Dr. Darden-Style Full Body Workout, 2-Minute Reps

In a T Nation article from 3-5-08,Dr D described doing a very slow N.O. chin-up over 60 seconds broken into 12 one inch segments each with a 5 second hold.This gave me the idea to try this with one 60 second concentric followed by a 60 second eccentric( 1 rep=2 minutes).
I tried it with the following exercises-- sissy squats,leg curls on a balance ball(hips high off ground),trap bar DL,pull-up,decline DB press,DB curls,bent over DB rows,decline lying triceps extensions w/ DBs,lateral incline delt raise(bench at 30 degrees).I had to use less weight than normal but it was still challenging with a nice bonus pump.
I have other exercises to try.Thought I’d share this with the forum-thanks for reading.

Can you link to that Darden article, please?

This sounds like an interesting alternate take on 30-30-30! I’m not sure if there is any muscle building benefits going over the anaerobic window of 90 seconds - but who am I to come up with restrictions? Go for it as long as you like it! Any stimulus is still a stimulus.

Also, I recently had an interaction with Christian Thibaudeau in his forum, where he questioned long term benefits with SuperSlow (other than an instant surprise initially). Personally I have found 30-30-30 working wonders as a strength foundation to use as a leverage for other Darden methods. But, I only do 30-30-30 regularly once every other week.

Better asking the good doctor: @Ellington_Darden - i know you stated this in your books, but where do you consider the limit of time for a set? Any change of opinion here? That being said, pre-exhaust and supersets is rather long sets for raised intensity. What’s the reasoning here in regards of set time limit? Is the time for a set not that important?

Here’s the article-- The Revised and Improved Bigger Arms Challenge

Here is the passage that I based the workout on–
One helpful hint is to divide the downward movement into a series of 12, one-inch segments. Then, your partner paces you with his 5-second callouts as you begin your holds and descends, all the way to a dead hang at the bottom.

You make a good point about hypertrophy benefits after 90 seconds.Maybe you can get a mix of both size with endurance this way–I’ll stay with this format and see what transpires.Good work with the 30-30-30.I dont think there is a one size fits all approach.I like the idea of changing up a routine every few weeks–helps vs. boredom and prevents stagnation.Thanks for your comments.

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I think crossing over the 90 second threshold would mean a reduction of intensity to point of irrelevancy for muscle growth, and likely won’t fatigue type II muscle fibers.


Mr. Pettersson…curiosity on the 30-30-30 method as I never tried it…how many exercises per workout and how many reps do you perform and frequency per week

I am a huge advocate of the 30-10-30 along with 3-1-5 methods and I may incorporate into my variation

thx, dan

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This was the article that gave me the idea to try it with all of the exercises-

I wouldnt train exclusively this way–I would think it would hinder recovery.I look at it as a change of pace or as a once in awhile challenge.

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What if we train slow-twitch muscles which still have a potential for growth, but only start to produce enough fatigue & quality of work AFTER 90 seconds of a constant work? A good example will be a three-minute thigh program (Chapter 15 of Dr. Darden’s “The Nautilus Advanced Bodybuilding Book”? Another question / example pertains to mixed fibers: what if we don’t make a continuous set (90 seconds or whatever), but make a short breaks between mini-sets / clusters, like in Gironda’s 6x6 or 8x8 or some Brian Johnston’s variants? In relation to fast-twitch: what will happen if we add some extra reps in rest-pause fashion? In essence, I don’t think that any specific time threshold makes sense per se - it is all relevant to the type of muscle fibers AND the way how you train them.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to hit type I fibers, they just aren’t as susceptible to growth as type II. I don’t hate the idea, I just think it’s more productive to use that time and energy on type II fibers. Not to say you’d be spinning your wheels, but I just think it would be a less fruitful venture.

