Breaking Down Bro Science

Breaking Down Bro Science

"Do you even lift, bro?" This is the mating call of the Bro Scientist: the guy at the gym who measures his worth by the amount of weight he can lift.

Bro Science Selfie Cartoon

What is Bro Science?

Bro Science is the misinformation you hear from certain buff guys at the gym, who interchange scientific fact with anecdotal claims and misconceptions. There's nothing objectively wrong with gaining validation from physical strength. But the pseudo-scientific dogma of Bro Science is time wasting and destructive.

Bro Science is often based on nuggets of truth, then nurtured into giant pats of bull crap. So here's our discovery AI, Felix.exe, to sort the truth from the trash, with the questionable input of seasoned Bro Scientist, Brogan McThump.

Curls for The Girls Cartoon Tough Guys in Bar Cartoon Tough Guy Hitting on Woman Cartoon Tough Guy Hitting on Woman Cartoon Bro Science Formula Muscle Gains vs Frequency of Sex

Why Do People Exercise?

Why Do People Exercise?

The best reason to exercise arises from the is direct relationship between exercising and feeling good. This almost entirely comes from the release of dopamine in the brain.

Exercise Flow Chart

But dopamine is a short term gain. There are some long term benefits to exercise too:

1. Better Physical Health. Every organ in your body relies on blood flow. Every time you exercise, it's like giving a parched garden a long drink from the watering can of life.

2. Better Mental Health. Hormones and other mood chemicals are balanced and regulated by exercise, resulting in a happier, more stable outlook on life.

3. Better Physical Performance. Exertion challenges your body to adapt so it can perform better in future. Strength, power, speed, endurance, agility, and flexibility are pretty useful features, and may even contribute to your survival someday.

4. Longer Lifespan. Men and women who exercise regularly live longer and are more mentally and physically capable later in life.

5. Better Cognitive Performance. Increased blood flow during exercise also reaches the brain. Who knew?

6. Better Sex Life. Humans almost always become more attractive when they exercise, and attractive humans have the opportunity to mate more often.

What's The Best Kind of Exercise?

What's The Best Kind of Exercise?

There are many good exercises; the best ones depend on your fitness goals. Swimming is perhaps one of the best all-round exercises as it provides a full body workout and doesn't stress the joints.

Bro Science dictates that swimming isn't curls, therefore it's a waste of time. But if your goal is to look and feel better, then before you discount swimming, search Google for professional swimming athletes.

Animated stick man performing different types of exercise: running, yoga, weights, gymnastics, core strength, swimming, sparring, and martial arts

There are many great ways to exercise.

If your goal is to gain muscle, then a hypertrophic (muscle building) cycle, coupled with muscular endurance, is the best type of exercise.

Here's an example of an intensive hypertrophic and muscular endurance exercise program based on science. This routine is designed to build and define muscle as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A Gym Routine to Build Muscle Fast

After warming up, figure your one repetition max (1RM). This is the maximum weight you can do just once without form failure. All your hypertrophic exercises should be lifting 65-85% of your 1RM.

Hypertrophy occurs in the 10-15 repetition range, which means an exercise should be performed 10-15 times in a row before having a break. You should want to stop at around your 10th rep, otherwise the weight is probably too light.

Aim to exercise at least four days per week, and always give your muscles rest days to repair.

Day 1: Chest and Shoulder Exercises

Stick man animation performing a muscle building routine: chest and shoulder exercises

Day 1 muscle building routine: chest and shoulder exercises

Hypertrophy. 5 sets of 10-15 reps of 65-85% 1RM. Bench press, shoulder press, weighted dips.

Endurance. 100 rapid push-ups. Take as many breaks as you want, but don't get up. Stay on the floor until your 100 push-ups are complete.

Day 2: Leg Exercises

Stick man animation performing a muscle building routine: leg exercises

Day 2 muscle building routine: leg exercises

Hypertrophy. 4 sets of 10-15 reps of 65-85% 1RM. Squats, leg presses, calf raises, hamstring curls.

Endurance. 100 rapid bodyweight squats.

Day 3: Back Exercises

Stick man animation performing a muscle building routine: back exercises

Day 3 muscle building routine: back exercises

Hypertrophy. 5 sets of 10-15 reps of 65-85% 1RM. Pull-ups, dead lifts, rows.

Endurance. Extremely slow motion 50% 1RM rows for 10 minutes, taking as few breaks as possible. All time under tension counts towards the ten minutes.

Day 4: Arm Exercises

Stick man animation performing a muscle building routine: arm exercises

Day 4 muscle building routine: arm exercises

Hypertrophy. 4 sets of 10-15 reps of 65-85% 1RM. Standing barbell curls, tricep pulldowns, single arm dumbbell curls, tricep kickbacks.

Endurance. Dropsets of curls and tricep pulldowns, starting at 80% 1RM until failure. Reduce weight gradually and working to failure each time.

Consider using a personal trainer to show you these exercises in slightly higher fidelity than stickman demonstrations. Also build in plenty of core and compound exercises so you're not completely useless in practice.

Diet and Nutrition

Roids Cartoon

Here's what NOT to do with your diet and supplement regime while exercising:

1. Don't Try to Gain Muscle and Lose Fat Simultaneously.

This is known as spinning your wheels, a bro-fitting analogy for trying to accelerate too fast in your souped-up Honda Integra. To get shredded, first gain muscle (the bulk phase) while eating excess calories. Then define the muscle with muscular endurance training. Finally, lose the fat (the cutting phase) with a short term calorie deficit.

2. Don't Eat Junk Food.

Your body works better when it receives nourishing food. You'll also feel better and be able to push your training harder. As an added bonus, vegetables and roughage help ward off that pesky bowel cancer.

3. Don't Go Protein Crazy.

Protein is good for gaining muscle, but there's only so much your body can use in one go. One study found that eating 90g of protein in a post-exercise meal delivered no greater results eating 30g of protein. Five meals with 30g of protein per day is plenty to make gains; consume less if you have a small build.

4. Don't Take Steroids.

Anabolic steroids do increase performance, recovery time, and hypertrophy. But they also wreck your body when you're older. If you don't mind crippling daily headaches ten years from now, roid up, hombre.

5. Don't Let Yourself Get Hungry.

By the time you feel hungry, your muscles are already in atrophy. Your body is already breaking down excess muscle to feed itself, taking away all your hard work.

Final Thoughts

Bro Science isn't totally flawed. It's based on the premise that exercise is really good for you, even if the Bro Scientist gets tunnel vision as to how and why. So get to the gym, an exercise class, swimming pool, or whatever appeals to you, and ignore the Brogan McThumps while you're there.

Pete Casale Bio

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pete Casale is a tech-hound and an illustrator who got roped into blogging for Science Me. He's also the designer on the RTS indie game, Battlecruisers.