Sometimes in the works (books, articles) of some instructors, when it comes to muscle hypertrophy, you can find a reference to a certain “EDT” system by Charles Staley.
So, for example, Pavel Tsatsulin repeats that he sees his main task as the development of strength, and if you want to build muscle, then do the same exercises, but according to the principles of “Escalating Density Training”.
Now we will analyze this system in more detail. With it, you can easily create your own workout programs at home using whatever equipment you have at hand.
Escalating Density Training (EDT) is literal density building training. This system can be called revolutionary, if only because its author Charles Staley invites us to forget about the usual scheme of counting approaches and reps. In EDT, they don’t matter at all. But do not rush to throw your hats. EDT is a scientific system based on the following statement:
When a biological system experiences a problem, it changes itself in order to be able to more easily solve similar problems in the future.
And if you’re interested in building muscle, then this statement contains all the theory you need to know. Muscles are actually a biological system. And it develops in direct proportion to the amount of work that is forced to do.
Of course, all training systems take this into account. And they offer an endless array of often conflicting recommendations regarding exercise choices, sets and reps, rest periods, and so on.
One system says that you need to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, the other 1 set to failure. In one it is recommended to rest for 1 minute, and in the other 3. One system uses a partial range of motion, while the other uses a full …
And behind all this, a simple fact is lost: in order for muscles to grow in an optimal way, you need to make them do more work per unit of time. Regardless of the system.
And work is mass (weight) multiplied by the distance (range of motion) that this mass travels.
Every training principle we’ve ever heard of, plus most we’ve never heard of, is designed so that we can do more and more work in weeks and months.
And EDT is no exception in this case. On the contrary, Staley argues that there is nothing new in the system at all. And that EDT is just an affordable, easy, and safe way to make sure you add more work to every workout you do. In other words, this is one of the methods of accounting for progression.
Charles Staley highlights 3 main benefits of Density Building:
- Motivation. In EDT training, you have a clear goal. And the exact time to reach it. That is, you know when to start, when to finish, what to do all this time and what to strive for.
- Auto Adjust. Forget sets and reps. Forget rest time. Forget about the time to complete one rep. All this distracts you from the main thing – you have to do more work than you did in the previous workout of the same muscles.
- You only need to check your workout diary, start the stopwatch and beat your own result. If you can do it, then you will grow.
- Clarity in progression. You don’t have to wonder if you have loaded your muscles enough this time. You know exactly what is enough. All criteria are simple and straightforward.
Now let’s get to the point. More precisely to the rules of the system. And here it turns out so funny that the description of the system looks more complicated than the system itself. This is often the case with simple things. As with a marching step – easier to walk through than explaining how.
Escalating Density Training (EDT) Rules
- Choose two “opposite” exercises. These can be antagonistic movements (pulling and pushing – pulling up and pushing up), exercises for loose muscles (squats and bench press), or exercises on opposite sides (lunges with the right and left leg).
- Choose a weight for each exercise that you can do about 10 reps (10RM). You can use weight as a warm-up approach. It is not so important if you make a mistake somewhere and take a little more or a little less weight (perhaps you have one weight at all – a kettlebell). The main thing is that it is equally difficult for you to do both exercises.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Begin by doing a set of 5 reps for each exercise. If you chose the pull-up and squat exercises, then do 5 pull-ups and 5 squats. Don’t worry about resting time – rest instinctively. Record the number of repetitions. Repeat the exercises in a circle.
- As you get tired, you can reduce the number of reps to 4, 3, 2, and even 1 reps towards the end of the 15 minute period. What really matters is the total number of reps in 15 minutes, not the number of sets, reps. It will also be natural (and even desirable) that rest periods will increase as you get tired.
- Stop exercising as soon as 15 minutes have elapsed. If there are a few seconds left until the end of the period, and you see that you do not have time to complete another set of 2 exercises, then do not take it.
- Sum all recorded repetitions – this number is called “PR” in the system. Don’t worry about whether the value is large or small, it doesn’t matter.
- Next time your task is to increase PR. It doesn’t matter how you do it. All that matters is to beat the PR.
- Once you improve your initial PR by 20%, then add working weight to the apparatus or make the exercises harder. And start from scratch.
All numbers in the system are not some kind of dogma! You can use either 10 or 20 minute exercise frames. For relief work, some use a 15RM weight (maximum for 15 reps) and start with 8 reps of each exercise, and for strength work they increase the weight and do 3 reps.
Someone has gone further and does 3 or more exercises at a time. There is a lot of room for experimentation and searching. Let me remind you that Time / Volume Training, where only one exercise is performed in the time frame, but the rest time changes, is also one of the forms of Density Building Training. Nevertheless, the author recommends starting with the indicated numbers.
And remember that any result is the sum of your desire and your knowledge. The first forces you to act, the second explains how. EDT lies in the area of expertise. And now you will no longer be able to convince yourself that you do not have something in order to become strong and muscular.
And here’s an example of a half-hour training complex, for which you only need 2 chairs and a stick (mop). Do this EDT complex 3 times a week. Improve your PR and you will turn a simple complex into an effective training program!
EDT-based Home Workout Program
1st interval – 15 minutes
- Horizontal pull-ups
2nd interval – 15 minutes
- Bodyweight Squat
- Shoulder push-ups (rhinoceros)