Dave Hakes' – Maui Life


"I must do something!" will always solve more problems than "Something must be done"

My Supersets/EDT Combo

Posted by delta on August 16th, 2007

I have a few old friends who have been asking me about my recent workout – so here it goes…

I’m on my second cycle of this particular workout now. Basically I did what I now call my “Cutting Supersets” Workouts for 8 weeks, took two weeks off, did what I call my “Strength Building” Workouts for 8 weeks, took two weeks off, and now am in my first week of my 2nd “Cutting Supersets” Workout…

I hit a plateau for while there, but then came across this book called Muscle Logic (by Charles Staley) and it totally revolutionized my way of thinking. EDT stands for Escalating Density Training – Density being the amount of “work” done within a given time frame. To make my “Cutting Supersets” Workout, I took my old Supersets Routine and applied the EDT “approach” to it…

What do I mean by “approach”?
My old approach was to do this workout as “Century Sets” meaning I would do (EXTREMELY) light weight and take it to 100 reps. The first month or so, I would only be able to do 30-40 reps per set, so I would end up doing something like 3 sets of 33, 4 sets of 25, or 5 sets of 20 reps, etc. By the end of the workout, the body parts I worked that day were totally wasted (and if they weren’t I would do extra exercises just to make sure I got the “burn”)…
Charles Staley’s EDT says to do your 10RM (the max weight you can do for 10 reps), no more than 5 reps per set, for as many sets as possible, for a given time limit (usually 15 minutes).

Basically his EDT “approach” is 180 degrees from the way most of us have been lifting for the last 20+ years…

From the outset of starting this workout, I felt nothing, I was gonna go back to a 3×5 or 5×5 workout. I had no “burn” during, or after my workout (which drove me nuts); no soreness, or tightness, the next day (which really didn’t feel natural); but, I decided to stick it out just to see what the results would look like. After the end of my first 6 weeks, I looked at the data and I noticed two really strange things happening:

  1. I really started to cut up (the mirror doesn’t lie), and
  2. My strength went up massively for every exercise

After my 8 weeks was up, I sat down to really analyze what was going on (I write down everything). I started cutting, because this workout makes me sweat more than any workout I’ve ever done (I, literally, sweat more than I do when I go for a run). I got stronger because I’m able to workout with (MUCH) heavier weight by doing sets of 5 rather than sets of 20-100.

The best part about it (for me) is that I’m not sore all the time! Two other factors which I’m really loving is that my flexibility has actually improved, and from the time I start my warm up to the time I hit the shower takes about 1hr 15min (which is about half the time of my old workouts)…

If you really want to get anal (which I am), you can actually check results in “amount of work done” (a.k.a. Density). If you do this, you can really see the results – and it will be an eye opener. I’ll give you an example just using the first group of exercises of the first day (which is “Flys-to-Press” and “Bent-to-Standing Cable Crossovers”):

  • On the first workout of the first week, before doing your sets, you want to get your 10RM for the exercises. When you do, write it in the appropriate box for the given exercise. Don’t change this weight for the entire 8 weeks!
    Example, my “Flys-to-Press” 10RM was 40lbs. per Dumbbell (80lbs. total) and “Bent-to-Standing Cable Crossovers” had 70lbs on the machine…
  • As you do the set for the two exercises, just put a mark when you complete a set – whether it be a set of 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.
  • You’ll find, when you first start, that you will probably not “work” the entire 15 minutes. You’ll be lucky to do 10-15 sets within that time. That’s cool, as long as you work as hard as you can, within the time allotted.
    My first few weeks, I did 10 sets of 5 reps as it turns out…
  • As time continues, you start to push your body beyond the anaerobic threshold. Basically, this means that you stop caring about doing 5 reps per set and you just go for it – you try to do as many sets as possible regardless of the number of reps done in those sets – you just do as much “work” as you can.
    In the 4th week, I had 12 reps of 5, 3 reps of 4, 3 reps of 3, 3 reps of 2, and 3 reps of 1. Basically what happened here is, to do the most work I could, I did the following (just to see what it would feel like), kinda keeping track of it in my head – Set 1-4 (5 Reps), Set 5 (4 Reps), Set 6 (3 Reps), Set 7 (2 Reps), Set 8 (1 Rep), Set 9 (5 Reps), Set 10 (4 Reps), Set 11 (3 Reps), Set 12 (2 Reps), Set 13 (1 Rep), etc…
    Anyway, that was not exactly what I did, but close enough. The idea was to just keep going without stopping…
  • To discover how much “work” was completed, count the number of reps in total and multiply it by the weight used. This number is the “Density” of that exercise for that day – hence, “Escalating Density” refers to the increase of “work” done (lbs per exercise any given day) within the given amount of time (15 minutes) over a time period (4 weeks, 8 weeks, whatever)…
  • So during the first workout I did 10 reps of 5 (50 reps total) at 40lbs per hand for Flys. That would be 2000lbs of work for each side, which is a Density 4000lbs of total chest work.
    The 4th week I did 12 reps of 5, 3 reps of 4, 3 reps of 3, 3 reps of 2, and 3 reps of 1 (which is 90 reps total) at 40lbs per side. That’s a Density 7200 lbs of chest work total!
    So, Flys went from 4000lbs of work to 7200lbs of work in 4 weeks – in the same 15 minute time frame! Talk about Escalating my Density!
  • For cable Crossovers the number went from 3500lbs of work on the first week to 6300lbs in the 4th week, in the same 15 minute time frame!
  • In the first point above, I told you not to change the weight for the entire cycle (8 weeks). It’s a good idea for most people. But some of you may see the quick gains that I saw. My rule for adding weight is basically this: when my work load doubles I get my new 10RM and use that weight until my workload doubles again…

This “approach” to working out is great! You can see the improvement right there on paper – and it is obvious. I am doing my own workout (as far as which body parts I’m hitting, with which exercises, and when), I’m just doing it with his EDT “approach”…

Cutting Supersets – this is my 6-days-a-week workout which lasts 8 weeks. This is basically the same workout that I’ve been doing on and off for the last 20+ years, as Century Sets – now I just set my egg timer for 15 minutes and put a mark in the box as I complete a set (which means completion of both exercises for the set). Just try to do as many reps (at your 10RM) as possible within the given time – so what if you only do three reps for the last few sets, just don’t stop till the time is up…

When I start on my Strength Building Workout, I’ll put that in here and explain it to you. It’s a little more complicated, but very effective when applying EDT to it. Also, it follows ALL rules of a true EDT workout – meaning, it applies the concept of “Antagonistic Pairings” (which is the only EDT concept missing in my Cutting Supersets Workout)…

Something to keep in mind:
I workout in my home gym with no partner – and my program is designed around that. I don’t have to wait for someone else to finish their set, I just setup my weights and do my thing – you might not be able to do that…

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