T Nation

The Total Gym


All Chuck Norris jokes aside, what kind of gains can be made on his Total Gym?


You won't gain alot of muscle mass.


I've only tried the Total Gym once just so I could make fun of my friend for having it in his home. From what I've seen it looks the "advanced" exercises you perform on the total gym are isolation exercises performed at a high incline.

Lets just assume for analysis that the Total Gym is completely rock solid: the cables could hold the weight of a car, the handles are Japaneses steel, the pad can hold 3 tons, and all that.

If that's the case, you'll still plateau quickly by doing presses, hack-squats, and rowing movements with only fractions of your own bodyweight.

Then you see on the infomercials big gym rats who are astounded at how hard the total gym is. But do you see what they have these guys dong? All the 'advanced' and challenging exercises performed on the total gym are isolation exercises like chest flys, rear delt rows, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, pullovers, and sissy squats.

I think if a commercial quality total gym were to be made it could easily take the place of a lot of the free-motion brand machines. If someone were to design a total gym with a weight bar that could hold as much added weight as a hack-squat and then devised a way to keep you on the platform the total gym could replace all cable machines. But that will never happen.

But most importantly, don't buy a Total Gym. Everyone wants to know your bench max. No one cares what you can do on the total gym.


I think you would be better off with pushups, pullups, etc.
Or a gym membership


My wife and I purchased one when we first got married. You know, so that we could work out together. Lame. I was easily using my bodyweight at the highest (most difficult) angle. It was also awkward getting on the bench. The range of motion was not great either. Try it out at a sporting goods store. I did not have the best model that accommodates plates. That seems a little better than my bodyweight only. If you lose weight, then you also lose potential weight that your body could use as resistance.

If you're going to spend $200-300 dollars anyway, I would suggest the 300 lb olympic set with dumbbells and adjustable bench. If you don't have the room, then good luck.


If you don't like my suggestion, this is a cheaper alternative that can yield good results.


A hearthy thanks for the feedback. For those interested, gonna start a lil' blog about my new beginnings. C ya there.


Normally I would not recommend it due to the fact that you won't be able to achieve high loading. I suppose that if you do mostly bodyweight training, or are really into strength-endurance it might have some advantages.