Total Gym Exercises to Fight Hip and Knee Pain [videos]

Using The Total Gym To Help Joint Pain:


Do you ever hear yourself or others say, “I used to run/hike/jog/walk, but my knees (or hips) are too bad?” Why can some individuals continue to exercise in high-impact activities like running and hiking, while others can’t?


Joint health is multifactorial. It is dependent on, but not limited to the following factors:

  • The activities an individual takes part in
  • A person’s level of toxicity/inflammation
  • The diet and weight of the individual
  • Previous injuries sustained by the individual
  • A person’s posture & movement patterns
  • A person’s level of strength

Maintaining a healthy weight allows individuals to experience less strain on their joints. Losing just one pound can decrease about 3 pounds of stress to the knee, and 6 pounds of stress to the hips.

Exercises performed in a low impact environment that increase strength while enhancing mobility are ideal for joint protection. The Total Gym provides a great modality to achieving this balanced combo of joint friendly exercises.


The following are hip and knee exercises combining endurance, cardio, strength, and stretching, aimed at preventing and decreasing pain.


Joint-Friendly Total Gym Cardio and Endurance Moves:


1. Cardio Pull

Attach the arm cable. Focus on exploring the range of motion of the hips and knees with squats. Alternate your squats between single leg squats and jumping.


2. Alternating Single Leg Jumps Vary Range

Alternating jumps may require more strength, however, it is easier to control the core. Improved core control allows for improved loading through the lower body. Smaller range jumps varying the depth of the squat is a great challenge to the legs, and can help determine pain free range of motion. Vary the types of jumps you do like bicycle, scissor, or side-to-side.


3. Bilateral Jumps Small Vary Range

Ensure the core is engaged with each jump. Land as lightly as possible. Vary the depth and range of your movement.  Add rotations or jumping side-to-side with the jumps.


4. CycloTrainer

The Total Gym CycloTrainer provides a great way to add a low impact cardio workout. The CycloTrainer allows for the participant to perform or sustain squatting. Angles can be shifted to change the hip and knee range of motion, and allows for more opportunities to explore pain free range of motion.


Joint-Friendly Total Gym Strength Moves:


1. Squats

Squats are a traditional exercise frequently performed on the Total Gym. Now lets vary it! Perform this exercise in various ways, whether it’s with your legs together, widespread apart, turned out, and/or staggered.


2. Side lying Squat on Heel

Lying on one’s side, bring the top foot’s heel to the lower edge of the squat stand. Note, the toes may hang off the edge. Focus on pressing through the heel. Keep the knee tracking over the 2nd and 3rd toes. If you have any knee discomfort, turn the toe slightly up or down and test to see if the pain subsides.


Note: You want the upper body and core engaged in the exercises, not relaxing away on the glideboard.


3. Side Plank

Keeping the hips stacked, drive through the hips and press them up toward the sky. Envision making a rainbow shape with the body. The glideboard may be open, allowing for a greater challenge, or closed to allow greater stability.


4. Side Lying Squat on Ball of the Foot

With the foot in the middle of the Total Gym Squat Stand and heel lifted, press through the balls of your feet. Note this movement is similar to squatting, but with your heels raised. This is a quadriceps/top of the thigh dominant exercise.


5. Hamstring Curl

Using the Wing Attachment (link to: or foot holder, focus on pulling through the back of the legs versus pulling the toes up.


Note: This can be performed sitting, ½ reclined or fully reclined. Sitting or ½ reclined will require greater hip and knee range of motion.


Joint-Friendly Stretches:


1. Figure 4 Squat

Keep the toes flexed to decrease knee strain. Glideboard can be opened or closed.


2. Hip Flexor

Standing at the side of the Total Gym, perform lunges. Watch for the low back over arching. Move partially into the range of the motion and hold, and then perform hip circles.


Note: If your movements become more difficult, take note of where in your range of movement this occurs. Keep the knee still and create the hip circle from the pelvis and hip area only.


3. Leg Pulley Hamstring

Ensure the core is engaged. The closer to the bottom of the glideboard you are, the greater the stretch. Keep the pelvis steady.


4. Leg Pulley Adductor

The closer to the bottom of the glideboard you are, the greater the stretch. Bend the knees to 90° to focus on the deep inner thigh muscles. Keep the pelvis steady.


5. Leg Pulley Circles

The closer to the top of the glideboard you are, the greater the range of motion.  Keep the pelvis steady.



Bonus Tips To Ease Inflammation and Toxicity


Exercise is a great first step in easing the stress on your joints, but sometimes it’s not enough. Here are some easy ways to help decrease inflammation and toxicity include:

  • Eating well
  • Taking Epson salt baths
  • Using ice on the afflicted area
  • Getting plenty of sleep

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.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hi. I have the blue total body gym machine could I still ally these work outs to that one?

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