T Nation

EDT for Body Composition


I posted this during prime time on Charles' thread, but didn't get it a reply, so I'll just make it its own thread. Anyone can answer. Here is my original post:

Hi Charles.

On Monday, I will be starting your EDT for body composition, and I have a few questions:

  1. If strength maintenance is not an objective - all you're interested in is weight loss, are the 4-6 sets of 2-3 reps followed by 15 minutes of singles still necessary?

  2. For the gastrocnemius, you recommend jumps in place. I'm guessing that this one should not be a 10 rep max, as it is plyometric in nature? If not, what should the load be?

  3. Due to a lack of equipment, I can't work my grip strength with more than 17.5 pounds (far from my 10RM). What can I replace it with? The equipment I have available is: a set of dumbbells that adds up to only 35 lbs. (if I do both hands at the same time, as you recommend, that's 17.5 per hand), a chinup bar, wavemaster punching bag, home gym (flame away), and a few cardio machines.

  4. You recommend step ups for the quads, but again, I have the same problem as above. Even if I load all the heroic 35 lbs., it wouldn't be close to my 10RM. I would replace it with squats, but that's already one of my core movements. As for lunges, the same problem applies (35 lbs. is too light). What do you think of leg extensions? I know they're an isolation exercise, not as benficial as step ups, but that's all I can think of. Is there some exercise that I'm overlooking?

Sorry to bother you with such seemingly simple problems, but they really have me stumped.
Your help is greatly appreciated!


If you can squat you can lunge and do step-ups with a bar accross your back. If you haven't done unilateral stuff in awhile, prepare to feel very awkward and off-balance. This isn't a bad thing though. In addition to being solid multi-joint exercises, they will help with knee stability.


Hey! there's something I haven't though of! Pistols are just about a 10RM for me. Guess that solves that problem.

Got any ideas for grip strength?

I guess for the gastrocnemius I can do single leg ankle hops.

Any thoughts on the first question?

Have you tried this program? If yes, how did it work for you? What were the results?

Thanks for your help!


I would say no, not strictly necessary, but on the other hand why would you want to lose strength?

I would just load up your 17.5 lb dumbbells and go for it. EDT is self correcting as far as errors in load selection is concerned. If you find yourself running out of steam on one excercise before the other in a PR zone, you can adjust the weights next time.

You could try doing chins with your thumbs not wrapped round the bar. If that doesn't work your grip enough, I wonder why you are doing the EDT for Body Comp.

If you do the stepups without cheating (ie no push off with the lower leg) and use a high enough step, I think you might find 35 lbs is plenty. It might seem easy at the beginning of the PR zone, but I bet it is getting tough by the 10 minute mark.

As a general comment, EDT is fairly flexible about the range of reps done in the PR zone. I have one of Charles' videos and in one of the PR zone demonstrations Tim Larkin does over 100 reps with each arm on the kettlebell snatch. So I wouldn't worry too much about the weights being a bit light, particularly given your goal is fat loss.


I'm interested in hearing people's experience with EDT for fat loss. It seems like a great program but brutal. I'm considering starting it in August. Those who have done it, how did your body hold up on it on a lower calorie diet? How was it for maintaining (or possibly even improving) size and strength?


sharetrader, that's great advice!
I especially like your chinup suggestion. That's a gem.

When I was first doing meltdown training, my forearms would be the first ones to give out on chinups (using a regular grip). By the end of the program (second time around), it was the biceps. So I'm now very proud of the endurance of my forearms. But I'm sure that a different grip, and a few extra pounds in resistance will challenge the grip just fine.

As for step ups, I think I'll stick with pistols (they're just so much fun).

Thank you for reminding me not to "sweat the small stuff." EDT is unique in that the loading problems are self-correcting, as is volume and intensity.

You've been a great help!


I'm also interested. I haven't heard any reviews - good or bad. But EDT is reputable enough to give it a try.

