The Ideal Workout by Arthur Jones

In June 1970, Arthur Jones, the father of High Intensity Training, published the ‘Ideal Workout’ in bodybuilding magazine Muscular Development. In the article, posted below, Jones set out the importance of vigorous training as well as promoting his new brand of exercise machines. Little was Jones to know that his new training machines would soon pop up across the US as America fell into a Nautilus craze.

Just what is the ideal workout?

At this point the answer to the question is not clear even to me, not even after 20 years of keen interest, involvement and research on my part, but at least this much is clear; we are now a great deal closer to the answer than we were as recently as a year ago…at least that’s some progress.

As in other fields of study it takes years to reach a certain level of knowledge, and so it is in the ever-growing field of weightlifting. But now a breakthrough in bodybuilding is in sight. Completely new principles are now being introduced that may revolutionize physical training of all kinds. But at the moment we still don’t know exactly the best method for employing these principles to advantage. For this reason I cannot tell you precisely how to incorporate them into our own training now, or how to get similar, if not just as fast results by adapting your present training to these principles as outlined here.

I will try, however to tell you what we have discovered up to this point and I will tell you what the Ideal Workout looks like at this time. To some degree you can adopt this workout even by substituting certain exercises for some of those not available to you at this time. But first I will lay down the ground rules emphasizing the points that are considered of the greatest importance when searching for an ideal training routine.

We were (and are) always interested in the fastest possible progress in muscular bulk, strength, endurance and condition, but not necessarily in that order. Secondly, we wanted to discover the methods required for building maximum muscular size, and the greatest possible strength. Thirdly, I want it clearly understoof that our interest was limited strictly to methods involving only the physical science or the normal biological science without the slightest interest in the results of bodybuilding (or other) drugs.

This, perhaps, may sound a bit smug on our part, but I am extremely happy to state without any reservation that all the results we have obtained up to now prove that drugs of any sort are not required in bodybuilding, and in some cases drugs of this type can even retard normal progress…which is something to think about.

Jones’s Ideal Workout Using his own Nautilus Machines

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However, back to the subject of trying to find the Ideal Workout program. Certain things are obviously necessary requirements such as “hoped-for possibilities,” as was “wishful thinking.” But for all this we achieved a degree of success that was far beyond our wildest expectations and even exceeding our fondest hopes. We hoped and looked for a short, rather simple, method that would give results faster or at least as good as those obtained through the use of the older, proven methods of training. We have now exceeded those initial goals so that we can now look back and laugh at our earlier cautious hopes. But true as it may seeme we have not yet discovered anything that could possibly be described as “easy.” Perhaps that is natural enough since we did not look in that direction but sought the kind of movements that would produce results when they were employed vigorously.

Some years ago when John Grimek was asked about the secret of his bodybuilding success, he quickly replied “Hard work.” And that answer is as true today as it was 30 years ago. Muscles have to be worked and exercised harder to make them respond, but today with our new machine they can be worked harder but with less fatigue. I know this to be a fact as I have always been a strong advocate of workouts strictly limited in so far as length and frequency were concerned – and still am. I was pleased of course, that these new methods provided additional weight for my argument.

However, make no mistake about one thing. I am not permitting my personal beliefs to lead me into giving support to any ideas that are not clearly demonstrable. For example, some of the things revealed to you here were clear to me more than 20 years ago, but at that time they were not a proven fact, so I kept them to myself. Likewise, many of my ideas of 20 years ago (or even as little as a few weeks ago) have been proved wrong, either by myself or others, and when this happens, as it frequently does, I am quick to change my thinking and admit any previous errors.

As may be stated, in theory at least, that the best possible gains can result from doing only one set of each exercise in a workout, yet in an actual workout that is almost impossible, mainly because it is difficult to work a “cold muscle” as vigorously as it should be worked to realize maximum benefits.  While both the theoretical and the practical aspects of this problem remains true, we have discovered a way to get around the practical limitations in such a way as to take advantage of the theoretical possibilities and so reduce the training time while getting better results. Of course the Ideal Workout requires special equipment, and this equipment is not available to the publice as yet. Still some of these principles can be applied to most programs regarding what kind of equipment you have access to now. First I will describe the Ideal Workout, which involves the use of special equipment, then I shall explain how to apply these principles without special equipment of any kind.

