One of the questions that we hear over and over again is, “how much is enough?”
How many reps? How many sets? How many days a week? How much time and effort is enough?
If you’re finding yourself asking this question, then there’s a very good chance you’re also looking at the accomplishments of others and wondering how your effort stacks up against them.
On this episode of the GMB Show Ryan and Andy reveal the truth behind this common question – the fear of not doing enough. You’ll hear them recount their own experiences in learning how to recognize this fear as well as how to reframe it into an opportunity for success.
What you’ll hear:
- 6:40: How Ryan’s experience with learning Japanese taught him valuable lessons about setting goals and working toward them.
- 13:45: How Ryan prioritizes his time to meet all of his obligations. He also gives tips on fitting training into a busy lifestyle.
- 15:40: The pitfalls of comparing yourself to others, and what you should do instead.
- 26:00: Why it’s important not to depend on muscle soreness as a gauge to determine whether you’ve worked out enough.
- 32:00: Specific ways to use workout time to your advantage, regardless of how much time you have.
- 39:00: How working out even twice per week can help you achieve your goals.
It’s easy to equate your self worth with what you’re actively doing, but in order to break away from the trap of enough, you’ll need to look closely at what you want to experience and what you want to be capable of doing.
Links and Resources:
Be sure to catch the next episode by subscribing to the GMB Show:
Here’s Exactly How Many Reps, Sets, Exercises, and Workouts You Should Be Doing
Andy: Hello, welcome to the GMB show. I’m Andy, here with Ryan and today we’re going to be talking about something people always ask us. It’s how much, how much should I be doing? How many sets, how many reps, how long should I hold this, how many days should I work out but I think the bigger issue that it comes down to is am I doing enough? Is my effort enough? Do I have enough time cause people ask us that, like I only have 30 minutes, is that enough?
Well it’s what you’ve got. We’re going to talk about like enough, at the end of this we’re going to get to some specific recommendations about … maybe a little bit more answering the actual question of how many reps in sets you need, in a general way. Also, we want to address before that, in a general way, the obsession with measuring up. I think that a lot of people when you’re asking am I doing enough, what you’re really asking is, I see, not you I mean me too, all of us, I see other people doing all these things and I want to make sure that my efforts are adequate. I want to make sure that I’m doing enough, that I’m doing as much as I need to, not just get results but to be a good person, to be adequate.
I think that we’ve all struggled with this and it’s, not to get to pop psych with this or anything but I know Ryan, you’ve also been through the ringer. You were a competitive gymnast, you were competitive in Judo, you’ve had to compare yourself to other people for a lot of your athletic career. Now you don’t do very much of that so I’d really like to hear more of your experience, first just from this very general perspective of measuring up and being enough and how much is enough to you?
Ryan: Well, first off, I want to say thinks to everybody for listening. I think this is going to be one of our more important shows simply because of the topic that we’re addressing. I do know that a lot of people struggle with this and as a matter of fact, when I’m travelling in the United States, this is a questions that I hear a lot and that is basically how much should I be doing? To bring it back to me because it’s always about me. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding, that’s horrible. No but this is, I think, maybe a good example because I have really gone through so many different cycles in my life. To just start off, when I was back in gymnastics, I was aiming towards a junior national team at the time and obviously at that point in my life, it was about doing as much as I could in order to make that I qualified for the team. I mean that was it.
At that age and mind you, at that time, we’re looking at high school … well, actually I was, the end of junior high depending at where you are in the world, it would be in between primary and secondary school. At that time, you do have more time, your body is able to do more, you can eat anything you want and really the people around you, especially your coach and I had a great coach by the way, are pushing you to a limit that would not be good for other people later in their lives. I just have to preface that because it really what this does, if you are an athlete it also depends on where in your life you are. Looking at that particular time in my life, yes I was comparing myself to other people, simply because I was competing against other people. I needed to be better.
There were certain things that I probably should have worked harder at in hindsight but the thing is, again, I was at a particular point in my life where that’s all I needed to focus on. Now, skip forward, I go to Japan. I’m doing Judo, competing in Judo but the thing is at that point in my life I wasn’t going to become a world champion Judo athlete. I wasn’t going to end up competing in the Olympics because it was literally impossible for me. I was in Japan and I wasn’t representing the United States. I was competing with the Japanese police so when I was comparing myself, actually it wasn’t so much that I was comparing myself to my peers, I was actually just trying to stay afloat and not get killed.
