Become a Triathlon Warrior with Total Gym: An Introduction

Triathlon Training with Total Gym

total gym triathlon training series

**Over the next five weeks, you will have access to both video instruction on how to use the Total Gym and accessories, and blog articles explaining how specific exercises help increase performance.

It isn’t just your imagination — Triathlons are a growing athletic phenomenon in the American sports community. As interest in healthy lifestyles increases, and social media fuels competition, the demand for individual competitive sporting events has risen. Media coverage at the Olympics has brought the triathlon to the forefront of public consciousness overnight, with the title “triathlete” as a badge of true athletic honor. USA Triathlon has seen impressive growth in annual and one-day membership, with about 511,000 members nationwide (up from 127,824 in 1999). In fact, one year ago the NCAA approved triathlon, the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Olympic Movement, as an emerging sport for women. This means schools will be providing more athletic opportunities for women and sports sponsorship for institutions so that triathlon will achieve NCAA championship status. Think you’re too old to participate? According to USA Triathlon®, the greatest growth has occurred in the 35-39 and 40-44 age groups. So, what does a triathlete do?

Swim, Bike, Run and More

The Olympic length race involves a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, and 10 km run. More challenging is the Half Ironman, which includes a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run. A full Ironman includes a marathon run of 26.2 miles, along with a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride. There are now shorter races, called Sprints to attract athletes of all levels. A Sprint triathlon is a 500 meter swim, 12 mile bike, and 5k run. The events always occur in the order of swim, bike, run.

Now that you know what it takes to be a contender, let’s talk about training. You will need to bike, run, and swim, but you can train on a stationary, mountain, road or tri-bike; swim in a pool or open water; and run on treadmills, trails or pavement. Next, be aware of where the race is being held and the time of year. The weather and topography will determine your training and the type of gear you’ll need to wear or use. The choice of gear available (from bikes to shoes to wetsuits) is a topic for another article.
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How To Inspire A Friend or Loved One To Get Fit

Providing Support on a Fitness Journey


Who doesn’t have a friend or family member that could use some motivation to get fit and lose weight? With about two-thirds of the population overweight or obese, the majority of Americans probably aren’t exercising at all. We all know someone who’s in need of a healthy support system to get them going on their fitness journey.

The tricky part is that this can be a touchy subject. You may think “I don’t want to insult her or him,” or “maybe it’s none of my business.”

No, it IS your business if you care about this person and want him or her to be healthy and happy. Equipped with the right way to encourage and inspire your friend or family member to begin living healthy, you’ll find success and both you and your friend will be glad you made it your business.

Exercising As a Bonding Activity

A couple of years ago, a series of studies came out that showed that couples who work out together increase their chances of sticking to their exercise program by 90%! That’s a strong finding for the value of having a workout partner. When the American College of Sports Medicine released its top 20 fitness trends for 2015, group personal training made it into the top half of the list. One major fitness club in England studied 1,000 women and found that 64% of those who exercise together push themselves harder than when they do it alone. In fact, 31% of the women considered their friends to be the motivators they need to stay in good shape.
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7 Simple Squat Workouts on the Total Gym

Butt and Leg Exercises Using The Total Gym Squat Stand

To purchase a Squat Stand or other Total Gym accessories, please visit this page.

A perky booty and toned thighs are easy to sculpt with the Total Gym Squat Stand, which is an accessory that can be attached to the Total Gym XLS and the FIT. Stored underneath the gym and inserted into the end receptacles when in use, it provides a platform for a variety of lower extremity exercises.

Why Perform A Squat Stand Workout?

With the glideboard, it’s possible to push off the Squat Stand during plyometric exercises while in a supported position. This opens a whole new world of activity to those with back injuries or those who are recovering from hip and knee surgery. Just remember that if you are under the care of a doctor or therapist, ask them first for clearance to exercise.
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Week 4: Advanced Workout Routines on The Total Gym

Advanced Fitness Routines

* The advanced workout is a progression of the intermediate workout from last week’s blog. The exercises are easy to set up and transition quickly from one to the next.

ad·vanced – being beyond others in progress or ideas

Do you feel like you’re not challenged by your current fitness routine? If you have already mastered specific skills and have challenged all aspects of strength, balance, agility, functional core movements, and coordination, then it is time to go a step further by progressing to an advanced level of fitness.

Advanced fitness routines are a level up from intermediate. They’re considered the highest level and require the most experience. Some exercises can be performed at an advanced level by making small changes such as increasing resistance, rep range, speed, or timed intervals.

