How to apply the 8/20 principle to fitness
Man doing bicep curls

The 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto principle) can be seen as a universal principle that we can apply to our lives. Although it is mostly used in business, when companies want to see the 20% of their employees make 80% of the difference, which helps them determine potential future layoffs, it can be applied to fitness as well. After all, lifestyle changes, rather than our diet, is what leads to sustainable weight loss.

80/20 vs Rigid Dieting

Rigid and crash dieting can often lead to regaining those few lost pounds after one gets frustrated due to the heavy restrictions. Low calorie diets are known for increasing cortisol levels, which can lead to frequent mood swings, a feeling of constant tiredness, a weakened immune system, higher food cravings, and a lower sex drive. What the 80/20 principle suggests is moderation and balance. These two words seem to have crept into the vocabulary of personal trainers, nutritionists, and health bloggers who give support the principle. Simply add more of what makes the most impact and reduce what makes the least impact. Eat healthy and nutritious foods (but in moderation, don’t overdo the calorie intake), eat vegetables, fruits, and foods high in fiber and water to fill up, avoid eating when you’re not really hungry, and listen to your body’s hunger signals.

The Importance of Effective Sleep
You need to sleep better, not more. Because our sleep cycles occur in about 90-minute increments, try planning to wake up at the end of a cycle. Otherwise, if you wake up during a REM phase, you’re likely going to wake up tired. When you manage to improve the quality of your sleep, you won’t need to hit the snooze button or drink more caffeine, because you’ll have more energy and feel more refreshed in the first hours of the day. Also, taking naps in mid-day or after work can be extremely restorative, because they can provide a great energy boost.

Reduce Your Sugar Intake
The body can be triggered to crave more sugar and store fat by even a small intake of processed sugar. On the other hand, the rate at which your body burns the carbs you eat can be increased by small amounts of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, getting you to absorb less, and burn more fat.

High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT is probably the best way to get your body to burn more calories over time, and raise its metabolic rate more effectively as well. If you’d rather work smart than hard, then a focused HIIT session should replace your long cardio sessions. The only time that you’re yielding results is when you’re moving your body weight, and placing your muscles under stress and tension. If you commit three hours to a workout, about half an hour of it really matters. If you want to increase your workout efficiency, try this schedule:
– no commute (walk or run)
– dynamic warm-up (5 minutes)
– 15 minutes conditioning at a high intensity
– 20 minutes focused on one barbell lift
– cool down (5 minutes)
This will only take 45 minutes out of a 24-hour day. That’s efficiency.
If you are a beginner when it comes to working out, sticking to the basics is always the best thing to do, and by following a complete workout routine for beginners, you will achieve a proper form.

If It Holds You Back – Don’t Do It
First, take that one activity you spend the most of your time on. Then, list the major types of actions you perform related to that activity, and list the impact each of them has. Reorder the list by moving the activities with the highest impact to the top. Can you cut down some of the activities that are on the bottom of the list? Over time, you’ll manage to do more of the high-impact activities and multiply their impact.

Moderation in nutrition, better sleep, reducing bad and empty calories, and a quality training routine are all the elements of the 80/20 principle. When combined, these changes can make a difference more easily than a diet that’s radically modified. Adopt good habits and stick to them.

By Samantha Oliver

Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition, and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Ripped.me, or in a tea shop.

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