Marginal Gains

What if I told you that you could transform your entire life if you decided to get just 1% better in each of the areas that matter to you? 

In 2003, a man named David Brailsford was hired to help a struggling British Cycling team. At the time, British Cycling was weak. They hadn’t won a single Olympic Gold medal since 1908. And no British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France. Dave Brailsford was tasked with changing that. He had an interesting approach to success, known as the “‘Marginal Gains” philosophy, also called the “1% Factor.”

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His method was simple and straight-forward:

Push the team to get 1% better each day.

Brailsford’s concept was, that if you broke down every single thing you could think of that goes into cycling—and improved it by just 1%— you’d gain a significant increase when you put them all together.

Basically, he was applying the compound effect.

Brailsford looked at every little thing he could possibly improve upon in order to create a winning team.

He measured and monitored all of the traditional stats of his athletes, like a cyclists’ power output, physical fitness and nutrition. He targeted specific weaknesses on the team and sought to improve upon them bit-by-bit.

But Brailsford also looked at improving often-overlooked areas, and implemented tiny tactics to help them get the edge:

  • They had the seats redesigned for extra comfort and stability
  • They put rubbing alcohol on the tires for better grip
  • They experimented with different racing suits for better aerodynamics
  • They tested various massage gels for better muscle recovery
  • They tested electrically heated shorts
  • He trained his cyclists on the phycological aspect of success
  • They even used better pillows in order to optimize their sleep

All-in-all, it was a much more holistic approach to success. The changes they made were tiny, but over time, compounded to make a significant impact.

From 2007 to 2017, the British Cycling team won 178 world championships, and 66 Olympic gold medals.

In 2010, as the general manager of the British-based professional cycling team, Team Sky (now known as Team Ineos), Brailsford set a goal to take his cycling team to a winning position in the Tour de France in the next 5 years.

He implemented his “Marginal Gains” principle and began working to improve every area of his cycling team by 1%… And they took home a gold medal at the Tour De France within 3 years.

By 2018, they’d gone on to take home 6 Tour de France victories.

That’s an incredible improvement, to say the least.


If you can get just 1% better each day for a single year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the same time next year.

This also works in the opposite direction: if you get 1% worse each day for a single year, you’ll decline down to nearly zero.

Focus on making small improvements each day, over time those small improvements will equate to massive change.

For example, let’s say you want to lose weight and get in shape. Instead of focusing on losing 50 lbs, concentrate on working out for just 30 minutes three times a week for 30 days. Over time you will begin to see changes in your body. Thirty minutes a day, three times a week for 52 weeks is 4,680 minutes worth of exercise.

If you can find a way to improve each of the major areas of your life by just 1% every day, beginning today, you will have transformed your life completely by this time next year.

Unfortunately, most people apply the exact opposite approach: they’ll use short spurts of motivation to work themselves into burnout—before losing steam and giving up before they see any progress at all…

Don’t let that be you.


  • If you want to write a book, write just five pages a day for the next thirty days.
  • If you want to start getting up earlier, set your alarm clock for just one minute earlier each morning.
  • If you want to read more books, start reading just seven pages a day build up from there.
  • If you want to figure out how to create an additional income stream, start writing down five new business ideas each day—and test one a week—until you hit upon something that works.

One month from now:

  • you’ll have written 150 pages.
  • you’ll be getting up thirty minutes earlier.
  • you’ll have read a full book.
  • you could be making more money than you are today.

One year from now:

  • you’ll have written 1,800 pages — enough to fill seven books.
  • you could be getting up at 5am consistently.
  • you’ll have read 12 more books
  • you could be making more money than you’ve ever made before.

Bottom line?

Small, simplistic actions repeated regularly, can lead to dramatic changes over time.


  • Set yourself a challenge to get 1% better each day for the next 30 days. Select one or more areas of your life (physically, financially, mentally, socially, spiritually) and aim to improve by just 1% each day.If you want to improve your knowledge on a particular topic, for example, read seven pages every day. If you’re not used to exercising but want to take control of your health, start by exercising just 10 minutes a day.
  • Keep in mind: marginal gains are about paying attention to the small action steps, making small changes, and achieving more over time.

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