Exercise for the Human Knee
by Ken Hutchins
Note: This material is excerpted from a more-complete chapter in
The Renaissance of Exercise—Volume II (ROE-II) by Ken Hutchins.
In Part I of this series, I described the general anatomy and mechanics about the knee. Then I explained transposition between rotary-form and linear-form motion that occurs both within the body and within the mechanics of an exercise machine. I culminated this presentation with the idea of transpositional shift. Therein, I made no allusions to the mechanical couple or the coupled movement arm.
In Part II, I explained that a rotary-form exercise machine allows rotary-form joint movement but might not impose rotation at the joint. Then I clearly described the meaning of the gobbledygook often spouted as closed-chain or open-chain exercise and its related shear force nonsense. In the course of explaining and condemning these ideas, I provided graphics and discussion regarding the changing reactionary forces at play in various exercises. I did briefly allude to the coupled movement arm.
In Part III, I provided (March 2013) the resistance curves of several of the older Nautilus Leg Extension machines as well as curves and/or commentary regarding Cybex®/Eagle®, MedX®, SuperSlow®, David®, and RenEx®. I did this to show the often-overlooked external variances of load placed on the knee by different knee extension devices. I used this information to present my personal rankings of these products regarding shear threat to the knee. I completed with the suggestion that the coupled movement arm is the solution to many—albeit perhaps irrational—fears regarding knee exercise.
Now, for the first time, I present detailed analysis of the coupled movement arm.
The Coupled Movement Arm
If the shear talkers insist on their supposed dangers regarding knee extension exercise (especially during the last 15-30 degrees of extension), the coupled movement arm is the probable cure to their nightmares. Of course, one of the many problems with nightmares is that they are often not reality. However, such irrational fear often permanently prejudices the mind to consider reasonable outcomes and beneficial solutions.
A quick definition of the mechanical couple found on-line is:
… a system of forces with a resultant (a.k.a. net, or sum) moment but no resultant force. Another term for a couple is a pure moment. Its effect is to create rotation without translation, or more generally without any acceleration of the centre of mass.
For example, the coupled movement arm in a knee flexion machine applies two pads at indirectly opposing positions, distal to the knee. Equal and opposite forces, indirectly applied, allow rotation at only the knee—theoretically. Also note that the reactionary torque—not force—on the proximal bone—the femur in this case—is always in the same direction. This constant reactionary tendency is always about the knee with the opposite and equal torque as the movement-arm torque.
The first Nautilus product to emerge with a coupled movement arm was the On-the-Side Leg Curl (knee flexion). Shortly afterward, it was Keith Johnson’s (MD) idea to rotate the subject’s body attitude into a seated position and make the first Nautilus Seated Leg Curl (knee flexion) incorporating the same coupled movement arm that was first found in the On-the-Side machine.
I, alone, championed Keith’s idea at Nautilus. After trying for nearly two years to get Arthur to consider Keith’s idea, I convinced George Johns to build one in the Nautilus prototype shop. I then explained its requirement for a floating seat, but George postponed this indefinitely saying that perhaps a deluxe version incorporating a moving seat could be considered later.
Nevertheless, when Arthur first saw the prototype—fixed seat—and asked George to demonstrate it, Arthur exclaimed that it was the most important new product the company had developed in years. And, as I later learned, this was a critical moment for Arthur as he was trying to make the company appear to have a future of growth and innovation so that he could sell it. The date was late May of 1986.
Ellington Darden overheard Arthur’s excitement and mentioned that, “Ken Hutchins has been trying to get someone to build this for two years,” Arthur quipped, “Well, why didn’t he come talk to me about it?!”
I immediately and consistently railed that this seated knee flexion machine required a freely translating seat, but it did not get one until I made one for SuperSlow® Systems approximately 14 years after my protest began.
Regardless of my proclamations about the requirement for a translating seat, Nautilus and MedX marketed fixed-seat versions of seated/coupled-movement-arm knee flexion machines. The latest Nautilus incarnation is the Nautilus One that purports to cure the problem with its floating-axis movement arm, although the seat is fixed. Sorry, this doesn’t go far enough.
With the Nautilus One, the translation range of its axis is arbitrarily fixed which might be perfect for some subjects, too much for others, and inadequate for a third group. And these categories are inter-dependent upon the seat back being expertly and unlikely placed at a distance particular to the subject’s thigh length. Load, pad compression, flesh compression, and bone bending figure into this as well.
Ken’s dictum: The seat must freely translate! Nothing short of this is acceptable!
Now note that to “freely translate” the seat’s range must not delimit the largest possible translational range of any subject’s knee eccentricity. This means that no subject—small or large, normal or abnormal—is going to move fore and aft far enough to abut the ends of the seat’s travel when the seatback is properly set and the leg(s) are properly positioned in the couple of the movement arm.
The On-the-Side Distraction
Both Nautilus and MedX introduced their coupled-movement arm devices with an on-the-side body orientation. At least Nautilus ceased the on-the-side approach. And while MedX almost simultaneously made its fixed-seat Seated Leg Curl, MedX trudged onward with its on-the-side folly by making its version of the On-the-Side Leg Curl and its On-the-Side Abdominal (Hip or “Torso” flexion) machines.
MedX also produced its coupled-movement-arm, On-the-Side Hip&Back (hip extension) machine. It is shown in the middle of this video on YouTube (Starting at 1:54):
(Although with a supine orientation, I made the first-attempt prototype at a coupled-movement-arm Hip&Back machine at Nautilus in late 1986. It worked, but was not practical in the way I left it unfinished.)
MedX also made an extremely expensive on-the-side Medical Lumbar machine. Arthur Jones justified this monstrosity to eliminate the bodytorque in the exercise as well as in testing. For those readers not aware, bodytorque is the undesirable effect of the body’s mass acting upon the machine’s movement arm. This mass (length, mass, and mass
distribution along the length) produces torque magnitudes that vary against gravity depending upon the position of the body’s mass relative to the axis of rotation. In some exercises where large body parts are involved, this is a serious concern. For smaller limbs—especially the proximal arms and legs—it is of lesser concern, usually negligible.
