Become a Triathlon Warrior with the Total Gym: Week 4

The Difference Between Pushing and Pulling Weight

In a well-balanced resistance-training program, you need to work the muscles on the posterior and anterior sides of the body. Generally speaking, the muscles of the posterior side are used in pulling and the anterior or front are used for pushing. The Total Gym makes this concept very easy when the cable pulley is connected to the glideboard: when you face the column, you are pulling your body weight up the rails. When you face away from the column, you are pushing.

In the various triathlon events, you will need to pull yourself and push yourself. During swimming, you pull yourself through the water with your arms, but your legs push you as you kick. While biking, you push on the downstroke during pedaling and you should pull across the bottom-stroke with your hamstring muscles, according to musculoskeletal physiotherapist, Emma Colson. Running requires that you push off the ground to propel yourself forward, but there’s also a pulling up of the opposite leg as you stride forward. So, continue to build strength by using the Total Gym to specifically target muscle groups crucial to success in each event.

Upper Body (arms, shoulders, back and chest)

Attach the pulley cable for the following exercises.

  • Upright Row: Sit on the glideboard facing the column. Hold the cable handles with palms down and elbows straight. Then bend your elbows until your wrists are even with your shoulders. Concentrate on keeping your chest lifted, your wrists flat and back straight. You will feel this in your traps, deltoids, rhomboids and biceps.
  • Chest Press: Sit facing away from the column with knees bent and feet on the glideboard. Grab the cable handles so the cables come underneath the forearms when you extend your arms. Keep your elbows chest-high to work the pecs. The biceps and triceps help bend and straighten the elbows. The deltoids will be in isometric contraction during the chest press. The rhomboids and traps help pull the shoulder blades together for good form.
  • Kneeling Triceps Kickback: Grab the handles and kneel on the glideboard facing the column. Lean forward until your stomach is resting on your thighs. Bend your elbows with palms facing down, and then extend your arms to press your hands behind you. The glideboard will slide up the rails. Return to beginning position by bending the elbows. Keep your head in line with your torso and your elbows glued to your ribs.

Core Muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, gluteus maximus, lats, traps, multifidus and erector spinae)

Keep the pulley cable attached.

  • Pullover with Crunch: Lie on the glideboard with your head and feet supported and one cable handle in each hand. Extend your arms over your head, palms up. Next, lift your head and shoulders off the glideboard while simultaneously pulling both handles down over the chest toward your knees. Return to starting position. Concentrate on contracting your abdominals. Keep your wrists flat.
  • Swimmer: Lie face down on the glideboard and grab a handle in each hand, palms facing in. Lift your feet off the floor. As you open your arms and pull the handles apart, lift your chest. Press your pelvis into the glideboard. Do not hyperextend your back. Contract your core!

Lower Body (quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes)

  • Hip Roll: Unhook the pulley cable and install the squat stand or the toe bar. Lie down on the glideboard and place your heels on the top edge of the stand. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and bring the glideboard down to the bottom of the rails. Keep the glideboard still as you lift your buttocks, and back off the board. When you open the hips by thrusting the pelvis up, you’re using the glutes. You should be bearing all your body weight across your shoulders and arms. Straighten your legs and slide the board up the rails to engage the quads. Slowly roll your middle back, lower back and butt onto the glideboard with the legs straight. Then bend your knees.
  • Hamstring Pull: Remove the squat stand and unhook the pulley cable. Attach the leg pull accessory with the foot harness. Lie back on the glideboard and place your feet into the harnesses. The left leg is bent with the foot resting on the end of the board. Stretch your right leg up with the toes pointed toward the column. Next pull your right leg straight down parallel to the glideboard. Keep your lower back pressed into the glideboard. Return to starting position. Complete the set before switching sides.
  • Cyclo Trainer: Now that you’ve had two weeks on this accessory, it’s time to work a little harder. Raise the glideboard on the column one level higher than last week. And spend the entire workout in the suspended position with the glideboard up the rails. Only return to supported position with the glideboard against the stoppers when your thighs are completely fatigued. Time yourself while you’re in the suspended position. Take short breaks (10-15 seconds) and return to work until 10 minutes is up.

Jodai Saremi

Jodai Saremi, DPM, BS , is a freelance writer, AFAA certified trainer, and fitness model. She has written for American Fitness, SPIN fitness, Your Health Connection magazines, and other online publications. Her articles have also been featured in textbooks. She enjoys an active lifestyle and lives in Ventura County, Calif. with her husband and two children.

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