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Density Giant Set Training: Maintain Muscle During Fat Loss

Average: 4.2 (189 votes)
4.2 5 189
The density set training system is a perfect workout for someone looking to drop fat, hold on to muscle, and train hard and heavy. Each session is brief and intense, but extremely effective!

Workout Summary

Main Goal:
Lose Fat
Workout Type:
Split
Training Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week:
3
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Medicine Ball
Target Gender:
Male & Female
Author:

Workout Description

Density trainingMax Out and Cut Fat

I hear it every time I ask someone their opinion on fat loss.  I see it every time I go online.  Looking to lose fat? Cardio, cardio and more cardio!  Well I have a problem with that, and I think every other muscle-bound guy out there does as well.  I don’t like killing myself on the stationary bike in the gym while wearing a garbage bag and having the thermostat cranked up into the triple digits.

Also, another problem I have with this method, is the loss of muscle size and strength during cutting phases.  So why not lose some fat while lifting heavy?  I’ve devised a density program to reduce or eliminate strength and size loss during a hardcore cutting phase by placing emphasis on the powerlifts.

I promise, you won’t have to touch an elliptical, treadmill, or stationary bike.  This program should be a favorite among heavy lifters because it allows you to have a max effort on a powerlift every day, even though it’s a cutting cycle. Because of its uniqueness and difficulty to adapt to, you may even see gains in size and strength while simultaneously cutting fat.

This program is designed as a full body workout with emphasis on a powerlift each day.

Core work is not included, but can be done as a warm up or cool down.  However, stay away from erector muscles, they get plenty of training during the actual workout, and any more activity may lead to overtraining and injury.

A sample day may look like this:

  • 5 Minute Dynamic Stretching/ General Warm Up (Done to stretch muscle fibers while raising heart rate)
  • 5 Minute Specific Warm Up (Ex. Bench on bench day, etc…)
  • Max Effort 1RM on Powerlift
  • 5-10 Minute Core Work
  • Density Workout
  • 5 Minutes Static Stretching/Cool Down

Constructing the program for you:

  • Each of the powerlifts should be done at 80% of your 1RM.
  • Assistance exercises should be done with 70-75% of your 1RM (possibly more or less depending on your strengths and weaknesses).
  • When med balls are called for, use a weight you are comfortable with, if the med ball is too light, you might not receive benefits of that exercise; too heavy, you may be placing emphasis on the wrong muscle groups, or you may experience too much joint stress.
  • During the max effort portion, don’t make any more than three attempts at a lift, this will too greatly hurt performance in the later density circuit.

Rules of the Program

  • Plyometric/bodyweight exercises can be done with dumbbells if an exercise feels too light.
  • Weights should not be increased throughout the program unless a weight feels drastically too light/too heavy.
  • Exercises in the program should be repeated through for 25 minutes NO MORE, NO LESS.
  • Each exercise in the set should be done back to back, any rest needed should be taken between sets.
  • The goal is to add a set done every time through the workout.
  • Separate each workout by at least a day to avoid overtraining.
Day 1
Bench Press Day
Exercise Reps
Bench Press 5
Push Up 20
Push Press 10
Medicine Ball Jump Snatch 15
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 10
Chest Dip 15
Day 2
Deadlift Day
Exercise Reps
Deadlift 5
Back Extension 20
Barbell Curl 10
Close Grip Chin Up 15
Dumbbell Lunge 10
Split Squat 15
Day 3
Squat Day
Exercise Reps
Squat 5
Tuck Jump 20
Upright Row 10
Inverted Row 15
ATG Front Squat 10
Dumbbell High Pulls 15

So there it is.  If you want to lose some fat, put down the cell phone and stop texting for 25 minutes to get in the best shape of your life.  You’ll look better, and still be able to bench an impressive load.  Try this program for a month or two, and then come back and do it again the next time you want to lose a little fat.  Have fun maxing out on the powerlifts, but be ready to sweat your ass off when it’s time to work.

