T Nation

What's Your Favorite Training Book?

It’s a PDF and should be viewed on laptop or desktop (not smartphone).

My favorite Dr. Darden book was/is 100 High Intensity Ways to Improve Your Bodybuilding.

Now, part of it is nostalgic, but there is a lot of very good stuff that you can apply to almost any form of training (even non-HIT).

It is nostalgic for me because I stumbled across the book in a bookstore at a mall; I think it was Walden books (remember those days?). This was late 1990 or early 1991. I was around 20 years old, had been training for about two years using moderate to high volume and got great results, but my progress plateaued.

So here I was, browsing bodybuilding training books and I ran across this one; I started reading about “one set” and the concept seemed crazy having been using 8-20 sets a body part. However, the more I read the more I could see the logic of it all especially applied with multiple exercises, etc. It was very fascinating. Over the next couple few weeks, I visited the bookstore a couple of times reading more excerpts of “100 Ways…” and finally bought it.

I followed the Arms-Legs emphasis routine because my legs lagged my upper body. And who doesn’t want bigger arms?

I did the routine for about a month; it was 14 exercises, 3 times a week; I took all sets to failure, bumped up my calories. And my legs transformed; they made dramatic gains. My upper body stayed roughly the same, but I had always trained it very hard. However, I had people telling me, “Your legs are now bigger!”.

But, I became burned out from taking all of those sets to failure. It was too much volume and intensity for me looking back. I think I could have gotten the same results with less, but that takes experimentation.

Therefore, I realized there was something definitely valid to Dr. Darden’s approach. After that, I eventually moved to Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty I, II, and consolidation training - but then that became too little and I regressed. The right balance is key for intensity, volume, and frequency especially as you age.

One any rate, I still have the original book although I lost pages over the years. A few years back, I purchased a used, but ‘like-new’ copy from Amazon. I actually started browsing through it lately. Great read for anyone interesting in training. Again, some great ideas in it!


Thx, got it. Very excited about it. Stay tuned for my review

The guy on the front cover of 100 High Intensity Ways is Vince Taylor. I have an interesting story about Vince. Anybody out there like to hear it?


Always interested in a good story

This story involves Vince Taylor and Shawn Ray.

I was at the 1987 NPC Mr. America contest with a photographer and we were taking a lot of pictures for my books. I had talked a bit with Vince and Shawn. Vince had been training in a HIT style and he was a nice guy. Both Vince and Shawn were entered in the Light Heavyweight class.

After watching the prejudging, I figured the winner of the Light Heavyweight class would win the overall title. The two standouts, at least during the prejudging, were Vince and Shawn. But neither had yet done their 3-minute, best posing routine – which would be performed to specially prepared music later that night.

Back when I entered the AAU Mr. America in 1969 and 1970, there was no posing to music. You did your routine with nothing allowed in the way of pre-recorded sound.

That night, the vast majority of the contestants posed to fast, loud popular music. Their poses were done in a hard, ballistic manner: Bam! Bam! Bam! And many in the audience rewarded great approval to such a style.

If I remember correctly, during the night presentation, Vince and Shawn were the last to pose.

Vince came on in a slow, smooth manner to a ballad from a female singer. If it wasn’t Deniece Williams, it was someone singing with her style: controlled, feminine, and very sexy.

Vince himself was singing right along with the recording . . . and he turned smoothly and went into each pose in perfect harmony, flow, and precision. Halfway through, I knew this routine would vault him into first place. His final pose had him spinning – that is he pirouetted on one foot a full 360 degrees.

The crowd responded in unison, especially the females in the audience.

I figured Vince Taylor would soon be crowned the overall winner.

But wait. Shawn Ray still had to pose.

“Oh my,” I said to my photographer friend. “How would you like to follow Vince’s A+ routine?”

What happened next, I’ve never seen at another physique contest, nor have I ever heard about it occurring.

Shawn Ray weighed about the same a Vince, but he’s 2 or 3 inches shorter. Furthermore, Shawn’s posing trunks were a different color than Vince’s. They were a shade of pink – that’s right pink!

Okay, Shawn eases out on the stage and the music starts . . .

Wait a minute! The music must be wrong, because it’s the same ballad that Vince used: The Deniece Williams sexy love song.

Shawn never flinched, stuttered, or missed a beat. He was fantastic. At the end he did a similar pirouette as Vince, except he spun twice: 720 degrees.

The audience loved Shawn’s routine even more than Vince’s. Shawn Ray had just earned the title of 1987 NPC Mr. America.

Later, I found out that neither Vince nor Shawn knew each had chosen the same music. Yes, their posing was similar but different – and Shawn had to change his ending to impress the judges and seal the deal. And he did.

I really liked Vince Taylor’s physique and I’ve used many of his pictures in my books. And I always wondered if Vince had posed after Shawn, instead of before him, if he could have exceeded him?

1 Like

Dr.Darden, I’m about 1/3 in into the book and find it a fascinating read. I came across something that really caught my attention. Talking about A.Jones you said that “…he kicked down the door of the medical field by introducing a rehabilitation device for low backs built around ignored concepts.”

Would you mind explaining some of those ignored concepts? I would be very curious to see a picture of this device.

My favorite Darden books are the ones where he has tons of photos of the greats actually working out and the stories that go with the pictures! I’ve read so many thousand muscle magazines and seen so many internet routines on how to build big arms or blast those calves that I have no interest in new routines unless it’s something never seen before.

In the 1990s, Arthur Jones invented, tested, and marketed a computerized lower-back machine, which was state of the art. If you put “MedX computerized Lumbar-spine machine” into Google, you can read many articles about it. There are pictures, too.

I’m almost done with the book and will post a detailed review. But I can see the influence and the impact that Arthur Jones and Nautilus had on you. In fact, Nautilus was the first gym that I trained back in 1986. Yes, the big brown machines set up in a circuit. My question is about the current Nautilus equipment. What is your view on them, do you still think they encompass A.Jones philosophy?

I haven’t had any contact with the new Nautilus equipment for five years. I believe they have a separate company that makes home machines. And another not-connected company that manufactures heavier equipment for gyms and fitness centers.

Both of the companies probably have a very loose relationship with anything Arthur Jones stood for.

Thx, that was my impression too.

Hello Dr.Darden! I have had The New HIT (2004) for a long time. Love the Beginning and Intermediate Full body routines. Question does New Bodybuilding Old School have any Split Routine workouts? or is all Full Body? Im 53, been lifting since 12. And I like both Full Body and Split and bounce back and forth.Thank you

Massive Muscles in 10 Weeks was my first El Darden book and I bought pretty much them all after that and some that came before. Around late 1990 I reckon. Discovered El Darden’s books from an article in a muscle magazine with an arm routine that gave a great pump.

I sold off a bunch of books but kept BIG, 100 High Intensity Ways, new bodybuilding for old school results and the one just before it I consider a good coverage of HIT if I was introduce it someone.

I have all three of the books you’ve mentioned in this post. I think I’ll be hanging on to them