Tim Ryan (info @ stronglifetraining.com) is a Master Super Slow instructor and the owner of Strong Life Personal Training in Barrington, Illinois. Aside from personal training, Tim offers mentoring, workshops, and seminars for studio owners.
In this episode, Tim joins me to answer your questions on using full range of motion, HIT vs Higher-Volume Training, cost/benefit of Nautilus and MedX equipment modifications, and much more.
This episode is brought to you by StrengthPortal
Are you still using pen, paper, and spreadsheets? Do you worry about providing inconsistent workout experiences that disappoint your clients and stifles the growth of your business? Don’t put up with tools that frustrate you!
Join industry heavyweights like Discover Strength, MedX Precision Fitness, and many others and start using Strength Portal to easily track workouts, deliver consistently high-quality client experiences, and scale your business painlessly and grow faster — go to StrengthPortal.com/HighIntensityBusiness and try StrengthPortal now.
- Listen to it on Apple Podcasts
- Stream by clicking here
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as”
- 3:22 – Defining full range of motion
- 8:23 – Training to full range of motion: safe or harmful?
- 13:25 – Effects of range of motion on strength development
- 16:54 – Thoughts on pre-stretches
- 18:35 – Variables affecting muscular physique
- 23:07 – HIT vs Higher-Volume Training
- 33:54 – Benefits of equipment modifications
- 39:40 – Cost of equipment modifications
- 43:46 – Bronze Bushings vs Teflon™ Bushings
- 49:47 – Bronze Bushings vs Roller Bearings
Selected Links from the Episode
- Strong Life Personal Training
- Nautilus Inc.
- MedX Machines
- MedX Medical Machines
- Bro Split
- Placebo Effect
In this episode, Tim and I sat down to answer questions from the HIT and High-Intensity Business community.
I’ve cleaned up the text here and made some minor changes for the sake of clarity and readability, but apart from that, these are the same questions as they appear in the actual podcast episode.
On to the questions!
“Why does High Intensity Training not clearly drop the recommendation of doing reps in full range of motion?
This question came from Harold, and he added some extra context to his question:
“Full range of motion is not necessary to maximize strength and hypertrophy. Full range of motion with appropriately challenging loads has injured many people. Full range of motion with challenging loads is hazardous to joints and spine. It is dangerous telling people to do HIT with challenging loads with full range of motion to promote flexibility. Arthur Jones is right about much but not about any need for pre-stretch. Full range of motion with challenging loads [do] much more harm than good.”
Tim responded by first clarifying what full range of motion really means in this situation, saying:
“The full range of motion of any one particular muscle or even one muscle and joint function is probably not realistic or possible in any one single exercise.”
“In terms of training ‘full range of motion’, we’re never doing that. Because most muscle and joint functions, especially muscles that cross two joints, you’re not going to be able to perform the entire range of motion of that particular muscle because it would require two different joint actions at the same time. And moving into a position and so forth is not possible in one single movement.”
“For example, even just taking something relatively simple like the bicep, the arm bicep muscles – the main function that we are all familiar with is flexing the elbow so taking your arm from the straight extended position and then bending your elbow and flexing it bringing your hands towards your shoulder. But since that muscle crosses two joints it also flexes the shoulder joint. “
“So, if we were to talk about doing a full range of motion there and considering the fact that the bicep supinates the wrist, supinates the hand, we would have to bring our… The full range of motion would be starting with the hands pronated or palms down, the elbow extended with your arm down at your side, and you would supinate, flex the elbow, and flex the shoulder all in one motion. You’re not going to be able to do that in one single exercise.”
“Thinking back to some of the design of the bicep machines – you’ve got bicep machines where your arms are down in front of you and you’re just flexing the elbow. But then recall that Nautilus made what they call the Compound Bicep Machine where [the arms are up there]… The typical machine where your arms are down and you flex the elbow, you’re basically starting with the bicep in more of a stretched position and even when you completely flex the elbow you haven’t fully contracted the bicep.”
“On the flip side, to get a more of a full contraction of the bicep doing the compound position bicep machine with your elbow up over your head is emphasizing the contracted position, then the compound position bicep emphasizing the contracted position is not then going into the stretched position. Even if you perform the full range of motion of any one particular exercise it’s not the full range of motion of that particular muscle or joint function.”
