The Total Gym Planking Workout

Core Planking Workout with Total Gym


Planking is not only a great core workout, but also a full body exercise. It slenderizes shoulders, streamlines hips, strengthens the hips and back, and defines the abdominals. The essence of the plank lies in performing it correctly. Total Gym provides multiple settings to increase or decrease strength and stabilization demands. The following will discuss techniques to enhance your form and transform your body.

Plank facing the Tower: Forearms or hands. Please note: the higher the incline height the easier the exercise. The glide board can be all the way at the bottom or top of the rails, placing it in a closed i.e. more stable position. To challenge stability, keep the board in the middle of the rails, otherwise called open position. When performing the plank, think of the following cues:


1. Visualize your forearms as railroad tracks, or make them form a triangle for an easier plank.
2. Lengthen through the crown of the head.
3. Keep width through the collarbones, as if you are gently pressing the chest forward.
4. Slide shoulders away from the ears, as if you are drawing the hands toward the feet.
5. Push down and throughout the entire forearm or hand.
6. Imagine the spine as one straight line. Watch for hips dropping toward the floor.
7. Think of a string lifting the buttocks up toward the sky.
8. Tighten the pelvic floor and pull the area below your navel toward your spine. Your buttocks, or glutes, are actively working.
9. Maintain tightness in the legs, like you are pulling your kneecaps up, but be careful not to “lock out” or hyperextend the knees.
10. To add variety to the exercise, perform a dynamic plank by adding reaching with an arm or leg in varying directions. The body can move with the reach, or you can set the intention to barely move with the reach.

Dynamic Planks: Since this exercise can be more challenging, you might need to adjust the incline of the glideboard and/or your body position. In other words, if you were able to lift your knees with the plank, then you may want to lower your knees. The following are directions you can reach with your arms or legs:



1. Forward toward the tower
2. To the side
3. With the upper body, rotate the trunk reaching the arm to the side. You will be moving in and out of a side plank.
4. With the lower body, reach a knee toward the same side elbow or wrist
5. With the lower body, reach a knee toward the opposite elbow/wrist.

Side Plank: Forearm or hand. The same principles used for planking on the Total Gym also apply to side planking. You can perform this position with the knees down, legs stacked on top of each other, or crossed. Think of the following cues during the movement:


1. Press through the entire forearm or hand, as if you are pressing the hand toward the floor and body toward the sky.
2. The body can be in one straight line or arc like a rainbow.
3. The crown of the head is aligned with the tower. Fix your gaze straight ahead; be careful not to look down or look up.
4. There is a tendency to let the body move toward the feet, putting the shoulder in a position of potential injury, so keep your shoulders and elbows stacked. Reach the top arm toward the tower if you need help keeping your alignment.
5. Keep the hips facing the side, and avoid letting the hips turn toward the floor or sky.

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Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

Elizabeth Leeds, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training, and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.

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