Why You Should Be Phasing Your Exercise Program


The majority of people that approach me about starting a training program find themselves “stuck”. Stuck at a current body fat percentage, stuck at a certain number on a lift (not getting stronger), or just stuck in general (doing the same workout routine each time they go to the gym). People ask me all of the time, “how do I avoid getting stuck?”.

The answer is simple, but can be very dependent on the individual, their goals, and experience in the gym. First let’s define what phasing really means. There are many different ways to phase an exercise program. For myself and the clients I train, I find that what works best is picking an adaptation that directly correlates to the overall goal, and sticking with that adaption for 2–4 weeks. This gives you a short term “focus” versus having each workout day during the week be a different adaptation. For example, if I’m designing a program for myself (someone who has above average mobility/stability and has experience resistance training), I’d start in a “strength” phase for 2–4 weeks. The weights will be heavier and I’ll be training in the lower (2–5) rep ranges on most movements. I’d then move into a “hypertrophic” or muscle building phase where the weights are a bit lighter, but still challenging in the mid (8–12) rep range. The final 2–4 weeks will be a phase where we really crank up the intensity. This phase will involve super-sets, tri-sets and will be trying to reach more of a “pump” (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy). In this phase, we will be working in rep ranges anywhere from 10–20 per set. For your everyday person looking to improve strength, muscle and body composition, this would be a great place to start.

Training volume (amount of work done, sets and reps) is going to vary person to person. If you’ve never trained with weights, you don’t want to overload yourself with volume. The exercise selection is also going to vary greatly based on goals and their experience with resistance training. For example, my everyday person who just wants to be healthier and in better shape is going to have a completely different exercise selection than a high school football or basketball player.

The bottom line is this: if you’re doing the same exercises over and over again, this could be holding you back from obtaining your goals. Try setting short term (2–4 week) goals that will impact your overall goal. This will ensure consistent progress and adaptation throughout your body. If you need help with setting correct goals, you can contact me via email btracke@gmail.com.


The Top 3 Supplements You DON’T Need


The fitness and supplement industry want you to believe that you NEED supplements in order to achieve the results you want. Whether it be muscle building, fat loss or wellness people have bought into the supplement hype. So much so that it has become a billion-dollar industry. This blog is not to tell you that you shouldn’t take supplements or that there aren’t good supplements out there. This is to inform you on the supplements you’re taking that could potentially harm your progress and health, and let you know what you SHOULD be doing instead.

1. Pre-Workout Supplements

The most popular supplement on the market is pre-workout. Why you might ask? Pre-workout drinks and powders are addicting. They’re loaded with stimulants and make you feel very good in the short term. The problem is that most of the performance benefits you get from pre-workout comes from caffeine. All of the other added ingredients are not giving you much benefit, if any at all. Pre-workouts are typically pretty expensive, and you can get the same benefits from drinking a coffee before your workout. The other issue is that after using these stimulants over and over again, you can have a negative impact on your body. You will start to feel dependent on these ingredients in order to have a “good” workout.

What to do instead:

A. Drink a coffee (if you don’t like coffee, drink tea or buy caffeine pills) before you train if you want the added benefits of caffeine. I recommend having days where you have coffee, and some days when you don’t. Just like anything, your body will get used to having caffeine every single day and if you don’t take a break, you’ll need more and more to get benefit from it. I’ll typically have coffee in the morning, and before my workout. When I start to feel that I need more to get benefit, I’ll take a few days off from any caffeine. Then when I reintroduce caffeine a few days later, I feel its benefits even more so than before.

B. Invest/create some kind of “warm up” or something to get your body ready for the work it is about to do. If you’re going into the gym and jumping right into your routine without sending proper signals to your body before exercise, your odds of injury increase significantly. I know because I did this for quite some time, and am paying for it now. If it takes you 10 warm up sets before getting into your working sets on a specific exercise, you’re not taking the necessary steps to prime your body for exercise.