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    Average: 4.2 (189 votes)
  • About The Author
    Although a swimmer at the division 2 level, John’s passion lies in weight training, from bodybuilding to powerlifting, as well as Olympic lifting and all forms of training.
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Comments (424)

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 20:41

see above comment

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Corey
Posted Sun, 11/06/2011 - 22:10

Hi i have a question about the dieting going with this exercise. How many calories, carbs, and protein should i consume while doing this routine? Im trying to cut about 15 lbs while still maintaining muscle(if at all possible continue bulking).

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 20:46

That is a lot to try to do simultaneously, to lose fat, i suggest about 15x your lean body weight should equal total daily calorie intake. Ex. 150 lean bodyweight x 15 = 2250 calories. So fill in your lean body weight (weight without fat) and then if that is too much or too little adjust accordingly

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Joe
Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 16:51

Can I do this routine 3 days in a row, have thursday as my off day, then repeat again?

So in other words, lift 6x a week, 1 off day being thursday/monday as it'll vary.

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 19:55

That sounds perfect. Just make sure you're up for it and are not overworking.

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Harrison04
Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 19:49

I'm starting this tomorrow!! I'm psyched! I'm 41 yrs old and have workout all my life until the last 3 months. Getting back into and this looks like the perfect way to start!! So, you recommend doing cardio on the days in between the circuit?

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Pat Unida
Posted Mon, 11/07/2011 - 20:25

can i take any supplements?
such as creatine, whey protein, and BCAAs?

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Michael
Posted Wed, 11/09/2011 - 19:59

So im soppose to do all the workouts with the max amount of weight i can? and do i add more weight next workout?

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 19:58

Yes, and add only more weight if you think you'll be able to successfully complete the rep.

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Ronnie
Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 03:52

Dear John,

That is a great workout but i need ur help with my workout, I m 27, 174 lbs, i use to workout regularly but left it around 25. Had gained around 15 lbs around waist, stomach n chest. My arms and legs are perfect in shape till BUT THE BELLY FAT IS HUGE. I started exercising a month back to lose the tummy fat n waist, trying the high intensity, after burn workouts..my routine: 15 mins treadmill (inclined/steady speed), free body movements, bench press(x3), dumbell bench press(3 reps), Lying Fly(3), straight arm pullover(3), incline bench press(3),bicep curls (3), barbell bicep curls (3), two arm tricep extensions (3) and do the same routine 5 days a week and 8-10 secs rest in between sets and reps.
MY QUESTION IS..WILL this WORKOUT WORK ON ME, WILL IT BURN THE FAT? SHOULD I CHANGE ANYTHING IN THE ROUTINE, SHOULD I WORKOUT ON ALTERNATE DAYS TO PREVENT MUSCLE FATIGUE.. pllllzzzzzz HELP ME ON THIS..GETTING MARRIED IN 9 MONTHS AND WANT TO LOOK GOOD.

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 20:05

Okay, I can definitely help here. And I will start by saying this is a great workout for this. If you're looking for fat loss, and you have as decent of a body as you say you do, I'd suggest eliminating the powerlifting portion and extend the main density portion. You should work up to it though. I'd say add a minute every week. Make sure you are pushing yourself. I'm currently working on a dieting article that will be coming to the website soon to help with fat loss. Just keep the intensity up and the results will follow. I'd do the workout 3 days in a row, then take off a day or two, then start over. I hope this has helped andcongrats on the wedding.

-John

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Ronnie
Posted Tue, 11/22/2011 - 02:14

Thank you so much John, this is of great help.

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Brian
Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 11:13

I will be starting this program next week and i have a question about the chin-ups?

Right now i can only complete aproximatly 6 BW reps at one time - so should i continue until i reach 15? My concern is if i do that i will not get in as much work on the other excerises.

One option i was thinking of was using the weight assisted chin up machine to achive the 15 all at one time and reducing the weight each week until i get to BW.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks.

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:47

Assisted chin ups are a great idea if you're struggling with body weight. Many would go right to lat pull downs as an alternative, but I frown on that as opposed to assisted chin ups. Do all 15, like you said, until you work up to body weight. Just make sure the assistance is low enough that its a struggle to get all 15.

