How to Get the Most Out of Your Total Gym Fitness Equipment


Indeed, staying healthy and fit can present a real fitness challenge. For instance, you can't get the time to go to a fitness center or gym nearby. Or you don't have ready access to effective exercise equipment. Sure, you can get out on a hiking or biking trail and get yourself some cardio. However, resistance strength training exercises will push you. They provide you with many more fitness benefits for seniors, athletes, or the regular Jane or Joe. And the workouts will challenge all your fitness systems - cardio, strength, and flexibility - all at the same time. You will get the most out of your total gym fitness equipment.

What about maintaining or building up your muscle strength, while also improving your flexibility and cardio? Owning a room full of dumbbells and workout equipment is one option. It does take some space in your house but it is one of the best uses of space, and you’ll need at least a small bedroom. There are also bulky all-in-one home gyms, they also take up a lot of room as well.

One fabulous solution is to use a single, compact, and simple pully machine that utilizes your body weight to get your workout in. The Total Gym Gravity training system is an awesome piece of fitness equipment. Not only does it saves space, but it also offers hundreds of health club intense exercises that you can adjust to your abilities. All you need is a Total Gym or dial it up with a Gravity trainer and add your body's muscular strength.

The GTS is the pinnacle of the Total Gym models. We'll use the general features of all Total Gyms to lay out a series of home training programs for various fitness levels. We'll start with a beginner fitness circuit that's also excellent for senior’s fitness programs. Finally, we'll show you some more difficult activities using the gravity trainer for a great intermediate or advanced fitness levels.

The Total Gym Theory

The Total Gym GTS is one of the most versatile models of fitness equipment from Total Gym. It is a full-size commercial fitness version that can accommodate a vast array of body types, fitness levels, and workout objectives. With a Total Gym Gravity trainer, there are hundreds of challenging exercise routines you can perform using any Total Gym.

The Total Gym concept takes your body weight and applies simple gravity using an adjustable incline to challenge your body to improve its strength. Combining both factors, it increases the level of intensity more than individual activities such as pushups or pull-ups. This workout is called a high-intensity maximum resistance workout and if your trainer uses one you will have killer results. By adjusting the main support column, you can change the angle of gravity making it easier or harder, you can also add extra weight up to 500 total lbs or 225 kgs. Each Total Gym comes with various fitness accessories that you can add to your Total Gym.

Group Training - Total Gym Workout

Group Training - Total Gym Workout

Different cable attachments and handles and other fitness accessories allow you to take a single machine and perform multiple fitness exercises for your workouts that would require multiple pieces of fitness equipment. Using different tower angles, plus varying the length of the pull and grip position, there's not a muscle on your body that won’t be exercised, strengthened, or feel the effects of gravity.

When you unpack and assemble your new Total Gym, you'll have everything you need to start fitness training, just bring your body. Now, let's take a look at three fitness levels and give you an idea of how many types of workouts you can perform using your Total Gym training system.

Total Gym Workout Program Summary

Each of the exercise moves in your three programs is illustrated in your Total Gym owner's manual. You'll also have access to Total Gym workout DVDs Or Workouts on Youtube to help you better understand how to use proper form and techniques. While counting reps is fine, it's often easier to hit a target time, use a timer, or if your good at counting and sweating do it.

Each of the individual exercise moves will have a target time recommended if your not fatigued when you reach the minute increase the time or intensity of the exercise. This will also help you utilize the benefits of high-intensity maximum resistance interval training as your fitness level improves. One benefit of each of these workouts is the total-body workout and efficient use of valuable time.

Wording Can't Figure Better

The first step you need to remember is to warm-up and repeat it for every level no matter what workout program you're using. Take time to warm up. This can be a few minutes of some light cardio or use your Total Gym as a traditional rowing machine. I love starting with the largest muscle group, and everyone's most hated Leg exercises. The key point is to remember to warm up, get your heart rate up muscles more limber and blood flowing. You can do that doing squats, rowing, or any cardio exercise. Now that you're loosened up, let's get started.

Beginner and Senior Total Gym Programs

  • Leg Squats – This is a simple move that targets your thighs, glutes, hamstrings, and calf muscles. It is an excellent way to start to raise your target heart rate as well. You can alternate circuits between double regular squats, sumo squats, uni-lateral one leg pistol squats, to target a weaker leg. After doing a few minutes warm-up, do a one-minute circuit each exercise.
  • Chest Press – The next exercise can be performed by changing your position on the glide board. Sit at the top of the glide board with your legs straight or crossed (crossed is more challenging on your core muscles). When you've set the cables and handles up for the chest press, you can hammer out 20, 30, or more (the more the merrier). Perform the standard chest press until failure.
  • Seated Row – You'll now hit the antagonist muscle group of the pec muscles for this exercise. Simply turn around on the glide board and adjust the cable angle and column height to fit your strength level. You will now perform the basic seated row for another one-minute interval.
  • Recover – You should notice, you've warmed up your muscles, increasing your target heart rate gradually, and then infuse a full three-minutes of strength moves. Work to become more familiar with your machine and your body limitations.

