• TRAC 2.0

      A few weeks ago, we rolled out the TRAC 2.0 update. Like TRAC itself (which stands for Training Recovery Assessment Computer), this update was a long time coming and contains a huge amount of time and fuss to get it just right.
      If you are not familiar with TRAC basics, you can start by reading
      Can You "Hear" What Your Body is Saying?
      Understanding your TRAC Report
      TRAC FAQ
      If you donít already know, TRAC 2.0 is fundamentally a systematic way of monitoring your recovery processes. While the original TRAC system allowed you to see how your body was recovering from training, it lacked a certain essential element that the subjective indicators provide. All current users of TRAC were automatically upgraded to TRAC 2.0 simply because it is a much-improved product. You can find out more about how to sign up as well as get a 30 day free trial by clicking here.
      So now that we are post-2.0 update, TRAC consists of three parts. First is the orthostatic test. This is the heart rate test that you perform. The orthostatic test gives us a base idea of how your body is dealing with the physical and mental stressors that you are coping with. This is an objective measure as well Ė objective because we are actually measuring your heart rate. And that objectivity provides important insight into the overall status of your body.
      The second test is actually two separate tests designed to measure the general condition of the Central Nervous System. The first is the Reaction Time Test and the second is the Tap Test. By measuring your reaction time, how many times you tap the spacebar and also the timing between those taps, we gain good insight on your awareness as well as your fine motor control. This is important. While itís fashionable to blame every bad workout on a ďfried CNS,Ē even a cursory understanding of what the CNS is and how it works will reveal that this just cannot be true. An actual CNS test like the one provided in TRAC lets you know, not just how your overall CNS is functioning, but the functioning of key components such as overall awareness. That allows for more effective corrective actions, which naturally result in more efficient training and thus better results.
      Both of the above tests were contained in the original TRAC. The last test is new to the 2.0 update. This is the subjective test. There are several questions that the user answers regarding soreness of certain body parts, overall feelings of tiredness or distraction, your own perception of recovery (i.e. how recovered you feel), and your motivation to train.
      Like it or not, subjectivity is a part of training. Heck, itís part of being human! Iím as analytical as anybody, but there are just some things that are better subjectively than objectively. Subjectivity has always been a central component to RTS through the use of RPEís. Now with subjective inputs as a part of TRAC, you can better capture those responses to training that might be too subtle to show up in a heart rate test. Also allow me to clarify; ďsubjectiveĒ does not mean ďinaccurateĒ. The subjective measures used in the 2.0 update are easy to use and require just a basic assessment of how youíre feeling. And just like with RPE, the more you practice, the more accurate you get.
      Many TRAC users incorporated subjective inputs before. They would balance TRACís recommendations with how they generally felt and what they wanted to do. I advised against this practice because it was easy to get led astray by your feelings if there is no system in place to capture and manage the results. If they felt crappy, then they would throttle back. If they felt good, they would push. So for these people, they took the TRAC tests but didnít really listen to what it said at all. But their heart was in the right place and I understand what they were trying to do. Those problems are gone now with the 2.0 update. Now that subjective measures are collected and systematized, they can be used efficiently. Subjective and Objective indicators balance one another out instead of one playing a back seat role to the other. Both are important and the best way to make it a part of your training is by using a systems approach that values both inputs. Thatís what TRAC 2.0 does!
      This update also makes TRAC accessible to those whose lifestyle doesnít support the ďfirst thing in the morningĒ tests that original TRAC required. As many of you know, I work a swing shift. Sometimes I work during the day like a normal human being. Other times I work at night. On those night-shift times, I canít take a TRAC test. The results are skewed because of my messed up sleep patterns. On those days, I can simply perform the subjective test and get a good idea of how my body is functioning. I know others who have young children or other life situations who will be able to benefit from this kind of non-time-sensitive testing. Itís best to keep your timing consistent, but the subjective tests are much more forgiving than the Orthostatic test.
      Of course, if at all possible I like to couple the subjective and objective tests. As was stated earlier, they have a tendency to balance each other out and each has strengths where the other is weak. Sometimes how you feel is a lie, so the objective test can shine in these situations and temper out-of-character subjective inputs.
      On the other hand, whether feelings are a lie or not, you still have to live with them. If just for that reason alone, they should be accounted for. And moreover, the feelings we experience can impact us in very real ways. You only need to look as far as a Wikipedia search on placebo effect to learn more about this. And itís in this way that subjective inputs still matter to your overall condition. They will have real effects, so they must be accounted for in a real way. The end result of this subjective/objective pairing is a system that does a very good job of capturing your recovery indicators and adjusting training based on those results.
      And speaking of adjusting training, even the training recommendations have been overhauled. There is always more to learn about everything, the human body included. As we have coached more and more athletes and put a large number of them through TRAC testing, itís become clear that the training recommendations were due for some slight modification. So thatís what we did in this update.
      The training recommendations are now not as sensitive as before to ďone timeĒ anomalies to your stress level. That means if you go visit family for the holidays, it wonít be telling you to abandon hope for productive training unless things get really out of hand. You see, the human body is not some frail thing that loses its ability to adapt at the slightest sign of over-stress. Itís actually very robust, yet still not invincible. The new training recommendations on TRAC better reflect this distinction and provide a more accurate recommendation for training adjustments than before. As always, the recommendations are based on your body. They are not dependent on the use of an RTS program. These recommendations will apply to literally ANY program that you might be doing. Itís an accurate reflection of how your body is processing training loads. When would you ever want to ignore that information?
      With the new subjective test markers and improved training recommendations, TRAC 2.0 represents a big step forward in systematic auto-regulation for strength training. The system is often as important as the tests themselves because they give reliability and repeatability to the whole process. This has had a major impact on my own personal training and also no small part of the wild success enjoyed by other TPC Athletes. If you havenít already, I encourage you to learn more about TRAC and give it a try.

      TRAC has always had and continues to have a free 30 day trial. Try it out for a month. If you donít like it, you can always cancel with no questions asked. Learn more by clicking here.