answer...Gym Bro.
However, like all fitness concepts, there is no definitive answer because there are no clear-cut lines. To the average lifter the nuance can be enough deterrent to keep them in a stagnant program.
My goal is to teach you how to understand the nuance to the point where it is no longer complicated and becomes common knowledge.
I’m going to lay out the pros and cons for each.
Afterwards, I will present my conclusion and let your feedback be the judge.
1. Science can answer the difficult training issues and advance trainer knowledge.
A good example of this would be the evolution of both the squat and bench press bar.
Using science we have familiarized ourselves with optimal leverages which the general public can apply using a variety of barbell types.
2. Science increases training variety.
It can be said that everything has already been done when it comes to lifting and that no movement is truly new in it's novelty.
However, science tends to go back and revisit many of these movements discussing their efficacy and we often find movements taken off of the table in the past have been found to yield incredible results for new clients.
3. Science hands down dominates the industry of Sports
The majority of serious lifters have a laundry list of injuries. Serious lifters aside, most men can barely tie their shoes without holding their breath and many women have real trouble getting out of the bed.
Bro Science is just not equipped to tackle these issues the way that science has when it comes to rehabilitation.
1. Science can overcomplicate an otherwise solid training
program and prevent adherence.
There's a new study or meta-analysis every week. There's a new crop of participants every month and a new training style every other month.
People new to training or those with long training histories, deciding for the first time to take it seriously, will both encounter “Choice Paralysis” when it comes to choosing exercises and programs.
Oftentimes a solid training program slips right through their fingertips on the simple basis that there are too many to look at.
Since progress can only be measured in the long term, this is a failing strategy for most people.
2. Science does not rely on the concept of intuitive adaptation
Pretty much, science slaps a bunch of nodes on your body and the computer says your biceps worked best when you did a certain exercise.
However there are many factors that will determine how effective that particular exercise will be, not just recorded stimulus.
If you are better at a different form of exercise, that is technically stimulating muscle less, this may not matter if it is your favorite exercise and you continuously progress at it.
3. Science-based studies are often taken out of context by
Whether or not they are using legitimately trained athletes or under trained athletes, this can change the results of meta-analysis and other peer reviewed studies drastically.
The there is no way for the reader to definitively know.
Important example: Science creates a study determining the best way to bench press. One of the controls in the experiment is that the participants are required to take their sets to zero reps in reserve or “failure”.
The issue here is that the concept of taking an exercise to failure is often misunderstood by even Advanced athletes.
Many when pushed find that they have up to four extra reps past what they thought was their last. There is no way to definitively know if the participants in this study are truly going to failure.
Therefore the results are not exactly accurate.
Bro Sci Pros:
1. Unlike a scientist or an accurate study that meets all of
your parameters, a Bro can be found at almost any gym.
We're not talking about your typical Gym Bro, or an out of shape individual who doesn't get stronger but works out seemingly hard every time you see him. We're talking about a Logbook Bro.
The dude who uses all the tools in his bag, records his exercises, checks his form, and seemingly gets stronger every time you see him.
He's gotten bigger than you during his bulk, more shredded than you during his cut and he's managed to do this over the course of several years while you still look the same generally.
These are real Bros. Not to discredit the man who shows up to the gym for his mental health but the Gym Bro that we are talking about in this conversation is, for all intents and purposes, a “Log Book Bro”.
2. Bros operate off of intuition.
Bros advance their ideas of movements based off of not only the results but how they feel along the road to those results. They take the concept of mind & muscle connection and advance it.
An exercise recorded on paper to be the best will be removed from their program if they understand it to not suit their leverages.
This second hand automatic training knowledge is what separates those who are trying and those who are doing in many cases.
3. Bro knowledge is so time tested that concepts such as Mechanical Tension, Lengthened Partials, Volume, Frequency, Intensity, MYO Reps, Nucleus Overload and Linear Periodization have all been given their names well after the Bros had been shown on VHS tapes in sweaty dungeons doing them.
Science will X out an amazing exercise or undervalued movement on the basis of meta-analysis and poor study practices only to come back decades later and say things like “Mike Mentzer was right about volume”, “Dorian Yates was right about intensity”, “Ronnie Coleman was right about lengthened partials” , or “The Golden Era bodybuilders were right about the mechanical tension in the stretch portion of a lat pulldown”.
All things that have happened within the last 3 years. If that doesn't tell you that the Bros had it right the whole time, I don't know if you're really training.
Bro Sci Cons:
1. Yes you can find a bro anywhere and while this can be a
positive it can also be a negative.
For the brand new lifter it's hard to determine who is truly a logbook bro and who is not.
Some people's supreme genetics allow them to push their way through poor movements with low optimal payoff yet somehow they still look chiseled from stone.
Also you don't know who's taking what, you don't know how they eat, how they sleep, or any of the other important details that help create a prime physique.
2. Even the log book guys with the best knowledge seem to
have the same nagging injuries as the rest of the general
There is a missing link with their intuition and understanding. If they really had it all down we wouldn't see the same shoulder hip and knee problems in almost every intermediate to advanced lifter that we do today.
3. Most successful Bros are operating off of their own
experience to advance their training.
Very few of them can give you an application of that training that works for you
primarily because it is tailored to them. So while the information is beneficial it can often not be beneficial to you.
For all their pros and cons there are similarities between the two that cannot be forgotten. When we look at the top natural athletes in the bodybuilding and fitness world and we separate them based on their knowledge, one being science-based and the other being bro-based, we often find there are no measurable differences in physique.
Not only that but no one is recording drastic changes in size and strength through science or bro based modalities. Also since size or appearance is not a direct indication of training knowledge or intelligence the results across the board are negligible.
Regardless of this when it comes to Fitness progress one must have a foundation to build upon.
If we were to send a new Lifter on their own we would not send them the route of science first as they do not understand training and the feeling of the weight.
These things are based on intuition.
It is more conducive to a new trainee's growth to adopt a basic program and work on understanding movements, learning what feels good, what hurts, what leverages provide the most stimulus.
What is optimal on paper is not always optimal in practice, depending on the user. This is why Bro Science should be the foundation of your training Journey.
- Apply Bro Science to better your intuition giving you a better understanding and a map to the variety of exercises that work for you.
- As your training education increases, apply science to your experience to advance movements especially in times of plateaus.
- Never stop educating yourself on new training styles and new ideas coming from the science world. Always let your advancing intuition in the gym direct you. Use science to question only the efficacy of the movements you have come to enjoy. Do not let it solidify that efficacy based on its results, Take the movements out for a test drive and let your intuition be the final judge.
This is part 1 of the Strong Dad fitness education series.
Next topic will be.....
“Barbells vs Machines...”