Density Training For Fat Loss: No Cardio Required

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
February 9th, 2014
Updated: June 13th, 2020
407.2K Reads
Looking to torch fat but tired of boring cardio sessions? Try density training. This article features intense 20, 30 and 40 minutes twice a week fat loss workout sessions.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Brad Borland is a strength & conditioning specialist, cancer survivor and the founder of WorkoutLab.

You don’t need to do cardio to lose body fat! At least not the traditional, slow, steady and boring kind. There’s more than one way to strip the extra baggage and reveal a more impressive muscular physique faster than you thought possible.

Does this look like your usual training day: Lift weights for an hour, perform boring cardio for 30 to 45 minutes, pray the fat burns off and repeat?

This can become a bit of a slow repetitive cycle yielding little to no results. So, what’s the solution? More cardio? Longer training sessions?

Let’s do the opposite. Let’s shorten your training time, pack your training with only quality tactics and finally get into some serious freaking shape!

Enter Density Training

The principle of density training is nothing new. Many other cleverly-named systems propose similar training tactics but the common thread remains the same: pack your training with the most effective techniques possible, in a short period with minimal wasted time.

We’ve all heard of nutrient density: low calorie but highly nutritious food. Training density works the same way: more bang in less time.

Below are several programs for different lengths of time utilizing some of the most effective and time efficient techniques to finally get that physique you have toiled over for so long. Not for the faint of heart, these programs WILL get you results; you just have to be willing to put in the discipline and intensity required.

Density Training Cheat Sheet

You will be utilizing supersets, tri-sets, giant sets and staggered sets to shore-up any wasted time. Resting between straight sets will be a thing of the past. These specialized complexes require little to no rest between sets performing them back-to-back keeping not only your heart rate elevated but also your muscles will have to work in overdrive.

Reps will vary for not only variety but also to work every system of the muscle being worked. Strength, power, mass and endurance will be taxed.

Mostly compound moves will be used for more of a total-body training experience. Multi-joint compound moves work more muscle in less time. Isolating each and every muscle individually will take too much time and is too inefficient.

Pay very close attention to time. If a series of supersets requires a rest period be sure to adhere to that specified time accurately. You shouldn’t have time to check your texts or chat about Call of Duty.

Always warm-up properly and practice proper form and technique. When in doubt about a weight or hitting your target reps the best bet is to go slightly lighter in weight and perfect your form. Don’t get sidelined by being injured.

The majority of these programs are designed with the busy gym and equipment availability in mind. There is nothing worse than trying to superset a workout having to run from one end of the gym to the other in hopes that your station is still available.

Choose which program is best for you either by time available or your level of experience. If you are just beginning, choose one of the short programs to get started. As time goes on and you have mastered the shorter programs, step up and challenge the next level.

Try these programs on for size for around four to six weeks and then take a short break, assess your progress and start back up if you like.

The 20 Minute Half n’ Half

Perform each session twice per week.

Session 1
20 Minute Half n' Half
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Superset: Flat bench dumbbell press and two-arm dumbbell row 2x15 3x8-12 45
Superset: Standing dumbbell side lateral raise and seated dumbbell press   3x8-12 30
Superset: Standing dumbbell curl and one-arm overhead triceps extension   3x8-12 30
Superset: Lying leg raise and floor crunch   3x20 30
Session 2
20 Minute Half n' Half
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Superset: One-leg calf raise and box or squat jump 2x15 3x8-12 30
Superset: Barbell back squat and barbell stiff leg deadlift   3x8-12 60
Superset: Static barbell or dumbbell lunge and prisoner squat   3x8-12 60
Superset: Hanging leg raise and bent leg raise   3x20 30

Density Training

The 30 Minute Tri-Set Scorcher

Perform each session twice per week.

