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When you hear the word Bro-science (okay not technically a word you’ll find in the dictionary) you probably think of the guy with massive biceps and tiny legs who trains chest 6 days a week and wears a trucker hat throughout.
To be honest this entire article could be filled with clichéd descriptions of Bro-scientists and it would be very enjoyable to write – but instead we are going to look at what Bro-science actually is, and who the modern day Bro-science practitioner might actually look like.
The origins of Bro-science?
Bro-science is a new word that describes something that has been around at least since the early 20th Century.
It isn’t about what clothes you wear or how you talk, it’s about espousing theories on fitness and nutrition that have no background in science.
So a hundred years ago when there was no such thing as exercise-science everything was Bro-science.
In those days bodybuilding was just coming into fashion as was professional sport, some of the practices that were developed by these groundbreaking athletes is still used today.
But for every good bit of information they provided there were around 100 pieces of Bro-science.
For example when the tour de France started cyclists would drink Brandy to dull the pain.
Speaking of booze, did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to drink rum with his protein shakes because he believed it improved the amount of protein that was delivered to the muscles. Of course, the exact opposite turns out to be the case, with muscle protein synthesis being inhibited by alcohol intake.
The thing is you can’t blame people in 1903 for not having the answers, nor can you blame the bodybuilders of the 60s and 70s for making it up as they went along.
They had nothing to work on, there were no studies no fitness experts. They were the vanguard. In fact a lot of the anecdotal evidence that they believed has been recently proven.
The “Pump” that they mentioned was argued as useless by scientists for years, but now is known as Metabolic Stress and is seen as vital for muscle hypertrophy. But these days we have hundreds of academic journals that we can read, true fitness experts with phds, we are also standing on the shoulders of giants.
We can take the genius of Arnie and cast aside the mistaken beliefs, we know more about how muscles function and the science behind it then anyone did in the 70s (or even the 80s or 90s).
Also this information is so accessible, a new lifter can access scientific papers on hypertrophy through the click of the button, and they can follow the experts on facebook and twitter.
In short there is no excuse for perpetuating bro-science any more. So why is Bro-science more common than ever?
Modern Day Bro-Science
Part of the reason why bro-science is bigger than ever is that there is a much bigger market for it than ever before.
More and more people are interested in bodybuilding, power-lifting, and just regular resistance training than at any time in history. More people means more bro-science even if the ratio of bro-scientists to non-bros is lower than ever.
Another reason is that due to the newness of exercise science there aren’t a lot of definitive answers, and a lot of the answers that are accepted as true are open to debate.
People like black & white solutions to their problem, but sadly when dealing with individuals there is rarely a cut & dry answer. What works for 90% of people will not work for 10%.
The final reason is that because the average man doesn’t know much about exercise science it is very hard for them to distinguish between someone who knows what they are talking about and someone who is making it up as they go along.
Sadly these bro-scientists come in many forms, with so-called fitness experts being the worst.
The truth is that social media has given a lot of bro-scientists a platform and huge audiences. You can get massive followings for a guy who’s only qualification is looking ripped.
Yes he got himself in great shape but that doesn’t mean he understands the intricacies of your circulatory system or how testosterone affects muscle protein synthesis. He just lifted weights for 5 years straight and ate chicken and broccoli every day.
But if you had no idea where to start in a gym you’d probably trust the guy who got huge wouldn’t you? Hence the problem.
Now obviously a lot of huge bodybuilders can also have a high level of knowledge, but it is definitely an issue.
Difference between Bro-science and Bros
One thing that should be made clear is that following a bro-workout and using bro-science are two very different things.
Training like a bro can actually have its advantages, as can eating like one.
Eating “clean” is completely un-scientific but definitely works, while have you ever noticed that many bros tend to be the biggest guys in the gym?
So mock them all you want, but they must be doing something right. The way to success is to use the consistency and the hard work of the bro, whilst getting your knowledge from actual fitness experts such as Alan Aragon, Brad Schoenfeld, and Layne Norton (to name a few).
Getting this mix of hard work and knowledge will give you every chance of success.