The sweat drips down my face as I gasp for breath.
Forcing myself to push for just one more round, a few more reps, one more exercise.
When I hear the timer go off all I feel is relief as my heart pounds out of my chest and I feel my muscles completely fatigued.
I try not to think about the fact that I only actually did 6 minutes of exercise, such is the reality of density training.
DENSITY TRAINING: WHAT IS IT?
Density training – or “AMRAP” As Many Rounds As Possible – has become popularized by CrossFit in recent years, but I’ve been using this style of training with clients for well over a decade.
I even wrote a chapter in my international best selling book “Results Fitness” on this exact topic back in 2012.
If you’re not familiar with this style of training, here’s the rundown:
- You have a group of exercises (typically 3-8) and you have a certain number of reps for each exercise (i.e. a circuit)
- You set a timer for a certain time (typically 6-25 minutes)
- Complete as many rounds of that circuit as possible before time runs out, preferably without dying
- Track how many rounds you got and try to beat it next time
For example, your workout might look like this:
Complete as many rounds as possible of the following circuit in 15 minutes:
1A. Bodyweight Squats x 25
1B. Push Ups x 10
1C. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL) x 15
1D. Mountain Climber x 20 each side
1E. Dumbbell Single Arm Row x 12 each side
And that would be your workout for the day. Add some foam rolling, a movement warm up and some stretching at the end and you’d be done a very tough, full body workout in 25 minutes total.
It doesn’t get much more time effective than density training.
Density training would fit into spot #2 of the “Hierarchy Of Effective Fat Loss Workouts” – if you haven’t read that article yet, you should do that immediately.
There are a few reasons density training is the king of fat burning workouts, so let’s go through a few of those now.
1. DENSITY TRAINING IS THE GREAT EQUALIZER
I tend to program a lot of density training workouts when I coach group workouts because it’s the great equalizer for fitness level.
If I have a group of people of all different fitness levels, I can very easily do the same workout with everyone getting a very challenging workout.
For example, if I have a 58 year old woman who is just starting her fitness journey to live healthier as she gets older, she’ll simply do less total rounds and take longer rest time between exercises.
On the flip side, if I have a 22 year old CrossFit athlete who has been training for a few years already I can push them a much harder, use heavier weights and they’ll end up doing more total rounds with less rest time between exercises.
Two totally different people, two opposite ends of the fitness level spectrum but each getting a challenging enough workout for their current level of fitness.
2. DENSITY TRAINING ELIMINATES THE “NO TIME” EXCUSE
One of the most common reasons I hear from people for why they can’t workout is because they “have no time”. They’re just “too busy” to get to the gym consistently.
I could destroy this excuse with dozens of real life examples of people (many who are/were Blue Phoenix Fitness Coaching Experience clients) who are much busier than you but still make time to get their workouts in, but I’m going to leave that alone for now.
If you’re one of those people who thinks they are “too busy” and “don’t have time” to workout, density training is the perfect option for you.
You can get a full body, challenging, properly designed workout done in less than 10 minutes if you needed to. The most important factor for making it the most time efficient would be your exercise selection.
Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom with 2 young children to look after and all you can scrape together is 10 minutes while the kids are sleeping. One of your workouts might look like this:
10 MINUTE DENSITY DASH
Warm Up: 2 minutes of a movement based warm up
Workout: Complete as many rounds as possible in 8 minutes of the following circuit
1A. Jump Squats x 15
1B. Push Ups x 8
1C. Lateral Lunges x 12 each side
1D. Spiderman Mountain Climbers x 15 each side
Even with your warm up, you’re done in 10 minutes and back to your regular Super-mom duties.
The key to making those 10 minutes effective is the INTENSITY during those 8 minutes of exercise. To get the most out of it, you HAVE to be pushing yourself to your absolute limit and then push a little bit more. If you do that consistently 4-6 days/week, there is absolutely no reason you wouldn’t start to see some progress with just 10 minutes/day.
DENSITY TRAINING = MORE WORK IN LESS TIME
When you have a properly designed density training workout, you’ll be able to do more actual “work” in 8 minutes than most people do in 45 minutes of their regular workouts, especially if they’re doing traditional, long “cardio” workouts.
Let’s use the above “10 Minute Dynamic Dash” workout for our Super-mom as an example…
You have just 4 exercises, but with those 4 exercises you’re hitting every major muscle group in your body. Then, because we’re alternating upper body/lower body exercises, your upper body muscles get a bit of a “rest” while your lower body works and vice versa. This allows you to move through that circuit with very minimal rest time.
In 8 minutes of workout time, you’d be able to do 3-5 rounds of that circuit. In a standard strength training workout, if you were doing 3-5 sets of 4 exercises it would take you around 30-45 minutes, depending on your rest time.
So, you’ve essentially compressed 30 minutes of “work” into just 8 minutes.
You’ve also kept your heart rate much higher, so not only are you getting stronger with these kinds of workouts but you’re also improving your conditioning, making your heart and lungs stronger.
A double win.
Then, as a cherry on top, you’re burning more 5-9x more calories in that 8 minutes than you would with 30 minutes on the elliptical.
Less time + stronger muscles + stronger heart/lungs + 5-9x more calories burned = The King Of Fat Burning Workouts
BETTER FAT BURNING RESULTS IN LESS TIME
The key to all of this though, is having density training workouts that are properly designed.
Fortunately, I’ve put together 21 of my best bodyweight F.I.R.E. workouts, including a bunch of brand new density training workouts.