Science Spotlight: Brandon Roberts

Profile

Introduction

Brandon is currently researching muscle hypertrophy. He is specifically interested in the role of ribosome biogenesis during resistance training. He also writes science-based content for SCI-FIT, AARR, StrongerbyScience, and various other websites. You can find links to his articles here and links to his scientific publications here.

Interview

When did you start writing science-based articles?

I started in the second year of my PhD when I realized I needed to practice writing more. Initially, I figured that if I could translate research into something people understand, it would improve my scientific writing. It helped, but now I mainly do it for fun. I enjoy finding answers to questions in the field of exercise science. I don’t consider myself a great writer, but I’ll get there one day.

Which projects are you currently working on (research and other works)?

I have a ton of exciting projects going on. My solo research is focused on inflammation and its role in muscle hypertrophy. I received a fellowship to study this topic in cells and humans with the goal of identifying the molecular mechanisms of ribosome biogenesis. Ribosomes are where muscle protein synthesis occurs and play a relatively unexplored role in muscle growth. Another project is a randomized controlled trial using resistance training with metformin 1A diabetes medication that helps control blood sugar levels or a placebo in aging atrophied adults 2In this context, Brandon is referring to muscle loss (atrophy) that typically occurs with aging. However, my favorite project is a concurrent training 3Doing strength training combined with other types of exercise (i.e. cardio) study using transcriptome sequencing 4Genetic analysis in young subjects. I have a small role in a number of other projects too.

My current academic writing consists of:

  • A bodybuilding case study.
  • A periodized nutrition case study.
  • A clinical trials design manuscript
  • A manuscript of muscle phenotyping 5How genes interact with the environment across different ages,
  • A review of muscle hypertrophy.
  • A few others I’ll keep under wraps.

These are all a work in progress.

As for non academic writing - I am currently working on two article series. One is the ketogenic diet series for SCI-FIT and another is a periodization series for Alan Aragon’s Research Review. Lastly, I’m working on an article about concurrent training for StrongerbyScience. None of these projects are solo, which helps me a ton. I like writing as a team more than solo because it allows different viewpoints.

What are your current fields of interest?

My interests are mostly based in muscle growth using resistance training, but I have become very fond of the learning and psychology literature lately. One of my goals is to become a better teacher, so I’m applying a few key concepts to the courses I teach to help students critically think.

What would you say are your best articles?

I think my best articles are yet to come, but here are some of my favorites so far:

  • The Science of Sore was my first article on a big website. It’s a good one which covers the basics of delayed onset muscle soreness 6DOMS is the aching and stiffness you feel in your muscles a day or two after a workout and a few techniques that can help as well as some that don’t.
  • Scientific recommendations for strength and hypertrophy (part 1) was also excellent. This is one that I enjoyed writing and used to make a few great seminars/lectures from my interpretation of the data. I’m really looking forward to finishing this series.
  • The Physiology of Bodybuilding goes into physiological adaptations during contest prep. 7bodybuilding physique competition, as well as a few attempts at humor. I’ll probably write an updated version in the next year since there have been several  relevant studies published recently.

When did you start coaching?

I started personal training about six years ago in-person. I think those first few years working with clients was critical as it allowed me to get a lot of “hands-on” action with the general population. I’ve been online coaching for about two years now and it’s a great way to continue coaching with a busy life. I have weekly check-ins with my athletes who are a mix of physique athletes and powerlifters.

What do you want to achieve with your work?

I want to help people understand research. I try to write in a neutral tone and discuss competing arguments, if they exist. In addition, I also try to highlight any limitations or confounders that exist in the data.

Which research topic do you think needs more attention?

I’d love to see more research on physique athletes and powerlifters. This one is a bit selfish, but there are tremendous holes in the literature that need to be filled.  A specific example is research on maintaining lean muscle while preparing for competitions. From a clinical perspective, we have a ton to learn about the gut microbiome 8Bacteria and other small things that live in our intestines in addition to interpreting data from new genetic sequencing methods. Using FDA approved drugs to enhance exercise outcomes is another area that needs attention.

You're a bodybuilder. Tell us about your physique competitions

Going through a bodybuilding prep 9Preparing for a bodybuilding physique competition involves careful control of ones diet, training program, and lifestyle is something that really helped me find my passion for training. It was during the final stretch of my PhD and first few months of my post-doc. I remember feeling like death the last few weeks, but it was worth it. Luckily, I had Jeff Alberts to coach me along the way. I plan on competing again in the next year or two because I think I have made some improvements in my physique. I also didn’t get quite as lean as I would have liked last time. It’ll be something that I want to continue doing throughout life.

Do you want to give any shoutouts?

I’d love to give a shout out to you (Adam) for being a great friend. I think you’ve helped my writing immensely while we’ve been working together. A few others: Greg Nuckols for publishing my first article on his site and being awesome in general. Eric Helms/Alan Aragon/Brad Schoenfeld/Lyle McDonald for their inspiration and being leaders in the evidence-based fitness community. Jason Tremblay for bringing me on as a coach with TSG. Finally, my future wife Lisa for putting up with my constant banter.

Scientific Publications

Articles

Strength

Nutrition and diet

Body composition

Genetics

Health


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