Why You Shouldn’t Overcomplicate Your Workouts (For Now) – The 80/20 rule
Reading random online health and fitness advice can sometimes be confusing, and lead to you having a million more questions.
How many reps should I be doing? What’s the best thing to eat after a workout? What’s the best cardio to do?
The bottom line is that it depends on your goals, your individual preferences, and where you’re at in your fitness journey.
Something that’s always stuck in my mind is the 80/20 rule. There’s a couple of interpretations floating around, however there are two ways you can think about it when you’re talking about nutrition and fitness:
- Try and eat healthy, nutritious food 80% of the time, and allow 20% of the other time for treats and indulgences. This will allow you to still reach your goals long term, while allowing the body and mind to rest, relax, and enjoy life. Restriction and cutting out any one particular thing will likely result in binges, and a bigger bounce back when you do eventually have it again.
- For the majority of the population, we worry too much on the smaller details of fitness (the 20%), while still not getting the basics correct (the rest of the 80%.). For example, if you’re not already being consistent in attending the gym, nailing the 80/20 nutrition rule, and following some kind of a programme (rather than aimlessly turning up and hoping for the best), then that will all go further than worrying about exactly what brand of peanut butter to buy.
For the majority of people trying to start kicking bad habits and reach their goals, you need to:
- A) You enjoy what you’re doing, and
- B) Do whatever sort of diet or fitness routine you’re doing is healthy and works for YOU.
The rise of fitness competitions and freely available information on the internet via bloggers has meant that health and fitness has got a bit complicated somewhat. People making sweeping statements about one food being better than another, or how exercise X is “better” than Y due to Z, has made its way into mainstream media before the majority of people have actually got a grip on the 80% of fitness that actually matters – get moving, learn to lift weights properly without injury, and get yourself in a good mental state regarding what you eat on a daily basis.
Drinking your protein shake an hour after you planned, or killing yourself in the morning because you heard that fasted cardio is better, just isn’t going to help if you haven’t developed the fundamentals. Just get on and do it, and enjoy making new healthier habits. Yes you may argue that you’d rather ‘start right’ from the beginning, but honestly, spend less time worrying about peanut butter and more about your deadlift form.
To work on developing your own 80/20 balance, start by changing one thing per week that you’d like to work on. Once you’ve done that, move onto the next thing. Trying to change your entire lifestyle at once means you’re more likely not to stick to it, and the habits to be short-lived.
Remember that motivation goes up and down so you can’t rely on it – consistency in healthy habits is key!