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Elite Baseball Development Podcast with Tyler Skaggs - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:23

 We’re excited to welcome Anaheim Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs to the podcast. A special thanks to this show’s sponsor, Jaeger Sports. Head to and enter the coupon code CSP to get 20% off on your order through May 31.   

Show Outline

  • How Tyler’s experience as a multi-sport high school athlete facilitated his development as an athlete
  • Why Tyler progressed through minor league baseball and up to the big leagues quickly after being drafted out of high school in 2009
  • How Tyler has refined his curveball in pro baseball
  • How Tommy John surgery impacted Tyler’s career in 2014 and what his advice is for young pitchers who are going through major setbacks in their career
  • How Tyler is working to develop a slider and learning to differentiate this pitch from his curveball
  • How Tyler structures his throwing and training in season as a starting pitcher in a 5-day rotation
  • What Tyler’s routine is on the day of his start
  • How the game of baseball has evolved since Tyler was drafted a decade ago
  • How the use of technology in baseball has allowed Tyler to better understand his pitches and develop a plan to more precisely refine his craft
  • What characteristics in coaches have benefited Tyler’s development throughout his baseball career
  • How the role of the pitching coach is evolving to include a more holistic approach to player management
  • What the most common mistakes Tyler sees pitchers making when throwing curveballs

You can follow Tyler on Twitter at @TylerSkaggs37 and Instagram at @tskaggs45.

Sponsor Reminder

This episode is brought to you by Jaeger Sports, who specializes in arm health, arm conditioning, and mental training. Best known for their long toss protocols and popular J-Bands, Jaeger Sports has been helping baseball and softball athletes reach their potential on the field since 1991. Alan Jaeger has been a trusted resource to me for close to a decade, and many of our athletes use J-Bands every single day. Through May 31, you can get 20% off on your order at using the coupon code CSP.


Podcast Feedback

If you like what you hear, we’d be thrilled if you’d consider subscribing to the podcast and leaving us an iTunes review. You can do so HERE.

And, we welcome your suggestions for future guests and questions. Just email

Thank you for your continued support!

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Upgrading Pallof Presses and Cable Rotations - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 18:47

Before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to remind you that I’ll be teaching my One-Day Strength Training for Fat Loss & Conditioning: Practical Program Design course in Boston, MA this Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Also, we just launched Practical Program Design Mastery, my new monthly programming resource that will:

  • Show you how to build programs that get your clients results while also giving them the variety that they crave
  • Teach you how to cater workouts to your clients’ personalities, preferences, and training environment
  • Give you multiple frameworks to deliver training sessions that never get boring
  • Enable you to become the best trainer in your area at working with everyday Joes and Janes

To celebrate the launch of PPDM, you can sign up here for only $19/month before the end of May.

Rethinking the Anti-Rotation (Pallof) Press

Anti-Rotation (Pallof) presses are simply an isometric exercise that requires your torso musculature to work to prevent your torso from twisting. They’re a fine exercise to do, especially if you’re a beginner in your first few weeks of training, or if you ‘re an advanced exerciser who simply enjoys doing them.  However, overall I place a much higher priority on using Single-Arm Cable (or Band) Presses than I do on using Anti-rotation (Pallof) presses.

As I said in my recent T-nation article on Fitness Got Wrong: 7 Butchered Exercises and Training Concepts, “The one-arm cable press places just as much, if not more, of an anti-rotation demand on your hips and torso musculature. For one thing, you can use heavier loads due to the split-stance position. And it gets more done than the Pallof press because it also involves the upper-body pushing musculature, plus the calves and hamstrings of the back leg, which prevent you from being pulled backward. It’s also not as boring to perform as the Pallof press.

So, the one-arm cable press will get you all of the anti-rotation training benefits of the Pallof press and then some. And since it’s not only a more interesting exercise, it’s also just as easy to learn and coach.”

Rethinking the Cable Rotations (Cable Chops)

Isometric anti-rotation torso training exercises are only half of the complete core-strengthening puzzle because the torso musculature doesn’t just transfer force and reduce force by limiting movement (through isometric action), it also helps to produce force by creating motion – dynamic movement.

From MMA to tennis, you can’t deny the obvious active movement role of the trunk in power production (force summation) during sporting events. So based on what the principle of specificity dictates (and barring any injury), it makes the most sense to train both anti-spinal movements and active spinal in order to maximize your strength and performance. This is where cable or band rotations (both horizontal and diagonal) are a go-to rotational exercise in my training programs.

In my book, Your Workout PERFECTED, I highlighted how this variation I use on Cable (or Band) rotations has four adjustments from the manner they’re commonly performed:

“A wider stance, a weight shift as you rotate, reduced rotational range of motion, and the rotation involves both the hip and shoulders instead of just
the shoulders. The wider stance gives you a larger base of support, which allows you to move heavier loads and provide a greater strength challenge to your torso muscles to perform the exercise. Keeping your torso nearly perpendicular to the cable maintains high levels of rotational tension on your torso muscles, helping you make better use of your time. And moving the hips in the same direction and at the same speed as your shoulders is similar to how we produce high levels of power and strength in athletics.”

2-Point Cable Rotations

Put simply, the cable (or band) rotations shown above do a great job of loading torso rotation in the mid-range when your arms are in front of your torso, but this exercise doesn’t create much load at the aspects of rotation when your arms are turning the corner on the side of your torso. That’s where these 2-Point cable (or band) rotations come in.

I use all three cable/band rotation exercise variations because it’s a more comprehensive approach to rotational training given that each position makes up for an aspect of torso rotation missed by the other two stances. That’s how you build what I call “Full Range Strength.”

Lastly, the bands I’m using in these videos, which are my favorite types of bands with handles on the market, are called JC Predator Bands. The below is not an affiliate link, but you can use my discount code “NTIHP15” if you’d like to get some of these awesome bands for yourself from the good folks at IHP.

Nick’s Upcoming Live Events

In Boston, MA on May 12, 2019 teaching a Strength Training for Fat Loss & Conditioning: Practical Program Design Course.

In Lexington, SC on May 17-19, 2019 attending the Sorinex Summer Strong 12 Expo.

In Toronto, Ontario on June 1-2, 2019 teaching at the Strong Summit.

In Mexico City, Mexico on June 28-30, 2019 teaching at the One Fitness Weekendcongress.

In Portland, OR on August 16-17, 2019 teaching at the NSCA Northwest Regional Conference

In Pomona, CA on August 24, 2019 teaching at the NSCA Southern California State Clinic.

In Bangkok, Thailand on October 10-14, 2019 teaching at the Asia Fit Conference.

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A Complete Guide to Core Training - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 11:01

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of regular contributor, Travis Hansen.

He shares his approach to core training as well as numerous exercises he uses with his own athlete/clients. I’m willing to bet there’s a number you’ve never seen or tried before.


Copyright: ammentorp / 123RF Stock Photo

A Complete Guide to Core Training

In the world of core training, there is a vast array of option to choose from and it can be overwhelming perhaps at times to decipher which options are more appropriate for you and your specific training goals.

What’s more, is that there are six sub-categories that absolutely need to be incorporated into your training regime so that you satisfy complete development of your core and all of its specific parts.

