T Nation

Advanced or Competitive-Level Training Advice?

Dr. Darden
If you were to train someone today in the off season for a drug free event, be it classic bodybuilding or fitness, would you make any changes to your usual recommendations?

Probably. If that person was over age 35, I would train them less than I would have 20 years ago. For example, twice a week instead of three times a week.

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Makes sense. On another note how would Handle a perpetually weak body part. For example calves. Let say I do a 2 week specialization. While I would expect improvement , I would need 10 specialization to bring them up to par. Would you keep going back to specialization every few months. Or is there a long term specialization you could employ?

I have a special article on Gold School Calves that should be on T-Nation soon. Look for it.

Gonna search it right now…

Sorry, but the new calf article has NOT been posted yet.

Just realized that. Lol. Hopefully soon

Would the routines themselves resemble the year of training you outlined in The New HIT?

Yes, the routines would be similar.

Please explain the rationale of less frequent training.

Perhaps the best answer is to go back to the philosophy that I noted at the end of my Gold School Triceps article:

"The harder you work out – the more days you need between sessions.

"You have to decide whether you’re addicted to training or you’re addicted to building muscle. Those two addictions are at odds with each other.

“As you get stronger, first reduce your total number of exercises. Then reduce your frequency.”

Dr Darden, would you recommend training while your muscles are still sore from the previous workout even if it has been about 48 hours?

Probably not. I’d rest another 24 hours. But doing the same routine that made you sore is actually the best thing thing to do to reduce soreness.

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Given human nature, there will always be some people who will try to take that advice to the extreme.

I believe that for each individual, there is probably a lower limit on how few exercises could be done, and how infrequently workouts could be done, and still get a reasonable response from the body. If overtraining is a possibility, then so is undertraining.

Given your experience with a broad selection of the general public, what is the least number of exercises that you typically use, and what is the longest rest interval that you typically employ? And then, for the most exceptional individual that you have ever seen, how few and how infrequent (Jim Flanigan?) Any clue as to what is different about those guys?


Jim Flanagan told me a couple of days ago that he still trains once every 10 days. And he does one set of 8 exercises.

For example, he said he’s been using the computerized MedX lumbar-spine machine. When I asked him how much resistance he used, he said . . . “the entire weight stack for 15 reps.” I believe the entire weight stack is 400 pounds. The last time I used that machine I did 10 reps with 240 pounds. Jim’s age is 75.

The fewest exercises I apply on any of my trainees is 6 exercises once a week.


Any possibility on a new interview with Jim? I still cycle in his Surge routine you wrote about on Tnation. I wish he still had his Proper Strength Training website online. He is a great wealth of information and inspiration. Thanks for still being active in these forums. Very much appreciated.

Yes, Jim Flanagan is on my list of future Gold School articles. Jim certainly knows high-intensity training.

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Thank you Ellington!!

I tried the great surge routine that you described. One can really feel the deep inroad, but can one really not do it more than once a month?