The Total Gym is a versatile exercise machine, facilitating anywhere from 40 to more than 80 exercises, depending on the model and accessories you choose. While this variety lets you mix exercises together to make new, entertaining full-body workouts, the best exercises are usually multi-joint movements that work many muscles at once.
The pullover works both your pushing and pulling muscles at once, in particular your latissimus dorsi, pecs, triceps and shoulders. Lie face-up on the glide board. Extend both arms straight overhead. Swing your arms in an arc, pulling the glide board up until your arms are extended over your chest.
The pullover crunch works the same muscles as a pullover, but adds extra emphasis on your abs and chest. Begin as if you were doing a pullover, but continue swinging your straight arms past your chest until they point down toward your feet. Crunch up as your hands swing past your chest, bringing your shoulders slightly off the glide board.
Not everyone can do full body-weight pull-ups. The Total Gym substitutes for an assisted pull-up machine, letting you adjust the incline to select how much of your body weight you're lifting. Lie face-down on the glide board. Grasp the pull-up bars, and pull the glide board up to the bars.
The chest press works your pecs, triceps and shoulders. To do a chest press, sit on the glide board facing the squat platform, a handle in each hand. Extend your arms straight in front of your chest, then slowly bend your arms until your elbows are even and level with your shoulders.
With an exercise like the chest press, your shoulders and triceps may fatigue before your pecs have gotten an adequate workout. Chest flies let you work your pecs without straining your shoulders and triceps. To do flies with the total gym, sit on the glide board facing the squat platform, a handle in each hand. Spread your arms out, straight but not locked, as if they were the covers of a book. Bring your hands together in front of your chest, arms still extended, elbows point out.
Like chest flies, lateral flies work your chest and shoulders, but put additional emphasis on your obliques. Sit sideways on the glide board, holding the near-side pulley handle in your upslope hand. Bring your upslope arm across in front of your body, straight but not locked, pulling the glide board up.
The sprinter start works your glutes and thighs. Kneel on the glide board, the ball of one foot planted near the top of the squat board. Push off with that foot.
Lying Triceps Extension
The lying triceps extension isolates your triceps. Lie face-down on the glide board, elbows bent, one handle in each hand. Straighten your arms, pushing the glide board up the rails.
Seated Biceps Curls
Seated biceps curls work your biceps. Straddle the glide board facing upslope, a handle in each hand. Bend your arms at the elbow, pulling the glide board up the rails.
You can use the Total Gym for cardio exercises, too. Hop twists work your abs, glutes, thighs and calves. Lie face-up on the glide board. Place both feet together on the squat platform, knees and hips bent at a 90-degree angle. Push yourself explosively off the platform. As you come down on the platform again, shift your knees and feet so that they point slightly to one side. Shift to the other side on the next jump. Continue alternating sides as if you were skiing moguls.