Here are the six categories for you:

#1- Prehab/Rehab based drills

#2- Anterior core drills

#3- Lateral/rotational core drills

#4- Posterior chains drills

#5- Explosive core work

#6- Core endurance work

1. Prehab/Rehab

Anytime there is a major weakness in the core there will be both a reduction in the recruitment of specific muscles in the core on outward to the rest of the body.

For example, it has been found that the TVA (Transverse Abdominis) muscle is suppose to be one of the first muscles to fire in the human body upon any movement initiated. This function is concrete enough to warrant a very valuable term/training principle that has been coined its honor.

The term “proximal to distal sequencing” has been adopted by many practitioners in the field on a regular basis, and helps explain how muscles activate inside at our core and then outward to the limbs sequentially. It’s also pretty well understood at this point that individuals with lower back pain tend to present with a timing delay of the TVA muscle which can prose several subsequent problems for you.

As a result, it becomes important that these individuals and even you partake in regular core training to either help remedy a current back issue, or prevent one from emerging in the future. And with 80% plus American who report back pain this issue becomes very urgent.

So in the context of prehab/rehab drills, here is a short list of drills you can include in your program if you aren’t already:

#1- Deadbugs #2- Plank Progressions<— click to check out some plank progressions that don’t make my corneas bleed. #3- Quadruped Progressions


2. Anterior Core

The next category on the list involves the development of the anterior core region or everything attached proximally from the lower sternum down all the way to the pubic symphysis. The TVA, Rectus Abdominis, and the external obliques are notable muscles within this sub-system of our anatomy.

This is system is your power pump per se as well, when it comes to core development.

Of course all systems are relevant in locomotion and none should be discounted, however, your individual power potential truly lies in this region along with the posterior chain, since they “co-contract” against one another in the sagittal plane.

If you don’t’ believe this then just witness performances across multiples exercises that are directionally linear dominant in nature versus those that are classified as lateral or rotational based: Squat, Deadlifts, Bench Presses, Jumps, and sprints are going to absolutely trump any shuffle, carioca, hip turn/crossover step, or lateral raise so on and so forth.

There are a few exceptions just like with everything, but overall our species was designed to express more strength and power in an up and down, front to back manner.

Here is a short list of anterior core drills for you:

#1- Reverse Crunches


#2- Stick Crunches #3- Hanging leg raise progressions


#4- V-ups #5- Rollouts 3. Lateral/Rotational Drills

The next category carries distinctions, but due to a natural lack of available variation with lateral based core drills, it’s much easier to just merge the two types together into one category.

If you play any sport, whether it be recreationally or what have you, you will need to incorporate lateral/rotational based core exercises into your program. Movements such as throwing, swinging, change of direction, etc. heavily rely on this region of our core anatomy.

Moreover, some of the fibers in the anterior core muscles will possess specific lines of pull that are geared towards rotation, such as the Rectus Abdominis muscle.

That means that by doubling up training to this muscle group and others, you are effectively covering all portions of the fibers within that muscle group and making them more sensitive to contracting in the process.

Some of examples of lateral/rotational based drills are as follow:

#1- Side plank variations



#2- Pallof presses #3- Russian Twists


#4- Chops and Lifts #5- Renegade Rows


4. Posterior Chain

The posterior chain has been discussed ad nauseum before just about everywhere on the internet, and it was alluded too briefly earlier, so we wont spend too much time on this one.

The “Deep Longitudinal Sub-System” is the more geeky and technical term for your posterior chain and if you analyze all of the target muscles you will see that it composes a vast majority of gross muscles or more than any other system which implies its extreme value in human movement and the core specifically.

The system begins at the heel then moves up through the shins, continuing up through the hamstrings and glutes, then across the thoracolumbar fascia and then the lumbar erectors, respectively. And if you haven’t heard it enough already, then its worth repeating, that if you aren’t absolutely crushing your posterior chain in the gym your are leaving a lot of strength and power skill in reserve.

Here are some common drills for this type of core training:

#1- Bent Knee Hip Extension Work (glute bridge, slideboard leg curls, stability ball leg curls, GHR’s)



#2- Straight Knee Hip Extension Work (Swings, Deadlift variations, pull-through variations, sled sprints)


#3- Lateral/Rotational Hip Work (Jane Fonda’s/hip abductions, clamshells, and bandwalks)


5. Core Power

Core power is next on the list.

As an industry, there would to be more of a focus on promoting power in the lower and upper body regions, with less focus on the middle of the body. Then again, the core is implicated in many of the popular power training methods, like medicine ball throws, jump squats, and swings to name a few.

Truth is it doesn’t matter if you are an athlete who has to change directions frequently, or you’re a lifter or gym junkie whose trying to maximize your strength and power potential or raise your RFD (Rate of Fore Development) to the next level, you have to build high levels of reactivity in your core to initiate, anchor, and even match upper and lower body efforts. Once again you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Here are some core power training exercises:

#1-Standing medicine ball throws #2- Medicine pullover throws #3- V-up throws #4- Rope plank swings


6. Core Endurance

And the final category of exercises is the more slow and higher volume-based approach.

Before we continue though, please understand that considerable research has shown that every possible motion of the lumbar spine is linked to some type of injury.

And if this were the case then we should all act like rigid hot dogs right?

Not a chance.

So what gives?

Well, like most things related to training: injury history, structural variances, program design, age, genetics, nutrition, work capacity, and much more will dictate future outcomes.

Dr. Stuart McGill is one of the best in the world when it comes to spine biomechanics, and he postulated at one time that the spine has an eventual limit to how many times it can bend and extend in a lifetime. Everyone took this information and ran with it. He also understands and appreciates that the rigorous daily demands of an athlete require us to potentially exceed or really challenge thresholds of the spine, so we need to prepare the highly delicate and vulnerable region as best we can.

And it’s inevitable that less than ideal postures and patterns will be produced in training, but managing these potentially threatening scenario’s is the end goal. Also consider that even if someone were to stress the core and spine heavily in their youth, intense activity will eventually decline since this type of activity is inversely related to aging.

As such, it will probably all balance itself out in the end and we shouldn’t worry too much if your training is in order.

With that being said, it’s imperative that you build the work capacity/endurance of your core just like all other muscle groups.

In one study, a timed superman or back extension test that was performed isometrically was useful in treating patients with non-specific lower back pain.

This would make obvious sense since discs have been shown to slightly slip as fatigue emerges in the core.

Endurance training of the local core musculature satisfies this TUT (Time Under Tension) specificity and when progressed properly, may help center the disc more and surrounding structures right where we want them.

Moreover, the core is comprised of a lot of slow twitch muscle fiber which have a tendency to respond better more with longer sets and TUT according to Henneman’s Size Principle.

Last but not least, witness all of the athletes throughout history who regularly performed thousands of crunches over the course of a training cycle with no back issues and stellar performances. How do you explain that one? Maybe there would be a slight link to back health or a lack there of in these instances, but more than likely it’s probably satisfying a psychological compulsion which drives other forces and is important.

Now that you have a compete infrastructure of core training you can effectively design your core training program so that it suits your individual needs and preferences. Just make sure to include all elements of the program. The core is synergistic in nature just like the rest of the body, where one part will fail to match the strength of all the components combined.

Programming Suggestions

I wanted you to go away with some rough parameters on how to program for the various options of core training.

