Ray Dickerson, a field engineer based in Ohio, celebrated his 10-year anniversary with Varian in October. Last month he competed in the NPC Natural Northern USA Bodybuilding competition, which raised $4,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“Working for a company whose goal is to fight against cancer and save 100,000 more lives every year, I am proud to have participated in an event that supports that goal,” said Dickerson.
Dickerson’s passion for bodybuilding started when he was 16 years old. In 1981, he entered his first bodybuilding competition in the U.S. Navy. He competed through 1993, winning the 1992 title of Mr. Ohio in the Mr. Natural Ohio Bodybuilding Championships. In 1993, he competed in the Mr. Natural USA competition.
Ray’s training regimen involved a special customized training program from the Overload Training Center in Beachwood, Ohio. This method incorporates very slow repetition speeds in comparison to the traditional resistance training methods. The emphasis is on minimizing acceleration to reduce the force on the body during exercise, and to improve muscular loading. Typically, these workouts take far less time, lasting about 20-40 minutes, and consist of one set of each exercise that is carried out to complete muscle fatigue.
“Managing my diet is the absolute hardest part about training,” said Dickerson. He started out his diet by cutting out the most obvious: sugar and fat, and replaced them with good “clean” food. By keeping track of his nutritional intake, he was able to achieve and regulate his weight loss gradually without sacrificing any muscle.
After a 19 year layoff from the sport due to other responsibilities, and a changing physique due to poor diet choices; Ray decided to get back into bodybuilding. With the support of his wife and his four children, he set a goal to compete in the NPC Natural Northern USA Bodybuilding competition. His hard work and dedication have truly paid off. Ray weighed in at 176 pounds the day of the show in September, having dropped a total of 55 pounds since the previous March. He placed 9th in the Masters division and 7th in the middleweights.
“The competition itself was tough, but the experience was very positive and encouraging,” he said. “It was a great feeling being able to get back into shape and actually stand on a stage to compete against, and place higher than younger athletes. The insight gained through setting this goal for myself has helped me relearn how to take control of my body and maintain my health and fitness level. Bottom line… if you really want it, you will find a way.”
In the weeks after the 2011 RenEx Conference, the RenEx team held a teleconference to answer additional questions posed by the attendees. Someone asked regarding poor exercise tolerance. Here is an excerpt from Al Coleman’s response:
A subject’s exercise tolerance improves as his ability to direct effort improves. Thus, global expenditure lessens as well as the subject’s energy depletion and inability to quickly recuperate from the workout.
Example: About a year ago, I went through a workout of about 6 or 7 exercises and was visually extremely fatigued, wiped out, and dysfunctional for a few minutes.
Immediately thereafter, Josh Trentine and I instructed a similar subject who trained intensely, but who had not quite developed the ability to direct his efforts into efficient inroading.
After three exercises the exercise subject turned green and struggled with severe nausea. His exercise intolerance was merely an inefficiency in the way he had learned to concentrate up to that point.
I’ll start by acknowledging that the subject in this story is me. The workout mentioned was the first time I met Al, and perhaps the third workout I’d completed at Overload Fitness. I offer my personal journey from what I describe as abysmally low exercise tolerance. It is a dramatic example of the progress that can be made.
For approximately three years prior to my first RenEx workout I followed a more traditional HIT paradigm. I look back on that time as valuable. My HIT workouts ingrained in me an obsession for satisfying the assumed objective of exercise.
Because I had unknowingly developed this mental fixation, I resorted to any means necessary to complete more repetitions or add more resistance to the machine. The Renaissance of Exercise: A Vitruvian Adventure discusses these performance discrepancies at length, so I’ll omit their descriptions. However, rest assured that I employed every undesirable behavior one could conjure up in order to make my way through an exercise set.
I abandoned the HIT paradigm after meeting Josh Trentine. I took his advice and read the second edition of the SuperSlow® Technical Manual along with Dr. Doug McGuff’’s Ultimate Exercise Bulletin.
Unfortunately, I was left to my own devices as I made my transition from the HIT paradigm to performance in a RenEx® vein. The physical precision my new workouts required improved my overall experience only slightly. I fell short because the concept, directed effort, was still foreign to me. Inroad was a word I’d used without yet understanding its meaning. Thus, I quickly evolved into the subject Al spoke of during the teleconference.
I worked out once a week and could not tolerate more than three or four exercises without being practically destroyed. Immediately following the workout I lay on the floor for periods of up to an hour fighting off nausea or recovering from vomiting. When Al said that I turned green he wasn’t exaggerating. The remainder of the day I possessed little energy or mental clarity.
As a result of my poor exercise tolerance, I did not look forward to my weekly workout and often had anxiety prior to the first exercise.
Family members observed me in my post-workout stupor, and my father postulated that my poor exercise tolerance might even be genetic; he had become physically ill after several workouts in his younger years. I never considered my tolerance for exercise to be anything but normal. I was convinced that I was just “working harder” than everybody else.
A year passed between my first and second workouts with Al. In that period of time I finished college, certified with Ken Hutchins, and committed to work as an instructor at Overload Fitness. As I began to acquire a conceptual and theoretical understanding of RenEx protocol I adopted a new found outlook on exercise tolerance.
I observed countless workouts wherein subjects attained a deep degree of inroad and demonstrated none of the adverse effects I had experienced. They had all acquired a skill set I was unaware even existed.
After a month’s worth of workouts with Al I considered myself cured. I started honing in on the power of intention.
If my intent from the moment the exercise commenced was to inroad my musculature as thoroughly and quickly as possible, none of my energy was wasted. My performance discrepancies vanished. And because none of my energy was wasted, I experienced none of my usual, post-workout, prolonged and negative consequences. There seemed to be a direct correlation between my exercise tolerance and my current level of comprehension of the protocol. The more I understood, the more efficiently I could direct my physical resources.
The inherent value in spending so much time working toward the assumed objective is that once the real objective is learned and attained, it carries more meaning. The dichotomy between the two makes the learning process much more captivating.
When my physical and mental competency finally coalesced to satisfy the real objective I felt emboldened. That was the turning point, plain and simple.
I can now rate my tolerance for exercise at well above average. I currently work out twice a week with five or six exercises in each routine. I am no longer rendered dysfunctional for prolonged periods of time immediately following a workout. I don’t lie on the floor anymore, and I don’t get nauseous. Ten to fifteen minutes after my last exercise I am ready to continue with my day. In fact, I tend to feel more physically and mentally energized after my workouts. I have zero anxiety leading up to my workouts and tend to get excited about the prospect of working out.
If a subject struggles with poor exercise tolerance, it is likely that the word, tolerance, is part of the problem. The idea that you must “tolerate” a set of exercise is a backward one. It implies that somehow the exercise is in control of you and not the other way around.
Remember that YOU are the biggest component when it comes to exercise. Mechanical and environmental constraints notwithstanding, your physical and mental input have the greatest influence on the outcome of any given exercise. Learn how and where to direct that input, and your workouts will become extraordinarily productive.
My transformation has been nothing short of dramatic. And I’ve observed similar transformations take place with our subjects at Overload Fitness. Subjects are not doomed to poor exercise tolerance.
A recent article and intense discussion in the comments section of the RenEx blog over the last few weeks prompted the 12/23/12 blog post on Body By Science. If you have not already read it, please go here and check it out now.
