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9 Broscience myths - destroyed by real science

9 Broscience Mythen – zerstört durch echte Wissenschaft

You want the truth? Maybe the truth is too much for you? Either way, it's time to learn what science has to say and then decide for yourself what you believe and what you don't believe. Okay, so hear me out, because I'm going to crush some hopes and dreams here.

If you're not familiar with the term "broscience" in fitness terminology, here's a good definition:

"Broscience is the predominant type of reasoning in bodybuilding circles in which anecdotal reports from muscular guys are considered more reliable and credible than scientific research."

Basically, it's advice that has been passed down from decade to decade by bench press-crazed meatheads to their eager padawans who have only ever done half squats since the beginning of their training careers.

Luckily for you, this article will bust some of the biggest myths in the fitness industry to help you save time, ease your fears and uncertainty, and simplify the process of building muscle.

1. cardio training in a fasted state

For as long as the internet has existed, exercisers have been running on the treadmill on an empty stomach with the hope that this could somehow help them achieve the low body fat percentage of elite athletes while remaining in an anabolic state.

Here's a quick news overview in case you're not up to date on the scientific research regarding physiology and the human body -Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for early childhood growth and development. Cardio training in a fasted state has no additional body composition benefits beyond what you can achieve with cardio training performed in a non-fasting state and a sufficient calorie deficit (1).

Here is a quote from a recent study on this topic:

"There is evidence that greater use of fat as an energy source during a given period is compensated for by greater use of carbohydrate later in the day. Fat burning therefore needs to be considered over the course of the day, rather than on an hour-by-hour basis, to assess the true impact on body composition."

Yes, you read that right - the so-called "fat burning zone" indicated on most treadmills and ergometers is nothing more than a misinterpretation of science and human physiology.

And what does this mean for you? No growling stomach or bad mood in the morning while you're trying to make gains in cardiovascular fitness.

2. the anabolic time window

If there's no anabolic window in your house, you're missing out. These things are guaranteed to ward off even the worst catabolism in the worst of all possible situations.

If you look into the past, exercisers have been trying to jump through the anabolic window ever since the first set of curls was completed in the squat rack.

We know from scientific research on the subject that the muscle protein synthesis response to a meal consisting of mixed macronutrients lasts for a period of 3 to 4 hours and cannot be re-stimulated within this phase due to the refractory nature of circulating amino acids (2).

However, it should be noted that carbohydrate utilization is generally higher after exercise, taking into account the upregulation of GLUT-4, which acts as a glucose modulator for transport across cell membranes.

From a physiological point of view, if you have eaten a meal 60 to 90 minutes before training, it is not absolutely necessary to consume protein immediately after your training session, as amino acid availability is still high enough due to the previous meal (2).

However, if you choose to train on an empty stomach, or if your last meal was consumed long before training (5+ hours), it may be wise to ensure you consume a fast-digesting protein source such as whey protein.

3. training with your own body weight is not effective

"Push-ups are only good for one thing - getting a good pump before you hit the pool or a party. Other than that, they're relatively useless."

First of all, your "party pump" will be more like a balloon animal from my two-year-old nephew's birthday party that's running out of air.

And if you simply refuse to exercise with your own body weight because it's "uncool", then you should seriously reconsider your attitude. A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that push-ups performed with resistance bands produced similar EMG scores and strength gains to traditional bench presses (3).

Simply put, if you're ignoring bodyweight exercises like pull-ups, dips, push-ups, planks and numerous other elements of gymnastics, you're missing the big picture.

4. meal frequency

We already know that meal frequency doesn't have a significant impact on the thermic effect of food, so there's no point cramming 8 meals into a day if you don't want to (4).

But that's not all - nutrient timing is probably only responsible for roughly 20% of the changes that can be observed in body composition. However, 20% for taking care of all the important details is a small price to pay if you have body composition related goals.

However, we need to keep in mind that muscle building and muscle loss is not a pulsating process, but happens in a continuous manner. If there are no amino acids in the digestive tract, then they will be drawn from the largest store of amino acids - muscle tissue.

With the last piece of information in mind, it should be clear that meal frequency still plays a role. Carbohydrates right before a training session can help delay central nervous system fatigue, they can replenish glycogen stores and they can raise blood sugar.

So if you've jumped on the intermittent fasting or carbohydrate backloading bandwagon, make sure you've consumed adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates before your training session, otherwise you could be hindering your body's development.

5. muscles are synonymous with brains

There is an alarming trend in the fitness industry. For some reason, the aesthetic appearance of a person's body seems to serve as an indication of that person's knowledge to the onlooker.

It is true that personal experience and anecdotal experimentation are required for the muscle building process, but the degree of a person's muscle development does not determine their understanding of physiology, biomechanics or periodization.

All too often we assume that the most muscular and strongest guy in the gym knows the most and can help anyone become more muscular, leaner, stronger and faster. Sadly, this is not the case.

There are many people in the gym and on the internet who have simply "thrown junk at a wall and watched what stuck." In other words, these people don't have a clue what actually worked in their training and diet, but surprisingly, they got lucky.

Others are blessed with very good genetic predispositions or choose the "chemical support" route. However, you can't look at these people's results as typical results unless you choose the same path.