“To make a long story short, it’s not possible to do the full range of motion under that definition or that understanding.”
“But now let’s take the concept of full range of motion of any one particular exercise:”
“Whatever exercise you’re doing, should you be performing the full range of motion of that [exercise]?”
“Well, that depends on the machine or the exercise that you’re doing and whether it is safe to do that.”
“I talk a lot about the fact that moving into a stretched position of any particular muscle is safe for the muscle itself. But where you run into trouble is getting into extreme stretched positions can be harmful for the joints itself or harmful for the connective tissues because muscles are relatively flexible and elastic.”
“A crude analogy would be a rubber band, that a rubber band can stretch and then return to its shape and stretch and return to its shape. In that regard, muscles can stretch. They are designed to stretch and return to their shape, and they have those more elastic properties. Connective tissues such as ligaments that pull joints together and things are not designed to be stretched and are not elastic. So, if you overstretched in those areas, you can make joints lax and you can stretch out ligaments and cause less joints to build in so forth and laxness in the joint.”
“In many cases, starting an exercise in an estranged stretch could be harmful to the joint structure or harmful to those connective tissues.”
“We have to take each exercise one at a time and analyze what exactly we’re doing.”
“For example, one thing to be cautious within this would be a chest fly exercise. Particularly, a chest fly where your arms are externally rotated. The typical arm cross type of thing where your shoulders externally rotated and you’re performing the chest fly coming across like this. That external rotation at the shoulder and then being abducted back, if you take your elbow and move beyond parallel with your shoulder, you are really putting the shoulder in a bad and vulnerable position.”
“I would not perform an arm cross chest fly exercise where you’re taking the elbow beyond the shoulder and stretching it beyond the shoulder. You wouldn’t be really harming the pectoral muscles if you did it slow and under control, but you would be stretching those ligaments. You would be really putting that joint structure at risk. In that case, we would limit the range of motion to not stretch beyond that shoulder. But doing the full range of motion under the context that you’re limiting it to what I just described then it would be beneficial to perform the full range of motion from that point forward into the contracted position.”
“A similar situation would be with a pullover machine. I know that Nautilus really promoted the fact that this machine could move through a 240° range of motion – you would be stretching your elbow clear back over your head and beyond your head and then rotating the movement arm all the way through until your arms pass beyond your torso as that bar comes into your waist. Though the machine can perform perhaps 240° range of motion that again would not be very safe or beneficial to the shoulder to be stretched way back behind your head with the elbow in that position.”
“In that case, I would not perform the full range of motion of what that machine is capable of; I would limit it to having the elbow coming just maybe somewhat in front of your face so you’re not stretching beyond your head.”
“First off, keeping context that we are perhaps intentionally limiting range of motion in the sense that we’re being conscious with the joints and understanding that we should not be stretching beyond certain limits in order to protect the joints and connective tissues. But once that’s been established, then I would recommend performing the full range of motion within that context.”
“The reason for that is that we know that primarily strength is only developed in the range of motion that you train in. This has been established through a number of research studies and in particular Arthur Jones and Nautilus, and the precursor to MedX.”
“As these machines were being developed, they did a lot of testing on range of motion and strength gains through a range of motion. In fact, they did some specific experiments using the muscle strength testing machines, the prototypes that later became the MedX Medical Machines. They had various prototype strength testing machines that allowed them to test the strength through the range of motion. They did studies where they took a group of people and only trained a partial range of motion. And then they tested their strength through the full range of motion to see what the changes were. The vast majority of people only got stronger in the range of motion that they trained in.”
“For example, on the knee extension or leg extension machine, they would have one group start from the bottom with the knee flexed and perhaps only move through half the range of motion and train that lower half of that range of motion. They would have another group being perhaps the upper range of motion so from the halfway into the full extension. And then, they’d had a group train the full range of motion.”
“What they found, in a nutshell, is that people that only trained half the range of motion primarily only got stronger in that part of that range of motion that they trained in and the other part of the range of motion were not much changed. The people that trained with the full range of motion, they got stronger throughout that full range of motion.”
