by Stuart McMillan
ok - just a few weeks now before the Games begin - I’ve written a little lately about peaking and preparing for a Games, and this post is along similar lines:
...M.E.D: minimum effective dose. The term has received a lot of press in the last year or so, and fits nicely within my own philosophy. Matt Jordan and myself have always spoke about doing the minimum amount of work to maintain function during the competitive period. The term now, however, is being used more broadly: Tim Ferriss - author of two highly successful books that are based upon the theme, defines MED as ‘the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome’; and, as this is pretty much what I’m trying to do with this website - bin all the superfluous, and live off the rest, I thought it prudent to give it a brief overview.
Ferriss argues that anything in excess of the MED is wasteful; water, for example, boils at 100 degrees; anything more than that doesn’t make it ‘more boiled’, so the MED is 100 degrees. The MED to lose fat is to do the least amount necessary to trigger a cascade of fat-loss hormones; and the MED to add muscle is to do the least amount necessary to trigger growth mechanisms.
MED is easily applied to the strength training world within the competitive season. In most philosophies and programs, during the competitive season, the event takes precedence over those methods that are used to aid in its development - e.g. strength training. But it’s essential to keep these components in. The trick is just figuring out what each guys’ MED for each quality is. One of my former athletes, Pavle Jovanovic, could maintain maximum strength by doing a couple of doubles every two weeks. Others would need to lift every 3 days! There’s no recipe for this - the only way to figure it out (that I have found - if you any better ideas, I’d love to hear them) is trial and error. Do a session. Repeat it a week later. Got stronger? Next time repeat it 10 days later. Still stronger? Go for 2 weeks. etc... Obviously, I’m just talking about maximum strength here, and there’s a ton of other qualities you will have to find MEDs for also.
...brief aside - if a quality - or a training component - is important enough to put INTO a training program, then it is important enough to KEEP it in the training program. A common mistake many coaches make during the competitive period is eliminating those components that are important to the continuing development of the athlete, but on the surface may not seem necessary at the time. An example is maximum strength. By dropping it out, you’ll often not realize how much the component has been de-trained until it’s too late. It’s a slow virus that only fully reveals itself later in the process either in a higher incidence of injury or inability to reach top form.
So what’s YOUR MED?