Dr Ellington Darden – Body Fat Breakthrough Highlights

Here are my highlights from The Body Fat Breakthrough: Tap the Muscle-Building Power of Negative Training and Lose Up to 30 Pounds in 30 days! These highlights include interesting passages, questionable claims and arguments and occasionally my own thoughts in bold. These highlights prompt questions for my podcast guests.

Overall, I thought the book offered a good guide for people looking to commence a HIT regime, but some of the claims seem very questionable to me and probably require further study.


2009 , Marc Roig , PhD , head of the Muscle Biophysics Laboratory at the University of British Columbia , and colleagues examined 66 studies reported within the past 50 years that compared negative – style resistance training with normal positive training . With precision , they applied meta – analyses to the data . In the most complete and meticulous literature review on the subject to date , Roig concluded that negative training was significantly more effective in increasing muscular size and strength than positive – style training .

The structure of the muscle also changes internally , with fat developing within the muscle . Fat hampers muscle function , reducing its ability to contract . When you lose muscle and what you have left becomes infused with fat , your ability to move and generate force is compromised .
Possible to look more “buff”?

Add a pound of muscle to your body and your resting metabolic rate goes up 37.5 calories per day .

Interestingly , a pound of fat also has a metabolic rate : approximately 2 calories per day . Muscle is 18.75 times as active metabolically as the same amount of fat .

Interleukin 6 : Muscular contraction , especially the negative action , stimulates interleukin – 6 and its receptor , IL – 6Ra , which are chemical messengers that help with the repair and overcompensation of muscle damage and inflammation . IL – 6 also helps in the breakdown of fat stored in fat cells .

With the negative – accentuated style , you are making a 40 to 50 percent greater “ inroad ” into your starting level of strength , compared with the regular style of training .

I believe this deeper inroad stimulates five key hormones — MGF , IL – 6 , IL – 15 , IGF – 1 , and GH — to start pulsating into the bloodstream and trigger physiological changes .

Muscular growth , especially if the person is adhering to a reduced – calorie eating plan , pulls calories from fat cells . IL – 15 and GH , once they circulate , oxidize fat – cell content at a faster – than – normal rate .

Cold also minimizes the microtrauma in the muscle fibers following a workout . Subsequently , as the chilled tissue warms , the increased bloodflow speeds circulation — which , in turn , makes the recovery process more efficient .

For Viator to build 23.43 pounds of muscle — on 1,800 calories a day , which was probably at or below his daily resting metabolic rate — his body had to resort to his fat stores as a source of calories to build muscle .

Rebuild muscle and lose fat , or build muscle and lose fat . You can do the condition that applies to you on a reduced – calorie diet , because nutrition is secondary to growth stimulation .

That feeling , in my opinion , was the key . But again , why ? Because that “ stimulated to grow ” feeling was an indication that those key hormones — MGF , IL – 6 , IGF – 1 , GH , and IL – 15 — described in Chapter 4 had been activated . Getting those hormones into the bloodstream was essential for the fat – loss and muscle – gain breakthrough that I was searching for .

Flanagan handles a lot of resistance . When he trains , which is not very often ( once every 10 days ) , he trains heavy , very heavy .

Then , if you really want a challenge , try working up to a 60 – second positive immediately followed by a 60 – second negative . When you can do that , you probably won’t need my book or my help .

For example : If you did 30 seconds on the negative , 22 seconds on the positive , and 30 seconds on the negative , your notation on your workout sheet would be 30 – 22 – 30 . When you can finally achieve 30 – 30 – 30 , increase the resistance by 5 to 10 percent at your next workout .

Involves a heavier – than – normal overload — which means more force output and more muscle fibers recruited

Recruits more fast – twitch fibers — which contribute predominantly to muscular size  Ensures a higher level of stress per motor unit — which supplies greater stimulation of the involved muscle fibers  Requires greater neural adaptation — which reinforces cross – education of strength gains from one limb or side to the other  Causes more microscopic fiber tears — which ignite the muscle – building process

And there’s a huge benefit , which may be the most important of all . Negative training makes a deeper inroad , repetition by repetition , throughout the entire set — which stimulates the production of growth hormone ( GH ) , insulin – like growth factor 1 ( IGF – 1 ) , mechano – growth factor ( MGF ) , interleukin 6 ( IL – 6 ) , and interleukin 15 ( IL – 15 ) .

