Top 4 Reasons You’re Not Losing Body Fat (And Keeping It Off For Good)

The vast majority of people who come to me for help are in the business of trying to optimize fat loss. They have tried “everything” but just can’t seem to figure it out…

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How to Have – And Sustain Fitness Success

There are all kinds of myths out there about becoming fit and maintaining it for life…

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Running on Will Power vs. Creating Positive Healthy Lifestyle Habits (Will Power Sucks)

Will power has become the one thing that every person who has ever set out to lose weight and failed feels like they lack. They just don’t have the determination and strength to “stick to their diet” for longer than a few weeks or days. What most fail to realize is that this isn’t the case. What happened was that you tried to do too much too fast, and/or the training and nutrition protocol you’re following isn’t something you can adhere to for the long term. The fact of the matter is that only 20% of people who “diet” keeps their weight off for life. This is a pretty shocking statistic when we consider the amount of people who set out to lose weight each year. But, it’s exactly what we need… it’s exactly why I preach sustainability and making health & fitness part of your lifestyle just as brushing your teeth in the morning is just part of your daily routine. And it’s exactly why will power isn’t the only way.

Forging the road to sustainability is not easy. From the jump, you have to make a decision that comes from inside that you want to change your lifestyle. This comes with a change of mindset from trying to reach your goals as fast as possible, to playing the long game. Even this simple shift in mindset isn’t so simple. Everyone wants to see progress (and we’ll talk about this later) especially physical body changes. The reality of body composition change is that it takes time. It is something that you have to be consistent with and make a part of your lifestyle. This is especially true if you want everlasting change. You must take ownership of your lifestyle and the decisions that have led to where your current state of health is. This is hard. Especially with all of the fad diets, quick fixes, “magic” supplements and misinformation about nutrition, training and health in general. The point I’m trying to make is that it is going to take time. The best way to be healthier, more fit and most importantly feel your very best is to invest time into your health. Make living healthy part of your life just like brushing your teeth in the morning. No will power. Just habit.

We are a stress driven society. Period. The amount of stress that we allow to add up will eventually lead to unwanted weight gain, low sex drive, lack of energy and the list goes on. Less sleep, poor food quality, more alcohol, little to no exercise, relationship conflicts, having a family… the body reacts to all of these the same. Stress is stress. Even if it is not a physical stress, your body has a stress response (rise in stress hormone cortisol) as it is. Many people believe prescription drugs, more caffeine or other stimulants or sometimes more exercise and extreme dieting is the answer. In short, these all stress your system EVEN MORE. When nothing seems to be working, the answer is constantly, “well, I guess I just don’t have the will power to stick to XYZ…”.

I’m here to tell you, that is not the way. And more stress is not the answer. The answer is to begin to create healthier lifestyle habits. This starts with a self-evaluation. Getting a clear understanding of your goals, both short and long term. Then you have to begin to build awareness with your daily life. Your sleep, your water intake, your movement, your nutrition, your stress and everything in between. If any of these categories (or all) are lacking in TLC (tender love & care), it is time to make some small adjustments that you can stick to for a week or two at a time. Whether that’s drinking one more liter of water, walking 2k more steps, hitting the gym three times, eating a veggie at every meal—it’s going to look different for everyone. This is why hiring a coach to hold you accountable and help you get clear with your goals is so key. There are so many different things to talk about here that it would be impossible to narrow it down to just a few. My number one piece of advice would be this: START and START SMALL. If you can make small changes in the short term, it can lead to MASSIVE change in the long term. If you start drinking more water, you’ll have more energy. If you have more energy, you’ll be more inclined to exercise. When you exercise, you will want to fuel your body more effectively… aka eating higher quality foods like veggies, fruit, protein, healthy fat & carbohydrate sources etc.

