Marginal Gains – A Rant!

*** Caution! This is just a rant and in no way meant to cause anyone offence, unless you love marginal gains! ***

Over the past 10 years or so there has been a lot of press about “marginal gains”. I think it was Team Sky who were so instrumental in getting this term to become common. To be fair to them you can understand why. They had massive success and took cycling by storm. The media droned on about how they were streets ahead of other teams with their science and technology and improving the 1%ers.

But by the press focusing on their marginal gains it took away from the other really good stuff they were doing. They obviously had the fundamentals down too, but that wasn’t as glamorous! They were training hard and smart and fuelling well and recovering. The basics. But the basics don’t sell papers.

What this lead to is the everyday athletes trying to improve their supplement protocol or spending a fortune on equipment. Thats great for elite athletes who have spent years building a foundation but gets very little results for the average fitness enthusiast.

I guess it’s just human nature though. We tend to look for the easy fix or the magic pill. Unfortunately we often realise we have wasted our money or time, on something that doesn’t get real results. The average trainer isn’t attracted to consistently working at the basics. We all think we should graduate to advanced “marginal gains” style training way too soon.

It reminds me of a nutrition lecture I once gave to some Ice Hockey players. I spent 95% of the presentation talking about macronutrients, food choices and being organised. Then only 5% talking about supplements, which included stating that most don’t get the results they are marketed for! But when it came to questions 95% of them were asking what supplements to buy?!!

So what am I saying? Well marginal gains are only for the elite few. Why not focus on Major gains? Yes the bread and butter of training. Nutrition, hydration, sleep and recovery. Get those right first. Then train hard, consistently with sound training principles for 10 years! Then maybe consider marginal gains. There is no quick fix.

Remember the 80/20 principle. 20% of what you do accounts for 80% of your results. Focus on those 20% tasks and put all your efforts into it only then can you consider marginal gains.

Rant over!

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