This is another way of looking at things where if there’s people, lets say on Facebook and you see what they’re doing and you see, oh this guy is at my level, that’s where I should be. Then there’s a whole other level where if you’re working with particular people who are at such a high level, it’s simply a matter of survival. This is another way that we could look at this and if we’re looking fearful of not doing enough, you also I think need to take a look at realistically where you are. We’re going to be talking about this a little bit later and how to really tell where you are by assessing your situation but in my case I was simply just trying to hold on and make sure that I didn’t break myself every single day.
I competed a lot. What happened was, I actually ended up pushing myself too much and it caused an injury, that’s when I blew my shoulder out and it pretty much ended my Judo career. Now I still had this competitive nature, that’s all I’ve ever known so from age 5 all the way up throughout high school, competitive gymnast, ended up competing in Judo, I was also competing to find my place in Japan. It’s not just the athletics but also on the mental side of it, I was really searching to find myself as a foreigner in Japan. This isn’t just a matter of thinking about doing so much athletics wise but that’s just another example that I could throw out there. Now-
Andy: Yeah and just to interrupt you there, just so people get a concept of what you mean by competing to make it in Japan as a foreigner one thing a lot of people don’t know about Ryan and about learning Japanese is Ryan is also studied himself to the point where he has attested proficiency in Japanese that is actually higher than most native Japanese people.
Ryan: Yeah. I actually, I went to University in Japan, in the United States, I guess you’d say college. I was over there and I actually had to test out at the highest level in order to attend classes. I kept studying afterwards because I was an interpreter at a martial arts complex for 8 years where I actually also did interpreting and translation work. Reading, writing, as well as speaking and I can understand multiple dialects. Everything in my life really has just been about me busting my ass to the point where I stress myself out so much and everyone around me, pretty much, I stress them out too because I just have to be the best.
Andy knows what I’m talking about. This is kind of where we’re going and the reason that I’m talking about this right now and this is the stuff that you … I don’t think I’ve ever shared this with anybody but I think it’s important because it’ll hopefully show everybody where I think we should be going. I’m not saying where I am right now is where everyone should be. I think this maybe a good example: I’m in Japan and I’m doing this and I end up getting injured, blow my shoulder out, have reconstructive surgery and after that I’m still involved with fitness organizations. I bust my ass, I end up … how should we describe this Andy? I became-
Andy: You were in charge of the education part.
Ryan: I was in charge of the programming and education for this particular organization. Me, I tend not to half-ass things so get to that point and then it was time, I stepped away and we started GMB. Now when we did GMB, pretty much and correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure it went this way. Every single program that you see in GMB as far as rings, parallettes, floor, some of the other ones were created within three months. What I mean by that is, I would train that program, the duration of the program and then I would shoot it. So what, rings one, it’s a three month program, you look at it like three months so I would do all that training that’s in the program for three months and then I would shoot it. What you’re looking at in rings one, ring two, parallettes one and all that other jazz, is actually mean training after three months and pushing myself to the point where setting these deadlines that were so stuff that it was either do or die.
Looking at that, in one way, basically I wasn’t fearful of not doing enough, I was fearful of not proving myself and showing that i could do this stuff.
Andy: Yeah and I think that’s really important because I think a lot of us have experienced where we get into wanting to better ourselves, improve our bodies and improve our health and all this stuff so we know that we need to move, we need to exercise, we need to get better at this stuff. We start this with this intention but when we immerse ourselves in it and beginning doing it then we end up comparing a lot more, are we doing enough to catch up with other people.
Andy: Right. Instead of are we doing enough to get the result? Are we doing enough to earn other people’s respect? Are we doing enough compared to our other friend that goes to the gym? Compared to the other people who posts their workouts on Facebook, am I doing enough that people are going to respect me for what I’m doing? I think that that’s where it gets really dangerous because we start to equate what we’re doing with self-worth. Again, going back to the things like how many sets should I be doing? Well, that is on the surface, it’s a question about effectiveness but if we’re not careful then we can take that to a measurement about how much we should be doing? If someone else is doing 5 sets and we’re only doing 4, well maybe we’re not doing enough.
No, if 4 sets is the right amount for the result that you need in the time that you have and for where you are at in your training career, then 4 sets is right for you. This comparison, I think is where things get really difficult. We also have, going back to you Ryan, I think we’ve had things before, like we’ve posted before and we can link to it on the show notes for this episode of a daily routine that you had a few years ago.
