T Nation

Is The Rotary Torso Worth It?

Dr. Darden,

Is the rotary torso machine “worth it?” Is it a good option for HIT workouts for the obliques and abdominals, including 30-10-30?

Thanks - Alex

I haven’t tried 30-10-30 on the rotary torso machine.

Do you like the Rotary Torso in general? I’m thinking about adding it to my home gym but I’m skeptical. It’s been years since I’ve used one.

I’ve also been working with a guy by the name of John Bird who is developing a machine called the “Electric Weight.” I went and gave it a try last year out in Reno and it was very, very intriguing.

The basics: like X-Force, the Electric Weight can add weight to the eccentric. It goes far beyond X-Force though because it can also “assist” the concentric by removing a portion of the weight. You also aren’t limited to 40% additional resistance in the eccentric portion. You can add as much or as little as you want/can profitably use. It’s functionality is also multi-disciplinary within strength training as its’ primary use is with a barbell. It attaches via straps to both ends of the barbell. I’ve also seen it attached to plate-loaded machines such as a reverse hyper.

It has been primarily used mostly by powerlifters at American Iron in Reno, Nevada. I was told that one gentleman was stuck on an 850LB squat and after using the Electric Weight for heavy eccentric work was able to complete a 930LB squat in a couple of months.

I wouldn’t know anything about 900LB squats, but I see the potential for the general population to get much faster muscle growth than with conventional equipment. As a guy who has to find every possible edge to see results, I was impressed with the one workout I had on the Electric Weight. There was something really special about feeling the added weight on the eccentric and being able to dial it in to my specific eccentric strength curve.

I expect to take delivery of a machine in July-August. I’m trying to help John get these machines off the ground. If you have any interest in having a live demonstration of the Electric Weight let me know and I’ll bring it right to you. I would enjoy your feedback and would also enjoy seeing Gainesville Health & Fitness.


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I haven’t used the rotary torso in a long time either. But it’s not one of my top-ten machines.

Let me know how you like the electric weight machine.

Interesting. I expect to see a lot more products like this.

The heavily promoted Tonal strength training system, which uses computer-controlled motorized resistance, includes programs that will increase the load once eccentric movement starts. The amount of eccentric upload is programmable. Of course, the loading available with this device is somewhat limited, with a maximum resistance of 200 lbs (100 lbs per cable arm).

A company called Vitruvian Form is selling a machine called the V-Form trainer. Again, the resistance is electromagnetic, and is controlled by some sort of AI algorithm. The promotional videos show that the AI algorithm uploads the eccentrics. This machine is a little beefier, providing up to 400 lbs of resistance via a pair of cables.

Maybe it’s like these things I keep seeing in commercials on tv where someone is jumping up and down or pressing against some cables and watching themselves or someone else doing what they are doing on a screen mounted on the wall?
Isn’t Vatruvian a term from Superslow?

The Electric Weight is capable of lifting 1500 lbs with a weight differential between eccentric and concentric of 510 lbs. It’s also made with a minimum amount of Chinese parts by a veteran… which adds value from a holistic perspective.

I’ve heard Tonal is junk. I looked into before I found the Electric Weight and haven’t heard very good things about it. I also heard they recently removed the eccentric loading function as there was very little demand for it. I don’t think they’ve read Bodyfat Breakthrough or Killing The Fat!

The Vitruvian Form V-Trainer sounds really interesting. I’ve not heard of that. Going to check that out.


Re: Tonal

Seems really odd to remove a feature that is just a matter of programming, even if there isn’t that much demand for it. The machine certainly doesn’t have the weight capability that someone really strong would want.

Interestingly, the guy (Coop) who runs the Garage Gym Reviews web site bought one, and gave it a pretty favorable review after using it for several months. He thought it had a decent feel, and would be quite attractive to average Joe’s and Jane’s (like his wife). Now this is a guy who buys and reviews squat racks and barbells, and is squatting and deadlifting 400+ lbs in his own training. So that did get my attention.

I just happened upon the Vitruvian Form site just by accident. The company is based in Australia, so it hasn’t gotten as much promotion in the US.

What is curious about both companies is who founded them. Vitruvian Form was founded by a guy who was a physicist turned financial trader. Tonal was founded by a Silicon Valley engineer and entrepreneur. At one point the founder of Tonal worked for HP and designed super computers. So these were tech guys who brought their expertise to bear on training equipment, rather than starting out in the fitness industry. Just find that kind of interesting.

It originated with Leonardo Davinci. Really!

So do super slow or whatever and be Vatruvian man!! Actually I’ll take Laocoon, look at his build! Hah

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Rotary torso - No thanks!

