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Pareto principle, or a guide to become more efficient in your life and workout by adhering to the 80/20 rule

  • The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of our results comes from 20% of our actions
  • This principle has proved to be very effective in predicting statistical events at economic and social levels.
  • The Pareto principle can be used as a tool to make us more efficient by analysing what makes us waste time and reducing or eliminating it from our routine.
  • In training, we can use the Pareto principle to achieve a more effective and efficient workout. Practicing a workout like HIIT can be a great way to get good results quickly.
It was 1897 when Vilfredo Pareto, Italian economist and sociologist, proved at the University of Lausanne that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the Italian populace. This demonstration led to the conclusion that 80% of the Italian (taxable) wealth belonged to a fifth of the overall population, which was then to be considered as the demographic to be most taken care of by the Italian government. From there, his findings spurred into the so-called Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, an empirical statistical rule stating that:

80% of the results will come from only 20% of the actions

Put into more simplistic terms, the Pareto principle advocates that the majority of what you will achieve will come from very little actions throughout the day, or in three words: less is more.
The Pareto principle proved to be extremely effective, resonating in many aspects of economics, health, sports and daily life. Some of the most interesting findings that confirmed this principle are:

  • The Pareto principle in business: in a given firm, 20% of all customers accounts for 80% of total profits
  • The Pareto principle in healthcare: 20% of all patients accounts for 80% of total healthcare spending
  • The Pareto principle in informatics: 20% of all software bugs caused 80% of total software crashes
  • The Pareto principle in crime prevention: 20% of all crimes are committed by 80% of criminals

The “universal truth” of the Pareto principle, though not necessarily represented by the 80/20 ratio, is a tenet we live with on a daily basis, a pattern that unconsciously guides our choices. Think about the clothes you have vs. the clothes you wear: how many times do you put the same shirt or jacket on with respect to the other ones you own?

Admit it: How many clothes are in the closet just collecting dust?
We could make countless more examples, such as the number of people you know vs. the number of people you spend time with, or the number of apps you have on your phone vs. the number of apps you actually use and so on.

How to use the 80/20 rule and become more efficient

All this information is extremely interesting, but how can the Pareto principle actually better your life? The Pareto principle can be seen as a very useful tool to make you more effective and save you a lot of time.

As we have discussed previously, one of the corollaries stemming from the Pareto principle is that most things in life are not equally distributed and that, if unchecked, we will inevitably do more and more time-consuming activities that lead to lower and lower results (an effect known as the Law of Diminishing Returns).

Think if Michelangelo hadn't added this detail
It is important to stress that the Pareto principle is not a shortcut to do less: if Michelangelo had painted 80% of the Sistine Chapel in 20% of his time and had left 20% of the chapel blank, the Pope would have not been very pleased; after all, he still had to hand in 100% of his masterpiece.

Rather, the 80/20 rule states that by focusing on those actions that yield the most results and either cutting down or delegating those that do not, you can increase your overall productivity multiple-folds.

What you have to do is to analyse an average day and note down what you do, the result each task brings, how important this result is and how long it takes to complete the task.

You can break down the 80/20 rule to the actions that are needed for a single task, tracking down the potential time waste and choosing how to deal with it. The important thing is that you are honest with yourself and identify what makes you lose time, why and if it is necessary in order to achieve a better result.

We are only humans after all, and we have limited hours and energies. In this light, the Pareto principle can greatly help us in the definition of a strategic plan, making our lives, if not easier, definitely more effective.

Become more efficient by cutting what you don't need

The Pareto principle in training

It goes without saying that the Pareto principle has a big echo in sports and training. In this environment, the 80/20 rule takes this form:

80% of the results of our workout comes from 20% of the time we spend at the gym

This subject has gained considerable interest in the fitness environment, where people are asking for more time efficient training schedules with equal or better results. This is hardly surprising, given that people have less free time and thus cannot afford to spend as much time doing the same activity (another example of how the Pareto principle affects us).
Skillathletic is the brand new training format powered by Technogym
To counter this, specific training regimens have arisen. Among them, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) formats are by far the most popular. These formats are designed to achieve the best physical training possible in the shortest amount of time.

The best HIIT training formats, like Skillrun Bootcamp or Skillathletic, are taught by qualified trainers and are performed in a group, making the whole atmosphere more engaging and fun, while providing an effective and sweat-inducing workout that is sure to hit the right objective.

Group classes and the presence of a trainer are two of the reasons why HIIT has extremely popular. However, the reasons why HIIT is such a Pareto Principle-friendly workout are the sure results HIIT gets you within a short timeframe. In fact, HIIT raises your basal metabolic rate and makes you burn calories more effectively both in and out of training.

Furthermore, the best HIIT workout aims for Total Body Performance, which makes your whole body move through a series of complex exercises.

the mywellness app is the app designed to be your digital trainer
HIIT workouts aside, you can apply the Pareto principle in many other forms, as long as you keep an 80/20 mentality. Hence, find out what gives you the greatest results and add more of it; conversely, either reduce or cut down entirely those exercises or routines that do not give you any benefit - in that regard, technology that saves you time, like mywellness app or e-trainers placed on smart equipment, are a tremendous boon.

You will see that if you stay true to your objectives, you will multiply the effects of your workout, leaving you some extra time you can enjoy out of the gym.

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