The 80/20 Rule

The Pareto Principle was inspired by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. Pareto was one of the first to analyze economics using statistics. In the late 1800s, he observed that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Later, while gardening, he noted that 20 percent of the peapods in his garden yielded 80 percent of the peas. This led to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of the causes. The idea that certain activities tend to give more return on investment applies to almost all aspects of life. In business, it has been said that 20 percent of customers account for 80 percent of sales. In life, that 20 percent of tasks are responsible for 80 percent of results. Fitness is a perfect example of how 80 percent of progress is usually accomplished through 20 percent of the work. 

For most people most of the time, sticking with basic multiple joint compound exercises are the best. Exercises like, push-ups, squats, deadlifts and pulls-up are all excellent choices. By performing these types of exercises, a trainee can greatly enhance the total amount of calories burned by taking advantage of additional calories burned after the training program is completed. This is known as EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption). The body needs to replenish muscle glycogen, or energy, contained in the muscle that's been depleted during the workout, restore the blood lactate levels to normal and bring down the heart rate and body temperature. All of this requires tremendous amounts of energy and will raise your metabolism 12 to 24 hours after or even longer. The same exercises that raise your metabolism are also great for strength gains, toning up, and will transfer over into everyday activities. However, as a personal trainer in a commercial gym I tend not to see this. Blame it on the internet, the health and fitness community, or the inherent human appetite for the newest, greatest, best thing ever.

Strength coach Martin Rooney explains in his book, “Warrior Cardio” his view on why despite more exercise knowledge than ever before the world is statistically becoming less fit. “First, people and trainers select and prescribe exercises according to what I call the Illogical four: novelty, coolness, ability to produce soreness and ability to produce fatigue”. I tend to witness the same idea, people are forgoing the tried and true basics for unproven and sometimes useless exercises. Adding variety and making the workout enjoyable are important factors, however don't forget the 80/20 rule. Start with the basics and then fill the rest of the workout with accessory exercises. If you don't know how to execute proper form on basic exercises such as the push-up and squat, seek the advice of a trained fitness professional. Please consult your doctor prior to starting any exercise program.

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