Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Escalating Density Training

After the 2011 Gripmas Carol Andrew Durniat, of Durniat Strength gave an excellent presentation on Escalating Density Training.  He credited Charles Staley with the concept and went on to describe it as one of the ways he is able stay lean while continuously getting stronger. Andrew is a very lean 230# and strong; and by strong I mean 605# puller strong, 200 snatches with a 32kg kb in 10 min strong, and beat a strapped Nick Best's time on the frame hold without his own straps, strong.  I'm sure you get the point, so I was ready to listen.

The concept is surprisingly simple and breaks down something like this
  • Pick two antagonizing exercises (eg pull-ups and dips)
  • Week 1: You will perform alternating sets of 5, based on your 10 rep max, for a set time period (10-15 min)
  • Week 2: the same as week 1 except you increase the weight by 5# or so and drop the reps to 4
  • Week 3: the same as week 2 except you increase the weight another 5# or so and drop the reps to 3
  • Week 4: deload week: you go back to the weights and reps from week 1
  • Week 5: you start over and if you were able to get 50 reps per exercise in the time period then you would increase the weight
  • This system works great for those trying to get stronger without putting on additional weight
  • This system also lends itself to those wanting to lose fat/exercising for body composition
  • Everybody has 10-15 min/day. I repeat EVERYBODY has this much time and if you say you don't you're a liar.
  • It has a built-in deload week to avoid burn-out and injury. Do you have a scheduled deload week in your current program; it's a yes or no question.

The focus of my training is becoming the best arm wrestler that I can be and nothing and I mean nothing is more important than table time so how does EDT fit into my routine?
  • Prehab: you can't get on the table if you're injured so bulletproofing your weak areas is crucial. My injury-prone areas are my shoulders. I plan on combining my version of the Diesel Crew Shoulder Rehab Protocol with this concept. An example is listed below.
    • Overhead shrugs/serratus dips
    • Time will be 5 min instead of 10-15 as I want to do more than 2 prehab exercises per session
  • Gym: I don't even make it to the gym every week with the focus on table time but when I do, I'm always looking to add horsepower to my arm wrestling muscles. EDT would fit in like this
    • Neutral grip chins with Fat Gripz and Neutral grip incline DB presses with Fat Gripz
    • Time will be 10 min
    • Will follow the 4 week cycle as instructed
  • Buffering: Andrew mentioned that it is sometimes necessary to add a buffer exercise as a way to incorporate more rest. He used the example of adding an ab excercise when the trainee's ego is overriding reality regarding what weights should be used. At this point you add an exercise in between to indirectly increase rest time on the two targeted muscles. The purpose of the rest is to prevent further form break-down or more specifically, prevent injury. Now I suppose you could just use less weight but we males would never do that! I'm thinking I will use my crush routine as a buffer if needed as I get bored to tears resting anyways.  It would look something like this
    • Neutral grip chins with Fat Gripz and Neutral grip incline DB presses with Fat Gripz
    • Whoops! I bit off more than I can chew and need additional rest. I will pinch some triples on my 2 HP in between because Heaven knows I need the extra work.
    • Time will be 10 min
    • Will follow the 4 week cycle as instructed
Well I hope you enjoyed the quick tutorial on EDT and you can bet I'll be posting some workouts here on the blog.  As always, please leave me a comment if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Josh,

    Thanks for listing this all out man. Looks pretty interesting! I've used some very basic EDT routines a few times since I first saw them featured in some muscle mag. They're excellent.

    What I don't remember is how many times a week do you do the antagonistic pairing workouts?

    Like bicep and tricep (I'm considering doing curls and kickbacks) workout is done how many times per week according to the decreasing rep plan?

    It will be cool to follow your progress.

    Great work on that 80lb strict curl by the way!!!

    Ben Edwards

  2. Thanks for reading Ben! Your question came up and Andrew said 3 days per week. Andrew does this more as conditioning so he does his main lift(s) and then finishes with this. That point is salient because if you're using EDT as your main workout, you might want to stick with the same exercises. For example, if I want to run a 3 week cycle of this on my db curls and pressdowns and see how much strength I gain, I'd probably want to stick with those two exercises over the course of the cycle vs. just picking random antagonistic exercises. This last part reflects my thoughts/opinion; Andrew did not get into this/endorse it.

  3. Thanks Josh! That's exactly what I needed to know. I need some bicep and tricep involvement these days. Going to bite the bullet and start doing some things that will hopefully treat my forearm tweak with kid gloves.