When it comes to strength training, irrespective of fitness goal, most people organize their workouts the same way – by applying a specific number of sets and reps to a range of exercises. For example, you might do four sets of eight reps, five sets of five reps, or three sets of ten reps. Your chosen set and rep scheme should reflect your goals.
However, there is a saying in fitness that states, "if you always do what you have always done, you'll always get what you always got." This might sound like some sort of tongue twister, but there is no avoiding the truth of this – if your workout never changes, your body won't change either.
To spice up their workouts and keep things fresh, a lot of exercisers use different set and rep schemes. These changes may be applied randomly or in a more structured way – also known as periodization. Unfortunately, even this intervention can stop working eventually.
So, what else can you do to make sure your workouts remain productive, challenging, and enjoyable? One option is density training.
What is density training?
In exercise, density refers to the amount of work completed within a specific time frame. If workout density increases, so too does the overload on your body, and your fitness will improve as a result. With density training, you stop worrying about sets and reps and, instead, focus solely on doing more work in the same or less time.
Confused? Don’t be! Here’s an example of density training in action.
Let’s say you want to get better at push-ups. You usually do four sets of 15 reps (which is 60 reps in total). With density training, you simply choose a sensible timeframe, such as seven minutes, and then try and do as many reps as you can in that period. Use your Gymboss workout timer to make keeping track of your work period easier.
Rests are intuitive, as is the number of reps you do in a row. The aim of the game is to accumulate as many reps as you can seven minutes. It's up to you to discover the strategy that best allows you to do as many reps as possible. Just keep an eye on your gym timer to make sure you stick to your chosen time limit.
When it’s time to repeat your workout, all you need to do is focus on is doing more reps in the same timeframe – in this case, seven minutes. When you can do 20% more reps than you managed for your first workout, increase the length of your workout, e.g., 10 minutes.
You can use density training for any strength training goal. Just adjust the weight so that it matches what you are trying to achieve, i.e.:
|Strength and power||85 – 100% 1RM (heavy to very heavy)|
|Muscle size||67 – 85% 1RM (moderate to heavy)|
|Muscular endurance||50 – 67% 1RM (moderate to light)|
Advantages of density training
Density training is definitely different, but that’s why it works. It’s novel and novel training methods are one of the best ways to restart stalled progress. There are a few other advantages to this training method that are also worth discussing.
Less wasted time – you should already be timing your rest periods with your Gymboss workout timer. But, even then, you may find that you are inadvertently resting longer than you need to. With density training, your rests are entirely intuitive. If you feel ready to get back to work sooner than you expected, that’s precisely what you should do. With less time spent resting, your workouts will be shorter.
Increased focus – it's all too easy to "switch off" during your rest periods when you use a regular set and rep scheme. Losing focus can hurt your workout performance. After all, exercise is every bit as mental as it is physical. With density training, your gym timer is always ticking, so you can't let your mind wander. Instead, you'll have to concentrate and stay present to make sure you clock up as many reps as possible. No more checking your phone between sets!
Progress is easy to track – when you use regular sets and reps, it can be hard to tell if your most recent workout was better or more productive than your last one. There are a lot of variables at play, including the amount of weight used, how long you rested between sets, and the number of reps and sets performed. With density training, progress is much easier to track and measure.
Providing the weight and timeframe remain unchanged, any increase in reps from one week to the next means you’ve worked a little harder than before, and your fitness will improve as a result.
Example density workout to try
Here is a full-body density training to try for yourself. Feel free to change the exercises to reflect your personal preferences but try to swap “like for like.” In other words, doing leg presses instead of squats is okay, but replacing squats with triceps pushdowns is not. Remember to set your Gymboss workout timer for each exercise. Once you start, your only job is to clock up as many reps as possible.
|2||Bench press||7 minutes|
|4||Leg curls||5 minutes|
|5||Dumbbell shoulder press||5 minutes|
|6||Seated rows||5 minutes|
|7||Stability ball crunches||3 minutes|
|8||45-degree back extensions||3 minutes|
Density training might not be what you are used to, but that’s why it works so well! Your body is a master adapter and quickly gets used to doing the same workout over and over again. That’s why so many fitness fanatics are frustrated with their lack of progress; they are stuck in a never-changing workout rut. Grab your Gymboss and use density training to revitalize your workout program. You’ll soon start seeing the progress you deserve.