Advancement in thought rarely occurs by digging up common ground, but rather, by seeking unfamiliar seeds of thought, cultivating them, and by their yield you can discern them. To get right to it, after considering Dr. McGuff’s post, I find myself in disagreement and feel the divergent points are worth discussing further.
From the BBS blog:
Recently, the RenEx guys have posted some articles on the “mind-muscle connection”. I read this with some interest, as I have always assumed that this connection was important, but I have not always felt that I was good at it. Also, I have watched many people train that I cannot imagine any sort of connection being at play, but they seemed to produce excellent results. The assumption is that the “mind-muscle connection” is a pre-requisite for good results, but the evidence really is circumstantial at best.
I think the first problem is Dr. McGuff’s assumption, as it leads toward an erroneous view of the “evidence”. For clarity’s sake, the mind-muscle connection drives the exercise effect; it does not determine a result (adaptation is a multifactorial response). We strive toward improvement of the exercise delivery system; refinement of the experience toward a particular acute effect. Within a paradigm that relies on continuous tension for efficient and thorough fatigue, the mind-muscle connection is undeniably crucial. Whether or not it results in significant hypertrophy for a given individual does not factor into the equation at all. “Big muscles” may be found on a subject who exercises haphazardly or who does not exercise at all. This does not take away from the profit in a mind-muscle connection…it speaks loudly to the amazing plasticity of the tissues involved and the extreme variability in adaptive response.
But, I’m not interested in what is “possible”, only what is best. We learn more from those at the opposite end of the bell curve. What is undeniably required for these lesser responders is merely an amplified view of how to improve the experience for the greater responders. Things that may not appear “required” for the greater responders cannot, however, be assumed unimportant for the lesser responders. Doug acknowledges this later in the article: “This is not to say that I think the mind-muscle connection is unimportant; I believe it is very important and that the less gifted you are, the more you will need to call upon it.”
Further, hypertrophy is not the only desirable “result”, so using it, solely, as evidence of anything is short-sighted at best. These faulty assumptions lead to an examination of the wrong things when searching for supporting evidence.
The discussion that ensued made reference to a YouTube video of Kai Greene referencing the mind-muscle connection and trying to teach it to a less-advanced bodybuilder who Kai feels has not made that connection (but still has way more muscle than most of the participants on the discussion boards). This led me to watch several other videos of Kai Greene training, and frankly I cannot imagine that he is making any sort of connection that remotely approaches what the RenEx guys are talking about. The most revealing video was one where Dorian Yates was trying to take Kai Greene through his high intensity chest and back routine. It was evident there that Kai was almost unteachable and was almost unable to use techniques and positioning that Dorian used to create peak loading and intense contractions.
With all due respect, I don’t think Dr. McGuff understands what he’s observing. A good bodybuilder (and Kai falls into this category) is extremely astute with exercise performance. Their “behavior” is a product of their intent…an intent that is driven by the mind-muscle connection and biofeedback (feel, pump, etc.). Their speed of motion, range of motion and body positioning are the result of trying to keep tension on the target muscles with the tool in hand; they are effectively “camming” the exercise on the fly. I submit to the good doctor that this is the ultimate expression of the mind-muscle connection within a bodybuilding paradigm using conventional equipment.
Additionally, the criticism of Kai in the Dorian Yates videos is misplaced. This is not evidence of Kai being unteachable; this is evidence of Dorian’s inability to instruct exercise effectively. I’m willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to Dorian, as it is possible he was doing this intentionally for the film. However, I think those videos are superb teaching tools for new Exercise Instructors…of what not to do. He has absolutely no clue “how” to get Kai to do what he wants, he has absolutely no way to objectively determine if Kai is being appropriately effected by the exercise, he doesn’t seem to know why Kai is behaving differently than his “instruction” or how to communicate an effective correction. An instructor that talks that much either feels inadequate in his instruction or has an inadequate system of delivering exercise. At this point, the “instructor” only serves to disrupt the necessary flow of communication between mind and muscle, which is painfully evident on the videos.
Kai Green competing naturally in the NGA. The same organization that lifetime natural Pro Joshua Trentine competes.
You have a subject, Kai, who is accustomed to and adept at training intuitively, by feel. Then you have Dorian attempting to teach body positions and cadence toward creating peak loading and intense contractions, with no way to control and evaluate. This causes the subject to become frustrated because the exercise doesn’t “feel” right, so he begins to revert to his expertise. This, in turn, frustrates the instructor, who lacks the ability to fix the situation, and instead tries to talk around the problem. What results is an absence of exercise. Amazingly, with all of the talking, Dorian excluded the one piece of info that would have helped- he never established a clear intent. Without a target, what is the subject to aim for? Without a target, how does one distinguish a miss from a hit? No wonder everyone was frustrated. The whole scene is absolutely ridiculous.
Those videos expose the glaring need for all the things Renaissance Exercise has discussed; the environment, the technology, the protocol, the instruction. In the absence of a true system that adequately controls the exercise experience and provides a specific intent and objective feedback to the exercising subject, the “trainer” is actually a hindrance to the process. Individuals who can, would be better off learning to guide their own training by feel. Those who can’t (and there are many) are the target market for anyone opening a studio to deliver Renaissance Exercise.
The Renaissance of Exercise is an ongoing journey toward leveling the playing field for exercising subjects, allowing for an experience that is not only on par with more capable subjects, but also simplistically-repeatable and measurably progressive. Regarding the needfor mind-muscle connection, Dr. McGuff noted that, “We have to rely on someone’s subjective assessment that they indeed have such a connection.” No, we don’t. Renaissance Exercise absolves the exercising subject of the responsibility to make such assessments; the system accounts for this by providing solutions that deliver objective feedback that is effectively communicated and precise cueing is available as needed. Renaissance Exercise removes the doubt and hones in the accuracy at “driving in the nail with one strike”.
My apologies to Ad I managed to miss his question on the blog “Trapped”.
adligtvoet December 1, 2012 at 5:55am
Joshua and the RenEx team,
Very good article. I see that you bent forward during the OME shrug but not during the neck/shoulder (brings the plates down to rest??). Could you describe what you exactly do during the OME shrug? Is the start sort of retraction movement of the traps? I also see that(in my opinion) your neck flexes more forward than keeping it in line with the thoracic spine. Is this for a specific reason or do I misinterpret the situation? I do the shrug also on the OME but with a straight bar (not ideal). Could you post a picture of the bar you use eventual with measurements? You describe that when the machine (neck/shoulder) allows for a high elevation the retraction movement will be involved too. When I do shrugs I keep the retraction during the movement.
I can tell that the stabilizing function of the muscles concerning the scapula are very important for proper body posture. I mean look around in our text sending/reading age. My have could avoid surgery of the shoulder by using the med-x neck/ shoulder and row .Done for keeping the shoulder blades more stable during daily activity and also to pull the humerus a bit down because of stronger latissimus. Living proof, but what do many others do when explained to them the value of proper exercise? They do a shrug, to shrug off that idea and went for a walk on the treadmill head down while looking for texting.
…Again my sincerest apologies for not getting to this sooner. This is a very thoughtful question, and I’m embarrassed that it got buried under all of the nonsense.
I have a statement that I frequently make that I think applies here: “To a great extent the equipment you use will ultimately dictate the expression of your intended protocol.”
The reason the behaviors are different on the two exercises is because the lines of pull are very different on the exercises. Compounding the line-of-pull differences, the exercises utilize different means to arrest reactionary forces and utilize different means by which the resistance is applied to the body.
