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30-10-30 vs Extreme 30-10-30 - Similar Gains?

Dr Darden,

Having had a busy week, not able making it to the gym for my two regular workouts, I realize it will only be one session this week. It’s comforting though, to know that once a week is tried and tested to be enough, at least with 30-10-30, considering the results from your previous study on your son Tyler and his friends.

Comparing muscle gains from the previous study with your new Extreme study of Tyler - you can get the assumption that the great gains are fairly similar?

Yes, the previous study was once a week for 6 weeks to failure, and the extreme version was three times a week for 4 weeks not til failure - if I understand it correctly. Also, Metabolic drive protein + creatine vs Plazma.

From a cost-beneficial (time) standpoint considering gains - Is the regular 30-10-30 a better choice? I am sure I’m missing out on something here, but it would be most interesting to hear your thoughts on this. Am I comparing apples and pears?

Since I’ve been getting absolutely no response from anyone on this - it must be the most stupid question ever asked in this forum! LOL

I guess both versions work, and presumably no one is interested in talking about the original version of 30-10-30 once a week - now that we have the Extreme version three times a week (which seems to be slightly superior). I was merely interested in dissecting the thought provoking idea of “slightly superior”.

If there is no interest in this I suggest the moderator delete this question.

Could you reform your question ? I remember reading it the first time and not really understanding what your question was ?

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I believe that by not going to failure and utilizing a higher frequency makes it more beneficial for muscle growth than to-failure once a week. As Natural trainees, the training session is what stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is only elevated for 24-36 hours, optimally you would want your muscles to be recovered enough to train again to stimulate more muscle protein synthesis after this window has closed about two days later. To adjust for this increased frequency, decreasing intensity would Be the easiest way to accomplish this as volume, intensity, and frequency all work in tandem on a sliding scale. This is my hypothesis on why NTF 30-10-30 done 3 days a week is superior to 30-10-30 to failure once a week.


Davemccright, your reply seems logical. But if it were true that the “protein synthesis window” closes after 36 hours, how could it be that Dr. Darden’s son made similar gains training but once a week. I suspect the “protein synthesis window” is flawed. And even if it does close after 36 hours, how do we know that’s a true barometer of MUSCLE GROWTH???..I’ve made some of my best gains training twice and sometimes once a week. Respectfully, Steve…

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It’s not that you can’t make gains training less frequently, especially if it’s a novel stimulus. The question is, “is it optimal?” By training more frequently you are taking further advantage of the effects of muscle protein synthesis. I think this just lets you squeeze a little extra benefit out of your training week. I respect your feedback.

I think i read somewhere that the protein synthesis of a well trained individual can be as little as 12-24 hrs. Whereas a relatively new lifter protein synthesis remains elevated for up to 3 days.

Somehow I missed this question from Pettersson. I believe Dave’s answer is pretty much what I would say. Looking back at both studies, I’m now partial to three-times-per-week workouts.


Empirically, I agree. Especially as mentioned when not novel but also with age. I’ve noticed that frequency has become more important as I age. I atrophy quickly without (relatively) frequent stimulation. I think 3 X week is the sweet spot.

Thanks everybody! What a nice discussion this turned into! @guru58 really caught up with my reasoning here!

It seems it all comes down to the better balance act between intensity, frequency and volume.

Considering time-efficiency - meaning if you would like to train as little as possible with the best possible results - I’m still curious whether the original 30-10-30 would be a better choice? This is somewhat in analogue with Mike Mentzers ideas (which obviously were not entirely true, to be honest).

Is there anything else in advantage for the first version/study of 30-10-30? Not meaning to undermine the Extreme 30-10-30, which obviously is better in all respects. I’m just trying to be the critical elephant in the room here…

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I think that perhaps if you’re approaching it strictly from a time-efficiency perspective, it could be better for that purpose. However, I don’t believe it would be as optimal for maximizing muscle growth. I think we’re really looking at this as a case of adequate vs optimum. In the additional workouts during the week you can add in exercises that cover some of the musculature that doesn’t get quite as much attention in the first workout. You could remedy this by throwing more exercises into your once a week session, but you could end up with a pretty long workout and find yourself very fatigued by the time you’re hitting some of those final exercises. So the once a week method, overall, brings some challenges and issues that are mitigated by additional training days. It’s hard to make up in one day what you can accomplish in 3, and this is not even to speak of the afore-mentioned benefit of increased muscle protein synthesis. I feel like I could go on for a while why I think 3 days a week is superior to the once a week routine, but I’ll cut it off here to not bore you any longer. So to sum up, I believe that the once a week, to-failure 30-10-30 is superior only for the purposes of saving some gym time and gas money, and every benefit from a muscle building perspective tips towards the Extreme HIT method.

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Remember…mentzer trained 3x/week full body getting ready for the 1980 Olympia using nothing but nautilus

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I don’t believe that is true. Mike and his brother dropped the full body Jones-like routines early on using a two-split done four days a week. He also still used some free weights.

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This is according to his trainer Roger Schwab…who is a stand up fella who removed himself from judging that contest due to training mentzer

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You guys are both right. While Mike and Ray did create their own split, Mike followed the Nautilus Pre-exhaust routine while training with Roger Schwab for the 1980 Mr Olympia. You can see what his split routine looked like before the previous year’s Olympia in a little better detail in his old training journal, which you can find online. He was only eating like 1200 calories in preparation for that competition, like Turkey, cantaloupe, and a carrot cake were like the only things he ate one day from what I remember. He was also running about 5 miles a day. He probably had Schwab coach him to better focus his efforts.

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As far as I can tell, Tyler was the only subject who did both protocols. So it is a very small sample = 16 year old Tyler vs 19 year old Tyler. He is bigger now than he was at 16. But that tends to happen with teenage boys, especially if they have decent genetics. They get bigger.

Curiously, he finished the first study at 195, and three years later, started the second study at about the same weight. So no gains for 3 years? Maybe he was overdue for some growth. Or too much cardio (rowing team) and burning the candle at both ends for college, before he embarked on the second study? He may have had something of a rebound from whatever he was doing prior to the holiday break.

There are so many things that could potentially be happening here, I don’t think you are really going to be able to draw conclusions about the relative effectiveness of the two approaches.


I had many conversations with Mentzer during the early to mid 90s as I did some phone consultations with him…as well as conversations outside of that. Although we never talked specifically about 1980.

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I agree with @average_al. I’ll add, cynically, that he regained muscle rather than added new lean tissue. Out of shape->in better shape.

…Not forgetting Tyler had probably one of the best personal trainers in the world for these studies. Thanks for your wise input @average_al!

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I’ve been training a group of high school basketball players. I’ve been trying to use the program as outlined in Dr. Darden’s latest e-book as closely as possible. 3x per week, etc. We’ve had some limitations due to equipment but the kids are working hard and follow directions pretty well during the workout. I’m thinking of switching to 1x per week though simply because I can’t get them to rest like they should. Between spring sports, basketball open gym, etc. they just don’t get the idea of rest and recovery.

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