A quick question for Dr. Darden

I have just finished reading your book " The new high intensity training".
A great book and really enjoyed it.
A quick question if i may.
On page 23 you said your best condition was in 1972 at 195 pounds with 16.75 inch arms.
On page 54 you mentioned that in 1979 your bodyweight was 175 pounds with 15.75 inch arms.
Just curious as to wether you reduced your bodyweight on purpose as perhaps you didnt feel the need to be as large now as you had quit competing
or if you were perhaps injured or were coming back from a layoff?
I would also be interested as to what age you switched to maintenance training as opposed to training for increased muscle size and strength.
Would also be interested in hearing from others as to what age they switched to maintenance training.
Thank you for any info.

I’ve now been training 53 years and am now nearly 64. I’m no longer interested in the “sport” of bodybuilding but I’ve never switched to maintenance training. I want to keep as much muscle as I can for as long as I can and that means continuously striving for some measure of improvement, be it a drop in fat or an increase in strength.

1 Like

Hi Jeff
Thanks for reply
Are you still making any strength gains?
What is your training frequency?
Thank you

In 1979 I was trying to get my waist smaller. I cut my dietary calories to 1200 per day. My percent body fat went down and my waist was significantly reduced. I was no longer interested in competing in bodybuilding contests.

I didn’t get interested in maintenance until around 2000.

Thank you for your reply Dr Darden

My personal belief is that there is a set amount of muscle someone can gain naturally. And while there will be inter-individual differences (mostly due to genetics) for most of the population (70-80%) this amount of muscle gain limit is around 40lbs.

Now, keep in mind that if you gain 40lbs of muscle your bodyweight is likely to increase more than that, even if your body fat stays the same. A 40lbs gain in muscle could yield a 50-60lbs increase in lean body mass.

Wha has this got to do with this thread? Well, if you have gained that 40lbs (that is 40lbs of muscle more than what your normal adult weight would have been had you not trained) you won’t have much growth left.

So when you get older, it becomes almost impossible to add more muscle to your frame. That’s when I feel that focusing on leanness and aesthetics can help you improve your physique even when you can no longer expect to gain lots of muscle.

Now, the leanness part is obvious. But the aesthetics might not be as clear.

One thing I’ve noticed is that it seems to be possible to gain muscle in some places, as long as you don’t gain more overall muscle.

I call this “muscle migration”… I think that there is a limit to how much muscle you can carry naturally, but you can change where you are holding that muscle.

My “normal” body weight (not super ripped, but fairly lean) is 215lbs.

If I train for a photoshoot (in which leg mass is less important as I wear shorts) I almost stop training legs; my shoulders, arms and chest improve…and I’m still 215 (before losing the fat for the shoot).

If I train for powerlifting/strength, my legs, glutes and back get bigger, biceps, delts smaller, and I weigh 215.

If I train for performance/olympic lifting, my legs, glutes, traps and back improve, my arms and chest get worse… and I weigh 215

I think that when you are older and have reached the max amount of mass you can carry, the best course of action is to shoot to get lean and specialize on the body parts that will give you the look that you want, while reducing work for other muscles.


Those are very interesting points.
I am nearly 60 and are now focusing on maintaining d’s
As much muscle as i can while reducing my bodyfat level a bit more. I think about a 10 to 12 bodyfat loss would be sufficient for me. 14 pounds at most.d’s

Extremely good comment


Thank you sir!

That is very interesting. I wonder if there is some systematic maximum for average protein synthesis. Almost like a governor on the system, where if one area increases, the system cannot support all areas at that level so they drop a bit to make up for it.

It’s very much like those ablation studies or that one where they re-purpose another muscle in the calf and it doubles in size in a month or two, yet we cannot make that happen when training the whole body.