The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Monday Workout ~ Training for Density

Monday Workout ~ Training for Density

This is the 5th post in a series of posts about the 4 Cycles of Training.  Thus far, we’ve talked about the 4 Cycles of Training, an Intensification Phase (Strength Training Phase), an Accumulation Phase (Increased Volume) and Training to Improve Form.  This post will talk about a training phase that is not normally included in most people’s training cycles – Density Training.  By the end of the article, I hope you agree that the benefits of adding this phase are more than significant enough to create a training stimulus that will have you moving closer towards any bodily goal you may have.

What is Density Training?
Density training is basically your attempt to complete as many reps or sets within a specific amount of time.

For example, you can have a pair of exercises, such as Kettlebell swings and Push-ups.  With these two exercises, density training would be completed as such:

20 reps of KB Swings
10 reps of Push-ups

Complete as many rounds within 8 minutes.

This may not seem like a lot of work, but it will kick most people’s asses – all in 8 minutes.

CrossFit loves this type of Density Training and is included in many of their Workout of the Days (WOD’s).

Another way to complete Density Training would be to count the reps for a specific exercise within a group of exercises and try to complete as many reps as you can within that specified time.  For example you can do:
A1 – Jumping Squats with a Dumbell in your hand for 35 seconds, rest 10 seconds
A2 – Standing Shoulder Press for 30 seconds, rest 20 seconds
A3 – Straight Arm Pressdown for 45 seconds, rest 30 seconds
A4 – Hanging leg raises for 60 seconds, rest 90 seconds.

Repeat for a second round, trying to beat your first rounds total rep numbers.

What are the Benefits of Density Training
There are a number of benefits of this type of training.  First, this type of training will release a number of positive hormones, from higher levels of testosterone, growth hormone and mechano-growth factor. All three of these hormones assist in either building muscle and/or losing fat.  All things that most people train for.

Some other benefits to this type of training include:

1 – Fire your muscles more efficiently
This is a neuromuscular benefit that you learn from the speed of the reps performed.  This helps immensely with getting stronger year after year as opposed to staying stagnant, year after year.  These benefits will also transfer very readily to most team sports.

2 – Push past any self-imposed limitations, aka mental toughness
Many people when first starting this type of training have a large amount of self-imposed mental blocks.  They say things like I “can’t” do anymore.  When in fact, they really don’t want to do anymore.  There’s a huge burning sensation, they’re winded and they’re being told to do another round.  It’s this pushing past the “burn,” the pushing past the voices that tell you to quit, to not go on any further that will allow you to have more confidence in yourself in the gym, but when tackling any problem.

3 – Burn a lot of calories
Sometimes, people don’t need to do this with their weight-training, but will include this type of training with their general physical preparedness (GPP) training.  This means, with just staving off as much fat as possible during a “bulking phase” people will do a density training with a Prowler and KB swings.  In other words, non-traditional cardio that jacks up their metabolism.

Why You Want to Cycle it in but Don’t Abuse it
At the end of the day, adding this phase into a cycle is beneficial for most people.  This cycle doesn’t need to be more than 4 weeks per year, but in adding this to your routine, you can have fun with seeing how hard you can push yourself.  If you workout with a partner, this can be absolutely brutal.

Although density training offers some excellent benefits, it can also be easily overdone.  If you’re not looking to gain appreciable muscle size (if you’re a guy) or if you’re not training for a sport or if you don’t have a stressful work and family life and just want to stay in decent shape, you can do this type of training to your heart’s delight.  This is what CrossFit does and although I’ve wrote about how I feel most of the population doesn’t need CrossFit in order to see the results they want, it can be beneficial.

With that said, if you are trying to put on muscle or get as strong as you can or maybe lose some fat and stay healthy, then this is definitely a cycle that you would want to include for at least one month per year.  Usually you’ll include this type of training during the Summer time when you may not have a lot of time to workout (or if you do, but you don’t want to be inside), want to stay in shape, keep most of your strength and just have some fun without thinking about your routines too strictly.  At the very least, you can do some GPP work once per week.  You can break this down into either a “fun day” where you just throw a bunch of things together and go at it, or after one of your regular workout routines as a “finisher.”

If you have any questions, leave a comment below.

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