So we have all been there when someone makes a claim or comment that we disagree with.
We know we’re right, as someone who keeps up to date with the science or at least the people who keep up with the science, we know more than most.
Unfortunately, there are still many myths that are stubborn and widespread, to name a few:
- If you don’t get in a post-workout shake, all gains are lost.
- You gotta push to fail every set, or you won’t progress.
- White bread is worse than brown bread.
- Your knees should not go over your toes when squatting.
The list is pretty much endless, and as someone who has been there and done that, it is frustrating to see. However, these thoughts persist for a reason, because people repeat them, and those people are often well-respected, even if maybe they shouldn’t be.
Now I don’t think you need to back up every single last thing you say with a study or evidence, the minute details are just that, tiny things that aren’t worth wasting time over. However, there are some things that are just plain wrong, these big piles of crap need to be got rid of. ‘Bros’ touting this are doing more harm than good, and I want you to help em out.
This article is about how you can help a ‘bro’ out, and enlighten them onto a more productive and educated path. It isn’t about calling people out, or shaming people, it is about helping the world become a more evidence informed community.
Before you do anything get them to fully explain their case, then repeat what you understood them to have said. Understanding is not agreeing. You need to fully understand what the ‘bro’ is saying, but can completely disagree with it. But unless you can convince them that you do grasp how they see it, you may be unable to explain your viewpoint to them. Once you have made their case for them, come back with the problems you find in their proposal.
Step 1: Present The Evidence
Your first port of call should always be factual information, you know the scientific literature. Present the ‘bro’ with the hard facts first, give them an opportunity to be open minded about things and take on-board what you’re saying. When presenting this evidence it is necessary for you to understand it, if you don’t then you don’t really have a place to argue from, if you do, then do your ‘bro’ a favour and tell them it in terms they can understand; layman’s terms.
Remember, you should have to taken a wide view, looking at the overall body of evidence to find your answer in the first place. Don’t just search for evidence that appeals to your bias, that is what the ‘bros’ are doing.
My go to resources:
- Google Scholar.
When searching for studies be sure to pay particular attention to meta-analyses, these combine results from different studies to try and identify patterns, relationships and trends among study results.
If you are at all unsure about a subject or find there are limited studies, don’t be surprised. Not only is science tentative (changing all the time) there is also a lot of things that cannot be tested for in a study. Therefore, a great place to learn is from the pros, those who have been there, done that, got the t shirt, and more importantly, the results. So a great place to learn is from peoples past success and failure.
Or if you’re a coach like me, look at your clients results, see what worked, what didn’t, I am always learning from my anecdotal experience, and I use that in combination with the science to give an evidence informed approach.
If you’re not very confident about searching through those resources, are unsure of how to digest the scientific literature, don’t have much experience and the pros haven’t given you a decent answer, then experts are your next port of call. I don’t mean gurus, you need to be careful about who you select as the people you follow and listen to. They need to be sound dudes, who are open minded, and happy to be proven wrong.
Personally I appeal to expert opinion all the time, they delve through the science and present it in an easily digestible fashion. I don’t have hours to spend researching, and there is honestly a lot of scientific terminology that would go over my head, I am not a researcher, I am a coach. So I turn to my trusted sources for advise, the ones who have a deeper understanding of each subject.
A few of my go to experts:
- Alan Aragon – Nutrition & Supplementation.
- Lyle McDonald – Nutrition & Training.
- Eric Helms – Nutrition, Training & Coaching.
- Mike Israetel – Powerlifting Training.
- Layne Norton – Nutrition & Training.
- Brad Schoenfeld – Muscle growth.
- Examine.com – Supplementation.
This is a great first step to helping a ‘bro’ out. It is also the steps I took to confirm my anecdotal evidence in producing Get Big, Stay Lean, my client’s nutritional & training programmes and my other articles.
However, I have been there enough times to know that many ‘bros’ don’t like science, or cherry pick studies that appeal to their biases. Or they’ll bring up drugs, genetics or something to prove the information you have provided ‘wrong’. Trouble is a lot of the time these ‘bros’ are in top shape themselves, and therefore come to a conclusion that they’re right.
