Reading Scientific Sounding Fitness Blogs

John Hardy MSc

An opinion post for Personal Trainers

I want to give you a simple way of looking at a so-called scientific blog and then breaking it down into useful parts if they exist at all. This is because Personal Trainers who want to be industry leaders are appearing to use these to convince people that they are on the right side of an argument.
Most of the posts I write are based on the science I have read, but are clearly opinion posts. My drive is to make people who read my posts, go away and read the research and find their own opinion.
Science measures the precise so has to bring conclusions in the vague, meaning it is unusual to find a definitive answer, and usually the answer is a weighted statistical answer that is then measured for its actual impact. Blogs and bad journals do not require this to happen.
Reading more papers, and recent papers that replicate previously well-written papers is a good way of finding out the answer to a question. To do this, you will need a good question, and that is half of the problem.
In a 'scientific' blog post, the issue we face is that the post is not scrutinised and often has an underlying subtext. Some of these posts even get published in less reputable journals, where there is clearly an agenda from the author or the journal or both.
If you have completed one of the FASTER specialist courses, Motor Skills Application Specialist or Injury to Performance Specialist, then you use these articles on route to your evidence, rather than as part of your evidence.
To break down a post then you may want to consider the following -
What is the author actually saying - I am currently saying that scientific blogs posts are mainly opinion that uses some papers and the author's name to claim authority
What is the subtext - my article subtext is that I am annoyed with pretend science papers trying to convince good trainers that they are learning from gurus
Look for each important statement, and ensure multiple sources back this up, or it is clearly just opinion - Clearly, this article is based on my opinion of the blog posts written in our industry to try and make want to be gurus sound scientific.
Look for the claims made by each statement as these often set up the article - Look at my third paragraph, I am certain that could be challenged, it is clearly my opinion and lacking in references, so obviously at this point I am building this statement on opinion
Look at their research - is it balanced, do the counterclaims have research too? I read a blog, in an NSCA journal, disguised as a paper, where it took two pages of statements without reference to get to the research components of the article. However, the article used research in one to three papers, for statements that helped them counter points and claims that they had made up. Without referencing the claims that they believe the industry makes, the argument makes no sense. In this article, I offer no research, but by now you know this is an opinion post.
If you do the above you will probably now understand what the conclusion will be, remember to read the conclusion of the article looking for the actual message and their subtext.
I think this post is as much about me getting angry over bad experts as it is about reading content, I hope it helps you though.