T Nation

Strength vs Hypertrophy As We Age

Dr. Darden,

What is your opinion on strength vs hypertrophy as we approach or are already in our senior years?

I have been using 30-10-30 programs with no failure and I enjoy the methods very much, but I have noticed strength decreases because I am more focused on the muscle event instead of chasing failure or poundage

The strength decreases are only because reduction of weight and sticking with the same weight thru out the cycle

therefore, the reason for the question of how important strength becomes as we age into our later years

Thanks, dan

I believe you need both strength and hypertrophy. And there’s a relationship between them . . . perhaps not one to one, but close.

I find it interesting that you are finding strength decreases with 30 10 30? I had been doing 30 10 30 for 3 months or more and if anything I felt like I was getting stronger inspite of not chasing failure but I didn’t just use the same weight through out the entire period I was using it. As I felt like I was getting stronger and able to handle more I added weight. I found it took me a few weeks of doing 30 10 30 to get the hang of the right weight. I always milked the negative portion of the exercise to drain the muscle.

Sounds like that’s what I may need to is add a little more weight

Whether you are focusing on getting to failure with great form, or focusing on getting deep inroad without failure, that shouldn’t change the expectation that you should eventually (over the long term) be able to handle more weight if you are getting stronger and building more muscle.

A number of coaches have pointed out that training to maintain the status quo usually backfires. Even if you are past the point of actually being able to get stronger (due to age, training status, etc.), you will likely get better results if your mindset and focus is to try to do more.


I had a similar experience to you after one cycle as prescribed in Dr D’s book. In fact, if anything, I had to drop the load as the weeks progressed and the rest intervals decreased and exercises increased. It reminded me of when I used to run the old Gironda 8x8 schemes. Worked well but when you start trying to do it with really short 10-15s rest intervals it became unworkable. Similarly to you, I still enjoyed the 30-10-30 method with its focus on mind muscle connection and constant tension.

Afterwards, I moved onto another ‘HIT-style’ method - Doggcrapp (DC). With this, I am experiencing almost continual progression. I still use 30-10-30 for deload weeks, which I think it works well (for me).


That’s what I think too…for me anyways, if I don’t progress in weight or reps during the training cycle then I notice strength decreases…not a lot, but if I stay with the 80 percent during the cycle and try the 100 percent at the end of the cycle it becomes harder to reach the reps I used to be able handle

I tried doggcrapp many years ago, was not a fan, can’t remember why…do you like that style

Gironda 8x8 is no easy task either…too long in the gym for me…but my mistake was trying 8x8 on everything

I do. It was not a total shock to the system as I ran Fortitude Training, which has ‘borrowed’ a lot of the principles, for many months. Somehow with DC, I am able to progress on most lifts most of the time. I surmise the lower frequency and volume of DC suits me more than Fortitude did. I can’t help but think the loaded stretching is also a responsible factor for the progression.

Well, Vince’s routines were quick when you are doing 8x8 with 15s between sets! But I agree about doing too much. I loved the systems but it just became impossible to simultaneously increase load and cut rest intervals

I guess my issue with these styles is that I love full body training and higher frequency, i.e. 2 to 3 times a week in lieu of split training and each body part once a week…just my preference

8X8 Gironda is tough. I always preferred 5x5 or 3x8. Sometimes 6x6 at the highest.

1 Like

Speaking of strength, hypertrophy, and aging: I saw a link today to a recent Instagram post by Frank Zane. He was demonstrating his favorite bicep exercise, a forward incline bicep curl. He is 79 now, and starting to look a little frail (especially relative to his glory days). He demonstrated the exercise with pretty small dumbbells (10 lbs?), and his arms look quite skinny. Sobering reminder of what awaits in the future, for those who live long enough…

I know it is slightly out of the subject of the thread, but I am interested about your results physique wise with DC training.
Also, are you running dogcrapp original program, or slightly tweaked, and what about the calorie surplus?
Thanks James :slight_smile:

I have not been taking measurements. I have gained size but I have also been lax with diet so have gained substantial fat in the process. So definitely a calorie surplus. That said, when I first started the programme I was still doing a bit of regular 48-hour fasting (on non-training days) which didn’t negatively impact on my lifts.

