Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thoughts on Research

For some reason, people seem to think that I don't read research at all. The fact is that I do read abstracts from time to time if I find the topic interesting, but I don't spend a whole lot of time "researching" research.
Why not? The short explanation of it is that I don't have a lot of time for research that tells me that squats don't activate the hamstrings or that a five degree change in foot pronation yields a 10% greater activation of the vastus medialis, for example.
There is "knowledge" and there is "knowing" (see Knowledge vs. Knowing) and there are "facts" and then there is "truth". Rarely do all of these coincide with each other.

"If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research, would it?"
- Albert Einstein

"Just as the largest library, badly arranged, is not so useful as a very moderate one that is well arranged, so the greatest amount of knowledge, if not elaborated by our own thoughts, is worth much less than a far smaller volume that has been abundantly and repeatedly thought over."
- Arthur Schopenhauer

Useful Research Phrases (found here)

"It has long been known…"
I didn’t look up the original reference.

"A definite trend is evident…"
These data are are practically meaningless.

"Of great theoretical and practical importance…"
Interesting to me.

"While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions…"
An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.

"Three of the samples were chosen for detailed study…"
The results of the others didn’t make any sense.

"Typical results are shown…"
The best results are shown.

"These results will be shown in a subsequent report…"
I might get around to this sometime if I’m pushed.

"The most reliable results are those obtained by Jones…"
He was my graduate assistant.

"It is believed that…"
I think.

"It is generally believed that…"
A couple of other people think so too.

"It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding of the phenomenon occurs…"
I don’t understand it.

"Correct within an order of magnitude…"

"It is hoped that this study will stimulate further investigation in this field…"
This is a lousy paper, but so are all the others on this miserable topic.

"Thanks are due to Joe Blotz for assistance with the experiment and to George Frink for valuable discussions…"
Blotz did the work and Frink explained to me what it meant.

"A careful analysis of obtainable data…"
Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of beer.


Denis Kanygin said...

yes and no...

Good research is, well, good. I always try to learn to things and become a better trainer and coach. 5 years ago I was using very different methods and approach. It all evolved through education and experience.

That said I do think that when it is applied to your own exercise, listening to your body is critical. Different things work for different people, and often all research goes out of the window...

My point? Learn, evolve but use your own brain and use experience as a guidence tool.


Denis Kanygin

Boris said...


I'm all for furthering your education. Research CAN provide a platform for inspiration - an absolutely crucial ingredient to creating something new. If you think I'm somehow blasting ALL research, you'd be mistaken.

Certainly, some of the most influential people in S&C over the past 10-20 years have been forward-thinkers who were able to assimilate a vast expanse of research and experience and distill it down into programs and templates that are accessible to coaches and athletes. Louie Simmons is certainly a prime example of this - not a "researcher" in the purest sense, but someone who through reading, application, trial-and-error, and brutally hard work created a powerlifting template that continues to influence the greater S&C world.

nanbudh said...

very good post. fine humour. In fact it is a proof that you do read research. I am an outsider of the field, would you please tell me if this research(i mean generally not any specific one) available online?
By the Way your squat videos= 10/10