Saturday, January 19, 2008

Understanding EDT (Escalating Density Training)

"Escalating Density Training" is a training method devised by strength coach, Charles Stanley. What distinguishes EDT from other methods is its emphasis on training 'density' which is defined as the work-to-rest ratio of a specified period of time.

EDT protocol is surprisingly easy to program and implement. Workouts are structured around 15 minute "PR Zones" in which the trainee will alternate between two exercises, usually antagonist or distantly located muscle groups (such as curls and tricep extensions, or squats and chins). Initially, weights used will be more or less equal to the trainee's 10 rep maximum. The trainee will start a stopwatch and then begin his sets; performing a set with exercise A, take a short rest, perform a set with exercise B, take a short rest, and then start again with exercise A - this is continued until the 15 minutes has expired. Total reps for each exercise are recorded and when that "PR Zone" is performed again, the trainee will try to break his/her record.

A sample "PR Zone" might look something like the following (based on a sample given in Charles Staley's book, Muscle Logic: Escalating Density Training):

Set 1: Squats - 225lbs x 5
Set 2: Chins - x 5
Set 3: Squats - 225lbs x 5
Set 4: Chins - x 5
Set 5: Squats - 225lbs x 5
Set 6: Chins - x 5
Set 7: Squats - 225lbs x 5
Set 8: Chins - x 5
Set 9: Squats - 225lbs x 5
Set 10: Chins - x 5
Set 11: Squats - 225lbs x 4
Set 12: Chins - x 4
Set 13: Squats - 225lbs x 4
Set 14: Chins - x 4
Set 15: Squats - 225lbs x 3
Set 16: Chins - x 4

Total Time: 15 mins
Total Sets/Exercise: 8 sets
Total Sets: 16 sets
Total Reps (i.e., your "PR"): 73

The number of sets, the number of reps/set, and the rest intervals are determined by the trainee as the workout progresses. Often, the initial sets may seem easy and the later sets will become increasingly difficult. Form should never be compromised and later sets should generally be stopped short of failure although they make require herculean efforts to complete.

EDT sessions are typically 3x/week, each session lasting 15, 30, or 45 minutes in length, depending on the training experience, work capacity, and goals of the trainee. Individual sessions may be whole-body workouts, or split according to bodypart or chosen exercises. Beginners would probably do best to start with lighter weights and one "PR Zone" per workout. As strength and work capacity increase, more training volume can be added and more advanced trainees may have as many as three PR Zones in a single training session.

For more information on EDT, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Charles Staley's book, Muscle Logic: Escalating Density Training. It is available online and at many bookstores. The following links are also good resources:

Escalating Density Training by Charles Staley

Escalating Density Training, Phase 2

The EDT Arm Specialization Mesocycle: One Inch in One Month (Oh, and Yes, It WILL Hurt!)

End Your Strength Plateaus NOW - EDT for Maximal Strength Breakthroughs!

Compound EDT: New Applications For An Old Favorite!

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