While living our incredible busy, alarmingly finite lives we must be sure to use our time efficiently and effectively. This has been the focus of my study over the past few months as I have read anything I can get my hands on regarding the most important of topics, learning how to learn. I have found my efforts most rewarding while studying the works of Timothy Ferriss and Josh Waitzkin.
Author of best-selling books The 4-Hour Workweek
The Pareto principle states that for many events roughly 80% of the results comes from 20% of the causes.
This means that 80% of our growth in a specific skill can usually be attributed to only about 20% of our effort. With our time and energy being finite, we must emphasize the most productive 20% of our time, and remove the remaining 80% for more productive uses.
Upon studying my own habits in martial arts, strength training, and general acquisition of knowledge, I found the Pareto principle to hold true. In jiu jitsu I found it amazing how I could gain more in 5 minutes from a properly directed question than the act of simply just training intensely for 2 hours. This being a prime example that sheer effort is not enough:
Our efforts must be intelligently directed and with purpose.
In strength training no amount of complementary movements can ever replace a basic foundational lift, such as a deadlift. I have found a few sets of heavy deadlifts to be more fruitful than a plethora of seemingly “alternative” lifts for the same function. My journals have showed greater strength gains from 2 sets of deadlifts with NO other movements compared to performing workouts of up to 15 sets for the similar function of hip extension with various exercises. This decrease of training volume of nearly 90%, while still improving strength, results in having much more energy for my jiu jitsu training (the sole reason why I’m strength training in the first place).
I have always tried to stress the importance of purpose with my students in their jiu jitsu training. Every action should have a reason behind it. One mustn’t move simply to move. There should be a clear, definitive purpose behind said movement. This idea can, and must be applied to all of our actions.