Rotation about a vertical axis (on-the-side) perfectly solves the bodytorque problem, but it introduces other problems that were not there with a horizontal-axis orientation. It now becomes exceedingly difficult to keep the spine straight. And this criticism includes the head and neck. It also requires that one side of the body support the subject’s weight. And this often causes an undesirable, uneven loading on bilateral musculatures.
One aspect of the historical progression from non-coupled-movement-arm to coupled- movement-arm design that still puzzles me is why use the on-the-side attitude for knee flexion in the first place. Yes, I appreciate the bodytorque frustration with the trunk exercises such as Hip&Back, Abdominal, and the Medical Lumbar machines, but Leg Curl?! Unless dealing with a very specific need to address a very debilitated patent, lower-leg bodytorque is not worth the effort—at least not for the general population. And I as alluded before, Nautilus wisely dropped the approach, while MedX—I’m sure with Arthur’s out-of-touch steering—continued in this outrageous direction.
Still, why start with an on-the-side coupled-movement-arm Leg Curl in the first place? My hunch is that the Nautilus engineers merely wanted to satisfy Arthur’s penchant for making something—anything—with a vertical axis. This was in 1982. And what we see coming out of MedX a decade later seems to show that Arthur remained hell bent on this penchant.
By the way, although on-the-side machines still remain in the field, they are no longer offered by any manufacturer that I am aware.
More Specifics of the Couple
By studying the photographs supplied herein, you can now appreciate several aspects of the couple. As you refer to the picture of the SuperSlow Systems Seated Leg Curl I now repeat some of its already-mentioned details as well as add some new ones for clarity. I number the points:
- Referring to the joint, per se, the coupled movement arm imposes a reactionary torque, (not the variously-directioned reactionary forces discussed and illustrated in Part II of this series) against the actionary torque of the knee.
- All force(s) about the movement arm and legs—actionary and reactionary—is/are contained distally to the knee and cancelled into the lower-leg bones. Therefore, there is no shear at the knee joints.
- The overall reactionary effect upon the subject’s body is to rotate her clockwise regardless of knee position. Therefore, if we consider all of her body that is proximal to the knee as a system, that system experiences a torque in any particular position.
- And since torque is a product of two factors (lever and force), then that product can be factored. The force (in addition to her partial bodyweight) between her buttocks and the seat is a factor of the systemic torque.
- Therefore, application of the coupled movement arm shields all external forces from the knee. Force is either contained below the knee between the two movement-arm pads or factored out of the systemic torque upstream (proximal to the knee).
Note: I have been aware of points #1 and #3 for 29 years. In fact, I have occasionally discussed these points with some advanced instructors as well as other prototypists over the years. And each of these conversations was a one-way conversation. No one has ever told me any of this. I have never read any of this. And none of my engineer contacts at Nautilus or MedX have posited back to me that it was incorrect, or that it was useful information around which to design equipment, or even so much as a “so what?”
My remaining points #2, #4, and #5 are completely new—at least to me.
One last emphasis on the five points: I state that the coupled movement arm renders containment and cancellation of the reactionary forces into the bones distal to the knee joint. This is correct. But do not interpret this to mean that the forces go away. They do not. They are merely grounded—so to speak—into the bones (as well as some of the soft tissue surrounding the bones, especially the calf musculatures). The shear is now on the bones proximal to the knees.
There are conditions where this must be considered. And one of these is the fact that there is a minimal distance that the coupling pads must be arranged from each other. As the proximal and distal couple pads approach closer together, the forces (shear) become exponential! Of course, the knees don’t care about this, but your bones might.
The Coupled-Movement-Arm Knee Machine:
A Dynamic Jig?
An Exoskeletal Joint?
A Loadable Brace?
In theory, a couple-movement arm allows for safe rotation about a knee that has no cruciates, indeed no ligaments at all. The couple protects the joint—in a sense, becomes the joint!
My five specific points about the couple—of course—are theoretical. But with a properly designed machine, they are also reality. They have immense practical value for many subjects. This reality evaporates, however, with excessive speed, i.e., anything faster than about 8 seconds uniformly performed. Therefore a strict adherence to a 10/10 protocol is mandatory to prevent couple failure.
[Like everything else in the world, technical measurements assume a tolerance. When I stipulate a “strict adherence to a 10/10 protocol,” this is known by the knowledgeable in our field to have a +/- 0.2 tolerance. It has been detailed in every edition of the SuperSlow Technical Manual and the RenEx Textbook (ROE-I).]
When the subject moves just slightly too fast to maintain volitional control the mechanical couple of the movement arm fails. This is almost always the result of excessive speed and/or subscribing to the assumed objective.
Note the pictures of the SuperSlow Systems Biceps machine above. In the first, the elbows are correctly held against the more-proximal arm pad. In this elbow position near and nearing the top of the positive range, the elbows are likely to leave this proximal pad as depicted in the second photo. This discrepancy occurs literally because the subject has improper thoughts.
The correct behavior does not occur merely because the subject elects to push her elbows forward. The couple, alone, will take care of this. The couple will bring the proximal forearms forward and tight to the proximal pad. But the subject must allow this to occur.
And the subject allows this to properly occur by subscribing to the real objective, by commanding her body to: “Bend my elbows.”
If the subject goes the natural way—subscribing to the assumed objective and commands her body to lift the weights by pulling the movement arm backwards—we have couple failure. Couple failure is evidenced by the proximal forearms leaving the proximal pads.
With such misbehavior we are instantly returned to incurring actionary and reactionary forces (as in a non-coupled movement arm)—instead of an actionary torque against a reactionary torque (as in a coupled movement arm). Fast movement coupled with mindlessness and carelessness uncouples the couple. And with this we lose the attributes of the couple.