“I believe it’s important to train the full range of motion of the particular exercise within the bounds of these constraints that I just discussed and protecting the joints from being overstretched and so forth. But once you’ve established a safe range of motion for that muscle joint function, then I would perform the full range of motion within that context so that you can develop strength through that full range of motion.”
“In a nutshell, in one sense the emphasis on full range of motion would be not advised if you’re going into those extreme ranges, and extreme stretches, and stretching ligaments and joint structures and putting the joints at risk then no. We’re not training that full range of motion. But once you’ve established the safe range of motion then I would train through that range of motion.”
In short, Tim was largely in agreement with Harold in that a lot of people are training with what can be described as a dangerously large range of motion that creates a pre-stretch and that joint laxity that could potentially destabilize joints.
What is Pre-Stretching (and Do You Need to Pre-Stretch)?
We moved on to a part of Harold’s question that was briefly mentioned and merited discussion: pre-stretching.
“Pre-stretches are a different concept where, at that time, Nautilus was promoting this idea that you would move into the stretch position of a particular exercise and then in a relatively quick motion you would let it go into an even extreme stretch and then immediately follow that by a strong contraction.”
“Let’s say you’re in a pullover machine and you’re letting it stretch back and then you would let it come back and then bring it forward – there is a neurological mechanism that when you move into that extreme stretch and have that sudden stretch on the muscle followed by a contraction, you would get a stronger contraction, a higher neurological stimulus to a stronger contraction.”
“They believed that to really get the maximum out of that, doing that pre-stretch maneuver would stimulate a higher contraction. That would be generally ill-advised for some of the reasons we just talked about: overstretching the joint, spiking the forces at that point where you let that extreme stretch followed by that high level contraction is going to spike the force level to that point.”
“I don’t really think doing that pre-stretch maneuver is advisable.”
Are “Gym Bro Splits” Better Than High-Intensity Training? Do some body types require higher volume exercise? Or does HIT work for all body types?
This is a question from Joas, who in his youth started training with a Gym Bro Split and from being quite skinny, gained a lot of muscle. His situation changed when he got busy with his family in Korea, so he moved to doing High-Intensity Training twice a week, for a total of one hour of training weekly.
He is now 48 and has a decent physique, but he’s not as muscular as he was in his youth. He wondered how much of an impact his genetics, age, or nutrition plays in this. He also noted that he doesn’t eat like a bodybuilder, instead eating three balanced meals daily.
Joas also said that he has doubts about training volume, asking, “Does my body type and genetics need maybe more volume, more number of sets per exercise, or just a single, hard, complete failure set, sometimes even beyond with a drop set and rest pause?” and also mentions that he sometimes he uses advanced overload techniques.
Some people also say that you can get a good physique using high-volume workouts and then maintain it with HIT-style routines, but that you can never achieve a good physique with HIT alone, so I put the question to Tim.
“There are a lot of factors involved in this question — the specific question he is referring to may be [that] this individual person what occurred in his youth and what development or results he got during his youth versus where he’s at now.”
“The first thing that’s difficult is if you’re comparing yourself at 20 or 22 years old versus comparing yourself at 48, particularly after, maybe falling away from the training for a while and getting a little bit out of shape or something like that, you are comparing apples and oranges because you’re comparing a youthful person with higher levels of testosterone and higher levels of motivation.”
“[You may have had] less stress… no responsibilities. Maybe eating differently, sleeping differently back in those days. So, you’re comparing apples and oranges, so what happened to you when you were 20 versus what’s happening to you when you’re 48, you’re a totally different person, [with] a different body, [with] different conditions, so I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison to say, ‘Well, I got x results when I was younger doing this and now I’m training HIT and I’m not getting the same results’. Well, you’re in a totally different situation.”
Tim mentions other variables:
- Differences in sleep quality and quantity
- Differences in stress levels
- Quality of your diet and nutrition
- Differences in protein intake
- Differences in testosterone levels
“Just changes in all those things I mentioned could result in achieving different results and not getting the same type of development as you did.”
“Also, the fact that maybe when you were training in your 20s you were building up towards your genetic potential, so your results were being achieved. And now, you’ve already established a certain amount of development so you’re not going to continue to get the same rate of development at this point as you did earlier before you had developed yourself to some degree and worked towards your genetic potential. There’s just a lot of things going on there.”
