Some years ago, I learned about the 80/20 rule which I sadly didn’t adopt at the time.

Back in those years, I was one of those ‘all or nothing’ sort of guys who would train until they faint.

The 80/20 rule is regularly used as a guide to safe, progressive strength training, but over time I’ve realised that works equally well as a guiding principle for nutrition and lifestyle too.

The Perils of Over-Training & Losing Life-Balance

The training application of the rule says that training with no more than 80% of your maximum weight consistently is a much better option than pushing for 100%. That’s the 80/20 rule right there. And as you get older, the truer this rule is.

Recovery – which is often overlooked and under appreciated by trainees – is just as important as training itself. I’ve found this out from bitter experience.

Training to 80% effort means that you recover much better and faster, therefore, you can workout the next day again. Leaving the 20% in the tank ensures that you stay injury-free and are able to enjoy other activities apart from strength training.

Like I lamented before, I used to be the diehard fitness fanatic. I only ate the egg whites, measured my carbs constantly and was probably responsible for the over harvesting of tuna in the ocean!

Life was hard for me and also for the people around me. In hindsight, I was a bit of a bore. I am surprised that I still have some of my friends from those years.

I was dieting and training to look the best I possibly could. What I failed to recognise was that, although I did look okay, I never felt great.

I stressed about going out for a meal or going to watch a footy game because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find food that fit my nutrition criteria. I was stressed about going away for a weekend because it would interfere with my weight training routine.

That ain’t living! That’s not living your best life. It is not a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Applying the 80/20 rule to exercise and diet

The 80/20 guide to Healthy Training & Eating

With age comes wisom. Nowadays, I am much more relaxed and let myself enjoy a great Italian pasta dish or a quality burger. I feel great, have tons of energy and my friends don’t hide from me when I call them to catch up.

The nutrition application of the 80/20 rule is a guide to becoming healthier without sacrificing your social life, giving up enjoying your favourite pizza and dessert, or partaking in alcohol here and there.

It seems to work really well for all my clients too. They make an effort from Monday to Friday to stick with eating smaller, healthier portions, get their short workouts done and stay away from the beer and wine.

Come the weekend, they are able to enjoy a nice restaurant with their friends, savour a few drinks and stay out late, without sabotaging their results and without feeling guilty.

Try it yourself and seek out balance in your life. You can still feel and look great whilst occasionally wolfing down a fabulous Margherita pizza.

Give the 80/20 rule a go and see if it works for you.


The Signs of Overtraining (How to Avoid Burnout and Recover Faster)

Weight Training Through Injury: Advice for those who take it seriously

My Health My Happiness

The ABCs of Building Healthy Eating Habits: (improving Food Attitude, Behaviour and Coping Skills)

Are You Eating Enough? (Know The Warning Signs)