The gym bro is always right.
It’s fun to make fun of the gym bro.
They can’t math. They spend too much time on creatine. And they love the gym selfie after a good pump.
But like it or not – the gym bro is always right.
This is the tao of the gym bro.
Tao is the natural order of the universe, whose character one’s intuition must discern to realize the potential for individual wisdom
You may not like it but this is how the world works.
The Tao of the Gym Bro: How it Works
First they ignore you.– Ghandi as paraphrased by the Gym Bro
Then they laugh at you.
Then they do a Stanford study.
Then they present it as cutting edge research.
The bros are at the gym. They’re all busy being bros, doing bro things, talking bro science.
Studies? They doin’t need studies. They’ve got bros who’ve handed down the wisdom of the Bro (capital B) over the years.
But the bros are not a particularly cultured group. They are large, muscled, and often heard grunting, yelling and exclaiming esoteric phrases like “LIGHT WEIGHT.” They do not have stacks of papers they’re referencing at the gym and they have no need – for in their multitude is contained the wisdom of the Bro.
This leads to sudden, often impromptu behavior including:
- Drop an extra scoop a pre-workout – just cause they’ve had a day – and they need a bump.
- Hitting an extra set because they’re feeling it.
- Doing a fasted cardio session to get out of their head
This drives the science bros nuts. There’s no way that fitness according to the gym bro could be correct. They barely even know how to read (chill, gym bros).
So it’s dismissed out of hand – as bro-science – typically by those not in the gym and those not eating their 1g per pound of bodyweight/day in protein.
But then, it happens.
Over time, studies are done. Legitimate studies from research scientists. And they come to find – lo and behold – that gym bros – were correct.
However, instead of giving credit to the Wisdom of the Bro™ – this is presented as ground-breaking research and paraded around by the science bros.
Meanwhile, the gym bros have evolved to the next test of their collective wisdom and the researchers are studying the wisdom of the last ten years.
The Tao of the Gym Bro Unveiled
This happens over and over again in the gym. Here are a few examples:
Bro science: Just take 5g of creatine every day bro. More at first.
Myth: Nooo, creatine is bad for your kidneys.
Science science: just take 5g of creatine every day bro. Do a week of creatine loading first. (study)
Bro science: Just eat 1g per pound of body weight a day.
Myth: Nooo, you can’t process more than 30g of protein at once.
Science science: Just eat 1g per pound of body weight a day. Your body can handle it (ref).
Lift Rep Scheme
Bro Science: If you want that muscle to grow, just hammer it bro.
Science Myth: Nooo, you have to have a specific rep scheme for hypertrophy or it won’t work.
Science science: Progressively overload your muscles over time if you want them to grow. (study)
Bro science: Get your cardio done in the morning bro.
Science myth: Nooo, you have to eat a full meal before your cardio for fuel.
Science science: Get your cardio done in the morning (study)
Bro science: Cold showers will fix your brain and get you out of your head.
Science myth: Nooo, Cold therapy does nothing for you.
Bro science: Do lots of low intensity cardio. Then sprints.
Myth: Nooo, You have to have tempo, fartleks and a complicated training schedule to run distances efficently.
Science science: Just do a lot of zone 2. Throw in some speed work. (ref)
You get the picture.
In short, the cycle goes like this:
- The wisdom of the bros states X for best practices.
- Several non-gym bros call BS
- Then a study is done by a high-visibility person. They state definitively that X is best practices.
- X is considered cutting edge research.
- The bros were right the whole time and have moved on their next group experiment.
Now, this is how science is supposed to work – it’s fine. You have a hypothesis – you test the hypothesis over time – and then you get results. You then have to validate the results.
But often – people like to outsource eat experimentation to a third party – instead of testing things for themselves.
The most impactful thing Tim Ferris ever did was tell people to experiment for themselves.
- Who says it has to take a year to get good at swimming? Why not 3 weeks?
- Who says retirement is worth waiting for? Try it out for yourself now.
- Why do situps when you could do a cat vomit exercises 3x/week?
So when it comes to health stuff – the wisdom of the bro often gets overlooked for the almighty research paper.
But what makes more sense? A group of subjects are isolated in a lab studied setting and come to a conclusions
Hundreds (or millions online) of very self interested people are self experimenting with themselves, sharing the results and adapting in real time to find the best outcomes and sharing their gainz (results) with the collective bros.
The Tao of the Gym Bro Wins. Always.
Now, this is not to say one way is better than the other. However, the one thing that the studies miss – is that they usually lack months – if not years (or decades) behind the tao of the gym bro.
This mostly dials down to
- How much self-experimentations you prefer and
- Your overall risk tolerance.
But, while you’re in the lab or waiting on the results, the gym bros are out there gym bro-ing.
You might not like it, but Gym, Tan, Laundry was the original weekly planning routine.
The tao of the gym bro reveals an interesting truth.
A suboptimal plan executed early and consistently beats a perfect hypothetical scheme executed on a lag every day.
So keep waiting on the next study. The gym bros are gonna gym bro – evolving, becoming something else, someone else.
This is the tao of the gym bro. You might not like it, but it’s never wrong.
This blog is mostly tongue in cheek, but also is also 100% the law of the universe. Of course, theoretically, the gym bros can be wrong – but this has rarely happened in the real world.
This blog has been percolating in my brain for the past 2 months. Thanks to Mike for the inspiration to write it down.