“If we take this question and compare it to somebody in the same relative period of time, somebody that spends a year training with one way and getting different results and then let’s say learning about high intensity training and then trying to train in a different way and what kind of results they would get.”
“That’s where we get this age-old question, like you mentioned, is that everybody tries to say, ‘Well, do you need more volume? Do you need more multiple sets? Do you need to train with the conventional split routines and higher volume and free weights vs machines?’”
“You get all these different questions and people a lot of times will say that, ‘Well, training with high intensity principles and single sets I just can’t get the development that I can get with multiple sets and free weights doing conventional types of training.’ Yeah, that argument goes back and forth for ages.”
“In terms of what the research shows, when there’s been head to head research with people – James Fisher, James Steele. These guys have highlighted a lot of this stuff as well as some other people. Ralph Carpinelli, who has now passed away, did a lot of analysis with this kind of stuff.”
“When you put these types of training head-to-head in a structured research study, we find that there’s really no advantage to adding these multiple sets. It’s not producing greater strength increases. It’s not producing greater muscle development that essentially people are getting about the same results with either training methods.”
“The actual, more objective analysis shows that high intensity training performed one set to failure produces at least equal results to multiple sets of the same exercise and that there’s no clear advantage to doing that multiple set type of stuff.”
“I’ve even got a little interesting observation going: I’ve got two sons, 23 years old and 21 years old. They are, thankfully, very into training. They are very into weightlifting and strength training. They are excited about it, and they are regularly involved in that.”
“Due to various circumstances, I can’t really train them. My facility is a little bit too far of a drive with their schedules to get to where my facility is so I’m not really able to train them. I had it various times in the past when they were younger. I did train them for periods of time, and I obviously taught them a lot of things and tried to give them guidance and instruction on their programs.”
“I’ve developed some programs for them but I’m competing with the fact that they are younger, and they are spending a lot of time on the internet, and they are watching TikTok videos and things like this. They are getting bombarded with what I know to be just ridiculous concepts and ridiculous training principles and things that these TikTok experts are promoting. And they are getting sucked into doing a lot of ridiculous things.”
“They are going to the gym, and they are doing multiple sets and they are doing conventional training. From what I’ve observed when I’ve gone to the gym with them to try to help them out and get them set up with things, they are training relatively slow and controlled, they are using good form, and things like that but they are doing multiple sets. They are doing split routines. They are working out 4-5 days a week with split body part routines in multiple sets.”
“I’m observing them, and they are not getting any better results doing that than the type of results they got with me when I was training them with high intensity methods for a period of time. I’m not seeing them doing those things and just exploding with growth before my eyes. They are in good condition. They are developing good physiques, but they are not getting these amazing results because they are using other more conventional techniques.”
Are Fitness Influencers’ Workout Routines Any Good?
After listening to Tim’s answers and observations, I thought about how we all like to think that we’re rational, but ultimately driven by emotions, and that this can affect how we feel about what we’re doing.
Even if some might agree with Tim that the results will be the same and that this might be objectively true, they might just enjoy doing an hour of their respective exercises anyway, perhaps due to the social aspect, the feel, the pump, the regularity.
The placebo effect might even have a role to play in this, what with seeing influencers on social media working out a certain way, they may feel that doing similar things will result in better outcomes… or they might just feel better about what they’re doing, considering that context.
Tim expands on this line of thinking:
“This has been ‘age-old’ in the sense that it used to be in the bodybuilding magazines and the fitness magazines, the people that you would see as the models and so forth, but now with the TikTok videos and whatnot.”
“These people that are making these videos are, number one, very genetically blessed people. A lot of them are bodybuilders that are on steroids, growth hormones, and who knows what else doing this kind of stuff.”
“So, you’re seeing these extreme examples of people [who] have very good genetic potential and are, a lot of times, aided by drugs and different things to promote those types of physiques.”
“These are the people making those videos and trying to claim that if you train like them, you’re going to get this incredible physique and so forth like that. We know that that’s not realistic, that’s not a good example of what the average person can get.”
