Surge Challenge Principles

Dr. Darden,

I noticed in your new principles of the Surge Challenge, there is a 60 second rest period between exercises

what happened to metabolic conditioning from the 30-10-30 extreme program?

In the Surge Challenge, we are emphasizing the pump. After several specific exercises, it takes about 60 seconds to achieve the greatest pump. Keep the recommended guidelines.

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Workouts are the application of the principles. You really need the workouts to understand.

There is plenty of conditioning effect with the new system. Again, we can make that adjustment if you can handle the workout pace.

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Hi Tim,
Will the samples of workouts be available to those who wasn’t able to sign up? I found the 9-page summary of Surge Challenge principles, but can’t find the workout samples. Thanks!

Sure, but they’ll need coaching, regardless of your training experience.

Advanced training principles are challenging to teach to the degree required for successful application. That’s where workouts come in. Workouts provide the application blueprint for success, but they still need to be coached.

Our goal is to help as many lifters as we can with old-school-type coaching. As we wrote in the principles:

We used to drive across the country to visit our mentors and colleagues to learn, compare notes, and for advice. It was Pumping Iron old-school, and it was awesome. And we’re committed to delivering the same kind of old-school experience to you, and we can do it all in person on the forums, with video, and even with phone calls.

The workouts we sent out today consist of 17 pages. They’re generating a ton of questions, and we’re going to follow through on the commitment.

Why didn’t you sign up for the Surge Workout Challenge? It’s completely free.

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Thanks Tim.
Some of the reasons I didn’t sign up are as follows (choose the one you like :slight_smile:
A. I don’t like being a part of any “collective”;
B. I feel myself so bad these days that I don’t know when I will be able to start training again (Covid hit very hard on my chronic issues);
C. I simply missed the deadline;
D. My body doesn’t like supplements of any kind including, unfortunately, Biotest’s (I tried plazma and mag-10).

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At this point, I’m finding myself a little confused about who this stuff is really intended for….

In one thread, you have suggested that the training method is suitable for both beginners and advanced trainees, young or old, perfectly healthy or those with physical limitations, without much regard to the kind of equipment you have available. (Can work with a “bag of rocks”…)

Yet here, it is described as using advanced training principles that are difficult to master without detailed (and apparently complex) workout plans and coaching.

I find those two descriptions not so easy to reconcile.

Just check out my log. It’s not too complicated once you put it in use. On paper it sounds confusing, in practice it’s a cinch!

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It was your log that I used to get a sense of the first workout. As for complexity, that wasn’t in regard to the simplicity or complexity of a single workout, but the overall program complexity, how easy is it to explain the programming cycle. If it takes 17 pages to lay out the first 12 workouts, that doesn’t sound simple.

I think it would be more interesting and scientifically valid for Surge participants to retain their existing training programmes and nutriction protocols, add in Surge intake and evaluate performance changes on the basis that changes are therefore mostly down to the supplment.

The approach proposed in this challenge seems to me to ignore the pros/cons of a new training approach. Particularly since revising exercise methods tend to have their greatest bang for bucks (or damage) in the first 6 weeks or so.

Or am I misunderstanding something here ?


We’ve already evaluated Surge Workout Fuel in many scenarios, and continue seeking opportunities to show off its effects. The Surge Challenge is only one example.

I have been using Surge since the new formulation came out doing high volume, modified conjugate style powerlifting workouts. I am participating in the Surge Challenge because it sounded interesting, but I can tell you that using Surge in my normal routine for a while now I have noticed increased recovery time and significantly reduced soreness, even after increasing volume and frequency (which was already high). My strength has been steadily increasing as well. It’s not a magic pill and it’s not a drug but the difference in recovery for me is significant which is huge for a natty lifter and an old guy.

I am a fan of John Meadows and saw an article or maybe a youtube video of him explaining how when they originally began using cluster dextrin and aminos during workouts he experienced significant increase in recovery. As a natural, older lifter I can confirm this is true and Surge is the best cluster dextrin formula I’ve tried so far with based on price for the ingredients and I like that it is stimulant free so I can add in caffeine on my own using caffeine pills when I feel the need. Meadow’s company Granite has a few cluster dextrin formulas but they are more expensive and have slightly different ingredients, some of which I don’t want.


Isaiau : As another older person (!) I agree with the criticality of recovery. Good news you are experiencing real life benefits of Surge, although only a single piece of anedcdotal evidence your experience is a good result.
Tim : Good to hear you initially verified benefts by actual/controls type of test, I guessed that was the case. Appreciate your take on the benefits of a clinical type of test and a show off.

I have a question about program design when using these principles

One could, I suppose, use exactly the same exercise for all three phases, and just change the weight and rep style to meet the stated goals of all three phases. But in the workouts I’ve seen posted, you are also changing exercises.

In some cases, it look like: isolation for the pump, compound for stimulate, then back to isolation for the Flutter. It is somewhat reminiscent of the old Nautilus pre-exhaust approach. Of course, other blocks retain an isolation movement for the stimulate phase.

I wonder if you’d care to share a few thoughts about how you decided to combine these exercises? What is the rationale, be it scientific, or intuitive?

I have 10 people that I personally train each week in my home gym. In fact, most of these people have been under my guidance for more than 20 years. I know these trainees well, what works and what doesn’t work for each one.

Over the last 12 months, I experimented on applying certain exercises with various blocks and I gradually organized them into early Surge Challenge workouts. Gradually, these workouts became what we have today . . . with a little chaos thrown in for variety.


Do you think you will eventually get to a point where you have a collection of general routines that anyone can use as a starting point? Or will this approach always require a higher degree of customization than we are used to seeing?