Skip to main content

Grill the Guru

By May 25, 2012January 10th, 2014Grill the Guru

As many of my readers know, I spend time and effort publishing journal articles and serving as a peer-reviewer. The journal publishing process has built-in checks and balances systems to help spread good science. Sure it’s not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing (which is the current state of the online industry). Here are some things that the online industry could learn from the journal publication process:

  1. No plagiarism tolerable you give credit where credit is due
  2. Lit review you need to understand what’s known and have a grip on prior research before conducting your study
  3. References you need to back up your claims with research
  4. Cautious claims you make cautious claims as you don’t want to go too far out on a limb and look like an idiot down the road
  5. Present both sides of an argument and acknowledge alternative theories you present the science and then lay down your case
  6. Form a question you need to know and understand what it is you’d like to figure out
  7. Determine methods you need to figure out the best methods to attempt to answer the question
  8. Practical applications, conclusions now you take your results and try to make sense of them, remembering to be fair and cautious
  9. Limitations a good researcher is always aware and mindful of the limitations of what’s currently known and of each individual study
  10. Peer-reviewed three experts will scrutinize your paper prior to publication, and if you can’t please them all it won’t make it
  11. Ability to be challenged other researchers are allowed to comment on your article or duplicate your study to see if it yields the same results
  12. Professional courtesy there is no name calling, and professionals give each other the benefit of the doubt

That said, I love the creativity that blog-writers display, and the freedom they’re afforded allows for maximum innovation. So the journal process and the online process work side-by-side, allowing us to figure out best practices and maximize our efficacy as coaches, trainers, lifters, and athletes. However, some online gurus take things too far (click HERE to figure out how gurus operate). They do this because there is no online checks-and-balances system…until now.

I’m taking it upon myself to clean up the online strength & conditioning world, one guru at a time. I am a scientist at heart, and I know good and bad science when I see it. I’m putting this out there right now; if you’re an internet fitness expert and you’re a bully, if you promote pseudoscience, if your best ammo is logical fallacies, if you’re a jealous hater, if you’re an arrogant and cocky jerk, if you’re too much of a coward to name the person you’re talking about, if you simply make stuff up, if you talk about something with which you have no experience or expertise, if you cherry-pick research or data, if you can’t admit when you’re wrong, or if you simply make way too bold of statements based on what’s currently known, I’m coming after you.

If you want to avoid my scrutiny, just be humble, be cautious with your conclusions (say things like, “I feel,” “I think,” “It is my belief,” etc.), don’t act like you’re superior to all the hardworking trainers out there, stick to what you know, gain experience with something before drawing a conclusion, focus on science, present both sides of an argument, and in general don’t alienate other trainers and try to brainwash your followers. Hopefully this will make a difference and keep gurus more grounded and honest, but in the meantime, I’m goin’ hunting!

On a positive note, these posts will serve four purposes:

1. They might make gurus think twice about what they say

2. They’ll teach my readers to think critically and sift through the b.s.

3. They might help cult followers wake up and smell the coffee

4. Critical analysis and discussion can only lead to more knowledge and advancements in sports science

Just in case there are any folks who might think that I’m trying to show off in these posts or am just trying to gain popularity, this isn’t the case. I don’t think these posts will raise my popularity. People don’t like conflict and many will be turned off. This isn’t so much about popularity as it is standing up to bullies and promoting critical thinking and good science.

Tomorrow I grill my first guru.


  • Daniel says:

    More real talk from BC.

  • Andy says:

    There’s definitely a lot of utility in non-scientific writing as well, but in the absence of any kind of review process (and in the service of making money) there are certainly people out there taking things way too far. I loved your “How to be a fitness guru” post and looking forward to the new series.

  • Krista says:

    Great idea. This is going to be awesome.

  • Echo says:

    Why am I both giddy with excitment at the thought of watching Bret-in-a-mullet verbally science-thrash some sh!t talker, but also kinda nervous that he calls out some shmuck that I once read and agreed with? I’ll have to read through my fingers as I cover my face in shame!

  • Jason Sweas says:

    I’m really looking forward to this. I’m sure you will be able to find a lot of people to grill. Where does the list begin? Any previews of your victims?

  • Greg lehman says:

    Sounds interesting. Be kind.

  • Lars says:

    This is going to be Epic Awesomeness…

  • DebbyK says:

    This is exciting! Can’t wait. What a great learning experience this will be. Bret, you’re such good writer…I’d love to see a blog tutorial on fitness article writing for fitness bloggers; and trainers and coaches who aren’t scientists.