As you do your workouts, you'll get the maximum benefit out of each exercise during your home workout. However, as healthy and intense intervals get, if you still need some rest, take one. For beginners and seniors, use this period as a one-minute recovery period, decrease your breaks as you get stronger.

  • Biceps Curl – Facing your tower and sit or kneel for a more advanced position on the glide board. Grasp the handles one in each hand and perform the standard seated or kneeling biceps curl. Do this move for one-minute or pick how many reps you’d like to do. Typically, 20 reps take about 1 minute.
  • Triceps Extension – Continuing with the antagonist muscle theory and interval training concept. Start this while still kneeling crouch down into a fetal position, with your elbows at your side, press back until your arms are straight behind you. Do a one-minute superset circuit of triceps extensions and bicep curls. Repeat the same amount of reps or more if you can. Your triceps are a bigger muscle group and will make your arms stronger and bigger.
  • Abdominal Crunch – Beginners and seniors will be happy to know that the Total Gym provides many ways to work your core and full-body. Typically, the core muscles are a neglected part of your body due to our sitting lifestyle. Pretty much 90% of the exercises you can do on the Total gym involves core exercises. Facing the same way as you were for the leg squats; adjust the column height to perform a basic forward crunch. Laying on the glide board while holding the handles with your hands directly over your head. Pull your arms up towards the ceiling reaching as high as you can without bending elbows. Try to reach your knees while lifting your head and shoulders as you pull over your head. Do one-minute of crunches.
  • Rest and Repeat – If you need a rest or water break, take a short break but get back on it sooner rather than later. If you don’t need a break, go for another set. Doing more of a superset will progress your fitness faster. Now, you can repeat the previous circuit. This will give you a full 16-minute exercise program that is a great beginner or senior citizen workout.

Intermediate Total Gym Workout Programs

For those of you who are at an intermediate fitness level, we'll now adjust certain aspects of the beginner program to challenge you more. You'll notice we're sticking to the same high-intensity maximum resistance interval training theory.

One nice thing about using target times instead of repetitions is that you can adjust the length of your workouts to fit into schedule changes in your life, you can efficiently gauge the time of your workout, adding to or just getting in a quick workout.

  • Regular squats – Start with warming up your legs like before with the beginner workout suggested. Then, you can vary your foot position doing sumo-style squats or regular shoulder-width squats.
  • Single-Leg squats – We'll start out using the same exercise as the beginner’s workout uses. The focus is on the single-leg motion. You can cross your foot over at your knee to get a great stretch in your glutes and piriformis muscles. Your intermediate program adds minute onto this fitness circuit, making it a full two-minute segment.
  • Chest Press – The intermediate workout moves straight to a chest press as well. One key difference will be the change in the chest muscle area we target. Use the standard chest press for this first circuit, hitting your one-minute target time.
  • Surfer Row – As your fitness improves, you'll be able to increase the difficulty of the exercises you add to your home fitness program. Adding a surfer row or add to the full stretch to the rowing motion on a Total Gym will help improve flexibility while adding difficulty to the motion. Do this surfer Row for one minute or two.
  • Rest – Rest and recovery are one key difference as you improve your fitness levels. Your objective is to maximize your fitness results in the most efficient amount of time for you. Your first few workouts through the more difficult intermediate circuit will benefit from limiting the amount of rest you take; the harder you work out safely, the better results you will have.
  • Prone Biceps Curl – Each of our exercises challenges you in the intermediate fitness program that adds an added degree of difficulty. Lying prone facing up with your bum at the top of the glide board, you will now do a full one-minute circuit of bicep curls. You will notice the increased level of resistance in this position on your Total Gym. Do this exercise for a full minute or until failure of your muscles.
  • Prone Triceps Extension – This triceps move raises the level of difficulty slightly. You can increase the resistance on your triceps by raising the column angle to increase the gravitational forces. Just lay on your glide board so that your head is now at the top of the glide board and feet are at the bottom. Also while your shoulders at a 90% angle to the glide board, extending your forearms so that your arms fully extended are at a 90-degree angle to the glide board. This is another one-minute segment or for added benefits that go to failure.
  • Resistance Ab Crunches – As with the other exercise motions in our intermediate program, you can raise the level of difficulty by raising the levels of the Total Gym or increase the weight to add to your workout. Use the cables and tower height to increase gravity. Do this with your back on the glide board and knees bent with your feet on the bottom of the glide board. The more effects of gravity you experience you get during this exercise and movement, the more resistance you can add for this exercise to improve your fitness levels.
  • Rinse and Repeat – You can repeat this full-body circuit and second or third time for the intermediate fitness levels. Each chest segment should be changed. The second circuit or third circuits can use the seated close-grip or seated wide-grip chest press motions or even kneeling. This will help you to target the full spectrum of chest and core muscles.

