With the overabundance of exercise and nutrition information available today, it is all too easy for fitness enthusiasts and beginners alike to become inundated with and confused by a multitude of varying ideas and theories. Often, this surplus of information can distract you from what is really important and effective in achieving your goals. In 1906, Vilfredo Pareto noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Applying this theory to another application, Pareto noted that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. Businessman Dr. Joseph Juran suggested this principle later and named it The Pareto Principle, or the 80-20 rule. Basically it states that roughly 80% of the effects in any application come from 20% of the causes. So how can you apply this principle to maximize your fitness results? Essentially, you can focus on the 20% of what really matters the most, and deemphasize the other 80% In The Marines, they call this K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid)
In a fitness context, the 20% of what really matters can be identified as a few key points. Keep your focus primarily on these and you are sure to maximize your results in the gym:
• Put in your time - Working out hard, consistently, over time. Whether you do this machine or that machine isn't nearly as important as that you do one of them, and do it hard and consistently.
• Follow a solid program - It doesn't need to be absolutely perfect, but follow a plan that places emphasis on what it is you wish to accomplish. Trying to find the perfect workout plan will leave you frustrated and chasing your own tail.
• Have good nutrition - You don't need a food scale and you don't need to cut out all salt and fat, but follow a solid, fundamentally sound diet plan.
• Adjust you workout program and diet periodically - As you progress, you will need to adjust your diet to better suit the new and better you. Likewise, you also you will need to step up your workouts to ensure they remain highly challenging.
• Allow recovery time - Give yourself adequate time to recover from your workouts. Overtraining will sap results
These five points should be paramount to any other strategies you can think of. Follow these and you will achieve 80% of all that is possible for you to achieve. These are the meat and potatoes of success in your quest for fitness. Everything else is seasoning, ketchup, cooking your steak medium or medium well, and whether or not you have a lemon wedge in your water. While they make a difference, they don't affect the bottom line of what took place; you still ate a steak and potato.
This minutia is what so many of us get caught up in and lose sight of the big picture. These can come in multiple forms, but if they aren't one of the five above, they are within the 80% of the somewhat trivial details. These can include:
• Eat an apple or banana after you train
• Use 80 pounds or 90 pounds on this next set
• Drink coffee or not before a workout
• Workout in the morning or evening
• Eat four or five meals per day
• Do dumb bell flyes or Pec Dec
There are countless examples of these, but these above illustrate the point. They all matter in the pure sense of the word, however all of these combined don't add up to half of the importance of just one of the key five listed above. Don't be fooled by all the fitness publications drilling into intricate details of pinpoint diets and exact angles for the incline press. They ran out of important material to write about in the 80's. Every so often a new development or supplement comes to light, but for the most part, they talk about the 80% that doesn't make much of a difference to the bottom line.
In summary, think about your work outs and diet, but don't go into such detail that your attention is pulled away from what's important. More work doesn't equal more results, but smarter work does.