The routine described here is designed for a particular purpose and intended to produce the biggest gains within the shortest time possible. Applied properly for one year or so it should produce gains that are unheard of at this time. On the other hand, some individuals will get fast results from any type of training program and for these people this program could produce fantastic results. But the average bodybuilder with average potential can and will progress at a fast rate if he applies himself in a diligent manner by following the program exactly as given.

Jones’s Modified Program

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It is my intention to produce a Mr. America winner, literally from scratch, in less than a tear with this exact program, and starting with a man who is less than average in condition and with absolutely no previous training experience. All other things being equal, the ideal subject should be about 25 years of age, slightly more than average height; about five feet eleven inches, and with a good bone structure but without any physical deformities. He must have a strong desire to better himself physically and must have the drive and ambition to work towards this goal.

Provided with such a willing subject we will take care of everything else, using the ideal trianing workout that is given on page 40 of this issue. You will notice that barbell curls and bench presses are included one day each week. This is done for two reasons; first for a psychological and a physiological reason, and because they both serve to “bind together” the workings of several large muscle masses. Second, they give the bodybuilder confidence in his ability to handle heavy poundages apart from the squars and lat-machine exercises.

Also, the workout is greatly varied to avoid staleness that might otherwise result after several months of regular, intensified training. You will notice that on the same days each week heavier poundages are used in almost all movements and to work the involved muscle masses more thoroughly while using a lesser number of repititions.

Now what will such a routine do for the average man in the period of a year? It can literally make a superman out of him if he has the potential of becoming such. And, how can you pattern your own present training after this routine, without employing any special training equipment mentioned in this program? Then try the suggested routine of exercises that is listed in page 41 of this edition.

Of course it is important to understand the basic principles upon which the special exercises are based. Because on Monday and Wednesday you are trying to involve the largest muscles of the upper body, the lats, and to work them as hard and as fully as possible. However, in order to do so you must arrange your training schedule so that the arms are not strongly involved, otherwise they tire before the lats do. Our machine almost eliminates any arm work from the lat movements, and without such special equipment it’s hard to reach an ideal situtation, yet you can come close if you approach the problem correctly. But in some ways it won’t do as much, or at least as quickly as the special equipment will do, and this is because the selected exercises, which are excellent, will not work all the adjacent muscles as fully as this new machine does. But training regularly and with the great vigor, using the routine given here, should improve your general over-all appearance and should make a new man out of you!

30 thoughts on “The Ideal Workout by Arthur Jones

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    1. foarte tare! ce misto se propaga in blsorgfeoa intamplari de-astea; ca la radio Erevan: nu era nene, era o doamna, nu se plangea ca i se strica mancarea in frigider ci ca ii pleaca clientii de la coafor si nu era oprit curentul de 10 ore ci de mai putin (daca-mi aduc bine aminte de pe blogul lui verbiaj). repet, foarte tare!

  1. I’m afraid you have made a classic blunder which is quite common in our current fitness culture. Arthur Jones literally had nothing to do with H.I.I.T. or High Intensity Interval Training. ZERO.

    Arthur Jones is actually associated with H.I.T. High Intensity Training (a type of strength training) which also has nothing to do with H.I.I.T.

    In truth the term H.I.T. was coined by Elliington Darden (an employee of Arthur Jones) .

    Strength training and interval training are not the same thing. If you want to actually educate yourself on the subject I recommend you read the original Nautilus bulletins 1 & 2.

    You can find them (and all things Arthur Jones) at

    1. As a corollary here…neither did Arthur teach what’s sometimes called “Heavy Duty Training”.

      “Heavy Duty” was a high intensity, to-failure system taught by Mike Mentzer, as a modification to HIT. Mentzer introduced it as an alternative to HIT.