So has anyone done this program? What were your results? Any tips for those starting it for the first time?


Well, I can't vouch for its effectiveness as I just finished my first week, but it is definetely a brutal but satisfying workout. Of all the programs I've tried, EDT and Ian Kings' are the worst for soreness. So be prepared for that. And be aware I started this week with weights that were below what he recommended. So my core exercise which was supposed to be aroung 5RM was 8RM, and my 10RM were more like 15RM, yet I was sore as hell for several days afterwords. Although the first half of the workout wasn't that hard (most likely because of the weights) the second half caught up and I was groaning and sweating with very light weight.

Anyway, I would recommend keeping the core exercise in the beginning. If your goal really is to lose weight, why lift at all? You could be burning a lot more calories just running and biking a whole lot. Oh, you want to keep muscle? Well, that's different. If FAT loss is your only goal, it's pretty crucial to keep the heavy weights in the workout. Otherwise you can kiss your lean mass goodbye. Besides, you use a lot more calories repairing and building muscle than you do just using it.

The only concern with this program is that it's fairly long (about 1.5 hours) so I think it's pretty important to use Surge or some such. Without a peri-workout drink I don't think you'll make it. And if you are concerned about it slowing down fat loss, you shouldn't be. Check out Shugs Velocity Diet for the rationale behind keeping Surge in the nutrition program during fat loss.

Also, as he said at the bottom of his article, his exercise choices were fairly arbitrary, so feel free to choose more appropriate ones. I wasn't real into jumping for the gastroc as I already do jump rope for cardio, so I substituted donkey calf raises. Just try and get the muscle in a similar movement. And you can do forearm curls with the squat bar, can't you?


For me, maintenance of muscle is not an issue. I'm not a bodybuilder, so my goals are different. I am in fact a martial artist (point fighter). I went on a bodybuilding program, and gained some very nice definition. Right now, I'm around 13% body fat. I would like to get down to around 10-12%. I figure that because of my very small experience with bodybuilding, I can count on newbie gains even without the first, core set.

Actually, I don't even have a squat bar. It's actually an attachment from my home gym, that I use for squatting, but you can't do curls with it (I've tried). At the moment, I like the idea of changing the grip on the chinup.

Let us know how you progress on this program.


I can tell you that this program made me sweat more than any other.


If you don't care about keeping muscle, then I repeat - why lift at all?
I expect that as a martial artist you should still be concerned with strength, speed, etc. You will need to keep the core exercise for that.

As far as "newbie" gains being good enough for you without the core set - I've got to ask you what you think newbie gains are? If you are just talking about muscle, then as a martial artist you should know the difference between muscle for looks and muscle for action. You will lose martial arts effectiveness if you only train with light weights and high volume. I'm not sure if I can think of any sports in which some maximal strength training wouldn't be helpful.

I'm thinking that you have a limited view of resistance training. It's not just used to get huge and freaky like a bodybuilder. Show me a good martial artist that doesn't do resistance training.

Actually, why don't you ask Staley again, since he's a big martial arts buff and he can tell you more. I'd like to read what he writes on the matter.


yes, I'm concerned with speed, but strength, not so much. I'm a point fighter - there isn't much use for strength here. Sure, you can increase speed by training absolute strength, but I still haven't gotten all I can out of speed and skill training. In a later phase in my training, as I plateau, I will integrate maximal strength training.

As a relative newbie, even those gains would add strength - not just muscle for looks. As Eric Cressey said in his "Cool Tip", newbies should at first train with reps of 8-15, and they'll see both muscle AND strength gains.

Sure, plenty of MMA guys, and others in similar events will train strength, because they rely on it heavily. But point fighters really don't have as high a requirement for such strength as MMA guys do. A lot of the best point fighters do train with weights, but the weight is in the 50-60% range, and is done explosively.

