Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

September 2023

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