During the warm up portion of a training session, I was speaking to my client about my son trying out for the basketball team. My client, being a basketball player in his college days, suggested having my son work on improving just one aspect at a time when practicing, like taking shots from the free throw line. If he only makes 5 out of 10 shots, let him practice and see if he can get 6 out of 10.
When he succeeds at this goal, it will provide him a sense of accomplishment and progress. This approach to improving one task at a time will give him something to focus on and prevent him from feeling overwhelmed.
I didn’t realize it at the time but what my client shared was a very powerful principle, called the 1% rule. It’s a principle that can help many achieve their goals not only in fitness but in life.
What is the 1% rule and how can it help you improve
The 1% rule is a logical approach to making progress. Instead of focusing on a long term goal, you narrow your focus to one aspect and improve it by the smallest of amounts. It’s a simple concept and when applied correctly, it can have a powerful impact on your fitness program.
Here’s how it works.
Keeps your focus
By keeping your focus on the process of improving, not on the end results, you’ll put your time and energy where it is most needed. A martial arts saying embodies this concept, “We are measured by our results but our results are made by the process”. As an example, we may want to lose 5 pounds a week or improve our bench press by 20 pounds but it doesn’t happen by forcefully reaching for your goal a few times. It only happens when you consistently work the process and focus on making small improvements over time.
Eliminates the stress
By doing so, it eliminates pressure of perfection and the stress of expectation often associated with fitness programs. It’s easy to lose your enthusiasm when you don’t get the results you want, when you want them. By rushing and not recognizing the step by step process, we think we are failing. If one can change the thought process from the end result to succeeding at one action at a time, one can understand the fitness goal is the culmination of all the completed small actions. Working the process is success in itself because you walk away from every situation improving.
Creates the momentum you need for success
It’s important when you set out on achieving a big goal that you get some small wins under your belt. If it’s going to take you a year or two to reach your goal and you don’t get any feed back or positive affirmation then it’s going to be difficult to continue. That’s where the 1% rule comes in. These small improvements become your daily wins. Collecting your daily wins can improve your confidence, restore your enthusiasm and provide that much needed boost of motivation that you’ll need to continue making progress.
How to use the 1% rule
Pin point a specific technique or habit that you want to improve. Identify exactly how you can make it better. It can be something small, like focusing on your exercise technique or it can simply be using 1-2 extra pounds on an exercise. No matter what you decide to improve, keep your focus on that one aspect. Repeat this process every time you train.
Now it’s time to take action. Focus on improving by 1% everyday and you’ll start accumulating daily wins, it will have a snow ball effect that will carry you on to your ultimate goal. Get to it.
Move Better, Live Well,