When it comes to working out, if some is good, more must be better, right?
We’ve all done this as some point – you Google “best workout for *insert body part*” and then take the program that has the most exercises and get started. Because the more you do, the quicker you’ll get results, right?
Unfortunately, rather than getting quicker results, you’re more likely to burn out, stall your progress, and lose motivation.
Law of Diminishing Returns
The Law of Diminishing Returns states that at a certain point, adding additional input diminishes the output. Applying this to training, it means that there’s a certain volume of movement your body can handle before it starts becoming detrimental to your progress and you’re no longer getting the gains you’re after.
I know it’s tempting to chase an insane pump with tonnes of volume and then do some cardio on top of that, just for good measure. But, if your goals are to build muscle and get fitter and stronger, you don’t need to have 8 different variations of bicep curls in your program. You also don’t need to be walking out of the gym unable to feel your legs because you’ve spent 2 hours doing all the different leg exercises in Arnold Schwarznegger’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding in order to get stronger legs and build more muscle.
This is where it’s important to work smarter, not harder.
Minimum Effective Dose
If you know you can get rid of a headache with 200mg of ibuprofen, what’s the point of taking 800mg?
Same goes with your training – if you can get results with less volume, what’s the point of doing more just for the sake of it?
We want to find the Minimum Effective Dose – the minimum amount of volume you can do to get the results you’re after.
Benefits of doing less
You don’t have to compromise your health to get results. Here are our top three benefits for applying the Minimum Effective Dose to your training.
- Save time
If you’re not doing unnecessary volume, you can cut your training time down significantly. By focusing on squatting, hinging, pressing, pulling, and pushing as the main part of your training, you can get an effective workout in 30 minutes. Your sessions can be time efficient and get you results PLUS give you extra time to enjoy your life outside the gym.
Proper recovery is key to building muscle and getting stronger. But if you’re consistently doing super high volume sessions and lots of extra cardio, you’re overloading your body with stress and not allowing your body to have a break, recover, and adapt to the stimulus. If you do the Minimum Effective Dose instead of grinding yourself into a pulp every session, you’ll give your body a chance to recover properly in between sessions and be able to engage in restorative activities such as leisure walking or swimming.
What’s more effective – training 18 hours a week for four weeks and then crashing and burning and having months off or training 4 hours a week every week for the rest of your life?
I see so many people start new training programs with the best of intentions and want to train for a couple hours 5-6 days a week but there’s only so long you can keep up with super high volume programs. After a while, the stress to your body, lack of recovery, and the time it takes to complete, plus the fact that you’ve plateaued and haven’t seen extra gains for the extra effort, and it makes it hard to be motivated to stick to the program.
However, training for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week is manageable. You can fit that into your schedule and it doesn’t take up too much of your time so you’re not spending your life in the gym. When you feel like your training schedule is do-able and won’t be a time and energy suck, you’re more likely to stay consistent with it over time, and this is how you get results.
If your goals are to get (and stay) fit, healthy, and strong, try applying the Minimum Effective Dose to your training and see how you get results in less time.