Thus , the 30 – 30 – 30 type of occlusion may be another way that the growth process is stimulated .

note that carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy , and — most important from a bodybuilding point of view — carbohydrates are protein sparing . “ Protein sparing ” means that adequate carbohydrates allow a moderate amount of proteins to go a long way . By “ adequate , ” Schendel meant that at least 50 percent of daily calories should be carbohydrates . Proteins then can be used directly for repair and building , which is their primary function in human nutrition .

A large meal of 1,000 calories or more , which is typical in the United States , triggers excessive insulin production . Insulin is your body’s most powerful pro – fat hormone . When it’s released into your body to deal with a spike in blood sugar triggered by a large meal , it prompts fat storage . Small meals of 400 calories or less , by contrast , bring on small insulin responses that don’t encourage fat storage .
True? Evidence?

How do you drink a gallon of ice – cold water a day ? “ With great difficulty , ” you might reply .
Necessary? detrimental?

Lack of carbohydrate , combined with an emphasis on fat and protein , leads to an unhealthy condition called ketosis. Besides producing bad breath , ketosis causes the body to pull nutrients from its muscles , heart , and other internal organs .  The high dietary – fat content of most low – carbohydrate diets is harmful to the cardiovascular system .  Without significant carbohydrates — in the form of fruits , vegetables , and whole grains — the diet predisposes users to a long – term risk of cancer .  A high – protein diet is especially risky for patients with diabetes because it can speed kidney disease .  Daily living without significant amounts of dietary carbohydrates is not conducive to an active lifestyle . And it deprives the brain of its primary source of fuel , thus contributing to a feeling of fatigue , “ brain fog , ” and even depression .
These does not seem right to me on many levels.

If you’ve read the book or have a view on the highlights above, I would be really interested to learn about your thoughts in the comments below.

Ellington Darden, if you’re reading this, I would love to interview you on my show and discuss the above?

Comments 9

  • Hey Lawrence, I really feel prompted to share my thoughts on the above topics in a beautiful sunday morning 😀
    First off all of the “controversal” claims, may be true or not in differnet context. Or as it is recently “modern” among your guests here, to say it depends. And it does! So from top to bottomn:
    “Fat hampers muscle function , reducing its ability to contract . When you lose muscle and what you have left becomes infused with fat , your ability to move and generate force is compromised” – That’s cool, never thought about it like that before, but may be true.
    “…Viator to build 23.43 pounds of muscle — on 1,800 calories a day…” Absolutely possible with the right drive. I’ve seen this on several occasions myself when steroids are used. In fact these drugs were developed as cure and help for severly injured people form whom exercise and nutrition are just impossible, but muscle mass is needed. It is intense training OR “other” drive that makes things happen imo. In fact, imo, most trainees, when they started training, usually focused on working out, without paying much attention to nutrition and after the initial gains period (which happens on their unchanged nitrution in 99% of the time), they start to “look for answers” to continue progressing with the same rate…and nutrition becomes a key field of exploration then ;D
    Negative training = increased muscle damage – There is no agument about this one. Using it depends though. Can you be stimulated wihtout focusing on it? Yes! Can focusing on it be productive? Yes, but depends on the dose and the recovery period and other conditions.
    The Protein… we need to to ramp it up, but again if it is 50%+ of your calories it can be problematic…offering many benefits, it digests difficult and does not seem as the preffered fuel.
    So how much? It Depends. In no way even the most intense training session, done once a week for 30 mins. compares to three, four or more training sessions with regards to protein needs for muscle damadge repairs imo. Same as the “negative only” compares to “typical” training. The requirement surely depends on the demand, frequency and severity of damadge. In fact if you injure yourself and allow rest and recovery is one thing, but if you continue the stress it is another. You don’t have to change your diet to recover your tissues. But you can surely reflect the speed of recovery by allowing rest and good nutrition.
    The “large/small meal” thing and insulin. Same thing. May be true or not depending greatly on the meal frequency imo. On the other hand so many athletes use the 50% + carbs diets…and it is surely tied to their specific mode of training and activity level.
    In the end, I’d like to point out once again that for me the Beauty of modern day HIT is not the “best possible results”, but the best possible Ratio Investments/Results! So all things and claims should be considered in the right context in order to judge true and false.
    Have a great day!
    P.S. I have no opinion about ”the cold” strategy(seems a also a bit risky) or the high-protein or high-fat diets health potential problems.

