The Escalating Density Training concept is fairly new but seems to be pretty solid. With Escalating Density Training, Charles Staley introduces a whole new training concept.
Escalating Density Training is not like your traditional weight training. While traditional weight training focuses on muscle fatigue, EDT focuses on muscle performance. In this system, you move increasingly heavy weights in short periods of time in an effort to boost your overall power output. You are only dealing with two variables: time and amount of work.
The idea is that you do as many push-ups and squats as you can during the 15 minutes, and the next time you come around to that same exercise set, which might be one to two weeks later depending on your schedule, you try to do more push-ups or squats in the same period of time, or use more weight; doing squats while holding onto kettle bells or dumbbells, or push-ups with a weighted vest.
The fun thing about this training program is that it gives you a numeric goal to beat. You know exactly what your power factor rating (seconds divided by reps) was the last time you did this exercise set, so when you’re doing it again, you know what you have to beat. You begin to compete with yourself, which makes exercise more fun and rewarding. It’s also startling to learn just how quickly you can gain power.
Your body will adapt when you use this program. Even though you may have been extremely sore just doing squats with no weight whatsoever, after a few weeks, you’ll find that you can squat for 15 minutes doing 180 repetitions and won’t be sore at all. Then, you can start adding weight. If you do this long enough, you may be able to squat 20 pounds, 40 pounds or maybe even 80 or 100 pounds eventually. You’ll be both strong and functional, and your leg muscle mass will increase in size because that is a necessary adaptation for increased strength.
EDT Loading Parameters:
For those not yet familiar with EDT’s unique loading parameters, here’s the nuts and bolts:
- Escalating Density Training is based on the concept of doing more and more work from workout to workout. Therefore, it’s critical that your exercise biomechanics (i.e., technique) is consistent on every workout. If you perform strict curls on one workout and loose form the next, you aren’t really doing more work (for the arms at least!).
- It is recommended that you do 10-15 minutes of light to moderate cardio, followed by 10-15 minutes of light stretching on “off” days for the purpose of promoting active recovery and reducing soreness.
- Each workout in this cycle consists of (3) PR Zones (PR meaning personal record) of 15-minutes duration separated by a short (5-minute) rest periods. In each PR Zone, you’ll generally perform two exercises, for a total of 3-4 exercises per workout.
- In each PR Zone, you’ll typically perform two antagonistic exercises in alternating fashion, back and forth, using the same weight for all sets, until the PR Zone has elapsed.
- After warming up the first exercise(s), select a load that approximates a 10RM for each exercise. Ideally, the weight used for each exercise should be equally difficult.
- Sets/Reps/Rest Intervals: This is where EDT is truly unique. Most people will find it most productive to do higher repetition (but not maximal effort) sets and shorter rests at the beginning, and then gradually progress to fewer reps per set and longer rest intervals as fatigue accumulates. As an example, you might begin by performing sets of 5 with very short (10-15 second) rests. As you begin to fatigue, you’ll increase your rest intervals as you drop down to sets of 4, then 2, and as the time limit approaches, you might crank out a few singles in an effort of accomplish as many repetitions as possible in the time allotted.
- NOTE: Do not perform early sets to failure, or even near failure. My recommended starting point is to do 1/2 of what is possible (e.g., 5 reps with a 10RM weight) at the beginning of the time frame. As the time limit approaches however, you’ll find yourself working at or near failure as you attempt to break your rep record.
- Progression: Each time you repeat the workout; your objective is to simply perform more total repetitions in the same time frame. As soon as you can increase the total number of reps by 20 percent or more, start the next workout with 5 percent more weight and start over. Similarly, if you manage to improve upon your last performance (for the same workout) by 40 percent, then you’ll increase your weights by 10 percent on the next workout.
If you’re interested in experiencing the greatest strength gains possible in the least amount of time, I believe that EDT is a system that will allow you to do it.