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Michael Porter, the Harvard Business School professor who gave us Competitive Strategy, jointly states (and this is a paraphrase, not a direct quote): “The sign of a company with a strategy is that the leadership of that firm will say ‘no’ ten times more often than they’ll say ‘yes’ to the opportunities coming at them. Saying ‘yes’ is a sign of being opportunistic. Being opportunistic is antithetical to having a strategy.”  A healthy activity for any business is to determine what they should be saying ‘no’ to. The Stop-Doing list becomes just as important as the To-Do list.

The same is true of our exercise.

Effective exercise is largely defined by what we say ‘no’ to. 

The framework of essentialism (popularized by Greg Mckeown’s book) and the mantra of “Less but better, in every area of our lives,” can guide our own fitness decisions. 

Each year, a productive activity is to think through your approach to exercise and do some pruning. What should be added to your Stop-Doing list? If the exercise or activity is potentially injurious, if the exercise or activity doesn’t significantly drive health-protective or performance benefits, or if there is simply a more time-efficient means to a desired end, we may want to consider adding the exercise or activity to the Stop-Doing list. 

It’s up to you.  

How could you do less but get more out of the work that you put in? We’re not searching for a hack or a shortcut. Instead, we’re simply applying the Pareto Principle to our exercise. 

A few suggestions to consider adding to your own Stop-Doing list:
-Warm-up sets.
-Stretching before a strength training workout.
-Large amounts of low-intensity cardio.
-High-impact activities such as kettlebell swings or box jumps.
-Daily abdominal exercise / “core” work.
-Multiple, submaximal sets of the same exercise. 

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