63 pounds of muscle in 28 days

The most amazing experiment in the history of exercise

Nasar Karim


Image from The Nautilus Bulletin, available at www.arthurjonesexercise.com

In 1973, an eccentric multimillionaire conducted an experiment, the results of which should have changed the way we exercise forever. Those results are still significant today, nearly 5 decades later, but in most cases they are either ridiculed or ignored.

The experiment was designed by Arthur Jones (not the man in the photographs), the creator of Nautilus exercise equipment. At it’s peak, his company was turning over $300 million a year. Driven, confrontational, outspoken and very successful, Jones was never a popular figure. To this day, he has his detractors, as do his theories on strength training. But what he accomplished in the field of exercise science is as remarkable today as it was 50 years ago.

Despite being only 5 foot 8 inches tall, Jones was an imposing figure. Arnold Schwarzenegger once travelled to Jones’ training facility. The man himself collected the hulking young Austrian at the airport. Jones was not known for his patience and Schwarzenegger’s enthusiasm and constant questions on the long drive annoyed him. Arthur pulled the car over on the highway and told Arnold he would beat the hell out of him if he didn’t shut up. After a brief stint at Jones’ training facility in Florida, Schwarzenegger returned to California where he described training with Jones as torture. If he’d had to train like that all the time said Arnold, he’d have thrown in the towel, packed his bags, and returned to Austria.

Arthur Jones knew that rapid muscle growth was possible because he had experienced it himself. His training style was brutal. A proper set of bicep curls suggested Jones, should be hard enough to make a grown man vomit. But he wasn’t just a masochist; Jones’ Nautilus equipment was designed to be more effective than barbells and dumbells and his training methods were intended to be the most effective available. Sports stars and athletes who had heard about the results others were achieving training under Jones’ supervision travelled to his facility in Florida, where many of them did indeed, end up hurtling the contents of their guts all over the floor.

Despite his infamy, and despite the famous bodybuilders he had trained, Jones knew his findings would be hard to swallow…