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Max Out Your Results With The 5x1% Rule

By Melody Coleman

London-based personal trainer, swim coach and founder of the Body Project, Melody Coleman writes for some of the UK's leading fitness magazines and nutrition providersRead more.

"Find out how athletes at the top of their game magnify the effects of 5 small changes to meet their peak"

Olympians and experienced athletes know that strength, performance, and size gains don't come easily. These are the hard-earned results of forward planning, unwavering dedication, and more than a few sacrifices.

World class sportspeople like Tom Daley and Jessica Ennis-Hill stick to a strict regimen of full-time training, optimum nutrition, and hard-core recovery in order to fulfil their performance potential.

Man Running


For the inexperienced exerciser, most small changes will elicit a positive physiological response: switching to a diet free from refined foods shrinks our waistlines; lifting weights strengthens and sculpts our bodies, and all with minimal planning and preparation.

As you may know, these "beginner gains" are unfortunately short-lived, and soon enough progress begins to plateau.

If you're someone who is consistently doing a great job in the kitchen as well as the gym, you'll know that new results can be a struggle to carve out. There are, however, a number of (often overlooked) techniques you can incorporate to increase your capacity for training and get the most out of each session.

The 5x1% Rule

An emerging concept in sports performance is known as the 5x1% rule. This idea works on the basis that once you've got the important stuff covered (the "95%"), then a number of small changes can be combined to fill that 5% gap.

These techniques might each equate to just a percent of extra headway, but together can bolster training progress to maximum potential.

And it makes sense - most people know that to achieve the best results some factors are more important than others. Things like working out frequently, recovering effectively, and consuming adequate protein come high up the list when it comes to making improvements with the least amount of changes.

Other lifestyle alterations such as efficient planning and nutrient timing can also have a great impact on results. Past these points, a more focussed approach is required to maintain momentum.

If your regular routine doesn't reap results like it used to, you can implement a number of changes to give your body the boost it needs. The effectiveness of these factors are highly individual, and it's up to you to decide which elements you could benefit from in your training.

Below are some of the best examples that have worked wonders for myself and my clients. These can be mixed and matched to your own taste, and manifested as bigger steps toward your goals.

More Micronutrients

Micronutrients

One of the biggest mistakes I regularly see athletes and gym-goers make is eating the right macros in the least nutritious way. A bland diet of chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli simply cannot give your body the variety of micronutrients it needs to perform at maximum potential.

It's called nutrition for a reason!

Getting your vitamins and minerals alongside your carbs, fats and proteins from a wide range of fresh food is by far the best tactic, and high quality supplementation products are a great alternative.

Massage

It's commonplace for athletes to dive straight into a deep tissue massage after hard training or competition - and for good reason, too. Whether you're paying a pro or using foam rolling equipment, massaging your muscles improves flexibility and decreases post-workout soreness.

Massage also improves the elastic quality of the sheath surrounding your muscles, which many fitness pros believe creates more room for sarcoplasmic muscle growth gained in high volume training.

An extra hour of sleep

If you didn't already need an excuse to hit the snooze button, one study found that less sleep increases our desire for higher-calorie foods associated with weight gain, and another demonstrated peoples' decreased tolerance for exercise when deprived of their nightly slumber.

Start each day right with a full eight hours behind you.

Eat Sleep Train

Back to basics

It might sound counterintuitive, but stripping back training to focus on unilateral (single leg/arm) work and basic movement patterns can improve strength, balance and movement skills.

This type of preventative exercise also acts as insurance against injuries that could put you out of training for weeks.

Work on your weaknesses

Man Lifting Weights

Beginners in a spin class, for example, are likely to burn far more calories than those who have been spinning for years.

The reason behind this lies in the beginner's inefficiency in technique; before a person becomes competent in a sport or skill the body must burn through a lot of energy learning the correct movements.

Trying a new activity - be it swimming, yoga, or weightlifting - can drastically improve your fitness, mobility, or strength in your own sport.

Take a break

At least once or twice a year, typically before or after competitions, many top athletes will incorporate a recuperative de-loading period which could last around 1-4 weeks.

For you this could mean easing way back from regular training, or even putting your main sport on hold altogether to give your joints and soft tissues a chance to recover.

During this period activities that are gentle on both the body and mind are ideal, and could include things like casually playing ball in the park or an active holiday with friends.

Train your brain

A strong body is capable of so much more with a strong mind-set. Emotional balance is an important part of our overall health: it can help us to make better lifestyle choices and persevere with hard training.

Man lifting weights


Positive thinking, mindfulness, visualisation techniques, and the practise of self-respect can improve your wellbeing both inside and outside of the gym.

These methods are part of what makes high level athletes the best at what they do. It's important to remember that the strategies here are of most use to those whose lifestyles involve regular, effective exercise and well thought out nutrition.

Once you've got all the main bases covered, more in-depth planning and supplementary techniques will prove effective for awesome progress.

Melody Coleman

About Melody

London-based personal trainer, swim coach and founder of the Body Project, Melody Coleman writes for some of the UK's leading fitness magazines and nutrition providers, educating and inspiring people to take control of their health and fitness.

When she's not trying out fun new fitness-related activities, Melody is helping her clients learn to move properly in order to transform their bodies, rehabilitate from injury and maximise their sporting performance.

An expert in the field of movement, Melody takes a friendly, no-bull approach encompassing all aspects of fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle to yield impressive results across a range of clientele.

Follow Melody's unrelenting mission to empower people by sharing her specialist experience on Facebook and Instagram, and check out her client testimonials and personal blog at bodyprojectpt.com.

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