Several past articles in our current quarantine series have focused a lot on how to stay fit and active at home. All of these articles have had a plethora of great exercises and sample routines to follow and they’re a wonderful place for you to get started. Whether you are continuing your work out at home or are able to get back to the gym, here are a couple of techniques that you can use to enhance your training and spark new muscle growth and strength gains. These techniques have been used quite readily in powerlifting and bodybuilding circles for some time and they have helped many increase their strength and muscle size, no matter their level of fitness.
EDT is an acronym for Escalating Density Training. That’s a big fancy name for a simple concept. What EDT looks like is this: you set a timer for predetermined amount of time and you see how many reps you can perform within that time frame. The amount of reps within a certain time frame refers to the “density” portion of EDT and the “escalating” component means that you try to get more reps the next time you perform the same workout within the same amount of time. This style of training allows you to consolidate your time and make your workouts more efficient, plus it adds a little competitive challenge to push yourself even further. Because of the nature of this style of training, soreness can be expected and you can easily get wrapped up in the competitive aspect of it and push yourself too far. My suggestion is to take things easy the first few times you attempt this style of training in order to properly adapt your body to the demands and remember, all you have to do is beat your previous reps by 1 and you are progressing.
The following is a basic representation of what EDT will look like in real time:
For example, I want to utilize pushups for this version of my EDT training. I will set a timer for 10 minutes and proceed to perform as many push-ups as I can within that time frame. I want to be mindful of my effort and intensity because while I want to get as many total reps as I can, I don’t want to take any of the sets to muscular failure, as fatigue will increase to the point where it will negatively impact my recovery and more than likely interfere with the next session. I attempt this training style for pushups. In my example, I get 200 reps of pushups within the 10 minute time frame, so that will mean that for the next session (2-4 days later), I will try to get at least 201 reps in order to demonstrate progression. One final word of advice on this style of training and I will quote my Kinesiology Professor from Physical Therapy school, “Garbage in=Garbage out” so make sure your reps are quality with pristine form to maximize the muscle building stimulus.
Cluster sets have long been used in the strength and conditioning realm to provide another option to lifters to dramatically increase strength and muscle size. It also injects some variability into training to keep things from becoming too monotonous. A cluster set is defined as a group of mini-sets with a range of rest in between, all built within a larger set with a longer rest period. For example, one cluster set would be 3 mini-sets of 3 reps, with 30 seconds of rest in between the mini-sets and 3 minutes of rest after the cluster set is finished. Lengthened out, it will look like this:
In essence, cluster sets allow a lifter to lift a certain amount of weight more times than they normally would be able to with just a straight set. For example, Person A can only perform 10 pushups in one set. With smart programming of cluster sets, they can do 3 mini-sets of 5 reps with 20-30 seconds of rest, allowing them to obtain 15 reps of pushups in a set, when normally they would only be able to do 10 reps. This will lead to strength and size gains and allow a person to manipulate their training to increase the volume of work they’re doing. An example of how cluster sets would be annotated.
Sets x Cluster group (5 each min-set in this example)
Both of these options outlined above are great ways to introduce some variety into your training, both designed to spark new strength and size gains for any trainee. These are advanced tactics that should not be used when beginning a training program as they are designed with someone in mind who has been training for at least several months and their training has since gone stagnant. For help with designing a program or help with any aches or pains that may arise, contact your local Athletico today and schedule appointment free assessment. Assessments are available in-clinic or virtually through our telehealth platform.
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