Bullsh!t Detector Triggers

To help protect young Coaches, gullible Athletes and enthusiastic Parents from the money-grabbing charlatans, I have created a list (which I’ll update as necessary) on Triggers (words, phrases or paradigms) that should activate one’s Bullshit Detector.

It is important to understand, much like a smoke alarm going off doesn’t mean there is definitely a fire burning, some of these terms may be used in the correct, non-charlatan context.

For example, neuro-surgery is a legitimate branch of medicine. In the US, a neurosurgeon has completed a four year degree, a further four years of medical school and seven years of residency.

Compare that to Neuro-Linguistic Programming which is often a ten day course and even cats can register on the British Board of NLP.


In the performance and general health arenas these should trigger your BD in an instant.

It is usually a prefix and is often used to increase the price of courses and workshops. It is mostly based on the flimsiest science you can imagine.

Typically used by chiropractors, naturopaths and life coaches.


If someone advertises they offer ‘functional training’ it is vital you ask them if they offer ‘non-functional training’ too. Just to mess with them.

Very broadly, functional training improves the function of the organism (you). So, it’s quite difficult to offer a type of training to the general population that won’t improve their function.


When I was at high school (early 90s) I was told I had to activate my VMO. At university (mid 90s) everyone had to activate TvA and their mulitfidus.

At one stage we were being told to activate the muscles deeper than the TvA and now the muscle group we need to activate are the gluteals. Lower traps are another favourite that always seem to need activating. 

As is common, the research isn’t as definite as the recommendations: some muscles in some people with some specific history of injuries may have a delayed activation in some movements. 

(The time-frame of the delay is usually measured 100s of a second and often can’t be felt by a bare hand or seen with a naked eye.)

This gets translated into ‘all people must consciously pre-activate this muscle group all the time for all movements.’

Physiotherapists love this term. Again, seldom the top ones.


Similar to the above.

You might have been told ‘your glutes aren’t firing’ when you do a particular movement.

While the research is based on fine-wire EMGs & split-second timing devices, this charlatan can make their diagnosis from the other side of the rugby field.


This isn’t too far from the neuro-group.

Usually presented as one of two choices, the ‘x’ mindset and the ‘y’ mindset; where one is the mindset you want to have and need to work towards and the other is detrimental.

Here is a great heuristic: If people are arguing about either/or (shod/barefoot; carbs/fat; growth/fixed, art/science; etc.) then it’s probably going to be both at different stages, in different contexts, in different amounts for different people.

But you won’t be invited to a present a TED talk nor will you sell many books with that mentality, so…

Foot Speed

Despite what you might see on social media (particularly Instagram), most Athletes aren’t chasing Fast Feet, they’re actually trying to move their centre of gravity quicker.

I am not sure which came first, the piece of equipment called the Speed Ladder or the term Fast Feet but my experience suggests those promoting one will use the other.

Toxins (and detox)

I’d be willing bet that the average low-IQ Instagram model would use the word ‘toxin’ more frequently than any biochemistry journal.

The reality is in most cases the body is perfectly able to deal with most toxins that we come in contact with and that we produce.

You don’t need to take additional foods, supplements or go on a ridiculous diet.

Here is another heuristic to help you: if someone mentions ‘toxin’ (or ‘detox’) and they don’t have a PhD in biochemistry they’re just chasing your money.


I posed the question on Twitter and these are some of the responses I received:





That’s it for now. If you have words that you think we should add leave them in a comment below.

Also, please help spread the word by sharing this post.

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