The Ultimate Escalating Density Training (EDT)

Want a Good workout? Then Escalating Density Training (EDT) program is especially for you.

Everyone nowadays want a shredded muscular physique. When you move around shirtless, everyone would be staring at you like “What an awesome body man !!!!, I too want that “.

To make a perfect body, you must have a good workout program. We have talked about different types of strength training programs. And in this post we are going to discus about one of the best muscles gaining program- Escalating Density Training (EDT) Program.

Without any ado let’s dive into the program.

What is Density in Training?

Your training density is the work you can do in a given period time. If you perform 15 sets of 20 push-ups in 10 minutes, your training density for that particular movement in a 10-minute time frame would be 300 reps.

In other words, it is defined as the multiplication of amount of sets and the number of reps completed in a given time period.

Escalating Density Training Program

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Escalating Density Training (EDT) Program

EDT is a hypertrophy training method. In this training program the goal is to perform as many reps as possible for a specific body part in a specific time period, using antagonistic exercises, which work opposing muscle groups. The concept of EDT is very simple – organize exercises, sets, and reps in such a manner that you can perform a maximum amount of work in the set amount of time period (around 15 to 20 mins).

“When a biological system encounters a dare, it modifies itself in order to be able to move easily meet similar changes in the future.”

Now, I think, if you want to grow muscles, then the above statement contains everything you’ll ever need to know. Muscle is a biological part, and it grows in direct proportion to the amount of work it is forced to do. And in EDT we perform maximum amount of work in the set timeframe. The benefits of choosing this training program are:

  • In EDT, you always know when to start the workout and most importantly, when it will end. Also, you know what your goal is, and you just have to achieve in that time period.
  • The number of sets and repetitions doesn’t matter. You don’t need to calculate total number of sets and reps. You just have to do maximum number of reps in that time period.
  • The progression is clear in EDT, if you beat PR Zone every next time, that means you are progressing.

Science Behind Escalating Density Training (EDT) Program

Your muscles will grow bigger when you force them to do more work in the specific period of time. That’s the breathtakingly simple concept behind Charles Staley‘s innovative training system, EDT.

Over thousands of people participated in coach Staley’s EDT fat loss challenge. This is because EDT is a program that work for the individual. Here’s how: EDT classify time frames (called PR Zones) where as many sets and reps as possible are completed. Every workout becomes more effective than the earlier one, making each session a personal record. More repetitions are equal to bigger muscles and improved health-a simple premise that delivers amazing results.

Important Things to Keep in Mind while Doing EDT

  • In Escalating Density Program (EDT) the number of sets and reps doesn’t matter. The only thing matter is, total workload performed in a given timeframe.
  • EDT always work when you pair antagonist exercises so that you can confuse the body and it recovers faster.
  • As you begin to exhaust your energy, allow your reps to drop to sets of 4, 3, 2, and perhaps even singles toward the end of the 20-minute time frame. And again, it’s the total reps you do in that time period matters.

Procedure of EDT

  • Choose two antagonistic exercises, these two could be anything from the pair of antagonistic exercises (such as Lat Pulldown/Triceps Pushdown, Close-Grip Bench Press/Bent Rows).
  • Find the weight which is 10RM (10 rep max) for each exercise. You can calculate these weights during your warm-up sets. Don’t worry if your calculated weights are a bit off – because the more important is that you choose weights that are equally difficult for each exercise.
  • Set or start your stopwatch for the time period of 15 to 20 minutes. Time frame depends on every individual and the rest period is about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Perform 5 sets of each exercise in alternate manner. Like if you are doing bench press and chins, then start with a set of bench press and then a set of chins. The rest period is between 30 secs to 1 minute after the sets of these two exercises.
  • Allow your number of reps decrease as you begin to fatigue. Let them drop to 5, 4, 3 and till the time period ends. As talked earlier, the only thing matters is the maximum number of reps in your set time frame and maximum amount of work done by you. Not the number of reps you do in your one set.
  • Stop doing sets after your set period of time ends. Do not perform any set after the time period is over.
  • Add total number of reps done in 15-20 min of time period. The total number comes out is said to be your PR Zone (Personal Record).
  • Set your goal to beat your PR Zone when you do it next time. The most important thing is that you must beat your PR Zone every next time you perform the exercise.
  • Increase your weight to 5 pounds, if PR Zone is increased by 20%.

Don’t miss:

Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) Program
Arnold’s Golden Six Routine
28 Method Workout Plan
Women’s Bodyweight Workout Plan

Types of Exercises used in EDT

EDT is basically pair of antagonistic exercises– For example a push and pull. As these pair of antagonistic exercises oppose each other and that help in improving fatigued muscles and nervous system involved in these pair exercises. As they oppose each other, it also helps in doing more amount of work performed.

As we know EDT is a hypertrophy training method, that’s why you’d use dumbbell, barbell, or body-weight exercises for building strength and muscles size. It also helps in gaining little bit of strength, and fat loss.

These EDT exercises only works in pairing, doing a single exercise does not helps as an EDT.

