The 80/20 Rule


Nate Green had a great blog post today about the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule.  First posited by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto (sweet name), the 80/20 rule first referred to the observation that 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of it’s people.  Today it has been greatly expanded to a much more general “80% of effects come from 20% of causes.”  Unsurprisingly, the 80/20 rule holds true in the fitness and nutrition world as well; 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Nate has a pretty breakdown of “the 20%” which will bring you most of your results:

- Foam roll and static stretch tight areas.
- Do heavy compound movements that work a lot of muscle mass.
- Train your freakin’ legs (you have no idea how many guys don’t do this).
- Take as little rest as possible between sets.
- Go to the gym a minimum of three times per week (I like 4 or 5).
- Don’t “ego” lift
- Stop eating shit you know is bad for you.
- Eat every 2-4 hours.
- Have protein with every meal.
- Limit carbs to veggies and fruits and have them in the morning.
- Eat more than 100 grams of good fat per day.

Nate goes on to talk a little about some topics besides fitness, but he covers the good stuff.  Check out the full article on The Nate Green Experience.

I would only add one bit to Nate’s post.  Don’t get bogged down on the rest of the 80% of efforts (supplements, training & periodization minutia, carb cycling, etc) until you are well in control of the 20%.  You’ll waste a ton of time focusing on the little stuff and getting tiny marginal gains for your efforts.  Nail the 20% and watch the progress roll in.

How else do you apply the 80/20 rule?  Leave it in the comments.