Big Rocks, small rocks

This is a great analogy for life, let alone health and fitness. The story is actually about rocks, pebbles and sand. For a bit of background I’ll tell the quick story below:

Big rocks, small rocks – and how they’re related to fitness.


A philosophy professor was in front of a class and filled a big jar full of rocks, he then asked the class if the jar was full. The students said “Yes the jar is full”. The professor then added pebbles to the jar, gave the jar a little shake to disperse the rocks and pebbles and then again asked if the jar was full. The students again said that the jar was indeed full. Finally, the professor then poured in some sand to fill the gaps asking the students one last time if the jar is now full. “Yes, the jar is completely full”, the students said. The professor then explained that the jar is us and the objects represent everything in our life.

The breakdown.

The rocks represent the things that are most important in our lives, such as, our family and our health.So if we didn’t add the other stuff, our life would still have meaning and be ‘full’ because we still have these things.
The pebbles represent things that do have meaning in our life, but that we could live without, as they are not critical for our life to be meaningful. These are things such as: Job, hobbies and friendships. These things tend to come and go and tend not to be a permanent part of our lives, certainly not a ‘big rock’ or essential part of our over-all health and wellness.
Finally the sand. The sand represents all the filler in our life. Such as doing chores, watching TV and going on social media. These small things don’t mean much in our life as a whole and tend to be things that get small tasks accomplished or just to waste a bit of time.

Big rocks, small rocks, pebbles and sand in a jar, how do you arrange yours?

What’s the lesson here?

The lesson here, is that if we started filling the jar up with the sand we will not have much room left for the pebbles or even the big rocks. Filling our life full of small insignificant things won’t leave us much time for the things that are actually important. In order for us to have a more effective and a more efficient life, we must pay attention to the ‘big rocks’ because they are critical to our long term well-being.

Using this in fitness.

So this time instead of using our whole life in this analogy, zoom in even further to just our fitness goals. Imagine the jar is our fitness journey, the closer the jar is to getting full the closer we are to completing our goals. Use the big rocks first. Big rocks in this case are things such as programming our training correctly, nutrition and sleep. Focusing on these things first are essential towards us reaching our goals and targets. The pebbles and sand in this scenario are things such as meal timing or supplements. Small somewhat insignificant things that we can think about and do at a later stage once we have all of our big rocks in check and in order.

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