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Growth explosion: the 30-10-30 technique

Wachstumsexplosion: Die 30-10-30 Technik

14 pounds in 14 days

Using primarily negative (eccentric) exercises, Jordan Rapport, age 17, was able to gain an average of one pound of muscle per day for 14 consecutive days. Jordan was a participant in my supervised six-week intensive training program.

A typical bodybuilder would be lucky to build 14 pounds of muscle in 6 months. 14 pounds in two weeks seems almost impossible in this context - and yet it was happening right before my eyes.

And here's the best part: Jordan only trained once a week, performing just one set of 8 exercises. Each training session lasted just 30 minutes. In total, he trained exactly six times in six weeks and built up 21.25 pounds of muscle mass. However, almost two thirds of his gains came during the first two weeks. I would call that a growth explosion.

Jordan was 17 years old, what 187 cm tall, and weighed 83 kilos. Within six weeks, he built 21.25 pounds of muscle. His before-and-after measurements showed that he had gained over 6 centimeters in upper arm circumference, 7.5 centimeters in chest circumference and 11 centimeters in thigh circumference. Most of his results were stimulated during the first two weeks, during which he put on 14 pounds.

A look back at negative repetitions

Over the past 47 years, I've maltreated myself and my exercisers with different ways to emphasize the negative or lowering phase of exercise. Why? Because Arthur Jones, Casey Viator, Mike and Ray Mentzer, Boyer Coe, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates and dozens of other old-school bodybuilders had experienced that training with negative reps is a productive way to build muscle.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. You've tried negative repetition training in different ways:

  • At the end of a regular set, by bailing on the positive movement to perform a few extra slow negative reps.
  • With a training partner who has taken over the lifting of the weight during the last repetitions, while you have only taken over the lowering of the weight.
  • By performing the positive part of the movement on machines with both arms or legs and the negative part with only one arm or leg.

Conclusion: Negative repetitions didn't seem to work apart from a few exercises and you quickly lost interest. Ordinary negative repetitions can be a real burden and sometimes even dangerous.

No ordinary training with negative repetitions

I firmly believe that the right type of negative training has a much greater impact on a trainee's starting strength levels. Such a strong influence stimulates a release of growth hormones by the pituitary gland, which is an important aspect of building muscle mass.

What I want to share with you today is nothing ordinary. It's something I've been working on for more than five years. In my quest to test different ways to emphasize negative repetitions, I have made the following discovery:

Training with negative repetitions works best when you can control what happens without relying on a training partner or a specific machine to do so.

After plenty of trial and error, here's what I've found works extremely well. It worked for Jordan and it worked for several other teenagers I trained during the summer of 2018. My son Tylor Darden gained 15 pounds of muscle and another boy gained 14 pounds. Looking back, however, none of my exercisers made better progress than Jordan.

Note: My trainees were not training for bodybuilding competitions. Rather, they were athletes who practiced sports like rowing, football and lacrosse and wanted to build more muscle mass and strength for their sport.

This technique is called 30-10-30, which is a 30-second slow negative repetition immediately followed by 10 fast positive and negative repetitions (1 second for the upward movement and 2 seconds for the negative repetition) with controlled movement transitions, followed by a final 30-second negative repetition. The entire movement takes about 90 seconds, of which about 70 seconds are spent on what I would call "negative ultra-contractions".

This is important: the name 30-10-30 encompasses more than these meaningful numbers. In practice, the 30 seconds of negative repetitions can vary from 15 to 30 seconds. Often a trainee will complete the first negative repetition at 30 seconds, but can barely reach 15 seconds on the second. In this training session, his notation would therefore be "30-10-15". Sometimes both negative repetitions are a little too short.

And then with high-intensity training, the faster reps in the middle are not always 10. Sometimes you can only do 7, 8 or 9, so the notation could be "30-8-30". On an energetic day, you could easily do 10 and 2 extra reps, which would be "30-12-30".

The idea is to always train to momentary muscle failure on the middle repetitions between the first and last long negative repetition. If you manage 30-12-30 on any exercise, this is the signal to use 3 to 5% more weight in your next training session.

The recommended 8 exercises

Below is the 30-10-30 program and the order of the exercises. You perform all 8 exercises in each training session - one set per exercise. Each training session, performed once a week, should be about 30 minutes long.

  1. Leg curls
  2. Classic squats
  3. Calf raises on the machine
  4. Lat pulldowns
  5. Barbell bench press
  6. Barbell curls
  7. Barbell shoulder presses
  8. Reverse barbell curls

For each of the exercises, choose a weight that is about 80% of the weight with which you could normally perform 10 repetitions in good form. You will also need a watch that is clearly visible during the exercise or a training partner to help you with the timing of the slow negative repetitions. Rest for about 60 seconds between exercises. At the end of the article, I will detail how you should perform each of these exercises using the 30-10-30 technique.

Notes and tips on the training program

First of all, for best results, don't assume that more is better. Performing the described training program two or three times a week is not better than once a week.

All of my teenage exercisers were students who were in school all day and had additional extracurricular activities every day. Please note that abstaining from strenuous activities on your non-training days, especially during the first two weeks, is an important aspect of explosive growth.

Secondly, a training program with only one training day per week forces you to focus hard, execute each phase of each repetition with calculated precision and train at maximum intensity. Your undivided attention is required during each 90 second phase.

Thirdly, even if the food is not as important as the training, it is still important. Each of my exercisers was instructed to multiply their body weight by 44 kcal. All three participants mentioned above weighed about 80 kilos at the beginning and consumed 3,600 to 4,000 kcal per day for 6 weeks.