Ryan: Yeah, quite a while ago.
Andy: This was your daily routine I believe when you were training to do Rings 2, when you were training to shoot that.
Ryan: Yeah and it was ungodly like ridiculous.
Andy: It was a lot of training and the thing is, okay that’s cool Ryan, yes you understand Ryan is a professional, he’s doing his thing, he’s training a lot because it is his job but then also it’s still easy to compare yourself because when you start learning from people and you start following a bunch of people on Facebook and you follow maybe 20 Youtube channels and you see the things they’re doing and you see they’re progress and you see how much they train, even if you know they’re professionals it’s easy to forget that they, not only is it their job to do this but they don’t have other jobs that they’re doing at the same time.
Andy: It’s really easy as a professional, for someone who makes a living going around and teaching seminars and doing videos to say, our society is so messed up, we have people sitting down all the time, you should be moving all the time, you can’t counteract 10 hours of sitting with 30 minutes of moving, it’s not enough. You know what, if 30 minutes is all you have, it is enough. It is the closest thing to enough you are ever going to get short of quitting your job and all these other things. It’s easy to say this but don’t compare yourself to that because your life is something that your the only person that can measure. Yes, it’s great, if you can, reorganize parts of your like to have more movement.
It’s great if you can start using a standing desk sometimes, if you can take a 10 minute break every 90 minutes and walk around, dude, that is awesome, do it please but don’t compare yourself to what someone says who doesn’t have your life.
Ryan: Right. That’s the key point there. To kind of come back to what I was saying, is when I was filming all this stuff, when I was done, I was actually able to step back just a bit and actually look at what I really needed. Up until that point was just a matter of doing my job and making sure that I could get the programs finished and do them in a way that’s going to be helpful for other people out there so that they can do the work. Now, now that’s not how I train. A good example would just be today or no, lets talk about tomorrow, so I’m travelling and even though yesterday I was wanting to workout and do a bunch of stuff, I was dead tired so what did I do, I ate Mexican for lunch, went home took a nap, talked to you, came back finished up, ate a little bit more and I went to bed.
Today, another example is, a lot of meetings and things like that but looking at the time, a lot of people talk, just like what you said, I don’t have time to do this. Ryan how can you fit everything in all day long? First off, it’s my job, just like Andy you said, this is my job. If I don’t do my job, Andy doesn’t pay me, we’re screwed. That’s one thing but another thing here to is, how does it fit your lifestyle? Are you training to fit your life style or are you trying to change your lifestyle to fit your training? I don’t think we should be changing up our lifestyle to fit our training. I think it should be the other way around. Look at your life, what kind of time do you have and what can you do for your goals?
If you’ve got 15 minutes, that’s not only 15 minutes that’s 15 minutes you have to do something and you just need to figure out and be creative with it. Yeah, program might say, oh you’ve got to do X amount of time to do something but here’s the thing, you don’t. You don’t have to do shit and a lot of people, I don’t think really realize that. You have a choice and you do what you can do, that’s it. What it comes down to really is what are you really after and you might need to make some changes in order to get to that goal but if you try and make these major changes and compare yourself to people like, well for example like me … I’ve been doing this stuff my entire life, if you haven’t done any of this kind of stuff before, it’s going to take you a while to get to the point where you’re going to be able to do it but we have are whole life to do that.
Don’t compare yourself to other people, assess the situation. This is why we have are three A, triple A framework that we have, assess, address, and apply. This goes for everything that we do in life. Asses where you are, asses the time that you have to do something, be realistic and then you address the problem. What’s going on, what do I need to do in order to get me towards my goal and then it’s simply a matter of plugging that in and doing the work. That happens in the application part portion of it. We’re fearful about not doing enough but really for you, how much is good enough and that’s what we’re after.
Andy: Lets go back to this 15 minutes you mentioned, you say only 15 minutes and you said, well no that’s not the right way to look at it and I agree. I think that 15 minutes, that’s 15 minutes, that is an opportunity if you look at it the right way.
Ryan: Yes. Yes.
Andy: Here’s the thing, is 15 minutes enough to completely change your physical health? Probably not but here’s the thing-
Ryan: Depends though but go ahead, go ahead, go ahead.
Andy: Here’s the important part, if you have assessed what is really most important for you to practice, if you look at what is the number one limiting factor, the number one thing that is causing you to have problems or the number one thing preventing you from being in the health or have the freedom in your body that you want, if you spend 15 minutes a day on only that thing, you can make amazing progress so much faster than you think. Is it enough? Maybe not but it’s what you have. It is an opportunity and if you use the hell out of it, it is so much better than saying you don’t have enough time or even wondering if it’s enough. Don’t wonder if it’s enough, use it, take that opportunity and focus it on the most important one or two things that you can be doing.
Could you get better results with three exercises, four, five? Maybe but if you pick one or two things and do those in 5 minutes even, if you only have 5 minutes, if you take that opportunity of those 5 minutes and spend it on the one most important thing you can do every single day, you know what you’re going to be getting better man. It might not be enough if you’re looking at quantities but if it’s what you have, do you spend it well enough? That’s the real question. Are you doing enough is the wrong question. Are you using what you have well enough? That’s what you should really be looking at. In terms of time, yeah, that’s what I really think. If you’ve got 15 minutes, if you’ve got 5 minutes, if you’ve got 30 minutes, whatever, if you’ve only got 3 days a week or whatever, is that enough time? Yes, it is enough time to invest in yourself. It is enough time for you to sit down and think what is the best possible way I could use this time.
Ryan: That’s what I was referring to when I was talking about being realistic.
Ryan: Being realistic doesn’t mean that you’re giving up your dreams or anything like that. It’s simply looking at where you are right now and what you can do and just like what you said Andy, it’s saying this is an opportunity for me to look at the single thing that’s going to help me the most in order to get me to where I want to go. Then spending that time there. Now, here’s the thing to, if you have extra time on another day, great, do more.
Andy: Do a little more.
Ryan: Do a little more but if you only have a little bit of time here and there then focus on the big thing that’s going to give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Andy: Yeah. In this case, enough is not an objective quantity. Enough is just trying to use what you have in the best way you can. Here’s a great thing, even if you’re starting with 5 minutes, is it enough to get you some momentum so that you can start making changes where maybe you can get 7 minutes.
Ryan: Nice. That’s a good point.
Andy: You know?
Ryan: That’s very good.
Andy: It’s like once the ball starts rolling, like you said Ryan, you can’t just completely change your lifestyle so that you can have more training. Some people can but most people can’t. What you can do is you can start using the time you have and then building momentum and gradually start changing things so that you can get a little more time and a little more time and a little more time. Then over a few weeks or a few months, maybe you can shift things around after you gain some momentum and gradually shift your priorities from other things to stuff that is more helpful to you.
Andy: You know?
Ryan: Something … I’m not into hacking, you know, lets hack everything and what not but there’s something that I do like and I do this is that stretch before bed. The reason I do that, there’s two reasons actually, the major reason though is that my daughter wants to stretch and so we stretch together. It’s pretty nice that after my workouts I actually hold off stretching a little bit and I keep it for that evening. That allows me to do something with my daughter and my son literally jumps in on top of me when I’m stretching which is fun so he has a good time too. That’s another way of looking at it and saying, I might only have 5 minutes here but adding something somewhere else isn’t a bad thing. A lot of people, here’s another thing, is that a lot of people think that the workout should all be done at once. Not necessarily, if you have to sprinkle it here and there, that’s just fine and-
Andy: If you have the luxury to have a dedicated session where you can put things in the right order, in the optimal designed program that the person who designed the program was thinking of, that is great if you can do that because there’s reasons for designing a program a certain way. If you have to break it up and do a bit here or a bit there and squeeze things in when you can, I mean, that’s still better than not doing it.
Ryan: Absolutely.. It’s going to come back to your goals and looking at your lifestyle and really don’t beat yourself up for not being able to do something. Again, it’s like those people who say, well if you want it bad you’re going to make it happen. Okay, yeah, sure but I mean there are some outside influences that are difficult to control sometimes, your environment that’s a big thing, if you have children, who knows you might be working out of home and you wake up early because you’re going to get your workout in but hey, your kid might wake up and come in and whatever. The thing is if it doesn’t happen then don’t beat yourself up. Again, look at what you’re after. What is the end goal?
That is something really now that, it was very tough for me to do and that is to let go of that ego and let go of me trying to compare myself to other people. Funny story, I still get messages from people. They’ll send me a video and they say, hey can you do this? Typically my reply, recently, is nope and that’s it! I just say nope and it’s not like, well I used to be able to do it or something else, it’s just like nope. A lot of people will rely back and they’re like, well, I’m kind of surprised that you, don’t you want to do it? I’m like actually no, that’s not something that I’m interested in doing right now. I think another thing to is really sticking to what you want to do.
