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14 Days, 14 Pounds
Using primarily negative (eccentric) exercise, Jordan Rapport, age 17, gained an average of one pound of muscle a day for 14 consecutive days. Jordan was involved in my supervised, six-week, Intensive Coaching program.
A typical bodybuilder would be pleased to add 14 pounds of muscle to his physique in a six-month period. Fourteen pounds in two weeks seems almost impossible. Yet it happened right before my eyes.
Get this: Jordan trained only once a week and did just one set of 8 exercises. Each workout was completed in less than 30 minutes. Overall, he trained six times in six weeks and built 21.25 pounds of muscle. But almost two-thirds of his gains occurred during the first two weeks.
I'd call that a growth explosion.
Looking Back at Negatives
Over the last 47 years, I've hammered myself and my trainees with various ways to emphasize the negative or lowering part of an exercise. Why? Because Arthur Jones, Casey Viator, Mike and Ray Mentzer, Boyer Coe, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and dozens of old-school bodybuilders experienced that negative training was a productive way to build muscular size.
Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. You've tried negative training in various ways:
- At the end of a regular set by cheating on the positive as you did a few more slow negatives.
- Having a training partner do the heavy lifting part as you did only the lowering.
- Doing the positive portion of a machine exercise mostly with your legs and negative part with your arms.
Bottom line: Negatives just didn't seem to work for more than a few exercises and you soon lost interest. I hear you. Ordinary negatives can become a real drag and sometimes they're even dangerous.
Not Ordinary Negative Training
I firmly believe that the right type of negative training makes a deeper inroad into stimulating muscle fibers. Such a deeper inroad then produces a much greater degree of growth.
What I'm going to share with you today is not ordinary. It's something I've been working on for several years. In an effort to try and test various ways to accentuate the negative, I came up with a discovery:
Negative training works best if you can control what's happening without depending on a training partner or spotter or requiring a specific machine.
After a lot of trial and error, here's what I found worked extremely well. It worked for Jordan Rapport, and it worked for several other subjects I trained once a week during the summer of 2018 — including my son Tyler Darden, who added 15 pounds of muscle, and Matt Dirico, who gained 14 pounds of muscle.
The 30-10-30 Technique
My new technique is named 30-10-30. That stands for a 30-second slow negative repetition, followed immediately by 10 faster positive/negative reps (one second up, two seconds down) with controlled turnarounds, followed by a finishing 30-second negative rep. The entire set takes approximately 90 seconds; 70 seconds of it involves what I call "negative un-contractions."
In practice, the 30-second negatives can vary from 15 to 30 seconds. Frequently, a trainee can manage the first negative repetition in 30 seconds but can barely get 15 seconds on the finishing negative. On the workout sheet, the notation would read "30-10-15."
Or sometimes, both the first and second negative might be a little too fast, so the notation might read "25-10-25."
Then, in actual high-intensity training, the faster middle reps are not always 10. Sometimes, you can only do 7, 8, or 9, so your record might read "30-8-30."
The idea is to complete 10 repetitions in perfect form on the in-between positive-negative repetitions and the finishing negative.
You don't always have to increase resistance. In fact, I've trained individuals for several weeks without ever increasing the weights. When an exercise is no longer challenging, that's the signal to slightly increase the resistance for your subsequent workout.
Recommended 30-10-30 Exercises
Below is the 30-10-30 workout and the order of the exercises. You'll do all exercises in every workout, one set for every movement. Each once-a-week workout should take about a half-hour.
- Leg Curl Machine
- Barbell Squat
- Calf Raise on Machine
- Pulldown on Lat Machine
- Barbell Bench Press
- Barbell Curl
- Barbell Overhead Press
- Barbell Reverse Curl
Choose a resistance that's approximately 80 percent of what you'd usually handle for 10 reps in good form. You'll also need a watch with a second hand, or a big clock with a second hand, in plain sight, or have a spotter help with the initial lifting and counting. Rest no more than 60 seconds between exercises.
At the end, I'll provide you with a detailed breakdown of how to perform each of these exercises using the 30-10-30 technique.
First, for the best results, don't assume that more is better. Performing the described routine two or three times per week is not better than one time per week.
All of my trainees were busy and on the move with extracurricular activities almost every day. It's important to note that a lack of vigorous activities on your non-training days, especially during the first two weeks, is an important aspect of explosive growth.
Second, once-a-week training forces you to focus sharply, do each phase of each repetition with calculated precision, and push your body carefully to all-out intensity. Your undivided attention is necessary during each 90-second episode.
Third, food is secondary to training, but it is still important. Each trainee was instructed to apply a formula of taking his current body weight in pounds and multiplying that number by 20 calories. All three of the guys pictured weighed approximately 180 pounds at the start, so they consumed from 3,600 to 4,000 calories each day for the first six weeks.
The meals were at least 50-percent carbohydrates. Protein shakes were encouraged, as was creatine monohydrate. Each trainee was given containers of Biotest's Metabolic Drive® Protein and micronized creatine. Plus, each guy drank one gallon of cold water each day.
Fourth, trainees frequently have too much stress in their lives. Destressing was encouraged in the form of stretching and self-massage with balls and foam rollers.
Fifth, extra rest and sleep is a must. Growing muscles need 9 or more hours of sleep each night. Also, a 20-minute nap in the afternoon is beneficial.
Give 30-10-30 a Try
Begin perhaps initially on just two exercises. Do them several times until you fully understand the technique. Then commit to the 8-exercise routine for two weeks, two more weeks, and a final two weeks.
