The first gym I ever joined was a Nautilus only gym back in 1977. I was 15 years old and wanted to be a bodybuilder. I remember walking into the gym and seeing all the 1970’s brown colored equipment.
An average built guy in his 40s greeted me at the door; he had just opened the gym. At the time, my only exposure to bodybuilding information was through Muscle & Fitness magazine. When he explained to me Arthur Jones’ training philosophy, it seemed simple and easy. It involved one hard set, 12 machines, and a total workout time of less than 30 minutes. Only 15 years old and not knowing anything about resistance training, this short hard workout seemed a lot easier to me then the long workouts that were recommended in Muscle & Fitness.
Back in the early 1990s (when I went back to school), I had an exercise physiology professor who said to the class “Arthur Jones was right about just about everything”. I think he would say the same thing today. I’m 55 years old now and have been training regularly for over 40 years. I devoted my life to the pursuit of health and fitness by studying all different training philosophies, reading studies and experimenting with different routines, as I get older.
I’ve concluded that one hard work set, the corner stone of Arthur Jones’ training philosophy, is not only a good place to start your training journey but also a great place to finish.
I’m not saying that more volume might not be better for hypertrophy, it could be, but you can end up spending half your life in the gym for just 10% -15% better results. If you’re not a pro bodybuilder and want a simple, proven, time efficient way to build your body, you can’t go wrong with the Arthur Jones approach.
I just reread an old Nautilus book that I purchased back in 1985 before writing this article. Here are the basic rules for Nautilus training and you obviously don’t have to use Nautilus equipment. These concepts work with any type of resistance or exercise.
Rules for Nautilus Training – The Simplest Way to Build Your Body
Perform one set 4-6 exercises for lower body and 6 to 8 exercises for upper body. No more than 12 exercises per workout.
- Stay in the 8-12 rep range.
- Train to muscular failure. When you can perform 12 reps, increase the resistance by about 5%.
- Work your larger muscles first and don’t rest very long between sets.
- Move extra (rep cadence) slowly during the first three reps of each exercise to warm up.
- Perform a slower eccentric contraction.
- Keep rep cadence slow in general (up 2 seconds – pause – down 3 seconds for a 5 to 6 second rep).
- Try to isolate and work large muscle groups to exhaustion.
- Keep good form and try to get stronger every workout.
- No more than three workouts per week.
- Keep records of all workouts.
- Vary your workout.
This is a simple quick workout philosophy but not easy. I personally modify the intensity when I train. I go about 90% effort instead of going to failure about 90 % of the time, and every now and then when I feel really good, I go all out. At my age, I also add some mobility movements to warm-up and cool-down before and after every workout.
Even if you don’t totally agree with the Arthur Jones training philosophy, one hard work set is certainly a great way to start training. Otherwise, just mix things up and train like this for a couple of months every year.
Make sure and get my free “Forever 27” workout plan!
This is the strategy I teach my personal training clients to have a 20-something body, regardless of their age.
Subscribe to Fitness Contrarian
Best – Mike Cola