      HIT as taught by Jones and Darden consists of FULL BODY workouts, done THREE times per week, ONE workset-done-to-absolute-failure per bodypart.

      “Heavy Duty” as taught by Mentzer consists of SPLIT training, each bodypart done no more than twice per week and typically only once per week (and sometimes even only once in as many as two weeks), two to five worksets-done-to-absolute-failure-per-bodypart.

      HIT and Heavy Duty are too-often used as referring to the same training system, but they differ. They’re both high-intensity, low-volume, to-absolute-failure systems, but they definitely differ, at least as each was defined by its originator.

      1. Hi Joesantos, thanks for stopping by to differentiate between the different systems. Since creating this post, I’ve had the opportunity to train using Jones’ principles. Have you used them yourself? It’s such a different way to think about training

  2. Hi Connor,

    I am sorry I never saw your reply until now. YES, I am an advocate of Brief Intense and Infrequent strength training. I do not usually use the word H.I.T. to describe what I do, but my training approach and methods certainly do mirror many of those used by H.I.T. practitioners.

    Hope you’re well.


    1. Hi Liam, my turn to do the apologising! It’s been hectic at home right now.

      Thanks for getting back in touch. How did you get on to this style of training if you don’t mind me asking?

      It’s very rare in my neck of the woods to see people utilising it you see.

      Am very well thank you, I hope the same is true for you 🙂

  3. Hi Connor…probably best if we communicate outside of this forum. Feel free to reach out to me at my listed e-mail address. I’ve been working as a strength coach for 30 year’s. I would be happy to discuss all things strength training with you.

      1. Hello was wondering if the workout was just the pictures in red ? Or where can we find this page 41?

    1. Hi Jack,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope this email finds you well.

      Generally people advocate the squat as a great all round leg builder. Depending on the style you squat, it can help increase the muscles in your glutes, thighs and hamstrings. If you want a hand implementing them into your programme please just get in touch 🙂


  4. Arthur Jones told me,in person,that he coined the term High Intensity Training,HIT, long before Darden used the phrase although I know Darden disputes that.
    HIT has nothing to do with HIIT. HIIT is simply taking advantage of a well known term or acronym if you prefer,in an attempt to cash in on the similarity.

    1. Hi Bill,

      Many thanks for getting in touch and clearing things up in your two comments. Would love to speak with you more. Did you train under Jones or how did you get to know him?

  5. By the way this ” ideal workout ” was based on premises that Arthur later discarded as his research gradually revealed the facts as opposed to opinions and logical guesses he thought might be true when he first started out. Much was discarded as time went on and as research with thousands of people continued throughout the passing years.
    For instance he went from advocating 3 sets of an exercise 3 times a week to 2 sets of an exercise twice a week and ended with recommending one set with a frequency determined by fiber type or inroads into starting levels of strength. Thus a person with a preponderance of slow twitch fibers should workout as much as 3 times a week with one set of as much as 15-20 reps and someone with a preponderance of fast twitch muscle fiber might exercise as little as one set of 6-8 reps one time every 2 weeks and in extreme cases 1 set of 6-8’reps every 3 or even 4 weeks.
    Additionally it is quite possible for someone to have a preponderance of fast twitch fibers in their quads and a preponderance of slow twitch muscle fibers in their hamstrings !
    I think however the average person has mixed fiber type ( fast and slow ) throughout their body requiring one setof8-12 reps twice a week.

  6. Lots of opinions on HIT. To learn the facts read ‘Body by Science’ . For more information on how to implement the science, one good source is MindValley 10X training.

    1. The three best books about HIT since Arthur Jones wrote his Nautilus Training Principles Bulletins 1 and 2 in the early 1970s are Body by Science by Doug McGuff, MD and John Little, SuperSlow: The Ultimate Exercise Protocol by Ken Hutchins (who worked for Arthur), and The New High Intensity Training by Ellington Darden, PhD (who also worked for Arthur).

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