The Total Gym exercise system lets you work your entire body using your body’s weight as the resistance with the aid of cables attached to a moveable bench. You can create muscular strength or endurance exercises, as well as cardio routines. As with any other piece of fitness equipment, the Total Gym is only as effective as your plan for using it and your ability to stick to that plan.
Muscle-Building Workout Plan
If your goal is to create larger muscles, you’ll use more resistance for each exercise and do fewer reps. The more you incline the bench, the more difficult it will be to pull your weight up it. More muscular effort translates into more muscle building.
Create a muscle-building workout by using exercises that come with the Total Gym’s pamphlet or video, or visit the Total Gym website to view them. We provide several descriptions of basic Total Gym workouts. With high resistance, perform six to eight repetitions of each exercise and three to five sets of each exercise. Perform each rep slowly, using muscular effort to raise and lower your, rather than letting your weight drop you back down. Each part of a rep (raising and lowering) provides a different type of muscle contraction that helps build muscle. Pause for one second between each upward and downward movement to maximize muscle use by preventing momentum from doing part of your work.
5 X 5 Workout
The 5 X 5 workout is popular for building muscle, and has you performing increasingly heavier sets of reps. Start with a warmup set using 60 percent of the resistance setting (or 60 percent of the maximum weight you can lift or move), performing five repetitions of an exercise. Then do one set at 80 percent of your max, then finish with three sets close to your maximum.
Allow 24 to 48 hours of recovery time between workouts so your muscles can repair and be ready for the next workout. If you’d like to work out every day, work on upper body one day, then lower body the next. Alternate core workout days, adding them to upper- and lower-body workouts.
Muscular Endurance Workout Plan
If you are not looking to bulk up, or are interested in training your muscles to work longer for sports, use your Total Gym to create a muscular endurance workout. Muscular endurance is your ability to do physical activity over a period of time. If you are an athlete training for a specific sport, like cycling, football or tennis, you’ll want to train endurance close to your season.
To create muscular endurance workouts, use 50 percent or less of your maximum weight or resistance and increase your sets to eight to 12 repetitions. A circuit training routine is a popular muscular endurance program. It is a series of sets of different exercises done over 30 to 60 minute periods, with very short breaks between sets. Depending on your condition, you’ll rest about 30 seconds between sets. A circuit training workout not only trains muscular endurance, but, depending on the amount of resistance you use, also can create an aerobic workout. Less resistance will allow you to work harder and longer, keeping your heart rate in the aerobic zone.
Cardio Workout Plan
Decreasing the resistance to a very low level lets you work much faster, elevating your heart rate to an aerobic level while you also work and “tone” muscles. Lower the angle of incline on your Total Gym bench to decrease resistance. You can do exercises such as biceps curls, leg presses, flys and ab crunches, depending on which muscles you wish to work.
To get into your aerobic exercise zone, you’ll need to get your heart rate to 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your aerobic target heart rate manually, men and women need a different formula.