I partially disagree with you here. First of all, potential for growth will depend (mostly) on the length of the muscle and not on the type of muscle fibers. You still can make your slow-twitch muscles grow, but you need to be more inventive and spend more time in the gym (i.e. more frequency, more volume, more variety). You are right in relation to strength aspect: fast twitch will always be stronger than slow-twitch. But muscle growth is not pro rata to the growth of strength. My own example: having been able to double my strength in some exercises after 20+ years of training within a single year I didn’t gain anything in terms of muscle mass. Once I switched to a type of training which is more suitable to me physiologically and psychologically, I was able to grow again even if I dropped the weights and was not pushing to increase them over time. Secondly: if we bring into equation PEDs, one can grow significantly using them even if s/he is composed of slow-twitch muscles almost completely. Even without training. Even without proper nutrition. Examples are plenty. Thirdly: you can’t train exclusively for “fast-twitch” aspects of your fibers if, for instance, tests show that you have a mixed type (predominance of fast-twitch or slow-twitch doesn’t matter in this case). I think that most of the trainees have a mixed type: if they have fast-twitch fibers, it’s usually quite evident because they are very strong (and have less endurance) in certain exercises.

My point is that fast twitch fibers are the ones that grow for the most part. Type I fibers are capable of some growth, but not to the degree of type II, so generally in the realm of Hypertrophy training, those are what we target. Distance runners get a lot of slow twitch muscle work, but the level of hypertrophy they develop from it is rather minimal.

I understood your point, but disagree with it. Distance runners do not get that level of hypertrophy because of SAID, although they certainly benefit having slow-twitch muscles. Following your logic, all bodybuilders (leaving aside the issue of PEDs for the sake of argument) will have fast-twitch fibers only, which is definitely not the case.

I’m not saying they only have fast twitch or distance runners only have slow twitch. Everyone has a mix of both, but the fast twitch are generally the ones that hypertrophy. Not that any of it matters that much, because unless you allow a muscle biopsy you’ll never know which muscle types are dominant in what body parts. It’s best just to train with traditional weight training methods and progress on your lifts.

I think it would take some major patience and a good attention span for lifts focusing on slow twitch muscles and trying to stretch a set to 90 seconds or more. I find 30-10-30 to be kind of boring as it is so I can’t imagine trying to drag a set even longer than that.

Thanks for asking, Dan!

I train twice a week, and do 30-30-30 every third workout. Currently into the arm emphasized Truck Brown A and B routines from “The bodyfat breakthrough” - another great book by Dr Darden.

I do one set of 30-30-30 per muscle, except for two sets on legs, different excercises. In total 8-10 excercises. The Truck routine is based on chinups and dips with supersetted pre-exhaust biceps/back and triceps/chest + legs. This makes this routine a fairly quick one, maybe lasting 15-25 mins.

Otherwise you may do 30-30-30 on the same excercises as on any Darden program. I really like 30-30-30 as it’s the strength driver in my variety of routines - you get to feel heavier weights. Read the book and/or try it!

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“Everyone has a mix of both, but the fast twitch are the generally the ones that hypertrophy”: in that case, we would see a lot of disproportionately developed people / bodybuilders with largely developed one muscles and other muscles with zero development. Not the case, in general. “…unless you allow a muscle biopsy you’ll never know which muscle types are dominant in what body parts”: I think we have already discussed this topic on this new forum. You don’t need to have a biopsy to determine (quite accurately) your muscle fiber type. Even without those tests, you can determine it quite easily just analyzing your training and seeing the patterns. Just to show what my slow-twitch thigh muscles are capable of enduring (and I have been a zealot of HIT style of training for many years, so I know what it means to train with high intensity), here is an example of a continuous/giant leg extension cluster set performed on MedX machine: a) starting with 30-30-30 (30 sec negative, 30 sec positive, 30 sec negative), then 30 sec rest, b) keeping the same weight I do 8-8-8 reps in thirds, then 30 sec rest; c) with the same weight, I do 8-8 reps in halves; again, 30 sec rest; d) finish off with 6-10 full reps. All done with quite a standard weight for me (around 200-240 lbs) and without any reduction in weight (high endurance, fast recovery). After that I am capable to do other thigh exercises. Certainly, I will not be able to repeat the same with my bicep muscles, for instance, which are more fast-twitch.

