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THE ART BEHIND THE MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE

Are you spending hours in the gym destroying your body? And you keep telling yourself you have to keep grinding and hopefully you’ll be fit soon. This approach may work and you might love every second of your training. However I’m sure some people smash themselves with long training sessions with too many heavy reps. And they are not having fun, but they do them because that’s how they believe they will get better. This almost always leads to injury and burnout. But hey you totally got fit for a few weeks right? I’ve definitely been that guy. I HAD to do multiple workouts a day because I wanted to be fit as soon as possible. I always made great progress for a few weeks before I got burnt out and sick of doing all these sessions. I’ve gotten countless injuries and setbacks over my short 7 year span of lifting weights. The more sessions I did with high intensity and heavy weight the quicker the injuries came. How do I find out how to reverse this mindset? I found a comfortable minimum effective dose for my body.

Minimum Effective Dose (MED)

MED in the fitness community basically means finding a stimulus that is just enough to improve your fitness and allows proper recovery. An example in the medical field could be a doctor prescribing a medication. If your body only needs 5mg a day of medicine X then it would be a bad idea to take 25mg a day. The same example used in fitness is having the goal of improving your running inside fitness workouts. Your solution is to run a 5 miles 3-4 times a week for the next month. Yes, this will improve your running but at what cost? After a month of running 15-25 miles a week most people will be sick of that much mileage while still doing fitness workouts. A minimum effect dose would look something like running 200-800m intervals once a week and one longer run at a slow pace. If your already doing fitness workouts throughout the week then you only need to add running in once or twice a week and focus on that for 4-6 weeks or longer.

Avoiding Overtraining

Overtraining is real. If you think it’s a myth then you have never trained hard enough to feel it. The art in creating a fitness program is finding that minimum effective dose that gives you just enough to improve. If you decide to compete and want to push your limits then the coach can start programming for some higher intensities knowing that increasing intensity for too long can open up room for overtraining and injury. If you feel like you can’t recover from week to week and your workouts are only smashing you then you need a smarter plan. It’s incredibly easy to program workouts that will annihilate you. The art is finding the MED and maybe pushing that a bit further over time.

“That Felt Easy, My Body Needed That”

Some days should feel kinda easy. There’s a reason for that. Some sessions are meant for practice, speed skills, and recovery. Now if multiple days feels really easy you know it’s time to increase some intensity or volume. An easy session every few days or weeks allows the body to get good blood flow to sore muscles and allow your central nervous system to relax. You will not lose fitness by taking it slow and light for one day every week. Every time I’ve gone into a class and the workout felt kinda easy I always think to myself, “my body needed that”.

Slow Progression Over Time

The goal of creating a fitness program is to slowly progress an athlete’s fitness level over months and years. That equals longevity. Too many workouts aimed at increasing your fitness level too quickly always leads to burn out and injury. Some workouts should test your limits and should feel incredibly hard, but not every day.  Find a coach that gives you exactly what you need so you can keep doing this fitness thing for years to come. Creating workouts that smash you is really easy, creating a program that builds you up is an artform. 

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