Skiing and Skating Workouts Using the Total Gym


Start this winter season off with a powerful dose of sport-specific training drills that will condition your body and prepare you for your favorite winter activity. Whether you’re a hockey player, figure skater, skier, or snowboarder, you will perform your best by customizing your training to match the physical demands these specialized sports require.

All winter athletes should supplement their sport with dry-land (off-ice/snow) training. The Total Gym is an excellent piece of equipment that can be included with your training. I have provided a series of drills that I have learned during my professional hockey career that incorporates the versatility and convenience of the Total Gym. Winter sports, such as skiing and skating require the need for strength, speed, agility, power, balance, and coordination. Therefore, this workout contains a combination of both deliberate and explosive drills focusing on lateral movements with the lower body while maintaining upper body and core stability. Specifically, we will be targeting the inner and outer thighs, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abdominals and back.

I would suggest performing the exercises about 3-5 times per week during the off-season and 1-2 times per week during the season to supplement your sport. Perform each exercise for about 10-15 reps. This particular workout is best executed under a circuit-based format, meaning you should move from one exercise right to the next with little to no rest in between to finish the series of exercises as one set. Be sure to include at least 2-3 sets to complete the entire workout.

The Workout:



Proper warm-up is one of the most important parts of every athlete’s training. Muscles need to be activated and lengthened to prepare for the workout and prevent injury. Be sure to warm-up at least 10 minutes prior to starting by doing some active stretching, foam rolling, or yoga training.

Curtsey Lunge + Twist


The curtsey lunge using the Total Gym is performed by placing your hind leg on the glideboard facing away from the Total Gym, at an angle of about 45 degrees. Slide your hind leg back by lowering yourself down keeping your chest up and hips square to your chest. And you can add an upper body twist to the movement to build your core as well!

The difference the curtsey lunge makes compared to a reverse lunge is that it activates the outer thigh muscles. Strengthening these muscles are important for improving outer edge control on your skis or skates when turning.

Lateral Lunge


To perform the lateral lunge, place your outside foot close to the base of the Total Gym. Place your other foot on the glideboard and take a moment to ensure your weight is mostly centered on the foot that is grounded. Push the glideboard away from your body and slowly lower yourself keeping your center of gravity over the arch of your grounded foot (you should feel like you’re leaning back slightly and your chest stays up). As you lower yourself down, allow your inner thigh to help stabilize the glideboard and balance your movement. Strengthening your inner leg area will improve your inner edge control and can also prevent groin injuries from occurring while skiing and skating.

Cable Side Hops


This plyometric drill is great for improving your agility, quickness and coordination. It’s also a nice
way to add anaerobic training to your workout as well! Be sure the pully system is disengaged from the Total Gym and use the handles just for balance (do not pull them too hard). And simply hop to each side over the glideboard in the same manner as you would sking down a hill with moguls.

Plank Tucks + Twist + Tuck Through


Now, we are going to use the Total Gym to strengthen our entire core. Start from a plank position, placing your hands on the toe bar or squat stand. Your feet should be about ½ way up the glideboard so that it is free to move as you move. Then, from the plank position, keeping your upper body and core engaged, slowly stretch your arms slightly up and allow your feet to slide back to a comfortable static position. At this point you should really feel your abdominals burning! Tuck your knees toward your chest and release back to the out-stretched position. Next, add a twist in both directions to get your oblique muscles more involved. Finally, add a straight leg tuck through in both directions to complete the core series!

Step Up + Twist


Step ups are an excellent way to build leg strength (quadriceps, inner/outer thighs and glutes) and are a safe alternative for squats. The benefit to performing step ups are that it isolates each leg throughout the movement, so coordination and balance are key. Also, the inner/outer thighs are more activated during step ups compared to squats. To perform the exercise, place one foot on the top half of the glideboard, and then press the other leg up toward the chest. By adding a twist, you can activate your core and inner thigh as you tuck your bent leg across the front of your body.

Variations and Recovery

Remember to perform the exercises described above in circuit format with little to no rest to keep the energy flowing and your body in motion. As you become familiar with this routine, start to combine other exercises. Use multi-directional drills as much as possible, or vary the levels on the Total Gym glideboard for to change up the routine.

After completing your workout, allow yourself some time to perform a light active recovery. Some examples of an active recovery include fast paced walking/ jogging, shuffles, skips, plank work, or an active movement at low speed.

