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  • Writer's pictureKevin Mullins

More Muscle Growth: More Density

The quest for building muscle can be a long and daunting one. Even if you have no aspirations of looking like Phil Heath, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or even your favorite pro-athlete you WANT be trying to gain some muscle mass. Everyone.

It doesn't matter if you are trying to put five pounds or fifty pounds of muscle on your frame. It is going to take a lot of work, proper planning, and a lot of food.

A lot of food.

Seriously, a lot.

This article isn't about the dietary aspects of building muscle though. In fact, this piece is going to give you a new way of attacking your workouts that will likely lead to a new boost in your muscle growth, and maybe even some fat loss if you aren't actively eating surplus calories!

Even if you aren't trying to be the biggest person in the room chances are you want to be dense. As in rock-hard, tight muscles that look good with or without clothes!

Don't be small and douchey

I haven't met many people, male or female, who WANT to be soft. Truth is, when someone DOES express a desire to "avoid muscle" it is because of pre-concevied notions reinforced by a bunk media industry that has them picturing themselves going from scrawny to incredible hulk in just a few lifts.

Before I dive into the actual meat and potatoes of this post I want to tell you three quick reasons WHY you want to be gaining case you still feel some trepidation.

1. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. It burns more calories at rest and during exercise, which often lends itself to leaner, more fit bodies.

2. Muscle provides shape to the body. Strong shoulders and triceps give defintion to the arms, while developing hamstrings and glutes can make your backside look impressive (including you fellas out there).

3. Muscle is strong. Fat is not. Weak people get hurt more often. In fact, it has been studied that people with more muscle mass are often more capable of fighting off the common cold due to their increased metabolic rate and overall health.

What is Training Density

If we want more dense muscle than our training must also increase in density!

Density is essentially a four factor variable if you were to look at your training as a math equation.

In training you have 4 variables that you can manipulate at any given time. They are:

1. Load (AKA weight that you are lifting)

2. Repetitions (How many times you lift said load in a given set)

3. Sets (How many groupings of a particular exercise are you doing)

4. Time (How long is a muscle under tension? How long are your rest periods?)

It can be argued that exercise variety and selection itself is a variable too, but for the purposes of density it is less critical to discuss.

Training Density factors in all 4 of these variables when equating. The goal is to be able to accomplish MORE WORK (Load x Reps x Sets) in LESS TIME.

For example:

Let's say you lift 100 pounds for 10 reps and 3 sets. It took you 6 minutes to complete this. Here is the math:

100 pounds x 10 repetitions = 1,000 pounds per set (x 3 sets) = 3,000 total pounds lifted

3,000 pounds / 6 minutes = 500 pounds per minute

On the contrary, let's say you still lift 100 pounds for 10 reps and 3 sets, but complete it in 3 minutes.

3,000 pounds / 6 minutes = 1,000 pounds per minutes

As you can see you DOUBLED your density by halving your time...and were still able to lift the same weight for the same reps and sets!

This puts the body under more metabolic stress, revs up fat-burning, and can jump start new muscle growth by either decreasing the amount of time you are breaking down muscle..and giving you more time to feed, rest, and grow those muscles! OR, you can keep working out the same amount of time, but be able to induce even more stress to the working muscles.

Think about it...take your same hour that you always have...but instead of texting your friends about drinking this coming weekend, taking selfies in good lighting, or talking to other can actually work out hard! That's how the magic happens.

When focusing on training density it is important to focus your efforts on the major lifts such as the deadlift, squat, row, bench press, and overhead press. While density is useful for any exercise, most benefits will arise from pushing the limits of the compound lifts.


The point of workout density is to get more work done in less time. This allows you to adopt a get-in, work-hard, and get-out philosophy that allows you to build quality muscle mass without having to spend endless amounts of time in the gym.

Even if you aren't trying to save time, you can adopt training density as a way of getting MORE WORK done in the same amount of time you normally spend in the gym. You could find yourself doing extra exercises, additional sets, or mixing in your mobility, and accessory work!

Put that cell phone back in your pocket, and start lifting with more density. Maybe then, you'll have more muscle!


Keep Reading with Kevin's book - Day by Day: The Personal Trainer's Blueprint

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