Very inspirational article by John Beradi – Make sure that you read it all here on PerformBetter.
Paradigm Shift #3: Finding the Minimum Effective Dose
Keeping in line with doing less theme, there’s a concept in the pharmaceutical industry known as the minimum effective dose and it specifies the dose of a drug required to produce a therapeutic response. (By extension, the minimum effective dose concept represents the minimum dose required to produce the desired response).
Of course, all physiological responses have a minimum effective dose. And, typically, for best results, the minimum effective dose should be observed.
Take sun exposure, for example. If the minimum effective dose for a suntan was 20 minutes of sun exposure every other day, if you want to get tan, you should spend time in the sun for at least 20 minutes every other day.
But let’s say you want to get really tan. Should you then up the dose to 60 minutes every other day? Would that lead to 3x the tan? No way. Instead, you’d probably get burnt on the first day and need to stay out of the sun for a full week or two. And that’s not an effective way to improve your tan.
The lesson here?
Although this is counter-intuitive for a lot of people, exceeding the minimum effective usually slows down your progress, rather than speeding it up. In other words, more is not better. This is true in pharmaceutical prescription (too much will likely make you sick), sun tanning (you’ll get burnt), exercise training (you’ll damage too much muscle tissue), dieting (you’ll likely create too much of an energy deficit) and more.
While this makes sense, in the fitness industry I’m pretty confident we don’t know what the minimum effective dose is for many of the things we recommend. For example, what’s the minimum effective dose of:
exercise volume for fat loss?
hypertrophy work for muscle gain?
strength work for power lifting totals?
plyometric work for power development?
endurance exercise for increased AT?
energy deficit for fat loss?
nutrition habits for compliance?
We don’t know because many of us have never been incentivized to find the minimum effective dose. After all, most fitness and strength professionals got into this field because we love to exercise ourselves. So, the idea of finding the minimum amount of exercise doesn’t fit. Heck, many of us would like to find ways to do more exercise, not less.
Yet every legitimate field of study looks for efficiency points in their area. These are the points where you get the most output for the lowest input. The biggest bang for your buck, as they say. If we hope to further the fitness industry, we’ll need to begin to discover these efficiency points in our field.