“The practice of concentrating combat power toward the main effort necessitates the willingness to accept prudent risk elsewhere.” — Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1 “Warfighting”
The above statement is the Marine Corps way of saying “Everything cannot be a priority.”
This can be applied throughout your life. I could ramble on endlessly about how as a professional cube-bound keyboard-mope with a limited amount of time I choose a main effort of quality report content and accept prudent risk by not worrying as much about perfect format (much to the chagrin of our office staff). Seeing as you this blog isn’t called “Adventures in Bureaucracy” let’s discuss how this can be applied to workout planning.
1. Determine your goal.
A goal can be large or small. I prefer small week-to-week goals such as adding one repetition to a kettlebell exercise or adding ten minutes to my total run time. Others prefer large three to six month goals such as being able to deadlift X pounds for X reps or being able to run ten miles.
2. Determine your time available.
When determining your time available try to choose a portion of the day that you have near total control over. Due to having a small child and working full-time the only portion of the day that I have near total control over is once my daughter goes to bed.
3. Within your time available plan and execute the minimum number of exercises required to move towards your goal.
Focus on the word minimum. You could destroy yourself adding sets, repetitions, or time and distance to runs. Any effort beyond the minimum required to move you towards your goal is going to add unnecessary stress and have a negative impact. Remember, gains come during recovery. We will refer to these exercises as your main effort.
4. Within the time remaining plan and execute any other activities needed.
You can use the time remaining for activities that enhance your main effort such as assistance exercises or running. After a day of squats but before a day of deadlifts you may go for a 30 minute run at an easy pace to stretch your leg muscles, get the blood flowing, and reduce soreness. You can use the time remaining for activities that enhance your overall fitness and do not negatively impact your main effort. I do no-gi grappling one day per week. It is a fun, I learn a lot, and it doesn’t negatively impact my main effort.
After completing steps one through four above you will have accepted risk somewhere. Your main effort may be building absolute strength at the expense of cardio. Your main effort may be technical skills in jiu-jitsu at the expense of absolute strength. If you try to be good at everything it is likely you will be good at nothing. Determine your goal, your main effort, the risk you are willing to accept, and execute!