In 1970, Arthur Jones, an entrepreneur and former filmmaker from Florida, suddenly appeared on the bodybuilding scene, and began making the heretical statement that bodybuilders were working against themselves. Jones, who had no formal training in exercise physiology, and in fact didn't even possess a college degree, said that typical bodybuilding training was largely a haphazard affair that resulted in infrequent gains in muscular size and strength. He further added that this should not be the norm in exercise training, and that muscular gains should come at a steady rate. Jones had serendipitously found that when he had to reduce both the extent of training volume and frequency due to lack of time, he paradoxically made the best muscular gains of his life. Based on this, he developed a system of training based on high intensity training, or simply HIT. The basic principle behind HIT was that a muscle should be worked as hard as possible, but only briefly and infrequently. To achieve this end and to employ the maximum number of muscle fibers required working each set of an exercise to momentary muscular failure (MMF). Only in that manner could total muscle stimulation be achieved, according to Jones.
Jones' entire HIT system was based on hitting a muscle hard, but with minimal sets, no more than one or two at most. He felt that the body had a limited ability to recover between workouts, and overtraining exceeded the required recovery ability. This, according to Jones, explained why so few bodybuilders ever made steady gains in the gym. Jones' training system was developed for use with a series of exercise machines that he invented, called Nautilus machines. The machines featured a special cam design that would work a muscle completely through its entire range of motion, and unlike with free weights, there would be no points of little or no resistance at certain points of the movement. Jones HIT system and his machines all revolved around one basic idea: to train as little as possible, yet get maximal results from your efforts. Jones favored whole-body workouts that occurred no more than 3 times a week, with each workout lasting no more than 20 to 30 minutes. This idea of spending less time in the gym, yet making more gains was appealing to many. Jones soon became a multimillionaire through his burgeoning sales of Nautilus machines. At one point, he made the list of the Forbes magazine list of richest people in America, with a listed net worth of $400 million. He also was an experienced pilot and flew his own jet planes.
Jones' focus was entirely on exercise intensity. His Nautilus machines worked mainly because they increased the intensity of an exercise greater than was possible through just lifting free weights. Jones also espoused a number of "Nautilus training principles," which he detailed in two books, "Nautilus . . .