The last post about escalating density training went into a little bit of background about what it’s all about and who created it. That’s all good and fun, except that it doesn’t tell you how to incorporate it into your training.
Well, have no fear because that’s EXACTLY what I’m about to do.
Think back to your last workout. Maybe it was 10 minutes ago, maybe it was yesterday…or maybe it was a few years ago (you slacker)! No matter when it was there was a rhythm and routine that you went through. Routines are a dime a dozen and something new is getting pushed out every week. All of these new fitness classes and “RageSanity120X” workout at home DVDs are perfect examples. Some of these are decent quality and will get you results. Sadly, most are just marketing tools for a product that hasn’t had much thought put into except that it’s trying to position its self as the next hot thing.
This is where escalating density training fits in…
I mentioned rhythm and routine earlier, but only went into routine. That’s because rarely do you see a training program promote or focus on the rhythm of the actual training sessions. That part isn’t sexy. BUT, that is the part that will actually produce the results.
The idea of progressive overload was mentioned in the initial post because it is the entire reason escalation density training works. Progressive overload was developed by Dr. Thomas Delorme as he was helping rehabilitate soldiers from World War II. Check out this excerpt stolen directly from the wikipedia page:
A common goal for any strength training program is to increase or at least maintain the user’s physical strength or muscle mass. To achieve new results, as opposed to maintaining the current strength capacity, the muscles need to be overloaded, which stimulates the natural adaptive processes of the human body, which develops to cope with the new demands placed on it.
Progressive overload not only stimulates muscle hypertrophy, it also stimulates the development of stronger and denser bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Progressive overload also incrementally increases blood flow to the region of the body being progressively overloaded. Furthermore, progressive overload stimulates the development of more responsive nerve connection between the brain and the muscles involved.
The second sentence tells us everything we need to know…”the muscles need to be overloaded.” The most common way this is approached is by adding more weight to the whatever exercise you’re doing. Last week you did squats with 225, you’re body adapted and now you’re doing squats with 250. That’s overload and if you stick to the training program you have for the entire 6-8 weeks it will be progressive over the entire program.
Other common ways to overload your body while training is to do the exercise faster (100 m sprint in 13s this week, next week it’s done in 12s), shorten the rest periods between exercises (last week was 60s rest, this week is 50s), add more reps to the training session (last week was sets of 8, this week its sets of 10) or to add more sets to the training session (last week was 3 sets this week it’s 4 sets).
Escalating Density Training is Competition
Most of us are used to breaking our training sessions into sets and reps for each individual exercise. This is useful, obviously, but requires a certain amount of motivation or anger to focus on the training and not just go through the motions so you can get done faster. Some people have this motivation or anger and others need it built into the program.
Escalating density training builds that motivation into each training session by making it a competition. Not by requiring you to post your score/reps/weights/times onto some forum, but by putting your last performance as the benchmark for this performance. Beating the standard is your goal. Matching the standard is okay, but nowhere near ideal. Missing the standard is failure.
This, in my opinion, is why escalating density training is the best all around approach to training. The entire idea is built around competition and goals for every workout that force you to push yourself harder and harder every time. It’s progressive overload put on autopilot.
Take a look at my last cycle of escalating density training
Front Squat – Dumbbell Military Press (15 minutes)
Pistols – Pull-ups (10 minutes)
After a full warm up I set up in the squat rack with a weight I could do for roughly 10 reps for both front squats and dumbbell military presses and then hit start on the stop watch. First I’d do 5-6 reps on front squat and then immediately do 5-6 reps with dumbbell military press. Rest for a quick second and then repeat, making sure to keep track of the how many reps I was doing for each. When the 15 minutes was over I’d rest for a few minutes and then go right into the second set of exercises. Repeat the same process and when the time ran out I tallied up the reps and then had the benchmark for the next time I did that workout.
That’s the competition I was talking about. If this workout I got 48 reps on the front squat, the next workout I need to get 49. It’s built into the program and that’s why it works like a charm.
All you need to do if you want to make this your training program is pick two opposing exercises like I did above, pair them up, put them at a weight where you can get about 10 reps, set the clock for 15 or 10 minutes and then get to work.
Don’t pick exercises that work the same muscles (IE. bench press and pushups, or squats and box jumps), the idea is to rest the muscle group you worked in the first exercise as you perform the second exercise and rest the muscles worked in the second exercise as you perform the first.
Simple right? Escalating density training is the most simple and effective approach to training that I’ve come across. Check out Charles Staleys book if you want a more in depth look.