Darden's "BIG" Program Rep Speed

Dr. Darden,

just received your book BIG, are you still an advocate of the 10 sec positive and 5 sec negative protocol that is illustrated in the book

Thx, dan

Yes, I would change the protocol. But to what?

I’d like to hear some thoughts on making the style more in line with my current beliefs.

1 Like

Well obviously you would convert everything to 30 10 30. Those Super slow pre exhaust routines in Big and Bigger Muscles are the most Brutal there are! No way you do those alone! Have to have a Dr. DARDEN or Arthur Jones to push you! :slight_smile:


Minimize rest between sets to about 15 to 20 seconds, reduce the exercises from 10 to 6 or 7 in the first week and add an exercise each after, add more variety of exercises from workout to workout in lieu of the same exercises for a two wee period, during each set concentrate on squeezing the muscle and don’t worry about chasing the weight (use the same weight for the program)

1 Like

I have the “Big” book and it is an interesting read. I can’t exactly recall now, in what way the 10 rep pos and 5 sec neg were suggested, but I suppose it was the standing order in terms of rep tempo.

But spontaneously a minor change would be to reverse the tempos in order to emphasize the negative: 5 sec pos and 10 sec neg. I have actually tried that, and it felt great. On the other hand, 10-30 works on everything, as well as more conventional 3 pos/5 neg.

1 Like

Dr. Darden has changed his philosophy of exercise in recent years, in 2 significant ways:

  • Less emphasis on going to failure (though still chasing deep inroad).
  • More emphasis on metabolic conditioning via short rest periods (the resurrection of rush factor).

While this doesn’t mean that the older methods didn’t work, I assume that he feels that the incorporation of these changes does offer additional benefits and/or gives better results.

That does raise an interesting question for me: aside from historical interest, what value lies in these older books and older routines? If you start to change the protocols to reflect new ideas, do the sequences of exercises continue to make sense? What about the value of pre-exhaust? Does it still make sense to use it with these newer protocols? If not, then certainly routines with sequences of exercises designed to pre-exhaust would no longer be relevant.

1 Like

Darden’s latest HIT EXTREME still references Pre-exhaust methods, therefore I would say that is still relevant

1 Like

To me though, since human’s haven’t evolved into something else in the last 30-40 years, what worked then well, will work now well.

1 Like

I know myself, I’d change the BIG routine only in the line of going from full body to an ABA BAB split. Either upper/lower or push/pull.

1 Like

I suppose most of these routines work pretty well, and you get stale on anything if you do it long enough. So having a variety of programs to rotate through keeps life interesting, and maybe some variety leads to a better outcome.

On the other hand, if a routine were designed with a particular philosophy in mind, say hitting failure as efficiently as possible, then how to adapt that routine to a protocol where you trying to avoid failure might not be so clear cut?

1 Like

True points
I’m just in the habit of adapting all routines to ‘not failure’ (a kind of ‘easy failure’ is ok, but not that push till you drop stuff).


I’m with you. I would just perform the routines as written. They were definitely written with a purpose and a vision in mind. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, you can either revise it or trash it and move on to something else altogether. 30-10-30 already has a written program to follow.

1 Like

yeah it’s funny how people will think because something is from years ago, suddenly it’s invalid. Well, gravity has been around a little while and I think it still works the same lol


Some day 30-10-30 will be old as well. By then, it will either have stood the rest of time like BIG, or faded to obscurity.


I would think that 30.10.30 would have used and ntf. I read something
Dr. Darden wrote about this topic as well

He mentioned Instead of pullovers after squats he would do shrugs.

Phase one Db squat
DB squat
If you have a hard time due to the range of motion with 30.10.30
shrugs just modify in a way that works for you.

Keeping in mind 30.10.30 you could do a static hold in the top
position for 30 seconds Do your ten reps and do another hold
at the top for 30 seconds .

Or just do 15.10.15

Keeping in mind Dr. Darden writings over the last several years I made
some other changes.

Something I have done during the first phase with chins is not
doing the positive part.

So negative only weighted chins
negative only weighted dips
one time down body weight chins
one time down body weight dips .

Do the rest as written.

It can be easy to over train with the Big routine. If this
too much,I might not do the leg extension and leg curls
at all.
I would add them after the first phase when you are only
doing one set per exercise.

Personally I would keep doing the two sets of Squats and shrugs
and ditch the leg extension and leg curl after the first phase.

Also after the first two weeks I would do parallel grip standing
overhead press instead of lateral rise. Or alternate.

Also after the first two weeks I would only do weighted negative only dips
and chins one day. One time down with body weight the next day.

I could only handle the Big routine twice a week. It’s still a deep
inroad. I’m 57 now so if I had too I would add and extra rest
day or two depending how I felt.

I like dips rule and Dr. Darden’s idea of incorporating shrugs.
The traps are a large muscle group, The lats are also a large group along with the glutes. To get BIG, these muscle group need hard work. Isometrics for these muscle groups work well. Empirically, pre-exhaustion works efficiently also.

I have been experimenting lately with Dr. Darden’s 30/10/30. I always liked the safety of ED’s reps and the ability to enhance flexibility on the initial eccentric rep. Being bored during COVID-19, I watched on YouTube many pro BB’s perform reps. All Bb’s did mid-range pulse reps(burns).
Thus, I have been doing the initial 30 second eccentric , followed by 10-15 pulse reps, followed by a final 30 second eccentric rep. This works great on my Nautilus double chest decline press. There was no residual fatigue or soreness the next day. One set raised my heart rate and breathing rate considerably showing a large contingent usage of fast twitch fibers.

1 Like

After listening to the latest interview of Ken Hutchins, I am inclined to use statics moreso than any other method. Awesome interview! That is Z-E-R-O speed folks!

I like statics, but I definitely view them as more of a supplemental piece than the meat and potatoes of a workout.

Meat-Big Compound movement like a squat or bench

Potatoes-Isolation movements like Tricep Pushdown or Barbell Curl

Green Beans-Isometrics, resistance band work, and loaded stretches

Green beans taste good and they can be a good way to finish off a plate, but your macro nutrient loaded heavy hitters that will bring you growth are the meat and potatoes.


I like your post, however please listen to Ken Hutchins latest interview!

I’ll check it out. Is it on YouTube?