8 Beliefs of Broscience DebunkedWritten by Kirk, Sunday, November 13th, 2011 in Culture, Fitness
Chances are, you’ve seen or participated in broscience. “Broscience” is a term for beliefs that “bros” in the gym tend to believe that are either totally false or generally useless. Broscience is pretty common nowadays — you see it in virtually every gym in the country — and it’s time we fought against it as much as possible. Thus, here are some things to avoid (and frown at) when you see them:
Wearing a Belt Constantly
Weight training belts are invaluable for those who squat and deadlift heavy, but that’s about it. Very few exercises have the core activation and strain that belts help control, and thus wearing a belt outside these exercises makes you look like a confused douche. There is absolutely no reason to wear these for curls, bench presses, pull-ups, or the like, and using them for rows is questionable. As a general rule of thumb, if you aren’t doing something on an olympic platform, you don’t need a belt.
For some reason, various men’s fitness magazines have been promoting the use of “assisted” reps for muscle growth. “Assisted” (or as I like to call them, “forced”) reps are reps which are helped by a spotter, who essentially lessens the weight after you come close to failure on a previous rep. This allows you to finish off a set without abruptly stopping, and helps muscle pump. In some sense, this is kinda smart — for example, if you can continue repping out a bench at a lesser weight after failure at a high weight, there’s nothing wrong with doing exactly that.
Still, “assisted” reps are bad because they encourage laziness. People who do “assisted” reps quickly rely on their spotter to cover them for almost every rep — and thus, they feel like they lift more than they really do. Moreover, especially at lower levels of weight, it’s never quite clear that you need the immediate help anyway: if you’re about to fail, rack the damn weight and take off a plate. Stop being lazy and just lift heavy.
As a side note, I’ve seen some guys in gyms try to do everything assisted by basically having a buddy both pull and push on everything from their pull-ups to their barbell curls. Not only is this incredibly wasteful and lazy, but this looks a little bit creepy. If you have to
Drinking Creatine (or other supplements) at the Gym
Repeat after me: Creatine is something that loads into muscles gradually. It is not instant-on bodybuilder powder. Drinking it while weight lifting is stupid and wasteful.
Creatine is an awesome (albeit a little bit expensive and sometimes ineffective) supplement, and there’s really little reason to not use it on occasion. Still, creatine needs time to soak into your body, like any nutrient — drinking it while weight lifting is a fruitless endeavor. Ideally, one wants to “build up” a store of creatine in their body through a process called creatine loading. Read about it, learn how to do it, and actually do it.
Also note one quick exception: supplements like Jack3d routinely recommend that you drink them about thirty minutes to an hour before you hit the gym. This has nothing to do with their creatine content and rather has to do with the caffeine they contain. Thus, though such supplements contain creatine, this does not mean that drinking them during a workout will actually in fact give you creatine to immediately use on-site.
Too Much Ab Work
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: if you are doing a lot of hardcore compound work with squats and similar exercises, your abs are working out quite a bit. Endless crunches do very little for you, and won’t guarantee a six pack. Six packs are made in the kitchen, not in the weight room.
“Bodybuilding” Sets (10+ reps)
Bodybuilders often swear by the “high rep, low weight” idea when going for muscle mass, but that idea is always pretty deceptive.
Just like the “Forced rep” broscience, the “high rep, low weight” broscience is somewhat correct, as some studies have indicated that higher reps help develop muscle size (as opposed to, I suppose, muscle strength). Nonetheless, lifters take this advice to the extreme — rather than just focusing on a nice 5-7 rep range as heavy as they can, lifters tend to jack the weight down to laughable levels and try to force out 20 reps, thinking that this will give them a jacked body. Don’t do this. No matter what you do, you need to push your muscles to the limit: if you aren’t straining within 5 reps, you’re probably wasting your time. Thus, don’t delude yourself with the lie that lazy guys tell themselves when they go low weight and fall asleep in the gym — pushing yourself will always be more profitable.
I have no idea who is telling people to do these, but stop it. Just deadlift with chalk. Your forearms will become just as strong as they need to be.
A lot of guys new to weight training get obsessed with hitting the gym daily and, as a consequence of this, wear themselves out and experience no gains. Don’t do this.
If you want real muscle size and strength gain, you should almost never hit the same muscle twice within a three-day period. Doing so exhausts your body and will make you lift less, develop less, and generally enjoy your routine less. No matter how nice you want your pecs to be, hitting them on a daily basis will just tire you out.
Crossfit is to traditional weight lifting as the special-ed bus is to a normal school bus. This applies to pretty much everything they do, but kipping pull-ups are pretty much the epitome of their stupid strength training ideas. I have no idea why crossfit seems to think the kipping pull up is even worth doing. In short, the kipping pull up is a pull-up that utilizes a swing of the legs to accelerate the body upward, thus “hopping” the body up like a pull-up without the strain of actually doing a pull-up. The ultimate result is a hanging-and-humping motion that looks stupid, does nothing, and makes a hell of a lot of noise on freestanding pull-up bars. You may have figured this out already, but my advice is simple: don’t do kipping pull-ups. They are useless. Anyone who does them is an idiot. Also, anyone who does them and claims that they can “do 100 pull-ups at once” should be made fun of.