by: Ken Hutchins
Note: This article is a response to a question from Donnie Hunt.
At first, there came the Pullover.
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.
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.
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.