The final piece to creating lifestyle habits is going to be tracking progress. This means adding up every win, building awareness of your nutritional habits, keeping a training journal, writing down and ranking biofeedback (sleep, energy, mood, sex drive, motivation, hunger, stress, recovery etc.) on a consistent basis is VERY powerful when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle. Weight on the scale IS NOT the only way to track progress when you’re trying to become the healthiest version of you. And to be honest, it’s probably the least important factor is most cases. Instead of focusing on the scale, take pictures and pay attention to how your clothes are fitting. This means everything when it comes to creating a healthy relationship with exercise and nutrition.

If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this:

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” -Mark Twain

At the end of the day, when it comes to becoming your healthiest you, it isn’t about who has the most will power, it’s about who can do something consistently FOR LIFE!

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How Halloween Can Add Two Pounds of Fat to The Average Person (How to Avoid Fat Gain on Halloween)

Orange plastic halloween bucket filled and overflowing with candy

Halloween is here! Time to dress up, eat some candy, have some drinks with your friends and PARTY! Here’s the only issue: a lot of us have fitness goals we’re trying to reach or we’re trying to maintain the progress we have already began to make. Halloween is the first on the list of holidays that can creep up on us and lead to unwanted fat gain. How? Well, if you’re having drinks and eating candy (or high calorie processed food in general) that alcohol temporarily shuts down food metabolism because your body views it as a foreign invader. When this happens, the food you’re eating isn’t metabolized, and is stored as body fat. This can lead to gaining fat (2-5 lbs. in some cases) in a relatively short amount of time. Even if you’re not drinking alcohol, if you don’t have an awareness of the amount of candy you’re consuming on Halloween (and the days before and after) you could be setting yourself up for unwanted fat gain. So, what strategies can you take to avoid unwanted fat gain on Halloween?

  1. HAVE A TOUGH WORKOUT

As you all know, I am not a proponent of “beast mode” “no days off” training all of the time. BUT in order to see results from your training, you definitely have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And if you want to avoid fat gain, there is no better time to have a challenging training session than on Halloween! Training “hard” means that we will be training in the “glycolytic” pathway… meaning, I’m using all the carbohydrates that are already in my body as fuel. How do you do that? Train with very challenging loads on big movements like squats, deadlifts, presses and rows. You also do some higher repetition work as well. The perfect workout for Halloween would be Day 1 of Strength Basics, my 12-week training eBook.

  1. FIT IN THE CANDY (IN MODERATION)

If you have followed me for a while, read my blogs and listened to Ranges of Motion, you know that I am big on building awareness around nutrition. We do this by tracking our food intake (calories). More specifically, tracking macronutrients to ensure that we are hitting our protein, carbohydrate and fat intake daily. The two most important things to pay attention to on Halloween and the days before and after are going to be total calories, protein and fiber intake. If you want to stay on track for your fat loss goals, eating enough protein and fiber is going to be essential. These will help you to stay fuller longer and will help you recover from the hard training session you’re doing. From there, it’s all about fitting the candy into your remaining calorie intake (fat and carbs) and not going overboard. This is why I’m a big proponent of flexibility with nutrition and being able to have the freedom to plug and pull things that you enjoy into your diet in moderation.

  1. NO TRACKING, NO PROBLEM

If you’re someone who has never tracked macronutrients, or you’re not sure where to start, you can still make it through Halloween without gaining fat. There are a couple simple strategies you can implement from a nutritional perspective. Instead of eating throughout the day, take this simple approach: DON’T. Fast throughout the day, have a pre-workout meal that consists of protein/veggies and then have some candy as your post workout carb source. Really, it’s this simple. Throughout the day don’t eat tons of carbs/fat (if any at all), because you’re going to be eating a sufficient amount in just a little bit of candy. Remember, these are very calorically dense palatable foods. It is still a good idea to eat these in moderation for overall health. This is a sufficient plan for ONE HOLIDAY! This does not give you the green light to eat like this on a daily basis. Eating like this consistently can lead to a whole host of issues including food relationship issues, hormonal disfunction, poor gut health and much more. The quality of carbs and fats found in candy are sub-par. Should you never eat candy? No. Should you stress about not being able to be social on Halloween? Absolutely not. But you should build awareness around your nutrition in some way shape or form that fits your lifestyle. If you want to learn more about how I can help you do that, click here. This is key for eliminating poor food relationship, anxiousness around food and crazy cravings.