I referred to Staley in the first place, to get his advice, but no luck. That's why I started this thread. I asked him on his Prime Time thread, and I sent him a PM, and still no replies.

My question however, was whether I should keep the heavy core sets if my goal was ONLY fat loss. The question wasn't whether absolute strength is useful for even point fighters. I'm sure it is, there is no doubt about it, but that isn't my goal.


Ah okay, I missed the statement that you are a point fighter.

I'd still ask Staley again on his next Prime Time, he might have some good insight.

So although muscle mass isn't that important, you can gain speed/strength through other activities and still have some effect from the rest of the EDT program, I would still need to ask, why do you want to cut it out? It certainly won't hurt, and I figure it must help.

Besides, if you just want to get cut (i.e. not to be a certain weight, just a low BF %), then it is important to keep muscle, since it is lean mass that keeps your percentage lower. If you lost 10 lbs of muscle right now you would have a much higher bodyfat %. So in that sense you should definetely keep the core exercises. If you are trying to make a certain weight, then of course this doesn't apply.

Also, although point-fighting is your primary goal, if something doesn't interfere with this goal, but is good in other areas, isn't it worth doing? Strength may not be that important to you to score points, but what about other activities? I would think something like strength would be pretty universal.

Anyway, most of us here at this site, aren't solely one thing or another. That's usually the case for anyone who isn't elite. It's nice to be good at several things. If your only reasoning to cut the core exercises is to save time or effort, I think that's pretty sad. I would think the benefits outweight the difficulties. But of course only you can answer that question.

I guess I'm just saying that the core exercises are important for GPP, may help your point sparring but won't hurt it, and will help decrease bodyfat %. If that isn't worth 15 min and some effort then that's your call, but I would keep it.

Also, as far as the newbie tip from Cressey about the 8-15 rep range, this is pretty much only for the first 4-8 weeks as the initial adaption starts and the CNS is capable of handling more weight. As you said, you have done a bodybuilding style training, so I would assume you're past this stage. However, you'll still make gains since you're relatively detrained, I just want to clarify the tip. You would get lots of good results from heavy training at this point, unlike a complete newbie.


Actually, I only asked the question about removing the core exercise for the sake of curiousity. In Staley's book, "the unnatural athlete", he has a program called "EDT for fat loss", and he does not include the core exercise. I just wanted to clarify the discrepancy between the book and the article.

The last (and only) time I went on a bodybuilding cycle was 2.5 years ago, and haven't done much bodybuilding since then. The mass seems to have stuck with me, despite bad nutrition (which I was not educated about at the time), and changing my training style. Actually, I was not really educated about bodybuilding at the time, and that cycle lasted only 2 weeks, yet I managed to gain a nice 5 lbs. of muscle. I guess you can chalk that up to youth.

So now, I'm not completely sure about my experiment with bodybuilding. Since I've only done 2 weeks, would I still get newbie gains? Or is a 2.5 year gap too big for any comeback-newbie gains? That's what I'll try and find out on the program.


It's NOT 1.5 hr long!!! the most you do is 3 15min zones anything over is out of Charles plan. 2/15 min zones are enough.


Thanks for the input guys. The program sounds great for me (I am interested in maintaining as much or all muscle while leaning out) It wouldn't seem to take 1.5 hours to me either. But isn't it the 3 15min zones in addition to sets and singles of the core exercise?


Yes it is additional to the singles. You do some warm-up sets, as many singles as you can in 15 min, take a 5 min break, do a 15 min PR zone, take a 5 min break, do another 15 min PR zone. Should be all done in under an hour.


PS Bearhawk is right - 2 PR zones each workout is plenty. If you are in good enough shape to do 3 PR zones as well as the singles, I doubt if your body composition needs any adjustment!


Only 2 PR zones in addition to the 15 minutes of singles? Doesn't Charles write about 3 PR zones in addition to the singles?
Could you please explain how you got 2, and not 3 PR zones?



Sounds good.