EDT (Escalate Density Training) | What is that? All Explained!

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Robert Maurer


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By the healthiergang writer Gabriele Corda, personal trainer and federal instructor specializing in fitness and functional training.

EDT (Escalate Density Training)

The EDT (escalating density training) training method is based on a specific training parameter: density.

Density is one of the training parameters that an instructor must always keep under control together with volume, intensity, tonnage in order to create training plans that reflect the athlete's goals.

By density in a workout we mean the link between effort and recovery. Often it is considered as the sum of the various recoveries between sets and / or between exercises, other times the time between one training session and another is measured. All these definitions are correct, but the density that we will take into consideration in this program is that ratio between the time in which the athlete remains under effort and the total duration of the training therefore:

Density (Ds) = Real duration (Dr) / Total duration (Dt)

Programs built on density therefore provide for a certain link between the time under tension (TUT Time Under Tension) and that in which you recover instead.

In this specific case the EDT foresees long times under tension, between 15 and 20 minutes, followed by a 5-10 minute break. Let's go into specifics.

1. Objective and duration

EDT is a work plan created by the American Charles Staley, world-renowned bodybuilder and personal trainer for the innovativeness of his programs.

The goal of EDT is to improve hypertrophy and can be performed with extreme profit 1 or 2 times a year while it does not seem to give particular results if done in chronic.

The duration of the scheme is established between 4 and 8 weeks and includes 3 or 4 sections of weekly training.

The program in practice is structured in the choice of two exercises training antagonistic groups to be carried out in succession as a continuous super-set.

Starting from the first exercise, then about 6 repetitions are carried out and then move on to the second exercise, always with 6 repetitions, completed this goes back to the first, 6 repetitions and off to the second.

This process lasts a long time, between 10 and 20 minutes but breaks of 10 - 20 seconds are allowed between one exercise and another in case of excessive fatigue.

Once the set time is complete there will be between 5 and 10 minutes of rest before resuming with two other exercises.

The parts of active training are called Zones PR (Personal Record zones), the athlete will count the repetitions carried out during these zones each time and will try to beat his own record in the next training session.

Unlike the usual programs in which time after time you try to increase the load used in the EDT, the load must be increased only in particular circumstances, that is when we exceed by 20% the repetitions carried out in the previous week.

2. EDT and failure

Another difference is that relating to muscle failure. In most of the cards proposed in the weight room, one of the objectives is to always achieve muscle failure as the equation is taken as true: failure = hypertrophy.

It is not so.

In addition to the fact that there are very valid hypertrophy programs based on buffering (therefore without failure) in EDT, failure must be avoided as much as possible or in any case delayed until the end of the PR Zone.

In fact, it would be impossible to perform up to 20 minutes of work with the same loads if the first series already fails.

In the case of severe fatigue, in addition to using a bit of recovery (between ten and twenty seconds), it is advisable to reduce the number of repetitions from six to four, from four to three until you can perform single strokes.

Single repetitions can happen especially in the first days of an EDT where the athlete still has to get used to the large amount of work required, in themselves they are not a mistake.

3. Loading

The load used in the various exercises must be fixed, as already described will change the number of repetitions that will decrease and the recovery time that will tend to increase, all to avoid muscle failure.

The recommended load is around 70-75% of 1RM or approximately a weight that allows you to perform between 10 and 12 repetitions. For clarification, please note that 1 RM corresponds to that load that would allow the athlete to perform only 1 repetition in a given exercise.

4. Example

Let's see a practical example to find the ideal load.

We know that our maximum in the squat corresponds to 150kg, so with this load we would be able to perform only 1 repetition and then immediately arrive at the technical failure.

Applying 70-75% to perform an EDT we find a load between 112kg and 105kg.

Another method that does not take into account its maximums is to use the load with which we will fail after 10 - 12 repetitions.

Since in EDT you only do 6 repetitions at the beginning it will obviously be light, but doing 15 - 20 minutes will not be easy. If you can do blocks of 6 repetitions throughout the PR Zone you can increase the workload as it was initially underestimated.

During the weeks you can increase the load by 5% when you exceed by 20% the repetitions done in the previous week.

5. Exercises

What exercises to choose?

Whether you are an advanced or intermediate athlete, the advice is to use machines. Although in the weight room it is always recommended to use barbells and dumbbells in this type of program, given the high degree of fatigue to which we will bring the muscle, guided exercises are preferred.

Fatigue will lead you to dirty your executions a little and neuro-muscular stress could jeopardize the athlete's stability during work. Just think of 20 minutes of squat, despite the low load the stress time required is considerable, the accumulated fatigue could get to worry the balance of the practitioner who would end the series always a few repetitions before the limit.

This feeling is canceled (or strongly reduced) with the machines.

The same creator Charles Staley does not exclude the use of free exercises but only suggests those in which the coordinative component of the movement is not elevated to the point of making the very meaning of the work program ineffective.


Three training sessions per week.

Day 1: Shoulders / Back

Day 2: Quadriceps / Hamstrings and abdomen

Day 3: Chest / Arms

Day 1

  • 15 ′ of Shoulder Press (or slow forward) / Lat machines prone grip (or pull-ups)

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 15 'of Pull down / Front raises

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 10 'of T-Bar (or rower) / Lateral raises

Day 2

  • 20 'of Hack squat / Deadlift with straight legs

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 15′ di Leg curl   /   Leg extension

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 10 'of Press / reverse crunch

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 10 'of Crunch / Hyperextensions to the machine

Day 3

  • 15 'of Pectoral machines (or handlebar crosses) / Reverse curl EZ

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 15 'of Bench press machine / Hammer curl to the low cable with the rope

break 5 - 10 minutes

  • 10 'of French press / Scott machine curl (either with dumbbells or with EZ barbell)

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