You spend hours in the gym, so obviously you want to get the most out of your hard work. Heck, that’s probably why you’re reading STACK.com in the first place.
The two easiest ways to make your workouts better and increase your gains are to use perfect exercise form and do more work. Using perfect form is self-explanatory—do the exercises correctly, and they will yield their full benefits.
But, increasing the amount of work you do is a bit murky.
You can certainly train for hours on end, but that’s neither practical nor recommended. Instead, it’s best to structure your workouts with density training to increase the amount of work you do without spending more time in the gym.
What Is Density Training?
Density refers to the amount of work you do within a given time. To find the density, multiply the weight you lift by the number of reps you perform. Rather than focusing on sets, reps or weight, perform as much work as possible in the amount of time you allot for your workout.
Density training workouts can take many forms, but they typically involve supersets or circuits to increase the amount of weight you actually lift, combined with limited recovery periods. An example of density training is Alan Stein’s “60,000 pounds in 60 minutes” workout. Your goal is to lift 60,000 pounds, no matter how you get there.
Benefits of Density Training
Why should you increase the density of your workouts? The answer is what nearly every gym-goer wants to hear: you get better results in less time.
Stan Dutton, owner of Training for Warriors Boston, has found great success with density training. He explains that doing more volume helps you work more muscle groups, increasing the full-body strengthening effect of your workout. Also, you’re working harder (or more), so you’ll certainly be sweating. “You’ll get more volume so you’ll build muscle and lose fat,” Dutton says.
Most important, it’s fun. “We like to do density workouts in a group atmosphere because it makes it competitive,” he adds. “No one wants to do one exercise for too long. You’re cheering on your partner to finish.”
There are many types of density workouts, but Dutton advocates the following method, which is inspired by the work of Luka Hocevar of Vigor Ground Fitness.
- Form four supersets of two exercises each. Include push, pull, hip-dominant, knee-dominant and loaded-carry movements.
- Pair a big exercise, like a Kettlebell Swing, with a full-body movement that you perform for several reps, like a Bear Crawl.
- Ideally, do this with a partner.
- Perform the full-body exercises until your partner is finished with his reps, then switch exercises. If you don’t have a partner, time how long it takes you to complete your reps and do the second exercise for the same amount of time.
- Repeat this continuously for three to five minutes. Rest for half as long as it takes to complete the set and then perform your next superset.