Alright, any gym goer knows that the ultimate goal for most is to look better and feel better by working out and subscribing to as healthy of a lifestyle as possible.
Aside from diet, sleep, and ergogenic aids (illegal and legal)... There has always been a focus on the "Most Effective Way Of Training". This comes with the debate of what sets and reps work best for muscle building.. Well, newsflash if you don't already know.. just about any rep range above 3 reps seems to illicit some form of muscle building response.. the trick is to make sure you vary (periodize) your training in a way that allows for the greatest opportunity for an adaptation to occur, while keeping an eye on recovery, and novelty.
I may detail this topic in a future post but for today.. we are going to look beyond the usual volume, intensity, and frequency of training and look at a metric known as density.
As mentioned earlier, Volume plays a role when training for muscle or any goal for that matter and density blends this factor along with Duration. Volume can be though of as your total workload - how many sets and reps you perform in a given workout; duration as the length of time your workout lasts.
If you can increase the amount of work you do in a given amount of time, you also reap the benefit of enhancing your ability to improve your work capacity. This consequence would result in a higher threshold to accomplish work AND recover from it appropriately.
OK..OK.. So How do you increase Density?
1) KEEP WORKLOAD STATIC AND DECREASE DURATION
An AMRAP Set Could be an example of this. That is As Many Reps As Possible. Lets say you're going to do 100 total reps of squat with 135 (4x25 , 10x10) and lets say that takes you 20 minutes with normal resting protocols. But If I tell you that you must complete As Many Reps As Possible in 10 minutes with the goal being 100, then that will call for a drastic increase in training density since I'm asking you to complete an identical amount of work in less time. You'd also most likely never speak to me again.
2) KEEP THE DURATION STATIC AND INCREASE WORKLOAD
Escalating Density Training (EDT) involves doing a workout, measuring how much work was done, and then consistently and gradually increasing that amount of work. Muscle will grow, metabolism will increase, and you'll have a leaner, more muscular body, so long as fatigue is managed appropriately.
- Sticking with the 20 minute time frame, lets say each workout consists of two 20-minute time frames separated by a short (5-10 minute) rest period. In each time frame, you'll perform two exercises, for a total of 4 exercises per workout.
- Per time frame, the two exercises are to be performed in a superset fashion, until the time frame has elapsed.
- Warm up for the first 2 exercises, select a load that approximates a 10-12 RM for each exercise.
- Generally, most people will find it most effective to do higher repetition (but not maximal effort) sets and shorter rests at the beginning, and as fatigue sets in.. gradually progress to less reps per set and longer rests. For example, you might begin by performing sets of 6-8 with very short (15-30 second) rests. As you begin to fatigue, you'll increase your rest intervals as you drop down to sets of 4, then 2, and as the time limit approaches, you might crank out a few singles in an effort of accomplish as many repetitions as possible in 20 minutes.
In either case, in order to accomplish the goal while sticking to the parameters, you'd have to increase training speed and decrease rest periods. This would also increase work capacity.
Training with density in mind has many benefits for a person looking to up the intensity of their workouts, working on time constraints, or just simply looking for an overall novel stimulus that will help achieve their goals. Consider Every minute on the minute training, EDT, or AMRAP style training to work within the principle of density. Start slow and progress as you get more advanced.