Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Density Training

On another forum, someone mentioned a training concept I hadn't thought about in a while - density training.

The post is pretty brief and speaks for itself. But just in case its server goes bye-bye, here's a short summary. In density training, you do a lot of reps in an ever-decreasing amount of time in order to increase your maximum reps for that weight/exercise. You plan to do a total amount of reps equal to twice your goal maximum, and break it into smaller chunks. You do those chunks every minute on the minute. So if you want to do 20 pullups, you do 40 total in the form of 20 sets of 2 over 20 minutes. If you wanted 15, it would be 30 for 15 x 2 for 15 minutes. As you progress, you start to increase the reps (to, say, 13 x 3) and decrease the total time (still 1 minute rests, for 13 minutes total). Then 10 x 4 for 10 minutes, 8 x 5 for 8 minutes, 7 x 6 for 7 minutes, etc. until you get to 4 x 10 for 4 which point you should be able to knock off 20 in one set.

Pretty simple, but also pretty brutal, and the recommendation is only to do this twice a week.

If you really need to hit a specific number of reps, this looks like a good way to go for it. The principle is pretty sound - do more in less time, but never hit those failure reps that stop the workout cold.

This is a bit different than Charles Staley's similarly-named Escalating Density Training (EDT) system. In EDT you set a specific time and complete as many reps as you can in that time; here you are aiming to manipulate your number of reps done per set over a decreasing amount of time.

It is also different "my" total rep count approach. There you increase your individual set reps by maxing out on the final set and re-calculating earlier sets for the next workout, thus pushing up the total volume without really extending the overall time.

I think all three have merit, depending on how you want to approach your workout - reps per set with a fixed volume? Density training. Time-dependent, with increasing volume and fatigue management within that time? EDT. Rep-dependent, with increasing volume and max rep tests every session? Total rep count. All different ways to approach the same goal - all three methods are aimed at getting a lot of quality repetitions done in a short amount of time in order to improve your strength-endurance.

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