This machine incorporates A seated position with a fixed upper & lower body position, which results in the lumbar discs rotating along their length, something they are poorly designed for!

Dr. Stuart McGill states:


“We’ve discovered that’s one of the most potent ways to produce a disc tear,”

End Quote

Maybe in time, even the congruent one, DeSimone, will not recommend this Ill-conceived machine.

Or, HiT aficionados can disregard Dr. McGill’s advise, and listen to Ken Hutchins dribble on the rotary torso machine! This along with Bart Kay’s quackery on side planks, and Drew’s drivel on how everyone is wrong about cardiovascular conditioning, and how the free world’s cure for everything is HiT weight training, including cardiovascular conditioning. Let’s hear it Drew! Tell us all about cardio!


I’m on your side about it not being the best machine and probably not super effective at developing the obliques or the abs (I don’t feel it is inherently dangerous though). I even agree about your point on cardio, but I think the call-out may be a little rude and unnecessary especially since you didn’t tag Drew himself, who’s on the board. Do you really want to know his opinion or are you just trying to talk trash?

Never heard of Bart Kay, so I looked him up. Interesting character, to say the least. Every bit as outspoken and opinionated as Arthur Jones, without a shred of doubt about any of the opinions he holds. Favorite phrase: “what absolute nonsense”.

I’m surprised though, that you focused on his advice about side planks (which I had trouble finding). After all, the guy is a low-carb carnivore diet advocate who believes that all exercise is aerobic, there is no such thing as anaerobic exercise, low intensity steady state cardio is dangerous, and short bursts of heavy lifting are an acceptable way to perform HIIT. Yet another physiologist who doesn’t toe the company line…

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I have used the Matrix rotary torso…kinda for hip movements and stretching, I feel a benefit from it pertaining to flexibility of the hips

It definitely gets opinionated in this field. I think that’s because you can accomplish strength and fitness goals in a variety of ways. Some people respond better to one method vs another… And that irks those with less mental flexibility (i.e. Body By Science).

I have found some of the folks mentioned in the rant to have that type of mental rigidity. When a training program that doesn’t conform to their interpretation of the data turns out leaner, stronger trainees the old catchall of self-selection or genetic superiority is used to explain away the results. When 1 set of superslow fails to gain the type of results most younger people desire (get ripped) they are told they dont have the genetics for it or they didnt have proper recovery. Then they buy Extreme Hit and start to get results…

One more example here. Bret Contreras makes a darn good living rounding and increasing the size of women’s rear ends. He does all sorts of what most of us would consider silly nonsense. Yet he has delivered results for many, many women. A lot of HIT guys and gals would cry fowl looking at a workout program from him, and yet it works. If I were a female I would use his material. Results speak for themselves.

Guess I spent a lot of years trying to fit into this HIT strict mode and got nowhere and now I am finally getting results switching things up a bit. Bodies are not as similar as we want them to be. You have to have the courage to try different things. Shawn Baker can eat only meat and get huge… I got nowhere with that diet. I eat Dardens diet of high carbs and see great results.

I have learned to explore new ideas and see how they work for me. With HIT as a foundation, intensity over duration as a guidepost, there are many ways to add strength and look better naked.

And - thanks for the rotary torso advice LOL.


I imagine it makes a difference as to how you use the machine. Training with light loads and not going to failure for a good stretch or to increase pain free range of motion is different than training to failure with heavy and progressively increased loads in order to build muscle. I believe Hutchins advocates using the rotary torso movement for the first purpose.

Stuart McGill is very much opposed to loaded flexing and extending of the spine, but he will have people move the spine through a range of motion with low load (cat/camel movement), while avoiding stretches at the end of the range of motion. He uses such exercises to “grease the joints” and “floss the nerves”.

That’s right, I use very light loads and just use the exercise to grease the joints…not for strength or muscle building of that area

I could think of about 25 machines I’d rather have than that one. Unless you’re an avid golfer or play a lot of baseball or softball, I see little reason for developing that area. You can get what most people need with cables and DBs!

Like Dave said! Be a man about it. But this is usually the type of drivel you add to the conversation


Many interesting posts here. Let us please stick to the subject. I have also wondered how Nautilus come to construct such a machine.

Flexion and rotation of the spine is perfectly fine in a fixed, unloaded position (paradoxically the only position a severe case of herniated disc can get relief in, laying down that is). Arthur Jones must have taken that assumption into construction, and also thought that the seated barbell twist was a great excercise?

This must be the least interesting machine ever built. And yes, I’ve used it occasionally, but have yet to find it worthwhile. There must be at least 20 other excercises for the obliques that do the job better and safer (cables, landmine, hanging, free weight etc).

Anyone from way back when who can tell the history behind this machine?

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