Over the years of experimenting with different techniques for training, eating healthy, skill acquisition, etc. I’ve come across some useful rules of thumb, metrics and short reminders.
Keeping these compacted ideas in mind can be useful in helping us to achieve otherwise complex goals.
In this email I’m going to speed list several that have been useful to me and the people I’ve shared them with.
- Four throw away meals per week.
I’ve used this with my wife for years and it’s a simple way to maintain a reasonably low bodyfat percentage. In practice, if you eat healthy during your lunches and most dinners at home you should be able to go out with friends up to 4 times per week and eat whatever you want. Just mark it down somewhere when you eat an unhealthy meal and stop for the week when you hit four marks. An unhealthy snack counts as ½ a mark.
2. Arm to waist ratio > 0.45
If you’re going to track one measurement ratio for men’s aesthetics / health this should probably, be it. When this number falls below 0.45 it might be time to get more serious about training and nutrition.
3. Three times per week for progress. Two times per week to maintain.
No matter what skill or adaptation you’re learning if you’re trying to make improvement then 3 times per week is usually the minimum frequency to get incremental improvement. Otherwise, the low frequency stretches out the supercompensation / memory retention window too much and the training benefits don’t get stacked on top of each other.
4. Environment > Discipline.
If you don’t want to eat chocolate don’t keep it in the house. If you don’t want to check your cell phone while working put it in another room. It’s a lot easier to set up environmental barriers than it is to resist temptation.
5. Where exactly does this fit on your schedule?
Right after saying, “I’m going to do X this week.” get out your schedule and block off the hours immediately. If there’s no space to put it in then you’ll either have to give up on the idea immediately, or trade something out. But you won’t have to wonder why you perpetually can’t do what you say you want to do.
6. Errand. Neutral. Investment
A useful time management technique. Analyze how you spend the hours of your week by labelling everything you do as an errand (E), neutral (N), or an investment (I). Then do whatever it takes to lower the time on errands and increase the time on neutral and especially on investments.
7. Throw mud at the wall for 6 months.
Beginners don’t need a perfect plan to get started.For any new skill you won’t know what you don’t know for at least 6 months. Just throw mud at the wall as much as you can until you gain an understanding of what you don’t know. After that, you can seek higher level instruction and make specific plans for progress.
8. 100 hours to be a beginner.
A beginner has worked on something for at least 100 hours. Before 100 hours you’re a non-practitioner.
9. 1000 hours to be intermediate.
More or less true for most activities.
10. Eight movement patterns for any workout program.
The building blocks of any strength training program are the following 8 patterns. Just swap in and out exercises as you like. Vertical push, vertical pull, horizontal push, horizontal pull, squat, hip hinge, single leg, twist.
11. At least 60 minutes of cardio at 70% max HR per week.
Not going to list all the benefits of cardio here.
If you want to start something new, do it every day in the smallest way possible for a while to groove the pattern. Consistency over quality. When I wanted to start taking cold showers, I spent the first 2 months just putting my hand in the cold water.
13. Two shitty pages per day.
On a similar note. When stuck on a creative task lower the expectation for success and just get something (anything) down. Once you get rolling the result might be better than expected.
14. Activity does not equal productivity. Efficiency does not equal effectiveness.
Avoid busy work. Take long walks if needed. We don’t work on assembly lines anymore and the quality of our outputs are not linearly related to the quantity of our activity. Quality over quantity.
15. Think compounding.
Money isn’t the only thing that grows with compound interest. So do relationships, skills, and knowledge. Invest in these for exponential payoff in the long run.
16. Velocity > Speed.
Related to activity does not equal productivity but with a nice visual appeal. Don’t furiously spin in circles with busy work. One deliberate step at a time in a consistent direction.
17. Four hours per day. 60 hours per week.
The first is where creative productivity maximizes. The second is where non-creative productivity maximizes. On average.
18. 2 – 2.5 – 3
A very strong (but far from world class) person can bench press, squat, and deadlift their bodyweight times these numbers.
19. You don’t eat because you’re hungry. You eat because you’re bored and used to eating.
Try fasting for a week if you disagree.
20. Net worth to monthly expenses ratio.
The larger it is the more financially free you are. At about 400 you’d hit runaway velocity.
21. Twenty years per life phase.
The length of each phase of life: childhood, young adulthood, midlife, old age. And a reminder to make the most of and love the short phase that you’re currently in.
22. 1000 minus (your age x 12).
Your remaining life in months.
23. Old is better than new for practical advice.
The ancients were bad with their theories. But the old works that have survived the test of time are very practical even if theoretically incorrect.
Applies to everything all the time.
25. Starting today is better than perfecting tomorrow.
An oldie but a goodie.