In terms of tweaks, yes. My lower back precludes me from any sort of deadlift, bent over row and most squats. I rely on a belt squat for the so-called ‘widow maker’. Although I appreciate this is in no way as intense as a regular back squat. I do several chest-supported row variations for back thickness.

Other tweaks I learned from other DC sources include upping the reps for older lifters and/or when using DBs. This has been a revelation for exercises like chest presses, where getting heavy DBs into position is a challenge. What I do is aim for a load that gets me around 25 total reps (x1 main set then x2 rest pause sets). Once I hit 25, I up the load next time.

I have also abandoned DC calf training. I tried this for weeks but felt nothing. I currently do a version I heard about here from Drew Baye: 1 set to failure using a 10/10 cadence with a 3s stretch at the bottom and 3s squeeze at the top.

I also have found using bands for the loaded stretching aspect much more effective than weights for certain body parts, namely, pec stretch for chest, or handcuff stretch for delts.

I personally believe the workout rotation, where you perform the same workout every 2 weeks, and loaded stretching, are the two main drivers of progression. For example, I have noted that, unlike other programmes I’ve done, with DC training I invariably get light but sustained DOMS every workout.

1 Like

Thanks a lot for a detailed response. I can relate to you in many things so I really appreciate this info, as I also decided to try DC training(with some tweaks) starting september.
Many things are similar-low back limiting factor, higher reps as I am not really young any more, calf training as described by Drew here on forum…
How often did you feel the need to deload and for how long?
Also, for how long have you been doing it?
Thanks again

I always felt those 10-sec static were too much. I use about a 2/5 cadence, with a 1-sec static at the top and 3-4 sec static at the bottom. 1 set of Toe Press or Rotary Calf Machine one week and then the next week I do Seated CRs in the same DC(ish) style followed immediately by 18-20 1/2-cadence reps (w/ a short top static) of light Standing CRs (75-120 lbs).

Speaking of tweaks, how long are your ‘rest pauses’? I found 10-sec too short. I do about 20 sec. For upper body I do 10 breaths after the 1st set and 13 breaths after the second. For Leg work, I do 12B after the first set and 15B after the 2nd. I find my set-to-set dropoff too steep otherwise!

I do 12 deep breaths (around 30s) for most rest pause sets. For some exercises, e.g. curls, it is usually a breath or two less.

In terms of drop off, last night on a decline DB press my 3 sets looked like this:

  • Set 1 - 17 reps
  • Set 2 - 5 reps
  • Set 3 - 3 reps

On other exercises, where it is easier to get the weights in place, e.g. landmine press, the drop off is not as pronounced.

1 Like

I generally go by feel rather than set a planned number of weeks. My first blast lasted 6 weeks and I felt great. Then I had about 2 whole days where I felt I was in a fog and the last thing I wanted to do was train. I knew that was the time to cruise. So for the next 6 days, I did 30-10-30 every other day.

I have been doing DC since mid-May, so almost 3 months.

1 Like

What I like about the Fortitude plan, is building up the HIT > DC workouts over a few weeks. If I jump in with the 3-set plan, right out of the gate, I hit plateaus quicker it seems. I’ve been doing my own 3-day version of it for about 3 weeks and it feels really good AND good progression all around, especially on the high-rep stuff for some reason…

Mon - Quads/Push - 5 Exercises, Started SSTF and am up to 2 sets on most exercises*
Calves/Hams/Pull - 3-4 Exercises (15-20 reps)

Tue (or Wed) - Calves/Hams/Pull - HIT/DC
Quads/Push - High Rep

Wed/Thu - Rest

Fri - 6 Exercises, 5x5, HDT/Gironda Style: Whatever feels like it was missed earlier in the week

Rest Weekend and then Mon & Tue are reverse order of the previous week