The Principle of Diminishing Returns – a Key Concept In Every Aspect of Life

| by Truth Seeker |

The Principle of Diminishing Returns (PDR) is fundamental and observed in many aspects of life.

The basic version is as follows:

Every action starts to bring fewer gains with each consecutive repetition. If you have never read a certain book, and read it while skipping some pages, you still know more about it than someone who’d never opened it.

If you read it one more time, you will gain an even greater insight. At one point, however, every re-read brings fewer revelations. Eventually, it becomes close to pointless to re-read the book because you already know it by heart.

This is the point of diminishing returns.

In an ultra concise manner it can be summarized like this – the more you do something, the more pointless it becomes.

And if you look close enough you will find it everywhere:



Very few things in life are as pointless as ultra-dedicated natty lifting. But at the same time, it’s also pointless to fully quit.

I’ve quit many times. I’ve had multiple periods of 6-12 months where I’d do nothing. And I regret most of them.


Because you need very little effort to get 70% (or more) of the results/benefits that natty lifting has to offer.

Let’s say that you are super tired of lifting, life…whatever.

Don’t quit. Just don’t do it. Instead, use the PDR to get or preserve your natty gains.

How? There are many options, but I will give you something very simple that only takes 10 minutes a day and almost no equipment. Haha. This sounds a bit like one of those TV infomercial.

Day 1: 10 minutes of push-ups
Day 2: 10 minutes of BG Split Squats (hold a DB with one hand if you want extra resistance)
Day 3: 10 minutes of pull-ups
Day 4: Rest


Note: I don’t mean 10 minutes non-stop. I mean the whole workout is made of sets and rest periods that end in 10 minutes total.

You don’t even have to count the reps. Just get close to failure (if you want) and call it a day. That little program that requires like 60 minutes a week takes advantage of the PDR very well.

Is it enough for maximum gains and total natty maximization? Of course not. But the ROI is insanely good, and you will be miles ahead of your fully untrained version.

If you just do that for the rest of your life, you will get at least 70% of the benefits that exercise can give you. Some body parts will remain weaker…but it won’t matter unless you need to get strong for something super specific.


A lot of time and money is invested in nutritional discoveries, diets, and whatnot. And yet it’s so obvious that if you stay away from junk food (you know what it is) 90% of the time, you will get 90% or more of the benefits from following a good dietary approach.

The following will turn almost any bad diet into a good diet:

  • Limit sugar intake and food that didn’t exist before the technology revolution to 10%
  • Avoid “new age” food that comes out of a 3D printer (lol)
  • Make sure your diet includes at least 80 grams of protein a day (this is for natties)


And yet people will continue to obsess over finding the ultimate food intake protocol and passionately discuss the importance of nonsense supplements like glutamine, creatine…etc.


As I’ve stated in other posts, I’d rather cut a date shorter than needed than stay for too long. And one of the reasons is to do damage control and take advantage of the point of diminishing returns.

Past a certain point, every extra minute adds close to nothing to the conversation, and you are better off leaving than risking to stay and “kill the mystery.”

Also, never forget the golden rule – no matter how long a date is, it doesn’t guarantee that there will be a subsequent one. In other words, there’s a very high chance that you will never see the same woman ever again regardless of what you do.

So, if that’s the case, why stay longer than needed?

How short is too short?

I like my dates to be about 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Ok. I am joking. I’d say that the point of diminishing returns starts about 30 minutes in. I am not saying you should end it precisely at 30 minutes, but this is when the “descent” begins.

How The PDR Protects You

Ideally, you will stop investing time and effort into whatever you’re doing slightly before or after the ROI starts to decrease. (Of course, activities that you do for the sake of doing them do not have to abide by that law.)

Sometimes it’s hard to do that because it’s natural to assume that the more you do, the more you get. And while that’s true, the dividends aren’t always worth it. And very often, following the PDR protects you and minimizes your losses.

Let’s use my failed YouTube channel as an example.

I’ve always wanted to make videos on the nattyornot fitness and philosophical topics. But since I have limited man hours, I couldn’t reach the quality I wanted.

Eventually, I decided that “something is better than nothing” and started to do audio narration of posts that I was writing anyway.

And it worked fairly well as I was gaining subscribers after each post. I didn’t have plans to become some massive channel as I don’t think I could, at least not with similar videos.

Another issue that I had in front of me was content ownership. When you write for your site, you have A LOT more freedom than when you upload on a third-party app. (This is something that normies have forgotten. People wake up each day and produce a ton of free content for YT, FB, TT…etc. )

So, I decided to follow the PDR principle and invest a very limited amount of energy into the channel. I’d write a post (the written word will always be the heart of my content) and then read it a few times while recording my screen.

I enjoyed the process, mainly because my pronunciation and voice were getting better.

And then, one morning, I woke to an e-mail saying that my channel had been deleted. Not only that but the entire YT account was murdered. I couldn’t even watch other people’s videos with it.

