Tip: Get Ripped with Density Training

More work, less time. These circuits will get you shredded.

When you increase workout density you're increasing the amount of work performed while decreasing the time you give yourself to do it. The goal is to up your caloric expenditure, the metabolic stress placed on your muscles, and the overall metabolic demand on your cardiovascular system.

Essentially, your goal is to fit more reps into a pre-set window of time than you did during set 1. For instance, if you're performing a bodyweight density circuit, it could look like this:

Density Circuit 1

  • Push-Up: 30 reps in 45 seconds
  • Bodyweight Squat: 35 reps in 45 seconds
  • Plank: 45 seconds

Density Circuit 2

  • Push-Up: 35 reps in 45 seconds
  • Bodyweight Squat: 37 reps in 45 seconds
  • Plank: 45 seconds

Each workout should consist of 2-3 individual circuits. Each circuit is repeated twice, for a total of 4-6 performed circuits.

Exercises in the circuit should use major movement patterns. This means squats, hinges, presses, pulls, lunges, and carries. Each circuit should have no less than 3 but no more than 6 exercises.

You can do both weighted and bodyweight circuits to get the most out of this training method.

You can tack density circuits on to the end of your workout, or even make them a workout in themselves. First, let's look at weighted density circuits. You can use classic set and rep schemes to determine the work load of each exercise, or use timed circuits.

Do A1 for the reps listed during the exercises. Rest the given time and move to the next exercise. Continue this pattern for all exercises, taking the allotted rest time after you've done one set of all exercises. Rest 120 seconds after the entire circuit and repeat.

For your second circuit, increase the weight by 10-20% and repeat the movements, trying to match or exceed the number of reps in that same work duration.

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Dumbbell Goblet Squat 2 8  
A2 Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2 10  
A3 Dumbbell Bentover Row 2 10  
A4 Goblet Split Squat 2 10/leg  
A5 Ab Rollout on Swiss Ball 2 10 2 min.

This is similar, but instead of increasing weight, you'll try to increase the amount of reps you complete for the allotted time.

Do A1 for as many quality reps as possible during the duration. Then rest and write down your reps for that movement. Afterwards, do A2 the same way. Continue this pattern for all exercises. Rest 120 seconds after the entire circuit and repeat.

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Push-Up 2 30 sec. 10 sec.
A2 Alternating Lateral Lunge 2 45 sec. 20 sec.
A3 Inverted Row 2 30 sec. 30 sec.
A4 V-Sit Up 2 1 min. 2 min.
Eric Bach is a highly sought-after strength and conditioning coach, located in Colorado. Eric specializes in helping athletes and online clients achieve optimal performance in the gym and on the playing field. Follow Eric Bach on Facebook