I was watching some online videos of CT Fletcher the other day, which are always very entertaining and in a way, a breath of fresh air.
While everyone else seems to be focusing on making working out more and more complicated, CT’s keeps his principles very simple – train hard, as often as you can, and for as many reps as you can.
You can’t get any simpler than that!
As an IFBB Figure competitor I’ll be the first to admit that we put a lot of thought and research into my training program. We also experiment with different exercise protocols, to find what produces the best results for me.
But that’s competition – we expect to have to search for every little advantage we can get, in our workouts, our diet, our supplementation, and so on. We also need to focus on sculpting our body to achieve as close as possible to the physique that the judges are looking for.
But what about those women who don’t compete, but rather are just trying to lose some weight and get into better shape? What’s the best approach for them?
Is it CT’s “keep it simple” hard work philosophy, or is there something to be gained from looking for more, shall we say, cutting-edge, and hopefully more effective, exercise programs?
Well, as is often the case, the answer is “it depends”.
In fact this very question started me thinking about something called the Pareto principle, otherwise known as the 80-20 rule, as it applies to fitness.
The Pareto principle actually originated in the world of business and economics, where it was observed that 80% of the wealth is usually owned by about 20% of the population, and 80% of one’s sales come from about 20% of their clients.
It’s since been found that the Pareto principle applies in many areas of life, however. As a general rule it basically states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.
As far as fitness and weight loss goes, the 80-20 rule is that 80% of your results come from 20% of the complexity. In other words, they come from simple exercise and good, healthy food.
This is where CT Fletcher is coming from. He recognizes that the majority of people’s problem is not that their exercise program isn’t absolutely optimal and their form isn’t technically perfect, but rather that they waste their time being too concerned with fine details when they should just be getting out there and taking care of the basics first.
Unless you’re actually doing your workouts, even at a basic level, and adhering to a good, sensible diet, nothing else really matters – it’s all icing on the cake. What good is icing when there is no cake?
We often get asked the question, what supplements do I need to take?
No one needs any supplements. All anyone needs is the basics – the simple stuff – the 20%. Over and above that, anything extra can improve your results but it gives you smaller returns by comparison, and it isn’t absolutely essential to your success.
The problem in the fitness and weight loss industry is that all the marketing that we’re constantly being exposed to focuses our attention on the more complicated stuff, like supplements, the latest fad diets, special gadgets and exercise gizmos, fancy workout programs that supposedly create incredible results in no time, and so on.
That’s because this is what sells. It’s glamorous and exciting, whereas basic is boring.
At the end of the day, this actually holds many people back because it distracts them from what’s really important – the basics – and keeps them focused on the detailed stuff. So they waste their time chasing one product after another, believing each one to be the solution to their problem, when of course it isn’t.
So getting back to our original question, “is there something to be gained from looking for more cutting-edge, and hopefully more effective, exercise programs?”, the answer is yes there is, but if and only you’re already covering the basics.
Remember, the simple basics are what give you 80% of your results.
Get into the gym and start exercising. If you’re not sure about weights, sets, reps, etc., don’t worry – just start working. After a while you’ll learn about all those details. You’ll even get to the point when you start experimenting with more complex stuff – things like drop sets, rest pauses, pyramid sets, and so on.
All these things will help speed up your progress, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that you do the work, even if it’s at a basic level.
The same goes for your diet. Stick to a good, clean diet with an appropriate calorie intake over and above anything else. Then and only then you can add supplements, and try things like a high protein diet, carb cycling, and so on.
So the 2 rules of thumb to remember for successful weight loss and fitness are:
- Take care of the simple stuff first – this is what gives you 80% of your results, and don’t let anything sidetrack you or deviate you from it.
- Then and only then add some more detailed stuff to try to improve your results if you wish, as long as it doesn’t violate Rule 1.
Too many people are brainwashed into believing that it’s the more complicated stuff that’s responsible for your success. It isn’t.
It may help you get there sooner, but at the end of the day the basics will never let you down.