Some methods can be performed in higher quantities and frequencies than others. Again, this is just a general scheme that applies to a majority of clients:

                                                                       Frequency/Sets/Reps/Rest/Int/Tempo (E-I-C)


#1-Prehab/Rehab based drills                3-5x     4-5     12-24   0-30 sec Mod.   3-1-1

#2-Anterior core drills                              2-3x       3-4     8-16     0-60 sec Mod.   3-1-1

#3-lateral/rotational core drills            2-3x       3-4     8-16     0-60 sec   Mod.   2-1-1

#4-Posterior chains drills                        2-3x       2-4   6-16     0-120 sec Mod-Hi   2-1-1 or 1-1-1

#5-Explosive core work                            1-2x       3-5     5-8       0-180 sec Ultra Hi   1-1-1

#6-Core endurance work                         2-3x       3-5     12-50+ 0-120sec   Mod.       1-1-1


The post A Complete Guide to Core Training appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Become 53% Stronger by Using Your Imagination - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 10:37
Research shows that you can actually get stronger just by visualizing that you are training. The best of the best athletes do it, so why aren't you doing it, too?
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Editor's Letter for May - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:21
Click for a sneak peek of what's to come in the month of May, including the updated Team elitefts roster of new athletes, coaches, and columnists. We'll also recap April's top-5 coaching blogs, training logs, and articles.
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The JuggLife | IPF Worlds Ladies’ Q&A - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:03

We are joined by Team Juggernaut’s contingent of ladies as they prepare to head to Sweden and represent the USA at the IPF Classic World Championships in June. Marisa Inda, Meghan Scanlon, Kristen Dunsmore, Maddy Forberg and Jo Ann Aita answer a variety of questions from fans.

Looking for great tasting meals with high quality ingredients? Visit for $50 off your first order.

The post The JuggLife | IPF Worlds Ladies’ Q&A appeared first on Juggernaut Training Systems.

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Are You Training in Your Now or in Your Then: Residual Self-Image - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 08:18

“Your appearance now is what we call residual self-image. It is the mental projection of your digital self.”

Morpheus from the Matrix

The Matrix trilogy provided not only groundbreaking special effects but also quite a few insights into “self” as Neo navigated his journey. Questioning reality in some ways, but also what it means to be “you.” The scene quoted above begins before Neo is inserted into a computer program. In it, he is bald, in different clothes, and has implants in his arms, etc… But once inserted into the computer program, his appearance is that of when he was part of the Matrix, complete with hair, no implants, and different clothes.


Why is this important? (Other than reminding you it is time to watch the trilogy again?)

Because we are all operating on some level of residual self-image.

“The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters (their) own changing self-image.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin

And before you start to argue…read on…(I’ll even tie it into training.)

What Self-Image Are You Operating Under?

Have you ever had to restart your training practice? Maybe an injury, illness or family/job situation interrupted your training. And after a few weeks (or maybe longer), you were ready to hop back into your practice. Did you try to start back where you were before the interruption?

If you did then you were operating on residual self-image. The mental projection of your previous “self” brought into a future where you are not actually the same person.

Think about it for a bit. Or think about “Uncle Rico” from Napoleon Dynamite.


“Uncle Rico” was absolutely operating on residual self-image. He was the high school football star he always imagined or actually was back then.

We have all met people who operate from residual self-image. The specifics of that version of themselves is highly variable. Maybe it is their peak high school memory or when they felt they were at their best or had accomplished something significant in their life. What establishes the point of residual self-image is variable but the fact that we bring it with us is not.

“I didn’t realize I had gained weight.” Or “I didn’t realize how out of shape I had become.” These are both demonstrations of residual self-image. We keep a “picture” of ourselves at our best (or worst) and have a very hard time seeing the reality of the current us.

Back to Training…

I have said in other articles to “meet people where they are, and you’ll be surprised where you can take them.” And residual self-image ties into this as well. We must provide an accurate current self-analysis to create the best program for the individual. As they are, not as they were or even as they see themselves. Especially if that individual is returning to training after some time off. This “tough love” is not easy to give, and not always welcomed with open arms.

A couple of important pieces of information here:

Conditioning drops pretty quickly (as quickly as 7-12 days).

“Coyle, Martin, and Holloszy (1984) studied endurance athletes who had been training for 10 years. VO2max decreased by 7, 13, and 15 percent after 12, 56, and 84 days. Stroke volume decreased by 11% after 12 days. Exercise stroke volume and HR-max did not change any further after 12 days, with maximum cardiac output remaining 7-9% below that of the trained state. Thus, maximum cardiac output reduction occurs mostly in the first 12 days, while VO2max and mitochondrial activity continue to decline for some time after that before stabilizing.” Rundell, K. W. (1994). Strength and endurance: Use it or lose it. Olympic Coach, 4(1), 7-9. 

Strength maintains for longer.

“Reductions are relatively small during the first few months following cessation of training. Some researchers have shown:

(a) no loss of strength was noted after cessation of a three-week training program, and
(b) only 45% of the original strength gained from a 12-week training program was lost after one year’s removal from the program.” Wilmore, J., & Costill, D. (1988). Physiological adaptations to physical training. In Training for sport and activity, Chapter 11. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown

Why is this important?

There is a difference between a weekend off and missing training long enough to enter into detraining. This is why I don’t worry about vacations and brief periods of time off. In fact, students typically come back from short training breaks having rested, restored, and super-compensated, and are ready to progress their training.

Getting Back to Reality

Regardless, the first sessions back to training after a longer break should be “easy.” Knocking off the dust, greasing your joints and firing patterns. Even though strength maintains for a very long time, we still want to ease back in to allow tissues to adapt to the stress. The same goes for conditioning: start with easy sessions (maybe Maffetone level work) or longer rest periods between sets of swings, etc.

If you have hit the detraining windows of time off of training, look back at your training log to a beginning program that was successful for you. It might mean rebooting training for Simple instead of hopping back into training for Sinister.

In conclusion, answering the question of whether you are operating on residual self-image is one that only you can answer. And this is where having certain “benchmarks” in place can be helpful. Knowing where you are performing on certain benchmarks (like a snatch test for example) can be a good way to keep up on the current self-image, not the past. This is also where a good coach and StrongFirst certified instructor or StrongFirst Accredited Gym can be effective.

And enjoy the Matrix trilogy.

The post Are You Training in Your Now or in Your Then: Residual Self-Image appeared first on StrongFirst.

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Keeping Cool While The World Burns Around You - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 09:19

2 weekends ago I was in Philadelphia teaching Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with Tony Gentilcore (dates still coming up in Edmonton, Sydney and Melbourne Australia). At least I was supposed to be, but life had other plans for me that weekend.

You see, one of the unfortunate elements of travel by air is that you’re at the mercy of a lot of “stuff” that’s really out of your control. First, the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, which had shown a tendency to want to fall out of the air, wound up being pulled from service for major airlines, meaning a shortage of planes overall and overbooking on the remaining flights to meet demand.

Second, once I was in Toronto waiting to transfer to my flight to Philly, weather issues started cropping up, making the potential of severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes a reality around Philly at about the time we were supposed to be flying and landing. This caused a 90 minute flight delay, then once we boarded the plane and taxied out on to the tarmack, we wound up sitting on the plane on the tarmack waiting to take off for 4 HOURS.

