OMM 6: Micro-Dosing Strength and Endurance (Research-Based Principles)

July 21, 2023

Micro-Dosing Strength & Endurance Training:

  • Defined as the division of volume within a microcycle across frequent, short duration and repeated bouts, according to NSCA.
  • This is basically like Dr. Phil Maffetone’s slow weights (and even movement snacks to some degree) but more scientific and structured.
  • Can be a solution to lack of time without sacrificing overall quality and gains.
  • Can allow for more autonomy; better adherence?
    • Gives athlete power and flexibility to fit in workouts when they’re able and duration not so daunting 
  • Can improve motor learning.
  • Not necessarily the same as minimum effective dose/maintenance (but can be) this is still about building.
  • Less DOMS /residual fatigue. 
  • Potential greater improvements/adaptations in strength (especially when concurrent training)
  • Offset negative effects of concurrent training (mixed signaling) due to frequency/duration piece
    • Kilen et al 2015 found: Regarding possible negative effects of endurance training on muscular strength gains (8,11), the results demonstrate that strength gains can be achieved simultaneously with increased peak oxygen uptake and intermittent running performance. Thus, short, frequent training sessions aimed at either muscular strength or endurance adaptation seem to represent an efficient training strategy. 
  • When volume/load is matched, improvements are the same or potentially better (!) 
    • ie more frequent sessions, less volume per session
  • Use if stringing together a long season and wanting to stay in peak condition?
  • Exceptions: If highly-trained endurance athlete, this dosage/stimuli may not apply to making improvements; however can helps with maintenance.

Adaptations to Short, Frequent Sessions of Endurance and Strength Training Are Similar to Longer, Less Frequent Exercise Sessions When the Total Volume Is the Same (2015) – Kilen et al

  • 8 weeks, 29 subjects, military physical training (experience of 3 x 45min prior to intervention)
  • “Micro training” performed 9 x 15-min training sessions weekly, 
    • Double days M-Th + AM Fri
  • “Classical training” completed exactly the same training on a weekly basis but as 3 x 45-min sessions. 
  • For each group, each session comprised exclusively strength, high-intensity cardiovascular training or muscle endurance training. 
  • The 6.5% increase in peak oxygen uptake in MI demonstrates that short, frequent interval running sessions are sufficient to induce cardiovascular adaptation, which is in line with previous studies (6,20). 
  • Running intensity was prescribed as fastest possible average pace for the intervals: fixed speed was determined by the subject’s average running pace based on their current estimated best time for 5k or 10k to elicit a running speed close to the aerobic threshold. 
  • MI significantly increased peak oxygen uptake, grip strength, lunges performed, and distance covered in the shuttle run test, whereas CL significantly increased shuttle run performance. When comparing the groups’ response to training, there was no difference between groups in any measurements after the training intervention period. 

Impact of low-volume concurrent strength training distribution on muscular adaptation (2020) Kilen et al

  • Also showed that weekly distribution of low-volume concurrent training completed as either 8 x 15-min bouts or 2 x 60-min sessions of which 50% was strength training did not impact strength gains in a real-world setting. 
  • The 8 x 15 was further divided to 4 x strength, 4 x endurance (15 each)
  • Pull-up performance can increase with as little as 15 min of specific training per week. 
  • However, Robust strength training effects requires a higher training volume than 1hr/wk for 9 weeks. 

Maintaining Physical Performance: The Minimal Dose of Exercise Needed to Preserve Endurance and Strength Over Time – my old professor was author on this! (2021) Spiering et al

  • when goal it to maintain during busy/stressful periods, during high competition (athletes), or even during a healing phase…
  • review article of minimal dose of exercise (i.e., frequency, volume, and intensity) needed to maintain physical performance over time
  • Endurance performance can be maintained for up to 15 weeks when training frequency is reduced to as little as 2 sessions per week or when exercise volume is reduced by 33-66% (as low as 13-26 minutes per session), as long as exercise intensity (exercising heart rate) is maintained. 
  • Strength and muscle size (in younger populations) can be maintained for up to 32 weeks with as little as 1 session of strength training per week and 1 set per exercise, as long as exercise intensity (relative load) is maintained; 
  • Strength in older populations, maintaining muscle size may require up to 2 sessions per week and 2-3 sets per exercise, while maintaining exercise intensity.
  • Intensity is king! Exercise intensity seems to be the key variable for maintaining physical performance over time. (i.e. HR based training, is this MAF or LT, it’s relative, and for strength intensity refers to LOAD)

One Comment

  • Jeanne says:

    Like the micro-dosing idea, especially with winter coming! My exercise is taking care of the farm animals, greenhouses and garden areas. It’s a lot of work but does not zoom in on what is most needed for my body. Will be watching your video as soon as I finish the animals and gardens, including picking apples and carrying apples to the root cellar. When I finish what I can in a day at 70 I do feel spent. I know working out in a pleasurable way – such as biking that I love – can give me a pick-me-up but time and body is often spent! Thank You for reminding us of how important it is to take care of our muscles and strength. It also helps avoid injuries.

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