Ryan: Being comfortable in your skin doing that and me travelling a lot recently, I think a lot of people are surprised when they’re like, hey man try this or do this and good example was last weekend, I went into this gym and there was a guy there and there was a, I don’t even really know exactly what this machine is but he was like, “man I want to get you on this machine and take you through a workout and I was like sorry man I’m not really interested. He was kind of surprised and I wasn’t being a dick abut it or anything. I was just like that’s not my thing and I really appreciate it but I’m not going to do it. It actually spurred a different conversation as to what I am into and we talked a little bit about that. That comes back to really knowing what you want and being comfortable in your own skin and kind of getting rid of that ego, not saying that I don’t, I still have a little bit of an ego, of course.
I am comfortable. I am very comfortable where I am right now and very comfortable with knowing what, not only I can do but what I’m capable of doing but more importantly what I want to do and sticking with that.
Andy: That’s really great so with that said, lets also talk some specifics because I don’t want this to seem like we’re just giving people vague feel good stuff. It’s not that we want to say, whatever you do is okay cause that’s not it either. You’ve got to make the most of it but at the same time there are specific outcomes that people want and they’re doing exercises and how do they know that they’re getting enough. We get questions sometimes like, I did this workout and there’s two variations. One is like I tried this and I wasn’t sore immediately, did it work? The thing is the sore muscles, that’s a metabolic process. It has nothing to do with how good of a workout it was. It doesn’t make it a bad question if it’s a question that you need to know the answer to, feel free to ask. The other one is, I did this workout and I rested and today is suppose to be the day for my next workout but I’m still sore, is it safe to workout?
The answer there too is also, yes it is because soreness, it really is not a measure of your preparedness to train. Some people want to ask am I doing enough or am I doing too much based on how sore they feel or how tired they feel. Always remember that the goal of your workout is not to make you tired and it’s not to make you sore. The goal of your workout is to stimulate your muscles and your joints and your nervous system in ways that help it get better and stronger. For those reasons, the soreness is not going to be a good indicator of that. Now that’s the first hing to address. The other one is … Ryan how many days, given ultimate freedom, how many days a week should someone train?
Ryan: Well, that’s a loaded question of course.
Andy: Right. Right.
Ryan: I know why you’re asking so here’ the answer-
Andy: Well because here’s the thing, people, when we say, well what do you want to achieve, people say that they want to make the best changes they can. Usually when people ask these questions they’re asking for … given the desire for optimal results however you define that, but to do the best good, to make the best positive progress, how many days a week should I be training?
Ryan: Well, here’s the answer, what might surprise people and that is as few workouts as possible. For example: working out and I don’t even like that phrase … the thing is a lot of people … lets step back and clarify what a workout typically in a persons mind is hardcore sweating, pushing there selves until they’re sore and they feel like they’d really got their pump on during that day. That’s the typical kind of thing. If you’re listening to this hopefully you understand that that’s not necessarily what we’re after. Andy, of course, just explained that it’s beyond the soreness.
Every single day, I think that doing something is okay. The thing is you need to be the judge of the intensity of that by using auto regulation. We’ve talked about this so many different times, going to talk about it again. What is auto regulation? Simply means, that you know exactly where you stand that day, you step on the mat, I always say step on the mat, you go do your workout, you do your warm-up, if you’re feeling really really good after you do that warm-up, things are clicking, hit it hard. The next time that you do your workout, if things just aren’t really there after you’ve done your warm-up, then you might want to scale back slightly.
If we’re looking at skill work, skill work it different. Skill work, you can always be working on skill work. Lets say that you’re doing the hand stand, you can work your hand stand everyday. Now, people will take that one sentence that I just said and think that what I’m saying is that you should be upside down every single day and do as much as possible in your hand stands being upside down. Skill work isn’t just simply about, in the case of the hand stand, trying to do a full hand stand. It has to do with flexibility portion, making sure that your wrists have the strength, the flexibility, as well as control when you’re doing exercises with that, making sure that your shoulders are healthy and also working on your line work.
In that aspect, yeah, every single day. Optimal work out, in the case of hand stand, if the hand stand is your goal, would be to do as many hand stands as possible with good form. It comes down to ease and quality of movement.
