Escalated Density Training for a Quick Workout or Training on the Road

Every now and then, when I’m in a rush, or simply looking for a change of pace, I find myself using “escalated density training,” otherwise known as EDT. While I wouldn’t recommend EDT for the development of pure strength or power, I find it particularly useful for two scenarios:

1) When you have very limited time to train, and just need a simple “Get In, Get Out” workout. Something that will allow you to complete a training session in roughly twenty minutes or less.

Given that, once you’ve attained a reasonable level of strength, it can take you thirty or more minutes just to warm up to your working sets of deadlifts or squats, EDT allows you to finish your workout rather quickly due to the lighter weights involved.

2) If you’re traveling, and – as is unfortunately common in hotel rooms – the weights available are extremely limited (often capping out at 50lbs or less).

How To Do It

You’ll complete two “blocks” of 5-10 minute intervals, utilizing two exercises in each block. These two exercises will ideally utilize opposing muscle groups, or “antagonist” pairings. For example, the good ol’ push-pull pairing.

Pick a weight for each exercise that is roughly your 12-rep maximum, but only perform ten reps for the first set. Then, you’re going to go back and forth between each exercise, using the same weight, without resting, for 5-10 minutes straight.

Let’s use a dumbbell bench press and chest-supported row, for an example.

Chest- Supported Row (reps)

Dumbbell Bench Press (reps)

Set 1:

10

10

Set 2:

9

8

Set 3:

7

6

Set 4:

7

5

If you can perform 10 reps for multiple sets, then the weight is too light. On the contrary, if the number of reps you can perform with good form drops too rapidly (i.e. you can only get 4-5 reps on the second set), then it is too heavy. Also, note that the first set should especially not be taken to failure, as this will cause you to burn out too quickly. Always stop each set before your form degrades.

Begin on the low end of the time spectrum (5 minutes) for each “block,” during your first session, and slowly increase the total time to 10 minutes as your body adapts and your endurance improves.

You’ll also find that you’ll be able to squeeze in more sets in the same period of time as you progress.

Why the sudden picture of Jason Statham? .....Why NOT the sudden picture of Jason Statham??

Perform two blocks of exercise pairings (four total exercises per workout), and you’ll be in and out of the gym in twenty minutes. Also, for the those in the crowd who love “feelin’  the burn,” this will be right up your alley!

To help you out, I’ve provided a list (albeit far from comprehensive) of some exercises you can choose from. Choose one from each column for each pairing.

“Pull”

“Push”

Chest-Supported Row (various grips) DB Bench Press (various grips)
TRX Inverted Row Inclined DB Bench Press (various grips)
BB Inverted Row Perfect Pushup (x infinity variations)
Lat Pulldowns (various) SA Landmine Press
Bent-Over DB Row (all kinds) DB Military Press (various grips)
Pullups (various grips) BB Military Press (various grips)
Bent-Over BB Row (various grips) DB Floor Press (various grips)
Seated Cable Row (various grips) Single-Arm Presses (all kinds)
Curls (various) Pressdowns (various)

You can certainly use EDT with the lower body, as well, just don’t be a doofus with your exercise pairings (ex. deadlifts with back squats, or 400m sprints with snatches).