In more specific language: Assume the subject has been properly schooled regarding the RenEx protocol as well as the correct execution of the exercise. As soon as she begins to move slightly too fast (~eight seconds or faster), she can no longer certify her avoidance of the assumed objective. Fast speed begets mindlessness and carelessness. Carelessness begets ratcheting and falling through. And falling through begets couple failure.
Note that, seemingly, we might put a seat back on the Biceps machine to blunt any rearward movement of the subject’s torso. Although I will consider this design, I have misgivings about it, because it does not prevent the volition for incorrect behavior. It merely blunts it. The incorrect thought—or worse, the lack of thought—not only remains, it is somewhat encouraged.
Although we will only study the Biceps machine with the regard to couple failure, herein, suffice it to say that such failure is possible in the coupled movement arms for all the other machines incorporating these special movement arms.
Practical Application to Leg Extension Design
Once Nautilus produced a coupled movement arm for a Leg Curl machine, Arthur expressed doubt that such a movement arm had other applications. He explained that the tibia tuberocity was perhaps the toughest area of the body, and that it made the coupled movement arm possible for the Nautilus Leg Curl.
It just did not seem possible for the couple to work when the proximal pad would be needed against the calf as in knee extension, against the pericubitous area of the forearm as in triceps extension or against other like areas. Of course, the olecranon proved worthily robust to apply the couple with the brachial biceps flexion exercise (curl). And then came couples that seemed to defy Arthur’s prediction: Hip&Back (me and MedX), Triceps (SuperSlow Systems).
Several years ago I heard a rumor that someone had made a neck machine with a coupled movement arm. I find this both unlikely and scary. I could never ascertain that the source of this report really understood the definition of a couple.
And to the best of my knowledge, no one else has yet to design a coupled movement arm for knee extension. I have done this, and we at RenEx are presently building it. And once complete, it will be the most perfect knee rehabilitation machine ever developed. However, we already have that distinction with both our dynamic and static devices. Putting a coupled movement arm on the dynamic device will merely jettison our lead in the industry a quantum leap ahead than it already is.
Meanwhile, our new static iLELC (Isometric Leg Extension/Leg Curl) addresses knee concerns that might allow for better control in certain rehab situations. The iLELC was first unveiled at the Future of Exercise Conference in Cleveland on October 6-7, 2012. The following pictures show many of its features.
If the static approach appeases the shear talkers, the new RenEx iLELC is made to order. For either knee flexion or extension, the knee musculatures can be deeply inroaded while keeping the knee in various mid-range positions to avoid extreme extension and/or painful positions. What’s more, TSC can be performed with exact force identification and recording of painful thresholds, if any, so that they can be avoided and tracked for abatement and improvement. This is what the physical therapy community has wanted and needed for decades—and now it’s here!
In addition, the long movement-arm handle, reminiscence of the dynamic SuperSlow System Leg Extension machine, has been retained for the convenience of joint lubrication.
I designed the iLELC to operate with one movement arm that drives two stack pins in opposite directions using one continuous drive belt anchored in one drive wheel.
Either stack pin is engaged with a single top plate that compresses a single load cell.
With the application of TSC, we are able to dispense with some of the rigors of dynamic Leg Extension design. I hereby explain:
In the iLELC, the seatback is adjustable to accommodate the thigh length and buttocks depth in the usual fashion of most any knee extension machine.
However, the seat bottom is height adjustable on the front end to accommodate various lower leg lengths against the movement arm pad. This does affect knee/movement-arm alignment somewhat, but this is not a concern in a standardized static exercise.
The seat bottom adjustment also affects the hip angle, and would position taller subjects into muscular insuffiencies at full active knee extension, but this is no concern for performing mid-range TSC, the preferred positions for TSC.
And although dynamic knee flexion demands an abbreviated seat whereby the subject’s weight is primarily supported on the buttocks and not the hamstrings, TSC knee flexion exercise can utilize a seat that is the full length of the buttocks and thighs. This is possible because the TSC—again—is performed mid-range, and the distal thighs rise slightly from the seat as the lower legs are pulled against the movement arm. The hamstrings are, therefore, not compressed during the exercise on the iLELC.
The following photographs serve to augment my descriptions of this new and very effective device.
—Drum Roll and Herald Trumpets Please—
A Coupled Movement Arm for Knee Extension Exercise!
Just after completing Part III of this series (March 2013) I began to force the idea that I could build a coupled movement arm for a Leg Extension machine. My challenge was—not so much the issue of tolerance for the calf muscles—but the concern that the legs fall downward into the couple. I reasoned that I must admit the requirement to make adjustable stirrups for the feet.
The stirrups would certainly work, although I did not want to revert to horse-and-buggy technology. Then, on Tuesday, March 26, I saw the possibility of a dropout support for the thighs—a floor that supports the thighs (as well as the entire lower extremities like the front edge of a straight chair) during rest (entering or exiting the machine)—that rotates away and out from under the thighs as the movement arm is forced out of the starting position.
By April 1, 2013, I finished the prototype drawings and by Friday, April 5, 2013, my prototypists had it fabricated and installed on my vintage SuperSlow Systems Leg Extension machine. It works!
Then, we obtained photographic stills and videos and submitted it all for the patent process to begin. Provisionals have now been filed. So now I can share with you a few pictures, videos and reports.
We made two of these new movement arms with translating seats to install on our existing SuperSlow Systems Leg Extension machines in-house here and in Cleveland. They are being tested in these facilities to collect answers to the following questions and many more that we expect to arise:
- What is the best means to enter/exit this movement arm, and what do we need to improve this facility?
- Can it be applied to a wide or range of subjects, and are there specific conditions that need to avoid it?
- Do subjects with cruciate ligament concerns fare better with this movement arm than the typical—non-coupled—movement arm? (We believe that this answer is already at hand.)
- How are patellar/patellar-tendon concerns tolerated by this movement arm?
