Before we get into it, a full disclosure is due:
I’ve never written and published a review on this blog before. I’ve always seen it as sleazy marketing for some reason. When I began putting together this review, I looked like this:
This went on for a while, but after two hundred facepalms or so, I managed to put together an unbiased review of Monthly Applications in Strength Sports. Happy reading!
What is MASS?
MASS (Monthly Applications in Strength Sports) is a monthly research review by Greg Nuckols, Eric Helms, and Dr. Mike Zourdos. These guys strive to break down the latest research in simple to understand, through articles and videos.
Meaning, even if you can’t understand scientific literature, you can read simplified breakdowns of reviews, studies, and meta-analyses. There's also an “Application and Takeaways” section at the bottom of each article.
So it goes like this:
What Makes Research Reviews Valuable For Us?
Both real-world experience and scientific literacy are important for the best results in the gym. They are two sides of the same coin. The first one we get by putting in the hours at the gym, trying new things, learning from mistakes, and getting better.
The second factor is more difficult: reading and understanding scientific papers is tough, but it doesn’t stop there. You need to understand the methods, statistical analyses, and tools used for measurements. And even if you could make sense out of the paper, it’s still difficult to put the knowledge to practical use.
And you can’t solely rely on real-world experience if you want to optimize your gym results. Knowing how and why something works (or doesn’t) allows you to improve your training, nutrition, and recovery.
And this is where research reviews come into place. They save us time and make staying up to date with research much simpler. There are between 50 and 60 journals that publish relevant research for lifters and combined come up with 1000+ articles per month.
Now, sifting through this pile of papers is neither cheap nor quick. You’d need anywhere between 50 and 100 hours every month to read through everything and pick what is relevant. Also, having access to the dozens of journals isn’t cheap.
Who Are The Guys Behind MASS?
The issue with research reviews is that you need to find one that is run by unbiased individuals. Some of them cherry-pick research and push ideas that aren’t necessarily supported by the body of research. But, the authors behind MASS are different:
Greg held three all-time world records in powerlifting in the 220lb and 242lb classes. He’s coached hundreds of athletes and written for many of the major magazines and websites in the industry. He has also worked with and learned from some brilliant (and very strong) individuals in the industry. You can find a lot of his work on his blog, StrongerByScience, for free.
Eric has multiple degrees including a Ph.D. in strength and conditioning from Auckland University and M.S. in exercise science. He has also coached a lot of drug-free strength and physique competitors at all levels as a part of team 3D Muscle Journey. He earned his pro card as a natural bodybuilder with the PNBA in 2011. He’s also a competitive powerlifter in the IPF.
Dr. Mike Zourdos
Mike has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology, M.S. in applied health physiology, and B.S. in exercise science. He has also coached powerlifters on a state championship level and is a competitive powerlifter himself in the USAPL.
The team behind MASS is very solid and each of these guys walks the talk. You can find a lot of their work on the internet for free.They also break down research relentlessly, point out flaws in design, what the paper might have missed, and what the findings are. Each article is neatly tied together with a “Next steps” section that points out what some potential research can be done in the future to help us better understand the whole picture.
How Does MASS Work?
MASS is a subscription-based product and you’ve got 3 payment options: on a monthly/annual basis, or once for life. You can also cancel at any time and there are no obligations or questions asked.
The prices are:
What’s awesome about MASS is that, as of right now, if you subscribe, you get instant access to all previous issues. As of writing this, they are thirteen in total. This is huge value.
Each issue includes:
MASS is membership-based and as long as you’ve got an active subscription, you can access everything. You can also download all the PDFs, videos and audios on your computer for easy access.
Aside from that, you also get:
Each text is put together well whether you read it as a PDF on your computer or directly on their site. There are also illustrations and graphs that make understanding of data much simpler and reading more enjoyable. Here’s how a PDF looks on the inside:
And here are some of the many interesting topics that the researchers have covered so far:
Who Is MASS For?
MASS is not for everyone. There are lots of people out there who aren’t serious about their training or nutrition and wouldn’t benefit from this resource. But since you’re reading this review, I doubt that you’re that kind of person.
In my mind, there are 3 main categories of people who would benefit from MASS:
- You’re a strength/physique athlete, coach or enthusiast. MASS is created for individuals who are looking to maximize muscle growth, fat loss, and strength gain. If you are a powerlifter, weightlifter, bodybuilder, physique competitor, or a coach for physique and strength athletes, MASS is one of the best investments you can make to further your education and knowledge.
- You care about the science behind getting jacked, strong, and lean but cannot afford to spend 30-50 hours every month sifting through dozens of journals and hundreds of studies. Each month, Greg, Eric, and Mike go through 50+ journals and 1000+ studies to handpick the research that's most relevant to us.
- You want to take the efficient, cost-effective route. Most exercise science journals out there cost $380+ for an annual subscription. And there are more than 50 of them. Yikes. Subscribing to MASS is $29/month, or $7.25/week (which is two coffees at Starbucks, really). And you get relevant, practical and easily-digestible articles and videos on strength gain, muscle growth, fat loss, recovery, mobility & flexibility, programming, and more.
Who is MASS Not For?
My Review of MASS
As I pointed out earlier, my goal is to write an unbiased review of this product, so here it goes:
I got the first issue for free back in April of 2017 and was quite impressed with it (Issue #1 is still free to this day). I was interested in each of the topics and went through the entire issue in less than two days (including the two videos).
What I immediately noticed was that the articles were much simpler and more interesting to read than a full paper is. When I read most scientific papers, it goes something like this:
But, the MASS issues are written as if humans are going to read them. Crazy, I know. Although there is some science glossary that you should learn, it is very readable and understandable.
Now, I’ll admit, there are bits and pieces where it gets a bit tiresome to read, especially if the topic itself isn’t of much interest to me. But, I can confidently say, after having gone through each issue, that the authors make it their number one priority to break down complex papers in a simple to understand format for us.One thing that took some time for me to get used to was the layout of the PDFs. The text is in two columns and there are some sections (such as “Key points”) that are right in the middle of the text, so you’d need to scroll back up to read them.
I might be nitpicking here, but it takes some getting used to. And of course, you can read the articles online where the layout resembles the one here.
My Rating of MASS
Best research review I've ever read.
Ease of Use
PDF design took me some time to get used to.
At $29 a month, this is the best value for yor money.
Excellent support and response time.
If you are interested in taking your knowledge and gym results to the next level, MASS is an invaluable investment.
Remember that if you sign up now, you gain access to all previous issues (thirteen so far), which is an amazing deal.