Bodybuilding Minimum Effective Dose Program

(13 reviews)
For people who care about building muscle but don't have time with "optimal" training volumes.
Program Description

This template is aimed at people who primarily care about hypertrophy and want to grow a solid amount of muscle but don't have the time or recovery resources to train with "optimal" training volumes. Watch Dr. Pak's video on this for more information.

Program Overview

  • Day 1 combines lower body with back, with exercises such as squats, hip hinges, vertical pull, and optional quad, hamstring, and calf exercises

  • Day 2 covers the upper body, with exercises including horizontal presses, rows for back work, side delt exercises, and optional shoulder and arm exercises

  • Program can be followed indefinitely (past 6 weeks)

  • Add an optional Day 3 every week if you like

Who is Dr. Pak?

Dr. Pak did his PhD on “the minimum dose required for 1RM strength in powerlifters“, a project dedicated to understanding what the least a powerlifter can do is and still get stronger.

As part of his PhD, his lab and other collaborators undertook several studies on the topic, which included a comprehensive review of the existing scientific literature, conducting training studies, and interviewing some of the world's foremost powerlifting athletes and coaches. He also immersed himself in the subject of minimum dose training, focusing on the minimal requirements necessary for achieving significant muscle size gains.

You can learn more about Dr. Pak and training information on his website, instagram, and YouTube channel.

What does the research show?

In summary, their research revealed that powerlifters or individuals trained in resistance could significantly enhance their strength for a period of 6-12 weeks by engaging in a few heavy/high intensity of effort sets for each lift weekly. Furthermore, it was found that as few as 1-4 sets per muscle group each week could lead to meaningful increases in muscle growth for both trained and untrained individuals.

This does not imply that "a few sets" are all one needs indefinitely, but it suggests a viable strategy that might be beneficial when time or recovery resources are scarce, or even when training motivation is low.

The document he prepared includes a series of 6-week minimum dose style "templates" for hypertrophy, 1RM Squat-Bench-Deadlift strength, and a combination of both.

Program Overview
CoachDr. Pakverified coach
LevelBeginner, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced
GoalBodybuilding
EquipmentFull Gym
Time Per Workout45 minutes
Days Per Week2 days
Program Length6 weeks
Start the program
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Week 1
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
6-8
Deadlift (Barbell)3
6-8
Leg Extension2
8-12
Leg Curl2
6-12
Chin-Up (Weighted)3
6-12
Straight Leg Calf Raise2
8-15
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)4
6-12
Overhead Press (Barbell)2
6-12
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-12
Lateral Raise (Cable)3
8-15
Overhead Tricep Extension (Cable)2
8-15
Bayesian Curl2
8-15
Week 2
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
6-8
Deadlift (Barbell)3
6-8
Leg Extension2
8-12
Leg Curl2
6-12
Chin-Up (Weighted)3
6-12
Straight Leg Calf Raise2
8-15
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)3
6-12
Overhead Press (Barbell)2
6-12
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-12
Lateral Raise (Cable)3
8-15
Overhead Tricep Extension (Cable)2
8-15
Bayesian Curl2
8-15
Week 3
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
6-8
Deadlift (Barbell)3
6-8
Leg Extension2
8-12
Leg Curl2
6-12
Chin-Up (Weighted)3
6-12
Straight Leg Calf Raise2
8-15
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)3
6-12
Overhead Press (Barbell)2
6-12
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-12
Lateral Raise (Cable)3
8-15
Overhead Tricep Extension (Cable)2
8-15
Bayesian Curl2
8-15
Week 4
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
6-8
Deadlift (Barbell)3
6-8
Leg Extension2
8-12
Leg Curl2
6-12
Chin-Up (Weighted)3
6-12
Straight Leg Calf Raise2
8-15
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)3
6-12
Overhead Press (Barbell)2
6-12
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-12
Lateral Raise (Cable)3
8-15
Overhead Tricep Extension (Cable)2
8-15
Bayesian Curl2
8-15
Week 5
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
6-8
Deadlift (Barbell)3
6-8
Leg Extension2
8-12
Leg Curl2
6-12
Chin-Up (Weighted)3
6-12
Straight Leg Calf Raise2
8-15
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)3
6-12
Overhead Press (Barbell)2
6-12
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-12
Lateral Raise (Cable)3
8-15
Overhead Tricep Extension (Cable)2
8-15
Bayesian Curl2
8-15
Week 6
Day 1
ExerciseSetsReps
Squat (Barbell)3
6-8
Deadlift (Barbell)3
6-8
Leg Extension2
8-12
Leg Curl2
6-12
Chin-Up (Weighted)3
6-12
Straight Leg Calf Raise2
8-15
Day 2
ExerciseSetsReps
Bench Press (Barbell)3
6-12
Overhead Press (Barbell)2
6-12
Bent Over Row (Barbell)3
6-12
Lateral Raise (Cable)3
8-15
Overhead Tricep Extension (Cable)2
8-15
Bayesian Curl2
8-15
What People Are Saying
3.8/ 5
AnonymousMan
3 weeks complete
8 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
Great for the average corporate schmuck who hasnt been able to work out in years, getting back into it. Very manageable and because the commitment is low, i had low expectations of “gains” … really this just gets my blood pumping and i am noticing very slight gains but im only 3 weeks in. Going to keep at it, perfect for my needs and i am not expecting, nor getting, the moon and stars from it.
20 days ago
Fredrik H.Man
3 weeks complete
8 years of prior experience
As expected strength gains
As expected muscle gains
Marginal modifications
Y
20 days ago