Seven Steps to Simplifying Your Training

Photo by LUNAMARINA/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by LUNAMARINA/iStock / Getty Images

The "80/20" rule, aka the Pareto principe, is an economic concept, originally for businesses.  Basically, it is that in most cases, 20% of what a company does brings in 80% of their sales.  20% of the people provide 80% of the results.  

That principle can be applied broadly to a lot in life.  Training is no exception.  We have strived at FF for years to hone in on that 20% that provides 80% of our results.  Prioritize, simplify, perfect, repeat.  

We provide GPP (general physical preparedness) and some more specific training as well.  That GPP is to make you generally stronger and better conditioned.  We don't spend hours doing mobility work.  We don't have you balance on BOSU's or expensive miniature seesaws.  We don't have you standing in front of a mirror doing curls.  - NOTE, there are a lot of people that think curls are evil and not "functional".  That's not us, we just prefer to spend our time on stronger, more compound movements.  The process of prioritize-simplify-perfect-repeat has weighed curls and found them less than a priority, leaving them behind in favor of pull-ups, rows, etc.  

Whether you're one of our athletes or not, you really ought to take a look at your own training through this lens.  You want to be strong.  What will help you more with that, curls, or weighted chin-ups?  You want to bigger traps.  Would it be better to spend a ton of time doing shrugs, or (to paraphrase Jim Wendell) take your time and finally have big traps as well as a physique to match it because you have a huge deadlift?  

You want to be faster and better conditioned.  What helps you get there more, solid interval workouts or "recovery runs" and slow runs?  Would you be better off focusing on interval work and allowing greater recovery the rest of the week?  

And in a wider sense.  You want to achieve these goals but it's hard to be consistent, take care of your family/work, and in general have a life.  All the more reason to take a look at your training, leave aside everything besides that core 20% that accomplishes 80% of your goals.  

Here are 7 steps to get you started:

  1. Get rid of isolation.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  I said I'm not one of those guys that thinks curls are evil.  But for the vast majority of training goals, they're just not that good of a use of time/energy.  
  2. Get rid of your vanity.  Unless you're literally trying to be a competitive bodybuilder, your successful training means lifting more, running faster, etc.  Stop worrying about how you look.  Let your body gradually look better because you ARE better.
  3. Be humble.  Acknowledge what you're good at and what you're not.  In the gym, that might mean people seeing your weak lifts.  But that humility will let you focus on actually doing work instead of how your work appears.  
  4. Get under the bar.  Leave the smith machines, leg presses and anything else that makes your life easier behind.  Do real lifts.  
  5. Trim down the assistance work.  A lot of people will sweat it out over exactly what assistance work to do, instead of worrying about their big lifts, the mainstays of their conditioning, etc.  If you can put 100% of your energy into the core of your workout, then go home... you will be more consistent, you will put more into what actually matters, and therefore in the end get better results
  6. Limit your warmups.  Most people skip the warm-ups.  But there's those out there who will spend more time warming up than they will actually training.  Get the blood flowing, get loose, and get to your actual work.  Doing deadlift today?  Novel idea- start with a light deadlift and build up.  There, you're warm.  
  7. Keep your eyes on the prize.  Have a goal.  Have a specific challenge you are training for.  Keep your training focused on making that happen.   Anything that does not help you is a waste of time, and you should ditch it.  Going for TACP?  How exactly is "arm day" helping you again?  If your squat were better, rucking would probably go a lot easier for you.  While you're at it, why aren't you out running sprints?  

Take a step back.  Swallow your vanity, then take the steps.  Prioritize.  Simplify.  Perfect.  Repeat.  

Posted on January 10, 2015 and filed under Inspiration.