Build Muscle Fast With Escalating Density Training

Get introduced to escalating density training and check out a sample workout from STACK expert Danavir Sarria.

Lifting Weights

Thousands of articles explain how to build muscle fast. Some say to add volume, while others tell you to add more weight on the bar. However, very few talk about escalating density training.

What Is Escalating Density Training?

Created by Charles Staley, it's a form of muscle-building training whose goal is to progressively do more work in the same amount of time as the prior workout.

The original EDT template comprises three two-exercise personal record zones—or "PR Zones"—each lasting 15 minutes.

PR Zone 1: 15 Minutes

  • Squats
  • Push-Ups

PR Zone 2: 15 Minutes

PR Zone 3: 15 Minutes

  • Biceps Curls
  • Triceps Extension

To do the workout, figure out your 10-rep max for each exercise (i.e., the heaviest weight you can lift 10 times with proper form). Use this weight and perform sets of five reps for the two exercises in PR Zone 1, alternating between exercises. During the 15-minute period, perform as many five-rep sets of each exercise as possible, making sure to tally the number of sets performed. When you can no longer perform five reps, perform four, then three and so on until time runs out. Take a five-minute rest, then repeat with the other two PR Zones.

Next time you perform the workout, your goal is to beat your previous numbers. For example, if you did 50 Squats, next time you need to do at least 51. Once you beat the prior workout's number by 20 percent, increase the weight by five pounds.

Why Does It Work?

The beauty of Escalating Density Training is that it is built on simple and sound muscle-building principles. The body adapts to the amount of stress placed on it. EDT accomplishes this by systematically increasing the workload based on your ability to adapt. As long as you see improvement in your numbers, you know that your muscles are adapting and getting bigger.

Six-Week Escalating Density Training Plan

Below you will find a six-week Escalating Density Training program that will help you put on muscle fast.

Perform the workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Start with Day A on Monday and Day B on Wednesday, and alternate between the two from then on.

Day A

PR Zone 1: 15 Minutes

PR Zone 2: 15 Minutes

PR Zone 3: 15 Minutes

Day B

PR Zone 1: 15 Minutes

PR Zone 2: 15 Minutes

PR Zone 3: 15 Minutes


It only takes six weeks to build enough muscle to make a noticeable difference in your physique. Many programs can  do the job, but more often than not, they just leave people confused. When that happens, go back to Escalating Density Training.

Source: T-Nation Going Deep With EDT


Danavir Sarria is a trainer and martial artist from Miami, who writes frequently at As a trainer, he specializes in athletic preparation for combat athletes, physical preparation for first responders, and body composition training for serious men and women. You can find him at

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