Exactly how do such exercises work? Well, a detailed explanation would require a lengthy book – but I can rather briefly describe the working of one or two of these exercise; and this explanation, together with the pictures forming a part of this article, should make the involved principles understandable.
Illustration number one shows a subject seated in a “pullover type” lat machine, in the fully extended starting position of the exercise; individual hang grips and a cross bar are provided for possible use; but if the exercise is performed properly then the resistance is moved by the elbows, NOT BY THE ARM MUSCLES.
Obviously, since the arms are moved b the lats, the arms must move during the exercise; but if the exercise is performed properly, the muscles of the arms are not involved in the movement at all. In effect, you are lifting weights (moving the resistance) with your elbows, not with your hands. Effort is expended by pressing against the elbow pads with the backs of the upper arms; what you do with your hands and forearms is of no concern.
In the starting position shown, the elbows are forced back well behind the head, and in this extended position the lats are quite weak; if heavy resistance is employed in this position, then it would be impossible to start the movement. Thus the resistance must be variable; it must be light in this position, and heavier in other positions. In order to effect this variation of resistance, we have employed what we term the “Nautilus System” of spiral pulleys; the large, spiral-shaped pulleys located on each side of the machine.
In this starting position, the radius of the pulley is quite small, and thus the resistance is low. Later in the movement the radius of the pulley is greater and the resistance is increased in proportion. At the finishing position of the movement, as sown in the second illustration, the radius of the pulley is at its greatest, and the resistance has reached its highest point as well.
Or, at least this is true in general terms, although, in fact, while it is constantly changing, the radius of the pulleys (and thus the resistance) does not always increase; in some cases, the resistance increases up to a certain point and then decreases, as it must in order to remain in balance with changing strength levels produced by changes in involved body parts positions.
While it is perfectly true that the strength of a muscle constantly increases as the body parts move from an extended to a flexed position, it does not follow that this increase takes form n a straight-line fashion; that is to say, the increase in strength is not constant at a given rate of increase.
Second, changing positions bring about greater and lesser degrees of involvement of other muscular structures, and thus “total” strength may be decreasing while the strength of a particular muscle is increasing; for example, in the exercise illustrated, most of the effort is provided by the latissimus muscles, but the movement is assisted during part of the range of movement by the pectorals, the abdominals, and the trapezoids, as well as by several smaller muscular structures, thus, while the strength of the latissimus muscles increases during the entire movement, “total” strength for the movement (the strength total provided by all of the involved muscles) actually decreases near the end of the movement.
So, in order to remain in balance with this total strength level, the resistance must increase up to a point, and then decrease slightly, and this variation in resistance is exactly provided by the variation in the curve of the spiral pulleys.
It should be noted that the subject is seated in such a position that his “axis of rotation” of the shoulders is located exactly in line with the center of rotation of the spiral pulleys; and only in this position is directness of resistance possible. In this position, the resistance is always provided in a direction directly opposite to the direction of movement of the involved body parts; when the elbows are moving forward and slightly upwards at the start of the exercise, the resistance is provided backwards and slightly downwards – later, as the elbows are moving directly downwards, the resistance is provided in a directly upwards direction. And in all other positions. The resistance is always directly opposite to the direction of movement.
In any form of pullover with a barbell or a normal pulley device the resistance is one-directional, and thus directly opposes the movement only during a brief, infinitely small range of movement while the elbows are moving in a direction directly opposite to the direction of resistance; but in this machine, resistance is omni-directional.
Insofar as “feel” o the exercise is concerned, the resistance feels exactly the same in all positions, it is hard at the start of the movement, and remains hard throughout the movement; but it is no harder, and no easier, at one point than it is at any other point. Or, at least, it will feel this way to a man with a perfectly balanced development; which, in effect, means that it will not feel even to a man that has been training by conventional methods; at least not at first. Because such a trainee will not have a balanced development, in some areas, he will have little or no strength; and in those areas the weight will feel very heavy to him at first.
