"Minimum Effective Dose" - What Does That Mean?


Level 6 Valued Member

Forgive me for diving off the deep end here but this brings up an interesting bit of semantics for me. My guess - only a guess - is that what we mean by "minimum" is more along the lines of achieving the most results relative to the time we spend. So maybe, e.g., 20 minutes does more than twice as much for you at 10 minutes. Or maybe it means that even though 20 minutes doesn't do twice as much, the amount more it does is still work the extra time spent, and the increase in results per time spent starts to go down after 20 minutes.

Or something.

This will vary by the practitioner and the exercise, of course, but I think even a very small amount can be effective. Effective means it has an effect, and I feel better after I've done a minute's worth of swings in a variety of formats, e.g., a single Q&D series, or even something as simply as picking up a bell and swinging it for a minute non-stop.

I raise the language issue only because I'm in a very busy period in my life right now and don't train nearly as much as I like to, but I still feel benefit from very short bouts of exercise in a variety of format. Besides a minute of swings, a 15-second bar hang has an effect for me. Yesterday I did 5 deadlifts (a single and two doubles, 130 kg @ 69 kg) in the space of 5 minutes and I feel it had an effect.

Maybe minimum effective dose means the minimum to have a training effect, i.e., the minimum to enable us to continue to progress. Is that how we're using it around here in a training context? And maybe my ramble above is all for naught if that's true, but effect and training effect are related but different things, IMHO. At the least, minimum effective dose for maintenance and for progress are different things.



MED It is a real medical term. It means the minimum amount to have any effect. Below that threshold, it will not work at all. For example, if you take an anti-biotic, you need a certain amount of it to be effective, otherwise, there is no point in taking the medicine. There is also the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), beyond which any substance can be toxic. You could die of too much water in theory. Rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo) can result from overexertion.

For exercise, as Anna says, it is better to see it in terms of minimum amount to progress. Even if you are not improving, just for health, any exercise will have a positive biological effect.

This original definition is useful, but as others have noted, it is harder to apply to exercise, as especially as you age. Maintenance could actually progress if you are 50 like me and still able to do what you could decades earlier. For some of us, we have a lifespan approach to fitness. I just got my pushup standard back to when I was 29. Will impress few on this board, but it is a good result for me while doing a GTG program from an SFG2 Aleks Salkin.

After experimenting with Strongfirst principles, it seems like the minimum is less than I though for non-competitive performance. GTG for example is something I knew about but had not done systematically until recently. Kicking myself now. Got results from a volume of only 40-100 a day 5-6 days a week doing 30 to 50 percent TRM waving. Took literally only a few min a day and had no effect on other trainig except postitive. The only exception being the 100 rep day which I scheduled before a rest day anyway.

Strongfirst principles like understanding GTG and velocity and waving has meant that exercise for GFP is much more sustainable and takes less time and effort than I and many people thought/think who are stuck in a bodybuilding/healthclub paradigm.

Will do a GTG set now...
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