Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Friend Pareto

Many fitness and strength and conditioning authors have written about the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 principle), which, in the simplest terms possible, is the idea that 80% of all meaningful sales (or results, effects, profits, etc) come from a measly 20% of customers (or work, input, causes, products, etc). This line of thinking is helpful because it frees us from the well-intentioned, but misguided, notion that the relationship between work and results is always linear. The truth is, for better or for worse, that the majority of our training adds very little to our performance and conversely, it is a relatively small percentage of our training time that is having the greatest impact on our goals.

What does this mean for my training?

*In a given month, about four sessions in the weight room are going to be the ones that make or break me.

*In a given week, one training session is more important than all the others.

*In any single session, on average, one set is going to be the money set.

*Of all the exercises I do in my training, only a few of them are having real, dramatic impact.

*A few problem areas (like shoulders, lower back, etc.) will be more prone to injury and account for most of any training time lost on the DL.

*It means that I should be cognizant that certain avenues are more productive training wise and that those avenues are subject to change without notice.

*It means that I should do more of the stuff that is meaningful and, where it is apparent, eliminate the fluff that may help my ego, but not my performance.

*Do less, better.

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