But within a matter of a few weeks at most, the areas of his development that have previously been neglected will quickly catch up in strength with the other areas and from that point onwards, the resistance will feel even to him throughout the movement.
By totally removing the working of the arm muscles from the performance of this exercise, the resistance has been applied directly to the major torso muscles – primarily to the lats – and thus the previously existing limitations imposed by the strength of the arms have been removed; it is now possible to work the lats directly and to work them to the limit of their own strength. As a result the lats will grow as much within six months as they previously would in an equal number of years.
Starting from scratch, with a sixteen year old, previously untrained boy, we built his lats to an unbelievable size in a period of less than eight weeks. With another subject, a man that had been in hard, constant training with weights fro seventeen years, we increased his chest size by over three inches in a period of less than a month.
Boyer Boe performed one fairly light set on one of the pullover type lat machines and was extremely sore in the lats for several days as a result; and one set on one of our new curling machines pumped his arms to a greater size than they had ever reached before.
In the third illustration the starting position of the “behind-neck” type lat machine is shown. In this case it should be obvious that moving the resistance with the elbows is doing all of the work; since no handgrips or cross bar are provided. Nor are they required.
In the previously described and illustrated “pullover type” lat machine, hand grips and a cross bar are provided only because it was found that without something to grip it was extremely difficult for most trainees to maintain proper elbow position. There was a tendency for the elbows to slip off the elbow pads. But in the “behind neck” type lat machine, because of the difference in positioning of the elbows, and due to the shape of the elbows pads, it was not necessary to employ hand grips; and because of the nature of the movement, it was impossible to use a cross bar linking the two opposite turning spiral pulleys.
In the fourth illustration, the finishing position of the “behind neck” type lat machine exercise is shown; by comparing illustrations numbers three and four, the involved range of movement will be obvious, and it should also be obvious that the entire movement is performed by the torso muscles, without the involvement of the arm muscles.
In the fifth illustration the starting position of the “rowing type” lat machine is shown, and in the sixth illustration, the finishing position of the same exercise is shown, and again it should be obvious that the words is confined to a torso muscles.
These first three machines provide perfectly direct, omni-directional, rotary movement, variable, balanced resistance to the torso muscles, primarily to the latissimus muscles; insofar as the latissimus muscles are concerned no other exercises are required for maximum development in a minimum of training time with a minimum of work. However, for “total” development, in order to link the major torso muscles properly with the arm muscles, three other exercises (indirect exercises) are required. These are illustrated in the next six photographs.
The first of these, performed on the “chinning machine” is the behind the neck type chin with a vertical (or parallel) handgrip; the starting position of this exercise is illustrated in photograph number seven, and the finishing position in photo number eight. By using a vertical grip arrangement, instead of the normally employed pronated (or “palms down”) grip, the arms are placed in the position of greatest strength thus, while the ability to work the torso muscles will still be limited by the strength of the arms, this limitation will be reduced as much as possible.
And, second, if this exercise is performed in proper sequence, the arms will temporarily be stronger than the torso muscles, and thus the limitation normally imposed by the strength of the arm muscles will be entirely eliminated.
Except for the vertical-grip hand position, this exercise is performed in the normal manner but with variable resistance provided by the employment of the spiral pulley arrangement. At the start of the movement the resistance is low, and later in the movement it is high; always-in perfect balance with changing level of strength.
In illustrations numbers nine and ten, the starting and finishing positions of the “rowing type” machine are shown; this movement also involves the strength of the arms, but again, if performed in proper sequence with the other exercises, the limitations will be of little, if any, concern. Because at that point in the exercise cycle, the arms will temporarily be stronger than the torso muscles, thus you are able to work the torso muscles to a point where they fail because of their own momentary state of exhaustion rather than as a result of the failure of arm strength.
The final exercise in the torso muscle cycle or “lat cycle,” if you like, is performed on the chinning machine, but his time instead of doing behind the neck type chins, regular grip chinning movements are employed.