Meals consisted of at least 50% carbohydrates. The participants were encouraged to consume protein shakes and creatine. In addition, each participant drank one gallon (almost four liters) of cold water per day.

Since teenagers regularly suffer from too much stress, participants were encouraged to perform stress relief in the form of stretching and self-massage with balls and foam rollers. Furthermore, rest and sleep are a must. Teenagers and their growing muscles need between 9 1/2 and 10 hours of sleep per night. A 20-minute nap in the afternoon is also beneficial.

Give 30-10-30 a chance

Give 30-10-30 a chance - perhaps with just 1 or 2 exercises at first. Do these several times until you fully understand the technique. Then run the program with 8 exercises for 2 weeks and two more weeks and a final 2 weeks.

Yes, teens who seriously follow the 30-10-30 program can stimulate a significant amount of muscle growth.

Proper use of 30-10-30 stimulates a release of hormones that almost immediately stimulate an increase in the size of the stimulated muscle fibers. And this program is not just for teenagers. Adults of all ages can achieve visible results within a few weeks with 30-10-30.

Focus, push yourself and rest. You'll love the results.

Exercise details

Here is a description of how to perform each phase of the exercises used:

Leg curls

Curl the moving arm of the machine into the contracted position. Pause, watch the clock and prepare for your first negative repetition.

Slowly lower the pad centimeter by centimeter. You should have reached half of the movement after 15 to 20 seconds and three quarters of the movement after 25 seconds. You should reach the lowest point after 30 seconds, without pausing at the lowest point of the movement.

Curl the pad to the contracted position in one second and lower it again in two seconds. Try to achieve 10 repetitions with good form. Hold the tenth repetition in the contracted position and stabilize your body for the final negative repetition. Lower the weight slowly. You should reach half of the range of motion after 15 to 20 seconds and try to reach the lowest point after 30 seconds. Write your numbers for the set in your training log.

Classic squats

Place a barbell in a power rack. Make sure you have two horizontal safety racks in the lowest position of the range of motion.

Position the barbell behind your head on your trapezius. Lift the bar from the rack and take a step backwards. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outwards, keeping your upper body muscles tensed and your torso upright.

Slowly bend your hips and knees and move down to a half squat position within 15 to 20 seconds. You should reach the lowest point of the movement, where your hamstrings touch your calves, after 30 seconds.

Then perform 10 squats at a speed of one second for the upward movement and 2 seconds for the downward movement. Try to perform 10 repetitions, but remember that the number of repetitions can vary from 8 to 12.

After your last repetition, prepare for the final negative repetition. Bend your hips and knees slowly and evenly so that you have completed half of the downward movement after 15 to 20 seconds and three quarters after 25 seconds. After 30 seconds, place the bar on the lower safety rest of the rack and pause.

Calf raises on the multi press

There are different machines for calf raises. The version described here is the standing version on the multi press. Use a stable block or another type of step to stand on.

Stand with the balls of your feet on the block and place the bar on your shoulders, keeping your knees bent. Stand on your toes and pause briefly before starting the first negative repetition.

Slowly lower your heels centimeter by centimeter. Try to complete half of the movement after 15 to 20 seconds and reach the lowest point of the movement after 30 seconds. Hold the maximum stretch briefly and prepare for the regular repetitions. Raise your heels in one second and lower them in two seconds. Perform 10 repetitions. Pause briefly in the highest position on the tenth repetition and start the final negative repetition. Lower the heels very slowly, reaching halfway down after 15 to 20 seconds and maximum stretch after 30 seconds. Keep your knees locked the whole time.

Lat pulldown

Grip the lat pulldown bar with a shoulder-wide underhand grip and stabilize your upper body. Pull the bar towards your chest and pause briefly with the bar touching your upper chest. Your. Elbows should point down and back. Prepare for your first negative repetition.

Start by straightening your arms and slowly move the bar upwards. You should have completed half of the upward movement after 15 to 20 seconds and three quarters of the movement after 25 seconds before you reach the extended arm position after 30 seconds.

Change the direction of movement and pull the bar down to your chest in one second before moving it back up again within 2 seconds. Perform 10 repetitions in this way and then start the final negative repetition. Reach the halfway point of the movement after 15 to 20 seconds. Keep the weight under control. Reach the top position with your upper back fully extended and arms straight after 30 seconds.

Barbell bench press

Move the bar to a position above your sternum with your arms straight. Slowly lower the bar to your chest in 30 seconds. Reverse the direction of movement and perform 10 normal repetitions. Then perform a final negative repetition lasting 30 seconds. Ask a training partner to help you move the bar back onto the rack afterwards.

Barbell curls

Use an underhand grip and move the bar up to your shoulders while standing. Anchor your elbows firmly to your upper body before slowly lowering the weight again within 30 seconds. Perform 10 normal repetitions without resting between repetitions. Then perform a final 30-second negative repetition.

Barbell shoulder press

Move a loaded barbell with an overhand grip up to your shoulders. Bend your knees slightly and press the barbell up over your head with a slight swing from your legs. The bar should be directly above your shoulders. Slowly lower the bar to your shoulders in 30 seconds. Then try to perform 10 repetitions with good form. Then perform a final 30-second negative repetition.

Reverse barbell curls

Load a barbell with about half the weight you use for barbell curls. Grip the bar with an overhand grip. Anchor your elbows at the side of your body and move the barbell up to your shoulders with a reverse curl movement. Keep your wrists stable and lower the bar back down to the lowest position over a period of 30 seconds. Perform 10 normal repetitions without rest before finishing the set with a 30-second negative repetition.


By Ellington Darden, PhD

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