Darden's "BIG" Program Rep Speed

Read Brian Johnston’s interview of Arthur Jones which is available at Arthur Jones Exercise dot com


The overwhelming amount of research shows rep speed doesn’t really matter. I would agree with that based on my own experience. I like a natural cadence while keeping the resistance under control…maintaining form and safety with a weight not too heavy.


I took note of that comment also. It really goes against the Super Slow claim that SS style strength training is “all the exercise anyone ever needs” to be healthy.

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same here . btw .look at dudes who train slow in “perfect form” , what you see ? /tenis player’ style bodies/ . my veiw : slow motion is not muscle building training, it’s joint renab movement

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Think Mentzer seemed to have it right in advocating a 4/4 tempo.

Strikes the right balance between removing momentum and exhausting the muscle.

Totally understand the argument for performing the eccentric portion of the final rep at a slower pace though, as that rep is the most important. Up to now, I’ve typically favoured a version of the omni-contraction method where I’ll pause and try to push back against the resistance at three different positions while lowering the weight, for 5 seconds in each position.

Admittedly haven’t tried the Darden 30-10-30 method yet. Will give it a go at some point out soon out of due diligence.

Repetition Duration:
Mike advocated that repetitions should be performed slowly and deliberately with the weight always under full control to maximise muscle tension. In Muscles in Minutes©, he advocated a duration of about four seconds on the positive (lifting) and the same on the negative (lowering) portion of the repetition on most exercises, with a two second pause in the fully contracted position. Comprehensive reviews of this topic (Bruce-Low & Smith, 2007; Carpinelli et al., 2004) have supported Mike’s claim that a relatively slow cadence can produce optimal gains in strength and hypertrophy, but that ‘super slow’ (10:4 to 10:10 cadence) training does not offer additional advantages (Mike held that conducting “super slow” training beyond his recommended cadence could actually hold back the bodybuilder’s progress, because he would get tired quicker). For example, Johnston (2005) considered force production in a case study, reporting little difference in forces generated or experienced where movement was performed at repetition durations that maintained muscular tension (including 10:10, 5:5, and 2:4 (concentric: eccentric). Nevertheless, when attempting to move the load explosively, forces increased by as much as 45% initially, but then decreased by 85% for most of the repetition. This is likely due to the excess force provided to overcome the inertia being so great that momentum carries the weight through the rest of the range of motion. Johnston suggested that explosive lifts would likely recruit fewer muscle fibres due to momentum and that the diminished recruitment through most of the range of motion would be less effective for enhancing muscle function. This has previously been reported by Hay et al. (1983) with arm curl exercises. A study by Tran, Docherty and Behm (2006) considered decrement in force production and rate of force development, noting significantly larger decreases following sets of 10 repetitions at a 5:5 repetition duration compared to 10 repetitions at 2:2, and 5 repetitions at 10:4 repetition durations. This larger decrease in force production suggests fatigue in a larger proportion of muscle fibres, potentially stimulating greater growth and strength/power gains. Also, Bruce-Low and Smith (2007) specifically considered the risk of injury from ballistic exercises, reporting some disturbing statistics suggesting that explosive lifting can cause injuries to the wrist, shoulder, elbow and lumbar regions. Overall, therefore, Mike’s recommendation of a relatively slow speed of movement during resistance exercise seems both efficacious and prudent according to the research findings.”

Source: http://www.mikementzer.com/smith_fisher.html


Thanks for this! I believe you partly answered my question: Which is the best SuperSlow rep tempo, that I asked in the “advantages with 30-30-30” thread.

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The ostrich is slowly lifting his head out of the sand. SuperSlow or SuperStatics are not suitable to condition the heart and lungs.
Just like multiple sets are mostly redundant in resistance training, repeated intervals in cardiovascular conditioning seem redundant also. Tabata will wear anyone out after a few weeks.
I am running an experiment on measuring the intensity of cardiovascular conditioning on an Assault bike. This bike measures time, distance and wattage. The data can be indexed. Measured CV improvements? Imagine that!

