I read Charles Staley’s book Muscle Logic: Escalating Density Training Changes The Rules For Maximum-Impact Weight Training a couple of years ago when I was in my heyday of Russian kettlebell zealotry. Pavel Tsatsouline had a blurb on cover of Staley’s work, so I grabbed it at the library and took it home.
The sort of weight training I do now has a lot in common with Escalating Density Training. In a nutshell, EDT is about getting more work done in less time. The method promises “muscles that are as strong as they look.” This makes sense to me because my own training, both for strength and for muscle, is volume-based. As much as I like to see my one-rep maxes going up, I like it even more when I see the total amount of weight lifted during a session going up.
I like it more because I agree with Staley’s assessment that getting more work done in less time is a great way to build muscle mass. The only place I can tell that I differ on is that I do not train very hard. I train frequently and I lift heavy whenever possible, but I avoid effort, while the majority of the bodybuilding crowd fits more into the “no pain no gain” mentality.
How EDT workouts are structured
Essentially you choose a couple of movements or exercises and you alternate between them for “zones” of a determined time frame. The goal is to do as many reps as possible of each exercise during the pre-determined interval. When you’re done you add up the total amount of pounds moved in each exercise and the sum of your numbers is the total volume lifted during the workout.
The next time you perform a workout with the same movements, you try to do more reps in the same time frame, or do as many reps in less time.
How I Structure my EDT workouts
I don’t worry about specific time frames. I go as long as I can while trying to make every rep feel easy. Sometimes this means I lift for 5 minutes, sometimes it means I lift for 90. I choose my exercises based on Range of Motion tests that I perform prior to my workouts. For more information about biofeedback testing and strength training, check out Adam Glass’s Grip and Rip DVD, which outlines the process in its clearest form.
The book Muscle Logic
Charles Staley is a great writer. I do think the book could be better-organized and could also be a lot shorter than it is. In this article I have only laid out the bare-bones approach to escalating density training. There is a lot of great information in Muscle Logic, but most of it can be found in other places and much of it will be familiar to experienced lifters.
I would recommend this book to any fans of weight lifting, fans of Mr. Staley, and anyone looking to for a new approach to their weight training. I think EDT is a really, really fun way to train. Combined with Gym Movement and its testing protocols, I have never enjoyed my strength training as much as I do now.