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vinny
Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 15:31

this seems a bit light. are all of those just one set? i can see me being done in 30 mins? i need intense toning workouts, any ideas? i want to drop at least 20lbs i had always been in the gym, now i just want to cut.

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:49

You should go through the program as many times as you can in 25 minutes. This program is great for toning and works well with running, as i've used it like that in the past.

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Lee Ketchell
Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 16:20

What else can I do instead of doing a Medicine Ball Jump Snatch. Because the gym I go to doesn't have a medicine ball. Please help me. Thank you.

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 19:57

Just do an explosive jump from a deep squat position. You can also use plates or dumbbells.

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John O.
Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 10:26

Hey John. Thanks for setting this routine for us. I'm just coming off a bulking "cycle" and am interested in this routine as it looks like it allows for cutting and heavy lifting concurrently.

One question: If I did Days 1 and 2 on a Monday and Tuesday, and day 3 on a Thursday, would it be ok to add in some supplemental things on, say, Saturday? If I wanted to get some extra work in on my shoulders or triceps, for instance. Would you recommend that or do you think it'd screw up the flow of the routine you've created?

Thanks again!

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 11/29/2011 - 13:06

More work can definitely be better. This workout is just a template. As i always say, just listen to your body. If you're feeling more work on Saturday, feel free. When doing this program, i adapted it for myself where i would run on my off days so more work can be very productive.

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Mark Chavez
Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 12:27

I have been doing this routine for about 2 week now one day on one day off. Do you see any problem with hitting a heavy bag for about 20 min twice a week on off days?

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 11/16/2011 - 11:51

I love the use of boxing equipment as a form of upper body cardiovascular activity! If you're going to be so ambitious as to add heavy bag work to the off days, go for it! If you wanted to even do better than that, I suggest heavy bag work, along with running.

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Scott
Posted Thu, 11/17/2011 - 12:59

John,

The Front Squat isn't a movement I'm too familiar with. Would substituting with a Smith Machine Front Squat have too big of a negative effect on the Squat day?

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 11/18/2011 - 10:16

I'm personally very adamant against using smith machines. If you're not ready to do a barbell front squat, I'd suggest using kettlebells which would provide a low weight and help your body adapt to the movement of the front squat quickly.

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kaycee
Posted Fri, 11/18/2011 - 01:57

Nice work John....its nice that u pay attention to ppls problems by answering their questions quickly *thumbs up* and ur article is great...

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 11/18/2011 - 10:18

Thanks, I appreciate the support.

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Ty
Posted Fri, 11/18/2011 - 08:31

i wnat to cut up in a month, im trying to look for a diet plain and workout that will help.. would this help me?

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 11/18/2011 - 10:17

This workout is ideal for those trying to lose weight and hold on to strength. It sounds like a good match for you.

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Ron
Posted Tue, 11/22/2011 - 12:18

Hi, how do you feel about running on the same day of this workout? I understand that weights before running is the best for weight loss. any advice?

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 11/23/2011 - 09:46

Running Is always great. No matter your goals. I'd just suggest varying the distance and terrain of your runs every day. Besides that, I wouldn't worry about any overlap in training or any problems you might come across combining the weight training and running. Just make sure you know your limits and don't overtrain.

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tonyuk
Posted Sun, 11/27/2011 - 10:54

Hi, this is an amazing program and I've been using it for the last one week. However, there's one major problem. My gym is quite busy and rarely is a bench free. I'm always asking someone to let me do a quick set, but when it comes to the bench press this is difficult, as there are always quite a few guys using it with heavy weight. So last time I used the Smith machine, although I know I need to avoid it. Are there any other free weight alternatives for bench press exercises? Another question, can I reduce the weight during the workout if it feels too heavy to complete the set? Many thanks

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 11:06

A reduction in a weight can be a good thing. If you feel it is too heavy, it is always better to get every rep with a lower weight, then a higher weight for less quality reps. Instead of the bench press, I'd say a military press. This allows you to use the bench and still train the upper body with a big compound movement.

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tonyuk
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 17:44

Thank you John, you're absolutely brilliant!