Andy: Then how much should I be doing hand stands and you just said it, as much as you can with good form.
Andy: When you get to the point, specifically with skills but also with strength movements too, when you get to the point that you’re doing more but having to sacrifice technique for it then what you’re doing is you’re actually training bad movement and also putting yourself in danger. We’ve talked about this in another show where we talked about good form but if you’re looking for a definitive quantity of how much, that depends on you and how much you can do, how much is optimal is the most you can do with good form.
Ryan: Yeah, to go a little … let’s go a little deeper into this Andy because this is tough. If we look at skill work and again here in GMB we always suggest you do your warm-up and then the first thing you do is your skill work. You want to be fresh for your skill work and you finish off with your conditioning, of course, after that stretch but your conditioning is where you hit it hard. Now looking at that skill work because we are working on skills, we want to make sure that each attempt that we perform is at a very high quality. The ease of the movement, as well as the quality of the movement is important, importante hear when were talking about this. Now how much are you going to be able to do? Well, I think that a very good way of looking at this, is looking at the amount of time that you have for that particular day and so let’s say that for the total amount and I’m going to use this just as a general thing, let’s say an hour. It might be too much for some other people but just go with me here, okay. Let’s say we use like 5 minutes for a warm up which not really that much but lets say we just do 5 minute warm-up where we get right into our hand stand.
We want to use the bulk of our workout for our skill work. Let’s say we choose 30 minutes and within those 30 minutes, we try and do as many high, high quality hand stand attempts and do as many as we can. That means that we’re taking a nice rest between our attempts, that means that we’re probably stretching out our wrists and our shoulders between these attempts, we are stepping away taking a breather making sure we’re ready and not just like the Energizer Bunny jumping right back into the hand stands. During that 30 minutes, you might only actually get in and this is a pretty high number actually, 20 attempts. Now it might not seem that much but if you think about one, almost every minute, that’s pretty good, that’s pretty good. Do that at high-quality movement and then you work on your conditioning, now remember conditioning in GMB is simply focusing on doing the strength work needed in order to help that particular skill that you’re working on.
In this case, the conditioning, we could look at … we always take the level of intensity down so let’s say that we’re able to perform our freestanding handstand but for our conditioning work, we use the wall. What that does is it takes the level of the movement down and allows us to perform it at a higher volume and load so that were strengthening everything that we need to strengthen in order to make this skill better for the next time we do it. We might only do conditioning, maybe 10 minutes and it might not sound like a lot but think about hitting it as hard as you can at that lower level and getting done. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on there but here’s the thing, when you’re doing conditioning as well, if your form breaks down to the point where it is so crappy that it could lead to injury then you’ve done something wrong. The quality form of your conditioning, as well, should be at a high level and that’s why we take progressions down.
Now, I always like to use this example of a guy saying, hey I’m working on doing 100 push-ups and I just got it the other day. I got 100 push-ups and I say okay, how many of those push-ups did you do perfectly? He’s like, well after about 15 my form starts to break down. Well, congratulations, you’re working on doing 75 shitty push-ups and you’re focusing on bad quality stuff. Even during your conditioning and everything that you’re doing the quality of movement should be extremely high. Thinking it that way, we did a 5 minute workout, we did 30 minute skill work which is 35 minutes and then we had 10 minutes of conditioning, that’s 45 minutes. We add in about 5 minutes of stretching, we’re at 50 minutes, still under an hour for a pretty intense workout. Again, you can adjust this dependent upon how much time you have.
Let’s say you only have 30 minutes, make the bulk of your workout the skill work. Do like 5 minutes of conditioning and then stretch before bed, you’re good to go. It all comes back and Andy this is what you were talking about earlier, it all comes back to quality of movement, that is it. As long as you can focus on that, you will be improving no matter what you’re doing.
Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You made an interesting point when you said that you should do as few workouts as you can if you’re doing basically the same kind of thing. Now, we also have programs where we have workouts scheduled for 6 days a week.
Andy: Here’s the thing with those two is we’ve planned these out where the intensity is varying on those days and you’re doing different movements on different days. It’s not the same thing every day. Now, we also have programs where we have scheduled for 3 days a week, well which is better? Well, that’s not really the question. In our programs that have practice every day, these are mostly movement centered programs, these programs are teaching you how to build strength, build mobility, build control but is specifically in dynamic ways and you can move every day. These sessions tend to be a little shorter, there almost all shorter than an hour. You move for that amount of time and you get a lot of movement in over the week and that’s great and that’s the goal, you’re learning during that time. Then some people say, well what if I only have 3 days. That’s great, do it those three days. It’s still, like I said earlier, it’s a chance and if you are doing the best you can those 3 days a week, you’ll still be making progress.