Session 1
30 Minute Tri-Set Scorcher
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Tri-set: Incline barbell bench press, Wide-grip pull-up and push-up 2x15 3x6-10 60
Tri-set: Front plate raise, dumbbell upright row and bent-over dumbbell rear lateral raise   3x6-10 45
Tri-set: Barbell curl, parallel bar dip and reverse barbell curl   3x6-10 45
Tri-set: Hanging leg raise, floor crunch and lying leg raise   3x20 30
Session 2
30 Minute Tri-Set Scorcher
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Tri-set: Squat jump, static lunge and one-leg calf raise 2x15 3x6-10 60
Tri-set: Barbell front squat, reverse lunge and dumbbell stiff leg deadlift   3x6-10 60
Tri-set: Bench step-up, farmer’s walk and incline board crunch   3x6-20 60

The 40 Minute Giant Killer

Perform each session twice per week.

Session 1
40 Minute Giant Killer
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Giant set: Feet-elevated push-up, close-grip pull-up, flat bench barbell press and bent-over barbell row 2x15 3x6-10 60
Giant set: Seated dumbbell shoulder press, seated dumbbell side lateral raise, bent-over dumbbell rear lateral raise, standing barbell military press   3x6-10 60
Giant set: Incline bench dumbbell curl, lying dumbbell nosebreaker, standing dumbbell hammer curl and diamond push-up   3x6-10 60
Giant set: Floor crunch, hanging straight leg raise, hanging bent leg raise and bicycle crunch   3x10 30
Session 2
40 Minute Giant Killer
Exercise Warm Up Sets Working Sets Rest
Giant set: Box or squat jump, bench step-up, one-leg calf raise and walking lunge 2x15 3x6-10 60
Giant set: Barbell or dumbbell stiff leg deadlift, front or back barbell squat, static dumbbell reverse lunge and static dumbbell front lunge   3x6-10 60
Giant set: Burpees with jump, farmer’s walk, hanging leg raise (hold) and planks   3x10 60
Posted on: Wed, 09/02/2015 - 16:40

Is this workout 2 days or 4 day?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 09/03/2015 - 11:03

4 days per week. Each one would be performed twice per week.

Posted on: Sun, 04/10/2016 - 22:39

2 quick questions. 1. In Session 1 of the 30 min set, do you rest between sets during a single superset? Or do you rest after you've completed 3 sets of the superset? Is there 3 rests or just one?
2. Do you perform session 1 on Monday & then session 2 on Tuesday?

Posted on: Sun, 03/29/2015 - 10:41

I did the superset routine for 4 weeks and the triset routine for 5 weeks and this is definitely not easy if you are truly pushing yourself for progressive overload, drug free and in a caloric deficit. The triset routine I would do upper/lower/rest/rest repeat. I counted the 4 workout sessions as one week. If I did not take the appropriate rest there is no way in hell I would have been able to keep progressing. Taking a break at this point to do something else and come back to the giant set routine to do for 6 weeks at some later point because my knees are completely burnt out at the moment

Posted on: Thu, 03/26/2015 - 20:52

Can i change Hanging leg raise and bent leg raise with anything else(for now)?
I'm 250 lb and i cannot hold my weight while hanging
I'm starting with 20 Minute Half n' Half and have no problems doing everything else

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 03/27/2015 - 10:44

Hi David, of course. Try lying leg raises....

Posted on: Mon, 03/23/2015 - 07:42


I have been doing this program for about 9 weeks. Actually, I just do the upper body portion on M/W/F, soccer T/Th/Sat/Sun, and racquetball on M/W. So far I have lost 15 lbs, going from 208 to 193 (I am 6ft 1in). I am thankful to have found this program. My question concerns the 40 min upper body routine. I am able to work out with no one else in my decently stocked work gym. I am able to finish this routine in 30 min, while sticking to the strict rest times. If I wanted to take the workout to the next level, should I do a fourth set of each exercise or should I add an exercise, making it a 5 super set routine, for three sets? FYI, I am already pushing 10 reps per exercise (abs excluded).


M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/23/2015 - 13:52

Hi Ryan, yes, you can actually do either. Whatever works best for you. Just monitor your progress - everyone is so different.

Posted on: Thu, 02/19/2015 - 20:04


Do each session twice a week...



Posted on: Fri, 03/13/2015 - 12:45

I think it might be better for your body if you were to do Session 1 on Monday & Thursday and Session 2 on Tuesday & Friday. At least that way you give your targeted muscles of each session some time to recover, and you avoid any potential injuries as well. However thats just my opinion.