Thus, in each cycle, six exercise are performed:
1. Pullover type lat machine movements.
2. Behind neck type lat machine movements.
3. Rowing type lat machine movements.
4. Behind neck type chinning movements.
5. 45-degree pulley type rowing machine movements.
6. Regular grip type chinning movements.
The exercises should be performed in that order, and with no rest between sets; one set should immediately follow the preceding set. The entire cycle should be completed as quickly as possible, but each set should be carried to the point of total failure of the involved muscles in that position. Thus, properly performed, one cycle of the above six exercises will work the major torso muscles (and especially the lats) to a point of total, if momentary, failure; and not more than two such cycles should be performed in any one workout; nor should such workouts be performed more than three times weekly.
For best possible results, each such cycle should be immediately preceded with a set of at least fifteen reps of fast, heavy squats, carried to the point of staggering under the weight, to the point of extreme breathlessness.
And when I say “immediately,” I mean just that; you should literally stagger (since, if you have done the squats properly you won’t even be able to walk properly, let alone run) directly from the squat rack to the lat machine with no slightest rest between the squats and he first set of the lat machine cycle.
In almost all cases, only one such cycles, performed three times weekly, is required for maximum possible gains in the lats, for a rate of gaining that must be seen to be believed; and since each cycle (including the squats) should require not more than eight minutes of training time, this means that not more than twenty-four minutes of weekly training is required by most trainees, and never more than forty-eight minutes of training time for anybody (when two such cycles are being performed).
Arm training – which I will detail in later articles, and shoulder training (as well as pec and leg training) should be equally brief, and in many cases even less involved. Thus, for training the entire body, with two full cycles for all body parts, training time should not exceed one hour and twenty minutes per workout, or a total of four hours weekly.
And in almost all cases, a training program limited to about forty-eight minutes, three times weekly will produce best results.
Too easy? Well, like I mentioned earlier, quick it may be insofar as the production of the results is concerned, but “easy” it certainly is not. Or, if performed in an “easy” fashion, then the possible results from this system of training will not be produced. But also, as mentioned earlier DO TAKE IT EASY AT FIRST, otherwise you may literally kill yourself.
Although this may or may not be obvious, the previously described six exercises for the lats, and especially the first three, have almost nothing in common with previously existing methods of exercise; while previously existing forms of exercise meet none of the basic requirements for producing best possible results from weight training, the first described three exercises meet most of them especially if they are performed properly in sequence with the other exercises.
If these exercises fail to produce at least ten times the rate of progress you have experienced previously, then you are not performing them properly; probably not work hard enough, or pausing between sets, or performing too many cycles; and these exercises are fully capable of producing as much as thirty times the results usually produced by conventional training methods, at least insofar as a “return of results in proportion to expenditure of energy” is concerned.
Six months of three-times a week brief training on this program of exercises will build the lats of a mature individual to any size previously possible by any amount of other training over any period of time; and a year of proper training will produce results in the lats far exceeding anything ever seen previously.
And very similar, if not quite so spectacular, degrees of results are possible in other areas of development; in the arms, the chest, the shoulders and the legs.
Whether such a degree of development will be desirable or not remains to be seen. Personally, I think that a definite limit exists insofar as “desirable” muscular size is concerned, but I have no slightest doubt that any such level of desirable development will be far exceeded by many individuals, now that it is at last possible to do so.
Second, I am far from being convinced that “maximum possible” strength is desirable either, since it is obvious that such strength is desirable either, since it is obvious that such strength will far exceed the ability of the human skeleton. In effect, how do you use strength that is capable of destroying its own supporting framework, the skeleton?
One cycle of the previously described six exercises will work the lats almost literally “into the ground” from every possible angle, over the entire possible range of movement from several directions; additionally, one such cycle will provide an enormous amount of work for the pectorals, the abdominals, and the trapezoids, and quite a bit of work for the deltoids and several similar smaller muscular structures. The last described three exercises will provide all of the work that is required for linking the development of the major torso muscles that of the arms, while rounding of the development