I Like Big Rocks and I Cannot Lie

The Pareto Principle is a great organizing concept that can be applied pretty much every element of life.  From Wikipedia:

“The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.  Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.”

Or to put it another way, 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  You can use this principle to decide how best to allocate your time and energy in all realms of life, and it can be of great benefit when applied to your gettin- sexy- time.

For those of you who are super busy and struggle to make time for the gym, it highlights the importance of using “big bang for your buck” exercises (squats, deadlifts, pushups, chinups, etc.) over … um … not “big bang for your buck exercises” (tricep kickbacks, calf raises, trying to get the cute girl on the treadmill to notice your biceps by doing endless barbell curls right in front of her treadmill even though at this point its obvious she’s not at all interested and never will be and very well may be a lesbian anyway hey wait that’s totally not fair just because she’s not interested in you she’s a lesbian what kind of egomaniac are you maybe she has a boyfriend you jerk).

“My… what big rocks you have.”

This is why I encourage you to focus on your “big rocks” when training.  If you can only work out for 2 or 3 hours total in a week, you would do well to focus on the the exercises that are going to contribute the biggest returns to your goals with the least time investment.   You’re going to develop a lot more functional strength, build more muscle, and burn more calories doing squats than you will doing leg extensions.

Since time and energy are an inherently limited resource, I think this is of great value in analyzing how you’re spending your time and energy in all realms of your life. If you’re looking for elite level performance, then yes, the other 80 percent matter a lot.  But for the areas where you are just looking for solid results so that you have the time and energy to spend on exceptional results elsewhere, focus on your big rocks.

And if fitness is something you don’t have unlimited time to spend on, for the love of all that’s holy, stop doing machine ab crunches.  You’re burning like 2 calories, you’re setting yourself up for low back problems, and chances are (like 99.99999%) the real reason you don’t have defined abs is because you’re not lean enough.  Sheesh.


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