Why 20% = 100%

Math, was never my strong point. But, hear me out, there’s a chance that by reading this, you’ll completely smash the next workout you take on. Whether that just so happens to be Fran, or, a good ol’ strength session, this, is a game changer.


The Pareto principle, or, the 80/20 rule; have you heard of it? No? Don’t worry, here’s a quick summary to get everyone up to speed:

“80%, of the effects (results) , comes from, 20% of the causes (efforts).”

Here’s some examples to bed that in:

  • 20% of your friends, bring 80% of the fun. Those 5-6 close friends – of say a larger group of 30 – across your social circles, bring you the most memories, fulfilment and joy.
  • 20% of customers, bring 80% of the profits. The hardcore fans – the dedicated – are the ones that bring 80% of the profit, over the life time of a product, or company.
  • 20% of your effort and energy to make improvement on your health (be that fat loss, improved fitness, strength…), bring about 80% change and improvement.

20% – that’s not a lot. You kinda feel like you’re being robbed of the 80%, right?!


Not the case. The 80% is absolutely critical to the result. But, do you actually know, what your 20% is vs your 80%? I’m going to argue not, especially the CrossFitters amongst us.

For too long you’ve gone hard at your golden results changing 20% effort (your 100% – see what I did there? ;-)), and that you no longer know what the the difference between 80% effort and 20% (100%) effort; and shit, thats the bit that makes all the difference!!

Let’s break this down a lil further, so we’re all on the same page when it comes to talking about 80%, 20% and 100%.


20% (100%) = This is when you go ALL OUT, pure discomfort, loss of control, suffer, sprint efforts, borderline vom, not sustainable, put simply, its 10/10 on the chart.

80% (80%) = The demonstration of control, comfort in this space, the ability to endure, sustain the effort for an undetermined amount of time, simply, an 8/10.


It’s no secret, the reason the likes of Rich Froning and Mat Fraser do so well, is when required, they have the ability to shift to a higher gear, that the rest of the field doesn’t possess. Largely because, during any given workout, Froning and Fraser, operate at 80% of their maximal capacity. They can shift to a higher gear, BECAUSE THEY STILL HAVE ONE. The rest of the field, will be fighting, at their near 20% (100%), deal breaking, effort, just to keep up.

It’s the same in your gym. You eyeball someone, you’re DEFINITELY going to beat them on this workout. You kill yourself to keep up in the first half of the workout, then die, reserving yourself to simply surviving the remainder of the workout, while they cruise in having barely broken a sweat.

But here’s the dealbreaker, only 20% of any workout, be that a solo session, strength workout, or, the last workout at the CrossFit Games, only 20% of that workout, actually makes a difference to the desired result. But, you have to HAVE both the awareness and ability to shift into that extra gear, that special place that makes all the difference.

You can not be 100%, 100% of the time.


At 100%, your movement will break down, it is not sustainable for optimal, efficient performance. You have to remain at your 80% effort, for 80% of the time, so that when shift to your 20% (the 100%), you make a fucking difference. Either you win a workout, get a personal best, achieve something of significance towards progress – the differentiator.

But, crucially, you have to know what your 80% feels like, in order to go to that dark place – that is the difference I see in good athletes vs the very best athletes. Not only is their 80% better than most, it’s also their modus operandi – what’s yours?

Ironically, I spend most of my time teaching people to get comfortable, with comfortable.

Social media has done a GREAT job of “teaching” the world that they need to suffer, hustle, burnout, go hard, 24/7, in order to get ahead and be successful – cheers instafucks.

But actually, thats NOT the case. Especially when it comes to attaining the elusive goal of, P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S.

Yes, 80% of your results will come from a golden 20% of hard efforts, but, no one, has difficulty with going all out. Nearly all, have an unsettling challenge with sitting in the 80%, the comfortable controlled space.

Remember, without your 80%, you can’t have your golden 20%. You need both.

When was the last time you got comfortable with your comfortable self? Or, are you forever chasing the pain cave?


Peace, Coach.

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