I was doing some digging in to two training concepts that are literally at different ends of the spectrum but the both still lead to the same reward. Either can be applied to your own training, which will depend on you as a person and your individual preferences.
The concepts in question are:
– Maximum Recoverable Volume (MRV) – Think Dr Mike Israetel
– Minimum Effective Dose (MED) – Think Brooks Kubik
MRV is essentially training as hard as you possibly can (a boat load of growth stimulating effort, hopefully) while still recovering to force a faster adaptation, meaning quick progress followed by a quick plateau, however it also means you stay ‘at the top of your game’ for lack of a better description, for longer.
MED is the exact opposite, based on GAS – general adaptation syndrome, you want to expose your body to the minimum amount required for you to progress. You will take longer to reach your peak and plateau but you’ll get there in the end.
Now out of the two I’m sure most people will look at MRV and think “That’s the one for me, I want my gains NOW!” and if you are a competitive athlete I would be inclined to agree, however when you flirt with MRV you will find it’s easy to overreach and for progress to come less optimal, some people see this as they need more volume which makes them now on the edge over overtraining and injury. Suddenly they snap themselves up and it’s Game Over for a while, but that’s the risk you run for the reward you seek.
If you decide to follow the path of MED you’ll find that what progress might be slower you actually feel better (less beat up all the time), have more potential time to do other things (more on this shortly) and you remain essentially risk free, unless you’re doing some strange exercise that involves single leg overhead squats on a kettlebell handle. The only issue is that results can end up taking a rather lengthy amount of time.
Remember that just because you can do more doesn’t mean you should.
Here is a quick example of MRV/MED in terms of numbers/application.
Let’s say we have a person who’s MED is as follows:
Squat 2xP/W
They are progressing quite nicely on this. Lean body mass is going up, as is strength, however…. Their MRV might be this:
Squat 4xP/W –
This would mean faster progress due to more overall volume but also lead to a faster plateau and potentially incased risk of injury.
Which should they do?
The answer is either, depending on their goal.
Yep. It doesn’t matter which they do because it’s their choice at the end of the day. They would simply have to compare the pros/cons and make an informed decision.
Both methods are great and they both get you to the same place in the end.
Over they years I have actually done both of these, not intentionally, more intuitively (then lots of writing on the topics came out). These days I would much rather do just enough to make progress and spend more time following other endeavours, it’s just more logical in the end and provides better longevity.

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