If you’re weaker, smaller and less shredded than the ‘bro’ good luck, because they’ll never believe you. So what do you do, you go to step 2.
Step 2: Use Emotional Proof
Now if the ‘bro’ in question doesn’t ‘believe’ in science, or has cherry picked the literature to prove their bias then you have to take this next step, you gotta get deep, and provide emotional proof. You see, people have emotions, deeply held values and different backgrounds and viewpoints. And therefore their opinions are held in place by deeply set emotional values.
What do I mean by emotional proof? I mean you use what you know to progress; you get stronger, leaner and look better. Use what you know to your advantage and you will eventually overtake them. This isn’t about getting one over on the ‘bro’ it is about bettering yourself, and allowing that to be your evidence.
They’ll see you in the gym, doing your ‘crazy science sh*t’ but getting stronger week on week. They’ll be doing their killer bicep tri-sets, while you add kilo’s to your deadlift. They’ll be carrying their tupperware wherever they go, munching on chicken and brown rice, while you enjoy meals out, eating when you like and looking great. They’ll get frustrated at their lack of results, you’ll progress past them.
They’ll succumb to emotional proof.
Communication is Key
Remember, both you and the ‘bro’ are after the same thing, whether it be; gaining strength, growing muscle, getting leaner or fitter, just you have different ways of doing things. So when you are giving your opinion to said ‘bro’ always frame it with that goal in mind, because you are on their side.
In life there are always people who hold views that are objectively irrational. Like my girlfriend for example, she literally has a fit when she sees a moth, I know and you know the moth won’t do her harm. However, she is reacting rationally to the moth as she see’s it. At some level she believes the moth will somehow hurt her. It is a skewed perception, the response is not.
So if someone really believes that eating carbs after a certain time will make them fat, then they’ll react badly when you try and tell them otherwise. No matter how much scientific literature you throw at them, you won’t change how they feel. However, if you do as I stated and make sure to understand their viewpoint, take their feelings seriously and trace their reasoning to its roots, you may have a chance of changing their thoughts.
When I work with clients who have such beliefs engrained in their heads by muscle mags, supplement ads and gurus I start small. I don’t tell them everything they’ve been doing in the past was a waste of time and wrong. That doesn’t really lead to a great relationship.
I slowly implement new changes, getting them towards an evidence informed way of doing things, and trusting the process. Plus I am sure to listen and communicate my thoughts to them effectively. I craft a powerful message and listen to their side, by showing I have listened it increases my influence. I help my clients understand my way of thinking, this reduces their fears, clears up potential misconceptions and promotes joint problem-solving.
You can do the same with the ‘bro’; suggest they try small changes, maybe for a week they allow themselves to eat some different carb sources. Then the next week they can try eating carbs at anytime they like. Slowly, as they see results they’ll realise that their old approaches were not necessary, they will trust you, and trust in the new factual evidence presented to them in future.
[bctt tweet=”When the ‘bro’ feels heard by you, they are more likely to listen to you.”]
Good listening is key, by increasing the information you have about the ‘bro’ and their opinions, feelings and concerns, you can begin to address them.
Proving the ‘Bro’ Wrong Isn’t Necessary
Now I want to be clear here, I do not want or think calling people out on social media, or in real life is required. That isn’t what the above is for, instead of trolling ‘bros’ just keep adding value to yourself, helping your own knowledge and those who want to learn from you.
However, the above is very handy when dealing with friends, family, clients or people who question you on why you do things. You’re either helping people learn, or you are justifying your actions, and thus giving out good information that others can take away.
Plus you can use the points above for yourself, do you hold any ideas or concepts that you’ve not taken the time to really dig into? Well have a real think about them, and if you haven’t, then go over the science, read what the experts have to say, and see what is getting you results. Or you could be falling into the ‘bro’ trap yourself, which is essentially a ‘trap’ of ignorance.
[bctt tweet=”Share good information, answer questions and help those who are willing to learn.”]
It has helped me as personal trainer massively, allowing me to provide better results to more people, and that is all I am worried about.
If you think this could help a ‘bro’ or even a fellow ‘pro’ please share it, got any questions please shoot me an email at [email protected], I guarantee to get back to you.