Do You Have Good Leg Form on the Total Gym?

Perfect Your Form Total Gym Leg Exercises video

There’s something to be said for good quality of movement, especially when working out. Every exercise performed should be learned with proper technique to maximize performance and prevent injury.


Often, the correct form of an exercise gets “messed up” for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the basics are not mastered before advanced movements are introduced, the exercise speed may be too fast for the muscles to contract, or the resistance could be too heavy to perform an exercise efficiently. All of these factors could be a recipe for improper form that could lead to an injury.


The following provides key tips to ensure you incorporate correct movement patterns to get the best results from your workouts!




  • Learn basic movement patterns before adding resistance.
  • Focus on controlling the movement(s) to practice good form.
  • If an exercise causes pain or discomfort, your alignment/form may be off.
  • Practice in front of a mirror to see your alignment.
  • Ask a qualified trainer to correct your form.
  • Train the movement to develop muscle memory.
  • Modify the exercise to correct the form.
  • Concentrate on feeling the muscle activation, not the resistance applied.
  • Lifting heavy loads with improper form will not produce bigger gains. It can actually set you back.
  • Good form allows muscles to activate properly and develops stability in the tendons and joints.


Executing proper form at all times will produce the best and quickest results!



Variations of squats and lunges are some of the best exercises to develop strength and a toned lower body, but only if you do them correctly.


Listed below are a few examples of mistakes made when performing lower body movements and simple ways to correct improper techniques. Whether these exercises are performed on the Total Gym, the floor, or other apparatuses, keeping good form is always paramount.


Before you muster out another lower body workout, make sure your leg exercises are not a victim to these common mistakes!




MISTAKE #1: Buckling the knees

  • When your knees move in towards the midline of the body, it can put pressure and strain on the knee ligaments. This mistake is partially due to weak inner and/or outer thighs.
  • Improper knee tracking during a squat is the cause of many knee injuries but can be prevented by learning the proper mechanics and being aware of your body placement.

    MISTAKE #2: Lack of pressing hips back

  • For many years, it was a huge contraindication to NOT allow the knees to overshoot the toes during a squat. It’s a good guideline to follow, but restricting even the slightest forward movement may increase stress placed on the hips for some body types.
  • Rather than dwell on your knees exceeding past your toes, focus on a greater hip range of motion to perform better squats.

    MISTAKE #3: Rounding the torso

  • Rounding of the back and dropping the chest does not target the legs properly and can cause major back injury.
  • Proper tension in the back and rear shoulder muscles is needed to keep the chest lifted and spine elongated. Core activation helps support and stabilizes the entire spine. When these muscles are not activated and working together, then the entire squat form breaks down.


    Freestanding Squat:

    • Stand with the hips shoulder distance or slightly wider.
    • Interlock the hands and place them comfortably behind the head/neck or ears (depending on flexibility). With your chest lifted and body elongated you should naturally feel your head push back into your hands. Gazing upward will also help keep the chest lifted.
    • Engage the core for spinal stability and control.
    • Initiate the movement by pressing the hips back while keeping the chest lifted and the shoulders back and down.
    • While the hips press back, focus on keeping the knees in the same line as the middle toe for proper tracking. Allow your body to utilize its full range of motion potential without sacrificing form.
    • Slowly lower and lift with control to execute proper form.



    Free-Standing Squat Proper Form



    Total Gym Squat:

    • Place the incline on the highest level and attach the squat stand.
    • Lie supine on the glide board and place your feet comfortably onto the squat stand. The position of the feet will dictate the direction the knees travel.
    • Perform the squat by bending the knees to the fullest range of motion aiming for 90 degrees.
    • Keep the weight pressing into the heels to really activate the glutes and hamstrings.
    • Lower and lengthen with control.



    Total Gym Squat Proper Form



    As you can see, your muscles work in conjunction of each other to perform a good ol’ proper squat! Learn it, perfect it, and perform it often. Then incorporate variations using the same techniques.



    MISTAKE #1: Improper knee tracking

  • Letting knees fall inward rather than tracking them with the toes. The direction the toes point is where the knees should align.

    MISTAKE #2: Misaligned torso

  • Rounding the back, leaning forward, or straining the neck

    MISTAKE #3: Forward weight shifting

  • Placing too much weight onto the balls of the feet rather than distributing it equaling in both legs, pressing through the heel of the front foot, and activating the glutes and hamstrings.


    Freestanding Lunge:

    • Start in a half kneeling position with both knees at 90 degrees; one knee resting on the floor and the other is up. This position will place your feet in the correct stance.
    • Keep the front foot grounded flat on the floor while the back toes curl under.
    • Interlock the fingers and place the hands behind the head/neck or ears with elbows wide to enforce a straight spine and a lifted chest.
    • Initiate the movement by activating the core and placing the weight equally into both legs as you lift the back knee off the floor an inch.
    • Be sure that the knees follow the same direction as the toes AT ALL TIMES.
    • Find a focal point to gaze to for balance.
    • Slowly stand straight up by keeping the weight distributed equally in the legs, the spine is long and the chest is lifted.
    • Lower and lift to practice the basic lunge.
    • Repeat this action in a stationary position to execute proper mechanics.



