Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is basically exposing an object to an activity, concept or substance, to the precise point where a reaction is initiated to reflect the desired effects of the exposure.
A quick example for the next day you are at the gym:
Perform 1 set of 7 bench press repetitions, slowly (typically 5 seconds up, 5 seconds down), where, on the last repetition (goal: rep 7, 8 or 9), you push yourself to failure. Doing so triggers the exercised muscles and systemic growth mechanisms. You’re now done working your chest for the week.
You will, undoubtedly, feel the urge to do another set (or two) — do not. Again, you’re done with chest for a week.
Repeat the same chest workout 1 week later with an added 5 to 10 lbs. on the bar then pat yourself on the back for experiencing the benefits of MED.
MED basically proves that most of us have literally wasted away hours and hours of our lives. Sure, when we were hitting the gym 5 to 6 days a week for 30, 60 (maybe even 90 minutes) a session, we felt great. We were improving ourselves by putting in the most strenuous work because that is what it took.
No pain, no gain, right?
Spoiler alert: You wasted away hours each week and, sorry, there is no time machine.
I didn’t learn any of this until just before New Year’s Day in December of 2010, when I began to read a book by Tim Ferriss.
I had just finished reading 4 Hour Work Week by Ferriss and caught word of his highly anticipated book about many topics, mostly related to dieting and fitness. I ordered 4 Hour Body almost immediately after watching the promotional video (below).
While the book advised not to read the entire book, cover to cover, I was so amazed (and, often times, in absolute disbelief) by the content, I couldn’t help but load up on caffeine, fire up Evernote and get started!
The chapters on dieting are rather life-changing (more on that in a later post — I still practice the Slow-Carb Diet today) but what really had me calling “bullshit” were the chapters on MED.
Basically Ferriss, as he does with most other topics, tells you a story, tells you why you should care about the content you are about to read, then blows your mind with “facts” that can’t possibly be.
I was wrong. And I highly, highly recommend getting your hands on this book and buckle up — I won’t go into the details but I will share with you some of my results.
Below you can see the exercises that I had chosen and the weights lifted. For simplicity, I’ll display every-other-week for two months. 8 hours of total lift time.
Did I mention that the above was achieved with zero change in anything other than the my workouts and the way I was working out? Diet, sleep, work, social life, etc. remained constant. The only change was that I was now working out just 1 hour a week (actually, less given that I would typically leave the house at 5:15am and return around 6:10am with a half-mile run to and from the gym) instead of the usual 7 hours per week.
Workout slower to save time.
Makes sense, right? Not really but who cares, the results speak for themselves.
There was no question that I was getting stronger each week. With the strength gain came mass too. For example, I gained 2 inches on each arm and my chest gained 3 inches – in just two months (or less than 8 hours of gym time).
Needless to say, I haven’t stopped. Less than a year later, my Yate’s Row weight is up over 100 lbs. (right where I started with the squat).
The first two challenges to these workouts were:
- convincing myself not to do sets 2, 3, 4 and 5 (as I had done for over 10 years prior – *sigh*) and
- avoiding eye contact with the receptionist that just checked me in about 40 minutes ago.
Leaving the gym, in less than 60 minutes, is a very, very strange and, almost shameful feeling, until you get outside. Then you are enveloped by a blissful feeling and wonder what to do for the rest of your free time now, and until you hit the gym again in 7 days.
In my new-found free time (~30 hours a month), I spend more time with my family, pick up new hobbies (including this site), read
more books and, in general, have more fun doing the things that I love now that I can put more time into them. I also enjoy going to the gym more (I’m moving more weight and in much less time than most anyone else in there which is really more of a silent competitive feeling). Life changing. Period.
On a side note
I’ve also employed MED to train for a marathon. I trained for about 6 months, running just twice (yes, 2 times) a week and just finished the 26.2 miles in late October.
I was not a distance junkie and weigh over 200 lbs — I had previously ran two half marathons and hated life for days afterwards. Training and running a marathon was a non-starter until I learned and saw the results of MED, firsthand, with my weight training.
My first run of the week was a sprint interval of 4x 400 meters with each trip around the track in less than 1 minute 15 seconds which included 1 minute 30 seconds of rest time between. I was at the track and back within an hour – including the drive to and from, the stretch and cool down.
The second was a long run, to build up my suspension, which began at about 7 miles per run and ended around 20 miles after just a few months.
Get the book (if you haven’t already) and share with me your thoughts. Whether you workout or not, it’s hard to ignore spending less than 1 hour a week, without changing anything else, to feel stronger, healthier and feel better about yourself. Who doesn’t want that?
Any questions or need further convincing? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a message privately via Contact IE.