I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving. I know I certainly did. Two full plates of food, two pieces of pie, some scotch and beer. Only gained 2.6 lbs that day. Usually Thursday is a day off for me, but knowing I wasn’t going to get cheated with the fork and knife, I did a workout that would really rev up the metabolism. Geoff Neupert had this workout where you do 5 rounds of long cycle clean and jerks with double kettlebells with 2:00 rest between rounds. My lightest double sets are 55 lbs. I performed 3 sets of 10 and 2 sets of 7. Long cycle means re-cleaning after each rep. The jerk is similar to a push press except you bend on the balls of your feet and dip under the bells at the end. It’s a great exercise for your upper back and shoulders. The timing takes practice. I don’t quite have it down yet, but it’s getting better. Two of my goals next year are to perfect the form on the clean and jerk and finally be able to double snatch the 55′s. This is the only exercise that continues to evade me. I just haven’t found the groove yet.
After the clean and jerks, I jumped rope for about 17 minutes, resting :30-45 seconds in between rounds. FInally, I did a Tabata Protocol with goblet squats using a 28 kg kettlebell. 8 rounds of 8 reps with 10 seconds rest in between My legs had the shakes when I was done.
Yesterday I finished my fourth and final week of Escalation Density Training or EDT. Originated by strength coach Charles Staley, the goal is to take two antagonistic exercises with a weight you can handle for 8-10 reps and do sets of 3-4 with limited rest. You alternate exercises for a set time period, either 15 or 20 minutes. After you rest five minutes, take two more exercises and do the same thing for 15 minutes. The next time you do the workout, you need to do at least one more rep in the time period than you did last time. For example, if you did 40 double squats, next time you need to do at least 41. You can split the workout up by doing upper body one day and lower body the next, or do total body. I chose the latter. I used 70 lb. kettlebells. For workout 1, the exercises I chose were Double Military Press alternated with Double Rows for 20 minutes, Double Squats and Double Swings Outside the Knees for 15 minutes, and I finished with 2 sets of Double Windmills. For workout 2, I chose Double Floor Press alternated with Pullups for 20 minutes. Double Reverse Lunge and One Hand Snatch for 15 minutes. I finished with Turkish Getups.
There is a lot to love about EDT. First, you know exactly how long the workout is going to take, and the number of reps you need to do. Second, it’s great for conditioning, particularly when you do legs. Third if you’re using the right weight, you are setting personal records each time. From a mental standpoint, it’s rewarding. You feel like you’re making gains. Fourth, it puts on size and strength. I’ve done this program for 20 weeks over the past 14 months. It works really well. Fifth, you can use barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells. My brother is on it right now and loves it. “I can see myself doing this workout for a while…” he said. and he’s not using kettlebells. The best was when he asked me about what to do for cardio. I told him to do legs and get back to me. 15 minutes doesn’t seem that long until you are on your 6th or 7th set of squats and swings and are trying to catch your breath. Because you need to set personal records each workout, it gets pretty difficult especially in weeks 3 and 4. You need the time to recover. You can’t work out 5-6 days a week with this protocol. 3 days works best for me and I played indoor soccer one other day. Four days works if you do upper body and lower body splits.
I last did EDT in April and used double 70′s Looking back at my journal, during the last session of double military press, I squeezed out 30 reps in 20 minutes. I remember that workout because I was doing a lot of reps of 1. I had received my second 70 lb kettlebell last Christmas and my max rep set was 3. This time around, on my first 20 minute EDT workout, I did 16 sets of 2 in 20 minutes for 32 reps! The third workout I did 8 triples, (8 x 3) before I reduced the reps to 2. The second to last workout I did 39 reps, which is a 30% increase from 7 months ago. I did 19 sets of 2 and 1 set of 1 in 20 minutes. My other exercises went up as well. I did 76 double rows in 20 minutes. 45 double squats, 63 double swings outside the knees in 15 minutes. On workout 2 I finished with 70 floor presses and 44 pullups in 20 minutes and 28 lunges and 32 snatches in 15 minutes. I had to switch out the double lunges in week 4 with goblet squats. The tendonitis in my right knee started barking doing lunges. So I did goblet squats with an 88 and did 32 reps yesterday.
Today, I decided to test out my max reps for double military press. I was able to squeeze out five military presses, cleaning the bells only once. Never have done it before, and honestly had never tried. Then I took the 70 and snatched it 10 times with each hand with good form. I still had some left in the tank when I put the bell down. I’m going to take the whole next week off and step away form the kettlebells. Why? To recharge the battery. By the end of next week, I’ll be chomping at the bit to get back at it. Mentally and physically, I’m feeling a little beaten up. My exercise for the week will be the soccer game on Thursday.
I highly recommend EDT for all types of weightlifting. In 150 minutes of gym time in a week, you’ll be bigger, stronger and in better condition.