    Free-Standing Lunges Proper Form



    Total Gym Lunge:


    • Place the incline on a low level and stand at the base facing away from the tower.
    • Kneel one leg onto the glide board and tuck the toes under (same kneeling stance as above).
    • Hands can be placed behind the head, resting on hips, or touching an object for balance. Just be sure to keep the torso lifted at all times.
    • Initially, keep the glide board closed as you lift the back knee off an inch to find your correct positioning. Once you feel balanced and stable, open the glide board and lower into the lunge.
    • Focus on keeping the knees tracking the middle toe.
    • If you feel any discomfort in the front of the knees, shift the weight placement into the heel of the front foot and activate both glutes more.
    • Flow through this motion using the glide board to assist with the motion.


    Total Gym Lunges Proper Form


    Once the basics are learned and perfected, then you can modify the lunge in order to work different muscles. (ex: dynamic lunge, reverse lunge, curtsy lunge, etc.)



    MISTAKE #1: Improper knee tracking

  • Same as squats and lunge listed above.

    MISTAKE #2: Legs & hips alignment

  • Placement of each leg in the lateral lunge stance is crucial. The nose must be aligned with the bent knee and toes. The straight leg is lengthened with little weight placed on it. It’s a weight shift into the heel of the bending leg.

    MISTAKE #3: Dropping the torso

  • Same as squats and lunges. If the spinal alignment is off, the whole exercise will be jeopardized.


    Freestanding Lunge:

    • Stand tall with legs together and parallel.
    • Interlock the fingers and place them behind the neck/head to keep the torso and chest lifted.
    • Step laterally to a wider than hips stance with parallel feet (toes forward).
    • Initiate the movement by pressing the hips back and simultaneously bending one knee while keeping the other leg straight. Shift the weight to the bending leg while the feet remain parallel and the knees track in line with the toes.
    • Once in the lateral lunge stance, the nose should be lined up vertically with the knee and toe while keeping the chest and torso lifted.
    • Straighten the bent knee and repeat this stationary movement.
    • Once your form and alignment is mastered, begin to move dynamically.



    Lateral Lunge Proper Form



    Total Gym Lunge:

    • Place the incline on a low level and stand at the base facing to one side.
    • Place one foot onto the glide board keeping the legs and feet parallel.
    • The hands can be placed behind the head to keep the torso lifted or place hands on an object for balance and support.
    • Gaze at a focal point to keep your stability strong.
    • Once you feel balanced and stable, open the glide board by pressing the hips back and lower into the lateral lunge as described above. The leg on the floor bends to your range of motion keeping the nose, knee and toes aligned while the leg on the glide board remains straight to feel an inner thigh stretch.
    • The glide board does not need to open too far. Focus on the hips pressing back, the bending knee, and keeping the knee tracking the middle toe.
    • Be aware of keeping the alignment “squared” to the starting stance. Meaning, don’t let your body rotate or shift to face a different angle.
    • If you feel any discomfort in the bending knee, try pressing the hips back farther and shifting the weight placement into the heel of the bending knee or decrease the range of motion until strength is developed.
    • Flow through this motion using the glide board to assist with the motion.



    Total Gym Later Lunge Proper Form





    Develop muscle memory by trying the following exercise correction techniques to strengthen muscular imbalances and to perform better squats and lunges.


    Strengthen the inner / outer thighs:

    • Inner thighs: Place a small ball between the knees or high into the inner thighs when performing a squat. This will not only activate the inner thighs, but it will also keep the knees in line with the toes.
    • Outer thighs: Place a looped band around both legs to perform lateral walks in each direction. Keep tension on the band at all times to maintain hip activation and be sure to keep the knees in line with the toes.


    Use the hips for greater range of motion:

    • Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back before lowering your body towards the floor. This simple fix will reduce how far forward the knees travel and prevent over straining the ligaments and joints. It will also promote a lengthened spine.


    Torso strength & proper spinal alignment:

    • Focus on drawing the shoulder blades together and down while keeping the chest lifted upward. This simple posterior engagement activates the core to achieve proper spinal alignment. Perfecting this alignment will also make it easier to progress to increased resistance.
    • A good technique to practice is to stand in front of a wall six inches away. Perform a squat without plowing your face into the wall! This will build torso strength to keep the chest lifted and hips pressing back.


    *Be sure to check out the video to see how these exercises are performed using proper form.


    Your success for accomplishing lean legs and a tight tush are just a few tweaks away. So, take the time to correct your leg exercises form to avoid injury and produce the results you want!


    Best Always,






    Maria Sollon

    Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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