Every so often the training world or fitness industry throws more and more terms at people. When I first heard the term density training I had to actually Google what people are saying about it. This always helps me understand what people are trying to actually talk about so I can shed some light on the subject with more scientific background.
What is Density Training?
The term density training comes from increasing training density. The training density is simply a combination of what the Russians have been calling for years “volume” – quite simply sets of exercises multiplied by repetitions completed and its relation to duration of the overall workout.
Now for the real science! Volume can be equated to movement or displacement. Work is the product of force and displacement, and force is the product of mass and acceleration. Quite simply density training is increasing work capacity. Density training is increasing the volume portion of the overall workout without decreasing duration or decreasing the duration of the overall workout without the manipulation of volume.
A Training Density Program
When programming a workout plan it is best to take these two training variables duration/volume and manipulate one or the other, but not both at the same time. Training density can be enhanced by increasing sets or reps to increase total volume of the workout and reducing rest time in between sets/reps. For example if you completed 3 sets of 8 reps of an exercise and it took a total of 5 minutes for total completion, the density can be increased by increasing volume to 4X8 and reducing the rest time or increasing the speed of the movements to keep the total duration at 5 minutes. Even reducing the overall workout time by combining exercises back to back can enhance training density.
Conventional training manipulates intensity and volume, whereas density training manipulates volume and duration. It is important to not manipulate intensity and volume/duration at the same time in an increasing manner; this can reduce the bodies ability to accommodate to the training demands and increase the risk of overtraining. An example of density training is shown below.
Here is an example of how adjusting the training density can be done when time and volume are the variables being manipulated. This program manipulates the rate of speed on the reps to slowly increase time under tension. Doing this early into the program before adding more sets can prep the body for the reduced rest in between sets to come in the later weeks.
This is just an example of one workout, not a full work out program. I recommend using this info as a template to your programming plug in your own exercises and workouts and follow this rest and rep rate plan to mix it up in your hypertrophy program. The program does not have to be this exact just simply increase volume and decrease rest periods in order to increase overall program density. This table just shows how simple changes in duration can be made from adding those extra reps or sets or time under tension; however, these are the variable you need to consider in a density-training program.