View Full Version : Escalating Density Training

10-30-2010, 19:47

What is Escalating Density Training (EDT) by Charles Staley?

Escalating Density Training (EDT) is an approach to training where you attempt to increase the number of reps you complete in a 15 minute time period in each successive workout. It makes use of the principle of progressive overload as well as supersets. However, you avoid training to failure in this approach.

An example may best illustrate how you would use EDT. I enjoyed using EDT with bodyweight exercises, specifically pushups and squat jumps. I would do a set of 5 pushups followed immediately by a set of 5 squat jumps. These reps by themselves seem low, but over the course of 15 minutes, I would do upwards of 200 pushups and 200 squat jumps. The key is that you donít train to failure during your sets. You take as much rest time as you need between sets. Near the end, if you cannot complete a set of 5, start doing sets of 4. By doing a low number of reps, you are also able to exhibit maximum force.

Who is Charles Staley?

Charles Staley has been coaching and teaching in the fitness/physical preparation arena since about 1983. He has a B.Sc in Sociology of Sport from the State University of New York, and heís trained many thousands of people during the past 20+ years, many of them athletes in a variety of sports including several prominent MMA athletes, as well as several Olympic-level winter sport athletes (luge, bob-sleigh), Olympic-style weightlifters, powerlifters, judo-ka, and golfers.

What did I like about Escalating Density Training?

EDT takes a very simple approach to exercise. Using my pushups and squats example from above, if I performed 200 reps in 15 minutes this week, I should perform more than 200 reps next week. The workout is only 15 minutes per day for 3 days per week, but I used to do 2 or 3 15 minute supersets to better incorporate a variety of exercises (when I had more time to workout).

Escalating Density Training is also quite flexible in that you can do bodyweight training or weightlifting. If you use weights, you should start by doing 5 reps of a weight you can usually perform 10 times. EDT also incorporates the progressive overload approach to ensure that you work your muscles harder during each subsequent workout. This will prevent muscle loss even if you are on a restrictive calorie diet.

What didnít I like about Escalating Density Training?

The first few minutes of EDT feel relatively easy since youíre doing low rep bodyweight exercises or a set of low weight reps. It does get very difficult, very fast though. Although it sounds short, 15 minutes is a long time to stay focused on just 2 exercises as well. After doing this for a couple months, I decided to switch to 3 supersets of 10 minutes rather than 1 superset of 15 minutes to better focus and to incorporate other types of exercises. I enjoyed the bodyweight training so much that I never got around to using this program with weights.

Is Escalating Density Training an effective exercise program?

For increasing strength and building muscles, EDT is an effective program. The progressive overload component forces your muscles to get bigger. However, you are not likely to get ultra-lean just by using this method as there isnít much of a fat loss component.

Who should use Escalating Density Training?

EDT is a great program for anybody, beginner or experienced. While a beginner may only do 100 pushups or 50 bench press reps in the beginning, the number of reps is always increasing. An experienced lifter may be able to do more reps than a beginner, but they have to push themselves to achieve new personal records each time they lift as well. The workout can be done in as little as 15 minutes making it very time efficient and can be done at home or at the gym. Supersets can be challenging at the gym though since you have to tie up 2 machines for 15 minutes. Regardless, if you combine this approach with a strong diet, you should see great results.

Did a search for this and couldnt find anything so thought I'd post it here. Anyone else ever messed with this? I've recently added this to my routine and so far I'm liking it. Seems like it is good for your endurance as well as strength, which is hard to pass on.

10-30-2010, 20:29
There was a variation on this which was popular over a decade ago called "power factor" training.
Same basic concept, but they were big on partial reps/big weights.

Did it for awhile.
It worked towards the ends it claimed to serve.

There are probably other well-developed systems which apply the same concept.
(Like Blitz's stuff...)

Green Light
10-30-2010, 20:44
Have you tried Blizting? I've used it (still do) and REALLY recommend it. It is counter-intuitive but the science is sound. I've never seen anything that produces results as quickly with a lower possibility of damaging connective tissue. Your joints get strong along with your muscles.

Give this one a try. Blitz knows what he's doing.


10-30-2010, 22:17
Blitzing looks really good, but I'm gonna have to get a decent weight set, I only have dumbells that I use to along with calisthenics which I'm not sure blitzing can apply to or not. From the results I've read it looks really good and I will have a weight set by next weekend. :)

10-31-2010, 21:29
I agree with Green Light--Try Blitz.

Just today a professional Olympic lifter and ex-Louisville Thrower was telling me about 'elastic density training'. This is what he described so I guess this is what he meant.

I think it applies the same concepts core to Blitz-ing.

He said it was really useful for 'throwing on massive weight'. I'm a beanpole so as tempting as that sounds--I have to take my first APFT soon and I like being way under on the run.

10-31-2010, 22:00
Here is some additional reading on EDT training along with a web link.

Escalating Density Training (http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/escalating_density_training) - by Charles Staley

If interested I have another article by Staley, but it was too big to attach here. Just PM me and I can email you a copy.

Compound EDT: New Applications for an Old Favorite - by Charles Staley