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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, 12/19/2011 - 20:27

This will be a good workout. I'd stick to protein and creatine as your main supplements.

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zac
Posted Sun, 12/11/2011 - 01:32

hey there,
what's dumbell pull? and isit very strictly have to stick with the reps of every exercise?

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 20:28

The reps are done in accordance to their importance and frequency in the workout. If you feel change is neccessary then go for it.

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Kellen
Posted Sun, 12/11/2011 - 04:16

I have a bit of a gut and am not very strong for a 20 year old. Is this workout still an effective starting point for both muscle build and fat loss as long as I don't overdo it and push myself too far? If not, what would you recommend? Thank you.

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 20:29

This is good because it adds in additional training factors most workouts dont consider such as time, intensity and combinations of bodyweight to weighted exercises. It can be a good starting point to get a solid strength and physique base.

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helpisneeded
Posted Mon, 12/12/2011 - 03:08

If i am 6'0 and 186 lbs looking to shred fat and still get stronger with minimal bulk is this for me?

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John Matulevich
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 20:30

More than likely yes, give it a go, if it doesnt work after a month move on. But give it time to see results.

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david
Posted Mon, 12/12/2011 - 04:53

i get the reps and the circuit...but how many sets do we have to perform?

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Kevin
Posted Sat, 12/17/2011 - 11:54

If you read the instructions and the comments you'll notice this question has been answered. It's a 25 minute work out. Rest between sets as needed. Complete as many sets as possible in the 25 minutes.

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Wayne
Posted Thu, 12/22/2011 - 15:03

This would be great if all the stations were in one spot. My gym is busy so it's tough to put 3-4 stations on hold while running from spot to spot for 25 minutes. ;-(

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:46

You can also just use this as a template by finding what your gym has available and planning it accordingly to match similar exercises in the workout to keep the intensity and tempo high while still targeting the appropriate muscle groups.

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Robert
Posted Thu, 12/22/2011 - 18:40

I hurt my ankle and I cant do the squats properly do to pain. What would be a good alternative to doing them??

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:47

There are many things that can be done instead of squats but it depends on the injury type. A hack squat on the machine is a good alternative or leg press.

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Just Me
Posted Fri, 12/23/2011 - 10:30

Just finished Day 1...
This routine ain't no punk!

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MikeOH99
Posted Mon, 12/26/2011 - 20:52

starting it tomorrow. thanks for the warning! lol

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Nick
Posted Mon, 12/26/2011 - 19:11

Great workout - leaves me feeling accomplished! Question, I'm trying to stay away from Dead Lifts and Squats to help a bulging L5/S1 disc heal (may not ever really be able to do those types of heavy lifts again). Can you suggest alternatives? Thanks!

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:51

Possibly leg presses depending on the injury. As far as deadlifts, do deficit dead lifts from a box with a hexagonal bar. That way the weights are significantly lower and less tension on the back while still working the appropriate muscles in the same movement pattern

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MikeOH99
Posted Mon, 12/26/2011 - 20:58

I am pretty excited to begin this after work tomorrow. I am not looking forward to the New Years Resolution crowding that will start next week and this looks like something i can beat the crowd with as well as lose my Holiday Chub.

Currently i'm 6'1"/200lbs. My chest, lower back and stomach are in the poorest shape. With a smart diet i'm hoping for positive response come February....!

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:52

Best of luck to you. This should do the job. Feel free to comment with results after you finish the cycle.

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Cbusby
Posted Thu, 12/29/2011 - 10:32

For the moment I cant do 15 chin up, is there something I can do instead? or would you suggest to do them negatively, keep control on the lowering part.

I am 6,4 235lbs and need to loose some fat, i have 27%bf, will this routine help or should I add cardio to it?

thanks

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:55

As long as you keep the intensity high, this should be a good place to start. After the first week or two, if you feel more is necessary, add in some running, or whatever. Just don't jump the gun and put too much on your plate at once. You want to avoid overtraining which can cause injuries, which can take you out of working out for a long time. so just ease into it.