Let this Halloween be FUN and filled with laughs, candy and drinks! Don’t let your “diet” ruin your social life! If you struggle with dieting, want to learn more about nutrition for your goals and figure out how to create a plan to fit your lifestyle, click here or shoot me an email or DM on Instagramor Facebook! I’d love to help!

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The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint: Part I

Being a big dude (chubby for most of my life) my whole life, I know how challenging it can be at times when you’re trying to get lean. With the amount of information out there, it can seem overwhelming and damn near impossible to get the lean body you desire. The issue is, most people are going about getting lean the wrong way. They try to throw themselves into a strict nutritional protocol that is super restrictive and purchase the latest and greatest workout plan that guarantees they’ll shed fat in 30 days. This workout plan is just as intense as the nutritional protocol and guess what starts to happen? You lose weight… at first. See what happens is your body adapts… it adapts to the new calorie set point and it adapts (very easily) to the intense workout plan. Then when progress comes to a screeching halt and you have stressed your system to a point where you can’t sleep, have no energy and want to have wings and beer so bad you’re dreaming about them, you fall off the wagon. You go into “fuck it” mode and binge eat and say to yourself, “I just don’t have the genetics” or “I wasn’t disciplined enough”. I’m going to get real with you: this IS NOTthe best approach to getting the lean body you want and IS NOT sustainable. I’m going to take you step by step (in a two-part blog series) on how to get lean if you’re on the “chubby” side and want to be more fit!  BUT all of the things I’m going to mention are what I generally see. EVERYONE is different. Individualized coaching is the key because although I can lay out the steps you need to take in this article, accountability to truly do it is a game changer.

Getting Started – Lifestyle Evaluation

So, you want to begin your journey to becoming a more fit and healthy you… GREAT! This is the start of you truly becoming your best self. Your health is everything… it determines your sleep, your performance at work, your energy, your mood, your sex drive, how you look physically, your confidence… I could keep going but I think you get it. But where do you start? First, we have to take a look at your lifestyle. What is your occupation? Does it require a lot of physical activity, or little to none at all? Is it stressful physically, mentally or both? Stress management is so damn important when it comes to getting leaner. If you’re constantly in a negative state of mind, your hormones will follow suit. When cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) is chronically elevated, it makes it damn near impossible to get lean. Depending on how these questions are answered, will then dictate training schedule, nutritional intake, cardio, mindset practices etc. When we have a general idea of your occupational stressors, we have to next look at your personal life. Are you surrounding yourself with people who are supporting you with the goals you have? This means the people you spend time with in person BUT ALSO the media (social media, podcasts, TV, books etc.) you consume. Sometimes you have to have a reality check. If you’re constantly being drug down by people and media about reaching your fitness goals, you might have to have crucial conversations with people or cut out the certain media that makes you feel like your goals aren’t important. This can be tough, but it’s necessary to evolve and maximize your potential as a human being. Period. If people truly want what is best for you, they will understand that your health goals are important and will support you along the way. Once we’ve addressed these things, it’s time to get our mind right.

