So you want to stay strong and lose stubborn fat?
This small tweak to your programming will get the job done in less time.
What are Density Sets
Density sets refers to how much work (or volume) you do within a certain amount of time. Used correctly, it can help you break out of a plateau, get more work done in less time, and shed stubborn fat so that those hard earned muscles can shine.
If you perform 12 sets of 10 bodyweight squats in 10 minutes, then your total density for this movement is 120 squats. That’s work!
Pick exercises with non-competing muscle groups.
You’ll be at this for some time – 8 to 12 minutes. Allowing one muscle group to rest while the other recovers prevents fatigue and enables you to hit the entire set with good technique (plus you won’t have to crawl out of the gym).
- Loaded barbell glute bridge + Bodyweight squat
- Chin-ups + Tricep exercise
- Push-up + Lat pullover
- Progress from an 8-minute density set
Starting density sets with 8 minutes is enough time to get some hard work done without emptying the tank. Over time, those sets increase to 10, 12, and even15 minutes depending on the client, time restrictions, and the goal.
I typically through in a density set in the middle of a workout – right after the main lift and before the accessory lifts, making 8-10 minutes the sweet spot for density sets.
Start with a moderate load
Pressing 50 pound dumbbells overhead may be a walk in the park for you normally, but when volume is the goal, it’s best to scale back the weight and be a bit more conservative. Sure, you want to work hard, but you don’t want to go to failure every set. A density set is taxing and if you’re going too heavy, your form and technique suffers.
Choose a pair of no-fuss exercises
Density sets are tough, and you’re likely to get very tired…quickly. Exercise selection is important here. If you fatigue easily doing a bent over barbell row choose another row variation that won’t break down your form and crush your low back. If you have knee problems then 12 minutes of walking lunges or bulgarian split squats are likely not the best choice for your density set either.
Most general populations clients experience a form breakdown in the deadlift or swing as they fatigue. If this is you and you want to hinge, use a variation like loaded glute bridge or hip thrust instead.