Now, we have other programs where it’s scheduled for 3 days a week and we pretty much try to insist that you take the other days and really rest if possible. I mean you can do other activities and stuff but don’t go and do another workout program on those days and that’s because like for rings and parallettes and these very more intense strength focused programs, your really working hard and most of these workouts take an hour or maybe even a little more if you do all the sets that we recommend. With that much intensity, you are going to need more rest in between because the next workout is going to be a little different but it’s also going to be working a lot of similar muscle groups. Is three days enough? Yes, if your training is organized to make the most of three days. If you’re training something where you’re practicing movement skills and you’re trying to get your body used to moving more in general, well then doing it a little less everyday is more ideal and again, whichever one of those you have time for is going to be the best use of the opportunities that you do have.
Ryan: Let me throw this out at you. Let’s look at the general population out there and everybody thinks they’re athlete but hey listen, we’re not. Let’s just be honest. All right. My thought here is that the conditioning component of a workout, the strength work and even stamina work and things like that, that will help you with your skill work, if you only hit it twice a week … let’s say you do it Monday and you spend 30 minutes and you hit this conditioning hard and then on Thursday you do the same conditioning and I’m talking full body here so like interval strength, that’s conditioning, hit it really hard but the rest of the stuff that you do is geared toward just moving a little bit. Maybe working on some sort of skill that you want to do. Maybe doing some hand stands, playing around, maybe climbing a tree, playing with your kids or what not, I think you’re going to be in pretty damn good shape.
I’m throwing this out there because, like you just said, we do have these programs that are 6 days a week, we’ve got them out there 3 days a week but twice a week hitting it hard and then the rest of the time just playing around and enjoying life, to me I mean really, that is good enough.
Ryan: I think the majority of people out there, if you don’t have that time 30 minutes here or 30 minutes there and the rest of the time, don’t even worry about it just do what you can during the rest of the week. I think we’re going to be good. I really honestly believe that if we just look at things that way, keep it simple and then later if you do have the time to be able to add an extra workout in there, okay add it in, shift it up so you’re now doing Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Again, look at your lifestyle, make your workout, match your lifestyle and don’t take your lifestyle and try it to a workout. If you take one of our programs and it’s a 6 day program and you’re having trouble with it then look at the 3 day option that we have and that’s even still difficult for you then look at just doing it twice a week.
Andy: Yeah. The thing is you have to fit it in and it’s not as much about are you doing enough but it’s are you making use of your opportunity. That’s really the thing that we want to get across is, using the opportunities you have rather than trying to compare yourself and ask if you’re doing enough. How much should I be doing? Whatever, however much it is when you’re making the most of the opportunities you have, that’s how much you should be doing. To take that and make it even more specific, people say how many reps should I do in a set, Ryan’s got the perfect answer for this.
Ryan: It’s my mostest, favoritest-
Andy: Mostest, favoritest-
Ryan: Thing to say in the world. All I want you to do is repetition as beautifully as you can and then do another one, that’s it.
Andy: That’s it.
Ryan: As soon as your form starts to break down, your done. You might be able to-
Andy: That’s how you know the set is over.
Ryan: That’s it.
Andy: That’s how you know the set is over
Ryan: That’s it.
Andy: You do a perfect one, then you do another perfect one, then you do another perfect one. As soon as you do one that is not perfect anymore-
Ryan: Cause you’re done.
Andy: That’s great. Stop your set. Then you rest for a little bit and then you do another set, you do a perfect one, then you do another perfect one. Then as soon as you do one that is not perfect anymore, stop your set and you rest. Well, how many sets should you do? This is again-
Ryan: Yeah same thing, exactly.
Andy: Is really easy. As soon as you start your set and you can’t even do one perfect one, stop doing sets. Now, if you have several exercises you’re doing, I might even say don’t do that many.
Ryan: Yeah, I agree.