On the SuperSlow® Systems Neck & Shoulder the direction of pull is oriented downward and coupled through the lower arm. While the machine has a rotary axis, the net effect is that of a straight pull directed downwardly on the arms. The coupled force against the lower arms draws the shoulder girdle downward.
The Neck & Shoulder is not for performing an unslumping/ slumping movement. Slumping merely causes unloading of the musculature. The only time to unslump/slump in this machine is to load/ unload the musculature; the force remains as resistance against the musculature only when the torso maintains an erect attitude.
One might believe that this posture precludes complete involvement of the intended periscapular groups. This might be true with conventional apparatus like a Hammer Strength® Deadlift/ Shrug or a Barbell Shrug, but the compounding effect of this exercise—the inclusion of all of the intended musculature—is granted by cam effect, protocol, and available range of motion (ROM) (the small stuff ).
Ken and I were recently discussing what happens on the Neck & Shoulder exercise when the cam varies enough to allow us to elevate our shoulder girdle adequately to congest against ourselves in the exercise. We agreed that if you are allowed to get that far into the exercise and inroad effectively, and recruit deeply enough, you will not only call upon the muscles that elevate the shoulder girdle, but also the ones that retract it.
Effect the entire back
The Neck & Shoulder exercise will provide a more-complete stimulus for the entirety of the trapezius (upper, middle, and lower) as well as provide a compound-like effect to the entire back. This is why I do not like placing Neck & Shoulder in the same workout as either overhead press or deadlift.
Now the shrug exercise on the Nautilus® Omni-Multi-Exercise (OME) is a completely different exercise. The line of pull is not straight down. It is well in front of the torso and its line of pull is on a diagonal—forward and downward.
The other big variable is that the Neck & Shoulder machine radically reduces the load toward the upper turnaround as we begin to become congested against ourselves. This explodes the exercise to make it far more inclusive as stated above. It really must be felt to be believed.
The OME cam does not vary this way at all. As a matter of fact it slightly does the opposite… it undesirably increases the resistance during the positive. We can somewhat minimize this problem by maintaining the range of the movement arm during the exercise to correspond with a rather slight variance of the cam. Since the shrug traverses a short ROM, we can select the right spot on the cam where we can experience a very mild cam effect… one that only slightly varies the load.
Now this situation is neither variable nor balanced to the user’s needs, but we can still pick up a great effect by using the line of pull of the apparatus against the muscles through the fullest available ROM we can manage. The inclusion of shoulder elevation, retraction, along with cervical and thoracic extension makes this exercise one heck of a work-around when ideal equipment is unavailable. It keeps tension on the muscles well enough to achieve a thorough and efficient inroad.
Now take these behaviors that we tailored to the apparatus and add low-friction retrofits throughout every articulation on the OME along with a custom shrug bar that completely gets out of your way and we have a fine exercise for some of the population. Here we have an exercise that I’ve used to release muscle tension in my neck, but also an exercise that has likely added mass to my trapezius and upper back over the course of the summer and fall of 2012.
Nautilus OME at The Strength Room in Toronto
I’ve had a very unique opportunity over the last year. I’ve consistently been trained by Gus, Al, or even Ken. Most of the time I train with Al Coleman, since we work out of the same location. During the five or six times a year I’m with Ken down in Florida I get Ken to train me as often as possible.
Since March of 2012 I’ve made it up to Toronto just about every other week; and over this period Gus has trained me more than anyone else. The reason I mentioned this is because I feel like I’ve had my best and most productive year training ever and I’ve had a number of people mention the same thing to me quite a few times, especially at our conference in October. The most common comment I’ve heard from people in the last few months is that my upper trapezius looks bigger.
Nearly every time I train with Gus I do my “B Routine,” and I always do shoulder shrug in that routine. Gus does not have a Neck & Shoulder machine, so a great number of times my B Routine includes shrug on the OME. There is no way to estimate how much the change in my appearance came from the inclusion of this exercise on this machine as compared to the designated Neck & Shoulder apparatus down in Cleveland. I do know for sure that I added muscle in this area, and I do know that this exercise is one that I wasn’t doing before. Now whether this was from the inclusion of this exercise, Gus’s expert instruction, the sum of all of my RenEx workouts or the Neck & Shoulder machines in Cleveland and Orlando, I don’t know. I do know that I experienced significant growth and this was one of the variables.
This article was written in 2005. We believe that it has never been published in any format. Its present posting is in response to the following comments (complete with grammatical errors and abbreviations) by Scott Springston and Fred Hahn:
“Hey, I’m just trying to help you guys reach a broader audience than just the few cult like members that you have.”—Scott Springston
“Of course I can see how SS members or Nautilus,REN-EX or whatever members can get caught up in the cult/hype…”—Scott Springston
“… much (not all) of what is said by the SS/Renx proponents WRT it’s superiority has not been shown to be true. YET, many of them talk as if it is. It’s bad science. It’s cult-like talk.”—Fred Hahn
In the year 2001, I was interviewed approximately 200 times by various magazine columnists, radio and television show hosts, and newspaper writers. During this time I grew increasingly concerned that some interviewer would eventually put me on the spot and ask me if my organization was a cult. I agonized over this possibility, especially regarding my answer, if questioned.
A partial collection of the many magazines featuring Ken Hutchins and SuperSlow between 2001 and 2004. There were also many interviews on radio and television including twice airings of NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
I did not want to answer with denial. Whenever I have witnessed others in denial about some issue, the denying party consistently sounded weak and guilty. In fact, the use of denial seems a natural and forgivable red herring in any crime mystery.
Shortly before encountering an interview where the feared question was indeed popped, I came to an epiphany regarding cults. So when asked if I was a cult leader, I proudly answered, “Yes.”
This answer surprised the interviewer, who represented the Fox News affiliate from Tampa. My complete reply was something to the effect of, “Yes, but let’s first briefly define, cult. A cult is a group of people who stand behind a certain belief system and/or its charismatic leader. We just described the Pilgrims, the Quakers, the Baptists, the Catholics, the Amish, the Democratic Party, the Marines, the Daughters of the American Revolution, any fraternity or sorority on any university campus, the National Science Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Rotary Club, just to scratch the surface. Our forefathers from Europe fled oppression for their beliefs and came here and settled in various enclaves to eventually form a country promoting freedom of belief and speech. The United States is basically a collection of cults and this is a major reason to be proud to be a citizen here.”
A meeting of the investigators at the Nautilus-funded Osteoporosis Study at the University of Florida Medical School during the early 1980s. Pictured are Keith Johnson, MD, Brian Dutoit, PhD, Ken Hutchins, a nurse, Brenda Hutchins, and the project secretary. Here our little cult planned our rituals, so to speak.
Ken Hutchins delivers a negative-only neck flexion exercise to a study subject. (Don’t Ever Do This!! Bad Idea!!). This was Ken’s cult ritual—right?
The interviewer then said, “Turn off the camera. We can’t use that.” And I then asked, “What do you mean, you can’t use it? Granted, this is off topic, but, generally speaking, the most important information you’ve recorded in years.” He didn’t respond.
I continued to reflect on my answer for several weeks, sometimes wishing I could have stated it better. I also noted how the media has emotionally charged the word, cult, to imply something disparaging. From here I came to realize that to label a group as a cult in this manner evolves to become an acceptable and subtle form of bigotry.