- How adjustable do we need to make this device?
- Do we desire to produce a Leg Extension machine with this device and also include a bodytorque counterweighting mechanism?
In the meantime, I used the new device twice as soon as it was installed and once again in mid-April. I had sustained some right patello-femoral trauma from using the Nautilus One Leg Extension back in 2009 and then more trauma to this site from jumping off the back of a delivery truck in 2011. Therefore, I was hesitant to try this device with a full load, especially since I considered this issue to be a patello-femoral problem.
Before attempting a light resistance (80 lbs), I thoroughly lubricated my knees using other available equipment. Then, to my surprise, I encountered no problems with the couple.
So I ramped the weight up to a moderate level (200 lbs—I regularly use 250 lbs on this device when my knees permit) and performed ten repetitions. Still, I encountered no problems, but I stopped there pending what my knees would report the following day. The next day I still had no problems.
I waited a couple of weeks and repeated my first experience. Afterwards, I did not do more until Josh Trentine arrived in May.
Joshua Trentine/Male/42-years old/Knee History by Josh Trentine
My first occurrence of knee issues began with anterior knee pain in 1984. It presented with inflammation and pain under the knee caps. It was diagnosed as “bilateral chondromalacia.” This condition was treated with strength exercise in a conventional physical therapy setting. I did get some relief, but anterior knee pain just became something I learned to live with from 1984 till 1990 when I began to have worse knee problems.
In 1990, I was badly injured while playing football. The injury occurred from an illegal chop block from behind. I ruptured my right anterior cruciate ligament, my medial collateral ligament, and had damage to my lateral collateral ligament as well as incurred a meniscus tear. Needless to say, my knee(s) have never been the same since.
The surgical reconstruction was a patellar tendon transfer. And when I am lean the heads of the anchoring screws are palpable and visibly outlined just under the skin on my proximal, medial tibia.
In my opinion, the methods for rehabbing the knee from the reconstruction were quite poor compared with the information I have now.
The knee surgery led to further complications which included right sacroiliac joint pain and the first signs of patello-femoral degenerative joint disease in my early 20s!
Needles to say, I’ve suffered with knee pain for most of my life by now. This condition has limited what activities and exercise I can do. Only with SuperSlow protocol was I able to resume intense and pain-free exercise.
The only other thing I could get away with was the occasional use of static contractions (TSC), but in the end both of these methods caused my knees to flare up so much that I decided to only do the SuperSlow Systems Leg Press thus avoiding the Leg Extension. This approach went on for a duration of about five years. Any other movement, of even different leg press machines, was bound to flare up my knees. Ken Hutchins’ SuperSlow Systems Leg Press became the tool and the method by which I could intensely train my lower extremities.
In 2011, Ken slightly decreased the range of motion on the SuperSlow Systems Leg Extension and made the fall-off faster although the total ratio of fall-off remained essentially the same. This difference was alluded to in Exercise for the Knee—Part III. I tried this and found it to allow my knee to perform heavy leg extension exercise for the first time in years. These changes were immediately installed in our machine in Cleveland as well as in the Leg Extension in Toronto.
Fast Forward to 2013: The new Coupled-Movement-Arm RenEx Leg Extension allows me to perform intense knee extension exercise pain-free and seems to really open up the knee joint. By this I mean that during the negative, the tibia seems to distract from the femur. I consider this to be a good attribute.
In 2013, I visited and used the prototype RenEx Coupled-Movement-Arm Leg Extension machine in the Florida RenEx lab three times. My first experience on the device was on May 24, 2013.
After some adjustments, I performed two sets. The second set was with the entire weight stack (350 lbs). As my knees have profound cruciate pathology and associated repairs, I was gratified to see that the couple allowed me to perform this second set to deep failure with five repetitions.
On July 20, I performed an entire workout with the prototype RenEx Coupled-Movement-Arm Leg Extension as the last exercise. I performed five repetitions again with 350 lbs and suffered no knee pain or limitation whatsoever. In fact, I had a feeling of enhanced knee security the following day.
I repeated this again with the same effect and outcome on November 24. The following link provides some video of my performance using this unique movement arm.
John Parr/Male/46-years old/Knee History by John Parr
Off and on from my late 20s to mid 40s, I have experienced knee pain and discomfort in one form or another: patellar tendonitis, stiffness, swelling, etc.
In the summer of 2007, my knee pain and swelling became severe enough to prevent me from strength training. I could barely walk or stand. Even sleeping was disrupted. After several months of suffering, in October of 2007, I decided to have surgery on my right knee.
At age 40, surgery revealed osteoarthritis. The surgeon said that he could not fix it and that I would be a candidate for a knee replacement in the future.
Then he said that the left knee looked worse than the operative (right) and, that although it was not yet symptomatic, it probably would be soon.
He was right. Six months later the left knee was worse than the right. I was devastated! How could this be? I always followed safe, sound, evidence-based, training advice. And, on the supposed finest equipment: Nautilus®, MedX®, and Hammer Strength®. My legs were my strongest, most well-developed body part, and I was proud of them. But I had to give up all leg training. I could not tolerate the pain.
Both of my knees are defective. There are dime-sized potholes opposite (underneath) my patellas that catch as I flex and extend my knees. This causes articular cartilage to be broken down with the deterioration of both my knee joints. Result: Inflammation and pain, as well as the need for doctor appointments to aspirate fluid with a huge syringe 3- 4 times a year. As the years passed my legs looked bad and atrophied.
Then, in 2009, I noticed a co-worker training hard, getting freakishly strong, and looking better every week by using the SuperSlow protocol.
I first met Ken Hutchins, the founder of the protocol, at his shop in 2003. I remember reading about his protocol in various books and articles over the years. And I knew it would be out of necessity that I use SuperSlow, now referred to as the RenEx Protocol, to try to resume training my legs effectively. Because of this man’s brilliant protocol, I could do a Leg Press without pain for the first time in years, and I got stronger. The rest is history.