Pretty disrespectful to say something like that on a Dr. Darden forum about the Dr. himself, claiming he is a poor source of knowledge when it comes to cardiovascular conditioning

talk about someone who has their head in the sand like an ostrich

you got class dude

Drew is banned. You won’t be hearing a peep from him.

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I realize this is a bodybuilding website, however the original BIG routine was based on the old Peary Rader routines of squats and milk. Throw in pullovers and the BIG routine was a better Rader program!

The old school trainees used just a few exercises. J.C. Hiss used deadlifts. He also used squats and milk. They packed on the weight and got very strong doing so. Deadlifts and dips could be a simple routine. Use a couple of warm-up sets followed by 2 all-out sets. The bold could add one of Dr.Darden’s advanced cycles. This is abbreviated training that would suffice for the powerlifting community as well as the Hard-Gainers, HiT, and Heavy Duty. Don’t worry about rep speed as fast reps on deadlifts and dips generally take care of foolishness as regards form.

As regards milk, get into the next century with advanced micro flora bacteria yogurt/kefir, which includes muscle promoting bacteria lactobacilli reuteri yogurt.


Good thinking here Marc! What exactly do you mean by advanced cycles? I do have the “Big” book - which cycle are you referring to?

Such as Dr. Darden’s advanced arm, calf, chest, lats, abs and delt cycles.

However, a Hardgainer could omit such.


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Latest experiment on RUSH factor training, or, as an old-timer would recall pre-exhaustion.

In an attempt to improve results and improve workout efficiency, I experimented with back-to-back exercise groupings.

Nautilus pullover and Supinated pulldowns
Nautilus Leg extension and Nautilus leg press

Subsequent tests showed that more repetitions could be accomplished with rest periods rather than pre-exhaustion for the 2nd exercise.

More weight moved would seem to offer convincing evidence that rest periods are beneficial


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Have to factor mmf into that equation. It’s the end goal after all, especially when using pre ex

Te old-timer thinking was pre-exhaustion drove muscle past normal failure and involved more fibers. This is erroneous thinking.

Muscles use an all-or-nothing firing order. Thus, once a firing of a muscle fiber in the primary exercise occurs, the secondary exercise can not recruit those fibers. Thus, less potential fibers are available for the secondary exercise, resulting in the additional muscle recruitment being done in a suboptimal manner. This is why a drop in performance in the secondary exercise. Not to mention, products of fatigue and lack of ATP for energy.


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You sure about that

Jones, Darden and Mentzer all explained that pre-exhaustion was to fatigue your larger muscles prior to the smaller muscles

I.e… pullovers and then pull downs…or arm crosses and then chest presses


I.e… pullovers and then pull downs…or arm crosses and then chest presses


The arms, delts, and various other muscles drive the lats or chest muscles into further fatigue. Or so the theory goes.

However, as I stated previously, once a motor unit is recruited and exhausted, further recruitment by the 2nd exercise has a smaller pool of available fibers to recruit, thus performance drops. Science does not support pre-exhaustion methodology.


Lets take a specific example.

Imagine that you “pre-exhaust” your pecs with a fly, before you do a bench press. With that sequence, it does seem likely that your performance in the bench press will suffer because you have exhausted the pec muscles and they will not be available for the second exercise. So the overall pool of muscle to do the second exercise has been reduced, for the reasons that you have provided.

But is the decline in bench press performance relevant? Maybe not, if the objective is to work the triceps harder. The triceps indeed might get more stimulation, even if the load is lower, because they are getting no help from the pecs. What is unknown here, and difficult to measure, is how much muscle tension is created in the triceps using the different scenarios (bench only with more weight vs lighter bench after pre-exhausting the pecs).

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I like about a 5 to 10 breaths rest on Pre-Exhaustion supersets. You get the elevated breathing and HR, yet keep some of the strength you lose when you go IMMEDIATELY from one exercise to the other