The 5 Total Gym Exercises You Should Be Doing Every Workout

Back To Basics Workout

5 Essential Exercises

These 5 movements can be used as the foundation for your fitness routine, regardless of your workout goals. If you want an effective workout that maximizes your time, conditions your body to gain strength, burn extra calories, and tone your muscles, this one’s for you.

But what sets these exercises apart? These moves simultaneously activate several muscle groups while targeting strength, balance, and core stability throughout the motion. Collectively, these 5 movements will offer the biggest bang for your workout body!

Training Guidelines:

  • Perform the following 5 exercises in circuit format, one after the other with minimal rest between each exercise
  • 10-15 Reps
  • 1-3 Sets
  • 2-3x/week (if performed more frequently, change up the reps, sets, and incline level to vary the challenge)

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  1. Lateral Lunge & Curtsey

    Incline Level: Low

      Areas of Focus:

    • Upper legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes)
    • Calves
    • Cardiovascular strength / stamina
    • Core stabilization

    Lunge: Stand at the bottom base of your Total Gym and place one foot flat on the glide board. Bend the standing leg on the floor to 90’ keeping the knee in lines with the toes as the opposite leg remains straight and moves the glide board up with rails. This is a lateral lunge.

    Curtsey: Step back into a curtsey lunge with the leg that is on the glide board keeping both knees externally rotated and in line with the toes. Repeat this motion by performing one lateral lunge followed by one curtsey lunge for the desired amount of reps on each leg.

    *Increase the Challenge: Add extra weight for more resistance, add pulses, and stay low into the motion

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  3. Step Up Leg Abduction/ Adduction

    Incline Level: Medium-High

      Areas of Focus:

    • Upper legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes)
    • Inner/outer thigh of the free leg
    • Ankle/calf balance of supporting leg
    • Core stabilization

    Abduction: Facing away from the tower, place one foot on the glide board midway up. Step onto the glide board and simultaneously abduct the opposite leg to the side to work the outer thigh.

    Addiction: The next rep, sweep the leg across the step up leg to work the inner thigh. Repeat this motion by alternating outer/inner leg lifts. Do this exercise on both sides.

    *Increase the Challenge: A higher incline or position of the foot requires more strength

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  5. Push-up, Pike-Up, & Frog Pulses

    Incline Level: Low

      Areas of Focus:

    • Chest
    • Triceps
    • Shoulders & shoulder stabilization
    • Core
    • Legs, isometrically
    • Frogs: lower lumbar, glutes, & hamstrings

    For beginners, face the tower and assume a plank position on the glideboard by positioning the shoulders directly on top of the wrists and legs extended (unless modifying to a knees down position on the glide board).

    Pushup: Perform 1-5 push-ups.

    Pike-up: From the plank position, keep the arms and legs extended and pike the hips upward by hinging from the hips. Perform 1-5 Pike-Ups.

    Frog Pulses: The third part of this exercise works into the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Position the body on the glideboard with the hips facing down, chest slightly lifted, and hold on to the top of the glideboard for support. Bend the knees and place the heels together to form a diamond shape. Begin to lift the thighs off of the GB for 10 pulses.

    *Increase the Challenge: Face away from tower with hands placed on the floor

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  7. Surfer Row & Curl

    Incline Level: Med-high based on strength level

      Areas of Focus:

    • Upper/lower back
    • Triceps
    • Biceps
    • Core stabilization

    Surfer Row: Connect the cables and assume a kneeling position facing the tower. Sweep the arms straight down by your sides while simultaneously extending the spine and lifting the chest.
    *Be sure to keep the neck inline with the spine and not let it tilt upward on the extension. Perform this movement for 10-15 reps.

    Bicep Curl: Remain in a kneeling position for Bicep curls. For advanced, come to a high kneeling position. With the core engaged and palms facing upward, bend the elbows to curl the arms towards the shoulders. This movement can be performed bilaterally, unilaterally, or in static equilibrium for 10-15 reps.

    *Increase the Challenge: Go into a high kneeling position.

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  9. Pull Over Crunch & Twisted Hip Lifts

    Incline Level: Low-Medium based on strength level

      Areas of Focus:

    • Core
    • Shoulders
    • Triceps/ biceps

    Pull Over Crunch: Connect Cables. With the cables in hand, lay face up on the glide board with the head closest to the tower and the arms extended straight at chest level. Begin to perform an abdominal crunch simultaneously as the arms move toward the glide board. For an advanced option, lift the feet off of the glide board and either bend the knees to 90’ or extend the legs straight out as you perform the pull over crunch movement.

    Twisted Hip Lifts: Move right into twisted hip lifts by isometrically holding the arms out from the chest in a static position, keeping the glideboard still. Rotate the knees to one side, lift the feet off the GB, and roll the hips upwards toward the extended arms to work the obliques. Be sure to do this exercise on both sides.

    *Increase the Challenge: Lift your legs off of the glideboard, with you knees bent or legs extended

I hope you find these 5 ‘must do exercises’ effective, efficient, and full of functional quality during your next workout session!

Best of Luck 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)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. on step 2 instead of writing adduction, someone missed that spell check changed it to addiction……perhaps you should correct that.

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