An Interview with Mark Young

Last week, my blog about Experience vs. Knowledge really caused a stir. And for good reason – it was meant to get you all fired up a bit!

Now I’m not saying that knowledge isn’t important. Quite the contrary – knowledge is huge!

What I wanted you guys to understand, though, is that it’s important to get our knowledge from qualified and reputable sources. And one of the best ways to do that is to read actual scientific research.

I didn’t plan for it to come together like this, but today’s blog will provide a nice segue. Today, I’ve got Mark Young here to talk about why reading scientific research is so important, and how you can be seriously duped by misleading claims if you aren’t willing to do this.

Enjoy the interview!


Mark, thanks a ton for agreeing to do this interview. For anyone who may be unfamiliar with you, could please take a moment to introduce yourself?

Thanks for having me Mike!

Basically, I’m a strength coach from about an hour West of Toronto, Canada and my writing has been featured on,,, and in magazines like Muscle & Fitness, and Experience Life.

On top of that, I’m a complete research geek and I’ve been fortunate enough to do  some Masters work in one of the world’s most renowned muscle protein research labs. These days I’m probably still reading about 5-10 journal articles per week.

You just developed a new product based on reading fitness research, so let’s start with a simple question.

Why ON EARTH would you develop a product based around fitness research???

If I’m being completely honest, I am fed up with some of the nonsense that is being passed off as science based information is the fitness industry and I felt it was high time someone created a product to give people the power to figure this out for themselves.

I see people reporting on abstracts they’ve read or making pseudoscientific claims that just aren’t viable based on the available research.  As a result I see trainers, coaches, and consumers getting duped and shelling out their hard earned cash for absolute garbage products and it pisses me right off.

It is high time someone gave people the power to distinguish facts from hype and I figured it might as well be me.

Who exactly is How to Read Fitness Research geared for?  Trainer? Coaches? Fitness enthusiasts?

And more importantly, how will it benefit them?

Ultimately, I figure this product will probably be of interest to anyone who is serious about training and nutrition whether they are trainers, coaches, or just gym rats trying to give themselves and edge to look and perform better.

I feel this product will allow those who purchase it to go straight to the original research and make conclusions for themselves instead of relying on others’ interpretations of the research. After all, relying on other peoples’ interpretations is like playing the telephone game.  Even if you’re trying to pass on the correct message, it will get distorted over time.  And that isn’t even accounting for the people who are deliberately conjuring up gimmicks just to sell their products.

Those who read this product will be able to go straight to the research and determine what works and take it straight to the gym to create the most cutting edge fat loss, muscle gain, and athletic performance programs.

That’s awesome! You know, I was lucky in the fact that I learned a lot about reading research while studying for my Masters degree. What are some common misconceptions about research that you’ve come across?

I think of the biggest misconceptions is that research is always “behind the times” and that what we’re doing in the real world is light years ahead of what is being tested in the labs.  In fact, some would totally discredit research altogether.

While this is partially true (we’re often doing things before they are tested) the simple fact is that in the real world we are often changing many variables at once and it is difficult to determine which of those changes we’ve made has brought about the results.

In the lab, each variable can be tested and studied individually in a controlled environment which gives us feedback as to whether this is likely a useful component to keep in our programs or not.

Truth be told, I think that focusing on research alone would leave gaps in applied knowledge, but combining it with real world experience will give you an incredible filter for what works and what is complete BS.

We all know that the media (among others!) has a tendency to twist and bend research to make it suit their needs. Could you give any examples of this?

There is a certain doctor on TV these days who tends to do this quite often.  I won’t mention his name, but it has something to do with the place that Dorothy went.

In any case, he reported once on a study that showed that those who were on a diet best suited to their genetics were able to lose 2.5 times more weight than those who weren’t.  They then advertised the genetics testing company where you could get tested to see which diet would work best for you for the low price of only $149.

I looked up the study and it turned out that those on the “right” diet lost 10.6 pounds in a year.  Those on the “wrong” diet lost 4.6 pounds in a year.  So obviously the ones on the “right” diet lost more.  But frankly, if I got those results for my clients I’d be fired.

You’d probably be best to save your money and focus on finding out what works for you.  Obviously genetic testing just isn’t at a place yet where this would be worthwhile.

Along those same lines, what are some common ways the media (and others) use statistics in their favor?

The best example of this I can think of has to do with a certain cortisol blocking weight loss supplement I saw on TV the other day.  The reported the results of a study that showed that the group that used the supplement for ten weeks actually lost 200% more weight than the group that did not.

Of course, I was curious so I pulled the study (which was a pain to find, but I got it).  In the end, it showed that the group who took the supplement lost 2 pounds over ten weeks while the other group only lost one.  In other words, it pretty much sucks almost as bad as not taking the supplement!

The media does this all the time!  Supplement ads are probably the worst…although I’ve seen some fitness information products make some pretty crazy claims too.  Interestingly…I know they’re selling because of where they’re ranking on Clickbank.  People are buying this stuff!!!

That is so true, Mark, and I know exactly what you mean.

Ok last question – one of the things you’ve discussed before is becoming a hybrid strength coach. Could you explain that term a bit , as well as how this product will help my readers get there faster?

Now that I have a daughter I’ve come to the reality that I can’t be pulling 60+ hour work weeks training people for the rest of my life.  I love what I do, but I want to spend time with my family.

So I came up with the concept of being a hybrid strength coach to afford me the opportunity to be as good as a can be at what I do while still being able to spend time where it really matters.

In short, I’ve divided my work time between three pursuits.

1 – I want to increase my passive revenue by creating products that help people (like this one) so I can give back to the fitness community and they can continue to help others.

2 – I want to stay on top of the research.  I do this because I feel it puts me a cut above those who are just following trends and lets me create the best results without a bias towards a specific type of exercise or equipment.

3 – I want to stay in the trenches training a select group of people so that I can test and implement my strategies and the real world.

I think reading research would give your readers (especially the coaches and trainers) a leg up on the competition because many of them can’t or won’t read the research.  In my personal experience, the more research I read, the less I feel confined by many of the “rules” that seem to be handed down by the leaders in this industry.  It just makes it easier to get results.

That is an awesome answer, and an awesome goal. I think a lot of my readers can totally jive with that!

Mark thanks a ton for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this. Where can my readers find out more about you and How to Read Fitness Research?

Thank YOU Mike!

For those who are interested, the website is  And if you pick up the product before Friday April 22nd I’m offering a deep discount and you’ll save $40.

  • Levi

    My personal favorite is “muscle confusion.”

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