In 2011, I went to the first-ever RenEx event where the new line of RenEx machines was unveiled. I became friends with Ken, Josh, Al, Gus, and the rest of the staff at Overload Fitness.
Fast forward to October 24, 2013: I was invited to visit Ken at his shop in Florida where a new prototype RenEx Coupled-Movement-Arm Leg Extension machine was being tested. I was anxious to try it.
Understanding the science behind how it was built, plus the fact that I have used probably over 25 different models from 15 or more different manufacturers of Leg Extension machines—all of them producing pain in my knees when I tried them—I expected this prototype to hurt my knees. I don’t know if it was because of the fantastic new coupled movement arm or the radical cam profile, but I did not feel any pain during or after performing the exercise precisely as directed.
As another benefit, you don’t need the use of the arms or hands on this version of the Leg Extension. You can just relax the hands and arms and really direct your effort on contracting your quads! You really stay seated in the machine!
This new machine feels like it is, and actually is, setting your knee into its proper alignment.
For days afterward, my knees felt great as I helped Ken clean up the back part of the shop by carrying heavy boxes up and down very steep stairs.
Great Job with the new machine guys! People like myself need it, and it’s the only one I feel safe enough on to put out a maximum effort as I go to failure in a set.
It seems we have a huge success with this movement arm. And as far as I know, this is a technology where no one else has gone before for the knee.
And many of our questions—already generalized—have formative answers. Yes, we have a way to go before we arrive at its ultimate development, but we are now well beyond the “Is-this-possible?” stage. And we are convinced that many knees require this device.
More generally, our success with the Coupled-Movement-Arm Leg Extension begs some historical questions:
- Why did Arthur Jones not already develop this? It was not easy for me to do, but it was not extremely difficult.
- Why did Arthur convince so many of his fans that the Leg Extension couple was impossible?
- Why do other self-professed biomechanics experts and prototypists among us declare that a Leg Extension couple is impossible—nuts to even try? Is this merely due to their blind respect for Arthur’s supposed omniscience on the subject?
- And is it really true that I am the only one to develop this approach? If so, why so? (Please inform me if others have succeeded.)
I am now in disbelief that these things are not already ubiquitous. Have all of us merely suppressed our own minds? Just ponder the thousands of physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons and equipment designers and biomechanical engineers and prosthesis companies and brace designers who have apparently overlooked this for the last several hundred years.
And might it be true that others did design this coupled movement arm, but then quickly abandoned it because it was impossible to safely control due to their application of excessive speed and unenlightened principles of cam effect?
This concludes my series regarding exercise for the knee. I plan much more detail on this subject for the upcoming The Renaissance of Exercise—Volume II (ROE-2). With the exception that the RenEx Coupled-Movement-Arm Leg Extension is to continue development, I plan to focus entirely on the ROE-2. For now, I hope that this series has provided insight into a subject that demands serious discussion and application.
I have been receiving many questions regarding Graded Rep Intent from the general public.
This is an article that we posted on the Inner Circle last summer…
Rather than rewriting, the easiest thing to do is post the article that was previously only published to the elite Inner Circle members.
If you’re NOT an Inner Circle member, if you become one, you’ll have access to many articles that the general public with never see.
If you ARE an Inner Circle member, we promise this will not will not be a recurring theme.
Graded Rep Intent
This article, written by Al Coleman, describes Josh’s Graded Rep Intent in the corresponding Biceps Exercise video.
Repetition Number 1
1. With extreme attention, build up force in a fashion gradual enough to barely break inertia.
2. After inertia has been imperceptibly broken, proceed through the positive stroke whilst going as fast as you can with a minimum or 25% effort.
3. At the upper turnaround, make an imperceptible change in direction and proceed through the negative stroke at a speed equal to the positive stroke. You may have to move at what feels like a slightly faster speed to accomplish this.
4. Approach the lower turn carefully, but not so carefully that you begin to create segmentation.
Repetition Number 2
1. After making an imperceptible turn around, and without any pausing, proceed through the positive stroke as fast as you can with a moderate or 50% effort.
2. At the upper turnaround, make an imperceptible change in direction and proceed through the negative stroke at a speed equal to the positive stroke. You may have to move at what feels like a slightly faster speed to accomplish this.
3. Approach the lower turn carefully, but not so carefully that you begin to create segmentation.
Repetition Number 3
1. After making an imperceptible turn around, and without any pausing, proceed through the positive stroke as fast as you can with an effort that is almost as hard as you dare or 75%.
2. At the upper turnaround, make an imperceptible change in direction (compound pushing movements only. Rotary and compound pulling exercise have different rules) and proceed through the negative stroke at a speed equal to the positive stroke. You may have to move at what feels like a slightly faster speed to accomplish this.
3. Approach the lower turn carefully, but not so carefully that you begin to create segmentation.
Repetition Number 4 and Every Rep Thereafter Until Failure
1. After making an imperceptible turn around, and without any pausing, proceed through the positive stroke as fast as you can with an effort that is as fast as you can with a 100% effort.
2. At the upper turnaround, make an imperceptible change in direction (compound pushing movements only. Rotary and compound pulling exercise have different rules) and proceed through the negative stroke being careful not to allow the negative to run away from you.
3. Approach the lower turn carefully, but not so carefully that you begin to create segmentation.
Addendum: I wrote this article in order to show some real time parallels between dynamic and TSC protocols. If you take note the article is described the same way that TSC is sans the movement and speed.
I also wanted to show some general misconceptions regarding speed and the dynamic protocol. The end product of speed is a conglomeration of equipment(resistance curves,etc…) and perfect turnarounds. The description of speed is preceded by a number of qualifiers and those qualifiers increase in importance and number as fatigue sets in.
All of the machines have the white upholstery, grey trim and silver frame color.
They are in excellent condition as they were bought new and only used within my facility for SuperSlow, these machines are very rare here in the USA, but are sold all over Europe and were used at the training center for the Beijing Olympics games.