For example, if I want to disparage my competition as possessing values or practices I don’t respect, I can probably get away with calling them a cult easier than if I grouped them under any other obvious stereotype. And to do so with certain groups crosses the legal line into hate speech. Offhanded and intended snobbery like “cult” is legally allowed, but, in a way, serves the same purpose. However, there is no reason for such a put down to stick, since we all live in multiple layers of cults.
For the record, cult is the root of culture and various cultures comprise our society at large. A sect is merely a further subdivision of cult—not to be confused with occult.
A panel discussion during one of the Nautilus Seminars held in Lake Helen, Florida five times each year during the early 1980s. Left to right are Ellington Darden, PhD, Brenda Hutchins, Ken Hutchins, Boyer Coe, and Tom Laputka (moderator). Was Nautilus a cult? Of course it was. And Nautilus was in good company like the rest of Americana!
If I, Ken, take a narrow view of our society, I am not necessarily a bigot; however, I might scorn the Branch Davidians, Jim Jones and his Jonestown, as well as those religious sects that worship by dancing with poisonous snakes. Therefore I must admit to being a conditional bigot. After all, I am cool with all the major religions and races in this country.
Rhetorical Question: At what threshold does a “cult” rise to the distinction of a formal religion? What’s that magic number? One?… More than one? How much more than one? A baker’s dozen?
But if I expand my horizons to include all of present humanity as well as to admit that tolerance is ideally unconditional, I might openly condemn the cannibalistic practices of a New Guinea tribe or the virginal sacrifices of another tribe in some other remote locale. And if I expand my horizons temporally rather than just geographically, I might consider disgusting the ancient Spartans who sent their boys, upon reaching the age of seven, away from their mothers to live in a homosexual bivouac, or the Karankawas of the Texas coast who routinely fed all their female newborns to their dogs. Taken in this broader context, my intolerance with these practices and their belief systems makes me a bigot.
The first discovery of a Karankawa grave site on Galveston Island in 1962. Note the shoes and feet of Ken’s sister, Kathy, at the top edge of the field. Melvin Hutchins, MD, Ken, and Kathy Hutchins assisted T. E. Pulley, PhD excavate this site for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Note that the Karankawa diet was almost exclusively raw oysters during the winter months on the island.
Approximately 20 years ago, a friend and computer engineer once proclaimed to me that he was a “mainframe bigot.” I laughed and asked, “What do you mean by that?” He replied that part of his job in his company was to enable the various desktop personal computer users to interface with the company’s mainframe computer. At that time, there were many different PC manufacturers requiring differing interfaces. Apparently this frustrated his primary focus of doing mainframe maintenance.
Another friend and practicing attorney recently told me that he once took several business courses from an instructor who was fond of using the term, “selective tolerance.” At any opportune moment the instructor would utter the term under his breath in a clever, but cynical manner. We both mused that, “So that’s what we are, selectively tolerant… hmm?” Reciprocally speaking, we are therefore, as stated before, conditional bigots.
By the way, the origin of bigot literally means by God.
The Resulting Problem with Total Tolerance
If I, Ken Hutchins, on the other hand, am totally tolerant—if I can openly accept without criticism all the practices and attitudes of the world—past and present—then and only then can I be labeled as completely non-bigoted and non-prejudicial. However, I am now beset with another problem. Ken Hutchins has no convictions.
I see this as a messy paradox, especially for any legal or justice system. Are laws in a society merely arbitrary? (Isn’t arbitrary from the root of arbitration… hmm.) If not, where are the lines between practical, arbitrary, and just?
We are certain that Arthur Jones would not have liked the distinction as a cult leader. Most of us seem to overlook that we all participate in cults. And to infer that anyone is party to a cult is neither disparaging nor distinctive. Photo by Ken Hutchins.
Eugen Sandow in 1904: “You may go through the list of exercises with dumb-bells [sic] a hundred times a day, but unless you fix your mind upon those muscles to which the work is applied, such exercise will bring but little, if any, benefit. If, upon the other hand, you concentrate your mind upon the muscles in use, then immediately development begins.”
Communication, the exchange of information, between mind and muscle is supremely important to exercise. As a matter of fact, this relationship is the crux of the activity, and developing it must be the ongoing intent.
As with any relationship, effective communication does not materialize out of thin air; it is a learned process, an ongoing journey of discovery and acquainting, understanding and harmonizing. Different from most relationships, the two communicating parties are under the direction and control of one and the same subject: you.
In the beginning, deliberate exercise is much like communicating with someone you just met (or more appropriately, someone you have been forced to meet, i.e. being set up on a blind date). The transfer of information is often slow and awkward, as the parties lack familiarity with one another. The mind and muscle are simply uncomfortable in the arrangement imposed upon them.
Acquaintance is a product of time and effort, so a decision to communicate frequently will foster the new relationship. Beginners should facilitate communication between the mind and muscle frequently—daily, and ideally, multiple times throughout the day.
This is similar to the call/ text/ be-around-each-other-all-the-time phase of a new friendship. This is a critical phase of learning and lays the foundation for more effective communication in the future.
Once the foundation of effective communication is laid, the high volume is no longer necessary (and often not desired). During this phase, the transfer of information is fluid and fast, as both parties recognize and respond to familiar cues.
Your best friends forever (BFF) don’t require providing the background of every topic discussed; both parties already know some of the history. This level of communication is more in depth and more intense—the more in depth and intense, the deeper the effect on the relationship.
Likewise, exercise can occur less frequently during this phase in order to offset the deeper impact the growing intensity has on the body.
Old Married Couple
Have you ever played the game, Taboo? The object is to get another person to guess a hidden phrase without using any of the obvious hints.
Have you ever played this game with an old married couple? Here’s a hint: You’re gonna lose. The husband will say, “Aunt Betty,” and the wife will shout, “Independence Day”… and all the young people will be stunned speechless!
At this point, the volume and frequency of your communication is probably pretty low. You know everything about one another and have heard every story. You don’t need words or purposeful communication; you pick up on cues, unintended external manifestations that tell you exactly what the other is thinking, feeling, or about to do.
Entire, elaborate conversations can take place without the use of any spoken or written words. Fewer words spoken lend greater meaning to the words that actually are voiced.
This is not unlike exercise at an advanced level. The synergy between mind and muscle is so pronounced that there is a need to further reduce the volume and frequency of these physical exploits. This is an ideal (intense, brief and infrequent exercise) that must be approached step-by-step in order to actualize.
A mistake most often made is attempting to mimic the behavior of another exerciser who is communicating (mind-muscle) in a different phase from the mime.
Steps cannot be skipped, and you must not allow yourself to become distracted by other relationships (weights moving up and down, load, reps, TUL, rep schemes, etc.).
You cannot improve communication between mind and muscle by focusing your attention on anything else, just as you can’t know what your blind date is thinking or feeling by observing their gestures or outfit. Eventually, these things may indicate something you are acutely in tune with, just not yet.
You cannot force communication by piling on load anymore than you can force a relationship by sending daily texts to a person you like.
Daily texting may be a product of a relationship, but the texts do not dictate (or even indicate) the relationship.
Exercise, the least common denominator of the activity, is a manifestation of a mind-body relationship. It is an ongoing journey of improvement, not just in the exercises performed, but fundamentally (and more importantly), in the ability to bridge the gap between mind and body.
You must seek to eliminate distraction, noise, interference, anything that does not serve to improve communication between your mind and your muscle. Then and only then can you unlock the full extent of your physical potential.