It felt bad. 2 months of work were killed for no good reason at all. But the PDR protected me to an extent as I hadn’t invested a ton of energy into the project.

At the end of the day, life is made of time, despite the frequent saying that “time doesn’t exist”. It may not exist in some quantum sense, but it’s so real that you might just as well accept it as such.

And by carefully limiting your time and energy, you protect yourself against losing big chunks of life particles.

Of course, you can’t always be as efficient as possible. And there are ALWAYS losses because to get anything meaningful, you always have to sacrifice something.

The Natty Philsopher

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.


  1. SamS

    I haven’t even read this yet, but I already know it’s a good one. This is a topic that I’ve been planning on asking you to write about because I’ve been a bit obsessed with this subject of diminishing returns for quite a while.

    1. SamS

      Great examples. Really liked your lifting example, I could try that with my current routine very well. On the web I once saw an example of a timed workout which had a similar idea. The coach who had written it did it because he wanted to give an option to people who have difficulties in planning their routines. In a nutshell the idea of the program was essentially to exercise for 15 minutes and only do 5 minutes of planning beforehand so that you have a general idea of what you are going to do. Then just go for it for 15 minutes. In the end you have a nice session without too much thinking, and you can improvise and go by feel. You don’t have to think about sets, reps etc. if you don’t want to. Order of exercises can be whatever you want etc.

      Funnily enough, after couple of decades of training I reduced my training to dips/pushups, pullups and Bulgarian split squats all done on their separate day, all twice a week. I made this change about two years ago. I was heavily influenced by Natty Or Not articles and the forum, and the writings of Truth Seeker. What especially hit me was what Truth wrote about diminishing returns in his book “The end. Natty Maximizations. Get the results and leave”, and in there, the chapter “Diminishing returns”. Without giving a way too much, the chapter has an example of diminishing returns where Truth talks about his own experience of a period when he did weighted pullups and dips, and how in the end there wasn’t really a big difference (aesthetically) in being able to do just 10 pullups compared to being able to do pullups with added weight of 45 kilos. That kind of finally hit the message of diminishing returns clear for me. By the way, in its simplicity, I think that book is one of my all-time favorites when it comes to exercise books.

      As you said in this article, life is made of time. Josh Kaufman, the dude who wrote the book “The First 20 Hours” said the following about time which is pretty accurate to me: “nobody ever finds time. If you want to find time, you got to make time”. Along the lines with that, my recommendation is that if you struggle to find time to do other things in your life than lifting as natty, I strongly recommend using the principle of diminishing returns to your training. You’ll still be fine with the results. And of course, if you want to spend countless of hours of lifting, then that’s fine too.

      1. SamS

        As said, I’ve been kind of obsessed with the principle of diminishing returns for some time, and I also like the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule). This is sad but after being in this planet for over four decades now, below are some conclusions that I’ve come to. I tried to keep them short:


        Dips, pullups, and some squats are enough, especially when accompanied by at least moderate daily activity levels.

        Saving money

        Investing a small percentage of your income to a cheap index fund(s) that invests the money into stocks is enough, especially when you start doing it from a young age. Better yet if your parents started it for you when you were born.


        Spend 15 minutes of quality time with your kid daily. During that time the kid decides what you are going to do, and you just do it, and you only focus on him / her and you give unconditional love and praises.

        These are so simple and obvious for most people that this is kind of stupid. But I had to go very far to understand even these very simple concepts. It would be great to be able to find these answers straight up without all the searching and trying out different things. But I guess things just go like that in life, you have to through a lot of useless effort to come full circle and to understand that the simplest thing in the beginning would have been the one that would have worked in the long run.

      2. Edu

        Excelente como siempre 👏🏻

      3. Truth Seeker Post author

        Thank your for the nice and informative comments, Sam 🙂

  2. Guille

    Nice work…keep it up…thank’s…hug…

  3. Jose

    Short but nice reminder of an indeed valuable concept to follow in many aspects of life.

    I have applied PDR on my physical training. When I started to go to the gym around 1 year and a half ago, I initially used to do it almost every day and with a lot of intensity. After some months of gains, I kind of hit my natural wall and realized that it was getting pointless to train as I did before.

    Nowadays, I just go to the gym twice a week and I also do some 10 minutes exercise routines whenever I’m free at home. So far my gains have remained consistent despite the reduced frequency and intensity.

  4. Fanofthesite

    I came to this same conclusion a few yewrs ago. The workout routine you describe here is shockingly close to mine in both time and content and my results are more than fine. Excessive lifting is such a gargantuan waste of time.

  5. FakeTren

    I do push-ups and body weight squats a few Times a week. Then do pullups almost daily (1-2 sets a day when i go through The Park).
    I hit a bench press and deadlift or other gym type movement from Time to Time. But i get bored after a few weeks.
    I recently bought dip bars and do them 1-2 sets EOD.
    Not much. But at least it keeps me în a good shape, not the Best, but waay better than not doing anything at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *