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The Ten Requirements for Full Range Exercise Explained

Arthur Jones was an exercise pioneer who created Nautilus and MedX strength training equipment. These machines were, and still are, light years ahead of what preceded them and what has come along since (the lone exception being Super Slow Systems equipment). Ken Hutchins, who created the Total Results exercise protocol, has said that exercise as we know it would not have been possible without Jones's initial concepts on machine design and exercise philosophy, and every person who pursues meaningful exercise owes Jones a debt of gratitude. Jones was an interesting character who unfortunately passed away in 2007. He was a self-educated man born in Arkansas and grew up in a family of physicians in Oklahoma, and outside of exercise he worked as a writer, producer, and television director, and also owned and operated a zoo in Louisiana after World War II. I am not certain of the date that Jones developed the Ten Requirements for Full Range Exercise, but I believe it was not long after the first Nautilus machines hit the market in 1970.

These are the Ten Requirements for Full Range Exercise:

  1. Rotary resistance. This means that the involved joint of the body in a given exercise must have resistance rotating on a common axis.

  2. Direct resistance. Resistance must be directly encountered by the involved body part.

  3. Variable resistance. Your muscles are stronger in some positions and weaker in others, so the resistance must be varied in order to target the muscles properly.

  4. Balanced resistance. This goes along with the third requirement.

  5. Positive work. There must be resistance applied to the musculature during the concentric (muscle fibers shorten) phase of the movement.

  6. Negative work. Resistance must also be applied during the eccentric (muscle fibers lengthen) portion of the exercise.

  7. Stretching. Resistance should be provided in a range of motion that exceeds the limits of the user.

  8. Pre-stretching. This involves a slightly greater range of motion just prior to the start of the positive phase of the movement. More on this later.

  9. Resistance in a position of full muscular contraction. There must be resistance in the finishing portion of the movement, so that the musculature is not unloaded at any time.

  10. Unrestricted speed of movement. The mechanics of the machine should not limit how fast or slow you move.

It must be understood that Arthur Jones created Nautilus machines back in the late 1960s because he recognized the inherent limitations in free weights and Universal machines, which were the only strength training equipment available at the time. Nautilus machines were an intellectual and mechanical quantum leap forward, and while they were revolutionary, Jones's equipment had some design flaws in the form of friction, backward cams (the mechanism that varies the resistance through the range of motion), and independent movement arms on a few machines. Some of these flaws he worked to improve, while others he steadfastly refused to change. Nautilus protocol involved a two second positive phase and a four second negative phase, so some of the meaningful effects of the cam were obviated by a faster than acceptable movement speed. The Ten Requirements for Full Range Exercise should be taken into context with what was known more than fifty years ago. We have learned much since then.

Which of the requirements have been invalidated? The first is rotary resistance; in reality, Jones uses an incorrect term here. As Ken Hutchins points out, "Technically, there is no such thing as a rotary resistance. Resistance is force. And force always exists in a straight line. What we are really talking about is torque. Torque is often imagined as a twisting force, but actually it is merely a product of straight-line force and lever length" (his emphasis). Pre-stretching is very dangerous and is thus invalidated. Pre-stretching involves a sudden and violent jerk at the end of the negative just prior to the next positive repetition. This can only be accomplished with a machine setting that exceeds a safe and pain-free range of motion. This concept came into being as a result of a misguided emphasis on flexibility, but is far more likely to result in injury than it is to bring about benefit. It is incumbent upon the exercise instructor to determine proper machine settings for each client. Finally, an unrestricted speed of movement is also likely invalidated, because it implies that one should be able to move faster during exercise rather than slower. An exercise subject should always move more slowly during strength training rather than faster, and as I mentioned above Jones advocated a much faster speed of movement than I would consider safe. I should also point out that since Nautilus machines often had high amounts of friction in the weight stacks, it was very difficult to move at an appropriately slow speed without the movement arm getting hung up during the negative excursion.

The rest of the requirements remain valid, although further clarification is needed for a few of them. A properly designed exercise machine must provide direct, variable, and balanced resistance. The need for variable resistance was mentioned above, and is a primary reason why Jones designed the Nautilus cam in the first place. Barbells and dumbbells do not allow for variable resistance, and a 50 pound barbell will have the same resistance no matter what position of the range of motion you are in. This is a limiting factor, because the resistance can be too heavy in some portions of the range of motion and too light in others. Only a machine with a cam can appropriately match strength with resistance based on leverage factors. At Total Results we do use a barbell to perform the bicep curl exercise, but that's only because we do not have a machine (or the space it would require) to address that exercise. Positive and negative work remain valid, as both the concentric and eccentric phases of the movement are equally important for achieving an exercise stimulus. Stretching remains valid, but far too much emphasis has been placed on flexibility, in my opinion. We make sure each client is able to utilize a safe, but pain-free range of motion on every exercise, and that will enable them to maintain and improve functionality. Lastly, resistance in the position of full muscular contraction, at least in theory, remains valid, but it's more correct to use the term "most contracted position" instead. To say that a muscle is fully contracted in any position is misleading.

Many of the Ten Requirements of Full Range Exercise are the foundation for equipment design. Ken Hutchins was able to take these requirements to another level when he designed Super Slow Systems equipment, as these are a quantum leap beyond the initial designs for both Nautilus and MedX machines. All of the machines at Total Results meet the requirements put forth. This is just one way that we separate ourselves from our competition, as most other commercially-available equipment is poorly engineered. The fact that a few of the requirements have been invalidated over the years should not in any way diminish Jones's accomplishments or ideas. Many scientific discoveries throughout history can seem less significant as more knowledge has been gained and time has passed. An understanding of the Ten Requirements for Full Range Exercise gives us a greater appreciation for the Total Results philosophy, and we would not be where we are today without the contributions of Arthur Jones.

Posted September 21, 2023 by Matthew Romans

The Essence of Exercise

Fitness people often overcomplicate things with stuff that truly doesn't matter. This is typically because they lack knowledge and will do anything for pure financial gain. I have said this before, but the commercial exercise world is very much centered on trends and what is popular this year. When one craze eventually burns out, it is usually recycled in a slightly different fashion a few years later and repackaged as some "revolutionary" idea. I'm all for trying to improve and do things better, but for the most part when it comes to exercise there isn't much new under the sun. Forget all of this nonsense about "core-strengthening", "fat-burning", or getting into a target heart rate zone. This stuff is just window dressing put forth by people who are trying to sound like innovators when they really are not. The true essence of exercise is muscular inroad.

Ken Hutchins, the creator of the Total Results exercise protocol and builder of most of the machines in our studio, was the first person to truly define the term exercise. He defines exercise as, "...A process whereby the body performs work of a demanding nature, in accordance with muscle and joint function, in a clinically-controlled environment, within the constraints of safety, meaningfully loading the muscular structures to inroad their strength levels within minimum time." There must be a sound and logical system in place in order to achieve optimum physical improvements. The human body is a logical entity, and all body processes occur as a result of specific actions. Just performing any type of nondescript activity on a whim is not going to get it done. Contrary to what the muscle magazines tell you, "muscle confusion", "instinctive training", and "changing it up" are not successful long-term strategies. Exercise should be a logical process rather than instinctive. Most of us, left simply to our instincts, would not perform on our own something as demanding as a Total Results workout. Arbitrary activity is insufficient.

Exercise, simply put, is about muscular strengthening. Other meaningful physical improvements such as flexibility, cardiovascular and metabolic conditioning, and resistance to injury occur as a result of working to increase your strength. The skeletal muscles are the "engines" of the body; if we happen to feel cold, what is the quickest way to get warm? The answer is to perform some type of movement, and our skeletal muscles control our volitional movements. Skeletal muscle is the one type of tissue that plays the greatest role in determining our body shape. While the heart is certainly an important muscle, the only way to improve cardiovascular conditioning is to perform mechanical work with the skeletal muscles. This happens to a slight degree when we perform steady-state activity (jogging, biking, etc.), but those activities require a low level of effort, hence the ability to engage in those activities for lengthy periods of time. People often spend hours every week slaving away on a bike or an elliptical trainer, and for what? Sure, it might be a form of recreation for some, but will likely produce very little lasting positive change and will put you at risk for an overuse injury. If you are serious about creating significant physical improvements, you need to strength train.

Many people pursue all kinds of different activities for the sake of fat loss. It must be understood that no form of activity, whether it's a Total Result workout or anything else, burns a significant amount of calories when you consider what you can consume in a very short period of time. Exercise is not simply about burning calories, so why waste time and effort on an activity that provides very little return on your investment? Fat loss is almost exclusively a dietary issue, not just in terms of how much you eat but what types of foods you eat and their hormonal impact. Total Results exercise in and of itself is not a fat loss program, but working to build muscle aids greatly in terms of reducing body fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate, which results in greater caloric expenditure even when you aren't doing anything other than being alive! The body, by nature, is resistant to change (homeostasis) and wishes to conserve its resources whenever possible. It needs a powerful reason, something that is interpreted as an existential threat (reaching muscular failure) in order to create positive and lasting physical changes. A Total Results workout is just the stimulus you need to make physical adaptations. If you consistently put forth a great effort you will make changes you did not think were possible, provided you meet your body's requirements for sleep, food, nutrition, stress management, and do not overtax yourself with too much additional activity.

The essence of exercise is muscular inroad: fatiguing the musculature deeply and efficiently enough to stimulate a growth mechanism. Arbitrary and haphazard activity isn't enough to accomplish this; you need a systematic plan. Keep in mind that exercise is not a cure-all; it will not be enough to overcome poor personal habits. It won't eliminate every single ache or pain that you have; some physical discomfort occurs as a result of aging with even the most disciplined people. What it can do for you is to enable you to live your life with more energy, less pain, and will help you to steer clear of the medical establishment. Total Results exercise, along with sound personal and dietary habits, can help you get more out of life than you can imagine. It's not complicated, but it works.

Posted September 08, 2023 by Matthew Romans

"The Statin Damage Crisis" - A Book Review

Duane Graveline, M.D., M.P.H, was a NASA physician and former astronaut who unfortunately passed away in 2016. He wrote a series of books about the dangers of statin drugs, and some of his own harrowing experiences are included in his work. Dr. Graveline was first prescribed statins in 1999 at the strong recommendation of the doctors at NASA, purportedly due to having high cholesterol. After two serious adverse events, both of which had long-lasting repercussions, he took himself off statins for good. In large part due to his own experiences, Dr. Graveline began meticulously researching statin drugs and their side effects so that others might benefit from his knowledge. "The Statin Damage Crisis" was self-published in 2012.

Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, author of the book "The Great Cholesterol Con", set the tone for this book in the introduction that he wrote. According to Dr. Kendrick, "If you took a statin for thirty years, you could expect five to six months of increased life expectancy. And that's it. And that is only for men, with pre-existing heart disease. For women, forget it. These drugs are pointless, and cannot extend your life by one day." If the drugs were merely ineffective that would be one thing, but as Dr. Graveline goes on to explain these drugs are actually quite harmful. It's important to understand the origin for the rise of statin drugs as well as how they work. Ancel Keys, a physiologist, conducted his Seven Countries study in 1958 in order to learn about the relationship between dietary consumption and heart disease. Unfortunately, the study was flawed. As Dr. Graveline explains, "None of us realized that Keys had consciously manipulated the data to include only those studies that agreed with his preconceived idea. None of us was scientist enough to know the difference between natural cholesterol of angelic disposition and its devilish oxy-cholesterol brother that blocked rabbit arteries with such ease." Statin drugs work largely by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which is essential for the production of cholesterol. They also inhibit the production of vital intermediary products such as ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) and dolichols, which can have harmful repercussions for many people. It appears that the cholesterol-inhibiting function of statins is completely unnecessary. As the author states, "Unfortunately we are now learning that this cholesterol manipulation is irrelevant to atherosclerosis and increased cardiovascular risk." In addition, ubiquinone inhibition negatively impacts energy production, and dolichol inhibition can have a wide range of possible behavioral manifestations.