“Now, rather than the bodybuilding magazines putting forth this fantasy and this false information, now you’ve got this random internet TikTok experts that are promoting the same types of things. It’s the same that’s been going on for ages. It’s just not realistic.”
“With that, I’ve never really seen – in all my years whether it is with myself, whether it is with other people, whether it is in the different things that I’ve experimented with, or people that have come in and trained with me and gone off to do other things. I mean, I just don’t see anybody, any one particular person getting radically different results training with conventional methods versus training with our high intensity methods. You’re going to get the results you’re going to get based on genetics and based on the effort that you put into it and so forth.”
How Can You Optimize Your Workouts and Maximize Your Genetic Potential?
At this point in the conversation, Tim outlines what the average person can do to maximize their genetic potential:
- Get good sleep
- Minimize stress
- Eat well and get adequate protein
- Avoid negative behavior
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
He says, “If you set out to really optimize all those different variables and you train in a way where you are training in a high intensity fashion, really good effort and focus in your workouts, training with proper form and technique, all of that kind of stuff, you’re going to get the results you’re going to get based on what your genetics will allow.”
Are There Any Benefits to Modifying Your Nautilus or MedX Exercise Equipment? How Much Would It Cost?
We moved on to modifying strength studio equipment, and we started with a question from Scott: “Could you ask Tim to talk about the benefits of modification and cost?”
There were several custom-modified machines that we looked at as Tim explained what all of this involved.
Nautilus Classic Rowing Torso
The first machine we brought up was a Nautilus Classic Rowing Torso that Tim custom-modified.
“This is a machine that I did relatively recently for a gentleman named Harris. This turned out extremely well.”
“This is a classic first-generation Nautilus rowing torso, also sometimes referred to the ‘rowing back’. This has been modified in several different ways: first off, the movement arms are fused.”
“Do you see those gears at the very top above the movement arm? [There are] gears that are meshed together and lock the movement arms together, so that when you perform the exercise, they are no longer independent. They move in unison as one fused movement.”
“There’s also been a redesigned cam profile. There’s been low friction bearings throughout the machine, all that various rotating axis points and it’s been converted to Kevlar® instead of chain, Kevlar® belt drives and pulleys instead of chains and sprockets.”
“You noticed those handles mounted on the movement arms that allow you to perform a modified version of the exercise where you’re holding those handles and then moving back, sort of like a reverse chest fly type of movement.”
I asked Tim if a person would be pronated or supinated when holding those handles.
“When you grab those handles, your arms are in a position of external rotation, so imagine the arm cross chest fly machine. It’s like doing it in reverse now so you’re using your upper back, your trapezius, your rhomboids, your posterior deltoids, and things like that as you perform it. It does help keep the arms much more stabilized.”
“The old, traditional way in which people perform this exercise – when you don’t have those handles… – essentially, your arms are parallel to the floor, as if you’re starting from your arms folded across your chest and then you’re pushing with the back of your arm and going back more similar to like a compound row without using your arms to pull. You can do this exercise with either format, either using the handles and doing the externally rotated and then adducting the shoulder.”
“And then, there’s also an adjustable chest pad to position you and stabilize you. It used to be that the Nautilus just had some pads and you would stuff pads in front of your chest and try to pad yourself and hold yourself in a position and stabilize. But this has an adjustable chest pad that you can position and customize to the person.”
“Anyway, this particular machine in its totally stock format is very, very bad in a lot of different ways – I would say I wouldn’t even use the machine in its stock format because the cam is backwards, it’s got a lot of friction, and the movement arms are independent. It’s just a mess.”
“When you do all these things that have been done to this particular one, it becomes probably one of my favorite exercises and one of the most effective exercises that you can get for this area of the body – that’s an overview.”
I asked Tim how much these modifications cost.
“Well, this has been a point of contention, because over the years this has gotten more expensive to do.”
“Much of the work that’s sort of a work box up where those movement arms mount and the axis of rotation goes through, that frame up there has been modified to accept real high quality, built-in, sealed roller bearings built into the frame, and the shaft that runs through the movement arm has been locked to the movement arm, and then those gears are mounted on top and mounted to the movement arms, and so forth. That takes a lot of work by a professional machinist to modify the frame and to modify those movement arms to accept those bearings and to mount those gears.”
