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Escalating Density Training

 Escalating Density Training (also known as "Escalating Intensity Training") is a solid concept that many personal trainers have been using for years because it is based on time based performance instead of focusing on quitting due to muscle fatigue - thus the focus is on muscle performance during a set time period. In the past personal trainers have been using this concept to train clients, without putting a cool name to the technique. The term Escalating Density Training was coined by personal trainer Charles Stanley and used it as a term in his fitness programs.

British commandos used the same technique during WWII while doing their speed-marches. Their goal was to see how far they could get on foot within a set period of time, all while carrying a 60 lb pack of gear on the backs. So while Charles Stanley may have coined the term, he certainly didn't invent the technique as a training method.

The method is actually pretty straightforward. The exerciser moves heavy weights, or the weight of their own body, in a quick period of time to boost overall power output.

Example #1.

Performing alternating squat and push up sets for 15 minutes and keeping a record of the number of reps performed. Then a week or two later the sequence is repeated and the goal is to increase the number of squats and push ups within that 15 minute time frame.

Example #2.

Doing Bicep Curls with 20 lb dumbbells for 1 minute. Count the number of times you did it. Then a week later attempt the same thing, but using 25 lb dumbbells and try to do the same number or even more in 1 minute.

Example #3.

Do as many jumping jacks as you can while listening to the Rocky theme-song "Eye of the Tiger". Count how many you did and track it for next time.

Example #4.

Go jogging and turn on your pedometer. After 15 or 30 minutes (you figure it out ahead of time) check the amount of steps you've taken on your pedometer. Try to beat that next time.

Example #5.

Flip a giant tractor tire end over end across a football field and count the number of times you managed to do it in a 5 minute period.

After completing a set of these exercises you then you take a break and do it again once you feel you are ready. Sometimes you don't do as well during the 1st set because you haven't warmed up your muscles yet and your metabolism is reacting more slowly, so the 2nd or 3rd set may actually produce your best results.

So it is basically Interval Training, with rest periods in-between intervals, and it is designed to build both endurance and muscle strength at the same time. You may only end up doing 2 - 5 intervals, so its not as long term as normal interval training, but your goal isn't to keep going until you are too exhausted to continue, your goal is to lift or do exercises for a specific amount of time and then each week you should be progressively stronger, faster and have a greater endurance.

This method offers the person the challenge of a numeric goal, and it's easy to plan workouts and track progress because you are aiming to increase both the number of reps, the amount of weight, or both simultaneously. Okay, only doing squats or push ups for 15 minutes seems quite ambitious, and BORING, and it is, but it will also be an intense workout if you do that 3 times in a single hour with 7.5 minute breaks between each set. 150-200 squats and push ups even without weights will cause plenty of soreness, at least at first. However, eventually your body adapts, weights are added and the muscle performance increases SIGNIFICANTLY!

Some key points of this system:
  • Form is of utmost importance. If one workout you are performing bench press with perfect form, and the next with lazy technique, the purpose of this method is defeated. Not to mention that with so many reps proper form will prevent injury.
  • Keep the exercises simple so you can use proper form without making things complicated.
  • Active recovery in between workouts with cardio and stretching is highly recommended. 
  • Drink and stay hydrated! Preferably Powerade or Gatorade or even a whey protein drink.
  • Keep track of everything, including lower numbers during each cycle of exercises.
  • Lift light at first with a weight that would fatigue at 10 reps. Do half if fatigued (5 reps) and alternate your exercises. Keep repeating this cycle for the 15 minutes.
  • The next workout the only goal is to do more reps!
Doing Escalating Density Training is tough and takes discipline to complete the full fifteen minutes if that is your goal but once you get the hang of it, you will look forward to these workouts and tracking your progress!

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