The 85% rule

The 85% rule

When an athlete is told to run at 85% they run faster than if they're told to run at 100%.
It's called the 85% rule and here's why it works:
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Carl Lewis was a 9 time Olympic gold medalist who was known as a master finisher but a slow starter. He began races 2nd to last but usually ended up finishing first. It became known that he's wasn't performing at full throttle. He was going at 85% the whole time.
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Why 85%?

When you have your best performances it's never when you're trying your hardest. Instead the task usually feels easy & effortless. Going at 85% is a mindset about relaxation & performing at a high level while being in flow. It's about pacing, form & finishing.
At 85% you're not striving or straining by operating at the very limit of your ability. You have room to think, focus & adapt. Applying the 85% rule helps you balance intensity while being focused & relaxed.
Here's a few example of how to do it:

At work

Instead of going full throttle, take your time, release the pressure & focus. Put an emphasis on optimizing your systems & adopt a mentality of expending 85% of your mental energy towards a task. Your perception of energy is the biggest component to your productivity.

In your diet

Instead of trying to be perfect aim to get 85% of your food choices right. This takes the pressure off of you and gets you away from an "all or nothing" mindset. You want to be adaptable to any situation and hitting 85% is enough to get your body in shape.

In your workouts

Instead of going to failure for every exercise aim for 85% intensity so you can focus on good form & keep your body injury free. We have a rule to keep 1-2 reps in the tank when lifting and this fits perfectly into it.

Keys to the 85% rule

  1. Relax
  1. Focus on form
  1. Set your mind to 85% intensity
  1. Work just below your maximum threshold
  1. Stop when you feel close to 100% of your mental/physical capacity
Instead of putting the pressure by trying to go 100 aim for 85% instead. Doing so might help you unlock new levels of performance.