By Anna Woodring, MTI Strength & Conditioning Coach
I have been working as a lab rat for MTI since February 2022. As soon as I came across the post, I wasted no time in applying. Given that I already train every day, it made perfect sense to get paid for doing what I love. Being a Pro Lab Rat has not only exposed me to the world of mini studies but also highlighted the tangible benefits that come with participating in them. While anyone can create a program and claim its effectiveness, the crucial question is, does it truly deliver results? Have you personally tested it? What about a group of individuals? In the fitness community, there is an overwhelming amount of misinformation regarding what truly works and what doesn’t. Almost every article contradicts another on various topics. This is why I sought to be a part of testing programs that generate reliable research to enhance performance.
- How do you apply: Applying for the pro lab rat position was a straightforward process. MTI initiated the application by sending out an email to gauge interest, and all I had to do was respond via email to indicate my desire to apply. The application itself involved providing a brief bio detailing my training experience and any prior involvement with MTI. Having prior familiarity with MTI’s program proved crucial as it ensured I was well-acquainted with the exercises and the expected training protocols. After applying, Rob responded via email to notify me of my acceptance and to outline the subsequent steps and ground rules for moving forward.
- What types of training sessions are conducted: All training sessions are exclusively based on the specific mini studies conducted by MTI. As a lab rat, it is expected that you strictly adhere to the designated training program without deviating from it. No throwing in an extra set of arms because you haven’t hit them in three weeks. Making modifications or not following the program as prescribed can compromise the accuracy and validity of the results. Each training session is designed to address the specific goals of the study, aligning with MTI’s approach to programming. Every program includes an assessment that will be tested, and subsequent training sessions focusing on improving and progressing towards a higher post-assessment outcome. Training sessions varied in time, most within an hour or longer. Many of the sessions destroyed me, while others I had a higher training age for. Lab rats do the training on their own time, making it convenient. MTI’s primary objective is to determine the efficacy of the programming and evaluate the significance of the achieved results.
- How are groups selected for studies: Rob follows a “first come, first served” approach when it comes to assigning participants for mini studies. Pro lab rats engage in communication through Slack, where Rob announces the available studies and interested individuals indicate their willingness to participate. If you don’t participate you don’t get paid. The number of participants required for each study may vary, so the sooner you respond on Slack, the higher the likelihood of securing a spot. Personally, I aimed to participate in as many studies as possible, and most of the fellow lab rats had the same goal. Therefore, having notifications enabled was crucial to responding with a quick “I’m in.” The skill levels within the groups varied, with certain individuals consistently achieving impressive results, while others occasionally lagged behind the pack.
- Do you actually get paid: Yes, you get paid.The payment amount varies depending on the duration of the study and the time commitment required for different programs. Generally, the longer the study, the higher the compensation. For instance, a week-long study may span three to five days and offer a payment ranging from 20 to 35 dollars. On the other hand, a study lasting four to five weeks typically yields 100 dollars or more.
- What are the Requirements: Post assessment scores, and post the completion of each workout every day. MTI looks for data, so that is most critical to ensure accurate reporting. Missing workouts or failing to provide timely reports can result in being dropped. Rob communicates prior to let you know what gym requirements will be needed, time commitment, and what study is being tested prior to you committing to do the study. Rob makes it clear to only post what is necessary. I appreciated this streamline approach, so I was not constantly being subjected to a rant of someone being sore.
- Is it fun: I loved being able to test myself with different training sessions that I have not previously utilized. I enjoyed competing with other pro lab rats and seeing where I landed in scoring. All of the pro lab rats were other veteran MTI users with a high training background, which made my day to smoke them in scoring. My friends and family even got involved by reading the write-ups over the studies I participated in. The pro lab rat journey provided valuable insights into my performance by highlighting areas where I needed overall improvement.