We're entering an accumulation block.
What does that mean?
The goal of an Accumulation block is to use as much total energy in a session as possible. This maximum energy expenditure increases muscle tissue and fitness levels while decreasing body fat. You might be wondering what "maximum energy expenditure" means or what it's going to feel like. It means these training sessions are going to be very spicy.
Escalating Density Training (EDT) is a training protocol developed by Charles Staley in the early 2000s.
While most people tend to mostly look at load (weight) and volume (sets x reps), EDT manipulates density.
To be specific, the goal of EDT is to complete more sets in the same amount of time; each successive workout, you aim to achieve more work in the same time period.
How are the workouts going to be set up?
Each workout will consist of three separate series of exercises.
Series A: Main, Compound Movements (20-minute time frame)
Series B: Accessories
Series C: Core Work / Finisher
For the A series of our main, compound movements. We'll put a prescribed weight on the bar. That weight stays the same for the next 4-weeks.
Week 1, the weight should be challenging enough to get around 10 sets in 20 minutes. After that, it's all about getting as many sets as possible in 20 minutes while maintaining quality* of movement.
* A note on quality *
When we say quality, we mean maintaining great position, technique & range of motion. More work in the same time. Rather than the same work in less time. This is an improvement in overall work rate, you will become more efficient.
Each week, you should aim to increase the number of sets performed within the designated 20-minute duration.
So what does Density mean in Escalating Density Training?
What is Density?
Your training density is the work you're able to do in a given amount of time.
Training density is the amount of sets multiplied by the number of reps completed within a certain time frame.
There are two methods for increasing Density:
Method 1. Increase the amount of work in the same time frame.
Method 2. Keep your workload the same while decreasing your work time.
We're going to be increasing our training density by increasing the amount of work in the same time frame.
The changes in density caused by reducing rest but keeping volume and intensity up work like pressure changes in physics. The theory is that, all else being equal, less time with the same effort and training volume will elicit stronger signaling to the body. If the amount of rest is insufficient and intensity drops, the session is simply less effective than the original workout.
Escalating Density Training (EDT) is really f*cking hard. Here's the scientific reason why...
The burning of energy through the storage forms of carbohydrates (glycogen and glucose), fat (adipose and fatty acids) and potentially proteins (amino acids) lead to an acidic environment, or an accumulation of hydrogen at the local level. This acidity corresponds with increases in anabolism (building proteins) post-training through natural levels of growth hormone and testosterone.
The most important takeaways you need for the next 4-weeks of this strength block:
With such demanding training, our progress is exclusively determined by how well we recover from week to week. Rest and recovery are absolutely necessary.
You will not get progress in this block without the appropriate rest and regeneration. We don't advise you perform any two-a-days during this strength block because over-training will hinder your results.
Recovery is key. It's fundamental. It's essential. If you report excessively high RPEs and your workloads increase drastically - your countermeasures have to match it. If not, your progress will not occur resulting in either a plateau or possibly worse performance.
Sleep, nutrition, and regeneration are the keys to success in this strength block. They must be placed at the highest priority if you want to maximize the benefits of EDT.
Rest reduction increases fatigue and leads to technique and strength decay. Our goal is to make our clients better, not tired.
* A note on why we track your progress *
Assessing your progress week to week will be one of the core principles of our programming going forward. It's going to be the primary tool we use to assess if the load was appropriate from week to week based off how you adapt.
The term for this systematic tracking of progress and loading of the bar is called Progressive Overload.
A large misconception is that progressive overload only means increasing intensity or load. But with progressive overload, you can increase the number of sets at a specific load, you can increase the repetitions at a specific load, or in this case - you can increase the training density at a specific load.
What is RPE?
RPE is short for Rate of Perceived Exertion. Based off a lot off research, RPE is a fairly accurate representation of your exertion during a training session.
If your heart rate is higher, you report a higher RPE. And vice versa - if your heart rate is lower then you report a lower RPE. Take your RPE number and multiply it by 60-minutes of activity and you can calculate a workload. So with an RPE of 5 x 60-minutes = workload of 300. Our goal is to manage that workload and tie that into a progressive overload based model.
Usually, we follow a "traditional" progression with our loading which, means we order our weeks with 70%, 80%, 90% and 100% of relative intensity.
With this block, it will be the same Relative Intensity for 4-weeks, which changes the focus from progressive increases intensity to increases in density.
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Haff, G., & Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Fourth edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.nat
“RPE Scale (Rated Perceived Exertion).” The Fit Tutor, May 2019, thefittutor.com/rpe-scale/.
Valle, Carl ValleCoach. “Training Density: How to Improve It and When to Leave It Alone - SimpliFaster.” SimpliFaster Blog, 15 May 2017, simplifaster.com/articles/training-density-improve-leave-alone/.
“RPE Scale (Rated Perceived Exertion).” The Fit Tutor, May 2019, thefittutor.com/rpe-scale/.“RPE Scale (Rated Perceived Exertion).” The Fit Tutor, May 2019, thefittutor.com/rpe-scale/.