Does Renaissance Exercise Understand Proper Muscle & Joint Function? Apparently Not

“Renaissance Exercise equipment works the body in accordance with muscle and joint functions.” (1)

“We are proud to represent a philosophy and protocol that can help so many people reach their health and fitness goals safely and efficiently.” (1)

RenEx associate Ken Hutchins can be seen above instructing a client (or at least, what is supposed to be a client) to use a leg extension machine through a “full range of motion”. The machine appears to be one he either designed himself, or produced in cooperation with others via RenEx.

Below, RenEx associate Al Coleman (2) can be seen on video using the same, or similar machine, through a “full range of motion”. It appears that RenEx co-founder Joshua Trentine is instructing him through this exercise.


Considering the above it is clear that multiple RenEx associates have taken multiple clients through a “full range of motion” on a leg extension machine that they endorse through pictures, video, and associate usage on their website (including associate instruction of a fellow associate).

Now let’s see what author, speaker, trainer, and renowned bio-mechanics expert Bill DeSimone has to say about leg extension machines, their usage, and the human knee.


If Bill is correct, it is clear that RenEx grossly misunderstands “muscle and joint function”, both as it relates to machine design for exercise of the legs, and as it relates to human anatomy — and corresponding instruction (Joshua/Ken) and exercise performance (Al Coleman).

Following the logic of the above : since proper muscle and joint function has been compromised, the “safety” and “efficiency” of RenEx protocol, philosophy, equipment, and instruction,  is at the very least, no longer clear.


Going further, while it is unclear if Joshua is performing a static hold or a dynamic movement in the images below, these images of the RenEx co-founder on a leg extension machine, only add further insult to injury as Joshua puts great internal stress on his knees.



About Anthony Dream Johnson

CEO, founder, and architect of The 21 Convention, Anthony Dream Johnson is the leading force behind the world's first and only "panorama event for life on earth". He has been featured on WGN Chicago, and in the NY Times #1 best seller The Four Hour Work Week.    His stated purpose for the work he does is "the actualization of the ideal man", a purpose that has led him to found and host The 21 Convention across 3 continents and for 6 years in a row. Anthony blogs vigorously at and

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29 Responses to Does Renaissance Exercise Understand Proper Muscle & Joint Function? Apparently Not

  1. Drew BayeDrew Baye October 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm #


    I know for a fact the people at RenEx are aware of this. Nobody here is so ignorant to think the joints are pure hinges or ball and sockets, etc. and are well aware of the function of the knee.

    If you have someone move slowly enough that you are able to watch, you will see this rotation of the shin towards the end of the ROM – provided they anticipate the end point and gradually slow to a stop and provided the resistance curve falls off adequately the forces are well within safe levels at full extension. It is when people slam into extension (all too common, sadly) that you have problems with this.

    You will also see that people’s thighs translate on the seat bottom – the femurs move forward and back slightly accommodating the more ovoid arc the tibia follow around the ends of the femurs.

    Also, there is nothing preventing the shins from rotating in as the knees flex, and the more conservative start point avoids an extreme of this which might irritate some people’s knees.

    I’ve worked with people with a variety of knee problems on their machine and the MedX machine (pinning out the movement arm for a more conservative start) and have had no problem with this when a controlled speed of movement and proper turnaround technique is applied.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Drew, this wasn’t necessarily a claim that RenEx was ignorant of what Bill is talking about in the video — my claim is that their real-world application is incorrect.

      Obviously, this is a huge claim (that I did not dig into), since everyone and their mother is using a leg extension machine. Never the less I believe the application/result is false.

      (I believe it is dangerous to load the knee at full extension).

      To partly illustrate this, imagine using motorized resistance for a leg extension.

      At full extension, the resistance would be literally zero, outside of what the lower legs themselves weigh.

      I will be going into this more in a future post.

  2. Bill DeSimone October 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    OK, let’s chat, not about the generalization but about the specifics here. Josh’s quads are obviously impressive, so the issue isn’t effectiveness, but whether there’s any inadvertent joint stress being added.