“One of the difficulties with this is [that] I’m at the mercy of what the machinist charges me to do [for all] that – it’s progressively gone up over the years because it’s a pain in the butt to do all that.”
“The particular machinist that I’m working with has just decided that he’s not going to do this unless it’s worth his while financially – he charges me… about $3,500 to do that work.”
“That includes building into the frame that adjustable chest pad and putting those handles on the movement arm and things like that – all of that is $3,500.”
“On top of that, the machine has to be completely refurbished and painted, powder coat painted, new pads, some of the parts, the Kevlar®, and the pulleys and the things that have to be purchased. With all of that, it probably cost about $4,500 to do that.”
“On one hand, that’s a lot of money to perform all that, but on the other hand these machines can be picked up a lot of times for a few hundred – they are not really in high demand. They are such old machines that a lot of times you can just get them pretty cheap.”
“When you think about it, you buy a used machine. You send it in to get all this work done to it, it gets completely refurbished and built aesthetically like a brand-new machine, and then on top of that dramatically improves its function to become one of the best exercises you can have, offering maybe $5,000 including buying the used machine and having all these done.”
Talking about the labor costs for his part of the process, Tim said:
“My part is relatively cheap compared to what I have to pay the machinist.”
“Let’s say [that] in total, you spend roughly $5,000 to get it in its finished format. That is in line [with] – if not cheaper than – buying a new MedX machine, or even these days, a new machine from almost anybody — you’re going to be up in that territory.”
“You look at it one way it’s like, ‘Jeez, this costs a lot of money to do all of this work,’ but when you get the finished product, the amount you’re spending is in line with what you’d spend to buy a new machine somewhere.”
MedX Weight Stack
“This is a MedX weight stack – this is the top shelf of a MedX weight stack. In other words, the little shelf that holds the top 2 lbs. incremental weight plates – what this is the center guide rod running through the middle of the weight stack here.”
“What you’re seeing there – that little white part – is a Teflon™ bushing. MedX and their machines, what they use in the weight stack, the top shelf and then the bottom shelf that holds the big bottom weight stack, mounted in there is an oil-impregnated bronze bushing. And the center guide rod moves up and down being held in place by these bronze bushings.”
“A couple of problems with those bronze bushings is, one, there is relatively a high amount of friction in those. Most people maybe don’t notice it because overall the MedX machine is pretty low in friction and operates smoothly. Most people may not pay attention to the fact but there is some friction involved in those bronze bushings.”
“The other problem with those bushings is they secrete oil – as I said, oil-impregnated bronze – it secretes oil. The purpose of that is supposed to be lubrication so the thing stays lubricated and the rod moves smoothly through there.”
“But the problem is that secretion of oil leaves a film on the guide rod and then you also, that oil, that film of oil on the guide rod collects dirt and dust and starts to turn the guide rod black, and it starts to cause more friction because the rod gets gummed up with this sticky, black, film of dirt and oil and stuff.”
“Now, obviously you can keep the guide rods clean. You clean them and lubricate them regularly and stuff and you can minimize some of that. But it just gets to be somewhat of a mess.”
“The other issue is those bronze bushings start to break down.”
“You probably didn’t have a picture of what this look like before I put this Teflon™ bushing in there. But I have pictures before when I took the weight stack apart, there was literally a pile of metal shavings sitting right all over the shelf and all over the bronze bushing in the guide rod. There was literally a pile of metal shavings where over time that bronze bushing had begun to break down and shed all these little particles all over.”
“Long story short, you can replace those bronze bushings with this white Teflon™.
“Teflon™ is one of the lowest-friction materials that you can get and relatively cheaply cost-wise… roughly $50 or $60 to buy two bushings — one to put in the lower shelf, one to put in the upper shelf. You put this in there to reduce friction. They do not need to be lubricated. They don’t break down with piles of metal shavings. They don’t secrete oil and collect dirt, dust, and grime all over the guide rod. It stays perfectly clean like you’re seeing this and it’s lower in friction. I think it’s a much better way to go rather than the bronze bushings.”