Andy: In most of our programs, we start with 3 sets and we might work up to 5 sets because if your doing 5 or 6 exercises you’re not going to be … and you get to the point where you can only do one perfect repetition, then the next exercise you’re going to get 0 sets because you’re going to be so worn out that we cannot do any. You do also have to know, you have to be aware of the rate of how quickly you’re getting fatigued into your set and you have to leave a little in the bank for your next exercises but that’s how much you should be doing. You should be doing one good one and then another and then another. Don’t worry about how many total, it doesn’t really even matter.
Ryan: No it doesn’t.
Andy: You just need to be doing as many perfect reps as you can without compromising form, without compromising the other things that you need to do. That’s something that, it seems like it’s hard to figure out but it’s not, it really isn’t. If you practice doing this in your workouts, it doesn’t matter what program you’re doing whatever program you’re doing by whatever coach, it doesn’t matter. If you were to begin practicing doing one perfect rep until your form breaks, taking a rest and doing more and you practice this over the course of maybe 2, 3 weeks of workouts, you’re going to find that you get the feel of it really quickly. When you know that your set is done, when you know that you’re ready to go on to the next exercise. This is the process we talk about so much about learning yourself, about learning your body and how it responds to things. You have to train yourself to do this, it’s not automatic.
We have to write programs that say do this many sets because it gives you a starting point. Ultimately, as you practice over two months, three months, over four months of one of our programs or anyone else’s program, as you practice you’re going to know when you’re set is done and when it’s time to move on to the next exercise and if you don’t know then that means you haven’t been paying attention and you haven’t been doing the best reps that you can.
Ryan: That’s right. Now, just to say, if you were ever to come and train with me, for those of you listening, you would have no idea how many reps you did, you would have no idea how many sets you did but you would of had-
Andy: At our seminars, people have no clue because we ask them usually after-
Ryan: I do. I do. They’re-
Andy: Those sessions, how many squats did you just do?
Ryan: All of them!
Andy: Every squat.
Ryan: Every squat and that’s the thing. Last week in a workshop, I asked the same thing, we did a timed thing of frogger and monkey and I asked them right afterwards, how many squats did you do? No idea. Does it matter? No!
Andy: Of course, now you know the next seminar you some smart ass is going to listen to this and they’re going to count from the very beginning and they’re going to say, Ryan we just did 74 squats.
Ryan: Haha. We’re satanist. Get out of here. Yeah, I mean but again, in the scheme of things it really doesn’t matter, of course then, I’m sure, the next question people will have is then how do we know when we’re ready to move on? Well … quickly this is a whole other discussion but quickly since I just mentioned it. You know you’re ready to move on when the movement that you’re performing is at such a high level that the ease and quality is sustainable over a duration of time and so you’re able to just do it and it’s fine, you need more. Then you try the next level and see that you can comfortably do it, that’s when you’re ready to move on. Doesn’t mean that you’ve mastered the next level, it just simply means that you’re ready to work on it at a safe level. Moving on it’s not based on a number, it’s not based on a time to be honest. Every single person is different, you’ve got to understand and this is what Andy was hinting at earlier is that mindfulness is the most important thing in your practice. Do that one repetition as beautifully as you can and then try and repeat it.
Andy: Okay, this has been a longer than average episode. I think it’s been really good. We hit on a few different things here. We talked about measuring up to people. We talked about trying to make the most of the opportunities you have if your time is limited or even if it’s not. We talked about optimal amounts of time for different kinds of goals, when you should make lifestyle changes versus when you should just try to get some momentum with what you’ve got. We also talked very specifically about how to know how many reps and sets you should do. I know that we did not give actually numbers, we did not give you guys the answer but I think we gave you something that’s probably more valuable if you really put in the effort to learn it.
It’s a lot of things and I know we’re always going to get questions about this and if you do have any questions about how much to do in more specific situations, if you want more help figuring it out, send us an email. We’re not making this episode to shut everyone up. We’re making this to one: there isn’t a definitive answer and you don’t need to compare yourself. Two: that it’s a learning process and we are here to help you with the learning process so don’t hesitate to get in touch. Anyway that’s a lot of stuff we covered, Ryan do you have anything else you want to add here?
Ryan: No, this is great. I just want to say always thanks to everybody for listening and like Andy said, we’d love to get feedback from you. Again, we don’t have all the answers, we just have the experiences that we have-
Andy: But we’re good at making it up as we go alone.
Ryan: We’re good at making shit up. Again, thanks for listening everybody and we’d love to hear what you think.
Andy: Well, thank you very much and we’ll catch you next time.
Ryan: Bye bye.
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