Prinicples of Efficient Training

Efficiency is a word I love.

I define it as getting the job done with as little time and energy output as possible.

I mean, if you can get your desired result with 30 minutes of work, why spend 60 minutes of work?

The old saying, “Work smarter, not harder” is pretty good advice, but is trumped by, “Work smarter, and hard.”

So sharpen your saw AND saw with all of your effort…

As a mixed martial artist, you should love efficiency too, for numerous important reasons, which we’ll get to shortly.

But first, I’ve got a somewhat embarrassing story to share…

If you get easily grossed out or are weak of stomach, you may want to skip this post.

Otherwise, the story I’m about to share illustrates an important lesson.

Still with me?

OK – let’s have at it…

When I was a kid (actually, in the spirit of full transparency I still do this now occasionally) when I’m on the throne doing a #2, I do this weird little thing to make sure I’m in and out as fast as possible.

I mean – I’ve got better things to do than sit on the can twiddling my thumbs.

No, it’s not straining and exploding my colon with a 1RM while screaming “IT’S ALL YOU!#@!” to myself and I’ve never had a hemorrhoid in my life, so if we meet, I’m walking funny because of the heavy squats (jerk).

I’m glad this one’s not all me.

But here’s what I do:

As I do my job, I prepare all of my toilet paper ahead of time and lay them on my thighs.

Over time, I’ve kept track of and figured out how many wipes I usually need (I can also tell by feel what it was going to take to get clean).

Yes, I am a bit obsessive and compulsive when it comes to tracking and efficiency.

I’m sure Pfizer has a drug for me. Anyway…

I’d rip 4 sheets and fold them up perfectly and lay them on my thighs, usually having 3-4 sets ready to go.

Once I was done my job, I’d rapidly put the neatly folded toilet paper to work and be in and outta there in no time.

If I was a cowboy, I definitely would’ve been the quickest wipe in the west! Yee-haw!

Yes this is embarrassing and I can’t believe I shared it with you, but here’s why…

This story illustrates 3 very important principles of efficient training and here they are:

The first and most important principle of efficient training is PREPARATION.

This is something that’s ingrained in me and I can’t turn it off if I tried (as you can see).

When it comes to training, preparation means many things, but  it starts with having a program.

You’ll ALWAYS make better progress on a program compared to winging it, even if the program sucks a donkey’s ass.

But when you’ve got a good program to follow, you’re going to astonish yourself at your results.

If you don’t have a program, the least you can do is think of some exercises you need to improve, write down how many reps and sets you’re going to do of each and how much rest between sets and follow that.

This simple tip I just gave you is absolutely priceless.

The second principle is also contained in my (embarrassing) story – and that is TRACKING.

With training, you’ve got to keep tabs on what you’re doing now, so that you can compare yourself to where you’ll be weeks, months and even years from now.

Even workout to workout, if you know you lifted 185 lbs for 5 reps, just seeing that should motivate you to aim for 6 reps next time. And 7 the time after that, and on and on.

Tracking leads to progress leads to results leads to goals achieved.

Tracking will give you a goal each and every time you step into the gym.

The more goals you have, the more goals you’ll achieve – goals foster success.

All you need to do is take that program you have written down to the gym with you and write down how you do each time.

Another priceless tip that you may notice almost NOBODY in the gym is doing (probably except the guys who are in great shape).

Finally, the third principle of efficient training is APPLIED KNOWLEDGE.

This is the hardest of the principles to implement, because it takes book smarts, application, time and observation.

But all you have to do is follow a simple system, much like the one that minimizes my time in the ‘loo:

  1. Get the required knowledge
  2. Create a program
  3. Execute the program
  4. Observe the results
  5. Tweak the program
  6. Execute the program
  7. Observe the results
  8. Get more knowledge
  9. Tweak the program… etc etc.

Do this and you’ll soon see what’s working and what’s not working, allowing you to eliminate what’s not working.

Just like Bruce Lee said. [PROPS to the first person who can post the correct Bruce Lee quote I’m referring to in the Comments section below]

So there you have it.

3 Powerful Principles for Efficient Training

I hope you take them and put them to good use.

Oh yeah, and remember when I said as a mixed martial artist, efficiency is your best friend?

Learning efficient technique allows you to execute your skills with a minimum of energy output, meaning you’ll have more gas in the tank.

Efficient training and program design (PD) ensures you don’t waste any energy and can focus energies where necessary to make lightning-speed improvements in your game.

Efficiency also allows you get more done in less time, giving you time to do things outside of training if you like, or allowing you to train more if that floats your boat.

In short, efficiency gives you more control over your life and how you spend it.

Like the word now? 🙂

If you think your strength and conditioning PD may be wasting your time, benefit from my obsessive compulsive disorder and applied knowledge by using the most efficient program for mixed martial artists out there:

And you can have my bathroom system on the house. 🙂



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9 years ago


Firstly thank you for getting me back on track have read a number of your posts and have found
them very useful and as you say here efficient and not rambling. I used to write things down,check and tweak but have lost my way over the past few years 2 kids and middle age set in but am now on track have just recently recieved my BJJ black belt so need to do it justice and get back in shape as have a big target on my back.

Thank you sir.


10 years ago

Very good thoughts and useful too lol


[…] simplicity lies efficiency. Efficiency is one of my core principles. Others I’ve shared in this […]

11 years ago

“Use what is useful, discard what is not, add what is essentially your own” – that’s the one I was thinking of.

Nice job Diego!

11 years ago

Its very simular but the quote you are talking about talks about not giving yourself too many tools to choose from… Wgat eric wanted(I think so anyway) was quote that refers to what work & what doesn’t work

11 years ago

‘It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.’ Is this it?

11 years ago

“Use what it is useful, disgard what is not & add what is it essentially your own” I think this is the bruce lee & philosophy behind the art of jkd you were referring to

11 years ago

Good quotes for sure but not the one I had in mind. Keep trying!

@ Rolee, yeah I usually read now too, or play on reply to emails with my phone. 🙂

11 years ago

I always read on the can. This way I don’t waste a minute, so I’m not stressing about the time, and I don’t have to rush. I won! 🙂

jeff mann
jeff mann
11 years ago

Efficiency is power. Great stuff as always Eric.

11 years ago

In primary freedom, one utilizes all ways and is bound by none, and likewise uses any techniques or means which serves one’s end. Efficiency is anything that scores.

11 years ago

I think its: “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

This one comment shaped my approach to Judo when I was rolling with guys from American, Japanese and European grappling backgrounds.

11 years ago

Be like water my friend.