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Is the Arms Up Compound Nautilus Biceps Curl Better?

I’m starting a thread on something I’ve been trying to figure out for years. Are the early Nautilus compound 2 seater curl and or both arms up curl machine a better bicep workout than the standard type later model bicep machine like the plate loaded bicep/tricep or the multi curl machine? I’ve always wanted those early compound curl machines for nostalgic reasons but do they really provide a better bicep workout?

i have tried the arms up on the nitro machine, arms up on the hammer machine, nitro preacher, life seated curl, barbell curl, db incline curl…imho, the hammer arms up gives me the best bicep work out

Interesting, I’m guessing that might be a Gary Jones design?

I still think the original nautilus arms up bicep was the best…but it’s been probably 30 years since I have used one, :laughing:

It’s funny how this Nautilus obsession stays with you forever, at least in my case. Years ago I thought I had all the Nautilus machines I’d ever want and I quit looking for them . Then the current Darden forum sparked my interest again so I’m on the lookout for one or two more machines. Do I need them , no, do I want them yea, at least to try. Thanks Ellington for keeping this alive. Without you I think Nautilus would vanish from the internet!! You are the last Nautilus bastion.


I wonder if this isn’t a bit like why some people end up owning antique or restored older cars? You want that old muscle car from the 60’s either because you had so much fun tooling around in it when you were 16, or else it was the car you always wanted and never got to own. So you spend money and time trying to recapture something of the past… when a modestly priced new car would be a much more practical and cost efficient way to get around town.

To be honest, if I were a rich guy building a dream home gym in the dedicated out building on my estate, I’d probably get a line of Rogers Pendulum equipment. Mike Petrella, who seems to own almost every piece of Nautilus gear ever made, seems to think quite highly of the Rogers machines. They do not, however, make a pullover machine…

The Pendulum machines are great. I’ve used them all and have 4 of them in my basement gym. Along with some Hammer Strength and a Nautilus Power Plus Pullover.

In my case it’s the old car/ Nautilus I never got to own. With the exception of the omnis I have had just about every Nautilus I ever wanted except the 3 early compound bicep / tricep. I never wanted the Omni’s . I’m almost sure it will be a let down once I try or get them but it’s still fun ,and expensive. It’s a nostalgic thing thats hard to justify or explain .
PS I would like to get that series of Arthur Jones leather bound books I saw Brian Johnston or someone sell a few years ago.

Here’s a question that shouldn’t be that hard to answer, why are the old arms up bicep machines and arms down tricep machine called compound when the more recent multi curl machine or other similar curl machines aren’t called compound?? It’s basically the same move only the arm’s are up or down more?

They were called “Compound Position”. Advertised as “the only position in which it is even possible to involve all of the fibers of any muscular structure in any form of exercise. Whereas, the other Nautilus arm machines are simply beyond comparison to any other form of exercise for the arms, these machines are even better”.
That’s from a 1972 ad for Nautilus from IronMan magazine.

And what do you guys think about those assertions? Does having the arms up allow for more muscle fibers to be worked that otherwise might not be if the arm’s were half as high?

I can definitely say that it sure feels like you experience a much stronger contraction of the bicep in what Arthur called the compound position for both the biceps and the triceps.
The compound bicep is much more than just "arms up " for the biceps or " arms down " for the triceps.
For the biceps to be in the fully contracted position the elbow must be up to the side above your ear and back so that when you are in the fully contracted position your hand will be behind your head.and your bicep should have touching your ear.and your hand should be touching the left side of the top of your trapezeus when contracting your right bicep.
If you put your arm and hand in the position I described and then if you contract your bicep as hard as you can you will automatically become aware of the difference between this contraction and the feel of the bicep when contracting it in the end point of a normal curl.

So then based on what you say the compound bicep or tricep is definitely worth having if you want to use a machine that will help you attain the strongest contraction of those muscles??

Yes the compound bicep is IF you can upgrade the bushings to bearings and chains to Kevlar belts when possible. I know with the compound bicep single seat there’s a !ot of redirection of force meaning a lot of chains ( sprockets ? ) that you may not be able to swap out. So you might end up getting a moderate friction machine.
Whereas w the two seated bicep I am pretty sure its a lot less complicated and should be easy to convert to low friction.
Either way it would be hard to find anything better.

The compound tricep is another matter as the main problem with it and the reason it was discontinued , I think, was that once you started using more significant resistance your torso started to rise as you pushed into the movement arm.
I used one in Chicago at the Duncan YMCA ( where Sergio Oliva trained ) in 1976 while attending an AAU Mr. Midwest bodybuilding contest.
I didn’t have that problem and neither did my friend Mike. I was probably a bit more of average strength and Mike was very strong.
In any case MedX makes a triceps machine that although it isn’t listed as such it is a compound tricep machine with pads that lock your shoulders down so your torso cannot rise.
I have one now for over 20 years and it is awesome.
Considering how few compound tricks machines were made I would imagine the price of his used one would be exorbitant IF you could actually find one for sale.
So far the triceps I highly recommend the MedX tricep machine.

Hi Sekerak,

Thanks for this! I have always wondered about the solution to the torso rising on the Nautilus tricep machine. The Nitro version has a seatbelt, which doesn’t work as planned, due to heavier weights being used.

What does the MedX tricep machine look like?

I wonder why they didn’t put the shoulder pad brace on the old compound tricep like the MedX ? Wouldn’t that have helped?

Hammer has a decent triceps extension machine, arms up

Anyone have one of these they want to sell!!

Hi Scott,
That triceps machine looks like the same design as he MedX triceps. It’s hard to use heavy weight but the contraction is very intense! The MedX version is excellent!