With the hectic lifestyle most of us have these days, it would be wise to make some efficiency changes to your fitness program. Living healthy and fit is a lifestyle that many of us don’t even think about anymore. The way we live our lives now is second nature. We’ve found what works best for us and we’ve developed a routine that best fits into our day to day lives.
What you probably didn’t realize was that along the way, you were slowly developing your own 80/20 plan. By being aware of the 80/20 principle, you can start taking a more efficient approach to fitness.
What is the 80/20 Rule?
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes . In other words, 80% of your results will come from 20% of what you’re doing.
Since we’re talking about applying this principle to our fitness lifestyle, that would mean that 80% of our fat loss, muscle building, agility, flexibility, or any other fitness marker comes from the top 20% of our training and nutrition.
Applying the 80/20 Rule to Nutrition
So, how do you apply the 80/20 rule to your fitness lifestyle? The key is to do what is going to give you the biggest return on investment (ROI).
When it comes to nutrition, this means you first need to focus on what makes the biggest difference in your body composition. There are a couple of factors that influence this the most, but there is only one that can make you fit and lean, or morbidly obese – calories.
Focus on counting your calories. Your calorie intake is going to have the biggest influence on your outcome. We all have the goal of not counting calories and just eating healthy. This is a great goal to have, but one that puts the cart before the horse.
Counting your calories will teach you about the nutrition profiles of the foods you eat, and will lay the foundation for controlling portion sizes. Use a piece a paper, your phone, a website, or an app, and log all the food you eat every day. Once you find your maintenance calories, it makes it a breeze to lose weight.
Calories might be the most important factor when it comes to body composition, but it’s certainly not the only factor. This leads me to the second biggest influencing factor on your body composition – macronutrient ratios.
Many people will argue that macronutrient ratios don’t matter. They believe that you can eat whatever you want from whatever macronutrient, and as long as your calorie intake is the same, your weight loss will be the same. I disagree.
If you’re dieting and losing a lot of muscle in the process, you’re doing something wrong. Try to reexamine your macronutrient ratios. Are you eating enough protein? Are you eating more carbohydrates than you’re using? Eating all your essential fatty acids?
Applying the 80/20 Rule to Training
How do you apply the 80/20 rule to training? You pick the exercises that are going to do the most for your particular goals. If your goal is to put on muscle, you can go and do isolation exercise after isolation exercise, but compound movements that recruit maximum muscle fibers are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck.
I have yet to meet anyone who couldn’t get the musculature they wanted using solely compound exercises. If you’re an elite bodybuilder, those isolation exercises can separate you from the pack. For everyone else, the bench, squat, deadlift, rows, and other compound movements are all you need.
Are you trying to be a better sprinter? Running distances over a mile might help some, but explosive weight training and short sprints are going to give you most of your results.
Are you a marathoner? Weight training might help you some in rougher terrains, but doing more long distance running and interval training will give you the best return on investment.
Using the 80/20 rule for your fitness lifestyle can help you make better use of your time and energy. Your time is limited. Train and eat smarter, and you’ll be attaining 80% of your results with much less effort.