T Nation

Your Adventures with Arthur Jones?

Dr. Darden,

I remember the poll on T Nation re future e-book of yours. Most votes fell on backloading negative training - a work that many of us now look forward to!

Another runner up was “My adventures with Arthur Jones”. Is this still a possibility to look forward to in the future? Considering you a great storyteller, I would really enjoy such a book!

If not too much to ask, would you mind sharing a Jones story for the weekend?

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Observing Arthur Jones over many years, I often saw him answer the same question over and over again. But it seemed to me that each time he made the questioner appear as though this was the first time he had ever been asked that question. In other words, Jones never got tired or bored with the same question followed by his same answer.

One day I asked him: “Arthur, how do your answers seem so rich, exciting, and sincere – when I’ve heard you repeat them multiple times?”

His answer was: “That’s why you work for me . . . and I don’t work for you.”


Dr. Darden , It’s obvious some of Arthur Jones ways rubbed off on you as I’ve seen you answer the same question in a nice way over and over again!

I had a couple of interactions with Arthur Jones in the early 1970’s, The first resulted as a result of competing in my first bodybuilding contest in Durham, NC (my senior year at NC State), the 1970 Mr. All South. The guest poser was a teenager known as Casey Viator. I could not believe my eyes - That is a teenager??? He mentioned Arthur Jones and his pullover machine.

I live in Jacksonville, FL and when I returned home in December 1970, I decided I wanted to talk with Arthur Jones myself and Lake Helen was less than a two hour drive from my house. So, one day in January I drove in quest of speaking to the man behind the pullover machine and training philosophy that built that phenomenal teenager. After some driving around I finally located the home of Arthur Jones.

The following went as best I can remember: I recall his house as standing apart from other houses (I do not recall any other house in sight), being white with a lot of porch. On the porch sat, what I would guess was the prototype of the original Nautilus Pullover Machine, or the actual original. The cams were much larger than the one that went into production.

Mr. Jones welcomed me into his home. My first impression was his self confidence. Now understand that my desire was to get information to improve my physique, oddly he was most interested in talking about Africa and film making. Don’t get me wrong, his African stories were very interesting.

We finally got around to talking about improving my physique. I remember this as well today as if it happened yesterday. Mr. Jones asked me to remove my shirt and let’s take a look. I had developed fairly good chest, shoulders, and arms and I knew that. He then said, turn around to see my back. He nearly immediately said, “It looks like you don’t train your back.” Personally, I like brutal honesty, so his criticism was motivating.

I went one more time a couple years later, or so. That time I was exposed to the one minute pullup.

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An interesting podcast about Arthur Jones, by his son, who wrote a book about it. Anyone read it? I have placed an order.

While diving into the HIT-business podcasts further, it’s amazing to discover contributions from at least two active members in this forum!

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It’s an interesting book on the early years of Nautilus and Arthur Jones from HIS perspective. It’s not an easy read (He jumps around from subject to subject). So it doesn’t really flow well. He also interjects his personal opinions on some subjects that really have no relevance to the book But, it does contain some information that I found interesting about Arthur and Nautilus and how it grew and how it operated. So if you’re interested in Arthur Jones and the Nautilus era it’s worth the money and the read IMO.

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I enjoyed the book, the stories were funny and very personal to Edgar, it was an interesting read to see what happened behind the scenes of the lost empire

I’m wondering if anywhere in the many Jones articles or writings if its written who actually designed what Nautilus machines? I’ve always been curious which machines Jones actually had a hand in designing . For instance did Jones work on the 2 seater compound bicep , the both arms up compound bicep and compound tricep machine?

From my two interactions with Arthur Jones, and my understanding that he is an inventor (camera mount), I would say that he did absolutely all the designing. There is a possibility that he may have gotten some outside input, but the Nautilus machine were his designing.

I could be wrong.

I wonder why for example biceps, he designed a machine that emphasized the contracted position. ( arms up high) but not one to emphasize the stretch like an incline curl.

The contraced position stilulates the biceps better. I think you get more tension on the bicep through the whole range of motion. Might even be safer,

With an incline curl I think It’s less congruent. Leverage issues. Hits the tendon between your forearm and biceps in the crook of your elbow and the sides of the elbow.

More potenial for injury.

I don’t know for sure. I’m just speculating. A peacher type curl always bothered my elbows.

With the elbows up anatomically the short head of the bicep is under more stress. With the elbow behind you the long head is emphasized more. I would assume he would have wanted a machine to target both. I wonder if Dr Darden has any knowledge on this issue?