Advanced Total Gym Programs

Now, let's take a look at a program that will challenge even the most advanced and fittest advanced fitness of some individuals. Each of these stages targets muscles and muscle groups in a similar fashion. However, you’re raising the bar on the level of intensity, weight, and time. Intensity and time is the key with limited rest intervals at a minimum. Our advanced program for the Total Gym is not for the faint of heart.

  • Regular squats – Start with warming up your legs like before with the beginner and intermediate workout suggested. Then you can vary your foot position doing sumo-style squats or regular shoulder-width squats. Add in a plyometric squat for 1 minute to increase the intensity of your workout
  • Single-Leg Press Jump – We'll continue to ramp up the target heart rate as we did in both of the previous workouts. However, you'll use the single leg squat with a power jump motion. This will test your quads, hamstrings, and calves. Do this for another two-minute or more opening circuit.
  • Lat pullups overhand and or reverse grip – Laying on your chest with the pull-up bars in the second position grab the bar with an overhand or underhand grip and pull up. You can superset this with the overhand and reverse grip
  • Chest Press – The advanced level chest circuits will begin with a basic chest press move. Each segment will dramatically increase the level of difficulty. This first chest press circuit is a one-minute segment. Chest flies sitting in the same position as your chest press reach your arms out as if you're going to give a big hug to someone. Bring your arms keeping them straight to bring your hands together as your doing a clap with your arms straight.
  • Kneeling Row – Many of the most difficult moves using your Total Gym are a result of changing the body angle and increasing the balance and force of gravity. When you kneel, the physics applied by the tower height is increased. This will add to the difficulty levels of the exercises. You should kneel and row for one-minute or to failure if you need a bigger challenge then increase the weight and intensity you are using.
  • Rest – If you need to do it, reduce the amount of rest time for the duration of your workout down to 15-seconds and lower. Again, this is a high-intensity fitness circuit.
  • Kneeling Biceps Curl – Advanced levels can begin with one segment of the kneeling biceps curl. Additional circuits can diversify the motion by doing the more difficult single-arm seated curl. You can also use a plyometric workout as your curling and alternating your arms. Keep the glide board still while only moving your arms to seriously increase the level of difficulty.
  • Kneeling Triceps Extension – As with many of the other exercise moves, the kneeling position changes the angle of the gravitational forces to increase resistance. The kneeling triceps extension accomplishes this well.

As with all fitness circuits in these programs, do these moves for one minute each. During the third set through this circuit, you can boost the intensity level by doing the single-arm lateral triceps extension. This isolates each arm individually.

  • Abdominal Circuit – For the advanced levels, a nice way to build a strong core and add some diversity is to use different Total Gym core moves during this segment. You can begin with the normal seated crunch. Other sets can use the lateral trunk rotation, leg curl with a crunch, or versions of the jackknife. Each abdominal circuit should be another full minute.
  • Rinse and Repeat – Advanced fitness levels can work three full circuits. This will be a very intense fitness workout. This is more true as you begin to minimize your rest periods down to 15 seconds or less. When you're advancing through your advanced Total Gym workout, you will feel the results of gravity its hard to resist and addicting.


Remember the key element to these fitness workouts is intensity and time. As you progress through different fitness levels, be S.M.A.R.T or Specific (simple, sensible, significant). Measurable (meaningful, motivating). Achievable (agreed, attainable). Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based). Time-sensitive (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive). All of these will benefit your fitness results faster than you can imagine.

Be S.M.A.R.T about your progress. Work up to the next level at your best level, work at the most you can. Don't go to fast and injure yourself. If you feel pain, stop or you will have defeated your primary purpose. Consistency is the key.

During the fitness programs and when you change body positions, always remember to staying hydrated. After a few workouts through our Total Gym workouts, you will see a tremendous improvement in your strength, flexibility, and endurance.

It might seem difficult to believe, right? A single simple machine, that can be folded up against the wall, can be combined with gravity and your bodyweight. And how it can offer exercises that produce the results a Total Gym will produce. Whether you choose the XLS or ultimate Total Gym GTS machine, bring your body, and Total Gym workout with the help from good old gravity you will do the rest.