Superset Workouts Using Top Secret Escalating Density Training (EDT) Technique

Superset Workouts Using Top Secret Escalating Density Training (EDT) Technique

How much time do you really have to workout? Do you have 5 hours to workout per week? 3 hours? 1 hour? 30 minutes? Right now, quantify your total time.

Think really hard about the things that you do in your daily life that are not necessarily productive. Some examples may include watching television, reading email, etc.

I’ve often been distracted by an email that I may receive from a friend or another author that has held my attention for up to an hour. When I look up from my computer at my clock, I realize have a dozen things I need to get done, just for my website alone.

That’s not including the chores that need to get done around the house. So, we all get distracted, but simply limiting our TV watching, email viewing, and phone calls can save us a lot of time.

I’ve adapted a few things over the past couple of months that is helping me save some time for more important things. For example, instead of running to the TV to watch my favorite shows each time they’re on, I just watch them online using services such as

This allows me to watch my shows AFTER I’m done with all my work. Simple productivity tips like that can be a huge time saver.

However… this isn’t a productivity blog.

Well…I guess it is. But instead of teaching you how to get more WORK done, I’m showing you how to shorten your workouts while improving their efficiency.

Fitness Productivity Tip: Time-Based Workouts

I’ve written about Time-Based workouts before. Tabata Intervals and other interval schemes are great if you want to maximize your workouts within a short period of time.

However, one training method I’ve only briefly mentioned is something known as EDT, or Escalating Density Training. EDT is a method developed by Charles Staley that allows you to get more work done in a shorter period of time.

EDT workouts are where you choose two exercises and alternate between them for a set time frame. That’s it. It’s really just as simple as that. Well..there are some basic ground rules to follow:

  1. Select two exercises from different muscle groups. For example, don’t do wide grip pushups and hindu pushups. Instead, do pullups and wide grip pushups. The chest and back muscles are opposing muscle groups. Another way to group movements is to choose one upper body and one lower body movement.
  2. The difficulty levels of the two exercises should be similar. If you’re performing mostly bodyweight exercises, then choose exercises and repetitions that make “sense.” For example, if you can do 25pushups in a row, but only 1 pullup, then that’s not a good combination.
  3. Before creating the workout, determine how much time you have to workout for the entire week, and how many days you wish to workout. For example, if you’re training 4 days a week, for a total 60 minutes in the entire week, then each workout will last 15 minutes.
  4. You’re going to need some sort of countdown timer. I have a great countdown tool on my cell phone that makes a loud, annoying ringing sound once the time is over. Start your timer, alternate between your two exercises and keep track of how many rounds you perform within your chosen time frame.
  5. Record the total number of repetitions you performed per workout. The idea is to perform at least one repetition the next time you attempt the workout.

Advanced Program Design with EDT

Let’s assume you have more than 60 minutes per week to train. You can easily create longer workouts by adding more exercises into your workout. For example, lets say you have 45 minutes to train per session. Here is a sample template of what a 45 minute workout would look like using the EDT method:

Superset #1: 15 minutes

  • Exercise #1
  • Exercise #2

Rest 5 minutes

Superset #2: 10 minutes

  • Exercise #1
  • Exercise #2

Rest 5 minutes

Superset #3: 10 minutes

  • Exercise #1
  • Exercise #2

If you had only 30 minutes to workout, then just modify the work and rest periods accordingly.

Additional Tips from Coach Staley

Here are some tips straight from Charles Staley to help you maximize your EDT workouts:

  • “…numbers don’t lie. And when your numbers go up, so does your metabolism, strength, and fitness capacity.”
  • Exercisers tend to think in terms of thermodynamics: “OK, if I hit the treadmill for 90 minutes, I’ll burn at least 400 calories…and then if I only eat 1400 calories a day, I should burn at least 2 pounds of fat a week!” It’s all about seeing how little you can eat, and how to make exercise as painful as possible… kinda reminds me of the way anorexics think. Athletes don’t exercise, they TRAIN. When you go to the gym or training hall to train, your mindset revolves around performance and PR’s. You’re trying to improve your performance… you’re trying to improve your technique. And when you think like THIS, your gym time becomes very uplifting and self-motivational, which leads to consistency and results. Bottom line: when you think and act like an ATHLETE, you tend to LOOK like an athlete. And I think THAT is what most people are ultimately looking for.”
  • “…just because you’re moving…just because it hurts, doesn’t mean you’re making progress or getting a result.Now, it’s true that getting out of your comfort zone will involve some degree of discomfort, but that discomfort is a SIDE-EFFECT of the work you did – it shouldn’t be the goal. Because when pain becomes the goal, you lose sight of the REAL goal, which is increasing work-capacity and hitting new PR’s.”
  • “Density refers to the work-to-rest ratio of your training sessions – it’s basically how many reps of an exercise you’re doing within a certain set time frame (e.g. 50 reps in 15 minutes). Many people mistakenly focus exclusively on increasing training intensity, or the amount of weight you can put on the bar.”