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Total Gym 1000 Exercise Guide

By Marie Mulrooney

Every Total Gym is built on the same general design: a pair of inclined rails that run from a floor-level crossbar up to an adjustable top crossbar, with a padded "glideboard" that runs up and down on the rails. You perch on the glideboard, using your own body weight as resistance, and control its movement by pushing or pulling on cables that run through pulleys at the top of the inclined rails. The Total Gym 1000 is the most bare-bones design of this product, but it still facilitates dozens of exercises.

Warm Up First

A gentle warm-up helps prepare your body for the upcoming workout. Do five to 10 minutes of gentle physical activity, such as marching in place or rows on the Total Gym with very light resistance. Do a similar cooldown -- five to 10 minutes of gentle physical activity -- at the end of your workout so that your body can gradually transition back to a state of rest.

Some Basic Guidelines

Before you start your Total Gym workout, remember that the basic rules of strength training still apply: Aim to work every major muscle group in your body -- your chest, back, legs, core and arms. Give your muscles at least one full day of rest between strength-training workouts, and aim for eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise with good form. Once you can do 12 reps with good form, it's time to either adjust the Total Gym's incline up a notch, increasing the resistance, or switch to a harder version of the exercise.

Chest Workouts

For chest workouts, sit or kneel on the glideboard facing the downhill end of the rails, with your arms extended straight in front of you at shoulder level and one pulley handle in each hand. To do chest presses, bend your elbows, keeping your arms and hands at shoulder level. Stop when your elbows are even with your shoulders and then straighten your arms to the starting position. To do chest flyes, turn your palms to face in. Slowly spread your arms, lowering yourself on the glideboard; stop before your elbows come level with your shoulders. Bring your arms back together to complete the repetition.

Back Workouts

For back workouts, sit or kneel facing the uphill side of the Total Gym. Start with one pulley handle in each hand, with your arms extended straight in front of you toward the pulleys, and keep your core strong. To do a narrow row, pull back on both handles, keeping your elbows close to your body and palms facing each other or turned up. For a wide-grip row, swing your elbows out to almost shoulder level with your palms facing the floor; keep your hands and elbows just below shoulder level as you pull back.

Arm Workouts

Your triceps and biceps will work during chest presses and rows respectively, especially if you turn your hands palm up during the rows. However, you can also work your arms separately. To do biceps curls, sit facing uphill, with your palms facing up, and bend your elbows to pull yourself slightly up the rails. For triceps extensions, lie either faceup or facedown on the glideboard with your head facing uphill, your arms bent and your elbows close to your body. Keep your elbows stationary as you straighten your arms, then return to the starting position.

Legs and Core

Because the Total Gym 1000 uses only a fraction of your body weight for resistance, it has limited applications for a leg workout. You'll get the best workout if you place the wing attachment at the bottom of the rails, lean sideways on the glideboard with your bottom foot on the wing attachment and squat; do a full set, then repeat on the other side. You can also use the leg cuff attachment to do single-leg "presses": Lie faceup on the glideboard, with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees, then straighten your leg against the glideboard resistance.

All Total Gym models force your core to work during seated or kneeling exercises. So instead of doing a conventional core workout, focus on keeping your core engaged during every exercise. For an extra core challenge, try doing upper-body exercises just one side at a time.

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