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Mindset Is Everything

 There must be a shift in mindset when you set out to go from chubby to lean and fit. The mindset can’t be “get the weight off as fast as possible”. You will fail and fail hard. The mindset has to be “I’m going to start practicing better habits because I want to look better, feel better, perform better and BE HEALTHIER”. Consistency is the big key here. When you can make the shift in mindset to making your physical fitness a part of your everyday lifestyle versus a set amount of time to lose weight, you gain true power over your life. Your mindset is so damn important. You have to believe that you can reach your goals… when you practice positive self-talk (journaling and tracking progress is a major key), your actions tend to follow. You have to realize that if nothing changes, nothing changes. So, challenge yourself first to change your mindset and how you think about health and fitness. You have to want to do it for you, not to impress others. Not to just look good on the beach. But to truly be a better version of you. When I set out for my fitness journey, I did it for one reason: I hated myself. What I looked like. What I felt like… it was all coming from a place of hatred. As time went on, I started realizing some things about my “why”. I had a shift in mindset. That shift went from HATE to LOVE. I realized that I was living a healthy lifestyle because I loved myself enough to do so. What’s cool is that I can share that message with the people reading this. Even if you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t like what you see (like I did for years) know that you have the power to change your body composition and do it because you LOVE yourself enough to look better and most importantly feel better. Now that we have our mind right, it’s time to figure out what our training should look like.

Training (What It Should Look Like)

So now that we have our mindset shifted to consistency, positive self-talk and changing because you love yourself enough to do so, we have to find the right training program for you! The big key is that when our goal is changing body composition (getting leaner) the focus MUST be on strength training. People always get this twisted. “I want to get lean, so I need to just do cardio to tone my muscles.” *Insert facepalm emoji* You can’t tone a muscle. You can either gain lean tissue, lose lean tissue or maintain lean tissue. In our case, we want to increase protein synthesis and speed the metabolism… aka BUILD MUSCLE! Here’s the deal: if you’re a chubby guy and you’re not doing a lot (if any at all) of activity and begin doing any form of exercise, you’ll see fat loss benefits. What’s cool about resistance training is that while you’re still burning calories acutely (in the short term) during your training sessions, you’re also building muscle. When you build muscle, you burn more calories at rest. It becomes much easier to get lean and STAY LEAN for life when we take this approach versus the “beast mode” cardio or circuit training approach. These do burn more calories in the short term, but we want to be lean and healthy for life. Too much cardio-based exercise can actually have the opposite effect on your metabolism and can negatively impact your nervous system, which negatively impacts hormones making it next to impossible to get lean. Check out the blog I wrote about strength training for fat loss HERE. So, should I just skip out on cardio all together? NO!Cardio is very important for overall health and when it is programmed properly, can be a great addition to a strength training program. I’m actually in the works of creating my first training e-book that I’ll sell on my website that breaks down how cardio should be programmed in a 3-day per week strength training program. Until then I’ll make some general suggestions. Your lifestyle will typically dictate the type of program you’re doing. How many days you’re in the gym strength training and how many days you’re doing specific cardio exercise. One of the things I like to tell my clients that are starting out and want to get lean is the 15-minute rule. Dedicate 15 minutes of your day to movement. Make it non-negotiable. Five minutes of mobility practice, and ten minutes of walking every day. This is a great place to start. But what about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? Again, HIIT is awesome and burns a lot of calories. It’s also great for your metabolism (if it’s don’t properly) because it is short and sweet. We just don’t want to overload your system with a lot of HIIT because it is what it says: HIGH INTENSITY! Too much high intensity exercise is taxing on the nervous system… which when overloaded will result in poor hormonal regulation (I’m saying this again because I’m trying to get my point across). There’re a couple ways that I like to use HIIT:

  1. HIIT Finishers: 5-8 minutes at the end of each workout during the week. Sled pushes all out, assault bike all out, KB swings all out for 20-30 seconds and followed up by a minute and thirty second to two-minute rest. I love this personally because its quick and not too taxing on the nervous system.
  2. One Single HIIT Day: This is where you’re doing HIIT on its own day for 15-20 minutes. How I’d program this is anywhere between 4-10 rounds of 10-25 seconds of all-out effort, every 2-4 minutes. Again, this can be assault bike, sled pushes, KB swings, sprints etc.

