My name is Mark Ellebracht.
My goal is to help each one of you develop the body of your dreams.
Everyone should be able to come to love the body they see in the mirror, even when just starting out on their fitness journey.
And in the process of coming to love my own body, there are a few truths I learned:
YOU DON'T NEED SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements are incredibly overrated. Most of them don't work, and even the ones that do tend to be found in nutritious food anyway. You're better off having a healthy diet than relying on fat burners, preworkout powders, protein powders, etc. The only supplement I take right now is creatine, and that's simply because to obtain 5 grams of it from food, I would have to eat several pounds of meat or fish to do so.
YOU DON'T NEED PERSONAL TRAINERS
I don't want to disrespect the personal training profession, because as a whole, it does good work. Many of them are incredibly effective and help people completely change their bodies. But I've met trainers who don't know what they're doing. I've seen certification programs that get you "certified" after maybe a week of studying. If you're paying one of these trainers $200 per hour or more, you're surely getting ripped off. You'd be better off following Starting Strength on YouTube or someone else who has been training people for years and walks the walk. I've only ever gone to one personal training session, and frankly, I think I've made better progress just learning things on my own.
YOU DON'T NEED TO EXERCISE FOR HOURS A DAY
I actually keep my workouts to 1 hour at the most, and if done properly, you can have an effective lifting or cardio workout in just 30 minutes. These numbers include everything from warming up for the workout to the stretching afterwards.
Most people underestimate how far they can take themselves physically. In fact, anybody could end up with bodies like mainstream models (both male and female) if they push themselves enough.
And push myself I did. I got pretty strong for somebody my size, despite never being someone who was a naturally strong kid. I could do a single pull up with my bodyweight before I started lifting. NOT ONE!
Not buying it?
Well, please allow me to share my experience.
I wasn't born with the genetics of an NFL linebacker or Olympic sprinter. Honestly, even now my wrists barely measure over 6 inches. Before I started lifting, I couldn't do one proper Pull-Up. Not even ONE!
Despite being skinny with small joints, I was never RIPPED either. I envied the guys in high school who could drink beer and eat like crap yet still have six pack abs.
But over the years, I learned techniques that helped me put on nearly 30 pounds of muscle and cut down my body fat.
8 years ago, I was nearing the end of my freshman year in high school. I hadn't finished puberty yet (didn't fully go through it until the summer after sophomore year). Any trace of muscle I had was from a lackluster diet, inadequate genes, and a season of sprinting on my track team.
Despite sprinting day in and out, the physical activity had done little to spur muscle growth in me. Here's a scan from my yearbook:
In that photo, I wasn't even 5' 9" or 130 lbs. I had mostly finished puberty at that point, but grew a tiny bit more over the following summer.
Part of me thought that maybe a final growth spurt was waiting for me, one that would put my body over the edge and give
By the end of junior year though (at which point I was far past puberty) my body didn't look too different:
That's me (green shirt, 3rd from the left, middle row) at 5' 9" and just under 135 lbs.
Sure, it wasn't the worst body in the world. But it was in this awkward gray area. Way too skinny to be remotely considered muscular, but not lean enough for my abs to even show.
So I took things more seriously. I started committing myself toward the end of high school to lifting weights and eating the right way.
Honestly I had no clue what I was doing my first year of serious lifting; as luck would have it though, turns out you have some success if you try hard enough despite.
After 2 years of lifting, I saw a more noticeable difference in my appearance:
I was a bit over 170 lbs in that picture, but my body fat was a bit high. Not to mention, I was holding on to excess water weight since I was eating way too many carbs.
My arms were big, but I could barely Bench Press 205 or Deadlift 315 despite training with fairly low reps.
The years since have been filled with trial and error. I've tried all sorts of approaches in building muscle; from solely performing Bodyweight Squats (with both legs, not one at a time) for mass to cutting out all chest exercises other than Pushups.
A lot of those ideas hurt me more than they helped.
So I stopped trying to be creative and got back to basics: heavy and moderate compound lifting with isolation work where needed. Furthermore, I started emphasizing better foods like walnuts and green tea in my diet.
Now I'm weighing at 167 lbs and about 10% body fat. The results have been terrific:
This photo wasn't taken after a weightlifting workout, so I'm not quite as pumped up as some of the pictures above. But I feel great! I can't help but appreciate the body I've built when I wake up every day, and YOU can get to that point as well!
With this increase in size over the years, my strength has increased dramatically on major compound lifts.
And I didn't have to do anything insane to achieve this transformation. Even today I only exercise 5-6 hours a week, and during busier weeks I devote as little as 3 hours each week.
This fitness website is NOT MY FULL TIME JOB!
In real life, I work as a CPA auditor for one of the Big 4 accounting firms. What does that mean? Well, it means I spend at least 3 months at a time every year (usually January through March) working 70+ hours a week. Other weeks scattered on the calendar get this busy at times as well.
Despite these hours at work, I STILL find a way to stay healthy and keep my sanity.
Regarding my motivation, I have found support in a lot of places.
Above everythinG, I do all things through my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.
The deeper that I grew in my Roman Catholic faith, the easier it became to get fit. I stopped obsessing over trying to be the strongest guy in the gym or out-lift my friends. You need to love yourself for who you are right now, including your body.
As far as other support, my friends and family have become positive influences for me in this journey.
My goal is to help you radically transform your body. This doesn't mean I'm going to suggest you start injecting steroids; the methods I recommend will help you naturally achieve a physique that will be both fit and healthy in the long-term.
Unfortunately, I can't make you any promises about how big, lean, or powerful you're going to get. I won't even say I can get you "any body you want" because sometimes people set unrealistic goals for themselves. Men with six inch wrists won't look like Terry Crews regardless of what they do.
Here's what I AM going to promise you:
If you stick to the tips on this site and its e-books, you will see a NOTICEABLE difference in your body over the next 6 months. Whether it's 1 inch or 10 inches off your waist, it doesn't matter. It could be as big as another 5 pounds of muscle on the scale or as small as 3 more reps on your Bench Press. All these things will vary depending on where you are in your physical journey and how committed you are.
Whatever that difference is, it will be a step in the right direction. It will be a step toward the body of your dreams.
Now let's make that dream a reality.
The question... however... is HOW to go about this?
Well, here are the links you should look toward:
These are my main outlets for providing you with ESSENTIAL fitness information, so check them out!