I have seen many people in the gym move very usable weights on the 3 big basic exercises despite flawed mechanics and a lack of a structured training program. If you ask these people how they got this far, most will simply respond with "Hmmm...hard work?".

I've seen a lot of broscience touted as fact by popular fitness icons and most simply believe them simply because of the large social media following.

I don't want to discredit hard work at this point, but you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

6. you don't need to do cardio training

"Explain this to me: if my only goal is to achieve the form of Arnold in his prime and build biceps the size of a softball, what would be the point of cardio training?"

Before you panic about losing your gains, relax first. If you can manage 1 to 2 sessions of low intensity cardio per week, then you have bigger problems than your lack of gains.

Aside from the overall health benefits of consistent intensity cardio training with a heart rate in the 120-140 bpm range (e.g. better insulin sensitivity, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, increased overall work capacity, etc.), you need to remember that your anaerobic energy system determines your recovery from day to day, set to set and repetition to repetition.

Also consider this for a moment - if an athlete increases the cross-sectional area of their muscles (i.e. the diameter of their muscle fibers), then this will also increase the absolute amount of metabolic byproducts generated during training.

Cardio training at a constant intensity can increase peripheral capillary density, which in turn can improve the filtration and removal of metabolic by-products generated during muscular exertion.

In addition to this, cardio training can also help to influence the dominance of the nervous system, increasing brain plasticity and creating a better balance of neurotransmitters.

Can you get strong without cardio? Yes, but you could improve your training performance even further if you stopped ignoring the physiological benefits you can achieve through all energy systems.

7. "Your core is weak, just do some sit-ups."

It would be better if you tried to pull your navel towards your spine and hollow out your core.

Your abs may be weak, but learning how to breathe properly and stabilize your core effectively will guarantee you much higher dividends when it comes to core stability and maximum strength release (6).

Sit-ups have their raison d'être when it comes to hypertrophy, but the majority of exercisers already get too much movement in their spine beforehand, which is why they would benefit from learning how to maintain a stabilized position while breathing under load.

A study was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research comparing isometric and dynamic training for the core. This study came to the following conclusion:

"...an isometric training approach was superior in terms of improving core stiffness. This is important because increased core stiffness increases weight-bearing capacity, stops painful vertebral micromovements, and improves ballistic distal limb movement." (5).

In other words, movements of an isometric nature (i.e. variations of planks, rollouts, loaded carries, etc.) will have the greatest carryover when it comes to increasing force production, reducing spinal movement and improving your ability to move heavier weights.

Learn to control the range of motion isometrically before attempting to move through it dynamically.

8 GOMAD is extremely effective for most exercisers

Leaving the lactose discussion aside, I don't think GOMAD is the best strategy for most exercisers who have trouble building muscle (GOMAD stands for Gallon of Milk a Day, meaning the consumption of about 3.7 liters of milk per day). I'm sure there are a few "internet experts out there" who will disagree with me and post their opinions on YouTube, but that misses the point.

I've written about undulating progression schemes before and believe that they certainly have their raison d'être, but the dietary advice that accompanies them is often myopic in nature and sometimes downright stupid. I would like to see a GOMAD "transformation" where the end result was a large increase in muscle mass without excessive fat gain.

Just one!

There's a reason the vast majority of beginners are put on this type of diet and exercise program: It's easy and someone doesn't want to take the time to explain the basics to these beginners.

Don't let someone else's laziness be your excuse for excessive body fat gain and lactose intolerance.

9. everyone MUST train squats and deadlifts

It's not a myth, it's actually true: you should actively maintain the motor movement pattern of squats and a "hinge movement".

However, you should also keep in mind that not everyone will be able to perform conventional squats and deadlifts from day one. In fact, in my opinion, there are some exercisers who should never use the classic bar position for squats due to their anthropometry, injury history or other reasons.

If any movement causes pain, then you should find an adequate substitute until your central nervous system has established control over the entire range of motion.

For deadlifts, you could use one of the following variations:

  • Rack Pulls
  • Rack pulls with a wide grip
  • Sumo deadlift
  • Sumo deadlift with two kettlebells
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • Romanian deadlift
  • Landmine Romanian Deadlift
  • Suitcase deadlift with two kettlebells
  • Block pulls
  • Deadlift with wide grip
  • American deadlift

For squats you could use one of the following variations:

  • Dumbbell Goblet Squats
  • Front squats
  • Landmine goblet squats
  • Zercher squat
  • Kettlebell goblet squats
  • Safety bar squats
  • Front squats with two kettlebells
  • Sandbag front squats

Keep squats and deadlifts in your program, but if you're smart, you'll adapt your training and work around injury and pain.

Conclusion

I know this article is way too long, which is why you just skimmed through it while doing fasted cardio or eating your seventh meal of the day. Well, whenever you're ready to make your life a little easier and still get your best gains, you should read this article carefully and learn what the science has to say.

References:

  1. 1Body composition changes associated with fasted versus non-fasted aerobic exercise
  2. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?
  3. Bench Press and Push-up at Comparable Levels of Muscle Activity Results in Similar Strength Gains
  4. Effects of meal frequency on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis
  5. Effect of Long-term Isometric Training on Core/Torso Stiffness
  6. Quantification of lumbar stability by using 2 different abdominal activation strategies

Source: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/broscience-myths-destroyed-by-science

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