[Editor’s note: Consistent with the convention applied in The Renaissance of Exercise—Volume I, exercise names are written in lowercase and machine names are in uppercase.]
The trapezius musculature is named for its shape as it is shaped trapezoidally. In other words, it is diamond-shaped.
We refer to the trapezius as a “musculature” as the word, “muscle,” seems to imply a singular gross direction of fiber orientation. However, the trapezius possesses three major groupings of fibers possessing different orientations. They are the upper (superior), middle, and lower (inferior) groupings.
The upper grouping functions to elevate the shoulder girdle. The trapezius is the major shoulder elevator.
The middle grouping functions to draw the scapulae together, thus retracting the shoulders.
The lower grouping functions to depress the shoulders. Shoulder depression by the lower trapezius is powerfully assisted by the latissimus dorsi as well as by the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor.
The upper and lower trapezius fibers work in tandem with the serratus anterior to upwardly rotate the scapulae, such as during an overhead press. When activating together, the upper and lower fibers also assist the middle fibers (along with other muscles such as the rhomboids) with scapular retraction/adduction.
I will first present exercises that involve the trapezius in some manner and then discuss strategies to involve the entirety of the trapezius musculature in synergy with the entirety of the back musculature. First off I will discuss the so-called king of them all, the deadlift.
I have always been fascinated by the deadlift. I’m not sure where the root of this fascination began. It may be just the fact that it is such an eye-catching, macho demonstration. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been very good at moving very heavy weight on this exercise.
I tend to think the biggest influence that provoked my fascination with this exercise is my reading of Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty II around 1994.
The deadlift is the most stressful exercise of the program-for it involves the most muscles. The considerable stresses involved make the deadlift the most productive exercise of all. –Mike Mentzer-
At the time I was certainly convinced this was the most complete and practical exercise on which I could focus my efforts. I believed that this exercise was going to be the best stimulus of not only the growth mechanism for the entire body but also for development of the entire upper back. More specifically, this included the latissimus dorsi and, most noticeably, the trapezius, both of which were weak points in my early bodybuilding days.
This belief led me to seek ways to maximize this exercise in the early to mid-90s. I followed Mike’s advice with regard to progressing loads and added days of recovery. I tried many different types of apparatus to allow me to do the best bio-mechanical version of the deadlift. At that time it was the Gerard Trap Bar.
Generally, I would say that focusing on the deadlift was a good approach for me at that time in my life as I think I gained some muscularity. Relative to the equipment I had available to me at that time, this may have been the best way to go, although I came to find out this was not a sustainable plan.
Perhaps the most notable change during that time was the visual appearance of my upper trapezius. Today, I’m not sure if I would attribute this to the performance of the full deadlift or if it was the result of suspending such massive loads through my shoulder girdle. More on this to come…
I am certain that, in spite of my fascination and willingness to perform the deadlift, I have never been able to sustain the use of the deadlift for any consistent period of time. Also, I could not see the type of physical changes that I expected from “progressing” so well with this exercise. Over time, I either had back issues that were exacerbated by the exercise or the sessions were just beating me up for too long. Eventually, it seemed necessary to wait a whole month after performing a heavy set of deadlifts to failure.
Mentzer’s suggestion for dealing with this was periodically inserting shrug in place of deadlift.
Mike Mentzer’s Consolidated Routines:
Mentzer consolidated Workout Routine #1:
Squats or leg press.
Close-grip, palms-up pulldown.
Mentzer consolidated Workout Routine #2:
Deadlift (alternated periodically with shrugs).
Press behind the neck.
Standing heel raise.
Translated to RenEx, which by the way, is the best way to make long-term gains on an abbreviated program:
RenEx Leg Press (with feedback) or RenEx TSC Leg Press (with feedback).
RenEx Pulldown or TSC Pulldown (with feedback).
RenEx Overhead Press or TSC Overhead Press (with feedback).
Mentzer-inspired RenEx Workout Routine #2:
Heel raise on RenEx Leg Press.
RenEx Trunk Extension.
SuperSlow Systems Neck & Shoulder.
RenEx Ventral Torso or push-up.
The sequence above is the one that I recommend for the Overload Fitness staff if they believe it will be a suitable program for their clients. We reference a helpful flow-chart to make these determinations.
Note the RenEx workout above is my interpretation of what I consider the most complete version of a Mentzer-type consolidated workout, and, to this day, these are my favorite routines to run for my own personal workouts. My interpretation is slightly different than Mentzer’s, and I will explain more while simultaneously answering a submitted question about the trapezius. It relates to deadlift, shrug (Neck & Shoulder) and Overhead Press.
Let’s begin with the question and see if the answer gives any clue to why the workout organization might change slightly.
In the RenEx text (page 302), you make mention of the Nautilus Neck & Shoulder machine, and are looking towards revamping this machine. I am very interested to hear your take on the training of the trapezius. Is this a muscle that requires direct stimulation? What is the proper training for the muscle?… Scapula elevation as in traditional shrug?… or more of a retraction, as per DeSimone’s recommendations? Does the trapezius receive enough stimulation if a proper horizontal row or horizontal TSC is employed?
Al Coleman’s response:
My take is that the trapezius may benefit most from TSC as would other skeletal muscles. This doesn’t mean that they would not benefit from dynamic movement as well. If you look at the structure and function of the traps in most human movement, they are statically activated much of the time to support the scapula.
Retraction work alone is inadequate. To limit the trapezius to retraction exercises makes no sense when looking at what the traps do for the scapulae.
I hate to add a bit of bro science in here, but I’d be willing to bet that a physique athlete who ignores elevation won’t end up with the same trapezius development around his yolk as he would if he added elevation.
I’m someone who suffers from poor trap development. Anytime I regularly include the Neck and Shoulder machine in my routine, I experience some semblance of neck-region trap development. No amount of horizontal rowing does that. Again, I know that might not suffice the Internet biomechanics experts, but muscle is muscle. It’s there or it’s not.
It is also worth mentioning that the elevation of the scapulae is the only way to get at certain tension-related neck issues.
Ken Hutchins’ response:
The major purpose of the trapezius muscle is to prevent the entire shoulder girdle from falling to the ground. It suspends the shoulder girdle off the back of the upper spine and head as not much else does. It also opposes the depressive force, tonically and actively, of the powerful latissimus dorsi and lower trapezius fibers.
Yes, the trapezius has a host of functions.
Yes, it is the most powerful extrinsic upper spine (cervical) extensor.
Note that there are intrinsics for extending the spine but none for flexing the spine. Some might insist that the psoas is intrinsic, but it inserts off, not on, the spine. Therefore, it is extrinsic.
Yes, the trapezius has lower fibers that function in shoulder retraction.
Note the word, “girdle” as in “shoulder girdle” and “pelvic girdle.”
“Girdle” is an intended descriptor. And just what is a “girdle?” It is something that girds, binds, encircles, surrounds.
Note that the torso is—more or less—a fuselage likened to that of an airplane. To correctly envision the fuselage, we remove the arms and legs and head and neck. The shoulder girdle encircles the top of the fuselage and the pelvic girdle encircles the bottom of the fuselage.
Note that the upper fuselage tapers toward the top. This is not apparent unless we remove the shoulder girdle from the fuselage—as though the shoulder girdle is not integral to the torso—and observe that the circumference of the ribcage becomes smaller as we measure it progressively superiorly.
Now replace the shoulder girdle atop the fuselage. What holds it there?
