Staying fit during the riding season with Escalating Density Training

Jul 5, 2012 at 0:01
Jul 5, 2012
by James Wilson  
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With riding season in full swing time starts to become more of an issue for riders who want to keep up with their strength and conditioning programs. One of the worst things you can do is to stop strength training but you have to make some modifications in order to stay consistent. During times like this it is important to find the most efficient ways to train so that you can get the most results for the least amount of time invested.

One of the most efficient ways I've found to train during the riding season is through the use of a training method known as Escalating Density Training (EDT), which is a training program developed by a strength coach named Charles Staley. It uses a self paced (meaning that you rest as long as you need/ want to between exercises) circuit that you go through for a prescribed amount of time (usually 5-15 minutes). You then count how many reps you did for all of your exercises and record that number. Each time you train you try to do a few more total reps, which means that you do more work in the same time frame, which increases the “density” of the workout.

For example, if you had Single Leg Deadlift X 3-8 and Chin Ups X 3-8 for 10 minutes as your circuit, you would start with 3-8 single leg deadlift, rest as long as you wanted and then crank out 3-8 chin ups. Rest again and repeat the process for 10 minutes. At the end count how many total reps you did (all the Single Leg Deadlifts and all the Chin Ups added together) and record that number. Next time you train try to beat that number by a few reps.

Increasing the Density (which is the fancy word for Amount of Work Done) during a workout is an excellent way build strength and endurance in one efficient package. Just as with any other training method there are some compromises with this approach - meaning you don't want to do it all year long - but it is an excellent way to train during the riding season when efficiency in your workouts is the primary goal.

One thing to keep in mind with EDT circuits, though, is that you don't want to take any of your reps to failure. Stop a couple reps short of failure and you'll end up doing far more during by the end than if you try to go to failure on every set.

Here is a 2 day workout for you to use to try EDT circuits for yourself. Get this workout in 2-3 days per week, allowing for at least a day of rest between workouts and rotating between Workout A and Workout B each time you train.

Workout A

Circuit #1 - 10 minutes
Single Leg Deadlift X 3-8 reps per leg
Chin Up X 3-8 reps

Circuit #2 - 10 minutes
Push Up X 5-20 reps
Kettlebell Swings X 10-20 reps

Workout B

Circuit #1 - 10 minutes
Single Leg Squat X 3-8 reps per leg
Split Stance Shoulder Press X 3-8 reps per arm

Circuit #2 - 10 minutes
Turkish Get Up X 3 reps (switch sides each rep)
Hanging Leg Raise X 5-15 reps

There you have it, a simple workout that will take less than 30 minutes to complete but will help you stay strong and fit. If you have any questions about this workout feel free to post them below and I'll do my best to answer them.

MTB Strength Training Systems is the world leader in integrated performance training programs for the unique demands of mountain biking. As the strength and conditioning coach for World Cup Teams and 3 National Championships, his programs have been proven at the highest levels. James has helped thousands of riders just like you improve their speed, endurance and skills on the trail. Visit to sign up for the free Trail Rider Fundamentals Video Mini-Course.

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  • + 3
 Where (or how) can I find all of these training write ups? I can find some, but I'm pretty sure that I am missing a few (the shoulder exercise for an instance). Smile
  • + 1
 You can find such exercises on youtube. The thing is it is good to have instruction how to execute certain exercise. Not only doing it right is more challenging but also gives better results and helps avoiding injury. You can also buy his program, you'll find plenty of good info in it along with exercise demos.
  • + 3
 True. By the way, all of these training write ups can be found on James' profile (under the blog section). Smile
  • + 1
 Thx for the post James, I always enjoy your content and I encourage others to check out his profile. Alot of useful content there aswell. One day I might try those sandbag work outs.
  • + 3
 all I have heard is good things about sandbag work outs
  • - 2
 no comments? Anybody here? Oh they went to XX1 thread Smile

Anyways thanks for posting James!

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