Density Training

“Go hard or go home!” – this popular ego-boosting quote has been used by countless coaches, athletes and of course, hard-core gym rats all over the world. While it sounds cool for the serious trainee, it can be a bit scary when misunderstood by the general fitness enthusiast.

The reality is…it’s all relative…

What may be hard for one person may be really easy for another, and vice versa. The key to success is each person must train his/her hardest because training intensity is critical for stimulating muscle growth and maximizing fat loss to achieve a strong, slim & sexy body.

To better understand this, we need to address another fact…

“You can either go hard or go long, but you can’t do both.”

Think about it…

The harder and faster you drive your car the faster you’re going to empty the tank. There is only so much fuel available. This works exactly the same way when you exercise. You only have so much fuel (energy) available. The harder you workout the faster you’re going to run out of energy.

Unfortunately, most people trying to lose weight and get in shape are misinformed. They interpret “more is better” as longer is better so they do endless amounts of reps and sets or do bouts of long, slow, God-awful boring, cardio.

But, they’re way off because studies show that the maximum training effect will occur in 30-45 minutes or less! In fact, there’s plenty of empirical evidence (I’ve seen it firsthand) showing significant benefit from 15-20 minute workouts…when done right.

The truth is, the correct approach to exercise for weight loss is…

More work in the same period of time (or less) is better.

While two workouts can be isocaloric, that doesn’t mean they’re isometabolic.

Simply put, this means that just because two workouts burn the same number of calories (isocaloric) that doesn’t mean they’re going to have the same effect on your metabolism (isometabolic).

This is where intensity comes into play and training harder is often more beneficial for fat loss goals than training longer. This is good news for those of us who are short on time….

Side Note: YES. There is benefit from building aerobic base with longer, low intensity workouts. But, for the sake of this article and because of the clients I work with most, I’m focusing on efficiency and effectiveness for busy people…

Density Training

Density describes the amount of work completed in a certain period of time.

Work describes total training volume, which equals number of reps you perform for each exercise times the loads/exercise variations used to do so.

The more work you complete in the same amount of time the greater the density and the greater the metabolic effect – more muscle gain and more fat loss!

While the idea of density training has been around since Arnold’s day, it was brought back into the mainstream in 2005 and taken to a whole new level by coach Charles Staley in his book Muscle Logic.

Since then, it has become more commonplace as group personal training programs have become more popular – density training is a favorite approach among top coaches who work with groups.

Staley has popularized the concept of performing maximum rounds for time using repeated sets of sub-maximal effort vs. the more traditional approach of maximum effort (weight/reps) to failure.


As you can see, much more work is completed in the same given time with the Density Training approach!

Let’s look at another approach where we make the total work completed the same:


As you can see, in the second example we did the same amount of work but it took us about 1/3 less time to complete. In a classic 5-exercise workout, we’re talking about shaving almost 15 minutes of total time off our training session!

We can compound the benefits of both these approaches when we perform alternating sets of non-competing movements (supersets, trisets, circuits) like we do in our typical HIIT workouts at The Transformation Club.

For our next training phase, we’re going to perform…

3 Unique Twists on Density Training

Workout A: Boxing Intervals – 3 minutes on, 1 minute off

Alternate between 3 minutes of work and 1 minute of rest. Take rest as needed. Seek to take less and less rest breaks during the work period from week to week with the goal of completing the entire 3 minutes of work with no rest. Perform 8 total rounds (different exercise each) for a 32-minute workout.

Workout B: Escalating Density Circuit

Seek to maintain the same intensity (load/exercise variation) from cycle to cycle as the work periods get longer while the rest periods get shorter. Perform an 8-exercise circuit for each cycle.

  • Cycle #1: 30-30 intervals
  • Cycle #2: 40-20 intervals
  • Cycle #3: 45-15 intervals
  • Cycle #4: 50-10 intervals

Workout C: Max Rounds for Time

Complete as many rounds as possible of each exercise (10 total reps per exercise) as you cycle through a 5-exercise circuit. Take rest as needed. Seek to increase the total number of rounds completed from week to week.

Final Thought

Density Training is one of those programs that simply has to work – it can’t fail…

The only way you can do more work in the same period of time (or less) is by your body adapting to the increased demand (i.e., increased muscle mass, strength and endurance and/or decreased body fat).

So, if you want to maximize results in the shortest period of time, density training is your answer – especially when your goal is building a strong, slim, sexy body that performs at the highest level…


Profile Image Justin Yule
Chief Transformation Officer
The Transformation Club
Work: (952) 224-4852
By |2018-02-21T01:12:54+00:00February 21st, 2018|Education, Exercise|0 Comments

About the Author:

Husband. Dog Dad. Author. Coach. Entrepreneur. Transformation Specialist. Justin Yule is the founder, president, and chief transformation officer of The Transformation Club. In addition, he serves fitness professionals worldwide as a business coach and subject-matter expert. Justin is the co-author of the best-selling book, The Transformation Book, as well as the author of the fictional tale, The Transformation Path. He is also the co-host of The Transformation Show podcast. Justin has a bachelor of science degree in physical education with a concentration in adult fitness and holds multiple specialty training certifications in fitness. He has been educating, motivating, and inspiring clients to become the best version of themselves since 1997.

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