T Nation

Positive Failure on 30-10-30

I have noticed that one area of the 30-10-30 protocol that appears to have caused some confusion is when the 10 rep portion of the protocol finishes and the 2nd 30 second negative begins.

It seems that some people believe you should reach failure prior to commencing the negative, whereas others see that the focus is on the negative and that getting as close to (especially for someone without a training partner) failure as possible , but completing the last rep, so as the negative can begin immediately is the better way to apply this technique.

My own views sit strongly in the second camp, although someone with a training partner may on occasion get their (slight) assistance to complete the last positive repetition.

For someone training on their own, the problem with reaching positive failure is that there will have to be a significant time delay before the weight can be raised to the top and the 2nd negative attempted .
Such a method may have it’s merits, but to me it is not 30-10-30

I would appreciate your thoughts Dr. Darden.

Mark Houghton


I believe that the second camp is the best way to go. You view is appreciated.

1 Like

Hi Mark,
It seems a bit nebulous but I have found that I “know” when to stop the positives and start the last negative portion. If I stop the positive too soon then the negative is too easy (feels too light) and vice-versa. I guess it comes down to practice.

1 Like

Thank you for your reply Dr D.
After doing the Pre-exhaust routine of the 30-10-30 (from the Killing Fat book) earlier in the year i have taken what i found worked and what did not and created an A and B negative based routine based on that feedback, my current physique strength and weaknesses , and the equip have in my home gym.

Squat (30-10-30)
Standing Calf Raise with belt (20-20)
Bench Press (10-10-10)
T bar row (10-10-10)
Standing Overhead Press (45 second negative)
Pulldown (30-10-30)
Cable Ab Crunch (10-10-10)

Rest 4 days

Leg Curl (10-10-10)
Leg Extension (30-10-30)
Trap Bar Deadlift (10-10-10)
Tricep Pressdown (30-10-30)
Barbell Bicep Curl (10-10-10)
Dip (60 second negative)
Chin (60 second negative)

Rest 4 days and repeat A


Hi Jeff,
I think you have raised a great point and I would add in the word "experience "
I have been training HIT for nearly 40 years and I know that you have for a similar (if not longer) time period.
A good example was yesterday in the barbell squat whilst doing 30-10-30.
After reaching 10 regular reps I knew I still had a little left in the tank and pushed onwards. Halfway through the 12th rep I felt my lower back contributing to the rep more than I liked . So upon completion of rep 12 I began the second 30 second negative.
I only managed 25 seconds , which confirmed that I had made the correct decision.
Attempting a 13th rep would have likely resulted in me not completing the rep, and even if I did it would have carried a higher than necessary risk of injury.
Plus either scenario would have been detrimental to the final negative, which is the main emphasis on the 30-10-30 protocol.

Good judgment comes from experience , and experience comes from bad judgment.

1 Like


I like your A and B routines a lot. Thanks for sharing.

1 Like

Yes to your story and yes to good judgment.

1 Like

I like your workouts. I do something similar (once every 7th day):
Workout A:
Chest Press
Dumbbell Fly
Shoulder Press
Leg Press
Calf Raise

Workout B:
Dumbbell Squat
Leg Curl
Incline Press
Barbell Curl or Close Grip Bench Press
Shoulder Press or Neck Raise

I vary the cadences each workout

BTW: Been training using HIT methods since 1978 :smiley:

1 Like

Jeff has much good judgment.


Good discussion. But I’m starting to get confused by the nomenclature, i.e., #er - #er - #er.

30-30-30: 30 sec x 1/2 rep(-), 30 sec x +1/2 rep (+), 30 sec x 1/2 rep (-)

30-10-30: 30 x 1/2 rep(-), 10 reps at 2/4, 30 sec x 1/2 rep (-)

So what is 10-10-10? Is the middle number a rep count or a duration?

20-20 I’d guess to be a single 40 second rep?

I wonder if we need a more consistent naming convention?

Yeah - got to admit that sometimes when I look back at my old training records I’m not always sure what I meant!! Maybe we need to write something like 30s-10r-30s to differentiate between durations (s) and reps (r )

Good to see your own programme .
Looking at the differences I see that you work legs at the end of workout A. I know you are strong on legs and can see why you might prioritise upper body in one of the workouts.
You have also been following negative emphasised programmes for a while. So varying cadence makes a lot of sense to me (I have other negative variants lined up if necessary).

1 Like

30-30-30 = Three 30 second reps (2 neg and 1 pos)
30-10-30 = Two 30 second negatives with 10 regular reps in the middle
10-10-10 = An upcoming method from Dr Darden which I interpret as Two 10 second negatives with 10 regular reps in the middle.
20-20 is a separate thing altogether and specifically for calves (see Dr D’s post on the topic of calves on this forum). It involves 20 regular strict knee locked reps on a calf raise, immediately followed by 20 looser reps with the knees unlocked.
I hope this makes things a little clearer.

I totally agree. Jeff is an experienced and very knowledgeable source in regards HIT training.

1 Like


Your descriptions of my new techniques are great. Thanks.


Thanks for the clarification. But again points to the need for better ways to label these things than just a sequence of numbers.

I’m open to suggestions?

How about something like 30s-10r-30s to differentiate between durations (s) and reps (r )

I think the first thing to do is to separate this “specific” type of negative training where you begin and finish a set with a slow negative , away from other negative variations (negative only, negative accentuated, negative emphasised) and give it a category and name by itself.
Something along the lines “duel aspect” or “double aspect” negative training comes to mind.
Then the numbers become far easier to understand as variations within this category.

Hi mark, would you mind sharing what level of development/strength/weight you have achieved in this time period?