All of the machines have upgraded heavy weight stacks.
The Abdominal is a medical machine, one which DAVID swears by in their back rehab programs.
David used fused movement arms and cam fall off after maximum moment which makes these machine very compatible with SuperSlow protocol.
I have to empty out my storage so the machines are at a must sell price, they won’t last long, for more info call my cell 440-479-6107 or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
RenEx liquidation of equipment used in prototyping.
This is a 2007 MedX, NFL model Pullover with
upgraded weight stacks and wider dimensions.
This machine has less than 100 sets on it and
had never been used in a commercial setting.
I believe that this machine was over $7,000 new and installed…
It must go and I will take the best offer on it.
I was told by a broker that I should easily get $2,500 for it
but I’m anticipating going under that.
(We do have more machines that will go up in the coming weeks at very good prices.)
Dear Ken and Brenda Hutchins, Josh and the RenEx Team,
I would like to begin this letter by apologizing for my ignorance that I skillfully showcased on your website’s comments section. I finished reading The Renaissance of Exercise – A Virtruvian Adventure – entirely over the last 3 days. This manual has enlightened me on many subjects and has actually exposed many false assumptions that I previously held concerning your exercise philosophy and recommendations. I could list with greater specificity the number of errors that I made, but for brevity’s sake the largest was probably the time under load and set duration issue. I could not have been more mistaken and it was misguided to extrapolate only small, fragmented parts of your earlier writings and place them totally out of context. Another way of stating it: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle. I have found that this saying seems applicable to much of your exercise philosophy – as I now understand it. I now see the fitness industry’s chicanery and RenEx’s research based approach analogous to alchemy facing chemistry or astrology meeting astronomy. Recently, my wife remarked that the two places she is assured to see the most overweight and unhealthy people are whole food/organic stores and entering a Zumba class. I commit to oppose these silly practices and will attempt to make a difference for the few that I can reach. I credit you for awakening me. It was much like a “red pill and blue pill” moment for me.
I do not recall when or where, but I once read that Arthur was an admirer of a poem he referred to as “the hunting of the slan”. I couldn’t find a poem by that title. Finally, I found this writing by Edgar Allan Poe that Arthur was referring to and would like to share it with you.
by Edgar Allan Poe
I have sometimes amused myself by endeavoring to fancy what would be the fate of any individual gifted, or rather accursed, with an intellect very far superior to that of his race. Of course, he would be conscious of his superiority; nor could he (if otherwise constituted as man is) help manifesting his consciousness. Thus he would make himself enemies at all points. And since his opinions and speculations would widely differ from those of all mankind — that he would be considered a madman, is evident. How horribly painful such a condition! Hell could invent no greater torture than that of being charged with abnormal weakness on account of being abnormally strong.
In like manner, nothing can be clearer than that a very generous spirit — truly feeling what all merely profess — must inevitably find itself misconceived in every direction — its motives misinterpreted. Just as extremeness of intelligence would be thought fatuity, so excess of chivalry could not fail of being looked upon as meanness in its last degree: — and so on with other virtues. This subject is a painful one indeed. That individuals have so soared above the plane of their race, is scarcely to be questioned; but, in looking back through history for traces of their existence, we should pass over all biographies of”the good and the great,” while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows.
This gives me pause – not only when I consider how you might have felt when ridiculed and rejected by people of less intellect, but the great tragedy of a tremendous opportunity only to be squandered by failing to embrace a rational philosophy of proper exercise – Renaissance Exercise. My mother is now crippled as the result of a physical therapist’s neglect and ineptitude. These are the same people that profess exercise knowledge in such an insolent manner yet produce very little if anything resembling rehabilitation. After a second knee replacement and both hips, my mother’s physical therapy regimen was to walk (rather shuffle) with a walker for 30 minutes, 3 times weekly and have the therapist place a goniometer next to her knee and then read it incorrectly. Of course, I was across the country and by the time I moved back, the therapist’s work was finished. TSC and slow cadence exercise represent the only safe form of exercise for my mother. She is slowly making progress and I will make modifications to carefully follow your protocol revisions and recommendations as I understand them.
Ken, I remember reading an article in which you gave tremendous credit to Arthur and suggested that anyone reading that article or exercising should send Arthur a dollar – or something to that effect. I wish to express my gratitude to you. Joshua showed tremendous patience and alacrity answering my questions. I remain perplexed concerning thorough inroad theory for various reasons, but mainly comparing the example of a push up test at a fast speed vs slow speed and which set renders muscle failure most quickly. Perhaps Gus is correct when using the analogy of the orange. Some things probably need to be experienced in order to be fully appreciated. Maybe it’s an inability to properly receive all of the information – much the same if you attempted explaining calculus to someone who had never been taught basic math or algebra. This has been yet another tremendous learning opportunity for me and I thank you and your team for providing this opportunity, even if you were unaware of the influence you imparted. I will continue to learn, submit to those more knowledgeable and fight complacency – regardless of the struggle or embarrassment ensued.
I was elated to receive my copy signed by you – Thank you!
Well it’s New Year’s eve and I imagine most are going out of 2013 with plenty of food, drink, and little concern for exercise until Jan 2nd is upon us and all of the gyms fill up and new diet plans start. Well I have a unique resolution, I’ve been training very hard for some time without a layoff, and my last 3 week lay-off was in December of 2013. My Bizzaro New Year’s resolution is to begin 2014 with a full month lay-off from training.
I’m very pleased with my progress in 2013 at age 43.
I feel that I brought my physique and functional ability to new levels. I have been training and watching my diet with extreme focus since July 1st of 2013. I have not taken any lay-off of training 2x/week since December of 2012 where I took 3 weeks off straight. Now it is time to rest.
To get refocused on RenEx developments.
Get my nose back in the books.
And finish some projects.
Mike Mentzer was the first to educate me about the importance of scheduled layoffs.