    If I was going to use a knee extension machine, any brand, I would finish at the position Josh is at in these pictures. Even if there would be a great fall off beyond that joint angle, I don’t see any extra benefit. Fiber recruitment isn’t based on excessive ROM, and again, you’re loading a bony lock that is intended as a passive lock.

    But, I know some therapists and orthopedic surgeons like to load the terminal range, with straight knee raises and the like, but not as part of the same exercise. It seems to me that their goal is to control the muscles around the kneecap rather than build strength with these exercises.

    So as far as the finish position is concerned, I see no value to taking the knee as far as it can go, but there doesn’t seem to be a history of problems in lifting to the end range. I guess we’ll find out.

    However, in the video, to my eye, the trainee is loading the knee far too deep, which I think Drew alludes to with the “conservative start”. I definitely wouldn’t break 90 degrees at the knee, and I think this point does have medical support. I put some diagrams in Moment Arm Exercise showing the forces on the knee at different depths; I’ll try to get them up on the FB page.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      “so the issue isn’t effectiveness, but whether there’s any inadvertent joint stress being added.”

      I agree, and i agree from a unique perspective of having A) tight patellar tendons, and B) grade 3 chondromalacia under my left kneecap, and C) grade 1 chondromalacia under my right kneecap.

      I suspect very, very strongly that the internal stress — greater than the weight used during the exercise itself — contributes to chondromalaica immensely, as well as tight patellar tendons, which can contribute to mal-tracking of the patella.

      Even if Josh is “healthy” and remains “healthy” by performing these exercises, the question is, for how long?

      I am obviously more sensitive to the stress than it seems Josh is, but does Josh have *any idea whatsoever* what’s going on at the level of the knee during the exercise, long term?

      No, he doesn’t. Not without frequent MRI’s read by an expert radiologist.

      The same way people squatting have no clue what their spine looks like, until they “throw their back out” tying their shoes.

      Even in a perfect situation, I think leg extensions are dangerous, and set the stage for unforeseen problems down the road :

      – chondromalacia
      – patella mal-tracking
      – tight patellar tendons
      – tight MPFLs

      and on down the line, each condition contributing to the next.


      Which I should add, can set the stage for (greater) traumatic injury. For example during a partial dislocation of the kneecap an excessively tight MPFL will *tear* much quicker than one that is at it’s proper tension (not too loose, not too tight).

      If it’s too lose, the kneecap will dislocate completely. Too tight and the MPFL suffers extra damage (resulting in greater and greater laxity, or even being completely severed).

      • November 8, 2012 at 11:30 am #

        I completely disagree. And strength training does not cause tight tendons and muscles. That is a myth that just won’t die. The rest of what you are saying WRT kneecap dislocation, as far as I can tell, is simply made up. Where are you getting this information?

        • Anthony Dream Johnson November 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

          Hey Fred

          To say that “strength training” does not cause or result in tight connective or skeletal muscle tissue is short sighted. I agree that it shouldn’t, but I would not agree that it cannot, or will not for many people.

          I mean, forget tightness/mal-tracking/etc. Look at Bill DeSimone. Do you know how he severely injured his triceps and his biceps?

          No need for a hint. It was strength training, and he was as knowledgeable and well informed as anyone else in the HIT community when he experienced those injuries.

          So to say that it can’t, or does not cause what I’m claiming, is dubious … because it can cause much more serious acute injures, never-mind long term cumulative effects like a tight patellar tendon.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      “It seems to me that their goal is to control the muscles around the kneecap rather than build strength with these exercises.”

      This is, verbatim, what my orthopedic surgeon had me do to regain control of my quad post surgery — it was not intended to build muscle.

      And, it worked in regaining control, much to my delight =).

    • JOSHUA TRENTINE October 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm #


      I actually agree with much of this and I mostly agree with it when using conventional equipment, but we’ve come up with technology based solutions that remove any concern that may have otherwise existed.

      I can argue about the value of performing terminal knee extension with my 15 years of real world orthopedic rehab experience and my 23 year post-op reconstructed knee, but I’ll save that for another time.

      Keep up the informative work and keep your little friend on a short leash before he gets hurt. .