To answer this question we might need to answer another. Just what comprises the shoulder girdle?
We are quick to assign the scapulae and clavicles to the composite we call the “shoulder girdle.” But effectively, we must not stop here, because our composite forms an incomplete encircling.
To completely encircle the superior fuselage we must somehow fasten the clavicles together in the front and fasten the scapulas together in the rear. One might liken this to a bra that hooks in the front as well as in the back.
If we bridge across the gap between the clavicles through the sternum and bridge across the gap between the scapulas through the rhomboids, middle trapezius and the thoracic spine, then we get a complete girdle—aha!
Now again, what holds the shoulder girdle in place?
If we imagine the shoulder girdle to be shaped like a lamp shade that is the hollow section of a cone, then its inside taper just fits on the outside taper of the upper fuselage. These tapers keep the shoulder girdle aloft.
In fact, my study skeleton—since it lacks the rhomboids and middle trapezius—has metal screws holding each of its scapulas to posterior ribs. Without this, its shoulder girdle would fall down and around to the front of the ribcage where it would hang off the clavicular attachments to the sternum.
Nevertheless, the outside taper of the ribs supports the inside taper of the shoulder girdle. But this is barely enough vertical support for bearing the forces required by the actions of the arms.
There is one remaining and ultimate vertical support for the shoulder girdle: the upper trapezius!
There are scapular retractors other than the middle trapezius. There are other more-powerful shoulder depressors than the lower trapezius. But the major role and need of the trapezius is found in its superior fibers in the function of supporting and raising the shoulder girdle.
It is amazing to me that this is not blatantly obvious to anyone who has ever paid the slightest attention to the human skeleton!
And this function imparts major implications for the health of homo sapiens. Whether homo sapiens cradles a baby to nurse, types with the arms and hands held forward, plays a piano, or deadlifts a barbell, the vertical support for the object held, the hands, the arms and the shoulder girdle is largely through the trapezius suspended off the occipital and upper cervical vertebrae. Should we be surprised by the tension and irritation experienced in this area of the body?
Yes, the levator scapula muscle helps to support the shoulder girdle via its scapular attachment, but it is dwarfed by the immensity of the trapezius’ size and its surface area of both clavicular and scapular attachments!
I also somewhat disagree with sources that emphasize the levator scapulae as a “scapular elevator” as its name suggests. Assuming that the lateral end of the scapula is fixed at the acromial-clavicular joint, the levator scapulae is more a scapular rotator than an elevator. Its contraction causes a counter-clockwise rotation of the right scapula and the opposite of the left. Perhaps its name should be appropriately renamed “rotator scapulae?”
If you’re trying to grossly strengthen your trapezius by restricting your exercise to shoulder retraction exercises, you’re probably also doing something similarly inane such as performing wrist curls to strengthen your biceps.
This revolutionary analysis of the trapezius is included in much more detail in my Renaissance of Exercise—Volume II. It is due to be released next summer.
I would like to add a bit to Ken and Al’s excellent explanations.
Ken and I were recently discussing what happens on the Neck & Shoulder exercise when the cam varies enough to allow us to elevate our shoulder girdle adequately to congest against ourselves in the exercise. We agreed that if you are allowed to get that far into the exercise and inroad effectively, and recruit deeply enough, you will not only call upon the muscles that elevate the shoulder girdle, but also the ones that retract it.
Experientially there is something really cool about this exercise. When RenEx protocol is used and when cam effect allows utilizing the entire available range of motion, this exercise is felt all the way from the back of the skull to the tailbone and deep into the musculature… so much so that it is momentarily difficult to even stand up straight for about 30 seconds after the exercise.
SuperSlow Systems Neck & Shoulder 340# x 4 Reps
In my opinion this effect makes this particular exercise a homerun for Mentzer-type consolidation programs. It acts like a compound movement in the way that it stimulates the entire back musculature. This machine still requires some tweaking, but we believe it will eventually be just as much of a staple in our programs as a leg press or pulldown, especially when following the Mentzer template.
In the year 2013 and over the age of 40, I will not be performing many deadlifts, but with the sequence above we have a far better solution… a more complete solution… a safer solution.
The other amazing aspect of this program is that I’ve had all of these machines in a little 11’x13’ room attached to our main studio. With little overhead and a very reasonable investment the ambitious trainer may open a RenEx studio specializing in Mentzer-inspired consolidated routines.
This leads me to another related question that may further explain why I slightly reorganized Mentzer’s sequence. Before I do I would like to explain that, from my experience, the effect of using our machines for this type program is far more complete than what could ever be imagined with a barbell-type program and must be felt to be believed. The barbell program still acts too much like a quasi-isolation program not to mention the mechanical speed bumps that exist when dealing with free weights.
Q: Al recently made a comment about the possible need for specific elevation exercise in order to maximize the development of the trapezius. This made me think about the overhead press exercise. Some experts teach their clients to deliberately shrug during the overhead press exercise. Mark Ripptoe wrote the following in Starting Strength regarding the press:
Once the bar is over your head correctly, lock your elbows and shrug up your shoulders to support the bar… The combination of locking out the elbows and shrugging the traps up at lockout, with the bar directly over the ears, produces a very firm, stable position at the top that involves all of the shoulder girdle muscles and prevents shoulder impingement. To learn this [lockout] position, you might find it helpful to feel a gentle upward and inward squeeze on the humerus from either side, along with hearing a reminder to “shrug” the bar up.
Is scapulae elevation intended at the upper turnaround on the RenEx Overhead Press? To Al’s point, if this action is included in the exercise, would an isolated shrug exercise be necessary?
A: While the shoulder girdle must elevate some during the overhead press and while the trapezius is certainly heavily involved in this movement pattern, the idea of shrugging the shoulders is not part of the exercise, nor is it encouraged. Furthermore I believe doing so could even lead to faulty recruitment patterns and shoulder impingement syndrome.
The Neck & Shoulder exercise will provide a more-complete stimulus for the entirety of the trapezius (upper, middle and lower) as well as providing a compound-like effect to the entire back. This is why I do not like placing Neck & Shoulder in the same workout as either overhead press or deadlift.
I do think that our Neck & Shoulder has a tremendous synergy with our Ventral Torso. I also believe that our Simple Row is a great feeder exercise for getting the most from Ventral Torso or push-up or even chest press, but that is for a different article.
What if I don’t have one of the rare SuperSlow Systems Neck & Shoulder machines?
Shoulder Shrug Performed on the OME at The Strength Room in Toronto, Ontario
I hope this article gives you an idea of how to get trapped by RenEx!
Arthur’s Misadventures with Acceleration on the Human Knee
By Joshua Trentine
November 5, 2012
Arthur’s Misadventures with Acceleration on the Human Knee was pulled from our archives because someone in cyber world suggested that the RenEx team wasn’t up to speed on the biomechanics of the knee, what muscle and joint function meant, and the considerations that determine exercise equipment design. These challenges stem from ignorance as Ken Hutchins has written extensively on the knee, which you can read about in the article, Shear Forces or Sheer Nonsense, and in his articles on equipment design principles.
I was fortunate enough to come across Ken’s articles on this subject in the 90s when I was still working in orthopedic outpatient rehabilitation. His writing molded much of what I did in that practice, and of course, what I do now with Overload Fitness and RenEx.
Today, thousands of people have benefited from Ken’s writing on this subject and the use of his protocol for knee rehabilitation. I have had many clients come in for pre-habilitation who subsequently cancelled their knee replacement surgery due to the successful results of Ken’s protocol.