“If you have been training without any layoff prior to the time you intend to start a intense program, take a break from training for AT LEAS TWO TO THREE WEEKS. Having been over-trained, you have made a deep inroad into your recovery ability. It is important that the inroad has been overcome, so that you start with a properly conducted routine, your body is recovered all of the biochemical resources necessary for optimal response.”
Later on I had read a number of things Ken Hutchins said about recovery, the statement that stands out for me is:
“Progressively deeper inroads will ultimately demand progressively deeper demands on nutrition, rest and time off to recuperate”
Old time bodybuilders seemed to show a keener sense for the use of scheduled layoffs, perhaps this understanding has to do with a time before performance enhancing drugs?
I had been aware that the great Steve Reeves frequently laid off of training and took a hiatus of over 1 year prior to coming back to win the 1950 Mr.Universe.
This was part of Steve’s philosophy, but he was also required to scale down his physique for some of his acting gigs.
So the question you may be asking yourself is “do I need a layoff too”
This is a tough question to answer and I never prescribe layoffs for my clients because life handles that for them… they miss when the go on vacation, are sick, or struggling through busy times and work and holidays…they miss enough time.
For me personally the situation is different, I have access to good training anywhere I go and it’s been many years since I didn’t feel well enough to train at least once in a given week.
So, this isn’t an “easy” move…we crave the rush of endorphins and enkephalins from a intense workout and then there are the psychological factors that come into play when going into that third and fourth week as the muscles don’t look quite as full.
From my experience I think it’s well worth the wait as you can expect a great rebound from the layoff that could last you 2 or 3 months.
So who deserves a break this year? Please feel free to share your experiences and for Inner Circle members feel to discuss “rebound effect” and aspects of recovery over on the private site.
Yes, I’m ashamed it’s one of my guilty pleaures and may be part of my layoff.
These are graphs of data that was collected for the MedX seated dip weight stack system early this year for friction measurement. Both graph the same data. One graph is zoomed in on the data. At the start of ROM the MedX seated dip stack has very low friction. At the end of ROM it peaks at a bit less than 2 percent. This was really the start of Project X. Project X will do this type of measurement while a person is training so we will know if the machine is functioning properly or not at all times. Unlike so many other force graphs out there these are by angle, not by time. The orange is the positive, the grey the negative. The difference between the orange line and grey line is the amount of force difference caused by friction.
RenEx has a number of very high quality used pieces
we are going to sell, each week we’ll feature one.
And of course, as always, new RenEx is for sale too.
Retrofitted SuperSlow Systems Ventral Torso
This is an original SSS Ventral Torso that has been completely re-conditioned by Gus Diamantopoulos.
The weight stack features an Ultra-Glide top plate running on hardened matching guide rods and each of the bottom plates are fitted with premium virgin teflon inserts for nearly frictionless operation.
All fasteners, belts, and upholstery has been replaced and the machine performs with butter-like smoothness.
Contact Gus: email@example.com.
Serious inquiries only please.
by Pete Collins
It started with a visit to the Renaissance of Exercise website, the articles were thought provoking, precise and professional, free of pop culture, gimmicks, ego & spin. My curiosity grew to a somewhat moderate level, I purchased Ken’s The Renaissance of Exercise Vol 1, my interest grew to somewhat more of a moderate level, I enrolled to study Level 1 certification, upon studying the material and viewing the videos my interest ramped up to a maximal hard as I dare passion for the principles outlined and practiced by the team at RenEx & Overload Fitness.
It was an easy decision to invest in the cost of the study material, the book, the FOE DVD’s, flights from Melbourne Australia and hotel fees in Beachwood Ohio because I felt fully confident that the knowledge I would access on this trip would be well worth the investment.
Travis, an articulate, well presented and pleasant young man kindly picked me up from my hotel to visit Overload and meet the team. When I entered the reception I was struck by the warmth & welcoming environment, clean, well-organized, professional and appealing, I recall thinking, this is exactly the welcome a perhaps nervous potential client needs to diffuse any sense of held negative ideas about visiting an exercise facility. No sweaty bodybuilders and scantily clad gym junkies hanging around reception chewing protein bars and sucking on shakes to frighten off the clients here, “I like this”, I thought.
Separated from the reception & exercise area at the back are the offices of Josh Trentine and the team of dedicated instructors. I was introduced first to Al Coleman, a sharp, professional, well-mannered guy but with an unassuming coolness and easy going nature beneath that sharp focus. Al immediately surrendered his own priories and time to chat with me, show me around the exercise area, discuss the various machines and provide some insight into the philosophy of Overload, right from the start I was learning, taking mental notes ready to log later on, conversationally Al was putting many of the fragmented pieces I have previously learned together in my mind, there were many “Ah! Ha!” moments. I was introduced to Kristina, Deidra & Jessie, after being greeted with warm smiles I could see this team was busy, planning, taking care of follow ups, running the business and focusing on their client experience.
I was introduced to Josh Trentine, a busy guy, on the go, I immediately felt his passion for this business, the way he talked, the discussions with the other team members, sharing in knowledge. He is a focused guy who congruently lives and breathes his passion, he is a straight down the line talker, no jibber jabber or idle talk, he got straight to the point but I was struck with his opening conversation with me. “Pete, keep a log, have a think about what you want from this and tell me because I want to ensure your time and trip all the way here is the best experience you can have for yourself” I felt grateful and honored to be treated in this manner, this is philosophy of Overload towards their clients and one of the key aspects that separates these professionals from the rest.
To be honest, I tried to hide it from the guys but I was seriously jet lagged and suffering from breaking my normal eating routine and environment but really wanted to get on the machines. Although I did not complete a full designed workout, the experience was phenomenal. Josh instructed me through a set of Leg Press with feedback, immediately my previous experiences of gradual loading on the Kieser MedX leg press was pulled apart, with visual feedback you can literally see if you are skipping gears as you build force breaking the weight stack on the first repetition. The visual feedback gives you instant and usable information allowing you to very quickly correct discrepancies, this would normally take much time and practice between instructor & subject, adding to the subjects learning costs in paid fees and making the instructors time inefficient, this tool alone adds value for the client and maximizes margins for the business.
