EDT-The Simplest Muscle Building (and Fat Shredding) Workout Plan…and it Works!

Ok, we all have been there….Burnout! Maybe it was trying to do some super complicated workout for weeks….maybe it was just going to the gym too often…or maybe it was just time for a change. We have all hit the wall, and it’s not pleasant. Once we lose that passion and excitement it’s time to reevaluate what we are doing…and take a new course of action.

simplegym

Less is More

I’ve been working in gyms for so long that I can’t wait to get out of there some days. But what about my workout? Ahhh I’ll just do it tomorrow…and then that turns into the next day…or the next…or the next. When I’m excited about my workouts I stick with them…when I dread them, then good luck getting me to the gym. Long ago I got bored will all the typical pyramidal sets of 8-12 reps, chest day or all those other things you find in any magazine. Then I came across a system that looked and sounded so simple, that it couldn’t get old. To this day I still call it my simplest workout plan for those times I just want to go and push stuff around without thinking too much (which seems to be my regular workout nowadays).

The funny part is…that it can also get you great results for building muscle and burning fat! (as we all know the best way to burn fat is build muscle and get those fat releasing hormones like GH going….along with eating right of course). So now I present the easiest workout idea that I have enjoyed using over the years of trying almost every method out there.

Staley’s Escalated Density Training (EDT)

I first came across this concept long ago reading an article on escalated density training by Charles Staley about his style of training and how he has had remarkable success with many big name clients in putting on muscle. Charles is very well known in the fitness community, and you will actually see more things that closely resemble an EDT style of training out nowadays. Why? Because it works and it is simple. What is EDT? Charles gives some good insight in this interview:

Now, in my opinion, if you’re interested in growing muscle, that statement contains everything you’ll ever need to know. Muscle is in fact a biological system, and it grows (or atrophies) in direct proportion to the amount of work it is forced to do.

Every training principle you’ve ever heard of, plus most of the ones you’ve never heard of, are designed to allow you to do more and more work over the weeks and months. And Q2 is no exception. In fact, let me be the first to say that there is absolutely NOTHING new here. The only thing that’s new is the way I’m “framing” or presenting the information. In a sense, the EDT system is just a foolproof way to ensure that you perform more and more work in each workout that you do.

EDT involves doing a workout, measuring how much work was done, and then consistently and gradually increasing that amount of work. When you do, muscle will grow, metabolism will increase, and you’ll have a leaner, more muscular body. Now, as it turns out, there’s a paradox at work here. Because good fatigue management strategies allow you to do a lot more work

full article at t-nation.com

The EDT details

That’s the gist of pretty much how every program will work, progression and progress. Ok, let’s look at the details that Charles uses:

  • There are usually two “workout” periods he likes to call “A” and “B” (or also PR Zones) per workout
  • The time is usually about 15-20min per workout period (PR zone). Resting 5 min or more between workout A and B.
  • In each workout period you get 2 exercises, usually of opposing muscles (push/pull or upper/lower)
  • You put on a load that is about 10-12 RM (rep max) of an exercise and use it for all reps/sets.
  • Then the goal is to get as many reps as you can in the time period alternating between the 2 exercises (so for workout period A, you do exercise A1 for x reps, then go to exercise for A2 for x reps, taking a break between sets and going back and forth till time is up). Usually you don’t go over 5-6 reps per set in the beginning and never take a set to failure (fatigue management).
  • Each workout you should notice a progression of reps until you get an increase (of usually 20% more) and then add weight for the next workout.

be ready to feel some pain. Don’t start this program if you need to attend some social event where shuffling and moaning in pain aren’t acceptable.

So you can see, it can get pretty intense (based on the loads and exercises performed). Now of course that is just one format….the great thing is about the concept and how you can modify it to make it your own (without needing to limp up the stairs for a week).

I’m not the only one who likes it

Many other well respected fitness trainers also have used the concepts of the EDT system and applied it in their own way. One big name in the fitness industry, Alywn Cosgrove, has also used EDT style training.

I was recently talking to my colleague Alwyn Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness Training in Newhall, California has been using EDT-inspired training programs to facilitate rapid losses in bodyfat with his clients for several months now. In fact, Alwyn claims an average loss of 2% bodyfat per month with no dietary changes at all.