Personally, I have benefited immensely. I had a knee reconstructed in 1990 after a catastrophic injury while playing college football. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I would not be able to do what I can do today without Ken’s machines and protocol.
Another really cool thing is our stream of breakthroughs that further enhance our ability to rehabilitate the knee. Some of these include: “The knee lubrication protocol,” the i-Leg Curl, the i-Leg Extension, and the improvements seen in the RenEx Leg Press—most notably the feedback system that optimizes TSC Leg Press… and more. With these options and a strategic organization of the exercise sequence, I believe that we can handle any knee condition and rehabilitate it to its full potential.
Getting back on subject: I do consider the DuoSquat to be one of the most interesting pieces Nautilus ever made. I’ve learned from it, and it may provide better muscular stimulation than the Barbell Squat for some, and certainly better than most commercial Leg Press and Hack Squat apparatus; however, this machine comes with a catastrophic consequence if the subject makes the slightest error with movement or recruitment.
Furthermore, the DuoSquat encourages behavioral issues, as its type of loading remains completely unnecessary for us to achieve the desirables of exercise, minus the risk. Remember: Equipment can dictate the protocol or expression of that protocol to a great extent!
The DuoSquat was designed to replace the barbell squat. In some ways it was an improvement as it allowed better range, less discomfort (compressive on the spine and at the knees), and it removed some of the risks of getting trapped under a heavy barbell.
My knock against the DuoSquat is that though there are fewer potential risks, the one that does exist may be even more catastrophic than the worst of the barbell squat injuries—and for what purpose, to what end?!
The barbell squat can be performed in a relatively safer manner when using SuperSlow protocol.
Beyond this, I intend to demonstrate that all of this harsh mechanical loading—via the negative cam in the DuoSquat,—only takes us further from the ideal; it’s counterproductive and completely unnecessary.
I remind everyone that though my rant is directed toward the DuoSquat, I believe the far more offensive dumpers (focused on harsh mechanical loading) only create more risk, more faulty recruitment patterns, and provide feedback that elicit the wrong behaviors.
We do not need 40% more on the negative. We don’t need 1,174 lbs at “lockout.” We don’t need motors dragging us through the workout. And we don’t need technology that provides less than a significant advantage over the barbell.
What we do need is apparatus that gets out of our way. The barbell and our bodyweight can be reasonably effective for these purposes and with much less risk and more reward than some of these revved-up, super-charged “solutions.”
Additionally and extremely important: you must participate intellectually in the exercise. No amount of technology of any kind will make this optional.
By the way, we are developing products to help instruct how to get more from conventional equipment.
About a week ago, Ken and I were discussing re-releasing his article Arthur’s Misadventures with Acceleration on the Human Knee. I reminded him that I still have the chrome DuoSquat in storage. We agreed that it might be interesting to pull this machine out for photos and demonstrate its intended use.
You can see from the video that what started out as a casual demonstration evolved into a strength feat. I did a few “feeler sets,” working my way up in 100-lb increments.
After four sets I found myself with the entire stack of 510 lbs. I performed a few reps and stopped, as it felt pretty easy.
With a long loading pin, I hung an extra 45 lbs from the weight stack. This brought the total up to 555 lbs. And with the negative cam and my leg nearly straight the load was something closer to 1,300 lbs.
I was able to perform 12 reps with each leg, and I performed these well shy of momentary muscular failure. I suppose if Arthur Jones was standing by with pistol in hand I could have managed 20 reps with each leg. I backed off as I realize there is far too much risk of sacroiliac injury as fatigue settles into a mechanics change.
I’m posting this video for several reasons:
1) To compare and contrast behavior and mechanics between what was recommend at Nautilus and what we do now.
2) To demonstrate that once you learn to communicate with the muscle you can access this to demonstrate superhuman capabilities in an activity in which you are skilled? or in one that requires little skill.
3) To impress upon you that you don’t need negative cams, hyper-loading machines or motors trying to trash-compact you to actualize your strength potential. They can even be counterproductive.
4) There must be meaningful load, but placing excessive forces on your body is neither necessary nor desirable.
In this demonstration I was exposed to loads of nearly 1,300 lbs, and it still “felt” easy. I normally work on our Leg Press with 420 to 500 lbs (depending where it falls in the workout), using no cam, incorporating a large weight-stack travel (stroke), and with my legs never nearing straight (15-20-degree knee flexion at the upper turnaround. Experientially, it’s a million times harder and seemingly far more productive.
Did I mention the safety factor?
For a moment, let’s suppose that the negative cam and the dumpers are required. Let’s pretend that we are trying to expose the body to the highest-possible loads. If this is what we’re trying to do, then where does it end?! Do I need 2000 lbs? Where do we stop? Do we just continue to build more creative apparatus to put more strain against us?
Answer: “No,”… because there is no amount of load that makes you more effective at communicating with your muscles. Contracting your muscles is an intellectual process that you must actively participate in.
You cannot just place more load against yourself to break a plateau; you must get better at contracting; you have to improve at inroading; you must improve communication to your muscles:
ONLY then can you become POWERFUL!
ONLY then can you predictably apply the type of stimulation that will result in adaptation.
ONLY then will you be able to demonstrate your true strength potential and at a moment’s notice.
ONLY then will you be able to behave as an advanced subject does, regardless of the equipment being used.
5) To post the video is simply because I enjoy the nostalgic aspect of Nautilus. It really was a great time, and we would not be here without it. I don’t believe that we should stay stuck in the past, but we do need to know our history to move forward.
I intend to post another video using the old Nautilus OME (Omni Multi-Exercise) and show a case where it can be used for a close approximation for something we’re doing.
Note: This article is a response to a question from Donnie Hunt.
At first, there came the Pullover.
Gary Jones in one of the earliest pre-production Nautilus Pullovers. As a teenager, Gary ’s original idea was the Nautilus cam. Circa 1970. Photo by Inge Cook.
The Pullover was the basis for everything to follow. It was the physical manifestation of Arthur’s great epiphany to the body’s locomotor principles—a rotational format.
Appropriately, the Pullover was Arthur’s choice as the most useful and needed device to address the accessible—that massive and largely untapped musculature about the upper torso.
The Pullover made the upper torso structures accessible, because it provided direct resistance—resistance applied directly to body parts moved by the target muscles rather than filtering the resistance through the weaker arm musculatures.
Other areas of the body demanded the same attention, but they were not as accessible. They presented access barriers that would require later circumvention.
And the Pullover possessed some marketing barriers. How was Arthur to overcome the fact that few people performed such an exercise? How could Arthur make them relate to its value for the abdominals, the pectoralis musculatures, or a musculature most could not see or feel because it was behind them—the latissimus dorsi?
Arthur smartly dubbed the Pullover “the Upper-Body Squat.” This instantly connected with the bodybuilders, weightlifters, powerlifters, and football players, but was not a connection with the general public or most other athletes. Additionally, “squat” had negative connotations among many who did grasp the term. It was associated with knee injuries among some, especially the orthopedic community.
Meanwhile, Arthur saw an easy and very salable application of the Pullover’s inherent principles in an arm machine—the Nautilus Biceps/Triceps. In some respects, this machine addressed less-important functions, but it tied into what most people—particularly men—were already focused upon.
A 1986 Nautilus Leverage Plateloading Biceps/Triceps. This machine was redesigned and manufactured by Gary Jones with adjustable seats, Kevlar drives, re-camming, and chromed finished.
