Increase your upper body strength & size with density training

A six week density training example for upper body size & strength

This article contains a 6-week upper body training process I have done in the past, it will work with any type of upper body exercises of your choices, preferably multi joint movements such as bench press, dips, military press. My choice here was the Kettlebell Clean & Press which is a great upper body size builder.

Increase your upper body strength & size with density training

One of the simplest ways to train without a complicated set and rep scheme, fancy percentages is to go density. Density training simply means you will do a certain amount of work under a specific time frame. And you strive to do more each week as you progress.

Increase your upper body strength & size with density training

For example you decided to train the kettlebell clean and military press today. You set a timer for 15 minutes and you go. You record your total reps when the timer stops. Next time you add more reps, when you couldn't add more reps you increase the weight.

This is as simple as it gets but now the complication starts.

Everyone will start to ask what rep ranges should they shoot for, when they should add weight, how long should you rest between attempts etc. One of the best things about this sort of training is you get to find all these out yourself. You learn to auto regulate which is probably the most important training attribute you can develop, to know your own body. The key is constant progress.

Increase your upper body strength & size with density training

For example:

First session of the C&P (Clean & Military Press) I used a pair of 40kgs for the exercise, I set the timer for 20 minutes. First set of the exercise I managed 10 reps, resting for a minute or so, I went at it for my second attempt and got 8 reps. I took another short break and only got 3 reps on my third attempt (or 3rd set). Which is fine, I decided I may be pushing the pace too quickly and not giving myself a chance to progress on the coming sessions, so I took a longer rest in between and only did sets of 3. Eventually I totalled 40.

So next session, I either try to total more than 40 reps or I try to up the weight, this will be dependent on what I consider to be a further progression. Let’s say I up the weight and used a pair of 44kgs.

Second session of the C&P, I decided to up the weight and do sets with the double 44kgs. I set the timer for 20 minutes again. This time I only managed to total 20 reps, a much lower number than 40 reps with the double 40kgs. But this is fine since I made the progression through heavier weights.

Third session of the C&P, I can either up the weight FURTHER, which I decided not to because that would mean even lesser reps. I could try to beat the number of 40 reps with the pair of 40kgs or the 20 reps of 44kgs. I decided not to, simply because I don't want to (Yes, it can be that simple, or I am trying to show another way to progress)

Fourth Session of the C&P, I decided to lower the weight all the way to Double 24kgs, totalling a ton of reps, maybe even up to around a 100 in 20 minutes. A large increase in reps, another new record.

Fifth Session of the C&P, I decided to beat the total 20 rep record for double 44kgs, for some reason I may not have recovered from last week's training and when I totalled up to 20 reps, I looked at the timer and surprisingly (Yes, for this imaginary scenario) only 10 minutes have passed. I have managed to perform the workload in less time (First session I only got 20 reps in 20 minutes, perhaps with singles) This time I not only did more reps but for sure I am doing more reps per set as well, so that would be two progressions in a row. I could decide to stop the session and focus on recovery or I could keep going for the 20 minutes and get another record. I decided to stop the session and get that record another day instead to ensure constant progression.

Sixth Session of the C&P, nothing complicated here, I revisit the double 40kgs session, set the timer, and went ahead to beat the total 40 reps record, which I am confident to since I have made many progressions throughout the weeks.

Increase your upper body strength & size with density training

The above example would be 6 weeks’ worth of Clean & Press training and could be adjusted each week for a long time. Some session you may decide to just go 5 minutes nonstop without putting it down with an even lighter weight, some session you may decide to go for a heavy PR and just hit that lift as a test for a single, and drop the weight to more reps, for example set a timer for 20 minute and count all the lifts you did, say double 48kgs Military PressX1, drop the weight and use 16kg for the entire rest of the duration. You can go with all kinds of ranges, just remember to write things down as you go in case you forget what you actually did.