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30-10-30 - Working Wonders

Dr. Darden,

Very impressed with this system. Works well for pushing 50 busted-up former athletes (like me), but really wish it was something I would have used back in my prime, rather than two hours in the gym and everything being about my “max”.

Question on progressing- using push-ups for example, if one can do 30-12-30, should one add reps (so go to 30-15-30) or another round of reps, (so 12-30-8-30, or 30-12-30-6)?

Also, I noticed my pull-ups going through the roof. Had major rotator cuff and ruptured biceps surgery last year and since starting 30-10-30 on pull-ups (a month-ish ago), I’m up to 12 reps when testing. That’s double where I was the month prior to starting. That being said, I’ve never gotten past 2 reps on the middle 10 during 30-10-30 pull-ups! Have you seen that before? Anything I should be doing differently?

Thank you.

My two cents is to add weight on your back for pushups, weight vest or friends put a plate on your back.

Thanks for those ideas. Didn’t list adding weight because I’m home gym limited to dumbbells, but hadn’t thought about a vest. Might be a good investment regardless. Thanks again.

For the pull ups I would try 20-10-20 and see how that goes.


Yes, I’ll try that. I will be very interested to see what that middle number is the first time I try it. I’m always amazed at how non-linear nature actually is/functions, but most of us think, by default, in a straight line.


I like the vest idea for progression in the pushup. In chins, I’d try 20-8-20 first. If you can do that then work up to 30-10-30. I’ve never had anyone do 30-10-30 in the chin-up.

Thank you for this. It is a fantastic protocol.

Really? With what rep cadence in the middle?

1 to 2 seconds up and 1 to 2 seconds down.

Thanks, My last session I hit 30-11-20, I’m pretty certain I could hit 30-10-30 tonight if I stop at 10.

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How many reps can you do consecutively? (Outside of 30-10-30, just straight reps)

Thats not something I have tested in a long long time, but I would be surprised if its not 20+. I have a few older vids in my training log hitting 10 reps with +20kg and have hit a triple with 50kg added.

That’s interesting. I’m always amazed at how people are different over the various strength/performance ratios. I’ve also done 10 reps with 45lbs (20kgs). But have never been able to do more than 16 pull-ups (clean, full reps). And no way getting to 10 after a fully timed, 30 sec negative.

I could be a mile off and hit a wall at 15 lol.

First try at 30-10-30 chins I hit 30-9-20, next session 30-10-20 then 30-11-20. That last 30 won’t happen whilst I push to failure in the middle but if I stop at 10 I’m sure it will. That’s why I’m suprised Dr Darden hasn’t had anyone do it.

And with me, I can always get the bookend 30’s. That being said, I need to pay more attention to how I’m starting the second 30. Sometimes I get one full rep (of the middle 10) then starting at the top of what would be my second rep, doing 30 sec negative. Other times when I pull for say two and a half for middle 10, I drop then jump back up starting from top then do the 30. I might not be able to get the second 30 if, for example, I had just enough assistance to help me to complete that two and a half up to three.

Anyone start off with the 30sec negative, then do normal reps to failure without the final 30? Thoughts?

Interesting thread. It seems like some are born to do chinups, and the rest of us (slightly heavier) trainees are doomed to an uphill progression. That being said, I have yet to try chinups with 30-10-30.

Question. Why try 30-10-30 on chinups if you are unable to perform less than 6-8 in between reps?

My advice would be to gain strength with negative chinups. Either repeated 10 sec neg reps to failure or aim for a full 60 sec rep - instead of chasing the 30-10-30 just for the sake of it.

But, if I were to do it, I would like Dr Darden or Mark suggested, first head for accomplishment of 20-(8-10)-20. (Ok then, I might give it a try).

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I will try 20-10-20. As for the why on the original, I did it a few times just to try it out. Noticed my pull-up strength gaining faster than I’d ever seen. And noticed great biceps and lat fatigue and over short time growth.

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Just as update - Friday, tried 20-10-20 for pull-ups, interestingly enough, still only got 20-2-20 (essentially what I was getting on 30-10-30). Sunday, tried 30-30-30 for pull-ups. Did it, but was at complete failure. Thinking about trying a progression - good form reps, say 10 (leaving 2ish in the tank) then 20-20-20. Try for a couple of weeks, then give 20-10-20 another shot.

Did my third workout of 30-10-30 today 7 exercises total hack squat, cable bench press, wide grip pull-down, two arm bicepcurl on cable station with tricep pushdown, seated calf. My biggest issue was picking a weight that was challenging so I ended up doing 2 sets on everything except for the hacksquats!