T Nation

Training Competitive Bodybuilding Clients?

I am very interested in your programs and have been employing 30-10-30, 30-30-30, etc. for about three weeks and enjoy the feeling. I have also seen some of your You Tube videos showing progress, however they seem to be pretty ordinary lookin people. I wonder if you are also training competitive bodybuilders with these protocols?

I also was wondering how you would treat a competitive bodybuilding routine different. If at all…

Just interested - what sort of thing would you expect to see that would be different?

Variations in volume/frequency and/or intensity levels

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Over the last 20 years, I haven’t trained any competitive bodybuilders. But I understand how to train them – and it would not be much different from what I do with most of my people.

Dr. Darden, would you use split routines or full-body workouts? I know most competitive bodybuilders would would probably take issue with full-body routines, one set per exercise and training infrequently. But what do they know? The plethora of drugs they use totally changes the playing field. How would you handle these issues? Respectfully, Steve

Just a hint dude: if all the successful people in a field are doing something a certain way, they’re probably right.


When I used to frequent muscle building gyms my eyes would pop out of my head when I’d see what some of the big guys were actually doing. Watch some of those Flex training videos on the internet where these champions are supposedly training. Sometimes their form is terrible and they are doing this for the camera. Imagine what it’s like when the camera isn’t rolling ,hah!


But did they get bigger and stronger though? Big and strong enough to be champions?

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Before the Arnold era…bodybuilders trained full body 3x/week…i.e. Steve Reeves, Leroy Colbert to name a couple…and according to their writings they never trained split
According Roger Shwab…he trained Mike Mentzer for the 1980 Olympia using nautilus equipment 3x/week high intensity style full body

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HIT (one set to failure) bodybuilders, Dorian Yates, Mentzers, etc. used controlled speed for their working set, but I don’t see them using Dr. Darden’s super slow negatives. So my question looks for evidence that Dr. Darden’s 30-10-30, etc is superior to more reps at a controlled speed?

I think it’s hard to compare guys like Mentzer and Yates who are one in a million freaks on steroids etc to the rest of us normal humans. As I think Boyer Coe once said, my arms pretty much grew no matter what it did. It doesn’t work that way for most of us. I could be wrong but I don’t think 30 30 30 or one set to failure were designed with these contest winning freaks in mind. They are a safe ,efficient and long lasting way way for us normal humans to build and maintain our muscles.

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The idea of utilising two 30 second negatives is a very recent application of "negative emphasised " training. I do believe that Mark Dugdale has utilised the concept in his training.
Both the Mentzer brothers, Casey Viator and Tom Platz were some of the bodybuilders who utilised negative only training during their competitive years. Many others also “emphasised” the negative during their training.
The 30-10-30 method is just a “better” way of emphasising the negative than previous methods.
Anybody from the beginner through to champions can benefit from negative emphasised training , but it is just a tool , and compared to genetics , drugs. consistency and hard work it is not a major factor.
But for any bodybuilders who train in a HIT fashion it is an asset towards the goal of improving their physique.



Well said

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Just looking for evidence that very long negatives are actually “better” than controlled reps emphasizing negatives. I plan a “trial run” for six weeks or so, so am not against this protocol.

Dr Darden is the best person to ask about that , as he has records going back decades.
You are doing the correct thing though , by giving them a trial run.
I look forward to reading your feedback and seeing how your experience with them compares to mine.