Take a deeper look into our October Strength Block: Escalating Density Training.

Coming fresh off of our Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Testing, it is imperative we hop right back onto plan to keep reaping the benefits, preparing for our next KPI testing. For this month, our accumulation block will be comprised from Escalating Density Training.

What is Escalating Density Training (EDT)?

For years it has been touted that volume is a primary driver for hypertrophy. And while that may be partially true, it still is lacking some key fundamental information. What we know about volume occurs less on a ‘set to set’ basis, but rather an ‘effective rep’ basis. In simpler terms, an effective rep is constituted as one that effectively loads the appropriate muscle fibers (Type IIA & IIX) with tension. The way you will be typically see this tension occur, is by getting closer to maximal intensity, or failure, in a given set. Which brings me to my next point: the intensity matters more than the rep number itself.

How Density Works: A Weekly Scope

Being that we know that effective reps constitutes our volume on a per muscle group basis, it is important to note that each set does NOT have to be the same number. For example, 3 sets of 10 reps may not be as stimulating as 1 set of 10 reps on an exercise if intensity is not matched, and vice versa. Looking at this on a weekly scope, we understand that volume is not a per day thing, it holds itself true on a weekly format. For example, if I were to miss an exercise or two on my 1st day of the week, I have the ability to make it up on the 6th day of the week if necessary without penalty, in most cases. Taking the context of effective reps and a weekly format, we are able to conclude how Escalating Density Training may work well for you.

How to Perform Escalating Density Training: A Session Scope

To start, we will be taking two exercises, preferably those that are segmented by an upper body and lower body movement, and load them up to around 75% of our 1RM. We will then set a timer for 15 minutes, and aim to perform 10 sets of 6 reps of the exercise. Here is what you will notice:

  • The first few sets may feel easier, but as the rounds progress, the same weight will start to feel more challenging due to the accumulation of fatigue locally and systemically
  • Being that it gets more challenging, your reps may start to drop downwards to 3 reps per set, that is entirely normal.
  • When things become more challenging, we often lose sight of the fundamentals (form, tempo, rest time), be cognizant of that

The goal here is to improve our ‘work’ in a specified amount of ‘time.’ The work here is the amount of reps, weight, and sets/effective reps that we do. The time is the 15 minutes that we are allotting ourselves in the “PR Zone.” As 10 sets is the benchmark, I would recommend not moving up in weight until:

  1. Your execution on a per set basis is concrete
  2. Your reps total 6 reps or more each set
  3. Your recovery on a weekly basis is not detrimental to your other sessions during the week (soreness, discomfort, etc.)

In each Strength day, there will be 2 “PR Zones” on a 15 minute time limit each. Each workout will consist of a full body structure, where your first PR Zone will include majority compound based movements, to reap the bang for your buck benefits with an accumulated amount of Type IIA & IIX muscle fiber recruitment in a variety of muscle groups (While a Hack Squat may target primarily quads, a Back Squat may disperse some more recruitment through the quads, erectors, glutes, etc.). While your second PR Zone will incorporate majority dumbbell or reduced needed stability movements to compound on targeting specific muscle groups

As with any program, I want to ensure I am progressing weekly so that I can make strides towards my strength & health goals. Here is where the progression can lie on a weekly basis:

  1. Improvements in your form/execution weekly
  2. Improvements in your rest time between sets
  3. Improvements in your rep totals
  4. Improvements in your weight on the bar
  5. Improvements in your set totals

For example, Week 1 I come in and do 8 sets of 6 reps on a given exercise, and then Week 2 I come in and do 8 sets of 6 reps with 1 set of 4 reps totaling 9 sets, as long as my execution stayed up to par, I improved. There often will be times that you see progression weekly in a few of the above mentioned goals in the list above at the same time. As always, be sure to keep track of your numbers on TrainHeroic as you move through the session, and make sure to book your next session in the KING Strength App, see you there!

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