The biggest thing we need to realize is that cardio comes AFTER our strength training! Get strong on the big compound movement patterns and build some muscle to set yourself up to be lean for life. There will come a point in time when you don’t have to do much HIIT at all to stay lean and healthy because you’ve built muscle and your metabolism is running like a well-oiled machine! This concludes part one of “The Ultimate Lean Body Blueprint”! Stay tuned next week for part two where we’ll talk about nutritional strategies, building awareness through tracking, supplements the importance of sleep and recovery and MORE!

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Strength Training for Fat Loss

The school of thought for fat loss is exercise more, eat less. This “exercise” that most talk about is all cardiovascular based…

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The Importance of Recovery (5 Steps to Assure You’re Recovering)

There are tons of information out there about recovery. From flopping around on foam rollers to light therapy, it seems like there is always a “new & shiny” way of recovering. What most people forget about are the “big rocks” of recovery…

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What Is Flexible Dieting? (Making It Work For You)

Dieting culture is something that is very confusing for most people. The amount of information is so damn overwhelming and most of the information put out by the mainstream media is just the latest and greatest fad…

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Why Women Should Train THE SAME as Men for Fat Loss

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The easy answer is HELL YES. Women and men should train the same for fat loss. BUT this is a very broad answer and something that we need to dive in to in order to explain why men and women shouldn’t be training that much differently at all. Many women are very very intimidated by the idea of training with weights. They’re afraid of being too bulky from building muscle. I’ve said before that it is VERY tough to do this because women don’t have the testosterone in their body to build the kind of muscle a male can. So, how do women get bulky?

 

  1. They’re eating in big a calorie surplus
  2. They’re taking anabolic steroids

 

Both of these things cause women to gain muscle (and fat if in a large enough calorie surplus) and give them a look that they may not be in the market for. Not to say that this is wrong either. I know plenty of women who love being bigger and stronger than other women and this is AWESOME too!

 

But just because you are strength training doesn’t mean you are going to get “bulky” and lose your hourglass figure. So, what is the answer for women trying to get toned and lean versus big and bulky? What exercises should they be doing? Do I have to lift in the gym 6-7 days per week?

 

The answer can be slightly different for everyone based on experience, goals, lifestyle etc. But generally speaking, women should be training like the guys do in order to lose body fat. Yes, lifting weights. Challenging weights. Not just the pink dumbbells. Instagram/Magazines have popularized High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for women as the best way to get toned. HIIT has its place for fat loss, but it SHOULD NOT be the only thing you rely on if you want consistent fat loss and a lean toned physique year-round (check out my post about HIIT HERE). Two things we know about traditional strength training (these go for men and women):

 

  1. It builds muscle. The signal you send to your body when you train with weights is an anabolic signal. When you break muscle tissue down, protein synthesis increases to repair those muscles making them bigger and stronger over time.
  2. It speeds the metabolism. How? The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. Muscle is an expensive tissue that your body has to work hard to keep on.

 

Again, although you will build muscle as a female by lifting weights, you don’t have the genetic makeup of a man (women have less testosterone) that will make you appear “bulky” unless you’re eating in a large enough calorie surplus and/or taking anabolic steroids.

 

I know. Training like the guys can sound scary. But I invite you to trust me (and the many other great coaches/trainers) on this and apply some of these training principles to help you lose more body fat. Most women are either doing HIIT training for the majority of their exercise or low intensity cardio on machines like treadmills, bikes, elliptical etc. If you read my post about HIIT, you can see the negative side of HIIT. You can also see the positive. Typically, most of my clients do 1-2 days of HIIT weekly for 15-20 mins. NOT 5-7x per week. The issue with doing only low intensity machine cardio is that you are not stimulating muscle growth (remember this is imperative for calorie burn and fat loss over time). Do these forms of cardio burn the most calories? Sure. BUT this is an acute way to burn calories. Strength training burns more calories OVER TIME.