I remember Jones being very involved in the pullover and the plate loading bi and tri machine and the torso row like on the blue monster and the lower back machine but it seemed like after a while he got side tracked with other things and many of the later machines got designed by others like Tim Wood or who ever? Just a guess.

Sounds very plausible. The pullover is a perfectly designed machine to hit the lats through their complete range of motion. That’s what got me thinking about the other machines.

Arthur Jones was the key player in designing all the Nautilus machines. In 1982, he started easing out of the situation, but he still had approval rights.

My impression is that, over the years, there were many prototypes made and scrapped, before finished versions were released. It would likely be impossible to know who contributed what ideas to a particular machine, given what was likely a convoluted and chaotic development process. Invention is messy…

The impression I had from the Edgar Jones book is that Arthur Jones was very interested in the idea of varying the resistance during an exercise, and had other features he wanted the machines to have, but other people often filled in the details. I’m pretty sure that Edgar Jones credits Gary Jones for convincing Arthur that he should use a cam, instead of a some fairly complex geared mechanisms that Arthur had started with. Gary Jones also introduced the 4-bar linkage as a cam replacement. This was used in some later Nautilus, Medx, and Hammer machines. I think Gary eventually earned a degree in mechanical engineering, so he may have been quite useful when it came to translating Arthur’s ideas into mechanical reality.

What is the 4 bar linkage? And is it as effective as the cam?

A properly designed 4-bar linkage can vary the resistance in a manner similar to a cam. There are specific circumstances where one might be favored over the other. Potential advantages of a 4-bar linkage are that you don’t need to use a cable or chain, it tends to have lower friction, cheaper to manufacture.

If you google the term, you can find all kinds of animations showing their use in practice. They have many uses other than just in exercise machines. It is a pretty standard mechanical engineering element.

With respect to use in nautilus equipment, here is some text I got from the IFR dot NET site:

Nautilus 4-Bar Linkage

Nautilus’ patented 4-bar linkage is mechanical technology that automatically adjusts the resistance force to match the changing muscle force throughout the full range of movement of a specific exercise.

Nautilus’ 4-bar linkage systems are deployed in 4 primary ways:

  1. 4-Bar Linkage As A Generator Of A Changing Axis Of Rotation.
    The 4-bar linkage can be applied to movements that have a changing axis of rotation, such as the LOW BACK and ABDOMINAL. When a person rotates around the vertebrae of the spinal column, the axis of rotation is constantly changing due to rotation around multiple vertebrae. A properly designed 4-BAR linkage, like Nautilus’ patented solution, mimics the changing axis of rotation thus maintaining the alignment that is critical in these movements also forcing proper form. (Used on 2ST AB, LB; Studio AB; and NITRO AB, LB)

  2. 4-Bar Linkage As A Generator Of Controlled Motion.
    The 4-bar linkage can be applied to movements that are multi-joint, such as the leg press.These movements require a particular trans-rotational path, produced by Nautilus’ 4-barlinkage, in order to be bio-mechanically correct, highly productive, and safe. (Used on 2ST LP, NITRO LP, Studio LP, XPload LP, and GRAVITRON)

  3. 4-Bar Linkage As A Function Generator.
    The 4-bar linkage can be applied to machines as a mechanism that can generate a force curve output as a function of a force input. In other words, it acts like a cam. This is useful on multijoint movements which have radical strength curves like those found on the Overhead Press and Vertical Chest. Positive cams cannot change the resistance curve rapidly enough on a compound movement machine, thus negative cams, at much greater expense, must be applied in order to attain the rapidly changing resistance curves. The Nautilus 4-BAR linkage system, as a function generator, provides for rapidly changing curves like the negative cam, but at much less expense and with high durability and low maintenance. (Used on 2ST VC, OHP, IP, BP, CR and NITRO VC, OHP, IP)

  4. 4-Bar Linkage As An Adjustment System.
    Nautilus’4-bar linkage system is also used as an adjustment mechanism, which allows Nautilus machines to maintain a certain angle or plane of movement. An example of this is the seat back adjustment linkage used on the Leg Extension and Seated Leg Curl.

Nice explanation. Thank you

Back to that Nautilus 2 seater compound curl. I remembered that Nautilus made a Nitro version of the 2 seater but it has both arms up. I’m wondering if it gives the same result as the old 2 seater curl or both arms up compound curl? Anyone try one?