About 6 hours after my flight was supposed to take off, the pilot comes on and says they’ve been given the clear to take off in 20 minutes, but the flight crew shift was set to end in 30 minutes, meaning they had no way to complete the 70 minute flight in time to come in under their federally mandated maximum shift time, therefore the flight was going to be cancelled.

At this point I’m feeling kinda like Charlie Murphy.


It’s late on Friday night, and I’m supposed to be in Philly for Saturday morning to drop mad science on shoulders and hips for a group of awesome fitness professionals. Tony was flying in that night too, and he managed to outlast the delays, a flight crew switch, and make it so he’d be able to open the show without any issues, and I knew he could crush the content like no one’s business.

Because mine wasn’t the only flight cancelled, hitting up ticketing to discuss what my options were to make it to the City of Brotherly Love proceeded to be a less than lovely experience. For one, as it was later at night, there weren’t many people working, there was a lineup around the block of people needing info on flights, and the three agents wound up reducing down to 2 as one conveniently went on break for about an hour. I called customer support, stood in line, and waited to talk to a person on the phone for the next 50 minutes hearing stories of people travelling to Europe, the west coast, etc and who had their flights cancelled. It seems to be a thing that happens at Pearson as I’ve had 3 flights out of there cancelled in my lifetime.

So after explaining my situation to the agent on the phone, I was booked on a morning flight on Sunday.


The workshop was starting in 12 hours and I was stuck in Toronto.

The advice I was given was that the flight on Sunday was booked, but to show up on Saturday and hang out waiting for one of the other 7 daily flights to Philly to get ready to leave and try to get on as a standby.

Any guarantee this would work?


Any business class seat upgrades available? Why yes! For the low cost of $1900 I could have a seat on the last flight of the day on Saturday. Would they cover any part of that cost as a transfer from the cancelled flight? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You’re funny for asking. Of course not.

So I used points to book a hotel room for one night and paid for another, then texted Tony to let him know he’s running solo for the entirety of Saturday and likely the first half of Sunday. Hopefully no one would be flipping tables and storming out for me not being there.

Now, not knowing the future, I showed up to the airport on Saturday and waited for the majority of the day going from one flight to the next to Philly looking to get on as a standby. All 7 were full with standbys ahead of me. Had I known this would be the case, I would have taken the 19 hour train from Toronto to Philly that had 4 stops along the way, or potentially found a rental car that would allow me to drive to the states and leave it there as I had return flights booked Monday morning. Rental companies love that stuff, right?

I even inquired into a private jet leasing company just to see what it would cost to get a 4 seater one way. The earliest they could do was May 1, which wouldn’t work. I never did get a quote. I’m kinda ticked I didn’t get even a price, even though I wouldn’t have been able to make it work financially, it would still be cool to know.

So there I was, stuck at the airport in Toronto with no way to get to Philadelphia, checking social media updates of the people who were tagging Tony being awesome and having serious FOMO about my own event.

Oh well.

I could be mad, but what would that do? If I were stressed, it would only affect me. Tony was there, shit happens, people seemed to be okay with it, and I was planning to get there as soon as I possibly could.

I could have yelled and screamed at the agents trying to help me get there sooner, but that wouldn’t have made a seat magically appear out of thin air. Also, was I more valued than anyone else trying to get on the same flight? Plus take a stressed out service provider and start screaming at them is a fast way to get hung up on.

Instead, I rolled with it as much as I could. When asking for help, I asked how their day was going, and more than once someone told me they were having a rough one with all the cancellations and challenges that were going on. I told them I appreciated the work they were doing to help me, as I’m sure theirs is a relatively thankless job most of the time. Even though it didn’t result in me getting on an earlier flight, just connecting with someone as a human is better than belittling anyone for my mild inconveniences.

I finally made it to the workshop on Sunday right before lunch, did the best I could with the time I had, connected with as many people as I could, and then Tony was out to fly home on the Sunday evening flight. I managed to get to the AirBnB for one night that Tony had the run of since Friday, and even had a chance to watch Game of Thrones.

Now one of the amazing things about travelling to the states is that America has SO MANY FLAVOURS OF EVERYTHING!! There was a little corner store next to WarHorse Barbell, which hosted the workshop, and they had about 50 different flavours of Ben & Jerrys ice cream. Stuff I’d never heard of or thought could possibly exist. I made a mental note that after the seminar I’d grab a snack before watching Game of Thrones.

Life had other plans.

When I went to get to the store after the workshop and a short dinner, it was closed. Apparently small mom and pop places close on Sunday evenings.

A look on Google maps showed no where in walking distance that could help satisfy a sweet tooth on a Sunday evening. Screw it. Uber Eats for a pint of ice cream would do the job. Don’t judge me. An $8 pint cost 23 and yes it was worth it and delicious as hell.

Of course, the flights home were smooth and uneventful, so I guess that’s something.

Now why did I just spend 1300 words telling you about my #travelwoes?

Because life has a way of getting in the way in any pursuit you may want to tackle, be it travel, working out, nutrition, or anything else.

Have you ever wanted to get to the gym on a regular basis but your boss throws stuff on your desk at 5 and says have it done by morning? Kids have a “forgotten” project due tomorrow that you need to help them with? 5 weddings or work functions involving massive travel and food disruptions? Car trouble or a home renovation needs attention asap? A sudden injury?

It happens.

You could get mad or stressed and rant and rave about it, but in the end that just beats you up and doesn’t change things. If you can find a way to make it happen, or even just to minimize damage or negative fallout from it, that’s always going to be all that you can do. It will either make for a good story, an experience you can learn from, or something that’s hopefully funny that you can look back at in a few years and have a chuckle.

When things are all breaking down around you, just try to treat those who are trying to help as well as you would hope to be treated if you were in their situation. I’ve worked more than a share of those front-line service jobs, so I know how hard it is, but in many situations they only see negativity. Who knows, maybe asking how someone’s day is going could be all it takes to get a sneaky upgrade, bump an old lady from a flight so you can have her seat, or anything that may be beneficial to you.

At the worst, it won’t make your life any worse.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 5/6/19 - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 08:53

I hope you all had a great weekend and are ready to start the new week off with some great content from around the ‘Net! First, though, a quick favor: if you’ve been listening to my new podcast, could you please head over to iTunes and leave us a review? You can do so HERE. Thank you!

Now, on to this week’s recommended reading:

Does Norway Have the Answer to Excess in Youth Sports? – I found this article on sport participation in Norway fascinating. I think many other countries – America included – could learn a lot from this model.

8 Tips for Not Wasting Away During Summer Baseball – With summer baseball rapidly approaching, this is an important read for all the skinny teenagers who’ll be living out of hotels while at tournaments for weeks at a time.

Social Media For Your Gym: Pick a Lane and Stay in It – With a lot of business owners reading this site, Pete Dupuis’ writing is always invaluable. Check this one out for some direction on the social media front.

Top Tweet of the Week

The single-most important factor for long term athletic development is fun. More fun = better consistency and adherence = better outcomes. If they hate training at age 12, you can bet they’re going to be uninspired – or completely absent – by age 18.

