Arthur Jones The Passing of a Giant

John Balik

Arthur Jones was a man of extremes: charismatic, brash, brilliant, driven, relentless, bigoted—and above all fearless. I first met him in 1970 at the AAU Mr. America contest. Bill Pearl and I copromoted that event at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Culver City, California. Bill had known Arthur for many years. He chose the Mr. America contest to debut his first machines, known as “blue monsters,” and I had the good fortune to be there. They were the prototypes, with huge cams that showed up in ads and articles in Iron Man in the early ’70s.

Arthur wasn’t new to bodybuilding and strength training. He was a bodybuilder from the late ’40s forward and a member of the original Vic Tanny’s gym in Santa Monica. I later found out that the machines didn’t just appear but were the result of 20 years of development.

As I watched him bring the pullover machine into the foyer of the venue from the U-Haul trailer he’d used to bring the blue monsters from Florida to Culver City, I didn’t realize that I was watching history unfold. The history that Arthur created first with his Nautilus machines and training philosophy and later with his MedX machines has changed the world. The pullover torso machine was the center of Arthur’s quest for a solution to a problem. Anyone who ever sat on that machine and did the exercise correctly—the way Arthur prescribed—will never forget the feeling. Nothing at that time worked the lats as it did, and that was just the beginning.

Iron Man became the platform for getting Arthur’s ideas and machines before the public. At the time, Iron Man was the only open forum for information in our field. The other players in the industry were very much against Arthur’s ideas because they ran counter to their training systems and ideas. The machines didn’t fit what they sold, and Arthur wasn’t going to sell out to them. It was a classic case of the not-invented-here syndrome. They reacted with fear, derision and closed minds.

I avidly read about it all in Iron Man and experienced it through my relationships with Vince Gironda, Bill Pearl and Joe Gold. By the mid-’70s my own quests and the machines led me to lifelong friendships with Jim Manion and Roger Schwab. While I wasn’t a close friend of Arthur’s, the spin-off from his machines and a deep interest in everything about training expanded my personal sphere.

Over the years Iron Man has continued to pioneer new training and nutrition ideas in the same open-forum spirit that Peary and Mabel Rader pioneered and that launched Arthur Jones and Nautilus. What might that piece of history have been if the Raders had been like every other bodybuilding publisher of the day?

 Editor’s note: To contact John Balik about this editorial, IRON MAN or anything bodybuilding, send e-mail to


Pullover: Dumbbell vs. Machine

Joseph M. Horrigan

Pullover: Dumbbell vs. Machine

An avid weight-training patient recently asked me about the differences between the Nautilus pullover machine and a traditional dumbbell pullover across a bench. There are strong similarities and significant differences.

The prime and secondary movers in the pullover exercise are the shoulder extensors, which include the teres major (upper lat), latissimus dorsi (lat), posterior deltoid (rear delt) and the long head of the triceps. If you’re lying across a bench with the dumbbell supported directly over your head and you lower the dumbbell behind your head, those muscles are working but lengthening. That’s known as the eccentric, or negative, portion of the exercise. As you pull the dumbbell back to the starting point, the muscle contracts, or shortens. That part of the stroke is commonly called positive training. The dumbbell pullover has the greatest resistance when your arms are parallel to the floor, the lowest part of the movement. That’s because your arms form the longest lever for gravity to pull on. The closer the movement reaches the starting point, directly over your face, the less resistance, because the lever is at its shortest.

A FAREWELL Of Endings and the Period Dr. Al Thomas, 1930-2008

Steve Wennerstrom, IFBB Women’s Historian

A FAREWELL Of Endings and the Period
Dr. Al Thomas, 1930-2008

To current-day IRON MAN readers, the name Dr. Al Thomas may not be immediately recognizable, unless you were a faithful follower of the magazine during the publishing days of Peary Rader. The magazine had a vastly different look in those days, but it was a haven for the preachings of a man whose vision offered an unexplored horizon for the female strength athlete.

Roger Callard

Rod Labbe

Roger Callard

The first time I met Roger Callard, he of the dapper mustache and rugged Midwestern stock, I was taken with his charming down-home manner.

In our subsequent encounters—and there have been dozens—Roger has maintained an almost Zen-like calmness. His voice remains suitably modulated, his face placid and furrow-free. He’s so mellow, it eventually spilled over and absorbed my naturally manic demeanor.

X-Force Muscle Machinery

Steve Holman

X-Force Muscle Machinery

Back in the 1960s Arthur Jones started the muscle-machine revolution with Nautilus. His early machines used chains to increase resistance throughout the range of motion—as more links lifted off the floor, the resistance became heavier. His breakthrough was a cam shaped like a nautilus shell that varied the resistance in accordance with the strength curve of the muscle being trained, eliminating the need for chain resistance.

In Strong Praise of Arthur Jones

Roger Schwab

In Strong Praise of Arthur Jones

May 1971, in the pages of this magazine, a passionate teacher wrote the following:

“And lo, a single wise man raises his head in the East. Long, much too long, have I awaited his coming. Thirty years, to be exact. It’s a hard and lonely path when your ideas are not accepted.... Yes, a wise man has risen in the East. As a matter of fact, only time will tell, but he may be a Messiah—a Messiah of muscles.”