  3. Stuart Wilson October 3, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    You know, I actually like your blog when you stick to what you’re good at. Exercise isn’t one of those things, though, and neither is rehabilitation. Having screwed up knees does not make you an expert in knee rehab. That’s like obese people claiming to be experts in fat loss.

    Being a good trainer doesn’t even make you an expert in Rehab, which is directed at Bill. Being able to quote an anatomy text and explain joint function doesn’t, either. I know this will come across as malicious, or personal, but for various reasons, one of my pet hates is personal trainers who claim to be rehab specialists in some form or another. I’m not sure how I feel about a random blogger with screwed up knees claiming the same or at least implying that you’re some kind of authority on the subject.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 3, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

      You make it sound as if the average physical therapist actually has a clue.

      Every physical therapist I have ever seen is less than clueless — they are, as a friend once said, a product of the system.

      They are zombies that just do what they’re taught, which is the cumulative effect of multiple decades of conventional wisdom.

      Most medical doctors are clueless.

      Most personal trainers are clueless.

      What makes you think that rehabilitation specialists are immune to herd thinking and conventional wisdom?

      I am not an authority on the subject — what you don’t realize is that that’s a good thing.

      • Stuart October 4, 2012 at 3:25 am #

        You need to find yourself a better physical therapist, then. Like every industry, there are good and bad – so, to answer your question, I don’t think rehab specialists are immune to “herd thinking and conventional wisdom”. This, however, is irrelevant, and a point that could be made about literally anyone.

        Honestly, I’m stunned I even need to make this point. If I apply your logic to other professions (i’m assuming other professions aren’t exempt, or is it just the rehab/fitness world that create zombies?), it’s not just ridiculous, it’s scary.

        If a medical doctor claims to be a rehab specialist then that should be the first alarm bell that said medical doctor isn’t up to speed. A medical doctor should possess enough knowledge only to know whether you need a specialist or not, and if so, what kind of specialist.

        I see you jumped from rehab to exercise, too. Why don’t we continue the list,

        Most mechanics are useless.

        Most surgeons are useless.

        Most lawyers are useless.

        Policemen? Useless.

        Everyone and their dog is just, useless.

        Products of the system.

        And this is why we should listen to you. Nice.

        • Anthony Dream Johnson October 5, 2012 at 12:23 am #

          I don’t care to comment on car or marine mechanics, but most surgeons are clueless, as are most lawyers, and law enforcement officers.

          When I was born, orthopedic surgeons were putting patients in full casts for 8+ weeks post knee surgery.

          This idea today is ludicrous, is never done, and probably makes a few docs cringe at the thought of what they once did.

          They are good at doing very specific things — and much of the time, those are the wrong things to be doing in the first place, and even cause the patient damage, hinder recovery, etc.

          Most lawyers are deeply subjectivist, and fundamentally confused. They wouldn’t know “the law” if it hit them in the face, never mind legal philosophy.

          All law enforcement officers swear oath to the federal constitution, yet they stand by and watch raw milk farmers get arrested at gun point by federal agents.

          Never mind the anti-constitutional drug war that they so complacently take part in.

          Yes, police are useless, that’s in large part why I carry a gun.

          Do you have anything intelligent to say? Your comments are like a combination of finger-painting and nails on a chalk board.

          • Will October 5, 2012 at 10:47 am #

            By what criteria do you judge most surgeons, lawyers, LE to be “useless”? As a former lawyer, and someone with a Ph.D. in legal and political theory, I’m especially interested in your knowledge claims in these areas. The broad strokes you use to paint the world you want to then criticize are virtually impossible to engage with. “All lawyers are X….,” “All surgeons are Y….” Come on, do you really expect someone to take such childishness seriously?

            • Anthony Dream Johnson October 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

              Surgeons in the US alone perform surgeries every day that are unnecessary, dangerous, or soon to be realized, as ridiculous as draining the “bad blood” with leeches.

              Their response? Oops, I didn’t know. Or much worse, “who am I to know?”.

              I have no doubt there are some good surgeons, and some less bad than the common surgeon. The same way personal trainers exist who are not sofa-king-wee-todded.