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Tracy
Posted Thu, 12/29/2011 - 14:22

I'm always looking for new routines to supplement my diet. I'm currently on the Isagenix 30 day cleanse and I've lost significant weight, but I'd also like to add some muscle, so thank you.

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 11:57

Thanks and good luck.

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louise
Posted Fri, 12/30/2011 - 02:09

Can someone please explain this?? THNX. =)

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).

-I really don't understand on what it means. =(

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:00

Sorry if it seems a little complicated, but its quite simple. Say your bench press 1 rep max is 200 pounds, then you would take 200 x .8 = 160 and that would be your working weight for the reps. So to calculate the correct weights, you need to know the highest weight you can do for one rep. You can also be less scientific about it if you'd like and just guestimate.

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louise
Posted Fri, 12/30/2011 - 02:15

Sorry for the double post, can I use dumbbells instead of med balls? I don't own a med balls. =)

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:01

Dumbbells can be easily implimented into the program in exchange for medballs.

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Pago
Posted Fri, 12/30/2011 - 18:13

Hey John,
Just a quick question, I work 12 till about 9 or 10 at night everyday of the week for the next 3 weeks, is it better to do the workout in the morning before I go to work or after I get back at night.

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:03

Definitely in the morning, it raises your metabolism all day and burns more fat. However, if this doesnt work, or you feel too fatigued during the day after workouts, it doesn't hurt to workout at night.

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Pago
Posted Sun, 01/01/2012 - 04:09

Just a quick question, if we are following this workout plan in order to lose weight and gain muscle bulk, what should our diet consist of?

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:04

It all depends on the body. Make simple healthy decisions, and eat when your body tells you to

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Steve G
Posted Mon, 01/02/2012 - 19:52

Hi
My question to you the upright row and the dumbbell high pulls. They are basically the same exercise right? What makes them different? Thanks

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:06

They do work close to the same movement but the dumbbell high pulls work the same movement pattern along with the rest of the body in a plyometric movement which promotes higher force production in the same group of muscles.

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Chris
Posted Wed, 01/04/2012 - 23:08

I Have 2 questions first will this help me with fat loss and if so how much can i expect to lose? and Is there a certain age that you have to be to do this

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John Matulevich
Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 13:22

Any age 13+ can benefit from high intensity training like this. And the weight loss can vary based on intensity and diet.

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Adam
Posted Sat, 01/07/2012 - 18:29

John,

I have been reading these comments, and couldn't find the answers to my questions, so here they are. When doing split squats/dumbell lunge is it 15 reps per leg or 15 reps split between legs so 7 each? Also for the dumbbell high pulls, do I do them at the same time (both arms) or is a single arm motion, 15 each arm? I have tried both, and find the single arm works better, but just thought I would check. Lastly, the 1RM, does that mean for bench/squat/deadlift, we only do one rep at 100%, then move on to the next exercise, or are we doing 80% of our 1RM 5 times (reps)? Again, I have been doing 80% of my 1RM 5 times. Some clarity on these issues would be appreciated.

Other than that, it has been a great work out so far..keeps me sweating..Cheers!

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:01

I'm going to answer your questions as best as i can so just take the info out of my response here as I do my best. !5 reps each leg on splits, High pulls are meant to be done both arms at once, but switching it can be beneficial. If you want to do a good explosive db movement, a single db snatch could be another replacement. Then 80% 1rm for 5 reps.
Thanks for the support

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Robert
Posted Sun, 01/08/2012 - 02:14

Do you think it would be a bad idea to do Day 1,2,3,off,1,2,3,off. Or would that be over doing it since each day has slight over lap of muscles done.

Cheers mate.

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:04

I have done both variations so this comes down to personal preference. Many times with my clients i suggest a certain amount of individualizing to my workouts. Everyone knows their own body better than I would. So maybe you could try each different weeks and get a feel for it. It also depends on your goals. I have found the back to back days work better at burning fat and days between work better at keeping strength, however both ways complete both goals, just in different ratios. Sorry for the delay.
-John

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Risha
Posted Sun, 01/08/2012 - 08:38

My goal is to lose about 15-20 pounds in 2-3 months. Do you think I could reach this goal with this workout? I weigh about 160 as of now.