Besides, an arm machine satisfied Arthur’s personal preoccupation. It was what he wanted for himself. Don’t forget that Arthur, too, was a bodybuilder at heart.
Arthur’s tremendous intellectual focus upon these three rotary functions was the foundation that led to his temporary opinion that compound movements were unnecessary. In fact, there were some early Nautilus facilities that adamantly adhered to the idea of rotary-only equipment and exercises. This is just one example where Arthur’s Ten Requirements of Full-Range Exercise were extended too far.
Once Arthur decided to manufacture machines for compound movements, he incorporated them with rotary-format exercises to take advantage of the pre-exhaustion principle. Here is the vintage Double Chest that he produced by the thousands. Photo by Inge Cook.
Apparently, Arthur somewhat corrected course for this blunder. He soon embarked upon the design of equipment that addressed compound movements and produced them on a massive scale. The debacle concerning his rigidity on the Ten Requirements was postponed.
Exactly when, why, and how Arthur made the transition from purely simple to the inclusion of compound movements is somewhat beyond my historical knowledge. I suggest consulting Ellington Darden, PhD, for more detail on this history. He was there at that very moment. I was not.
Arthur’s Misadventures with Acceleration On the Human Knee
by Ken Hutchins
Slamming Into Lockout
In 1982, Arthur Jones created much excitement with the Nautilus DuoSquat machine. He motivated Jim Flanagan and several other large men to experiment with high-repetition sets of 50 repetitions per leg. Putting the nonsense of such repetition schemes aside, I was more appalled with the violence Arthur permitted in form.
Arthur decreed that the seat be set so that the subject could straighten each of his legs under the selected load. As Arthur pushed Jim Flanagan and others through their DuoSquat routines in the prototype shop, they habitually fired out of every stretched position and slammed into every lockout. As a result of Arthur’s insistence in the gym, these subjects (employees) echoed his dictum to “completely straighten the legs” to Nautilus customers.
At Nautilus Seminars I instructed customers to set the seat so that lockout was impossible.
I established lockout as a serious liability concern. I also declared that lockout was discordant with Nautilus Philosophy. It unloaded the desired musculature, excessively compressed the spine, excessively loaded the neck musculature, and was unduly dangerous.
Arthur’s closer henchmen reported to him that I was countermanding his protocol regarding the DuoSquat. I did not fear Arthur’s wrath, because I was his only willing and eligible pigeon slated for guard duty at the Nautilus-funded Osteoporosis Research Study.
As a result, Jim Flanagan orchestrated my trip to the woodshed, so to speak. As Jim and others observed from a distance, Arthur patiently explained and justified his recommended protocol for the DuoSquat. This meeting occurred just before commencement of the Osteoporosis Study in late 1982. I now surmise that it was crucially important that I be on board with Nautilus marketing of the DuoSquat if it were to be a financial success.
I admit that I did learn from Arthur during this mild cross examination. He showed me how he had designed the cam radius—reduced only so far (force increased) as to not exceed bone integrity. He calculated a safety margin and stayed on the safe side of that margin. (1,174#?)
Arthur also explained that he had designed the seat tilt at such an angle (approximately 30 degrees) to the movement-arm line of force so that approximately 1/2 of the force (Sine 30 degrees) was supported through the pelvis and backpad, not the spine, shoulders, and shoulder pads. This I had not considered.
I then presented Arthur with my reservations of lockout. I also raised a question: “Are we using the machine to defeat the machine or to fatigue the muscle?” [Note that this was my first intellectual consideration and expression of the Assumed vs Real Objective Argument.] He then threw a rhetorical question at me: “Ken, do you realize, upon reaching lockout, that the force doesn’t suddenly jump from the muscles onto the bones? The bones are supporting the load throughout the movement, not just suddenly at lockout?”
I replied that I had not considered the possibility that such a fear was lurking in my mind and affecting my bias. And I promised to reflect on the matter for a while to examine his protocol recommendations in light of this possibly irrational fear as well as his other points recently shared.
Indeed, The Force Does Jump From the Muscles Onto the Bones at Lockout!
I left for the Osteoporosis Project in October 1982. After unsuccessfully incorporating the DuoSquat into the workouts for our study subjects for 6-8 months I wrote Arthur the following memo sometime in mid-1983:
Approximately a year ago, we discussed my reservations regarding the safety of lockout during the performance of the DuoSquat. You speculated that my bias was the result of an unacknowledged and irrational assumption. The supposed fear: the resistance force suddenly jumps from the muscles onto the bones at lockout.
Although this notion may or may not have been lurking beneath my conscious process, you certainly planted the seed for its complete fruition. Note that five sources of force converge at lockout:
Disconnect the chain from the movement arms on the Duo Squat. Then place the subject as you dictate—seat so close that he can just barely lockout his legs against the frame of the machine. Here the subject encounters maximum force from body compression, movement arm flexion, pad compression, etc. Denote this machine force.
Once reconnected, the negative cam is at its smallest radius, hence its greatest resistance provision at lockout. Denote this cam force.
At lockout the quadriceps are no longer effecting knee rotation. They exert a force encouraging translational movement of the tibia into the femur. Denote this quad force.
At lockout the hamstrings are no longer effecting hip rotation. They exert a force encouraging translational movement of the tibia into the femur. Denote this hamstrings force.
The screw-home property of the knee results in maximum stability at lockout. This occurs in part because the cruciate ligaments contract as they twist on one another akin to twisting the opposite ends of a dish rag. This tightly approximates the ends of the tibia and femur. But if the knees are violently extended, this contraction is so forceful that the cruciates are commonly avulsed, carrying sizable chunks of their moorings with them. Denote this cruciate force.
As a result of lockout in the DuoSquat, five forces promoting translational shortening of the body converge at lockout. Therefore—in effect—these forces do suddenly jump from the muscles onto the bones at lockout.
As usual, no reply came from Arthur. But his reaction to my letter was unmistakable at the next Nautilus Seminar. He and his henchmen—other than me—began to warn customers to set the seat as I had detailed. A protocol involving lockout was no longer permissible or deemed safe. No one mentioned or dared to remember that it was once recommended.
My letter to Arthur was much too sanitized. It did not mention or account for acceleration forces resulting from the recklessly ballistic behavior that I observed by Arthur’s closest associates while using the DuoSquat.
Acceleration was the Big One. Acceleration forces accounted for the greatest threat to the human body during the DuoSquat. And acceleration accounts for the greatest force threat generated during all human movement, even that during a weightless environment. By this I do not mean to entirely distract the reader away from the points I belabored in my letter to Arthur. In fact, those issues so mentioned are more glaringly egregious because of the acceleration!
I did not mention acceleration in the letter, because I intended a purely static analysis, and because I knew that the subject of acceleration would cause tremendous defensiveness on the part of Arthur. He already considered himself extremely sensitive to acceleration effects, while I saw through his weakness on the subject.
The effects of acceleration indicate that subjects encounter excessive force merely by slamming their knees into lockout when under no external load. The wide-spread ignorance of this fact often engenders false critical analysis of the proper design and use of all exercise equipment. Specific to this discussion are exercises involving the knees: knee extension, knee flexion, and leg press or squat.
As I have belabored for over 20 years, that without the speed being controlled consistently at excursions of 8-12 seconds, camming, body placement, load points, attitude, alignment, and other factors are of secondary consequence.