12 Core Crushing, Leg Slaying Pilates Moves on the Total Gym

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Using the Total Gym Toe Bar Attachment To Do Pilates At Home

Joseph Pilates – a gymnast, circus performer, martial artist and boxer – originally created an exercise regimen to help rehabilitate World War I soldiers. Not long after the war, he moved to New York and evolved his exercises and his “reformer machine” for the rehabilitation of injured dancers. Almost 100 years later, Pilates is still popular because it helps develop long and lean muscles; improves the flexibility of the back, shoulders, and hips; and builds a very strong core with low impact moves.

The Total Gym can be transformed into a reformer machine with a Pilates Toe Bar attachment, which allows you to perform upper and lower body Pilates movements. The design makes it possible to drop the heels to stretch the Achilles tendons while articulating through each joint of the foot. Compared with another Total Gym accessory, the Padded Squat Stand, the Pilates Toe Bar extends further than the squat stand allowing a greater range of motion in the knees and ankles and encourages proper alignment. If you want to get a full Pilates workout on your Total Gym, then the Pilates Toe Bar is the accessory that you should go with.

12 Pilates Movements To Perform On The Total Gym

While doing these moves, it’s important to remember to focus on correct posture and breathing. These exercises are designed to improve strength and flexibility in your hips, back, abdomen, shoulders, calves, and thighs and can be modified for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

  1. Push-ups:
  2. SimplePush-ups are great for improving upper body strength, balance, and your core. Place your hands on the toe bar and your feet on glideboard. You can move your hands close or farther apart to work the different muscles of the chest, arms, and back.

    Advanced: Place the glideboard in an open position.

  3. Knees-in:
  4. This move is challenging on your core and back and is initially challenging, but after practice it becomes easy. To perform knee-ins, place either your knees or your toes on the glideboard and grasp the toe bar while keeping your arms and shoulders still. Position the glideboard partway up the rails. If you are performing this on your toes, start in plank, and then draw your knees in toward the chest while rounding the spine.

  5. Down Dog to Plank Pull-ins:
  6. Straddle the glideboard and place both hands on the bar. Then place your feet on the glideboard. Your body should look like a number 7 from the side. Slide the board up the rails by extending your back while pressing your feet into the board. Open the shoulders and reach the arms out in front of you as far as you can. Return to an inverted position by pulling your body down the rails until your wrists are stacked under the shoulders and contracting your core muscles to bring the legs back under the hips. This movement improves balance, upper body strength and core strength.

  7. Jump Kicks:
  8. Jump kicks are perfect for strengthening your quads, calves, feet, and improving your balance. While lying face up, with the balls of the feet on the bar, kick one leg out (with the knee bent or straight) and land on the opposite foot softly with flexed knee and ankle.

  9. Toe Presses:
  10. Toe presses help strengthen the foot muscles and calves, while improving your ankle flexibility. To perform them begin by lying face up, legs straight and in line with the hips, and place the balls of the feet on the bar. Then press up onto the toes. You may allow the heels to drop below the level of the bar for a deep stretch on the return move. The foot position can be altered to toe-out or toe-in.

  11. Saw:
  12. Saws are great to improve your back, hip, and hamstring flexibility while strengthening your core. Sit with feet resting against toe bar supports and keep your legs straight. Raise your arms out to the side, twist toward one leg and lean in with a flat back. Return to upright position and rotate to center.

  13. Dips with Shoulder Extensions:
  14. This dynamic move will improve your shoulder and hip flexibility and strengthen your core. Straddle the glideboard facing the column and put your hands on the toe bar. Then place your feet on the glideboard. Bend your elbows and flex at the hips with straight legs. Next, extend your arms. Then push the glideboard up the rails with your feet as you press your hips toward the ceiling. Return to the beginning by bending at the hips and the elbows.

  15. Squats and Demi Pliés in Relevé:
  16. Squats and Pliés help to strengthen your quads, calves, and feet, while improving the flexibility of your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Start face up on the glideboard with your legs under the hips, the balls of your feet on the toe bar and then bend your knees and straighten in a squat. Next, turn the toes out and allow the heels to come up as you plié by pressing the knees out or open. Press the heels down as you straighten your legs.

  17. Flexed Foot Squats:
  18. To perform flexed foot squats, begin by lying face up with your legs under your hips, heels on the toe bar, and then squat while keeping the feet dorsiflexed.

  19. Standing Pedaling:
  20. Standing pedaling improves flexibility and strength in feet and calves. Improves balance. Lying face up with your legs straight and both feet on the toe bar, bend your knees one at a time while articulating through the feet with your toes pointed.

  21. Bridge with Hip Roll:
  22. A bridge with a hip roll can help improve core, hamstring, and hip strength and flexibility. While lying face up with knees bent and both feet on the toe bar, lift the hips, articulating through the spine until only the upper back and shoulders are supporting your torso. You can choose to extend the legs or not at the top of the bridge. With your knees bent or straight, straight roll down, one vertebra at a time until your hips are resting on the glideboard.

  23. Side Plank with Hip Lift:
  24. Similar to normal planks, side planks are be a great workout for your core and shoulders. Lie on your side on one elbow on the glideboard and place the top foot against the toe bar. The bottom leg can be bent. Lift and lower the hips as if your pelvis were suspended in a hammock from the ceiling. Keep the body long and straight as a plank. Do not collapse into the shoulder.

    Advanced: Place one hand on the toe bar and balance in a side plank on the glideboard in an open position. Stack your hips and raise the free arm up, reaching for the ceiling. Lift and lower the hips. Perform on both sides.

    For more information on using your Total Gym for Pilates check out our official Pilates page here!

Jodai Saremi

Jodai Saremi, DPM, BS , is a freelance writer, AFAA certified trainer, and fitness model. She has written for American Fitness, SPIN fitness, Your Health Connection magazines, and other online publications. Her articles have also been featured in textbooks. She enjoys an active lifestyle and lives in Ventura County, Calif. with her husband and two children.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. looking for the 12 core crushing pilates moves for total gym. Is this a video for purchase?

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