Cosgrove: Note that you can also reduce the rest periods between PR zones thereby further increasing the density. I also prefer to have a bigger rep “buffer.” In regular EDT I allow 20% more reps before I increase the loads. In Fat loss EDT I don’t increase the loads until you perform 30% more reps. I think the higher volume helps with fat loss (this assumes a good load selection initially). Another rule I use is that the eccentric phase should be controlled, the concentric should be accelerative.

full article here

Mike Mahler a very respected strength/kettlebell coach has been using modified EDT with his clients too. He likes to use heavier weights and lower reps with the focus on sets and not time.

There is no doubt that Coach Staley’s EDT program works for getting much bigger. In addition to the incredible pumps, increases in strength occurred as well. However, I knew that the strength increases could be enhanced by decreasing the rep range to two-four per set and by shifting the focus to total sets. In other words, instead of focusing on total reps in which you take super short breaks and gut out as many reps as possible.

I found that it is better to keep the breaks at one minute between each exercise, and to focus on getting two-four reps per set. Moreover, I eradicated the PR Zone so that trainees do not feel like they are fighting the clock. The initial goal is to do ten sets of two on two antagonistic exercises in a single workout. For example ten sets of two on bench presses and bent over rows. Take one-minute breaks in between each exercise.

full article at bodybuilding.com

The Exercises

This is key for most people, it’s all about the most “bang for your buck” exercises. We are not talking about the best isolation movements like tricep kickbacks or calf raises, we are talking about using as many muscles as you can under the heaviest of loads. This means less time in the gym and more time getting real results. Also using compounded movements is a great booster for the hormones you want for building muscle (like Testosterone) and fat burning/releasing (Growth Hormone). (If you need a brush up on the hormones for fat loss or muscle building….be sure to re-read the fat loss 101 post and muscle building 101 post) The list does not have to be limited to, but can include the following:

  • Squats and Deadlifts
  • Overhead Barbell Press
  • Olympic lifts like Clean or Snatch
  • Bench Press or Weighted Dips
  • Bent-Over Rows or Weighted Pullups
  • Bodyweight movements like lunges, pushups or more.

The goal is to pick 2 exercises of opposing body parts and then just go at it for either a set number of sets or time with the same weight. Then when you see increases in performance, increase the weight and go again. This type of simple progression with the right exercises will be sure to get your muscles stronger!

Make Your Own Rules

Now you don’t have to do it just one way, but you can take the basic concept of EDT and make it your own. You can make endless workouts such as:

  • Doing 3 different exercises (for more variety or focus on strength and endurance)
  • Using bodyweight exercises only
  • Using higher reps and shorter rests for more fat burning/conditioning purposes
  • Using lower reps and longer rests for more strength focused gains
  • Counting Sets and not reps (like 5×5 or 10×2…you up the weight when you can complete the desired set/rep scheme)
  • Only doing one 20min workout (or PR zone) for days you are crunched on time
  • Alternate high and low rep workouts

Here’s just a couple of examples of doing an EDT style session with either time or sets your goal.

Sample Workout #1 – Strength and Hypertrophy:

Do workouts for 20min each (rest between A and B)
- Workout A – Bench Press and Pullups for sets of 4-5 reps max (with 10Rm weight)
- Workout B – Bent Rows (barbell) and Squats for sets of 6-7 rep max (with 12-15 Rm weight)
next workout switch A & B order and rep max

Sample Workout #2 – Strength Based:

Do 5 sets of 5 reps
- Exercise #1: Deadlift
- Exercise #2: Weighted Dips
- Exercise #3: Overhead Press
increase weights for exercise when you can complete all 5 sets of 5 reps.

Sample Workout #3 – Fat Burner:

Do workouts for 15 min each, with resistance based modifications
- Workout A – Pushups (5 reps), Jump Squats (10 reps)
- Workout B – Body Rows (angled pullups-5 reps), DB snatch (10 reps alternating hands each full set)

Those are just a few samples off the top of my head. Do something EDT based 2-3x a week (depending on intensity and volume) and you will see good results while enjoying how simple working out can really be! No more tricep kickbacks needed!

photo used from abdallah
bodyweight fitness workout

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