In business, we have the 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule says that you get 80% of your business from 20% of your customers.

I can’t say if that is true for every business in the world, but it is true for many.

I am going to stretch the 80/20 rule to your diet and training to get you through the holidays without losing strength and getting fat.

I am willing to bet that you get 80% of your results from 20% of what you do in the gym or pretty close to that.
What I mean is that if you look at your program, I’ll bet that about 20% of it is your main lifts and the other 80% is warming up, accessory work, cooling down and fluff stuff that doesn’t do much.

I am also willing to bet that if you stretch the rule and say that if you stick to your clean eating 80% of the time and mess up 20% of the time you will be doing better than 99% of America.

Let me explain this before I get an assload of hate mail.

  • I am not saying that you can screw up on your training and diet 20% of the time and expect to be successful.
    I am not saying that you should not give any less than 100% to anything you do.
    I am not saying that the typical EliteFTS reader is the average person.

driven (1)

You are more DRIVEN.
However, we all screw up from time to time, especially at holiday parties.

This is a quick guide to plan your screw ups and get through a stressful season for many AND be able to celebrate the holidays without your family getting mad at you.

Let’s back up a bit…

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s we see a huge amount of shopping, parties, travel and a lot less of free time or training time.
Sure, if you are in your 20’s you can get around a lot of this but if you are a little older, have kids or a wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, well, you get the idea. Time becomes a huge issue.

Tons of people shorten training, skip it, eat like crap due to less time and more temptation.

I am going to explain the 80/20 rule as it applies to training and diet.

Obviously, we need to be driven and dedicated to excel at our sport. There are no shortcuts, but in the short term if we plan accordingly, we can all still make progress and live a balanced life. What I am about to explain is not a year-round strategy.

It is a short-term solution to a very real issue.

Looking at the 80/20 rule with training, I’ll bet that the bulk of your results come from the main lifts that you do. Yes, you must do mobility, accessory, GPP and cool down work, but without the main lift (think: Squat, Bench and Deadlift) you are going nowhere.

I’ll also bet that the main lifts make up about 20% or maybe a little more of your overall training program.

If we take the 80/20 rule and apply it to training over the holidays and be sure that we get the most important aspect of the sessions done at 100% of our ability, you’ll be far more ahead of the game than if you skipped sessions.
Seems like common sense, right?

Here are two options for you.

1. Perform planned, shortened sessions when you know you’ll have a limited amount of time.
You could Squat and Deadlift in one session then call it a day and in the next Bench and do an upper accessory and a lower accessory lift.
This will not get you to the XPC finals as a long-term strategy, but it will keep you in the gym and on track in the short term.
Do 20% or a little more.


You can base your week off of 9 days instead of 7. I did this a lot when I was working 90+ hours a week and training Westside. It didn’t get me maximum results, but it did allow me to get all of my bases covered.

It sounds complicated but it is simple.

Let’s use a Westside template as an example.

Training is 4 days per week like this:

  • Max Effort Lower-Monday
    Max Effort Upper-Wednesday
    Dynamic Upper-Friday
    Dynamic Lower -Sunday
    Cycle repeats

If you go off a 9 day week it will look like this:

  • Max Effort Lower-Monday
    Max Effort Upper-Wednesday
    Dynamic Lower- Friday
    Dynamic Upper- Monday
    Max Effort Lower-Wednesday
    Max Effort Upper-Friday
    And so on.

It’s not perfect, but you’ve added an extra day of free time to the week.

If you go ahead and use the 80/20 rule further and only do the 20% Main exercises, you’ll be out of the gym in half the time adding more time to your holiday schedule and keeping your loved ones happy.

squat bench dead

This system can be applied to a 3 day per week rotation too, just train twice a week and use the 9 day week format.

So, a typical week would be:

  • Monday-Squat

On the 80/20 rule it would be:

  • Monday- Squat
    Wednesday- Bench

You can pick the days that you train yourself.

This is not as I said, a long-term success plan, it is a keep yourself and your family sane plan.

Let’s move on to diet.

This is where it will sound like a license to screw up but it is not.

We all need to have balance.
We all need to enjoy life.

I love the holidays, some don’t. Either way, we are all tempted to eat foods that are not on the plan, or drink a bit more than normal. No one wants to be with the guy at the party who is talking about his macros and how this party is screwing his plan up.

I suggest this, live a little. Have fun. Be tactical.

I tell my beginning nutrition clients that if they follow the plan 80% of the time, they will be close to 80% better off than on what they did before.
80% compliance will not get you in John Meadows shape, but it will keep you 80% closer to your goals for a week or two than going off book and saying screw it.

Try this:

  • Stick to your plan all week.
    Cut your carb intake down too.
    Follow it 100% during the week.
    When the weekend and the parties come, follow your plan 80% of the day.
    When it’s party time, go off book for the remaining 20% of the day. Enjoy yourself.
    Get right back on the plan the next day 100%.

Think of it like an EXTENDED cheat meal that lasts for the night.

Of course you don’t need to do this, you can stick to things 100% , but I know that if I go to a party I am not counting calories unless they are in the form of Jameson and cake.
Live your life and enjoy the season.

This works well for those who don’t’ stretch the 80/20 rule to 20/80.

Don’t be that guy.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Vincere vel mori

Total Performance Sports