Posted on: Sat, 01/24/2015 - 14:16

So, if its 2 days a week, can I combine it with another routine that's 3 days a week for better results?

joshua donovan
Posted on: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 16:47

Ok, so this is 6x/week not 2. One of each (20/30/40 min. session).

Posted on: Thu, 11/13/2014 - 19:32

Hi Brad, I have same question as Joe which wasn't answered and I'm confused about the rest too:

Posted Sat, 08/30/2014 - 21:04
I'm still not clear on the rest part. Do you do all three sets, then rest, or rest after each set? I've been doing all sets (3x6-10 as an example) then resting. Is that correct?"

Posted on: Thu, 11/06/2014 - 17:35

-Subtitle says "twice a week fat loss workout"
-4 workouts per week


Posted on: Fri, 10/17/2014 - 23:15

the rest times, is that in seconds and is it between sets or exercises?

Posted on: Fri, 09/26/2014 - 15:51

So... You do both sessions in one work out?

For example, on Monday, you do session 1 and session 2, and then repeat on Thursday?

Posted on: Sat, 09/06/2014 - 07:37

Can I do walk the plank of close grip pull up

Posted on: Thu, 09/04/2014 - 07:49

i like the concept, but designed for a crowded gym they are not. Take the triset. You expect anyone to farmers walk at a crowded gym is beyond me. specialized equipment and large space needed. Think you need to rethink what a crowded gym is like.

Posted on: Sat, 08/30/2014 - 21:04

I'm still not clear on the rest part. Do you do all three sets, then rest, or rest after each set? I've been doing all sets (3x6-10 as an example) then resting. Is that correct?

Michael Rogerson
Posted on: Fri, 08/22/2014 - 08:33

Can't recommend this enough. I have been doing the 30 minute tri set scorcher this week along with an extra cardio day on wednesday and followed this diet plan

I have lost 5.5 pound/ 2.5kg in 7 days. If you do the workout properly and eat right you will get results

Posted on: Fri, 08/15/2014 - 20:17

Hi Brad,
Just wondering if you could recommend a diet plan I could follow that's suitable for this workout routine.
Joe S.

Posted on: Wed, 07/23/2014 - 22:39

For the Tri-set scorcher, should the workout only take 30 mins? My fastest time through was 45mins while typically it takes me about 60 mins. I was hoping to use this workout to lose fat while still maintaining muscle mass. My rest periods are 60 seconds after each Tri-set. Please advise...

Posted on: Thu, 07/17/2014 - 17:52

Are you supposed to do all the exercises in the first group when warming up, or just the first exercise?

Posted on: Wed, 07/09/2014 - 22:30

There will be a total of four (4) workouts per week. Perform each session twice each week.

Posted on: Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:38

Hi Brad,
Been doing your workout, with good results, but I got bad hips and I'm 54 y.o. Is there anyway to modify the second part of the workout to help me?

Posted on: Thu, 06/26/2014 - 09:34

To Us OLDER Guys- I did the workout except the lower body stuff, which I replaced with walks because of my hips. I lost my weight, mostly fat. Went from 37.1 percent BF to 29.1 in 3 months. Bragging a little, but I took 1st place at work's weight loss contest, winning a 2 year Gym membership. Thanks Brad!

Posted on: Thu, 06/19/2014 - 10:00

I like the workout but im not sure I understand the timing instruction?

Twice a week as in each session on alternate days? or both in one day, twice a week?

Posted on: Tue, 06/10/2014 - 23:00

What is the warm up? Is it stretching or am I supposed to do the exercises but at a lighter weight?

Posted on: Sat, 05/24/2014 - 19:55

I am considering trying this out to lose 10 pounds. However, I have a slipped disc injury on my L5/S1 and I really want to avoid doing any squat or high impact exercise. Are there alternatives?

Posted on: Thu, 05/01/2014 - 18:21

I'm curious what the recommended rest is between sets? My wife and I just started the 20 Minute Half n' Half. For example we're doing the Barbell Press + Row, resting 45 seconds before next set.
What is recommended for a rest period after we finish the 3rd Dumbbell Press + Row set and move on to the next exercise of Lat Raise + Shoulder press?

