The first thing that popped in my head was…
Holy shit I just squatted 3 bills! I just smoked my PR by 35 pounds!
Which was quickly followed by…
I’ve got to tell someone!
Honestly if you don’t tell anyone it never happened. I believe that is Gym Bro rule number 2.
God bless my poor wife, for the next two days all she heard was…
I don’t know if you heard, but I squatted 300.
I’m sure there were a few times that weekend she wanted to punch me in the face, especially when I broke it out mid-serious conversation.
I wasn’t purposely trying to be annoying (well kinda) but I was ecstatic. I had never squatted that much before and to do so after having back surgery was pretty big deal for me.
Leading up to the big squat, I hadn’t lifted more than 225 for about four months.
Truth be told I had never heard the term “density training” up until a few months ago. Turns out it what just about every CrossFit workout consists of. Who knew?
If you look at some Crossfit workouts there is a time component and a rep component. So you’ll see something like this:
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 4, 8, 12, 16 or 20 minutes of:
15 squat cleans
The goal is to finish as many rounds (sets) as possible in the time allotted.
Density can be altered by increasing the volume of work (more exercises or more sets/reps) or altering the duration to do the work.
Most of us don’t have all day to hangout in the gym. We have a specific amount of time to get in, workout and get home. So we have our time constraint. Which means we have to up our volume to reap the benefits of density training.
In the Crossfit workout above (and density training), the idea is to get the most amount of work done in a specific time frame. If you can perform 5 full rounds of the workout in 20 minutes it’s going to be more beneficial for strength and fat loss than doing just 3 rounds in the same 20 minutes. Your training density will be higher in the former rather than the latter.
Makes sense right? More work equals more benefit.
This increase in training density does a few beneficial things:
Elevates heart rate (like cardio)
Burns an s-ton of calories (good for fat loss)
Increases strength (good for smoking a previous PR)
Increase in muscle (because gainz)
Increase muscle endurance (good for life)
All-in-all density training feels pretty good way to go about your training. This is especially true if you are trying to get in shape for summer. Couple this with carb cycling and you are well on your way to sexy town population you brah.
HOW TO SETUP A DENSITY WORKOUT
I used to be a bodypart a day kind of guy. The bro spirit runs deep in me. But I also used to think having a mullet was pretty cool. I guess all good things must come to an end.
I’m now all about push/pull/leg splits and full body workouts. More effective at losing fat, more challenging (IMO) and more conducive to a busy schedule.
So if you want to dabble in density training and want to program your own full body workouts here is a template you can use.
- Plyometrics i.e. lunge jumps, squat jumps, box jumps
Do 8-12 reps for each exercise and move on to the next exercise in a circuit fashion. Pick a weight that is your 15 rep max for each exercise. Set a timer for 25-30 minutes and perform as many set as possible. If you can complete 4 sets of each exercise add about five pounds for dumbbell exercises and ten for barbell exercises.
Skip a day between workouts. If you are anything like me, on the in between days do a bodyweight workout or a cardio workout of your choice. Keep it light and keep it fast paced. Overloading the muscles will only cause the density training workout to suffer tomorrow.
When programming your workout pick one compound exercise, usually a squat or deadlift barbell variation and incorporate bodyweight or dumbbell exercises for the rest. This way you aren’t hogging a squat rack and a bench and three other pieces of equipment.
Rest as needed during while working out but don’t stop the timer. This will be a good barometer to track progress the following week.
Keep the exercises to bodyweight, dumbbell and barbell. Skip the machines. Machines have their place but not in density training.
If you think my template is poop then my only suggestion is to program your exercises so that you aren’t taking away from the following exercise. For example, putting shoulders before chest would sacrifice your chest workout.
If you are on the other side of the coin and just want me to tell you what to do here is your workout.
Same rules apply to you. Use your 15 rep max for each exercise. Set a timer for 25 minutes and perform as many sets of each exercises as possible. Do 8 reps for each exercise and move on to the next.
If you can perform 4 sets of each exercise up the weight by five pounds for dumbbell exercises and ten for barbell exercises the following week.
Barbell Back Squat
Dumbbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Push Press
Lying Leg Drop
Dumbbell High Incline Bench Press
Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Chest Supported Dumbbell Row
Barbell Split Squats
Incline Squeeze Press
Dumbbell Reverse Flyes
Skip a day between each workout.
WRAPPING IT UP
Honestly I have never been more tired after a workout then when I did density training. After my 25 minutes was up, I would often sit on a bench trying not to pass out while sweat was dripping off my face.
For the busy individual, density training is an awesome way to get the most out of your workout in the limited time we all have. Hitting the big three of working out (strength, muscle and fat loss) in just 25 minutes is a must try no brainer.
The idea of density training is to not smoke your muscles like a traditional 3×10 – bodybuilding workout. The idea is to increase your work capacity with the side effects of gaining strength, building muscle and losing fat. This paradigm shift was a monumental shift for me.
Give it a shot, worst comes to worst go back to your hour long workouts or complain you don’t have enough time to workout.