2. Branch Chain Amino Acid Supplements (BCAA’s)

This is another popular supplement on the market. The idea is that you drink them before workouts or throughout the day and your body will stay in a more “anabolic” state so you can gain the muscle and lose the fat you desire. This is not true and there has been research to back this up. Meal timing and frequency (and drinking BCAA powders) have little to do with gaining muscle, losing fat or just overall health. It comes down to personal preference and consistent adherence to eating for the desired outcome. As long as you’re consistently getting the protein your body needs, you are not going to see any significant gains from BCAA’s.

What to do instead:

A. Focus on drinking plenty of water. The idea of BCAA’s a lot of people like is that they taste good so they can drink more water. The problem is that most of them are flavored with sucralose and have dyes that can negatively impact your gut health, preventing muscle gain and fat loss over time.

B. Invest in healthy foods. Eat a variety of different vegetables and complete protein sources. You can also use a good whey or plant based protein powder that is sweetened with stevia and/or monk fruit if you struggle getting enough protein in per day. Instead of wasting big money on a BCAA supplement, take that money and buy good protein sources so you can hit that .7-.8g per pound of body weight per day.

3. Fat Burners

Fat burners are marketed as something that are somewhat of a “magic pill” to heat up your bodies core temperature and give you more energy. They are similar to pre-workout in that they have many stimulants and are full of caffeine. Although caffeine has been shown to help performance, many of the other ingredients in fat burners are not proven ingredients and can actually have some negative side effects.

What to do instead:

Bottom line, fat loss is going to come down to proper sleep, good exercise programming (not overtraining), and eating in a calorie deficit over time. There aren’t any fat burner pills that you are going to notice the real change you’ll notice by taking care of sleep, exercise and what you eat.





The Macro Craze


Counting macros and “If It Fits Your Macros” (IIFYM) has invaded the health and fitness industry, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Nutrients are used by the body for growth, energy and other bodily functions. Nutrients describe all of the substances the body needs. Some in smaller amounts, some in larger. The nutrients the body needs in larger amounts are the macronutrients. These include carbohydrates (or sugar), fats (or lipids) and protein. The body also needs other nutrients, just in smaller amounts. Micronutrients are all vitamins and minerals that are found in minimally or unprocessed fruits, vegetables and animal products. These macro and micro nutrients make up the calories you eat.

The fitness industry has created a way of eating that allows you to pull out certain foods in your diet on a daily basis that are going to be better for your overall wellbeing, and insert highly processed foods like Pop-Tarts, breakfast cereals or any other food high in processed sugar and fat. This is called IIFYM, and basically means if it fits in your macro and calorie range for the day, you can consume it. What it doesn’t take into consideration is all the micronutrients you are missing out on, and how eating processed food will negatively affect your health, especially if you include it in your diet regularly.

What happens when people decide to get in shape or begin a training program, they typically judge themselves. When they eat minimally processed foods, they tend to tell themselves that they have been “good”. When they eat highly processed foods, they tell themselves that they are “bad”. Instead of judging yourself based on the foods you eat, we should strive to get to a point where we can hear the natural signals our body sends us. This means we pay attention to the environment were eating in, if we’re eating out of emotion or to serve us physically and how we feel before during and after we eat. This can take time and MOST people will tell me they feel great eating a lot of junk food. This is not the case. Most people have never truly felt great, so getting them to that point will be the ultimate goal.

So where does counting macros come into all this? Counting macros is an excellent way to figure out what kinds of things you’re eating daily. Typically, people are either really heavy in carbs, or really heavy in fats. And believe it or not, there are even people in the fitness industry who are going way overboard on protein (strive for around .6-.8g per lb. of bodyweight to build/maintain lean muscle tissue). Tracking macros is something everyone should learn how to do, but it can also be an excuse to “fit in” foods that lack in vital nutrients (I was guilty of this many times when I discovered tracking macros). Not only that, but people will ignore their natural signals (bloating, acne, brain fog, loss of libido, poor sleep, energy crashes, heartburn, anxiety etc.) just because they enjoy the “high” feeling of eating something very sugary and processed. When you eat like this all the time, you tend to crave more processed food. This is not going to be advantageous for your physical or mental health.