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Mason
Posted Tue, 11/29/2011 - 03:07

Im 14 and im trying to workout and lift for baseball. I was wondering should I use lighter weight and do more reps or do heavier weight with less reps? I'm trying to get cut and build lean muscle, not trying to get big and bulky.

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 11/29/2011 - 13:08

Do the reps as listed. This program isn't necessarily designed for growth and size. So follow the workout as is with the weights and reps. If the weights are too heavy, feel free to lower them to achieve more sets in the allotted time.

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Turk
Posted Tue, 11/29/2011 - 12:45

John love this workout did day one and feel so pumped today...i have been working out over 20 years this has to be one of the best workouts I have ever done....look forward to my results...you should maybe let people put up before and after photos....appreciate that you take the time out to respond to us LITTLE PEOPLE.....few questions im 38 years old 5'9" 212lbs normally around 190-195lbs nice looking physique when in shape have been lazy lately have an anatomy class that is a killer but anyway....just started cardio....i do on treadmill at 15 degree incline 3.5 to 4.0 mph for 30 minutes....burn anywhere 500 to 600 calories...is it okay to do this on my days i workout and on my off days as well? i plan on doing the workout mon, wed, fri, and dont want to tues, and thurs cardio and doing abs and calves...will this be okay dont want to over train...trying to get my 8 pack back? also how long of a rest period should i take after doing all of the exercises ex: after doing dips on day 1 should i rest 1 min or 2 min before i start bench press i dont rest when doing the circuit go straight thru..my rest is when im walking to the other machine....last question can you post another 3 day workout i like to change up every 4 to 6 weeks....thanks look forward to your reply

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:51

Sorry it took so long to respond. I'm going to say to you what i say to most people when they ask me about supplemental training, just follow your body. So if you feel you can train more, go ahead and train more, it'll offer you nothing but good things. But as soon as you feel like you shouldn't push anymore, stop. Then maybe its time to reduce the workouts. When going through the cycle, don't worry about a set time between the dips and bench press. Just go when you feel you can successfully complete all of the repetitions. If you want a set time, id say start at where ever you feel comfortable i.e. 1 minute, and try to reduce it by 10-15 seconds until you get down to just the time of switching machines like you would between other exercises.
Hope this helped.
-John

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Tim
Posted Sun, 12/04/2011 - 06:39

Hey John. I think I am going to give this a go but I have a couple of questions.

Every time I switch stations I have to fiddle with the bars (change the weights etc) or wait do you think some variation of this could be designed where you are using the weight for all the exercises?

what days would you put in a powerclean and a snatch.

What do you think about reversing the order of the bodyweight exercise with the heavy one so that the bodyweight one acts as a warmup. For example doing the jump squats before the heavy squat.

Thanks in advance.

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 12/07/2011 - 11:58

To answer your first question, i suppose it could be done in a fashion where all weights are the same. This would be a form of a barbell complex which has its strengths and weaknesses. One thing I don't like about it is the chain of exercises have to be done at a weight low enough so that it accommodates for the weakest body part, which leaves bigger groups untrained.
Powerclean and snatches should be done on the lower body specific days, because they are, although full-body encompassing, lower body exercises. I would pair Power cleans on deadlift day and snatches on squat day, because here they best replicate those movements.
Switching the exercises is an interesting concept, and if you feel that you could do those exercises easily enough so that they don't tax the muscles for the weighted movements, then i suppose no harm is done.

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Dylan
Posted Mon, 12/05/2011 - 18:11

I was just wondering what an ideal calorie intake while on this program would be. I understand everything from your directions just am not too good with dieting

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:03

It all depends on your body composition. Personally, I say eat when you feel you should eat and don't when you don't think you should. Your body is far too complex to satisfied by some caloric formula.

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Alfonso Navarro
Posted Tue, 12/06/2011 - 01:10

What does the ideal meal plan look like for someone thats on this workout plan?

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John Matulevich
Posted Wed, 12/07/2011 - 12:04

That depends on your body. Eat when hungry and don't when not.

