by Arthur Jones
From IronMan, November 1970 Volume 30 Number 1 , visit www.ironmanmagazine.com
Why not restrain the thighs?" he said; and with those five words,
Dan Howard solved the last remaining problem of any real
More than that; be provided the answer for the problem that had
stopped me in my tracks for months, and he also provided an answer
to a problem that I had always considered impossible to solve.
Every weight trainee in the world should take off his hat to Dan
Howard of the University of Tulsa; in no small part, weight
training results of the future will be made possible because of his
contribution to our research.
Are you worried about danger to your knees from heavy squats? If
so, forget such worries; that danger (if such ever really existed)
has been removed.
Do squats bother your lower back? They never will again. That,
too, has been taken care of. Does the weight of the bar across
your shoulders exert too much compression upon your spine? Such
pressure has been entirely removed; not reduced, REMOVED -- never
again need you expose your spinal column to even an ounce of
compression force while performing squats.
Are you forced to do full squats with a light weight for full-range
results, and additional sets of partial squats with a much heavier
weight for building great strength and muscle mass? If you have
not been training in such a manner, you have been training wrong;
but you need never do so in the future; that limitation has also
Do you consider squats almost brutally hard? That problem HAS NOT
BEEN SOLVED - and it never will be. On the contrary, Dan's
contribution has not resulted in an easier form of squatting; it
has, instead, resulted in a form of squatting that is at least
three times as hard as any previously possible method of squatting.
And primarily for that very reason, it is at least 3 times as
productive as any other method of squatting; and, insofar as the
production of results in comparison to the expenditure of energy is
concerned, this new method of squatting will certainly prove to be
at least ten times as productive as any earlier method.
The title of this article is "The Final Breakthrough." Many
readers may feel that is a gross overstatement; ". . .
after all," they may ask, "how can he possibly predict the
discoveries of the future?"
Obviously I cannot predict the discoveries of the future, and I
certainly don't pretend to be able to, but in this instance, just
as obviously, I don't have to predict the future. All -- and I
mean ALL - of the important problems connected with the field of
weight training have now been solved. Only a matter of a few
months before you read this article, all but one of the important
problems in this field had already been solved, and then Dan Howard
solved the final problem.
A very similar problem had been encountered, and solved,
previously; but in this case it did not appear to be
practical to approach the problem in a similar manner. Such a
solution was POSSIBLE, but it certainly was not PRACTICAL; an
exercise machine based on those principles would cost at least as
much as a small airplane -- and would be approximately the same
Full-range movement of the biceps muscle of the upper arm involves
compound rotation in two separate planes. Building a machine that
was capable of supplying the required compound resistance was
certainly not easy - but it was both possible and practical. The
resulting "Compound Curling Machine" is a rather large, far from
inexpensive, very complex machine; but it will build maximum
possible strength and muscular size in a tiny fraction of the time
Squatting is also a compound movement; it, too, involves rotational
movement around two different axis points. But in this case, a
solution such as that used in the Compound Curling Machine did not
appear to be practical. So, at that point in our research, we were
stuck; until Dan pointed out a possible solution that had not
previously occurred to us.
Squats and leg presses are very similar; their primary differences
being "range of movement" and "point of restraint." In squats, the
lower legs (the calves) are restrained, while the torso and the
thighs are moved. Properly performed, full squats are a full range
Leg presses are different in that the torso is restrained while the
thighs and calves are moved; and since the thighs are not brought
into line with the torso in leg presses, the range of movement is
reduced. Leg presses are easier on the spine.
So much for the slight differences between squats and leg presses;
their similarities are more numerous. Neither exercise offers any
direct exercise; neither movement is based upon rotational
resistance; neither offers the required variation of resistance
during the actual performance of the movement; both work the
involved muscular structures heavily in their weakest positions,
while affording almost no worthwhile resistance in the strongest
But until quite recently, and in spite of those limitations, squats
and leg presses were among the most productive exercises known.
In effect, a squat (or a leg Press) is a double movement, a
combination of a thigh extension and a glute extension; and in the
case of squats, the exercise may reasonably
be considered a triple movement, the third part being a lower back
While there may be very little actual movement (bending) of the
lower back during the performance of squats, the fact remains that
the lower back muscles will be forced to work quite hard in order
to prevent such bending of the back; so in either case, with or
without bending of the back, the back muscles will be worked either
isometrically or isotonically.
A close scrutiny of the actual forces being expended during the
performance of the squat will clearly indicate at least one
probably very surprising disclosure; the force being exerted is NOT
directed upwards, along the line of the spine - in fact, it is
being exerted almost exactly 90 degrees out of phase with an
upwards direction, toward the rear.
This being true, and it is true, then why support the weight an the
shoulders, when in fact the force being expended is not going in
that direction? Probably because there was simply no other way to
do it, except by performing leg presses, which limited the range of
movement and thus reduced the production of results, while doing
little or nothing for the lower back muscles.
But if the thighs were restrained, then the upper body could rotate
in one direction while the lower legs rotated in the opposite
direction; the resistance could be removed from the shoulders (or
from the feet, as in the case of leg presses), and could then be
spread out over the entire surfaces of the back and the front of
the lower legs, as it should be, since the forces are being
expended in those directions.
Having provided direct, rotational resistance in this fashion, then
the resistance could be varied in exact proportion to the strength
curves of the involved muscle structures by use of a Nautilus.
pulley rotating at the knee axis and another Nautilus pulley
rotating in the opposite direction at the hip axis.
Since it is extremely important for the rotational axis of each of
the two Nautilus.pulleys to remain exactly in line with the body
axis for which it is designed, and since the distance between the
axis points of the knees and hips of a short man will be several
inches less than would be the case if a taller man was using the
machine it becomes obvious that one of the Nautilus pulleys and its
related machinery must be movable; but since such movement would be
in a horizontal plane, this presents no great problem; it simply
means that part of the machine must be mounted on a track that
would permit the required movement.
Quite simple, once you think once of it; perfectly obvious, once it
is explained to you. But so is the wheel, yet millions of people
struggled for thousands of years before anyone thought of anything
as simple as a wheel. And since that moment, every single
improvement in the field of transportation, apart from riding
animals or sailing boats, has been based upon, or dependent upon,
the principle of the wheel; and if you think otherwise, then just
try building a practical square rocket. You may be able to build
a square rocket that will be strong enough to withstand the
required forces, but if so, it will be far too heavy to get off the
ground. For maximum strength with minimum weight, any structure
must be round.
So, just as the wheel was the real breakthrough in the field of
transportation, this latest development in the field of weight
training is the final breakthrough in this field; the other
requirements had all been provided previously; we had already
discovered rotational movement, direct exercise methods, variable
resistance requirements, full range, omni-directional, balanced,
compound resistance, and we had learned how to provide the
requirements in every case but one.
Now even that has been solved. Thanks, in very large part, to Dan
But some people will ask, "... just how can you be so sure it
really is such an enormous improvement in method?"
Simply because nothing else is even possible; although many people
continue to try to do so, you cannot adjust the laws of physics to
suit yourself; definite efforts will invariably produce definite
results. Since, for the first time in the history of exercise,
this new method of squatting will provide the involved muscular
structures with direct, omni-directional, balanced, variable, full.
range resistance, resistance that will involve working almost a
full 100% of the individual muscle fibers in that section of the
body, then it must produce much great and far faster results --
no other result is even possible.