You’ll serve yourself well if you exercise healthy skepticism about the plethora of training information out there on the interwebs. If something sounds up your street but you’re unsure of the science behind it, there are ways that you can test the fitness plan to ensure you’re not wasting time and money.

Here are the steps you should take to bring gains into reality.


1. Ask a question

The right question will steer you on the path of success but make it specific. Don’t ask: What’s the best supplement? Do ask: Will creatine improve my endurance in 12 weeks? It’s the same for your training plan. Ask a specific, realistic question.



2. Gather data

This will give you an outline for your experiment. Use databases such as PubMed and Google Scholar, which contain almost every biomedical study published over the past 50 years. You can also try visiting your favorite fitness site and examining the citations at the end of the articles. Beware, not every expert has the skills to interpret data properly or have an agenda so could cherry pick data.


3. Form a hypothesis

Your initial research may not provide an answer to your question; this is when you should make an educated guess or talk to someone else for a different perspective. Here’s a potential hypothesis for the question: German Volume Training can be used to increase muscular endurance by 2 reps and bicep size by 1/2 an inch in 6 weeks.


4. Test with an experiment

Take notes during the experiment so you have a reference if something goes wrong or you need to replicate the process. Test several variables to be sure that your results are due to the experiment, not down to chance. For example, if you supplement to increase endurance and, a few weeks in, you decrease your training intensity and notice endurance isn’t improving, you’d conclude creatine doesn’t work but fail to mention the changes in your training to see the actual effects represented. Keep yourself honest and track everything



5. Analyze the data

Before you draw a conclusion, make sure you followed the experiment perfectly and tested all variables. This will tell you if your data supports your hypothesis. After 12 weeks of cardio training, if you notice a slight increase in you endurance but, during the first three weeks you were inconsistent with your creatine dosing and weren’t training as frequently, your lack of consistency may have affected the results and may not indicate that creatine doesn’t improve endurance.


6. Do the results support your hypothesis?

Re-test the experiment to make sure its replicable, then communicate your results. Since it’s an ongoing process and you’ll never know all the answers but can refine a question, make a new hypothesis, create a new experiment. If the procedure doesn’t seem to be work or support your hypothesis, then troubleshoot to find what went wrong. If you’ve done everything right, it may just not be effective for you.

Fitness is a process that never has one clear-cut answer and this is the beauty of science. You can always ask questions, create experiments, test it on yourself and develop a process. With this understanding that simple science isn’t just for those in lab coats, you can use it develop the results you deserve.


Find fitness advice and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.