Mark Scally

Mark Scally is an athlete and player development coach committed to achieving high performance through specialized training. Mark’s background in sports focuses primarily in ice hockey where he had played four years at the collegiate level at the Pennsylvania State University and five years at various professional levels around the US. Starting in 2000, Mark had participated in two NHL training camps with The Pittsburgh Penguins and had played for minor league professional teams in the AHL, ECHL, and SPHL. After retiring from professional hockey in 2005, he continues to train as an athlete himself as well trains others in hockey. Mark also has a notable background in golf where he competed at a young age and played for a year on the Pennsylvania State (NCAA Div I) golf team. Mark continues to be an active golfer competing in local events on the amateur level. Balancing life outside of athletics, Mark is currently a registered professional civil engineer who performs engineering services for water infrastructure projects for a private consulting company. Regardless of type of sport, activity, or for general wellness, Mark is passionate about training. He has adopted a functional training style that involves cardio, strength, plyometrics, and agility exercises that are effective for all sports and also support a healthy lifestyle. The benefits Mark focuses on are improved strength, stamina, flexibility, and injury prevention. With a properly managed diet, Mark’s training will promote muscle development and excess fat loss, which can be calibrated based on your goals to make the best athlete out of all of us!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Suggestion for a blog article: Explain the safest way (s) to get On and Off and lie down to use a Total Gym from these positions:
    1. Lying down face up with feet toward the squat board
    2 ” vertical column
    3. Lying down face down with feet toward the squat board
    4. ” vertical column
    I have back problems and getting on (and lying down) and getting off the glide board is difficult.
    Thank you for answering my questions and for your informative blog.

    1. Dear Total Gym User,

      I’m sorry to hear your having back issues. The ultimate goal would be to reduce your back pain by strengthening and stretching your body appropriately, especially your core.

      It’s challenging to fully answer your question without knowing your functional ability. However, I will do my best. There have been many times I’ve injured or pulled a muscle in my spine, so I can relate to the severity of discomfort you may experience with just the small movements. What works for you may be different from others experiencing similar issues.

      There are a few tips I’d suggest trying. First, be sure to position your body slowly when getting ON & OFF the glide board to avoid jarring.

      Utilize your breath when moving into and out of the supine position to protect your core. That means to EXHALE on the exertion.

      I have created a video for you to see how these positions are demonstrated.

      NOTED KEY: Glide Board = GB

      SUPINE (face up, feet toward the squat stand):
      Here are 2 supine entry options to try.
      *This entry is based on a high incline for squats, calf raises, etc.
      OPTION 1: ‘Sit & roll down’
      -When positioning your body, straddle the glide board and move the glide board up the rails. Sit towards the bottom so that your spine has room to lye down.
      -Once you are sitting at the bottom of the GB, place 1 foot on the squat stand. Bend the other leg and hold onto it with a grip below the knee.
      -Support your body by slowly rolling your spine down onto the GB by holding onto the bent knee with straight arms and by using the GB to move with your body as you roll down into position.
      -Once your torso is lying down, place both legs onto the correct position on the squat stand to do the exercises.

      -Extend the legs full on the squat stand.
      -Bend one knee into your chest as you did above to roll down.
      -Keeping the arms straight and grasping below the knee, exhale as you begin to roll (articulate) the spine off the GB and into a seated position again.
      -Straddle the GB, brace your torso by holding onto the GB and the squat stand, and exit off carefully.

      OPTION 2: ‘dive & roll in’
      -Push the GB up the rails to the highest position. The higher the incline, the easier it will be to enter on top.
      -Try to dip your body towards the GB in an angle that allows you to lye onto one side.
      -Extend the bottom leg closest to the GG to the squat stand.
      -Begin to carefully roll the torso to face up in the supine position by simultaneously shifting your weight using the strength of your arms and your hand grip on the bottom of the GB.
      -Place both feet onto the squat stand and your ready to go!

      *I think one of the best ways to exit the GB is to roll off… carefully!
      -Once you have finished the last rep of your exercise sequence, extend the legs fully.
      -Determine a side you will exit to.
      -Keeping both legs extended and extend the arm of the side you roll off to.
      -Brace the GB with the upper body as you carefully begin to roll to that side.
      -The bottom leg (closet to the GB) will exit towards the floor as the top leg swivels around and is also placed onto the floor.
      -Once both legs are to one side of the TG, your basically off!
      -Use your entire body to press off of the GB and come to a standing position.
      *Try to make this ‘roll off’ as graceful as you can and USE THE BREATH.
      *You may find that a staggered kneeling position works. Use the top of your thigh and the GB to stand up.

      *This is an entry if your cables are attached with a low-medium incline for arm and core work.
      -Stay to one side of the TG and take both cables into 1 hand. By doing this, the GB will move up the rails.
      -Anchor down the cables to the GB with your dominate hand.
      -While anchoring the cables down, carefully sit the the same hip as the hand holding the cables on the GB. Slowing, begin to lye down onto that side using your entire body to brace your back.
      -Begin to roll the torso into the supine position as you straddle the GB with both feet.
      -Transition the cables into both hands.
      -Once supine with the cables, you can carefully slide your body into a comfortable position and place the feet onto the GB
      to perform the exercises.
      *Since you are experiencing back pain, I would keep your knees bent with the feet on the GB to support your lower back.

      *Here are 2 options to try when exiting. See what will work best for you.
      OPTION 1: On your last rep of an exercise, use the momentum of the GB along with your core to roll to a seated, straddled position. Your feet will end up on the floor straddling the GB and you will be in a seated position to exit the GB.
      OPTION 2: When you have completed all the exercises from this position and are ready to get off, hold both cables with both hands and straddle the GB.
      -Keeping the elbows bent and using the strength of both hands, begin to roll to one side (legs are still straddling the GB).
      -Move the top leg to the floor of the side you are rolling to and change the foot stance to be sturdy for the exit.
      -Push yourself up to a seated position by still using the support of the arms and move the legs to accommodate the movement.

      *The higher the incline, the harder the challenge for the extremities as well as the core. If lower back pain exists, I suggest keeping the incline at a low-medium level to accommodate proper form. Once the core is stronger, then the incline can be placed at higher levels.
      -Hold both cables in each hand, straddle the GB facing the tower, anchor down, and sit down towards the top of the GB with a long spine.
      -Extend the arms in line with the cables and use the inner thighs to hug into the rails as you begin your decent.
      -Exhale as you articulate the spine onto the GB with the help of the cables assisting the positioning.
      -As you begin to roll down, simultaneously allow the legs to move with the body and land on the top of the GB.
      -Once the spine is in full contact with the GB, the arms are extended from the chest, and the are knees bent, you are ready to perform the exercises.
      *Since you are experiencing back pain, I suggest to keep the knees bent with the feet flat on the GB to support the lower back and core.

      -Dig both heels into the top of the GB connecting energy of the legs to support the core for the off roll up.
      -Extend the arms straight, tuck your chin to chest and begin to initiate the movement from the upper spine to articulate off the GB as you use the cables to pull you back up to a seated position.
      -Anchor down, exit the GB.

      PRONE (face down, head toward the tower, feet towards the bottom)
      *This is an entry if your cables are attached with a low-medium incline for arm and core work.
      -Take both cables into your hands and anchor down facing the tower.
      -Square the hips off and place the leg closet to the GB on it so that it is extended straight behind you with the thigh facing down.
      -Still anchoring down, carefully slide the body down onto the glide to achieve a prone position to perform the exercises.

      -When ready to exit, anchor down with the cables.
      -Remove 1 leg down to the floor bringing the knee close to the floor. (A lower incline will allow you to be close enough to accomplish this).
      -Use your arms to lift your body up and remove the other leg as you swivel off the GB to the kneeling knee. This will bring you into a kneeling stance facing away from the tower.
      -Place both cables into 1 hand (the one closest to the GB).
      -To get up from your knee, place 1 hand onto the top of your thigh that is lifted, and the other hand anchors down to the GB with both cables. Shift the weight forward as you press into the hands to return to a standing position.

      *If you are not using the cables from a prone position, practice the same technique to enter and exit the GB. A higher incline without the cables will be easier from this position.

      I hope these instructions and video will help accommodate your back pain and allow you to strengthen your body in a pain free manor. I strongly believe that the stronger and more mobile the core is, the less pain and discomfort will be experienced when exercising. You will also be able to move in a more functional manor during daily activities.

      Best to you always.



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