The Fitness Research Flaw

Muscle-building research isn’t always about people who love to build muscle.

The year was 2004. The quote came from one of my esteemed professors at the University of Colorado during a late-night statistical analysis.

Back then, I was just a young “professional research assistant.” Translation: I was helping write grants, designing experiments, running tests, and collecting and analyzing data. It was my first real job, and it honestly wasn’t that much fun. Some days would just consist of hour-after-hour looking a numbers, running ANOVA’s, ANCOVA’s, and regressions (if you don’t get the statistical reference, consider yourself lucky…unless you love numbers), and digging for truth.

During a late night conversation, I was listing off all the research I wish I could do. The cool experiments that I would run if I was in charge of my own lab. I was fascinated by everything. I wanted to understand training and nutrition. But just as important, I was obsessed with psychology. I wanted to understand behavioral change, and why for some people exercise is as automatic as breath—while for others it’s more uncomfortable than one-legged hula hooping. (Give it a try and you’ll understand.)

It was at that point that my mentor explained the sometimes very political nature of research. It was something I would quickly learn during my two years as a researcher. The barriers to science are everywhere. It’s hard to earn grant money. And it can be even harder to get published. (Depending on the publication.) It’s the underbelly of science that many people never see. It’s one thing to write a thesis paper or review—both incredible labors of love, passion, and insomnia. It’s another to conduct a study and structure it in a way where the findings can be scientific.

Bridging the Gap: Science Meets Training

If you talk to most great trainers, they will admit that science is important. But reliance on science almost always comes with a caveat: What happens on the training floor will always be ahead of what you discover in a lab.

And it’s true. When you’re given a program, you can know within a give period of time whether it works or not.

This is not the cause with science. Not only does research have many barriers, conducting a study takes time to get funding…time to be approved…time to be tested and analyzed and dissected.

Then, when you’re finally ready to share your findings you must write your research paper…wait even longer for it to be reviewed….finally have it accepted…and then wait again for it to be published.

It can make jury duty seem like a quick process.

In the training world, you create programs, test them on clients, and then learn what works. You understand sets and reps, tempo and rest. You start to understand what builds strength and what builds muscle. The best ways to burn fat and how to improve cardio.

All the rules still apply and what you learn has value.

But at the end of the day, it’s not hard science and there’s a limit to what you can claim. And not for the reasons you think.

Anecdotal evidence—training plans and diet—are an essential part of science. This is where people misunderstand “BroScience.” This can be the hotbed of where we develop hypotheses. There’s nothing with trying some protocols not proven by science and revealing what it did for you and trying to replicate.

But that’s the limitation—or at least the tantalizing aspect.

What’s valuable is not just know if it works for one person, but if it can work for everyone.

When you follow a routine, there are many potential factors that could influence your results. These are variables you can’t control or at least aren’t being analyzed.

Ever wonder why one program can work great for a friend but not for you? It’s because there could be a variable that is influencing the results. But without some sort of scientific method or analysis to control these variables (or account for them) the overall conclusions you can draw are limited.

So while the jacked due at the gym with 20-inch arms might be awesome at building his 20-inch arms, some of his lessons might not be scientifically applicable to all people. That does not make him any less knowledgeable or his results less impressive. It just puts limits on the definitive nature of what caused the progress. (Outside the obvious hard work and good eating.)

You want to know what works. You want faith that the effort you put into training and diet has a high probability of success.

I became tired of the battle between the scientists and the trainers, so I decided to bring them together to fight on the same team.

And despite many advancements and some great work that continues to be published in scientific journal, I still read far too many studies that left me wanting more. You know the ones that play with rats, only do leg extension, or only focus on beginners who have never touched a weight.

I was done with shitty research, and I was ready to do something about it.

Enter the Muscle Lab

About a year ago I finally figured out how to take my inner science nerd and combine it with my love of real life training and diet. But it took some recruiting, lots of planning, and finding ways to improve the limitations of traditional research. If you’re going to build a lab, you have to start with a great team.

First I called Alan Aragon, one of the world’s most renowned and respected nutritionists. Alan is an advisor for Men’s Health and an international speaker. Most importantly, he works with real clients and produces real results, all while relying on scientifically-proven methods. Alan is a “broscientist.”

Then I reached out to Dr. Brad Schoenfeld. Brad is equally “bro” with his love of bodybuilding, but he’s as much a muscle geek as anyone. As a professor, his research-driven approach has sold 10’s of thousands of copies of books, and he continues to produce some of the best new findings that push the entire industry forward.

My goal was simple: Break all the barriers of traditional research while still maintaining the integrity of science.

The result is The Muscle Lab. With the time and effort of Mr. Aragon and Dr. Schoenfeld, we designed an approach that would remove all the ridiculousness of bad programs, and allow for real people to have access to real experts, and then be able to analyze real results. No more crappy diets or flawed workouts.

The setup was as simple:

  1. Alan would handle all nutrition.
  2. Brad would handle the workout design.
  3. I would handle the coaching, data collection, and making sure that all users had the support and accountability they needed to stay on track, all while providing a virtual lab that would make it more fun than any science experiment.

The focus: Help real people build as much muscle as possible in 3 months.

After a year of work, the Muscle Lab is finally open.

It’s the ultimate online coaching experience. You have three coaches to help you pack on muscle. It’s access to the type of diet and muscle building expertise that is normally limited to a select few. If you were to consult with all three of us, the price would be more than $1,000. So we decided to change the game.

Now you can have the muscle building plans from Brad Schoenfeld, and a diet from Alan that is personalized to the exact workout you’ll be performing and your goal body weight.

You’ll be kept accountable with weekly check-ins that will help you stay focused, and just as important, log all your data so we can track progress and changes.

Because this is about more than just you.

This is about muscle building research.

The very results that you produce will be analyzed and used to produce research that reflects real workouts, real diets, and real people. And that information will help us continue the search for answers that will make building muscle a little more clear.

It’s the Muscle Lab: A place where science meets results.

But because of the work involved, and the fact that you are working with Alan, Brad, and myself, the study is very limited.

We will only be accepting 100 people.

So if you want to work with the best and push science forward, this is your chance to join an experience unlike anything being offered.

This isn’t some over-the-top online product. It’s not about hype. It’s a real live coaching experience that allows you to work with the best coaches.

Unlike most research, this approach is all about the people who love building muscle.

And that’s how science should be.

To join the Muscle Lab, sign up here.

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