Escalating Density Training Pairs

The number of pairs of EDT exercises are endless. The main need is that each exercise in the pair involves different muscles. The important thing is that you choose the pair of exercise as when you are performing, one group muscles can rest. The few pairs of antagonistic movements which are commonly used are:

Upper Body

Upper Body

Bench Press and Chins
Low Cable Row and Barbell Military Press
Lat Pulldown and Triceps Pushdown
Close-Grip Bench Press and Bent Rows
Standing Barbell Curl and Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Floor Press and Reverse-Grip Cleans
Push-Up and Pull-Up
Lateral Raise and Cable Arm Adduction
Straight-Arm Pulldown and Plate Raise

Lower Body

Lower Body

Leg Extension and Leg Curl
Front Squat and Back Extension
Seated Calf Raise and Tibealis Curl
Hip Abduction and Hip Adduction

Full Body

Full Body

Back Squat and Chins
Front Squat and Dips
Deadlift and Floor Press
Overhead Squat and Clean Pull
Muscle-Up and Power Clean
Back Extension and Ball Crunch

Upper and lower body movements

Upper and lower body movements

Dumbbell shoulder press and squat
Leg press and Bent-over row
Dead lift and Bench press

Push and pull movements

Push and pull movements

Lat pull-down and Chest press
Seated wide-grip row and Incline Press
Chin-ups and Overhead press

Distinct, whole-body movements

Distinct, whole-body movements

Dead lift and chin-up
Pushup and Kettlebell swing
Stability ball pike and Squat jump

Unilateral movements

Unilateral movements

Lunge on right & left sides
Split squat on right & left sides
Single-arm cable row on right & left sides

Bodyweight exercises

Bodyweight exercises

Diamond pushup and pull-up
Bench dip and decline bench sit-up
Chin-up and supine (inverted) row

Isolation exercises

Isolation exercises

Biceps curl and triceps kickback
Leg extension and hamstring curl
Chest fly and reverse fly

Progression in EDT Workout

Progression in every field is the mark of improvement. If you are not progressing, that means you are gaining nothing. Your improvement is zero.

In EDT, progression means beating your PR Zone every time you perform the exercise. Each time you perform, your goal is to beat the total number of reps performed last time. No pre calculated number of sets, reps, or rest periods. It’s completely up to you. Your goal is only to complete 15-20 minutes work period, and improve it the next time you work.

There are three methods of progression in EDT:

Method 1: Increase the workload in same time period

Let’s take an example, if you hit 100 push-ups in 15 mins, when you try EDT for first time, see what you can do next time. If you hit more than 100 push-ups in 15 mins, then you are progressing it doesn’t matter that you hit by just 1 more rep or more no of reps. You have increased your training density by performing more amount of work in same time period.

Method 2: Decrease the time period and keep the workload to be same

Let’s again take the example of push-ups, if you hit 100 push-ups in 15 mins, decrease your time period by one minute or 30 secs and try to hit 100 push-ups in decreased time period. As you have done more work in less time, you increased your training density.

Method 3: Increase weight by 5%, when PR Zone is increased by 20%

Let’s again take the example of push-ups, if you hit 100 push-ups in 15 mins and you have increased your rep by 5, then next time try the same number of push-ups by putting some weight on your back.

Important points for progression

  • Don’t seek to early failure: If you are feeling exhausted just within few sets, then your rest of sets and reps will suffer. The number of reps per sets start decreasing as the time period is about to end. But if you seek to early failure, then you may not able to complete your training time period. If you are facing failure problem, decrease your weight so that you can able to perform the same number of sets and reps.
  • Pair EDT exercises which involves different muscles: Pair your antagonistic movements as when you are performing one set of exercise, the other one is in rest. This will also help you in doing more amount of work.

EDT Workout Plan     

You have to hit each PR Zone for 20 minutes each and at the end of these 20 mins, you must have done at least 60 reps of both the exercises in total. Let’s take an example of bench press and chins, you must be doing 30-35 reps of bench press and 30-35 reps of chins. Rest period is depending on individual, it may be of 1 mins or of 3 mins.

You just have to follow a simple and effective routine.


First 20 mins Time period

  • A-1: Barbell Bench Press
  • A-2: Dumbbell Chest-Supported Rows

Second 20 mins Time Period

  • B-1: Incline Dumbbell Press
  • B-2: Seated Rows


First 20 mins Time Period

  • A-1: Barbell Glute Bridges
  • A-2: Ball Leg Curls

Second 20 mins Time Period

  • B-1: Dumbbell Goblet Squats
  • B-2: Back Extensions

Wednesday: Rest


First 20 mins Time Period

  • A-1: Barbell Curls
  • A-2: Dumbbell Overhead Press

Second 20 mins Time Period

  • B-1: Hammer Curls
  • B-2: Triceps Pushdowns


First 20 mins Time Period

  • A-1: Leg Press
  • A-2: One-arm Dumbbell Rows

Second 20 mins Time Period

  • B-1: Dumbbell Reverse Lunges
  • B-2: Dumbbell Floor Press

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

This is just a sample workout plan. There are endless number of EDT pairs. So, you can personalize your routine according to your fitness goals.

You may also like to read:

German Volume Training Plan
Triceps Exercises For All 3 Heads
Calisthenics Workout Plan for Beginners
Hypertrophy Specific Training
PHUL Workout Routine

Final Thoughts

Each type of training program is effective in its own way. You just have to stick to one training program at a time. And one more important thing, lifting weight only does not help you in gaining muscles.

So, eat healthy, stay healthy, lift heavy and stay happy.