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:06

Definitely. I am in a similar situation to you. When i first conceived this program, I was 172 trying to hit 150. I went down to 149 after some pretty substantial diet cuts and this program in a little over a month. If you don't change the diet as much as i did, it is still very plausible to drop the weight in a time period of 2-3 months.
-John

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Phil
Posted Sun, 01/08/2012 - 09:49

I have two questions, I can't do 15 chin-ups, so i was wondering if there was another exercise i could substitute....also, the gym i work out in doesn't have the back extension machine so could i replace that with a different exercise also?

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:10

Instead of back extensions, you can do deadleg deadlifts (stiff leg), also, for chin-ups, you can do inverted rows, which is where you lay parallel to the ground under a low lying bar and pull yourself up with your feet placed on a chair, bench etc.
-John

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craig
Posted Mon, 01/09/2012 - 10:52

Going to start this routine tonight but just have a couple of quick questions.

A medicine ball jump snatch. I understand what it is from reading the other comments and replies, but just s little unsure of one thing. When you are raising the ball over head, are you swing it out in front of you and then over head? Or is it a from ground to chest and then pressing it kind of motion?

The dumbell high pulls. Never heard or seen this before. So you deadlift the weight and then do an upright row kind of motion. Am I aiming to do it all in one fluid motion (getting the weight up to shoulders all while still doing the deadlift aspect), or do I deadlift and then do the upright row portion once I am standing upright?

What's a tuck Jump?

I'm also just a bit confused after reading the "a sample day may look like" and "constructing the program for you". Is this workout meant to be just done at the 25 minute circuit, or is it meant to be done like the sample day? ex the 1RM lift followed by the circuit workout?

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:14

1. The ball goes directly to overhead without a pause at the chest
2. High pulls are a fluid explosive motion similar to a clean with out the wrist flick/weight transfer
3. Tuck jump is a jump from a standing motion where you just vertically and pull your legs up to your core while in the air.
4. Its a 25 minute circuit with additional work outside of the workout for strength.

Hope this helped,
-John

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craig
Posted Tue, 01/31/2012 - 15:20

Excellent. This helped perfectly. I had already started this routine and have been doing it for three weeks now. This first month has been trying to fine tune the weights and everything for myself. It is feeling great so far. I am back on a different routine this week just due to my schedule and time available to me this week (2 day workout routine). It's a routine I was doing before and for the most part I do actually find the weights I was doing in that routine just a few weeks ago already seem a lot easier.

Your routine is beating the crap out of me. I don't think I will have any issue with losing any strength. If anything this will probably even help me gain some strength. Not seeing much in weight loss yet, but midesction is already looking better. Thanks for the great routine.

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abdul hafeez rabbani
Posted Mon, 01/09/2012 - 16:05

my exercise regime is as this:
20 reps squats-40kg (5 sets)
12 reps deadlifts-50kg (5 sets)
10 reps incline bench press-40kg (3 sets)
10 reps flat chest press-40kg (3 sets)
i take one day rest in between exercise days.

and i keep in check my diet,i wanted to know if this enough to lose
weight ?

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:16

You should definitely add in more hardcore back work. If the intensity is high, it should do a decent job, along with a very well-tuned diet, in weight loss.

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Steve G
Posted Wed, 01/11/2012 - 17:52

Hi
My question is why are there not alot of back excercises in this routine. No lat pulldowns or rows of any kind. What is the reason? Thanks

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John Matulevich
Posted Tue, 01/24/2012 - 13:20

First of all, lat pull downs are a garbage exercise. Secondly, the reason for the lack of back exercises is that this program tries to consist of "bang for your buck exercises" more back work can be added, but the idea is to keep volume/intensity high with heavy weights while trying to lose weight and maintain strength, which together is hard enough. By adding in more back exercises you create a tertiary goal of back hypertrophy which almost brings the goals of the program to a standstill by creating to many goals for such a program. Add some pull ups if you want more back work to help manage the lowering bodyweight better that is created by the cutting aspect of this program. Size, strength and fatloss can not exist simultaneously unless you're juicing or have the best genetics on the planet.
-John

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