Yes, significant amounts of muscle can be stimulated and reinforced to grow by individuals who are serious about using 30-10-30.
Proper application of 30-10-30 triggers seldom-incited hormones to surround, permeate, and enlarge the stimulated muscle fibers... almost immediately. You can achieve noticeable results in a few weeks.
Train once a week with 30-10-30 and rest. You're going to like the results.
Breaking New Program Update
I've developed 30-10-30 into an entire new training strategy and program, called 30-10-30: Metabolic Challenges for Building Muscle.
Metabolic challenges produce high levels of muscular strength and high levels of cardiovascular endurance (VO2 max) — both from the same workout. Furthermore, I've found the cardiovascular challenge component is key in enhancing muscular growth and recovery. Athletes conditioned with metabolic challenge training have the ability to exert brute force for long periods of time. They are very strong and very enduring.
I've also found that NOT going to failure with this method actually produces the best gains and allows trainees to work out three times a week.
The new program will develop championship levels of conditioning and performance that are otherwise unattainable. This 4-week plan contains the exact blueprint for achieving this ultimate level of development.
Here's how to do each phase of 30-10-30 for all of the listed exercises:
Leg Curl Machine
- Lift the movement arm smoothly to the contracted position.
- Pause and look at the watch or clock and get ready to begin the first negative.
- Lower the resistance slowly. Be halfway down at 15 to 20 seconds. Reach the bottom in 30 seconds but don't rest.
- Curl the resistance arm in 1 second to the contracted position and lower in 2 seconds to the bottom. Try to do 10 reps in good form. Hold the 10th rep in the contracted position and stabilize your body for the finishing negative.
- Lower the resistance slowly in 30 seconds.
- Place a barbell inside a power rack. Make sure you have two horizontal restraint bars placed properly in the lowest depth position of your range of movement.
- Position the loaded barbell across your trapezius muscles. Lift the bar from the hooks and move back one step.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, toes angled slightly outward. Keep your upper-body muscles rigid and your torso upright.
- Bend your hips and knees slowly. Reach the bottom position, in which your hamstrings firmly contact your calves, in 30 seconds. Make the turnaround gradually from negative to positive.
- Perform 10 barbell squats at the speed of 1 second for the positive and 2 seconds for the negative. Push yourself to complete 10 reps.
- Get ready for the finishing negative. Bend your hips and knees smoothly and slowly. Hit the halfway mark at 15 to 20 seconds and the bottom at 30 seconds.
- Keep your focus and continue breathing freely. Transfer the bar to the bottom restraint bars and rest.
Calf Raise on Smith Machine
- Adjust the calf-raise machine to a couple of inches below your shoulder height. Step onto the ledge with the balls of your feet and place the pads on your shoulders. Stand and lift the resistance. Keep your knees stiff. Get as high as you can on your tiptoes and pause briefly before you begin your first negative.
- Lower your heels very slowly. Try to be halfway down at 15 to 20 seconds. Reach the bottom at 30 seconds, stretch briefly, and get ready for the regular reps. Raise your heels in 1 second to the top and pause briefly. Do the negative phase in 2 seconds and pause briefly and stretch. Continue for 10 reps. Hold the 10th rep at the top and begin the finishing negative.
- Lower your heels very slowly. Be halfway down at 15 to 20 seconds. Keep your knees locked. Do a deep stretch at 30 seconds.
Pulldown on Lat Machine
- Use an underhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart. Stabilize your lower body properly. Pull the bar down to your chest and pause briefly, with the bar touching your upper chest. Your elbows should be down and back and holding steady. Get ready to begin the first negative rep.
- Unbend your arms and begin raising the bar slowly. Be halfway up in 15 to 20 seconds and three-quarters up in 25 seconds. Reach the top and stretch your arms at 30 seconds.
- Turn the resistance around smoothly. Pull the bar down to your chest in 1 second. Raise the bar to the top in 2 seconds. Continue to lower and raise for 10 reps. Hold briefly at the bottom of the 10th rep and begin the finishing negative. Raise the bar slowly. Be halfway up in 15 to 20 seconds. Stay in control. Reach the top and stretch your arms and upper back at 30 seconds.
Barbell Bench Press
- Lift the bar to a position above your sternum.
- Lower the barbell slowly to your chest in 30 seconds.
- Make a smooth turnaround and press the barbell in a normal manner for 10 reps.
- Do a finishing negative in 30 seconds. Have a spotter handy to help you get the barbell back to the support racks at the top.
- Take an underhand grip. Stand and curl the weight to your shoulders.
- Anchor your elbows firmly against your sides.
- Lower the weight slowly to the bottom in 30 seconds.
- Curl the weight in a normal manner for 10 reps. Keep the movements steady and don't rest between reps.
- Do a finishing negative in 30 seconds.
Barbell Overhead Press
- Clean a loaded barbell to your shoulders with an overhand grip.
- Bend your knees slightly and push press the barbell overhead.
- The bar should be directly above your shoulders.
- Lower the barbell slowly to your shoulders in 30 seconds.
- Try to complete 10 overhead reps in good form.
- Do a finishing negative in 30 seconds.
Barbell Reverse Curl
- Load a bar with approximately half the resistance you use in the barbell curl.
- Take an overhand grip.
- Anchor your elbows against your sides and reverse curl the bar to your shoulders.
- Keep your wrists stable and slowly lower the bar to the bottom in 30 seconds.
- Don't rest. Reverse curl the barbell under control for 10 reps.
- Try to do a finishing negative for 30 seconds.