Advantages With 30-30-30?

Dr Darden and other forum members,

There is something unique with 30-30-30!

Mixed/combined with other Darden routines I repeatedly find that 30-30-30 is the driver of strength progression - more so than 30-10-30! Also, I am able to load up leg extension with my old injured knee, which tells me slow reps is beneficial when injured.

This made me wonder what the advantages are with 30-30-30 compared to other Darden routines? What makes it stand out?

Criticism has been raised whether neural adaptation is the reason for progression on slow reps - but I don’t believe so. Why? Well, the strength progression on 30-30-30 is further reproduced on the other Darden routines/cadences.

What is your opinion here, Dr Darden? What are the unique benefits with 30-30-30?

Anyone even tried 30-30-30?

Yes. Not for long. I found it rather boring and discovered my attention wandering. Was not good for me. 30-10-30 is a much better routine, and I use it 6 weeks at at time and mix it with other routines.


I’ve done 30-30-30 on dips and chins, but I must say it’s pretty excruciating. I definitely liked the feel afterwards though. I would have a great pump and then be super sore the next day. Last week I tried one minute Up, one minute down chins and dips on a conditioning day, so this week I’ll try them with 30-30-30 again to give an updated opinion. It’s a mental challenge as much as anything.

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I’ve applied both. They have a place in my training box. I believe 30-10-30 is better for the long haul, but I also apply 30-30-30 occasionally.


Dr. Darden…this brings me to an interesting question…do you ever perform any of the various routines from your earliest nautilus books, if so, do you gave access to those earliest nautilus machines

Tried with nothing to report in terms of hypertrophy and strength. As you know, I believe in the necessity of multiple contractions; therefore, SuperSlow exercise protocol is the epitome of the least effective method from hypertrophy perspective (at least, with advanced trainees). In my books, 30-10-30 would be a better option than 30-30-30. However, ANY exercise protocol / method is a very short-lived. In my case, 2 weeks at best, and commonly one week at most. The reason lies in the nature of human body which distinctive and crucial characteristic is adaptation. Human body has a huge capacity to adapt to external factors (in order to preserve homeostasis), do it fast and do it with least possible efforts. Hence, we have a situation that doing same exercise routine over the months and years with just an increase in poundage/load will not force the body to grow muscles - the body will easy cope with that “stress” of 10-50 (or whatever the number) lbs of additional load by different means (and not by armoring your body with pounds of muscle). Even “pump” training (referring to another thread) can make your muscles grow (subject to genetics) if you haven’t tried this type of training before (your body is new to it) and you are able to overreach (the overall demands should be higher than you are accustomed to). Nutrition and rest do not matter as much in this situation. Quite common, at least with advanced trainees, the growth is not linear, but in short spurts, subject to they have exposed their bodies to unusual training stimulus.


That is quite common to progress in strength / load with protocols similar to 30-30-30 and super slow and do not show anything meaningful in terms of additional muscle gains. You can find videos of Dr. Doug McGuff of 5-10 years ago when he exercised in that style: he was very strong on many machines, but nothing to brag in terms of muscular development. Many commented that they can hardly believe he is exercising which is a common reaction. He switched to a different type of training recently, and the results (in terms of his physique) are much better.


Hi @borisv,

As previously, I’m with you on most of Brian Johnston’s ideas. You may have encountered my take on Darden routines, a combination of 30-10-30, 30-30-30 and regular HIT reps 4/4 sec, kept separately in a rotating schedule twice weekly. Variation against adaptation.

Why I believe 30-30-30 works for me, may be the occasional shock to the system (once every third workout) and I believe it prepares me for lifting heavier weights - which is then established on the other routines. Also, I like the meditative aspect of 30-30-30, when you really focus on feel during time under tension.

I would never do 30-30-30 on its own, which is where this routine may prove negative.

In friendliest terms, I recognize you didn’t have anything to report on strength with this routine - but that Dr McGuff appearantly was successful. Is there such a thing as fake or non-reproduceable strength? Strength on 30-30-30 is not the same as strength on regular reps? This is where it can get confusing, and some refer to neural adaptation as the reason for strength gains on slow rep methods.

Adding that Christian Thibaudeau referred to the neural adaptation theory on slow reps, but is still positive to 30-10-30, as he recommends it occasionally.

All this should mean the devil lies in the positive portion of these routines. Why is a 10 rep pumpset so much better than a 30 sec positive rep? Is it such a great additional stimulus? Being provocative here.

I definitely agree about Super Slow. Not a fan, and find the program to be a pretty boring one that does not deliver top notch Hypertrophy results.

Like @pettersson said, I like to work in something like 30-30-30 or statics as kind of a supplement to my training session, but not the main course. I also like to cycle through a few different routines throughout the year, periodization, I think they call it. However 2 weeks seems like a really short amount of time, I don’t think I’d get a chance to even fully realize the gains from the program in that short of amount of time. 4 weeks is the lowest I’ll go with a program but usually it’s about 6-8.

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I have some of the older Nautilus machines. Once a month, however, I go over to Jim Flanagan’s (which is 25 miles away) and Jim has all the machines that I don’t have. So I can do an old-school Nautilus routine.


I would love having a training session with you & Jim Flanagan trying something which I am not accustomed too. I remember your article called “Big Jim’s Plateau-Busting Surge Routine” (2008 or so?) Definitely, not for everyone, but could be a good kick in the ass :slight_smile:

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That is awesome…would love to see a video of you and Big Jim go thru a workout

We all are different, therefore, one size doesn’t fit all. I adapt very quickly - if the routine doesn’t feel something new to me, my muscles will not respond. On the contrary, something new and I clearly see how my muscles look fuller (if not bigger). When I have a plenty of energy (a seldom thing nowadays), I try to improvise coming to my home gym with only just an idea that I will be training legs, for instance, today. And then I improvise on the spot. Two weeks on the same routine is the maximum for me; probably I should add “unfortunately”.

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Have you tried Darden’s extreme HIT…it varies every workout…not saying you will see gains or anything, just curious if you have tried it based on the variation

on the non-reproduceable strength: well, working in the last quarter of MedX Chest Press weight stack is not the same as hauling an old upright piano (made of solid wood) from 9th to 5th floor (by stairs) of the apartment building using just your arms (no straps) . You can compare your strength only on the same basis: same exercise, same exercise tool, same rep cadence, same rests (if any). The faster are your reps, the faster you fatigue (muscle friction increases), so moving slower you postpone the internal friction (plus you can de-load from the muscles by making other muscles help you) and that also allows you to exercise with higher loads.

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@borisv is practicing what Brian Johnston refers to as “free form” where you improvise a lot based on how you feel in regards to your current needs. An interesting concept.

Yes, I did it twice. First time, with supplements recommended and I gained some weight (up to 5lbs) fast, although I think most of it was due to water retention. Unfortunately, I injured myself with one of the exercises in the program (never liked it; should have known better to replace it), and all that supplements completely screwed up my digestive system. I barely managed to get to the end of the program, took a break for 2 weeks in order to recover the injury and my digestive issues, and was back to my previous weight. Tried it next time with no supplementation and with another exercise choice for delts: no gains at all.
I will probably try it again in a year or so, just for the sake of variety.

What exercise did you injure yourself with if you don’t mind me asking

Probably that’s one (if not the only) of the reasons why I am still on this forum. From time to time people share some interesting concepts or routines which I can use for variety. Plus I think this is the only forum which still mention AJ, although with less respect that he deserves. And yes, I have 42 books written by Dr. Darden and look forward to all new ones.

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