Posted on: Fri, 05/02/2014 - 09:00

I would recommend 60-90 seconds in between. I am currently mixing the different sessions and try to keep my rests at 1 minute between the next superset, triset, or giant set.

Posted on: Mon, 05/05/2014 - 15:46

Thanks Tim. We started tracking it at a minute. It's damn tough.

Posted on: Wed, 04/23/2014 - 01:47

Was a warm up set done for each triset?

Posted on: Tue, 04/22/2014 - 21:17

Just out of interest,

Where he says perform each session 2 times a week, does he mean perform each of the 20 minute sessions twice a week on separate days?

If you were to do the Tri 30 minute killer sessions, twice per week, doing separate sessions on diff days?

Alot of the posts along here are quite confusing. Brad my man, help us out so we know what you're actually trying to convey :)

Posted on: Sun, 04/13/2014 - 20:15

so each exercise gets 3 working sets at 6-10 reps? With rest after 3 sets? How can you finish the giant killer in 40 minutes?

Posted on: Tue, 04/08/2014 - 04:37

A small question over here. How long do i perform the farmers' walk?

Posted on: Fri, 03/28/2014 - 05:11

I need to tone and lose fat, will this exercise do the job

Posted on: Mon, 03/24/2014 - 19:23

Suggested diet or calorie/protein intake while on this workout?

Posted on: Sun, 03/23/2014 - 16:54

Sorry, I just want to make sure the rest period is between exercises and not sets. That's what I am getting from reading your instructions anyway. Thank you :)

Posted on: Sun, 03/16/2014 - 00:28

So for the rest periods on the right, are those for between each exercise? Or between each group of supersets. For example, where it says bench press, wide grip, and push-up 60 seconds would I be resting 60 seconds in between each of those? Or 60 seconds before I moved on to the next set of exercises.

Paullus Nava
Posted on: Sun, 03/16/2014 - 22:35

Same doubt here. I wanna try this program, but it seems that's missing this information...

I'm betting on second answer, because of the explanation given at the beggining of the text. Hope somebody helps us

Posted on: Wed, 03/26/2014 - 17:03

Trisets are supersets with 3 exercises instead of two. That means you do those exercises in a row with no rest in between, so the 60 seconds are after each group of exercises, for example: Bench press then Wide grip then Push-ups in a row then 60 seconds rest then repeat.
I hope that helped.

Posted on: Thu, 03/13/2014 - 07:42

So how would one break this up each session 1 day per week (ie monday session 1&2 Wednesday 1&2 or Monday 1 Wednesday 2 ? Kinda confused

Posted on: Sat, 03/08/2014 - 06:00

Can I follow this routine only for upper body?

Posted on: Sun, 03/02/2014 - 23:59

I want to try this program to fullfill my objective which is to loss fat.

Posted on: Tue, 02/25/2014 - 16:41

Been doing this for about 2 weeks now and I only do a 60 second break after each set is done. Going from one workout to the next until finished and then taking a 60 second break. Then I repeat for 3 sets until one Giant set is done. Is this ok, or should I be resting for 60 seconds after each exercise?

Posted on: Mon, 02/24/2014 - 10:51

People this is not hard to understand or do each session twice per week session 1 monday and thurday...session 2 tuesday and friday...if you want to do extra cardio by all means do should not do other workouts at the same time as you are working each muscle twice a week already do not want to over work a muscle that has not healed...cheers!!

Posted on: Tue, 03/11/2014 - 14:10

That's completely wrong and no wonder people, including yourself, are getting confused. He states in quite a few places that this is a twice a week routine, also in the workout summary it states 2 days per week, so on this evidence it is quite clearly a two day routine. However he states to do each session twice per week, which I can only guess is just bad English and what he actually means by each session is to perform both sessions every week. It's definitely safer to assume that is the error he's made as it quite clearly states 2 days per week in the workout summary.

Posted on: Thu, 04/17/2014 - 19:09

It says "perform each session twice a week" and he has 2 sessions. That to me seems like there is a total of 4 workouts per week.

Posted on: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 00:46

Hi Brad Sir ,
Are these fat lose sessions are for intermediates as well ??