The key when you begin to track macros, is to listen to how your body responds to certain foods. Each food you have down in your food-tracking app is an opportunity for you to assess how that particular food makes you feel. If you find that a certain food tends to trigger a negative body signal, that is something you will want to remove from your regular diet. A good example for a lot of people would be something like milk. Whole unpasteurized organic milk is something that is full of vitamin D, healthy fats (omega-3’s) and protein. But there are many people who cannot tolerate dairy, and get a very negative body signal from it (bloating, diarrhea etc.). This is one of the more common food intolerances, but there are many more. Typically, when you’re eating high amounts of processed foods, you have learned to ignore these signals and pass them off as “normal”.

There are many different macronutrient ratios you can follow to achieve your goals. Figuring out what works best for you is going to be the key in not having to always track food the rest of your life. It could take up to 30 days to realize how many calories (carbs, fats, proteins) your body needs to maintain its current weight and body fat percentage, and what foods serve your body best. When you figure out that number, you can manipulate calories through your food 300–500 calories in either direction to either gain weight, or lose weight. Obviously, our goal isn’t to just gain weight, or lose weight. We want to gain muscle (increase metabolism) and lose body fat. For this to happen in a sustainable healthy way, we will want to have a well thought out resistance training program.

Healthy fats are not the enemy, and neither are good wholesome carbohydrates. If a food has more than 4 ingredients, typically you will want to avoid it. Eating whole fruits, vegetables, seeds/nuts, meats, fish, and eggs and other minimally processed foods most of the time are going to be your best bet. Some people do better on low carb diets, high fat diets. Some on higher carb, lower fat diets. It is all going to be based on your goals, and how your body responds to certain foods. Typically, I’ll eat lower to moderate carbs, moderate to high fats, and moderate to high protein. I say this because eating the same exact number of calories every single day can have negative effects on your metabolism. Undulating calories has been a game changer for me. If I’m trying to lose body fat and my maintenance calories are at 3,000, I won’t eat 2,500 every day. Instead, I’ll have a couple days when I’m below that number, a day or two when I’m above it and then maybe a day when I’m right at it. The point is, at the end of the week when I add my calories and divide by 7, I’m still at that 500-calorie deficit for the week.

Tracking macros is an important tool to understand, especially when you’re trying to figure out what foods work for you, and which don’t. It should be used as a tool. Not an excuse to eat processed carbohydrates and fats. Remember that most of the time we should eat foods that serve us best physically, meaning out body signals respond in a very positive way to it. Typically, once you experience the positive effects of minimally processed foods, you’ll crave them even more than the processed foods because of how they make you feel physically. This does not mean we shouldn’t also feed our emotional/mental self as well. The body is all one thing. It’s not split like you see in your anatomy book. When Christmas time rolls around and your favorite cookies are on the table, or your out with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife, or your buddies you haven’t seen in a while want you to go out to dinner, enjoy these things! Enjoy the moments that feed your emotional self in order to be your best physical self. Don’t pass judgement, just simply realize you aren’t feeding your physical self and you may experience some negative body signals. Enjoying your time with the people you love and care for is much more important for your well-being than making sure the food your eating fits your macros.

Make Time for What’s Important


A lot of us get caught up in our everyday lives. Whether it be school, work projects, personal goals etc. we all can get a bit overwhelmed. This makes us lose sight of things that are truly important in our lives.

Things like:

  • Health and wellbeing (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually)
  • Relationships (intimate and friendships)
  • Sleep

When these things in our personal life start to deteriorate, it will have a significant impact on our professional lives. And although people may think you’re killing it, if you feel horrible all the time, you are probably making those around you feel the same way. I have struggled with this before in the past, and it has had a significant impact on my health, as well as hurt some of my relationships. There are things I like to do now to ensure that I’m making time for what’s important in my life.

