Superset workouts using the top secret Escalated Density Training (EDT) technique

How much time do you really have to train? Do you have 5 hours to train a week? 3 hours? 1 hour? 30 minutes? Right now, quantify your total time.

Think carefully about the things you do in your daily life that are not necessarily productive. Some examples may include watching TV, reading emails, etc.

I have often been distracted by an email I may receive from a friend or another author that has held my attention for up to an hour. When I look at the clock on my computer, I realize that I have a dozen things that I have to do, just for my website.

That does not include chores that need to be done around the house. So we all get distracted, but simply limiting the time we watch TV, email, and phone calls can save us a lot of time.

I’ve adapted a few things in the last few months that are helping me save some time for more important things. For example, instead of running to the TV to watch my favorite shows every time they’re on, I just watch them online using services like

This allows me to watch my shows AFTER I’m done with all my work. Simple productivity tips like that can save you a lot of time.

However… this is not a productivity blog.

Well… I guess it is. But instead of teaching you how to do more WORK, I show you how to shorten your workouts while improving your efficiency.

Fitness Productivity Tip: Time-Based Workouts

I have written about time based workouts before. Tabata intervals and other interval schemes are great if you want to maximize your workouts in a short amount of time.

However, one training method that I’ve only briefly mentioned is something known as EDT, or Escalated Density Training. EDT is a method developed by Charles Staley that allows you to get more work done in a shorter period of time.

EDT workouts are where you choose two exercises and alternate between them for a set period of time. That is all. It really is as simple as that. Well… there are some basic rules to follow:

  1. Select two exercises for different muscle groups. For example, don’t do wide-grip push-ups or Hindu push-ups. Instead, do wide-grip pull-ups and push-ups. The chest and back muscles are opposing muscle groups. Another way to group movements is to choose one movement for the upper body and one for the lower body.
  2. The difficulty levels of the two exercises should be similar. If you’re doing mostly bodyweight exercises, choose exercises and reps that make “sense.” For example, if you can do 25 push-ups in a row, but only 1 pull-up, then that’s not a good combination.
  3. Before you create your workout, determine how much time you have to train throughout the week and how many days you want to train. For example, if you are training 4 days a week, for a total of 60 minutes throughout the week, then each workout will be 15 minutes long.
  4. You’re going to need some kind of countdown timer. I have a great countdown tool on my cell phone that makes a loud annoying ringing sound once the time is up. Start your stopwatch, alternate between your two exercises, and keep track of how many rounds you complete within your chosen time frame.
  5. Record the total number of repetitions you performed per workout. The idea is to perform at least one repetition the next time you try the workout.

Advanced Program Design with EDT

Suppose you have more than 60 minutes a week to train. You can easily create longer workouts by adding more exercises to your workout. For example, let’s say you have 45 minutes to train per session. Here is a sample template of what a 45-minute workout might look like using the EDT method:

Superset #1: 15 minutes

  • Exercise 1
  • Exercise 2

rest 5 minutes

Superset #2: 10 minutes

  • Exercise 1
  • Exercise 2

rest 5 minutes

Superset #3: 10 minutes

  • Exercise 1
  • Exercise 2

If you only had 30 minutes to train, simply modify your work and rest periods accordingly.

Additional Tips from Coach Staley

Here are some tips straight from Charles Staley to help you maximize your EDT workouts:

  • “…the numbers don’t lie. And when your numbers go up, so does your metabolism, strength, and fitness.”
  • Athletes tend to think in terms of thermodynamics: “Okay, if I treadmill for 90 minutes, I’ll burn at least 400 calories…and then if I only eat 1,400 calories a day, I should burn at least 2 pounds.” of fat a week!” It’s all about how little you can eat and how to make exercise as painful as possible…reminds me a bit of the way anorexics think. Athletes don’t exercise, they TRAIN “When you go to the gym or the training room to train, your mindset revolves around performance and PR. You’re trying to improve your performance…you’re trying to improve your technique. And when you think like that, your time in the gym becomes very uplifting and motivating which leads to consistency and results. Bottom line: when you think and act like an ATHLETE, you tend to LOOK like an athlete. And I think THAT is what most people are seeking ultimately”.
  • “…that you are moving…that it hurts does not mean that you are progressing or achieving a result. Now, it is true that getting out of your comfort zone will involve some degree of discomfort, but that discomfort is a SIDE EFFECT of the work you did, it should not be the goal. Because when pain becomes the goal, you lose sight of the REAL goal, which is increased work capacity and new PR.”
  • “Density refers to the work-to-rest ratio of your training sessions: it’s basically how many reps of an exercise you’re doing within a certain time frame (say, 50 reps in 15 minutes). mistakenly focus exclusively on increasing training intensity, or the amount of weight you can put on the bar.”