You ever wonder if you’re doing “enough” to get the results
you’re looking for?
How about if you’re doing “too much”?
How would you know for sure?
Do you have a checklist or are you just winging it?
Here’s why I’m asking –
I got one of the smartest questions yesterday about recovery
and results or lack of results.
I think the question speaks for itself, so here it is in it’s entirety:
I have been thinking about your recent email about recovery.
As someone who is taking classes from a hard-style RKC three
times per week and still not seeing the results I would like,
I’ve had a couple of questions (or versions of a question) come
to the fore:
How does one know that the amount of recovery they’ve got is
the right amount?
Or, to turn it around, how do I know if my problem is not
enough recovery or not enough work? Specifically, what’s the
gauge I should be looking at to tell whether I can take on
more work or need to rest more?
Here was my answer to Mike – but it applies to ALL
If you’re not seeing results, then something is DEFINITELY
wrong with something you’re doing. I can’t tell you exactly
100% for sure what it is, but here are some ideas/questions
that will help you to evaluate your situation:
1. Effort: How much effort are you putting forth in your
You should find the weights “challenging” but not “difficult”.
I usually recommend using the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale
(RPE) and keep it in the 6-8 out of 10 area. Sometimes drop down
to a 4-5 and sometimes go to a 9. Rarely go to a 10. Maybe 2-4
times a year. Maybe. Less frequently if you’re more advanced.
2. Work: How much volume (tonnage) is there in your current
Typically, people see results in strength work with anywhere
between 9 reps all the way up to 75 reps (ETK’s Rite of Passage
is 75 reps per side C+P). Usually the lower the volume, the
heavier the weight will be and vice versa.
Some people are built for reps, and some are built for load.
You’ll get stronger / grow muscle with one and not with the
other. Some people are right down the middle.
That’s just for one exercise. I like to keep (personally) total
reps per workout below 100. But that’s just me. That’s what my
body responds best to.
3. Sleep: If you’re sleeping less than 7 hours a night routinely,
this will also interfere with your results, no matter how
well-structured your program is.
Lack of sleep alters your stress hormone balance, increases
cortisol, and decreases growth hormone secretion among other
things, leading to lack of adaptation from workouts (lack of
4. Emotions: When your emotions get out of whack (technical
term) then it’s time to pull the car over and look under the
hood. Here are some things to look out for.
Irritability. If you find yourself irritable or more irritable
than normal, you’re overtraining/under-recovering.
Depression. This is also a sign of – or can be a sign of –
lack of recovery. Sleep more. Laugh more. Enjoy nature more.
Anxiety. Feeling anxious or increased worry is a sign of
stress, and can be brought on by working out too much or
having too much stress in your life.
5. Weight: Unexplained weight loss/weight gain. All things
being equal, most of us eat the same types of foods on a
regular and frequent basis within a pretty tight range.
If you suddenly see your weight drop and you look “stringy”
in the mirror, you might be experiencing too much stress.
Conversely, if you suddenly wake up with a little extra belly
fat and/or some lovehandles and you haven’t been a chowhound,
you’re also experiencing too much stress. Your cortisol and
insulin levels are out of balance.
6. Food: One of the mistakes people make when they undertake
a new workout program is they either eat too much because
they’re hungry and they put on weight or they undereat for
fear of putting on weight. Both are bad. Especially the
If you’re just trying to “get in shape” and lead a healthier
lifestyle by adding in KB workouts, leave your food alone.
If you’re trying to dump some bodyfat, don’t cut your calories
too drastically – this is one of the fastest ways to stall
Also, some people tend to eat to alleviate stress. And that
is one of the reasons people gain weight when they start
working out routinely.
Workouts = stress.
If you’re one of them, stop it. Seriously. It’s that simple.
So as you can see, there isn’t really just “one” gauge –
there are at least 6 to investigate regarding recovery.
If you can answer truthfully that all of those are in check,
than it could just be a case of poor program design, but I
wouldn’t know because I can’t see the programs you’re doing.
So anything other than that would be nothing more than a guess.
Here’s some more food for thought regarding those 6 items:
If you can honestly answer that those 6 items are all in check
and you’re still not seeing results, then it’s time to change
In many cases, if you could do less work instead of more and
see the same if not better results, why wouldn’t you do that?
And if you’ve got some of those areas to work on, then you
should definitely cut back on the duration and maybe even
frequency of your workouts to something less stressful and
Each one is designed to take into account all the stresses
in your life. That means you’ll only be working out 60-90
minutes total per week.
That way you can minimize the stress of your workouts and
focus on managing and balancing all the other items on that
checklist. Doing so will bring you the results you’re looking
P.S. Here’s an obvious one that I didn’t put in the list –
the stress of trying to decide which workout you should
do and whether or not you’re going to see results from