Weight training machines in the 1970’s and 1980’s

Workout notes: I still have a cold, so I felt run down. I slept in, and then lifted over lunch: 11-12. 3 sets of pullups, 2 sets of the other usual exercises. I focused on doing “full repetitions” and not much else; I kept the weights the same. My strength was ok; endurance was lacking. My head feels as if it is stuffed and my throat is scratchy.

But it isn’t as bad as it could be; one of my friends got pneumonia. I don’t feel THAT bad.


Are any of you old enough to remember these machines?





The top is the “newer” Universal machine; the second from the top one is the “older” one; the blue machine is the Nautilus and the bottom is an isokinetic machine.

Take a look at the older Universal machine. Look at the bars that the weight stack slides on:


This pair of bars actually tilted back as the weight were raised; this kept the leverage to the user the same.

The newer Universals had a weight stack that did NOT tilt back as you raised the weights:


So as the weights were raised, a roller transferred the load to the lever that the user was using. So the result: as you extended your arms, the weight would stay the same but your leverage would decrease; the resistance actually went UP as you extended your arms!

There were isokinetic machines as well; the resistance was supplied by something that looked like a shock absorber. You set the SPEED of motion; it gave you the resistance that you supplied to it.

Hence, I (an ordinary high school football player) could use the same machine as my larger, much, much, much stronger friend (6 5″, 260 lbs …”almost” made a WFL team; got invited to try out for NFL teams). But, if you slacked, you could get away with it; the resistance it gave you was proportional to the effort you put into it.

October 28, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized, weight training |


  1. I want to know where to buy a universal chest press I’ve been trying to look for one for a long time I see people have them that I don’t know how to purchase one if you could help me out please call 580-618-4556 my name is Mike I will really appreciate it thank you

    Comment by Mike | November 1, 2017 | Reply

    • I have no idea of where to buy one; I just found these photos on the internet. I haven’t seen one in person in something like 30 years.

      Comment by Ollie Nanyes | November 1, 2017 | Reply

  2. I want to buy this I name is Mike call me 580-618-4556 give me a price leave me your name and number call me leave me a message text me leave me a message

    Comment by Mike | January 9, 2018 | Reply

    • Not mine. I have no idea who has it.

      Comment by blueollie | January 9, 2018 | Reply

  3. I used the Universal Gym my senior year of high school and all through college. Loved it! Safely allowed chest presses and leg presses without a spotter or changing Olympic barbell plates. After college, I have used Nautilus machines and their generic brand clones for the rest of my training years. Nautilus combined the ease of changing resistance with more machines to work the whole body with different exercises than on the multi station. Enjoyed your article that reminded me how Universal and Nautilus made strength training faster, safer and enjoyable.

    Comment by Lance | April 8, 2018 | Reply

    • I used one of the Universal machines 3-4 days per week in the Army- 1975 – 1979 and took my PT scores from 268 to a perfect 300 in less than 6 months. I would advise any one to also use k-bells as your range of motion is somewhat limited which could lead to injury due to the straight line nature of movement, Combing k-bells with this equipment will give one real world strength and flex capabilities. The ones the military had were the cheesy red and gold sparkles in shiny vinyl. Easy to keep clean though. I too, would like to find one of the old ones for my basement as they were safe. ( no spotter required when using lots of weight ) Good luck finding one locally !!!!!!!

      Comment by Robert c Ferman | September 13, 2018 | Reply

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