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Scott
Posted Fri, 12/09/2011 - 14:56

Hey fellas, just wanted to leave my two cents on this after running the program for 2-3 weeks:

Feels very lower-body centered to me. Bench day leaves me blasted, but lower body looks like it gets the better amount of the work for the other two days. Squat day is by far the most challenging, always seems to really destroy my quads. I personally feel the back muscles don't get quite as much attention as I would prefer, however when considering the goal (cutting/fat loss while retaining muscle) I think it is overall better to focus on the lower body and heavier lifts. They really get the blood pumping.

The main difficulty with this program lies in logistics of implementing it into a public gym. There are almost always SOME minute change that has to be made on the fly (I have to spend almost two minutes every Deadlift set walking from the big weight room to the upstairs where there is acceptable equipment to do back extensions on, therefore I give myself an extra 2 or 3 minutes on that day)

Overall, John, I love the program so far. It's extremely challenging. I'm continuing the program for a total of six weeks. More progress reports to come. Great work!

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 20:19

Thanks for the support.

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Darren Moore
Posted Sat, 12/10/2011 - 07:08

I am tall and slimmer built, I have a little fat around my midsection that I've been trying to get rid of for 6 months now. I guess that’s a part of turning 40. I want to tone up and add a little more muscle while trimming the fat around my midsection. I am certainly going to give this program a try – thank you for posting this!

I've been in boot camp class for 3 days a week for the past 6 months and I am not seeing the results I want. So I am going to cut my boot camp to 1 day a week and add this program.

Question about diet while on this plan...I've been eating 5 to 6 meals a day for the past 6 months. Of course I've cheated from time to time and maybe for a week while on vacation. Can you shed more light on what we should be eating? I know protein is King and carbs are a no no.

Typically this is what I eat daily. What’s your thoughts on my diet?

4:30 am -pre workout – glass of water, banana or protein bar

6:30 am – post workout – protein shake made with 2 cups of organic spinach, 8oz of filtered water, ¼ cup blueberries, 2oz Acai berry, 1 tbls flax seed oil (sometime I will substitute organic almond butter instead of flax seed oil), 1 scope of protein power (30 grams), 4 to 5 cubes of ice. (I know the spinach sounds gross but TURST me it’s not. You don’t even taste the spinach at all, it’s a good way to get your greens in for the day. But just make sure you have a good blender(I use the Nija and it works GREAT!) and blend the spinach and water first to help liquidify the spinach then add all your other goodies)

9:00 am – eat hand full of almonds and an apple

11:30 am – protein bar

1:30 pm – lunch (turkey sandwich, or ground turkey with small amount of pasta)

3:30 pm – mid snack – cheese and crackers, almonds or I will sometime make a double batch of my post workout protein shake and bring it work for my mid afternoon snack.

6:30 – Dinner – fish, or turkey sandwich, or chicken with vegetables.

Also I will drink 64 oz of water throughout the day. I buy a case of 64 oz size water and take one to work everyday and I finish it before I leave. I feel like I need to have a catheter on because I have to go pee all day long! I think just getting up going to the restroom is a workout itself. Maybe that is the real reason why they say if you drink lots of water you’ll lose weight….LOL just kidding.

My challenge is I get bored real easy with my food choices and would love to hear what everyone else eats and if I should change up my plan. I think I am eating too many almonds! LOL

I am hitting the gym first thing tomorrow with this plan.

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 20:23

Some of your meals are similar to mine. I think the eating is great. Id say more than anything eat lots of fish. Supplements are great and all but only get you so far. I'd say give this workout a go and ill be posting more in the future for you to try.

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omar hobeika
Posted Sat, 12/10/2011 - 09:01

Hi John,
I have knees issues due to running and crossfit. I can't do lunges or any leg exercises that requires lots of bending. Your advice on alternative exercises is appreciated.

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 20:25

I'd stick away from hinging movements. Id try to substitute leg curls and hamstring isolation exercises in the place of hinge movements. but be sure to get plenty glute work to make up for the lost of bending movements and hamstring isolation such as running and squats.

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Asif
Posted Sat, 12/10/2011 - 22:08

Hi, friends i am new here and my weight is 65 will this exercise lose only unnecessary fat from my belly and built ripped chest can i use nutritional supplements during the period.thanx plz rply

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