"Do you even lift, bro?" This is the mating call of the BroScientist: the guy at the gym who measures his self-worth by the amount of weight he can lift.
While there's nothing objectively wrong with gaining validation from physical strength, the dogma of BroScience can be time wasting and destructive.
Granted, BroScience contains partial truths, but also golden nuggets of bull crap. So here's our discovery AI, Felix.exe, to sort the truth from the trash, with the questionable input of seasoned BroScientist, Brogan McThump.
Why Do People Exercise?
Actually, the most popular reason is underpinned by the fact that there is direct relationship between exercising and feeling good. This almost entirely stems from the release of dopamine.
There are plenty more reasons why people exercise:
- Better physical health. Every organ in your body relies on blood flow, so every time you exercise, it's like giving a parched garden a long drink from the watering can of life.
- Better mental health. Hormones and other mood-affecting chemicals are balanced and regulated by exercise, resulting in a happier, more stable mood.
- Better physical performance. Exerting your body causes it to adapt, so it can perform better at the same task in future. Strength, power, speed, endurance, agility and flexibility are fun to have, and may even contribute to your survival someday.
- Live longer. Ample evidence shows that men and women who exercise live longer and are more mentally and physically capable later in life.
- Better cognitive performance. Your brain benefits from the increased blood flow experienced during exercise.
- Better sex life. Humans almost always become more attractive with exercise. Humans enjoy mating, and attractive humans tend to mate more often.
What's The Best Kind of Exercise?
There are of course plenty of good exercises, and the best ones depend on your goals.
Swimming is perhaps one of the best all-round exercises; it has adjustable intensity and is very low-impact on joints.
BroScience dictates that swimming isn't curls, therefore it's a waste of time.
But if your goal is to look better, then before you discount swimming, do a Google search for professional swimming athletes. (Unless you're afraid it might turn you gay, which according to Brogan is a real and present threat to all men at all times.)
If your goal is to gain muscle, then a hypertrophic (muscle building) cycle, coupled with muscular endurance exercise, is shown to be the most effective.
How might we do this?
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 is 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 be feeling like giving up at around your 10th rep, otherwise the weight is probably too light.
Aim to complete at least four days' exercise in each week, and give your body rest days to repair itself.
Day 1: Chest and Shoulders
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: Legs
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
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: Arms
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.
Note: Consider using a personal trainer to show you these exercises in slightly higher fidelity than stickman demonstrations.
Also consider doing plenty of core and compound exercises so that you're not completely useless in practice.
What About Diet and Nutrition?
Here's what NOT to do with your diet and supplement regime while exercising.
- Don't try to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. 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: eating excess calories). Then define the muscle, with muscular endurance training. Then lose the fat (the cutting phase: eat a calorie deficit).
- Don't eat garbage when gaining. Your body works better when it receives nourishing foods. You'll also feel better and you'll be able to push your training harder. As an added bonus, vegetables and roughage help ward off that pesky bowel cancer.
- Don't go protein crazy. Protein is good for gaining muscle, but there's only so much your body can use in a day. In one study, people consuming 90g of protein in a post-exercise meal showed no greater results than people consuming 30g. Five meals with 30g of protein per day is plenty to make gains—even less if you have a small build.
- Don't take steroids. It's true that anabolic steroids increase performance, recovery time and hypertrophy. But they also wreck your body when you're older. If you don't mind daily crippling headaches ten years from now, roid up, hombre.
- Don't get hungry. By the time you're feeling hungry, your muscles are already in atrophy. Your body is breaking down excess muscle to feed itself, reducing the effects of all your hard work.