  • DebbyK says:

    like me…who want to write good stuff…

  • Juliet says:

    This should be interesting. I can’t wait to see who you choose to grill. I can think of a choice person or two that would be on my list…. granted I don’t know enough to grill anyone very well. Lookin’ forward to it!

  • Dante says:

    Matt Furey up first?

  • Sam says:

    Cant wait to see this! Great job brett!

  • Jon Sawatsky says:

    Important points for so many fields!

    What are your thoughts on the speed of S&C research making it into actual field? Obviously guys like you implement quicker than most.

    It’s unfortunate that some industries, like healthcare take years for the research to go mainstream. Even more reason for PT’s and Coaches to make a difference in the health of our people.

  • Hi Bret, I heard about you some time ago now but never searched up your site or youtube clips until a few weeks ago. Since then I’ve been hooked on what you put out there! Compared to you I’d consider myself an amateur high performance coach but I love what I do. I’m big on the Paul Chek’s work and Mark Buckley’s. Mark told me about you. Your grill the guru on Poliquin was amazing so I’d love to know what you think about Paul’s approach to strength/conditioning, functional training etc. I have no ‘absolute’ guru myself, only want to learn so I’d love to hear something from you?


  • Lisl says:

    Please please please grill Phil Learney “Strength Coach/Educator”…..
    He rants all the time, he makes people ‘Like’ his status and articles before releasing them, and his blogs don’t contain substance….. He’s just a walking ego.

  • kit laughlin says:

    Hello Brett,

    All the 12 heuristics you mention above are standard in academia, as you know, and I agree with them, but remember that when you point at someone, three fingers are pouting back at you (could not find a source for that, btw!). And don’t forget the bard: “The devil can quote scripture for his purpose”. The point is that any researcher can find support in peer-reviewed journals for pretty much any position they want to take—and you know there’s way more poor research out there than good.

    In the process of grilling, try to ensure you don’t cross over into ad hominem-sytle arguments; it’s an easy slide if you’re not careful, and while this is not in your guidelines explicitly, I imagine #12 could fit. And if you do cross that line, a counter-attack will be easy for a grillee to make.

    Be kind, my friend, and good luck.

  • Maria says:

    Thank you for the task you are taking on!!! Looking forward to seeing the “truths” unfold

  • Love it! I wasted my money on PICP 1 when I was young & dumb but it’s all part of the learning curve.

    The rotator cuff balance stuff always got me. Looking back now, ‘rotator cuff’ strength wasn’t tested with orthopaedic break testing, so which muscles were weak/inhibited? Why were they weak/inhibited? Was the problem arthrokinetic in nature via a jammed vertebrae, was the associated nerve impinged, what was the injury history etc, etc, etc.. It also doesn’t follow the SAID principle, can’t guarantee that training the humerus in abduction & external rotation will carry over to improving it’s ability to adduct & internally rotate..

    Respect, attention & adoration should be removed from the gurus & focused on to the incredible complexity & brilliance of the human brain, nervous system & body,

  • Shaine says:

    This comment section is not an accurate representation of your fans since you NEVER allow any posts from people disagreeing with you!

    • Bret says:

      Wow! What in the hell is wrong with you? Wake up. Look at this post…I’ve allowed every single comment to post and I haven’t deleted a single one. You can’t even comment on CP’s blogposts. I don’t delete anything and I always allow for posts that disagree with me. So you’re wrong about that.

      • Mark Austin says:

        dear Bret
        I am here to ask for your forgiveness
        I posted a reply to your Poliquin grilling
        my reply was an ad hominem of the worst order
        I was very unkind, super critical and downright ugly to you
        nothing about my comment was valid or logical
        at the time I was a Poliquin fanboy and had never heard of you
        subsequently I have realized that what you said about CP was all true
        I have also read and learned a lot from many of your articles and videos
        I tried to comment on one and found you had blocked me on youtube
        I deserved it but now respectfully ask that you unblock me so that I may comment
        you will not see an unjustly critical comment from me again, you have my word
        Mark Austin

  • Dan says:

    Shane, I have never noticed any posts being removed. Not all get answered, however I do not believe they are being blocked or removed.

Leave a Reply


and receive my FREE Lower Body Progressions eBook!

You have Successfully Subscribed!