              Your Ph.D. is probably less than useless. Less because most universities do not teach “nothing”, they teach anti-knowledge.

              They feed intellectual poison to young people, that destroys independent, critical, objective thinking.

              The results are all around you.

              Riddle me this Mr. former lawyer : how do you delegate an unalienable right?

              • Will October 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

                Anthony, you truly are a child – emotionally and intellectually undeveloped. Sadly, you apparently believe you are possessed of some sort of wisdom. Given that, I suspect you will remain a child.

                • Anthony Dream Johnson October 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

                  I think you are more right than you know.

                  Yes, I am young. I have not “developed” to the point of giving in to despair, contradiction, and nonsense espoused by the idiots who came before me.

                  I have not given up on life, reality, liberty, and reason.

                  I’ll never give up on these things.

                  Apparently you have. Have a nice life as an “adult” who gave up his mind a long time ago.

                  And thanks for making a mockery of what it truly means to be mature. Way to set an example!

            • Anthony Dream Johnson October 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

              Oh I see you mentioned law enforcement officers. Missed the LE.

              This is actually a great, deep question. The answer is long. To summarize it will be difficult. Here it goes …

              – the federal government was not delegated the power by the states to create law enforcement agencies as we know them today. Therefore it is illegal for a “federal law enforcement officer” to exist (with the *possible* exception of US Marshalls as exclusive and explicit agents of the court).

              Meaning that it is impossible for those officers today to swear oath to the federal constitution, and lawfully remain LEOs, any longer than it physically takes to remove the badge and quit.

              It’s literally not possible. The term “walking contradiction” comes to mind.

              – I have a right to my life. I did not, and cannot delegate it to anyone, any group, or anything.

              When a law enforcement officer then enforces a law that violates my right to life, and/or subsequent primary rights, what he’s doing is not just immoral, it’s illegal, and in direct defiance of his oath to the federal constitution, as well as most state constitutions.

              Writing a law down does not make it legal, and illegal laws are not legally enforceable.

              • Carl October 5, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

                Instructive exchange, as I now have a very good basis by which to judge the credibility of the owner of this blog.

                • Anthony Dream Johnson October 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

                  Yes, why face uncomfortable questions with even more uncomfortable answers when you can blind yourself with a thin veneer of practicality and a burying of the head in the sand.

          • Stuart October 8, 2012 at 9:28 am #

            Going against my better judgement to reply at all.
            “Do you have anything intelligent to say? Your comments are like a combination of finger-painting and nails on a chalk board.”

            This is contradictory, because anything I say that isn’t in agreement with your views is wrong at best, but probably in your eyes completely stupid.

            My (initial) comment was feedback, that’s all. However, I don’t care to take the conversation any further, and don’t care to visit your site any more. I thought it would be best you know, although I doubt you care.

    • November 8, 2012 at 11:31 am #

      Stuart your comments are ad hominem.

  4. Bill DeSimone October 3, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    That diagram is up on the Congruent Exercise Facebook page.

  5. JOSHUA TRENTINE October 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    So, to the knee rehab experts(self- proclaimed or otherwise) here tell me are quad-sets with biofeedback and straight leg raises w/these quad-sets also “dangerous”?

    Taking a lot of info and oversimplifying, might be wise to look into what our machine actually does at terminal extension before egg becomith on thy face.

    I’m with the other guy, stick to what you know, you have to rehab a few knees (or a few thousand)[or at least your own effectively] before you even qualify to discuss the situation and generally I don’t think people pay much attention to workout advice from someone who evidence of performing one drop of strength training….just sayin…

    Stick to dating advice for the guys who can’t get laid.

    Funny part is Anthony actually sent his sister to us for rehab….this shows the emotions of his man crush even supersede his own intellect….now run along before I actually take the time to dismantle you little man.

    • Anthony Dream Johnson October 5, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      “Funny part is Anthony actually sent his sister to us for rehab….”

      This is part lie (as usual), and part misleading.

      A) I sent my sister to Drew Baye, the individual, regardless of where he worked. As it happened this was months and months before he joined RenEx/Overload.

