A Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is defined as the smallest portion of a drug or other consumable that will produce a desired outcome.
How does this apply to exercise and why is this SO IMPORTANT when it comes to training? Or to weight loss? And why should you even consider it?
If I want to drop WEIGHT, isn’t doing MORE… better? More workouts, more cardio, more dieting. So, let me ask YOU: over the long term, how do you think that’s been working?
More is not better. In fact, the greater challenge is resisting the temptation to do more. Exercising MORE can push you to eat more (or worse – OVER-eat more).
Here’s the way to adopt a MED approach to your training to elicit better results in less time.
STRENGTH TRAINING CAN INCREASE YOUR BMR
Your basil metabolic rate (BMR) is a very important number to know. As we’ve discussed in the past, it’s the number of calories your body needs to stay the same weight while doing ZERO activity. When people lose weight, they typically lose a combination of fat and lean mass (muscle). When this happens, we see their BMR number drop: less body to maintain, less calories required, right? So, you are becoming a thinner version of your former self. Which means you can’t eat more; in fact, as you lose weight, you’ll have to eat LESS.
How much does that suck? However, there is a way to win, to lose weight AND keep your BMR up.
How? You must maintain your lean mass (muscle). In fact, if you can INCREASE your lean muscle mass (no, you won’t get big and bulky—that’s what FAT does to you), you can INCREASE your BMR.
Let’s take a client who weighs 172 lbs. and wants to lose BODY FAT (not “weight” — get over the “I just want to lose weight” speech – what you (in fact, all of us) want to lose is FAT).
He gets on our BODY COMPOSITION machine and we see the following output:
- WEIGHT – 172 lbs.
- BODY FAT – 26.7 lbs.
- BODY FAT % – 15.5%
- LEAN MASS – 145.3 lbs.
- BMR – 1794
After 4 weeks of MED training (see below), clean eating (but consuming the same number of calories) and being active, his stats have changed:
- WEIGHT – 172.4 lbs.
- BODY FAT – 24 lbs.
- BODY FAT % – 13.9%
- LEAN MASS – 148.4 lbs.
- BMR – 1824
This shows that although he has lost no TOTAL weight, he has dropped 2.7 lbs. of fat, gained 3.1 lbs. of lean mass, which has in turn, increased his BMR.
And guess what else changed? His waist circumference. He is getting smaller… leaner, more cut.
The big take away here is that he’s the same weight, yet burning more calories (he can eat more and NOT gain weight).
MINIMUM EFFECTIVE DOSE (MED) TRAINING
I could write an entire article on this, but I want to keep things simple.
For MED training, think PUSH and RECOVER. Think SHOCK and AWE. Think about how you can stimulate the body to respond, but not allow it to ADAPT (in a way the causes the body to burn less calories in the same amount of time).
You do this with SHORT, INTENSE workouts.
FOR CARDIO: An example of this would be HIIT (high intensity interval training). Cycling classes with lots of variety, sprinting on a treadmill followed by walking or rest before sprinting again… even walking with increases in incline or speed for short periods of time.
FOR STRENGTH: Circuit training that involves some type of cardio AND strength training combined. Even heavy strength training can be used as interval training—lift a heavy, HARD, work load in short, intense, bursts, followed by a period of rest.
The key to these workouts is they should be SHORT on time and HIGH on intensity. This will stimulate the body to adapt for a 12-36-hour period and produce an AFTERBURN effect. As in continuing to burn calories long AFTER your workout is over.
Studies are producing more and more evidence that cleaning up your diet (which should always be a primary FOCUS) with minimum doses of high intensity exercise produce better results than working out for hours, doing double classes or doing the long, slow treadmill walk to nowhere…
Get your body composition tested, know your numbers and try 4 weeks of metabolic workouts like CYCLING, TEAM TRAINING –LEANER OR BURNER, or any MC3 workout… and see what happens!
Think of all you can accomplish with all that newly found FREE TIME!
As always, shoot me an email if you have ANY questions or have a subject you’d like me to write about…
Phil Dozois, Founder and Co-Owner of Breakthru Fitness, Pasadena, CA