Side effects of statins include congestive heart failure, chronic fatigue, hepatitis, rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage which results in the release of protein and electrolytes into the blood), peripheral neuropathy, depression, mood swings, memory loss, and cognitive impairment. Dr. Graveline details the tragic story of the father of Steve Sparks, a well-known statin activist. Mr. Sparks was a self-sufficient, seemingly healthy octogenarian who led a very active life. He was prescribed Baycol (a statin that was later taken off the market) and within 24 days was hospitalized with complete renal failure. Less than two months after being prescribed the drug, Steve Sparks's father was dead. Dr. Graveline discusses his own personal experience with statins, which included two separate bouts of transient global amnesia (defined as, "the sudden inability to formulate new memory, known as anterograde amnesia, combined with varying degrees of retrograde memory loss, sometimes for decades into the past"). The author also suffered from extreme weakness and easy fatigability in his legs and lower back, peripheral neuropathy, lateral sclerosis, and could no longer walk without assistance. This degeneration took place after only three and a half months of being on a 10 mg or less dosage of Lipitor. After his second time on the drug, Dr. Graveline unilaterally decided to take himself off the medication and embarked on an aggressive course of nutritional therapy that included liberal doses of CoQ10, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin D, and PQQ, which is an antioxidant mitochondrial enhancer. He also incorporated barefoot walking. After four years of progressive decline prior to starting this course of therapy, the author was able to regain some of his physical and cognitive abilities, but some of the damage from statins was permanent.

Cholesterol is an essential substance produced by the body, and is a constituent of the membrane that surrounds every cell. Contrary to what we have been led to believe over the past half century, cholesterol is not an inherently evil entity. As the author says, "This same substance that society has been taught to fear happens to be our sole source for androgen, estrogen, and progesterone." He goes on to say that, "...Alzheimer's disease is characterized by a progressive and irreversible loss of neurons and synapses associated with cholesterol deficit." The real danger in terms of heart disease is not cholesterol build-up in the arteries, but rather inflammation. Dr. Graveline says, "We now have evidence that atherosclerosis is the result of inflammatory factors such as homocysteine, secondary to genetic or acquired deficiencies of vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid. Homocysteine has been shown to be a major player in atherosclerotic change, with coagulation defects, platelet factors and selected anti-oxidant deficiencies responsible for most of the rest. Cholesterol no longer is deserving of even a place in the lineup of usual suspects." The truth is that almost all major intervention studies have failed to show a significant correlation between cardiovascular disease and serum cholesterol levels. Unfortunately the pharmaceutical companies have been very successful at driving home their message on the supposed benefits of statins.

What are some safer and more effective alternatives to taking a statin? For the person at average risk, Dr. Graveline believes the focus should be on reducing inflammation; this is best accomplished by achieving a 2 to 1 ratio between your omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Eat plenty of animal-based proteins like fish, eggs, yogurt, meat, and cheese, and supplement with vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, tocotrienol, CoQ10, and buffered aspirin. People at higher risk should also add in vitamin D, low doses of Red Yeast Rice and Aged Garlic Extract. All of these will provide the anti-inflammatory benefits without the potentially lethal side effects of statins.

Dr. Graveline's belief is that, "Statin drugs cause effects on our mitochondria identical to those that accumulate with age. One might say that one side effect of statin therapy is premature aging." Not everyone who takes a statin will experience deleterious side effects, but the fact of the matter is that they do more harm than good. If you are currently taking a statin, Dr. Graveline recommends you taper off slowly rather than stopping them abruptly. I believe that the author has done us all a great service in bringing attention to these dangerous drugs. My hope is that those of you reading this review will put this information to good use, and that those of you currently taking a statin can get off of them before any permanent damage is incurred.

Posted August 24, 2023 by Matthew Romans

Seek Out Muscular Failure, Don't Avoid It

Exercise, when it is performed properly, is supposed to be hard. Let's think for a second about what we are doing when we perform a slow-speed, high intensity weight training workout. We are loading the muscular structures with a resistance that the exercise subject can safely handle at a 10/10 speed until they reach muscular failure in a window of one to three minutes of time under load. This sequence is performed for five to seven exercises that encompass the entirety of the body's musculature, both upper and lower body. The client will move quickly between exercises so that metabolic and cardiovascular conditioning are optimized (both are diminished if you rest between exercises). This is all done in order to provide the body with a good reason to mobilize its resources to make physical improvements. Although our natural instincts might tell us otherwise, we need to have a mindset where we seek out muscular failure rather than avoid it.

It is human to want to avoid discomfort. Pain and discomfort are the human body's mechanism for getting us to pay attention to what's going on. However, it's important to be able to make the distinction between exertional discomfort (which is harmless) and injurious pain (which is bad). The essence of true exercise is inroad. This means that we are systematically fatiguing our musculature, one repetition at a time, until we are no longer capable of completing another repetition in proper form. We still do not know what exact percentage of effort is optimal for stimulating maximum physical improvements. It might be 85 percent, but there is no real way to measure that. As it currently stands, there are only two measurements of effort: zero percent and 100 percent. We know for sure that giving no effort will not stimulate anything, and by going to muscular failure we have given as much effort as we can possibly give, i.e, 100 percent. Most people are not accustomed to exertional discomfort, but one's ability to mentally and physically deal with it will increase over time. This is how we become more resilient.

