Stay Strong and Save Time with Minimum Dose, Maximum Muscle
Navigate your busy schedule without losing your progress in Coach Tim Landicho’s new month-long maintenance program.
Every time you do a coach-led workout on Tonal, you’re completing a specific series of exercises in a particular order designed to maximize your results. In this series, The Why Behind the Workout, we break down the science behind a particular workout or program.
Here, we dive deep into Minimum Dose, Maximum Muscle with Tonal coach and certified personal trainer Tim Landicho.
Who It’s For
There are times in life when you’re able to make training your priority. When you’ve just wrapped up a big work project or the kids are busy with their own activities, it’s easier to devote several hours each week to your workouts. However, there are also weeks or months when your priorities shift and you don’t have the time, nevermind the energy, to commit to multiple hours of workouts each week. Minimum Dose, Maximum Muscle is an advanced-level program for the experienced, yet time-strapped, lifter looking to maintain muscle mass, strength, and performance ability, building your workouts around your busy schedule, instead of the other way around.
Whether you’re traveling, navigating hectic holiday plans, going through a busy season at work, or simply need to give yourself a break, this four-week program frees you up to focus on life’s other demands without sacrificing your gains in the process. “This program will have you feeling successful instead of feeling behind,” says Landicho. “The core message for this one is that training should amplify your life, not consume it.”
Each time-efficient, full-body session is built around maximizing your workload so that you can accumulate enough volume to sufficiently challenge your muscles without carving out all the time it takes to target them multiple times each week.
This four-week, two-days-per-week maintenance program uses a minimal effective dose strategy, training each muscle group only as much as needed so you don’t lose the progress you’ve already made while backing off your regular cadence.
In fact, research points to the idea that two days per week may be all you need to build muscle anyway. An analysis by strength and conditioning expert Brad Schoenfield, PhD., compared studies that looked at training muscle groups one to three times per week using equal volume. While the study showed that training muscle groups twice a week was more beneficial than training only once, other evidence showed a negligible difference between training those muscle groups three times versus six. The takeaway: more isn’t always better.
“There’s a misconception that scaling back is a waste of time,” Landicho said. “It’s not. If you come into each workout with the intention that you’re going to give your all to this power meter, and you’re going to give your all to this working set, you can get what you really want out of it.”
Minimum Dose, Maximum Muscle may not pile on overall volume throughout the four weeks, but each session offers a no-nonsense approach to building and maintaining muscle in a dedicated time frame.
How It Works
You’ll complete two full-body workouts each week for four weeks in Minimum Dose, Maximum Muscle. Each session is grounded in time-efficient compound movements that recruit multiple muscle groups. The program breaks down like this:
- The first session each week focuses on exercises that target hinge patterns, such as barbell deadlift and RDL, as well as vertical and horizontal pulling movements. The emphasis will be on driving hypertrophy through accumulating volume via drop sets that decrease the weight each set as the reps increase.
- The second session utilizes pushing exercises, turning the focus on maintaining strength and power with explosive lifts such as the bench press and barbell front squat. Day Two uses contrast sets, pairing a heavily-loaded exercise with a bodyweight movement or lighter lift in an effort to recruit both fast- and slow-twitch muscles.
“In those two touchpoints, you really want to unlock an athlete’s mindset,” Landicho explains. “The idea is not that we take it easy. The point is that when you return to your regular training, when you have more available time or more energy, you can pick up a higher intensity program again.”
Troy Taylor, Senior Director of Performance at Tonal, agrees that lifting with intention–in other words, putting as much focus on being explosive during the concentric lifting portion as maintaining control on the eccentric lowering portion of each lift–is a major theme throughout. “It’s not a cruise control program,” he added. “For this program to work, we need you to push. You need to push close to failure. You need to work hard. It’s focused and dedicated time, but there’s not a lot of it so you want to maximize the effect of every single rep.”
When saving time is a priority, you need movements that provide the biggest bang for your buck. While many consider the deadlift a lower-body exercise, this move is actually the king of full-body lifts. “Your primary movers are the glutes and hamstrings but your upper body, back, and core are doing a ton of work,” Landicho explains.
Bulgarian Split Squat
This unilateral movement is the frienemy Tonal members love to hate. The increased focus on stability through your core, hips and quads through elevating the back leg takes this lower-body progression to the next level.
Standing Overhead Press
Despite being primarily an upper-body exercise, the fact that you’re standing, according to Landicho, and creating a stable base through your core to support the lift, makes the overhead press an effective and efficient full-body challenge.
Extreme Accumulation – Joe Rodonis
Lifters often fluctuate between an intensification phase, focused on heavier lifts at lower rep ranges, and an accumulation phase, that ramps up volume with lower weights, to continue challenging their muscles and stamina. After four weeks of maintenance, consider a classic body part split, with a twist. This Custom by Tonal program, racks up serious volume to boost muscular endurance.
Power Gains – Tim Landicho
Revitalize your training with this two-week program that utilizes the Bulgarian method–performing the same exercises using Eccentric mode and Chains Mode to build strength and power at the same time.