How Much Should Science Influence Our Training?

Pyramid of Scientific Evidence

Pyramid of Scientific Evidence

Should we base our training on scientific evidence? Is the best training program one that’s taken straight from a study? In my opinion at this point in the history of science based strength and conditioning we don’t have enough studies to form a consensus on optimal program design. It’s getting better, for sure. More and more studies are coming out with trained individuals. Recent studies have begun to illuminate the importance of overall training volume for strength and hypertrophy. But we’re still in the early stages of scientific training evidence.

It’s important to remember the need for consensus. One study doesn’t prove anything. Fifteen studies which all come to a similar conclusion and now you can be pretty sure their conclusion is relevant. That’s the issue with replying to a thread with a link to a pubMed article on a study of fifteen individuals. It doesn’t tell you much. However, walk up the pyramid, and posting a systematic review is going to be a much stronger rebuttal.

The other important detail is that presenting expert opinion is not an appeal to authority. Saying that opinion is correct BECAUSE it was from an expert is the logical fallacy. Because we don’t have a lot of relevant scientific evidence in the Strength and Conditioning field expert opinion is the best source of evidence we have and that’s okay.

So the next time someone on reddit asks for a scientific source or a study remind them of the current state of strength and conditioning science and show them the evidence pyramid. But they’ll probably just ignore you anyway.

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