    • Cheers Kamen. I’ve read that some claim Viator wasn’t on steroids during the Colorado Experiment? Who knows. There is no doubt that negative training works. I just don’t yet believe that accentuated negative training is superior to regular HIT.

      • The only claim regarding this from Dr. Darden, in his older book, that I’ve read was “…Casey may had stayed on steroides during taht time(the Colorado experiment), but Idobt it, because Arthur would be very upset with him if he found out…” or something like that. So, used them or not is left to our belief, but the fact is, that muscle can be added or body transformed with no change in calorie intake or on a calorie deficit under certain circumstances and context. 😀

        • Concentric – most metabolically expensive phase, Static – least energy expenditure, Eccentric – greatest muscle dmage… Depending on the goals and the above various approaches may be designed, accentuated or not… In the end though training is the stimulus, but results follow the recovery period….whatever it is 🙂

  • I have not read the book and I am not well-versed in exercise physiology or an expert in nutrition, but here are my thoughts:

    -A pound of muscle does not burn a lot more than 6kcal(instead of 37.5). I have read this somewhere, but can’t find the source.

    -Interleukin-6: A proper dose of IL-6 is fine, but you don’t want too much of this or any other cytokine I think, as it suggests overtraining in high amounts.
    this paper seems to suggest so: https://insights.ovid.com/pubmed?pmid=10694113 . Also cytokines are not hormones btw.

    – Muscle growth in a caloric deficit is waaay more difficult than this book states if your are not overweight, a beginner or on steroids.

    – I believe he is right about nutrition being secondary to growth stimulation.

    – I am not convinced that 30-30-30 would be a completely different stimulus than a regular 90 TUL set.

    – The 1000 calories thing: insulin’s actions on fat storage must be looked at from a 24-hr perspective. For example, If you eat 1000 calories worth of food at one time, the meals of the rest of the day will be smaller and insulin levels will be low(er).
    Fun fact: insulin is an important appetite suppressant. good source: https://weightology.net/insulin-an-undeserved-bad-reputation/

    – Whenever I drink a lot more water, I also need more salt or I will feel really bad ( messed up electrolyte balance?). Does Dr. Darden give any advice on increasing salt intake?

    – Protein is probably the only macronutrient one should worry about with training adaptations (but wont do anything beyond a certain point). Protein can only be too high if it interferes with eating sufficent variety of quality food . You probably want to take in a minimum fat intake as well. And you must know what you are doing if you are on a ketogenic diet.

    Other than that, anything else is mental masturbation and any diet works as long as mostly whole foods are eaten.
    His macronutrient claims at the end are not really backed up by science as far as I know(does he cite any?). I don’t have a database of papers lying around, but here is a good source about fat/carbs imo: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.nl/2014/06/fat-and-carbohydrate-clarifications-and.html

    – I have only seen some before/after pictures from Darden’s book and the results were very good. Most of these people trained once a week? Sometimes I am a bit skeptical about how Dr.Darden measures his clients results, but the pictures did not lie.



    • Thank you Julien. Appreciate you providing your thoughts and research. I agree with everything you say above. Indeed, Dr Darden’s client results were impressive. However, I think much of the same can be achieved with a standard 60-90 TUL set of full range, positive and negative exercise and a HFLC diet. Cold exposure seems to be effective, so throw that in the mix and I think the results are the same.

  • Regarding the meta analysis by Roig – the abstract of the paper states the following:

    “Meta-analyses showed that when eccentric exercise was performed at higher intensities compared with concentric training, total strength and eccentric strength increased more significantly. However, compared with concentric training, strength gains after eccentric training appeared more specific in terms of velocity and mode of contraction.”

    Now in the academic literature on strength training, intensity traditionally means intensity of load, and not intensity of effort. So Roig’s work shows that when eccentrics are performed at a higher load than (can be) used concentrically, they can give better results. Overload on the eccentric is provided by the ARX, and the X-Force line of equipment. Unfortunately, Darden’s 30-30-30 protocol does not produce an overloaded eccentric. You are simply spending more time in the eccentric, using the same load as the concentric. So there is no reason, based on the paper he sites, to expect that the 30-30-30 protocol that he is promoting via the book is any better than a traditional rep. That seemed like bait and switch to me. The reason is fairly obvious: very few people have access to equipment that actually overloads the eccentric, which would then very much limit the audience for the book.

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