Next Josh instructed me on the ICRo, immediately I violated every rule in the protocol, Val Salva, bracing, not relaxing the jaw & white knuckle gripping the handles, understandably Josh was not impressed, he firmly but politely stated this to me and clearly explained to me how to correct these violations, again as with Leg Press, the visual feedback provided me the information along with Josh’s clear instruction to quickly improve all aspects of my form. Clear, assertive and precise instruction is critical, no yelling, berating of championing here, just quality instruction with one goal, safely and efficiently inroading the musculature.
Next Josh instructed me on the OHP using Project X. At first I overwhelmed myself and again violated many safety principles, quickly, clearly and assertively again Josh corrected my ways, explaining what & why, after a very disappointing first set, I was able to use the visual feedback to rapidly improve and correct my form during the next practice set, this second set was incredible, following the rep procedure striving to achieve a perfect score I was blown away how quickly the resistance overtakes your strength, strength rapidly goes down while simultaneously effort ramps up, like two polar opposites travelling at equal speed.
Project X will redefine and set new standards for businesses between instructor & client, the target parameters are not open to subjective guesswork or opinion, recording of the workout is precise thus giving the instructor the data to decide how to grade performance and when to increase resistance, this means for the client accurate recording of performance, very accurate setting of meaningful resistance to ensure maximum inroading and stimulus of the growth mechanism during every workout , again this makes the instructor more efficient reducing cost slippage to the business and maximizing value for the clients investment that can be accurately and tangibly experienced by way of measuring progress.
Small but critical tips provided by clear instruction are vital, Josh & Al instructing me introduced me to an whole new level of what an instructor is, the cues and simple one word prompts literally make or break the quality of the exercise, proper coupling, correct placement, using the ‘5 Analytical Stages of Alignment’ and gripping of handles, body attitude, using the seat belts and entering machines correctly are vital and it is absolutely necessary that in order to safely perform exercises with maximum efficiency you have to be instructed by a RenEx instructor. I have never been in the hands of such an expert as these guys before and miss this. If you are going to invest in an instructor, you must consider a RenEx certified instructor.
As for the RenEx machines themselves I would like to share my experience. **Note I am certain that had I had more time, several weeks on a learning stages generic routine in order to proficiently learn how to precisely perform each exercise, accurately record, qualify and set adequate settings & resistances I would be able to write for you now a very detailed article about the differences between RenEx machines and all others that make this equipment superior.
However this is what I can say confidently. The leg press provided a direct, linear and super smooth experience in both the positive and negative parts of the repetition, the weight Josh selected although accurate was irrelevant to me, I did not even know what he selected, the seat felt right, locking my hips and gluteus musculature in a position that allowed for very intense engagement of all of the lower body and frontal thigh muscles, upper and lower turnarounds can be performed very precisely as there are no sticking points or friction, the upper and lower stack come together and break very precisely, the inroading experience felt much more direct and rapid than my past experiences on other machines.
Both the OHP & VT machines tracked muscle and joint function in a much more natural way for me, using the seat belts during these movements intensified the loading upon the intended musculature in a way I have never experienced, allowing me to drive hard, intensely contracting the musculature powerfully whilst at all times preserving musculature around the spine & neck.
The Pull Down machine seemed to perfectly track my strength curve, until you use a RenEx machine with a timing crank you will never experience appropriate cam fall off in the way I did, but don’t be fooled, even though the resistance falls off at muscular contraction, performing a squeeze technique in this position is insanely difficult, there is no escape, ensuring tension throughout the full range of movement delivers unbelievable fatigue.
The same applies to the CRo machine, the sliding seat and pushing with the chest against the pad in a true linear fashion with those unbelievably smooth bearings is an entirely superior experience to the MedX compound row, again even with cam fall off, the squeeze technique was incredibly demanding to perform, With Al’s precise instruction to correct elbow position the overall effect was amplified, again RenEx instructors give you nowhere to hide but the payoff for being disciplined is that you maximize the value of your workout.
The workout area itself is quiet, cool & appropriately lit, it is organized and machines are appropriately positioned together to minimize time between exercises, this was clearly evident when I was invited by Al Coleman to watch him perform his A routine, for example moving between biceps machine pull-down & triceps machine to Ventral Torso, by the way, if you want inspiration on how to go from a relaxed state to instantly flick the switch from the moment to his body touched the pad and seat delivering an insane laser focused all-out effort, you need to watch Al train in person, this guy’s attention to detail and flawless execution of each repetition to failure is a sight to behold and a standard which to aspire to.
I watched the unbelievably strong Josh Trentine workout proving RenEx machines deliver a brutal effect and level of intensity in preparation for his bodybuilding contest,I watched Travis skillfully instruct his fellow colleague and instructor Candice through her workout, It is the first time I have witnessed a woman exercise so hard and efficiently inroad her strength levels, Candice’s turnarounds, focus on effort and performance of repetitions was a lesson to me in itself and testament to the entire ethic & philosophy of everybody involved in RenEx and Overload. I am grateful to have been welcomed by each and every member of the team, the knowledge I acquired in just 1 week is both exciting and priceless, the knowledge provided by Overload can be directly and immediately applied to your own workouts to improve your strength, health and mind in ways I have never seen another business provide. Your health safety, happiness and strength are your responsibility in your hands, but equally you will be in the best hands in the world to accomplish your goals, dreams and desires by investing your time and hard earned money with RenEx & Overload Fitness.
I have made friends for life and I will always be part of this family because I truly believe all of the hard work, dedication, passion, resilience and life blood of these guys will be rewarded with success and reward all who embrace the Renaissance of Exercise.