I don’t know if that’s exactly the best way to illustrate your point, and most muscle groups will have a fair balance of fiber types. Also, you probably could perform that whole series with your biceps if you use a light enough weight. Your biceps are just weaker than your quads. Research is inconclusive on whether you can even specifically target certain fiber types through different training methods. I know in terms of day-to-day lifting, the thought certainly never enters my head. Especially when I feel like I’m dying under the bar on a brutal set of squats. I feel like worrying too much about which fiber types you’re working or trying to get fiber-specific is the definition of majoring in the minors.

No, I would not do that whole series with my biceps, because I would have to stop it somewhere in the middle. My bicep is fast twitch and doesn’t need a lot of work or long TUL. In my more than 30 years training experience I know quite well what my muscles of capable of and what they do not. I don’t trust research in any area, especially in strength training / bodybuilding, trying to reach conclusions through my own experiments. You may not worry too much about fiber type of your muscles, although you’d better do if you want to optimize development, because after some 5 years of constant training (10 years would be too optimistic) any additional muscle gains due to progressions in lifts will come to an end. Unless you augment reality with PEDs, of course. And by the way, how do you know that most muscle groups will have a fair balance of fiber types? I also wondered why people on the various internet forums state that, for instance, soleus is a slow-twitch muscle, while gastrocnemius is a fast-twitch. For 100% of the population? Really?

That’s what I’m saying, you won’t really know the specifics of your fiber type unless you get a biopsy done. Not worth it to me. Yes, experience and experimentation are also how I’ve found what is fun and productive for me in terms of progress in the gym. I’m still making muscle gains and strength gains now 14 years into lifting and I’ve made more in the past year than I had in the previous 10 by learning more about programming and how to apply Progressive overload to various set and rep ranges. Never has fiber type had to enter into my thinking to make any of these gains. I think especially when we’re speaking to people new to lifting weights, we need to hammer home the truly important things like Progressive overload, eating enough food, and getting a lot of sleep. Even from there, playing with volume, Intensity, and frequency is more important than fiber type and all more practical and applicable.

I haven’t said that biopsy is the only way to know your fiber type (I said the opposite), but I understand we have different views on this subject and I fully respect your right to have ones. Don’t see a need to continue a dispute on this point. I suspect your muscle and strength gains may be due to regular changes of the programs (variety) or as you call it “programming” and not due to progressive overload per se to which body adapts quite fast and easily.

I think some of the ideas about fiber-type-specific training came from the notion that the ratio of fast twitch to slow twitch fibers was fixed for an individual, and all you could do was alter the relative sizes of the two kinds of fibers according how you trained, i.e., more strength/power vs endurance focused training. However, in recent years, there have been some interesting ideas on fiber type coming out of work done by Andy Galapin at Cal State Fullerton.

This work suggests that muscle fibers contain a lot of fibers that are better described as ‘hybrid’, and these hybrid fibers can assume the characteristics of traditional slow twitch or traditional fast twitch fibers, depending on how you train. The message is that muscle has greater plasticity than previously appreciated, and in effect training can produce shifts in fiber type.

If you google the title “How Scientists Are Learning How to Use Your Muscles to Predict Your Mortality” and Lou Schuler you should find a Men’s Health article which talks about the implications of this newer theory.

This may also be interesting ( " DO MUSCLE FIBER TYPES CHANGE WITH TRAINING? AN END TO THE UNFOUNDED “DEBATE" article on Renaissance Periodization site, written by Galapin)

I have the book mostly for diet, will pull it out and read the exercise section

Thanks for info

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