How to Apply Minimum Effective Dose to Training

M.E.D. Programming Philosophy

Today we want to challenge everything you thought you knew about programming for strength training.

Typically if you’re using a strength program and that program stops working (you fail to continue making progress), you move to another program. Oftentimes the new program looks nothing like the old program because many variables are changed. For example, exercise selection, set/rep scheme, frequency.

The program with changing multiple variables in the program at one time is that we don’t know which variable made the impact – if the new program works, we don’t know what variable made it work and if the new program fails, we don’t know what variable made it fail (or didn’t help you make progress again).

Enter: Minimum Effective Dose of Complexity – for strength programming

Let’s use the example of transitioning to a new program when the Novice Linear Progression program stops working. First of all, you do not transition from a “novice lifter” to an “intermediate lifter” overnight. The change is slow and gradual. When we apply minimum effective dose changes to the NLP, first we might use a lighter squat day on Wednesday (midweek) so that weight is being added to the bar every Monday and Friday, instead of all three days of the week.

We use this programming for as long as we can. When we can no longer make progress every Monday and Friday, it’s time for another minimum effective dose change. Jump right to the Texas Method? Nope. Instead, we might remove one set of squats from Friday and add one set of squats to Monday. Monday starts to look like more of a volume day and Friday an intensity day.

Programming transition should be slow and steady, changing one variable at a time so that we can measure what worked or did not work to move our strength forward.

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