Fortunately, we live in a society and age where literally any piece of information you're looking for, chances are someone has covered the topic and provided either their opinion, the science or both.
Over the past year or so, especially after attending grad school, I realized just how little I really know. Not just in the field of exercise science but really, just how the world and it's many parts, actually work. There is so much to learn and so little that we already, truly understand as individuals and as a species.
Even with a Master's degree in the field of exercise science, I'm often humbled by new information that I read or hear, especially because many times I just never really considered it.
This sentiment of being open to opposing ideas is one that is learned. The ability to think for a second that the information you "understand" may be incorrect or that there may be some additional piece to the puzzle that changes your outlook on a given theory, idea or opinion, is one that comes with time and in my opinion, knowledge.
That's how we get to the whole point of this brief blog post.
What was once considered to be a field filled with broscience and bullshit has since shifted towards one with less broscience and an increasing number of "scientific elitists" which chastise others for combining common knowledge with experience and context.
What I'm Getting At
In light of brevity, let me get to the point of this rant.
Earlier while watching a youtube video (which can be found here) someone in the comments section went on about providing studies and empirical evidence that a dumbbell fly is in fact an isolation movement. Said person demanded to see studies and that until these studies were provided, the information in this video would be considered "broscience."
In fact, here's a picture of said comment:
The problem with this comment extends much further than the fact that technically, he's wrong. Why? Because realistically, a fly movement would be an isolation, single joint exercise, given that the elbow remains stationary. Surely, other muscles are involved such as the bicep, forearm musculature and deltoids, since they act as stabilizers and secondary movers but overall, it's an isolation movement for the pectoral musculature.
Realistically, any person who has done a DB fly, does so under the pretense that you'll be affecting the pec muscles, with that being the primary purpose of using the movement.
But the issue, in my opinion is much greater than the fact that this person doesn't really know what they are talking about (even though they want to seem like they do, an increasingly prevalent issue in this field). The problem is that they are taking the "evidence argument" too far.
If you're making sincere claims like meat causes cancer and that insulin is the reason behind obesity, then maybe you need direct evidence since extrapolation can get a bit hairy at times. Essentially, the magnitude of your claim drives the required amount of evidence.
The Problem With Demanding Evidence
Let me be clear. My practice and beliefs are evidence based. Of course I have my own opinions about subjects but those beliefs are almost always at some level, based on scientific evidence.
For example, I'm of the belief that you can build muscle using light AND heavy weight. It's just that both need to stress the muscle to an extent to drive an adaptation. Further, the amount of weight you use will probably drive the specific adaptation (heavier will bring about greater strength and lighter will bring about fatigue resistance and strength endurance).
In the above example, I can provide evidence. In fact, here's an excellent study revealing just this information.
But for a moment, lets flex our brain a bit.
Lets say for example, that the above study did not specifically determine that they weight you use will determine the primary adaptation (endurance or strength). Based on the information that would have been provided and also using context, we could probably assume that they weight you use plays a role in the adaptation that occurs. I mean, is it really surprising that training with heavy weight would produce an adaptation to help you lift more heavy weight?
Despite the fact that in the above scenario, we don't have exact evidence (we do in reality, click the link above), it's safe to extrapolate based on the evidence provided. That's not to say that if contradicting evidence was provided that our idea wouldn't change. It's just the fact that we can't always wait for "evidence," to progress the field forward.
In fact, extrapolation like this is exactly what progresses science ahead. In the example above, if Schoenfeld and his team never revealed that the weight you use stimulates a certain adaptation, then it's likely a future study on the subject would be carried out.
This isn't any different from assuming that a DB chest fly would be considered an isolation movement. Based on context and actual biomechanics, a DB chest fly would typically be considered an isolation movement.
Evidence Matters, But Context Does Too
So really, my argument is not to avoid evidence, but rather, embrace it and extrapolate in smart ways. It's okay to think differently than other people do, using the information that is available.
If you're making sincere claims like meat causes cancer and that insulin is the reason behind obesity, then maybe you need direct evidence since extrapolation can get a bit hairy at times. Essentially, the magnitude of your claim drives the required amount of evidence. With relation to the above comment, we probably don't need 5 unbiased studies to determine that a DB fly would be considered an isolation movement.
Realistically, science would never progress if we needed to wait for concrete, empirical evidence. It's okay to extrapolate, but you need to be willing to pivot your stance if the eventual evidence demands it.
Acting like an elitist for ridiculous reasons doesn't help anyone and surely doesn't progress the field. Use your head, extrapolate from current evidence in smart ways and follow new evidence when it's presented. Think for yourself and don't be afraid to formulate your own opinions, even if others in your field overwhelmingly have a different opinion.