Minimum Effective Dose Training: Short Workouts that Actually Work

I write about strength training programs often on this site. Many of these programs require a serious time investment; anywhere from 4 to 8 hours per week in the gym. Life doesn’t always give you that much time to train, especially if you work in law enforcement. Anything from a manpower shortage requiring mandatory OT to raising a new baby can significantly cut into the time you have to train. The programs outlined below are all “minimum effective dose” programs. Minimum effective dose means the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. In the case of training programs, the minimum effective dose we will be looking at is the required time investment. Why spend 2 hours a day in the gym 5 days a week when you can get results in 30 minutes or less a day?

The Bare Minimum

If you are seriously pressed for time and can’t even train for 30 minutes a day the bare minimum is walking plus Original Strength resets. The OS Resets consist of repeating a series of movements that we used as children to learn how to move. These resets include breathing, rolling, nodding, rocking, and crawling. You can complete the entire series of resets in 2 to 5 minutes. Throw in a 10 minute crawling workout at the end, then go for a 20 to 30 minute walk with your spouse and/or children and you are done for the day. Original Strength recently released a new book targeted at Tactical Athletes, I’ll be posting a review of it on the site shortly.

The Simple Minimum

If you are training at home and do not have a home gym, Simple & Sinister is the minimum effective dose program for you. Simple & Sinister requires one or two kettlebells and the program consists of 100 kettlebell swings and 5 Turkish Get Ups. The entire training session can be completed in 30 minutes and can help you get seriously strong without leaving home. Purchase the Simple & Sinister book and get started.

The Barbell Minimum

If you have a home gym, or are able to make it to a gym five days a week, then by all means include barbell strength training in your minimum effective dose training. The goal of minimum effective dose barbell training will be to use compound lifts and never miss a rep, in fact don’t even come close to missing a rep. The training feels easy, and as a result is referred to as Easy Strength. Dan John’s 40 Day Program will be where you want to start. Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline discuss this program in detail in the book Easy Strength. Dan John has touched on the subject again more recently in the article Even Easier Strength.

Don’t have time to focus on 5 lifts every day? Pick one or two and use the same Easy Strength principles to chase just those two lifts for 40 days. One program that does just that is the Daily Dose Deadlift Plan it is essentially Easy Strength for just the deadlift.

The Premeditated Fitness Minimum

This is the Minimum Effective Dose program that I follow when I have a crazy month and know my training time will be short. I start with the Bare Minimum listed above; I do OS Resets and walk for 20 to 30 minutes everyday. Twice a week I do additional crawling training sessions where I crawl for 10 minutes straight. This may sound silly, but don’t knock it until you have tried crawling for 10 minutes. Finally I perform two Armor Building sessions each week. The first session is 20 minutes and I complete 1 Armor Building complex at the top of each minute and rest for the remainder of the minute. The second sessions is 15 minutes and I try and complete as many Armor Building sessions as possible in those 15 minutes. I use a heavier set of bells for the first sessions to focus on strength, and a lighter set on the second session to focus on conditioning. Armor Building requires using double kettlebells to perform 2 cleans, 1 press, and 3 squats. These are advanced kettlebell moves and I suggest you take the time and invest in some hands on coaching with a certified instructor. Find a StrongFirst or RKC instructor near you and get started today.


Life may throw obstacles at you that keep you from training. Don’t let a lack of time be one of them. Start Minimum Effective Dose training today and get the most return on your time investment.

Leave a reply

Join Premeditated Fitness and get "Eating Healthy on Duty" emailed to you FREE

* indicates required
Get a free copy of "Eating Healthy on Duty"

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or personal trainer. Consult your doctor before starting any fitness or nutrition plan.