 

What should be your main emphasis instead is strength training 2-4x per week, and doing 1-2 days of HIIT (again, check out my HIIT post to see the benefits of doing this properly). This means 2-4x per week you are squatting, deadlifting, rowing, pressing etc. and trying to get progressively STRONGERon these exercises. This will impact your body’s metabolism and hormonal system like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Total body training on a 3 day per week split is by farmy favorite split to use for fat loss in men and women. With women in particular it’s the best because what do women want most (besides toned arms)? Toned legs and a firm butt! By performing these big lifts like heavy squats and deadlifts 3x per week, you send a consistent signal to grow these muscles. These are also the biggest muscles on your body so you will burn more calories in the long haul. You can also add in more volume (exercises, sets, reps) for leg exercises and less for upper body if your goal is to specifically have better looking legs/butt. Strength training is also incredible for women as they age. As women get older, their bones tend to become weaker (osteoporosis is more prevalent in women) and you become susceptible to being injured doing daily activities. Strength training actually strengthens your bones as well making this less likely to be an issue as you age.

 

Remember, everyone is different and has different goals. Men’s body’s and women’s bodies are different. Women have to bear children, so they have naturally wider hips/pelvis. This could mean that you have to change exercises slightly to better fit your frame. And like I said before, most women want toned legs and a firm butt. This might mean that ladies do more lower body training, and less upper body training than their male counterparts.

 

Here are the big take home points:

-Men and women should train the same for fat loss.

-You will not get bulky from strength training, unless you’re eating too many calories or taking steroids (Fill out THIS FORM to find out how many calories YOU should be consuming for fat loss).

-Your emphasis should be strength training 2-4 days per week, and 1-2 days of HIIT for optimal fat loss results over time.

-Strength training also strengthens your bones. Meaning you put yourself in position to live a longer, higher quality life.

-Men and women have different goals. This is perfectly fine. Most guys want big arms and chest. Your girlfriend probably doesn’t. It would benefit women (and men) to train lower body with more frequency and volume for fat loss.

-LASTLY, the most important point of all, if you’re confused or need help with ANY of this, HIRE A COACH!A coach can provide an individualized training program based on your goals/needs/lifestyle. If you’re interested in making the world’s best investment in your health/fitness/wellness, fill out my online coaching application HERE.

 

 

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When Motivation Isn’t There… (5 Tips To Stay Consistent With Training & Nutrition)

When motivation isn’t enough…

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RSS Ranges of Motion Podcast
  • Ep. 62 Jay Ferruggia
    Had the chance to chat with Jay Ferruggia a while back about his background in fitness, training and his philosophies! You can find Jay on Instagram and be sure to check out his podcast as well.   Train With Ben - Get a new training program sent right to your email automatically every month with Train […]
  • Ep. 61 Mike Gorski, RD
    A while back, I got the chance to interview Mike Gorski. I. found Mike through a couple of his articles I read on other fitness pro’s sites. Mike is a Registered Dietician and trainer/strength coach who is incredibly knowledgable and has a lot of the same values as myself. Follow Mike on Instagram, Facebook and […]
  • Ep. 60 Jessica Rothenberg
    Today you'll get to hear my interview with Jessica Rothenberg. Jessica has a really cool story about her own personal health and fitness journey and I'm pumped she got to share that today on the podcast. You can find Jessica on her Instagram and you can check out her website. Jessica also has two incredible […]
  • Ep. 59 Theo Bowie
    Today I interviewed strength coach Theo Bowie. Theo is INCREDIBLE at the mastery of human movement and mobility. Check him out on his Instagram.    "Strength Basics" - My First Downloadable 12-Week Training eBook - Check It Out HERE   To apply for coaching with Ben Racke Fitness, visit https://benrackefitness.wufoo.com/forms/r1dvzpxw1jfz1g8/   To get 15% off […]
  • Ep. 58 Q&A w/ Danny Matranga
    Today we answered: Thoughts on BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) training? Should you do ankle mobility drills with or without shoes? BCAA's for vegans? Proper reverse dieting protocol? Should I be using a weight belt?   "Strength Basics" - My First Downloadable 12-Week Training eBook - Check It Out HERE   To apply for coaching with […]