"Minimal Effective Dose" (Blog #170)

A few years back, I read a book that talked about getting you the best results in the gym in the least amount of time (may have been Tim Ferriss). As a coach who trains most clients for only two or three hours per week, I needed to figure this method out. And lets be honest, as much as coaches love training themselves, we don't want to have to lift weights for 10-15 hours a week either.

I was recently reminded of the MED (Minimal Effective Dose) method after hearing Mike Boyle talk about it via his social media page. (If you don't know who Mike Boyle is, google him). I've been following Mike for about ten years now and he is possibly the best coach in the world. When Mike speaks, people listen!

The MED method basically states that less can be more. Imagine how well two Tylenols work to combat your headache. Well, if two work so well, wouldnt twenty-five be better? No...Twenty-five may kill you! That's the gigst of the MED method. Using the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome, and anything beyond the MED is just wasteful.

The MED works in a few different ways:

1: Most hard core gym goers simply do too much. Their thought process is that if 3 sets is good, 7 sets must be better. Not necessarily (unless the goal is hypertrophy / in that case more is usually better). But I assume most of you out there aren't body builders and you don't want to look like Arnold. The MED method (assuming the program is proper), will get you the desired results with less sets and reps.

2: "Itis" / Any "itis" is simply a warning sign from your body that that joint is being overused. This may be a compensatory pattern, a weakness, or just too much. Think of runners and knee pain, or bench pressers with shoulder pain, or tennis players with elbow pain. The MED method will decrease the chances of any overuse injuries because your overall training volume will be lower.

3: Time / Like we stated earlier, most people can only get to the gym 2-3 times per week. Those 2-3 sessions better be epic to attain the desired results in that little bit of time. But this is where the MED can really dominate! Assuming the average gym goers goals are to get a little leaner, get a little stronger, and to FEEL good, the MED method paired with the proper intensity will work perfectly.

4: Fear / "Rookies" or newbies in the gym may never even get started because of the "huge time restraint" the gym may put on their day to day life. But the MED method solves this problem. Getting results with higher intensity workouts, and spending less time away from your life, while avoiding overuse injuries is a Win/Win for everyone.

Personally, I've always used the MED method during my own workouts, simply because I am a busy trainer! I just don't have the time or energy to train when I want and how I want to most days. So deep down I've always known to keep workouts "short and sweet", but as a young coach I wanted to give my clients as much as possible. This led my programs to be too much for most people and led many clients to have overuse injuries and overtraining syndrome.

My BEST WORKOUTS are never more than 30 minutes long. Actually, most of my best training sessions are around 20 minutes long, but the intensities are high and the rest periods are short. Basically, I'm going HAM for 20 minutes!

The MED method leaves you feeling great, no "itis'es", and gives you a crazy high after-burn effect which incinerates body fat. Now don't get me wrong, all of your training sessions shouldn't be "hard core". There is a time and place for longer, slower duration training as well. But generally speaking, the MED method will give you the best results, with the least amount of injuries, in the least amount of time per week.

Leonardo da Vinci said it best: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

Don't fear losing time away from the kiddies, your job, or your significant other because of the gym. The MED method will allow you to reach goals and maximize your results in the least amount of time possible. And if you're already a hard core gym goer like I am, using the MED method will keep your results coming, while keeping you healthier, and will give you more time for other things in your life.

Now don't misinterpret what I'm saying here. I'm not promising top notch results for those who show up to the gym, text on their cell phones, have full blown conversations with teammates, lift weights that you know are too light for you, and don't work up a sweat. This MED method ONLY works if you work it.

How do you make the MED method work for you?

1: Warm up more aggressively (every session) A one minute foam roller on your back is NOT warming up.

2: Focus on every rep being perfect.

3: Use weights that are heavier than you're used to. Less reps can be OK!

4: Keep your cell phones in the car.

5: Keep chatting to a minimum (I know thew gym is a social thing, but take them out for an Acai bowl after training)


7: Keep rest periods shorter

8: Push your limits just a tad every session

9: Show up every week (that should be #1)

10: Sleep Better

11: Drink more water

12: Eat more greens

13: Learn to love the process / Seeing what your body is capable of can be an amazing thing...

Simple / Safe / Effective