— Eric Cressey (@EricCressey) May 3, 2019

Top Instagram Post of the Week

        View this post on Instagram                  

BIG NEWS: this winter, @cresseysportsperformance will be moving our Florida location a few miles south as part of an exciting public/private partnership with the city of Palm Beach Gardens. The new location will feature: 1⃣ a state-of-the-art, brand new 10,000 square-foot training facility 2⃣ covered pitching mounds and hitting cages 3⃣ two large turfed agility infields that will also serve as Miracle League fields for charitable initiatives 4⃣ a larger showcase stadium field The Burns Rd. athletic complex is home to many other baseball fields and associated amenities, and will soon become one of the best baseball destinations in the country. We’re tremendously honored to be part of the project and so appreciative of the support of our vision from so many motivated, visionary people at the @cityofpbgardens. These facility upgrades will enable up to expand our offerings to baseball players of all levels, as well as play an active role in the wellness initiatives in the PBG community while encouraging tourism in the area to benefit the city economically.

WATCH: Reverse Grip Bench Press 101 - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 08:22
A lot of people use this bench press due to shoulder issues and its carryover to competition lift — and Janis Finkelman's numbers support that claim.
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Take the Red Pill - Mon, 05/06/2019 - 08:18
Here's a red pill for you to swallow: The conjugate system is like an XL shirt that fits differently on different people. With a few modifications, that shirt can be made to fit just about anyone. Same goes for the program in this article.
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Bar Contact In The Clean: How To Keep The Bar Close

Because of the narrower grip, the bar in the clean will tend to contact the body on the thighs rather than in the crease of the hips as it does in the snatch. This makes keeping the bar close to the body during the final extension more difficult because the bar path is more easily disrupted with early contact by the thighs as they move forward during the scoop. Often this results in athletes rowing the bar up with the arms to try to make contact at the hips. While this can be successful in
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Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach: What are ACTUAL USERS saying about it? - Sun, 05/05/2019 - 23:01

Learn how others are growing their businesses, helping more people, and creating more freedom for themselves and their families.

The post Precision Nutrition’s ProCoach: What are ACTUAL USERS saying about it? appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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What’s that study REALLY say? How to decode research, according to science nerds. - Sun, 05/05/2019 - 23:01

Academic studies aren’t going to top any “best summer reads” lists: They can be complicated, confusing, and well, pretty boring. But learning to read scientific research can help you answer important client questions and concerns… and provide the best evidence-based advice. In this article, we’ll help you understand every part of a study, and give you a practical, step-by-step system to evaluate its quality, interpret the findings, and figure out what it really means to you and your clients.


Twenty-five years ago, the only people interested in studies were scientists and unapologetic, card-carrying nerds (like us).

But these days, everyone seems to care what the research says. 

Because of that, we’re inundated with sensational headlines and products touting impressive sounding, “science-backed” claims.

Naturally, your clients (and mother) want to know which ones have merit, and which ones don’t.

They may want your take on an unbelievable new diet trend that’s “based on a landmark study.”

Maybe they’re even questioning your advice:

  • “Aren’t eggs bad for you?”
  • “Won’t fruit make me fat?”
  • “Doesn’t microwaving destroy the nutrients?”

(No, no, and no.)

More importantly, they want to know why you, their health and fitness coach, are more believable than Dr. Oz, Goop, or that ripped social media star they follow (you know, the one with the little blue checkmark).

For health and fitness coaches, learning how to read scientific research can help make these conversations simpler and more well-informed.

The more you grow this skill set, the better you’ll be able to:

  • Identify false claims
  • Evaluate the merits of new research
  • Give evidence-based advice

But where do you even begin?

Right here, with this step-by-step guide to reading scientific studies. Use it to improve your ability to interpret a research paper, understand how it fits into the broader body of research, and see the worthwhile takeaways for your clients (and yourself).


Know what counts as research, and what doesn’t.

People throw around the phrase, “I just read a study” all the time. But often, they’ve only seen it summarized in a magazine or on a website.

If you’re not a scientist, it’s okay to consult good-quality secondary sources for nutrition and health information. (That’s why we create Precision Nutrition content.) Practically speaking, there’s no need to dig into statistical analyses when a client asks you about green vegetables.

But for certain topics, and especially for emerging research, sometimes you’ll need to go straight to the original source.

Use the chart below to filter accordingly.

Okay, so how do you find the actual research?

Thanks to the internet, it’s pretty simple.

Online media sources reporting on research will often give you a link to the original study.

If you don’t have the link, search databases PubMed and Google Scholar using the authors’ names, journal name, and/or the study title.

(Totally lost? Check out this helpful PubMed tutorial for a primer on finding research online.)

If you’re having trouble finding a study, try searching the first, second, and last study authors’ names together. They rarely all appear on more than a handful of studies, so you’re likely to locate what you’re looking for.

You’ll almost always be able to read the study’s abstract—a short summary of the research—for free. Check to see if the full text is available, as well. If not, you may need to pay for access to read the complete study.

Once you’ve got your hands on the research, it’s time to dig in.

Not all research is created equal.

Be skeptical, careful, and analytical.

Quality varies greatly among publishers, journals, and even the scientific studies themselves.

After all, is every novel a Hemingway? Is every news outlet 100 percent objective? Are all your coworkers infallible geniuses?

Of course not. When it comes to achieving excellence, research has the same challenges as every other industry. For example…

Journals tend to publish novel findings.

Which sounds more interesting to read? A study that confirms what we already know, or one that offers something new and different?

Academic journals are businesses, and part of how they sell subscriptions, maintain their cutting-edge reputations, and get cited by other publications—and Good Morning America!—is by putting out new, attention-grabbing research.

As a result, some studies published in even the most well-respected scientific journals are one-offs that don’t mean all that much when compared to the rest of the research on that topic. (That’s one of many reasons nutrition science is so confusing.)

Researchers need to get published.

In order to get funding—a job requirement for many academics—researchers need to have their results seen. But getting published isn’t always easy, especially if their study results aren’t all that exciting.

Enter: predatory journals, which allow people to pay to have their research published without being reviewed. That’s a problem because it means no one is double-checking their work.

To those unfamiliar, studies published in these journals can look just like studies published in reputable ones. We even reviewed a study from one as an example, and we’ll tell you how to spot them on your own in a bit.

In the meantime, you can also check out this list of potentially predatory journals as a cross-reference.

Results can differ based on study size and duration.

Generally, the larger the sample size—the more people of a certain population who are studied—the more reliable the results (however at some point this becomes a problem, too).

The reason: With more people, you get more data. This allows scientists to get closer to the ‘real’ average. So a study population of 1,200 is less likely to be impacted by outliers than a group of, say, 10.

It’s sort of like flipping a coin: If you do it 10 times, you might get “heads” seven or eight times. Or even 10 in a row. But if you flip it 1,200 times, it’s likely to average out to an even split between heads and tails, which is more accurate.

One caveat: Sample size only matters when you’re comparing similar types of studies. (As you’ll learn later, experimental research provides stronger evidence than observational, but observational studies are almost always larger.)

For similar reasons, it’s also worth noting the duration of the research. Was it a long-term study that followed a group of people for years, or a single one-hour test of exercise capacity using a new supplement?

Sure, that supplement might have made a difference in a one-hour time window, but did it make a difference in the long run?

Longer study durations allow us to test the outcomes that really matter, like fat loss and muscle gain, or whether heart attacks occurred. They also help us better understand the true impact of a treatment.

For example, if you examine a person’s liver enzymes after just 15 days of eating high fat, you might think they should head to the ER. By 30 days, however, their body has compensated, and the enzymes are at normal levels.

So more time means more context, and that makes the findings both more reliable and applicable for real life. But just like studying larger groups, longer studies require extensive resources that often aren’t available.

The bottom line: Small, short-term studies can add to the body of literature and provide insights for future study, but on their own, they’re very limited in what you can take away.

Biases can impact study results.

Scientists can be partial to seeing certain study outcomes. (And so can you, as a reader.)

Research coming out of universities—as opposed to corporations—tends to be less biased, though this isn’t always the case.

Perhaps a researcher worked with or received funding from a company that has a financial interest in their studies’ findings. This is completely acceptable, as long as the researcher acknowledges they have a conflict or potential bias.

But it can also lead to problems. For example, the scientist might feel pressured to conduct the study in a certain way. This isn’t exactly cheating, but it could influence the results.

More commonly, researchers may inadvertently—and sometimes purposefully—skew their study’s results so they appear more significant than they really are.

In both of these cases, you might not be getting the whole story when you look at a scientific paper.

That’s why it’s critical to examine each study in the context of the entire body of evidence. If it differs significantly from the other research on the topic, it’s important to ask why.

Your Ultimate Study Guide

Now you’re ready for the fun part: Reading and analyzing actual studies, using our step-by-step process. Make sure to bookmark this article so you can easily refer to it anytime you’re reading a paper.

Step 1: Decide how strong the evidence is.

To determine how much stock you should put in a study, you can use this handy pyramid called the “hierarchy of evidence.”

Here’s how it works: The higher up on the pyramid a research paper falls, the more trustworthy the information.

For example, you ideally want to first look for a meta-analysis or systematic review—see the top of the pyramid—that deals with your research question. Can’t find one? Then work your way down to randomized controlled trials, and so on.

Study designs that fall toward the bottom of the pyramid aren’t useless, but in order to see the big picture, it’s important to understand how they compare to more vetted forms of research.

Research reviews

These papers are considered very strong evidence because they review and/or analyze a selection of past studies on a given topic. There are two types: meta-analyses and systematic reviews.

In a meta-analysis, researchers use complex statistical methods to combine the findings of several studies. Pooling together studies increases the statistical power, offering a stronger conclusion than any single study. Meta-analyses can also identify patterns among study results, sources of disagreement, and other interesting relationships that a single study can’t provide.

In a systematic review, researchers review and discuss the available studies on a specific question or topic. Typically, they use precise and strict criteria for what’s included.

Both of these approaches look at multiple studies and draw a conclusion.

This is helpful because:

  • A meta-analysis or systematic review means that a team of researchers has closely scrutinized all studies included. Essentially, the work has already been done for you. Does each individual study make sense? Were the research methods sound? Does their statistical analysis line up? If not, the study will be thrown out.
  • Looking at a large group of studies together can help put outliers in context. If 25 studies found that consuming fish oil improved brain health, and two found the opposite, a meta-analysis or systematic review would help the reader avoid getting caught up in the two studies that seem to go against the larger body of evidence.

PubMed has made these easy to find: to the left of the search box, just click “customize” and you can search for only reviews and meta-analyses.

Your evidence-based shortcut: The position stand.

If you’re reading a research review and things aren’t adding up for you, or you’re not sure how to apply what you’ve learned to your real-life coaching practice, seek out a position stand on the topic.

Position stands are official statements made by a governing body on topics related to a particular field, like nutrition, exercise physiology, dietetics, or medicine.

They look at the entire body of research and provide practical guidelines that professionals can use with clients or patients.

Here’s an example: The 2017 International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand on diets and body composition.

Or, say you have a client who’s older and you’re wondering how to safely increase their training capacity (but don’t want to immerse yourself in a dark hole of research), simply look for the position stand on exercise and older adults.

To find the position stands in your field, consult the website of whatever governing body you belong to. For example, if you’re a personal trainer certified through ACSM, NASM, ACE, or NSCA, consult the respective website for each organization. They should feature position stands on a large variety of topics.

Randomized controlled trials

This is an experimental study design: A specific treatment is given to a group of participants, and the effects are recorded. In some cases, this type of study can prove that a treatment causes a certain effect.

In a randomized controlled trial, or RCT, one group of participants doesn’t get the treatment being tested, but both groups think they’re getting the treatment.

For instance, one half of the participants might take a drug, while the other half gets a placebo.

The groups are chosen randomly, and this helps to counteract the placebo effect—which occurs when someone experiences a benefit simply because they believe it’ll help.

If you’re reading a RCT paper, look for the words “double blind” or the abbreviation “DBRCT” (double blind randomized controlled trial). This is the gold standard of experimental research. It means neither the participants nor researchers know who’s taking the treatment and who’s taking the placebo. They’re both “blind”—so the results are less likely to be skewed.

Observational studies

In an observational study, researchers look at and analyze ongoing or past behavior or information, then draw conclusions about what it could mean.

Observational research shows correlations, which means you can’t take an observational study and say it “proves” anything. But even so, when folks hear about these findings on the popular morning shows, that part’s often missed, which is why you might end up with confused clients.

So what’re these types of studies good for? They can help us make educated guesses about best practices.

Again, one study doesn’t tell us a lot. But if multiple observational studies show similar findings, and there are biological mechanisms that can reasonably explain them, you can be more confident they’ve uncovered a pattern. Like that eating plant foods is probably healthful—or that smoking probably isn’t.

Scientists can also use these studies to generate hypotheses to test in experimental studies.

There are three main types of observational studies:

  • Cohort studies follow a group of people over a certain period of time. In fact, these studies can track people for years or even decades. Usually, the scientists are looking for a specific factor that might affect a given outcome. For example, researchers start with a group of people who don’t have diabetes, then watch to see which people develop the disease. Then they’ll try to connect the dots, and determine which factors the newly-diagnosed people have in common.
  • Case control studies compare the histories of two sets of people that are different in some way. For example, the researchers might look at two groups who lost 30 pounds: 1) those who successfully maintained their weight loss over time; 2) those who didn’t. This type of study would suggest a reason why that happened and then analyze data from the participants to see if might be true.
  • Cross sectional studies use a specific population—say, people with high blood pressure—and look for additional factors they might have in common with each other. This could be medications, lifestyle choices, or other conditions.
Case studies and reports

These are basically stories that are interesting or unusual in some way. For examples, this study reviewed the case of a patient who saw his blood cholesterol levels worsen significantly after adding 1-2 cups of Bulletproof Coffee to his daily diet.

Case studies and reports might provide detail and insight that would be hard to share in a more formal study design, but they’re not considered the most convincing evidence. Instead, they can be used to make more informed decisions and provide ideas about where to go next.

Animal and laboratory studies

These are studies done on non-human subjects—for instance, on pigs, rats, or mice, or on cells in Petri dishes—and can fall anywhere within the hierarchy.

Why are we mentioning them? Mainly, because it’s important to be careful with how much stock you put in the results. While it’s true that much of what we know about human physiology—from thermal regulation to kidney function—is thanks to animal and lab studies, people aren’t mice, or fruit flies, or even our closest relatives, primates.

So animal and cell studies can suggest things about humans, but aren’t always directly applicable.

The main questions you’ll want to answer here are: What type of animal was used? Were the animals used a good model for a human?

