T Nation

Density (or Hell on Earth)



For those insane enough to do 9 minutes of 80% after the wave ramp..

Who is hitting CT's crazy considerations of;

...................with 80% at 8 minutes I normally expect 40 reps on presses, 30 reps on deads and 20-30 reps on squats... the main issue, and only someone who tried it will know what I'm talking about, is the unracking and walking when you are breathing like a locomotive.

Front Squat today, I hit 18 but I was dead man walking by 8 min mark; generated quite the audience who no doubt wondered why I was voluntarily killing myself !

Overhead.... 8 lol - no idea how anyone will get 30 short of er I dunno; just not possible !

(And after all that fun; still carries to drag yourself to)


Yeah I did about 6 minutes today of 80%. 10 minutes just seems crazy. I'd probably need to do 5 minutes at 80%, then another 5 minutes at 70%. Have you found a rep pattern that works best for you? I'm basically just doing triplets. Singles is too inefficient (racking/unracking) and 5's take out a lot. Varying #'s between sets seems to throw me off groove but I'm still playing around with this


You should be able to adapt to it. I've been doing 10 or more sets using 90% of the daily max using singles up to doubles usually only resting as long it takes to go to the water fountain and back. I've done the 80% density work a few times now I think you just need to get used to it.


Yeah, most people screw up by trying to get too many reps at a time.

Seriously, most people should be able to get 6, 7 or even 8 reps with 80%.

But they shoot themselves in the foot by trying to get 5 or 6 every time and crash very soon.

Let's say that you do one set every 30 seconds on the clock (e.g. start a set at 0:00, one at 0:30, one at 1:00, etc.) you get 21 sets. If you do 2 reps per set, which is more than manageable since you are 4-6 reps under your limit, you will be getting 42 reps. If you can get 3 reps per set, which should be more challenging past 8 sets you'd get 63 reps... almost nobody can get there. But a lot can get 10 sets of 3 and 11 sets of 2 which would be 52 reps... even getting 5 sets of 3, 10 sets of 2 and 6 sets of 1 would give you 41 reps and that is fairly easy to do.

You are your own worst enemy when it comes to getting a lot of total reps in.


This is why Charles Staley, in his EDT system, had you use your 10RM and start by doing sets of 5. Then when that starts getting hard, but NOT reaching failure, you drop it to 4 then 3 then 2 then 1.

Its about Managing fatigue, not seeking it.


How would you progress on those from workout to workout?

1) Keep working with 80% up to 30 resp and then challenge yourself to go up to 40-50
2) go up to 30 and then increase the weight?
3) Do your 80% according to your 1RM of the day and progress mainly by increasing that number?


80% is going to be off your max... so every 3 weeks perhaps Ramp to 1RM and retest.

Should take care of all your questions then :slight_smile:


By the way... Plazma did jack sh1t for my quads from Front Squat Monday.... can just about walk !!!!


The 80% is based on the max ramp you did earlier in the workout.

Otherwise, retest your max every 3-4 weeks. But you can easily keep on progressing without adding weight simply by trying to get more total reps in the same time frame. When you can't get more reps (or feel that you can't get the reps done any faster) increase the time cap or taeget number of reps by 2-3 minutes or 10 reps.


No possible chance of me doing that on presses. I'm lucky to get more than 26, I just die super fast (I'm only starting out with sets of 3 reps). I'm doing it for 10 minutes as per the original recommendation from my thread. I'm hitting between 20-30 reps of squats, haven't tried deads, and high pulls getting 45 ish (power snatch replacement due to easier technical requirements/no catch). The difficulty there is grip and breathing.


@ CT (or anyone else for that matter) - how would you rate density work as a way of working on form at the higher percentages? im currently running a version of the 10 day split and really enjoying it but id like to get some more reps in at the 80%+ range to work on my form (powerlifting).

or perhaps a form of giant cluster set would be more suitable for this purpose, maybe max reps @ 90% in 10mins?


Trevs...and approach that I am using with a junior powerlifter (605 squat, 425 bench, 685 dead at 20 years of age and 225lbs) is to have him do 10 reps at 90% in as little time as possible, than a giant cluster of 5 minutes with 80%


wow thank you for the quick reply. Ill work that in to my next cycle then. Currently doing 5 layer workouts in my programme (comp bench, squat, decline bench from pins, sghp and deadlift) so ill knock off basically all accessory work from the 3 powerlift workouts and sub in that. thank you for your help CT



20 years of age with that total.

Sigh !


tell me about it. sometimes i try to tell myself people like that dont actually exist to make me feel better


He's the best I've seen at that age in person... the guy has a mind of steel... he was doing the axle clean and press (2" axle bar) missed 320 7 times... got it the 8th time


CT what density method would you recommend that would interfere the least amount with strength progression?


Would you please accept giving us more information on his workout/weekly layout and progression scheme?


Slightly more respectable 14 on Back Squat today.... still far off 20-30 lol.

FYI: Front Squat style carries really let you know where your abs are !!!

Overhead Press seems to work my middle back more than anything else; squeezing it for squats today was an exercise in self torture.....

Fun fun fun !


Quick question on the density work. Is the 80% based off the max weight you did for a wave during the particular workout or the actual max you used to set up the waves (85%, 88%, 90%). For example if my max is 100 but I only got up to my third wave of 90x1, 90x2, 90x3 and ended the wave there. Would I use 80% of my actual max, 100, or the max weight I achieved during the wave, 90, to determine my density work?