Form discrepancies are instinctive behaviors that try to make things just a little bit easier. A brief unload at bottom out or a slight off/on can give you just a momentary respite during an exercise. Even experienced clients with excellent form and motor control will occasionally commit form discrepancies, and it doesn't mean that you have any sinister motives. The problem is that in addition to posing safety hazards, form discrepancies unload the musculature and defeat the real objective that we are trying to accomplish. They make our exercise experience less efficient. When your muscles ache and your lungs burn, do you want to prolong the exercise? Form discrepancies can only serve to artificially extend the exercise by unloading the musculature and diminishing the stimulus. The idea is not to prolong the exercise, but rather to put an end to it. If you narrow your focus on proper form and speed at the moment things start to become challenging, you will finish the exercise more efficiently and achieve a higher quality of stimulus.

Don't succumb to your instincts! There is always a challenge to be met. The Total Results exercise protocol may seem easy at first, because we conservatively estimate the weights we use for the initial consultation. Teaching proper form is paramount, but we also want to mentally prepare you to deal with approaching muscular failure when that time comes. If we don't seek out and achieve muscular failure, then we don't create the greatest possible stimulus, which is the key to obtaining positive physical change. A workout only lasts twenty minutes; don't allow the physical and temporary discomfort of fatigue to stray you from your path.

Posted August 12, 2023 by Matthew Romans

Everybody Needs a Purpose

Napoleon Hill, author of the seminal books "Think and Grow Rich" and "Law of Success", spoke at length about the importance of having a definite chief aim in life. This is the idea of knowing what it is that you want out of life, and knowing how to best achieve it. These two books were originally written during the Great Depression, but the ideas contained in Hill's writings are just as applicable today as they were during the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations. There has to be some reason to get out of bed in the morning, no matter your age. Without purpose, there is no motivation to keep getting better in some capacity, and life is about pushing forward, taking on challenges, and making the most out of each day.

One's definite chief aim in life may be their work. Whether you are a business owner or employee, finding a line of work that interests you and that you enjoy will give you purpose. I believe that in order to truly excel at something, you have to love it, or at least find a way to derive pleasure from it. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to instruct exercise for a living. Being able to work with the amazing clients at Total Results gives me purpose and makes me happy to get out of bed in the morning, plus it spurs me to continue to improve. However, if and when one retires from their primary career it can be a difficult task to figure out what comes next. Professional athletes face a slightly greater challenge when this happens, because their retirement comes at a much younger age than the average accountant, but also because their lives are often even more structured and centered around playing their sport. I think it's important at that point to find a new definite chief aim. Many Total Results clients are retired but still live fulfilling and active lives that involve travel, volunteering, grandchildren, learning new skills, and making the most out of each day. Exercise is a tool to help them accomplish this.

Regular Total Results exercise will help you to become stronger, fitter, better conditioned, more resistant to injury, and more functionally independent. Taking proactive health measures, such as participating in consistent exercise sessions, will mean less reliance on medication, fewer doctor visits, more energy, and less fatigue. You will be able to perform the activities of daily living with less effort, which will enable you to pursue what you want out of life with more vigor. All of this can be achieved in less than one hour per week. As clients become stronger and better conditioned, they often find themselves wanting to be more active. If you want to participate in a specific event or take up a new sport (run a 5K, play pickleball, Tough Mudder, etc.), it's important to understand the principle of specificity. You must train to learn and master the skills that are required for that activity; you can become better at hiking only by hiking, and you must gradually increase your running distance and pace to prepare for a 5K race. I have begun coaching football at Dominion High School, so I witness the principle of specificity on a daily basis. We teach the players the specific skills that their sport and position require to enable them to become the best players they can be.

There are many ways to find purpose and meaning in life. Choose a path that best suits your temperament and drive, and give it your all. Use the sensible and comprehensive Total Results exercise approach to help you achieve your goals!

Posted July 26, 2023 by Matthew Romans