      B) My sister had her gall bladder removed — you make it sound as if she had a hip replaced.

  6. JOSHUA TRENTINE October 6, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    JOSHUA TRENTINE October 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm #
    So, to the knee rehab experts(self- proclaimed or otherwise) here tell me are quad-sets with biofeedback and straight leg raises w/these quad-sets also “dangerous”?

    • JOSHUA TRENTINE December 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

      no reply huh?

      funny… how about the x-farce endorsement????? oh boy….

  7. adambudnik October 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Hey Anthony, Drew, Joshua, Bill, Will and all readers.

    I need to say that it’s been very spicy exchange between few of you guys here. I’ve really enjoyed it a lot. All of you guys really sound scientific as always regardless of what your background really is. I personally don’t have a degree in medicine, law, nutrition or any other specific field. What I do have though is my own free and independent mind to recognise false from truth in any field. Sometimes I make mistakes like we all do from time to time in different areas of life but I learn record something as good or bad experience and more on to new things in life.

    The bottom line is we all learn from experience (often mistakes) and build our knowledge on it. Subject of exercise has been overloaded with so much crap that its fantastic to see real dedication and true professionalism in people like you all trying to find even better solution to various issues (for example knee). Let me give you a different prospective on this discussion.

    I never got a degree. I will probably never own 6000 dollars single RenX, MedX, Nautilus machine for only one muscle group (not even thinking of 10 or 20 of them). I will probably never be in a position of even getting a loan from a bank for my own professional studio because of my poor background, social level and lack of any free flowing cash in my wallet because of how tough life really is for majority of us.

    I’ve been working for a HIT facility over last few months and I know how much money they need to generate every month in order to pay all the money they have taken from banks plus pay rent, staff and other bits and pieces. The only thing on their mind is marketing because they have invested so much money into it – regardless of weather their machines are good, very good, perfect or from another planet. They need to make money and then need to sound very rational and scientific so people buy into to this concept.

    I know they are good and they help people a lot. I know that there are ‘for’ and ‘against’ certain machines, their use, set up ect. But I also know that there are some basic rules of nature. As Mike Mentzer said in one of his books if I’m not mistaken ‘Nature to be commanded must be obey’.

    The point I’m trying to make is that the great majority of us can do so much to keep healthy, injury and pain free and much more without fancy and expensive equipment. Optimal nutrition allows anybody to stay lean and therefore not unnecessary impact on our body will occur. Basic exercises preformed precisely will do equally good job to keep your body in top form for any event – from chasing a bus, climbing a tree as you trying to run away from your good neighbour’s Labrador to performing like a man in bed with your lady.

    But also there are people who left it for too long. People who made a gross mistake of doing something stupid. People with chronic condition. Let it be knee problems, elbow or any other issue. Most of those machines mentioned here earlier are just brilliant. But not everyone can get to them because they are not so popular just yet. They are essential for some individuals to be back on their feel once again.

    What we all missing is the fact that we can prevent it from becoming so bad that is tears our life apart because of pain.

    Personally I work with individuals who are very limited when it comes to their time, as they have lots of personal commitments. I use the principle of natural muscle bio mechanic’s for pure strength for health and life. I also use many of techniques used on machines too.

    I don’t call myself an exert but I do learn from all of you gentlemen’s and many books I have pleasure to read because of your recommendations.

    I think future of real exercise lays, at least for majority of population is not in more steel of high tech machines (even though there always going to be people who needs it) but individual responsibility we should all take for our bodies.

    I will keep educating myself in my own personal direction not known to anybody else as my DNA is unique as all of you guys. I will also keep training and educating all people who don’t have access to expensive technology by understanding how human body was able to survive 2.5 million of evolution without it.

    All the best to everybody.


    Adam Budnik of

  8. Mark January 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    So, if there’s any doubt at all re the effects on the knee joint in (& approaching) full, loaded extension, and there’s little or no doubt that full ROM isn’t necessary for full quad stimulation, what’s the harm in following Bill’s advice?, (especially for those who aren’t sure who to believe).

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