  1. Move/Workout every day. This is my time to work on myself and clear my mind of anything else that is going on.
  2. Schedule specific time (on Google Calander) for friends/dates etc. This way I don’t feel as if I need to be doing something else while I’m with that person/people. I’m giving 100% of my time/effort to them.
  3. Cooking. This might sound dumb and sometimes cooking is annoying. Although I don’t cook every single day, most days I’ll prepare my meals so I know exactly what I’m getting. This way I’m eating food that I know will benefit me in the best way possible. It’s also a good mindfulness activity to prepare food (cutting, seasoning, grilling etc.).
  4. Try to cut off my electronics 30–45 minutes before bed. I am currently failing at this one, but when I do it I feel an incredible difference in my energy levels in the morning (because I sleep better) and tend to go to bed earlier. I also read before I fall asleep which helps me clear some of the brain fog I have from time to time.

Make time for the important parts of your life individually and with the people in your life. How you make others feel is how you will truly be remembered, and it starts by taking ownership of how you’re living your life.

Why you should think NEAT


150909-walking-stockMany people in our society have jobs where they are sitting at a desk for almost their entire shift. Even those who are moving a lot (nurses, doctors etc.) are also very inactive outside of their jobs. Although I believe that it is becoming common for people to have gym memberships (especially among younger generations) because of the amount of data we have surrounding the obesity epidemic, there is still a lot of bad information being spread. Things like lowering calories below 1,000 and going on these “fad diets” that involve “detox” teas that are filled with laxatives. Granted, these things will make you lose weight. But in the process, you will be losing muscle, therefore damaging your metabolism.

So how can we combat this you might ask? The obvious answers are eating minimally processed foods that nourish the body, and a resistance training program that can help you gain strength, stability, and lean muscle. But there is also a little thing called NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) that can be a game changer for losing body fat, and staying relatively lean year-round.

NEAT is basically anything you’re doing throughout the day that involves your body moving without having the intention to “exercise”. Things like walking, cleaning, typing, yard work and even the smallest of movements like fidgeting. Basically, anything we do that is not sleeping, eating, or any sort of exercise or sports based activity can fall into the NEAT category. An easy way to increase our expended calories is by simply moving more. People who don’t move much throughout the day, and don’t have a workout routine, typically eat a surplus of calories, leading to body fat gain over time. Those who don’t move much throughout the day, but still workout and STILL have a hard time losing body fat should consider the following: the average calories burned for an hour of INTENTIONAL exercise is about 328 calories per 100 lbs. of body weight. (This is just an estimate and can vary based on lean mass and metabolism.) When you put things into perspective, 2 Krispy Kreme donuts is 380 calories. This means that just because you work out, doesn’t mean you can overeat on calories regularly. This also means that you can do things throughout the day to increase your NEAT activity.

Doing things like:
-Parking further away at work-If you can, take the meeting outside and walk
-Body weight squats/push-ups in between meetings/calls
-Taking the stairs 
-Simply standing instead of sitting
-Cleaning things more often

All of these can increase your daily surplus of expended calories, and over time this will add up. Add this to an already well programmed resistance training program, and you put yourself in a position to stay lean year-round. Instead of using fad dieting and high amounts of cardio to lose weight, instead shift your focus to resistance training to build muscle, and moving more throughout the day to get a greater caloric output throughout. More movement = more fat loss over the long haul!

NEAT Studies:

3 Fat Loss Myths That Won’t Die


It seems like the fitness industry has a new fat loss myth every day. Myths like, “doing an hour of fasted cardio every morning is going to help me lose more stubborn fat in my midsection and thighs”, “eating 6–7 small meals per day has really ramped up my metabolism” and lastly “I don’t eat coconut oil or bacon because it is going to put me at greater risk for being obese”. These myths have one thing in common: they’re all wrong! As it turns out, there have been studies done dispelling these fat loss myths, and having a negative effect on your body’s ability to burn body fat!

Myth 1: Doing high amounts of cardio for fat loss

Many people believe that cardio is essential for burning body fat. Although some cardio is important for overall health, it is not going to be (in the long term) best for burning fat. Cardio in the short term can be very effective for weight loss because it burns the most calories. But here’s the issue: cardio (in any form) makes your body much more efficient at burning calories (slowing down of the metabolism). When your metabolism slows your fat loss results will follow suit. Along with that comes chronic fatigue, weakness, cravings for very sugary processed foods and even the possibility of weight gain. Cardio should actually be your last option for burning body fat. Instead of doing high amounts of cardio, putting your focus on your resistance training program is going to be the best way to lose body fat in the long term. Studies show that a well-developed resistance training routine alone increases metabolism, builds muscle and burns more body fat than any kind of cardio will be able to do.

