Muay Thai Game-changers: The 80–20 Rule

All training has one overall objective — improvement. Every single training session, exercise, drill or warm up routine should make you better. If you’re spending time not improving, you’re wasting time. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80–20 rule, states that for many events, about 80% of the effects come from just 20% of the causes. I’ve noticed this principle applies very aptly to physical training, and Muay Thai in particular.

The trick is finding that key 20% for you. Assess your performance critically and decide where your effort is best applied for maximum effect? By realising that not all areas of your development contribute equally to your performance, you can ‘cherry-pick the game-changers’ and focus your effort there. However, this approach demands you face your ego head on.

Your ego will make excuses and attempt to hide your shortcomings. It will try to convince you to push the areas you’re either already good at or look flashy – the very areas that are only about 20% effective at improving your performance further.

This is true both of your strength and conditioning gym sessions and your technical/tactical Muay Thai sessions. Find the critical 20% in both areas that will result in an 80% effect. This is an ongoing review process, a continual train-and-test feedback loop. Muay Thai demands a broad range of athletic and specific Muay Thai technical and tactical abilities. There’s a lot to keep on top of, and that’s what makes it fun.

I was asked by a #TeamMuayThai member to review their trainingime. A cursory glance showed a disproportionate amount of high-volume Muay Thai and running. Many of hours each week spent working the same qualities. This is a trap that’s easy to fall into – more is better. But, using an analogy, when you’ve got one plate spinning well, it’s time to spin one of the wobbling ones about to fall.

Don’t squander your effort or precious training time. Apply enough load to create an adaptation (an improvement) and then either rest or move onto something else that will positively impact your performance. Pick something that will give a good return on your invested time. It’s hard enough score the 10,000 hours of purposeful practice required to obtain mastery, without wasting hours on unproductive ‘filler’ training. As always, strive for quality over quantity.

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