T Nation

Day 1 of 30-10-30:mht log

Hello everyone.
I attempted this workout a few days ago and the program was incredibly demanding. I have been exercising for about 30 years.

Here is what my first workout looked like.
Incline smith chest press
Reverse grip pulldown 225lbs/30-7-25
Smith press overhead presss 185 lbs/30/5/20
Vbar pulldown 180/30-7-20
Dips body weight/30-8-20
Curls 95/30-6-25
Leg press horizontal hammer machine 540/30/8/30
Standing calf raises 1 s concentric 1 s eccentrics
1 legged 90/15

This workout wiped me out. I spent two hours after the workout siping water afraid I was going to puke. It had been two days since the workout and I am extremely sore.
My question is would you guys consider splitting this program up or eliminating some exercises in this list in an effort to make the program less systemically demanding?

I have tried many workouts and this one is by far the most demanding.

I look forward to your responses.

1 Like

Just my uneducated guess but I’d say you started out with too much weight.


I agree with Scott.
Either reduce your weights or start with 20-10-20 , progress to 25-10-25 , and then 30-10-30.
Form first, weights later (you are already very strong looking at your weights anyway).


1 Like

Hi Mark and Scott.
Thank you for the great advice. I think I may try the 20-10-20 option. I tried to choose a load that would be challenging and I would rather decrease the time of the set and go from there. Most of the weights I choose for this first workout was a load I could complete 15-20 reps.
This workout was brutal!


I agree, reduce your weight and work on getting used to the differences from standard lifting…i would also only use one pull down exercise instead two…i would not split

1 Like

Yes, you must reduce the resistance on each exercise significantly. Your form on the middle 10 reps needs to be almost perfect. Stop two reps short of failure. Don’t go to failure.

Then, do that last 30-second negative in good form also.



Is the “not go to failure” on the middle 10 reps a new finding, or just a way of getting the hang of it? Benefits compared to failure?

My perspective was/is to head for failure on the middle reps, followed by complete exhaustion on the final 30 sec neg. Recall another recent thread where this question came up.

No, no. The form in the middle reps is more important than going to failure. And the finish negative should not be to complete exhaustion.

The idea is to make a deep inroad, without exhausting your nervous system and recovery ability.

Start with a lighter resistance. That’s the intelligent solution . . . the secret to much better results.


Thank you Dr. Darden. I will lighten the load and report back.

It does seem that, as the years have gone by, you have somewhat reduced the emphasis on going to failure. First it was the suggestion to mix in some NTF workouts with TF workouts. Now a protocol that emphasizes inroad over failure. It makes sense to me, from the standpoint that failure may extend recovery time disproportionately for whatever extra stimulation is provided.

So my questions are:

  • Is this something that becomes more important as you get older?
  • When you train younger clients, would you still use “to failure” training as aggressively as when you did when you were younger.
1 Like

It is more important, period. For older, younger, and in between. I have eased off the failure training with younger clients.


One thing perhaps to keep in mind is I am relatively advanced. I am 6 foot and weigh about 225. My 1 rm for the bench press is over 400 I can leg press on that machine about 1000 lbs. I am sure I have never done a set that lasts over 45 seconds. When I was younger I played college baseball as a pitcher so I would consider myself a very anaerobic athlete.

I’m still saying, use less resistance on each 30-10-30 cycle. Apply excellent form on the 10 reps and excellent form on the finishing negative – and don’t work to failure on either.


This may explain why I had a hard time recouperating during my earlier period of 30-10-30. Understood. Making readjustments. Will focus on form, and not complete failure on 30-10-30! Thanks for clarifying, Dr Darden.

It always seemed like all one needs to do it work a little harder than the last time and the body will compensate for that and hopefully adapt and make you stronger the next time if all goes well and that pushing to failure and beyond was not really necessary.

Quite a radical departure from the accepted “norms” of HIT?


Failure works, to a degree. But it puts a lot of stress repeatedly on your nervous system. It’s easy to get burned out and then your progress slows or stalls altogether.

With 30-10-30, and without going to failure, you can make a deeper inroad than does going to failure, and your results will be better – and you’ll keep your enthusiasm.

My best advice is: Stop 2 reps short of failure on your in-between repetitions.


Hi tokon,
The original Nautilus books (and the earliest print version I have seen was published circa mid 70’s) have always included not to failure workouts. Over the years the message got somewhat lost.

This not having to go to failure is really good news . Don’t get me wrong in that I don’t like going to failure, most every workout I’ve ever done has been to failure and I love the feeling of pushing until I can’t do another rep, I guess it’s sort of a macho thing , but more than not it does seem to put me in a recovery hole that I don’t seem to be able to climb out of , over and over again. It’s a cycle I seem to be repeating year after year.
I keep seeing these discussions about how to push a set harder with drop sets or whatever , that’s easy stuff, but the hard part is knowing when you’ve stimulated the muscle enough for growth and then stopping there! Having been accustomed to the mind set that I need to kill the muscle every workout to make it grow for so many years this new idea will take some getting used to but I’m looking forward to doing it! Thanks!

Just curious: which book(s) are you referring to? The first time I recall seeing a discussion of not to failure workouts (for recovery) was in “The New High Intensity Training”, which was 2004.