“I’ve taken all of my MedX machines and replaced all those bushings with Teflon™. I’ve done it for a number of different facilities. As cheap as it is, it’s a no brainer. If you did the work yourself, it would literally be $50 per machine to do this conversion. It’s one of the cheapest retrofits you can do, and it makes a big difference. If anybody wants to do this, I could talk to them.”
“There’s just a few things you want to be sure of when you make this conversion: These white Teflon™ bushings are the same dimensions and the same size as the bronze bushings that MedX uses, so it’s a drop-in replacement, but you do have to do a couple of things to make sure that the fit is right, so that you don’t either make the tolerances too tight on the rod or too loose or something. It’s just some precautions to take when you make these conversions. I could talk somebody through it if they wanted to do it.”
“As far as retrofits go, this is probably one of the most cost-effective modifications that you can do.”
Nautilus Compound Leg Machine
The next machine we looked at and talked about is a refurbished and retrofitted version of the classic Nautilus Compound Leg Machine, which combines a leg press and leg extension in one machine. This one has had all the old, high-friction bronze bushings replaced by high-grade, heavy-duty roller bearings machine into all articulations.
“What we did with this is it’s been completely refurbished. This is a special paint job. It looks similar to some of the blue colors that Nautilus used in the early days, but this is a custom — I think it was called ‘blue jeans metallic’. This guy actually picked up a color and he sent me the paint code!”
“Anyway, it’s been completely disassembled, stripped down to bare metal, and repainted and refurbished with this special customized color. But then, mechanically, I took all the pieces, all the different articulations, the movement arm, all the various sprockets in the machine, the cam, and all these different places where there are articulations. I took the parts to a machinist.”
“Again, these parts originally from Nautilus came with this oil-impregnated bronze bushings. A bushing just like we saw on that last example pressed into the sprockets, pressed into the movement arm. There is a lot of friction there. Since this is a pretty heavy-duty machine and there’s pretty heavy loads on this machine, I didn’t want to just drop in a lower grade needle roller bearing or something like that that just could be pressed in and placed to the bushings. What I did in this case is I took all those parts to a machinist where he bored out and enlarged all the articulations and then we’re able to fit a very high-quality, heavy-duty roller bearings and ball bearings press fit into the movement arms of all those articulations.”
“And then, this customer did want to keep it chain-driven, because he wanted it more like the classic Nautilus. He didn’t want to convert it to Kevlar® or something. We got a really high-grade chain and converted that.”
“This particular case, it was the stock cams. There was no modification in that way. It was more just aesthetic refurbished and also mechanically to remove the friction. As I said, mount all these high-grade bearings in all the articulations. Such a beautiful machine. It turned out very well.”
When asked about the costs involved in this modification job, Tim couldn’t quite recall.
“This particular one was so long ago that I did this. Without trying to look up in my records I have no idea what all of this costs. To be honest, I shouldn’t talk about it. But this is a very large machine. It is essentially two different machines built into one because there’s a leg extension section and then there’s the leg press section. I really don’t have any recollection of what this costs.”
I tried to ask if he could give a ball-park figure of some sort, just for the sake of anyone who might have timeless collectible pieces who might be interested in modifications and asking for a range, such as maybe less than $5,000, less than $10,000, or something along those lines, to which Tim responded:
“In this case, if you are not talking about doing a lot of constructive modifications and changing cams, if you are just doing what I did to this machine maybe $4,000. Something in that range… It’s really like refurbishing two machines and then paying the machinist to bore out all those articulations and mount those bearings.”
Then, we went into a bit of a slight tangent, and I asked Tim if people would use this machine to pre-exhaust or post-exhaust, whether it’s something like leg extension straight into leg press, or leg press straight into leg extension.
“The way Nautilus promoted it is you do a set of leg extensions to failure and then you would immediately move into the leg press and do those leg presses. I think Arthur Jones has said at that time that performing this exercise is one set of leg extensions and the leg press should feel like you just pulled your car to the top of a mountain, something like that.
At this point, we wrapped up our conversation.
Want to Upgrade Your Strength Studio’s Exercise Equipment?
If you’re interested in modifying and upgrading your strength studio equipment, Tim can help you out — go to www.stronglifetraining.com and click on the Contact Us link, then fill out the form to get started.
Alternatively, you can also call Strong Life Training by phone: 630-862-5176.