Myth 2: Eating 6–7 small meals to lose body fat

Everyone has heard about how eating 6–7 “small meals” throughout the day will speed up your metabolism. This is simply not true, and there are numerous studies that have been done to prove against this. Supplement companies use marketing to make you believe that you should be eating every 2–3 hours. Eat four real meals a day, and in-between those meals have a protein shake packed with harmful artificial sweeteners. Eating less frequently has a lot of benefits including, increased chemicals (norepinephrine) that speed up metabolism, reduced blood sugar and increased protein synthesis. These benefits will set you up for optimizing fat loss while maintaining and/or gaining lean muscle mass. Try going longer periods without food and eating 2–3 meals a day. This will help you get closer to reaching your fat loss goals.

Myth 3: Eating foods that are high in fat will make me fat

Recently I have been hearing a lot of negativity around consuming dietary fat. More specifically, saturated fat. Saturated fat has been given a bad rep through medical doctors as something that causes heart disease and obesity. The problem is, most of the modern diet consists of HIGH amounts of processed sugar, polyunsaturated fats and trans fats. These kinds of fat have negative effects on the body and can lead to chronic disease. These fats have a very negative inflammatory response and will make it impossible for your body to ever lose the fat you want it to. Instead of eating processed sugary foods and unhealthy fats, you want to shoot for healthy saturated fats. These include: coconut oil, fatty meats, fish, egg yolks, avocados, full fat dairy products and nuts. Eating a diet that is high in good saturated fats has been proven to be healthier, and a better way to burn body fat than the typical highly processed diet. Eating more healthy fats also sends a very unique signal to your brain: that you are full! Research proves that eating healthy fats leaves you much more satiated over the course of the day. This will help lessen your cravings for sugary processed food!






How Mental Health Mirrors Physical Health


Anxiety and depression have become a part of everyday life as Americans. Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older every year. From the year 1999 until 2014, there has been a 65% increase in the amount of those individuals using anti-depressants. These are shocking statistics and raise a few questions. Why is anxiety so prominent? Why are so many people using anti-depressants? Does western medicine really help these individuals in the long run?

There are many factors that go into mental health issues in our society. Serotonin (the feel-good hormone) that many people associate only with the brain, is mostly produced in your gut. Anti-depression medication target serotonin to try to increase its circulation in the brain, because if you do not have enough, you get an uncontrollable anxious and depressed feeling. What many people don’t realize is that most people suffering from anxiety and depression, also have major gut issues (digestive issues, inflammation etc.). This is due to the fact that many of us eat a diet high in processed sugar and fats for the majority of our diets. Even people who eat “healthy” sometimes have gut issues because they don’t know that they have an intolerance to something like dairy products or gluten. These things all have a direct impact on your gut and will also affect your brain. Eating whole unprocessed foods are going to be your best bet for having a healthy gut because they will provide you with a variety of healthy bacteria you wouldn’t otherwise get with processed, artificial foods that can destroy healthy gut bacteria. Everyone talks about how when you eat better foods, you feel so much better. This is your gut producing serotonin and relaying the feel-good hormone to your brain.