For example, pigs are much better models for research on cardiovascular disease and diets compared to mice, because of the size of their coronary arteries and their omnivorous diets. Mice are used for genetic studies, as they’re easier to alter genetically and have shorter reproduction cycles.

Also, context really matters. If an ingredient is shown to cause cancer in an animal study, how much was used, and what’s the human equivalent?

Or, if a chemical is shown to increase protein synthesis in cells grown in a dish, then for how long? Days, hours, minutes? To what degree, and how would that compare to a human eating an ounce of chicken? What other processes might this chemical impact?

Animal and lab studies usually don’t provide solutions and practical takeaways. Instead, they’re an early step in building a case to do experimental research.

The upshot: You need to be careful not to place more importance on these findings than they deserve. And, as always, look at how these small studies fit into the broader picture of what we already know about the topic.

Bonus: Qualitative and mixed-method studies

We haven’t mentioned one research approach that cuts across many study designs: qualitative research, as opposed to quantitative (numeric) research.

Qualitative studies focus on the more intangible elements of what was found, such as what people thought, said, or experienced. They tell us about the human side of things.

So, a qualitative study looking at how people respond to a new fitness tracker might ask them how they feel about it, and gather their answers into themes such as “ease of use” or “likes knowing how many steps taken.”

Qualitative studies are often helpful for exploring ideas and questions that quantitative data raises.

For example, quantitative data might tell us that a certain percentage of people don’t make important health changes even after a serious medical diagnosis.

Qualitative research might find out why, by interviewing people who didn’t make those changes, and seeing if there were consistent themes, such as: “I didn’t get enough info from my doctor” or “I didn’t get support or coaching.”

When a study combines quantitative data with qualitative research, it’s known as a “mixed-methods” study.

Your takeaway: Follow the hierarchy of evidence.

There’s a big difference between a double blind randomized controlled human trial on the efficacy of a weight loss supplement (conducted by an independent lab) and an animal study on that same supplement.

There’s an even bigger difference between a systematic review of studies on whether red meat causes cancer and a case report on the same topic.

When you’re looking at research, keep results in perspective by taking note of how strong the evidence can even be, based on the pyramid above.

Step 2: Read the study critically.

Just because a study was published doesn’t mean it’s flawless. So while you might feel a bit out of your depth when reading a scientific paper, it’s important to remember that the paper’s job is to convince you of its evidence.

And your job when you’re reading a study is to ask the right questions.

Here’s exactly what to look for, section by section.


High quality studies are published in academic journals, which have names like Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, not TightBodz Quarterly.

To see if the study you’re reading is published in a reputable journal:

  • Check the impact factor. While not a perfect system, using a database like Scientific Journal Rankings to look for a journal’s “impact factor” (identified as “SJR” by Scientific Journal Rankings) can provide an important clue about a journal’s reputation. If the impact factor is greater than one, it’s likely to be legit.
  • Check if the journal is peer-reviewed. Peer-reviewed studies are read critically by other researchers before being published, lending them a higher level of credibility. Most journals state whether they require peer review in their submission requirements, which can generally be found by Googling the name of the journal and the words “submission guidelines.” If a journal doesn’t require peer review, it’s a red flag.
  • See how long the publisher has been around. Most reputable academic journals are published by companies that have been in business since at least 2012. Publishers that have popped up since then are more likely to be predatory.

These are the people who conducted the research, and finding out more about their backgrounds can tell you a lot about how credible a study might be.

To learn more about the authors:

  • Look them up. They should be experts in the field the study deals with. That means they’ve contributed research reviews and possibly textbook chapters on this topic. Even if the study is led by a newer researcher in the field, you should be able to find information about their contributions, credentials, and areas of expertise on their university or lab website.
  • Check out their affiliations. Just like you want to pay attention to any stated conflicts of interest, it’s smart to be aware if any of the authors make money from companies that have an interest in the study’s findings.

Note: It doesn’t automatically mean a study is bogus if one (or more) of the authors make money from a company in a related industry, but it’s worth noting, especially if there seem to be other problems with the study itself.


This is a high-level summary of the research, including the study’s purpose, significant results, and the authors’ conclusions.

To get the most from the abstract, you want to:

  • Figure out the big question. What were the researchers trying to find out with this study?
  • Decide if the study is relevant to you. Move on to the later parts of the study only if you find the main question interesting and valuable. Otherwise, there’s no reason to spend time reading it.
  • Dig deeper. The abstract doesn’t provide context, so in order to understand what was discovered in a study, you need to keep reading.

This section provides an overview of what’s already known about a topic and a rationale for why this study needed to be done.

When you read the introduction:

  • Familiarize yourself with the subject. Most introductions list previous studies and reviews on the study topic. If the references say things that surprise you or don’t seem to line up with what you already know about the body of evidence, get up to speed before moving on. You can do that by either reading the specific studies that are referenced, or reading a comprehensive (and recent) review on the topic.
  • Look for gaps. Some studies cherry-pick introduction references based on what supports their ideas, so doing research of your own can be revealing.

You’ll find demographic and study design information in this section.

All studies are supposed to be reproducible. In other words, another researcher following the same protocols would likely get the same results. So this section provides all the details on how you could replicate a study.

In the methodology section, you’ll want to:

  • Learn about the participants. Knowing who was studied can tell you a bit about how much (or how little) you can apply the study results to you (or your clients). Women may differ from men; older subjects may differ from younger ones; groups may differ by ethnicity, medical conditions may affect the results, and so on.
  • Take note of the sample size. Now is also a good time to look at how many participants the study included, as that can be an early indicator of how seriously you can take the results, depending on the type of study.
  • Don’t get bogged down in the details. Unless you work in the field, it’s unlikely that you’ll find value in getting into the nitty-gritty of how the study was performed.

Read this section to find out if the intervention made things better, worse, or… the same.

When reading this section:

  • Skim it. The results section tends to be dense. Reading the headline of each paragraph can give you a good overview of what happened.
  • Check out the figures. To get the big picture of what the study found, seek to understand what’s being shown in the graphs, charts, and figures in this section.

This is an interpretation of what the results might mean. Key point: It includes the authors’ opinions.

As you read the discussion:

  • Note any qualifiers. This section is likely to be filled with “maybe,” “suggests,” “supports,” “unclear,” and “more studies need to be done.” That means you can’t cite ideas in this section as fact, even if the authors clearly prefer one interpretation of the results over another. (That said, be careful not to dismiss the interpretation offhand, particularly if the author has been doing this specific research for years or decades.)
  • Acknowledge the limitations. The discussion also includes information about the limits of how the research can be applied. Diving deep into this section is a great opportunity for you to better understand the weaknesses of the study and why it might not be widely applicable (or applicable to you and/or your clients.)

Here, the authors sum up what their research means, and how it applies to the real world.

To get the most from this section:

  • Consider reading the conclusions first. Yes—before the intro, methodology, results, or anything else. This helps keep the results of the study in perspective. After all, you don’t want to read more into the outcome of the study than the people who actually did the research, right? Starting with the conclusions can help you avoid getting over-excited about a study’s results—or more convinced of their importance—than the people who conducted it.
  • Make sure the data support the conclusions. Sometimes, authors make inappropriate conclusions or overgeneralize results, like when a scientist studying fruit flies applies the results to humans, or when researchers suggest that observational study results “prove” something to be true (which as you know from the hierarchy of evidence, isn’t possible). Look for conclusions that don’t seem to add up.
Let’s take a deeper look: Statistical significance

Before researchers start a study, they have a hypothesis that they want to test. Then, they collect and analyze data and draw conclusions.

