Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Minimum Effective Dose: CrossFit Version

CrossFit HQ just published the CrossFit Games ticket information. Pretty exciting. Now that Games Open 2015 is complete, we , and trust me, everyone in every Box is gonna start thinking about how they will prepare for next year’s Open experience. Really. There are some very high quality CrossFit sites with a proven track record of producing CrossFit Games competitors who are publishing supplemental training programming for 2016 Open Athletes. Heck, I’m “borrowing” some stuff from Ben Bergeron (thanks Ben!) for my son Randy’s Box. Innumerable FB threads and blog posts host spirited discourse on “Competition Training”. Too much/too little. Goldilocks is lost in the forest of Open training.

Fear not. I am here to guide you.

Why do you do CrossFit? This is a proxy for “What are your goals?” It’s really that simple. Really. That’s not to say it’s not hard, though. You must sit yourself down and have that little chat. Why am I doing this? What is the outcome I seek? It goes back to Coach Glassman’s Black Box theory of research: define the right-side output you want and keep changing the left-side inputs into the Black Box (YOU!) until you churn out the desired result. Fuel. Volume. Technical emphasis. But it all starts with knowing what you seek to achieve.

I’d like to introduce a concept from my day job (with attribution to Mark Sisson for reminding me) that applies here, especially when it comes to the siren song of CrossFit and other fitness competitions: Minimum Effective Dose. That amount of left side input that is the lowest amount of whatever–lowest dose–that will produce a desired outcome. How much food and what type. How much training. How much time. Unlike above where we do not know what talents we may or may not possess until we have completed the Crossfit Open, we know exactly how much time we have in every day, and we have a pretty clear idea about what else must be accomplished in our lives outside of CrossFit. You know, stuff like your day job, napping, nookie and such.

Whether you are a Games aspirant, a Regionals shoo-in, someone who routinely competes at a local level, or the rest of us just trying to ensure that we will be able to get up off the loo when we are 80, this is a concept that you should embrace. Start on the right side of the Black Box that is you and define a set of goals, outcomes. Seek to find the MED of the CrossFit Prescription (WOD, skill work, nutrition, recovery, etc) that maximizes the likelihood of achieving those outcomes while minimizing negative results (injury, lack of balance, life losses due to inattention to other priorities, etc.). Relentlessly re-evaluate your own MED in light of both your desired outcome and other essential priorities, putting equal emphasis on both the “Effective” part and the “Minimal”. While not particularly easy, it really is that simple.

I have long held that the most important competition in CrossFit is actually the one you wage with only yourself, the battle to be a better version of you tomorrow than you were yesterday through your efforts today. The Minimum Effective Dose is as personal as any other part of you vs. you.


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