Exercise and movement is another thing most people don’t do consistently in our society that can impact our mental health. Many people have a poor relationship with exercise and feel that to achieve a great looking body, or earn a dozen donuts they must kill themselves in the gym every day. In reality, this is not the case and why you see so many people who are depressed just take the easier route of anxiety medication. Many medical doctors just want to keep people coming back, so they prescribe addictive drugs to mask the underlying problems of anxiety. Obviously, there are people that are exercising properly, and eating a nutritious diet who may still have mental health issues and need medication. But evaluating your relationship with food and exercise will ultimately be a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle choice in the long run. When you decide to pursue changing your habits of eating and exercising, it can have a profound effect on your mental health. Exercising with weights with appropriate intensity (not beast mode every single day) will release the feel-good hormones in your brain. You will also get this effect from just simply walking and moving more often. When you increase activity, you feel better. The cool thing about resistance training is that, if you’re properly phasing in and out of certain modalities, your body also tends to change for the better (not to mention increased metabolism and improved health markers like blood sugar and blood pressure). This is especially noticeable when you are also taking care of your gut by eating nutritious foods. The result is having a lower body fat and looking better than you ever have. When you look in the mirror, you are confident with the body you have and feel good about yourself. Chasing only looks will only get you so far. If instead you chase optimal health, your physical health will follow suit.

Realizing that mental health and physical health mirror each other is extremely important in order to be happy and optimize how you feel on a daily basis. If you neglect one, the other will ultimately be hindered and could potentially lead to increased anxiety, or even signs of depression. Knowing that both are important for one another is the key to having a life where you are aware of anxiety. Everyone is going to have times where they experience signs of anxiety in our culture. Our society is very overstimulated with the number of hours we work, and how we are always plugged in with social media. Recognizing that we can help combat these triggers with the food we put in our body, and the exercise we regularly do can help us lower the rate of people turning to drugs to mask their anxiety.

Study on gut microbiome and its effect on health:


Study on exercise improving mental health:





Doing the Ordinary is Just as Important

Ordinary-FeatureCurrently I’m reading (listening because I retain more information when I listen vs. staring at a page with a bunch of small letters) to a book titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. So far, this book is very interesting and really draws you in with real stories from Mark’s life and other stories of very important people in history he has studied. It’s definitely not your typical “self-help” book and if you’re not accustomed to curse words and brutal honesty, this one isn’t for you. Mark talks about something in particular that really stood out to me: adversity and failure are tools that we can use to our benefit to sculpt us into mentally tough individuals. Just “feeling good” about yourself isn’t enough. You should have quality reasoning behind feeling good about yourself. Mark talks about how we have become an “entitled” society. Where we feel like when we go through things that are challenging and hard, that we deserve to be treated better than everyone else. Like you’re special. We all come from a place where we are mediocre at things in our life. Those who have success are those that become obsessed with the CONSISTENT ACTION of doing the ordinary things. Ordinary things like hard ass work. Mark’s whole message behind this is that you can always try to be the best at something. But, even though society/media tells us that we must live a life full of the extraordinary (that’s what brings them the $), being average and doing ordinary things are completely ok and necessary to gain your version of success. When you accept that you are what your work ethic represents, you will be able to improve yourself at the things you desire/don’t desire to do. “The knowledge and acceptance of your own mundane existence will actually free you to accomplish what you truly wish to accomplish, without judgment or lofty expectations.” Hold yourself accountable for doing the ordinary things and everything will eventually fall into place.

True Motivation — Consistent Action & Enjoying the Process

I have many clients who ask me religiously about motivation. “How are you so motivated to workout every day?” “How do you stay motivated to eat good food?” When I ask clients how they feel after they have a stretch where they are eating minimally processed foods and having great sessions in the gym, I get incredible responses. Incredible, amazing, sleeping better and more energy are all a common thread. The issue arises when they say they can’t eat something. In reality, you can eat whatever you want! But when you eat more minimally processed foods, you feel better! So how does this tie into motivation? Motivation is something that comes, and goes. It’s not something that stays with you at all times. It is an emotion. Learning to have fun and enjoy the process of resistance training and eating nutritious foods is crucial to success in having good health. To enjoy the process, it has to become something that is a CONSISTENT ACTION. If you’re not taking action and being mindful on a daily basis to reach your goals, you will ultimately fall short. This doesn’t mean that I always have incredible workouts or always eat nutritious whole foods. I just stay mindful of how I feel, and where I can improve. I know that when my sleep patterns are on point, I tend to have my diet in check. When my diet is in check, my workouts are much more effective. Not to mention my mental clarity, focus and energy are all much better. The consistent action of ANYTHING you do in life is what will set you apart from others who are on the motivated and demotivated roller coaster.