The concept of statistical significance comes in during the analysis phase of a study.

In academic research, statistical significance, or the likelihood that the study results were generated by chance, is measured by a p-value that can range from 0 to 1 (0 percent chance to 100 percent chance).

The “p” in p-value is probability.

P-values are usually found in the results section.

Put simply, the closer the p-value is to 0, the more likely it is that the results of a study were caused by the treatment or intervention, rather than random fluke.

For example:

Let’s say researchers are testing fat loss supplement X.

Their hypothesis is that taking supplement X results in greater fat loss than not taking it.

The study participants are randomly divided into two groups:

  • One group takes supplement X.
  • One group takes a placebo.

At the end of the study, the group that took supplement X, on average, lost more fat. So it would seem that the researchers’ hypothesis is valid.

But there’s a catch: Some people with supplement X lost less weight than those who took the placebo. So does supplement X help with fat loss or not?

This is where statistics and p-values come in. If you look at all the participants and how much fat they lost, you can figure out if it’s likely due to the supplement or just the randomness of the universe.

The most common threshold is a p-value under 0.05 (5 percent), which is considered statistically significant. Numbers over that threshold are not.

This threshold is arbitrary, and some types of analysis have a much lower threshold, such as genome-wide association studies that need a p-value of less than 0.00000001 to be statistically significant.

So if the researchers studying supplement X find that their p-value is 0.04, that means: 1) There’s a very small chance (4 percent) that supplement X has no effect on fat loss, and 2) there’s a 96 percent chance of getting the same results (or greater) if you replicated the study.

A couple of important things to note about p-values:

  • The smaller the p-value does NOT mean the bigger the impact of supplement X. It just means the effect is consistent and likely ‘real.’
  • The p-value doesn’t test for how well a study is designed. It just looks at how likely the results are due to chance.

Why are we explaining this in such detail?

Because if you see a study that cites a p-value of higher than 0.05, the results aren’t statistically significant.

That means either 1) the treatment had no effect, or 2) if the study were repeated, the results would be different.

So in the case of supplement X, if the p-value were higher than 0.05, you couldn’t say that supplement X helped with fat loss. This is true even if you can see that, on average, the group taking supplement X lost 10 pounds of fat. (You can learn more here.)

The takeaway: Ask the right questions.

We’re not saying you should read a study critically because researchers are trying to trick you.

But each section of a study can tell you something important about how valid the results are, and how seriously you should take the findings.

If you read a study that concludes green tea speeds up your metabolism, and:

  • the researchers have never studied green tea or metabolism before;
  • the researchers are on the board of a green tea manufacturer;
  • the introduction fails to cite recent meta-analyses and / or reviews on the topic that go against the study’s results;
  • and the study was performed on mice…

… then you should do some further research before telling people that drinking green tea will spike their metabolism and accelerate fat loss.

This isn’t to say green tea can’t be beneficial for someone trying to lose weight. After all, it’s a generally healthful drink that doesn’t have calories. It’s just a matter of keeping the research-proven benefits in perspective. Be careful not to overblow the perks based on a single study (or even a few suspect ones).

Step 3: Consider your own perspective.

So you’ve read the study and have a solid idea of how convincing it really is.

But beware:

We tend to seek out information we agree with.

Yep, we’re more likely to click on (or go searching for) a study if we think it will align with what we already believe.

This is known as confirmation bias.

And if a study goes against what we believe, well, we might just find ourselves feeling kind of ticked off.

You will bring some biases to the table when you read and interpret a study. All of us do.

But the truth is, not everyone should be drawing conclusions from scientific studies on their own, especially if they’re not an expert in the field. Because again, we’re all a little bit biased.

Once you’ve read a study, use this chart to determine how you should approach interpreting the results.

The takeaway: Be aware of your own point of view.

Rather than pretending you’re “objective” and “logical,” recognize that human brains are inherently biased.

A warning sign of this built-in bias: if you’re feeling especially annoyed or triumphant after reading a study.

Remember, science isn’t about being right or wrong; it’s about getting closer to the truth.

Step 4: Put the conclusions in context.

One single study on its own doesn’t prove anything. Especially if it flies in the face of what we knew before.

(Rarely, by the way, will a study prove anything. Rather, it will add to a pile of probability about something, such as a relationship between Factor X and Outcome Y.)

Look at new research as a very small piece of a very large puzzle, not as stand-alone gospel.

That’s why we emphasize position stands, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews. To some degree, these do the job of providing context for you.

If you read an individual study, you’ll have to do that work on your own.

For each scientific paper you read, consider how it lines up with the rest of the research on a given topic.

The takeaway: Go beyond the single study.

Let’s say a study comes out that says creatine doesn’t help improve power output. The study is high quality, and seems well done.

These results are pretty strange, because most of the research on creatine over the past few decades shows that it does help people boost their athletic performance and power output.

So do you stop taking creatine, one of the most well-researched supplements out there, if your goal is to increase strength and power?

Well, it would be pretty silly to disregard the past 25 years of studies on creatine supplementation just because of one study.

Instead, it probably makes more sense to take this study and set it aside—at least until more high-quality studies replicate a similar result. If that happens, then we might take another look at it.

Getting the most out of scientific research, and potentially applying it to our lives, is more about the sum total than the individual parts.

Science definitely isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got.

It’s awesome to be inspired by science to experiment with your nutrition, fitness, and overall health routines or to recommend science-based changes to your clients.

But before making any big changes, be sure it’s because it makes sense for you (or your client) personally, not just because it’s the Next Big Thing.

Take notice of how the changes you make affect your body and mind, and when something isn’t working for you (or your client), go with your gut.

Science is an invaluable tool in nutrition coaching, but we’re still learning and building on knowledge as we go along. And sometimes really smart people get it wrong.

Take what you learn from research alone with a grain of salt.

And if you consider yourself an evidence-based coach (or a person who wants to use evidence-based methods to get healthier), remember that personal experiences and preferences matter, too.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

Learning how to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy eating and lifestyle changes—in a way that’s evidence-based and personalized for each individual’s lifestyle and preferences—is both an art and a science.

If you’d like to learn more about both, consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to really understand how food influences a person’s health and fitness. Plus the ability to turn that knowledge into a thriving coaching practice.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients and patients, the Level 1 curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutrition and the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1 percent of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 33% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Pay less than everyone else. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 33% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in a matter of hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

jQuery(document).ready(function(){ jQuery("#references_link").click(function(){ jQuery("#references_holder").show(); jQuery("#references_link").parent().hide(); }); }); References

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Head, M. L., Holman, L., Lanfear, R., Kahn, A. T., & Jennions, M. D. (2015). The extent and consequences of p-hacking in science. PLoS Biology, 13(3), e1002106.

Ehrlinger, J., Johnson, K., Banner, M., Dunning, D., & Kruger, J. (2008). Why the Unskilled Are Unaware: Further Explorations of (Absent) Self-Insight Among the Incompetent. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 105(1), 98–121.

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The post What’s that study REALLY say? How to decode research, according to science nerds. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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