I love when people try advanced exercises to challenge themselves, however, if you cannot do the exercise with proper form, efficient resistance, and with a set workout style of timed intense intervals or reps, then it shouldn’t be done. When going into an advanced workout, be patient and wait until your body is ready. You don’t want to get hurt!

Characteristics of an Advanced Workout

You will know you’re working out at an advanced level when one or more of the following factors are relevant to your workout:

  • Higher incline level, depending on the exercise.
  • A varied speed of workout between slow, fast, and static equilibrium.
  • Using the lowest base of support.
  • Modifying the number of reps and sets for your goal: increase reps to improve endurance and speed, or decrease reps for to improve strength and muscular mass.
  • No rest between sets.
  • Combinations such as compound sets of explosive drills and circuits, depending on the goal of your program.

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Food After Dark: Foods That Secretly Lead to Weight Gain

Late Night Eating and Weight Gain


The Worst Foods to Eat at Night

Fatty foods and high calorie foods are harder to digest and thus more likely to cause indigestion, keeping you from a good night sleep. Other late night snacks to avoid include sugary treats and alcohol, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop, interfering with sleep, especially if you’re diabetic. So if you’re going to consume an evening snack make sure to include lean protein and a healthy source of carbohydrate, such as a whole grain. Some good combinations include:

  • Half of a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • 100-calorie pack of popcorn with some string cheese on the side
  • Hard-boiled egg with a whole-grain English muffin
  • Celery with peanut butter and raisins, or with light cream cheese
  • A few whole grain crackers with light cheese
  • A small protein smoothie

Is It Okay To Eat At Night?

Well, that depends. For years, dietitians taught that people gain weight when their overall calories eaten for the day exceeded the number of calories that they used that day. It was simply calories in versus calories out, or so we said. Yet when I started working with weight loss clients, I found that my clients had the best weight loss success when they made sure they ate most of their calories earlier in the day, and fewer calories at night. In fact, my least successful weight loss clients ate just one large meal late in the day and/or consumed most of their calories later in the day or evening, often skipping breakfast and sometimes lunch entirely. Regardless of the research, my clinical experience had shown me that it was best to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.

Although my clinical experience has shown me that eating heavier later in the day could sabotage my clients’ weight loss goals, research had not proven this until now.

Recent Research Shows That Eating At Night Causes Weight Gain

A study by Northwestern University’s research team recently shed new light on this topic, showing there is more to the weight loss story than just eat less and exercise more. Inspired by their knowledge that shift workers were often obese, they began experimenting to see if it truly does make a difference what time of day food is eaten.
In their study, researchers observed mice that were fed a high-fat diet during normal sleeping hours had gained 48% more weight over their baseline. This was significantly more than mice eating the same type and amount of food during naturally wakeful hours, which gained only 20% more weight. There wasn’t a statistical difference between the two groups regarding caloric intake or the amount of activity. This research suggests the timing of meals may matter in the weight loss formula, not just the amount of calories.
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Total Gym Dynamic Shoulder Exercises

Dynamic Shoulder Exercises for Prevention and Performance: Phase III

If you’ve been following the shoulder strengthening workouts outlined in Phase I and Phase 2, then you’ve probably experienced an increased awareness of how your shoulders move and where you may compensate (i.e. hiking the shoulders up toward your ears). You should now be ready to increase the challenge with some dynamic movements.

The Phase 3 routine can be a standalone program or incorporated into a lower body routine. You should aim to complete the exercises at least two and up to four times a week. In this phase, you are focusing on both muscular endurance and strength. For endurance, perform 12-20 repetitions in a 45-60 second time period. For strength, perform 6-12 repetitions in a 45-60 second time period. Intensity is about 65-75% for endurance and 70-85% for strength. With all the exercises below, the higher the rails are, the higher the intensity. Start at the lower middle third and assess if you need to raise or lower the height accordingly. Remember the importance of maintaining proper form!

Phase 3 Shoulder Workouts

Pull Up – Lat Bars & Pulleys

Lie on your belly facing the tower and hold the lat bars, pull up accessory, or pulleys with your elbows straight and arms reaching toward the tower. Bend the elbows into the sides then return them overhead.

1. Visualize drawing the elbows out and down into the sides to help avoid excessive shoulder elevation.
2. Be careful not to push the hands down toward the floor to compensate.
3. The upper back can gently lift off the glideboard throughout or during each repetition for an added focus on the upper back.


Lie on your back facing away from the tower holding one handle in each hand. Knees can be bent with your feet resting on the glideboard. Reach back toward the tower while keeping your elbows straight, then pull the arms straight over toward the mid thighs.

1. End the movement at the mid thighs versus at the hips. The tendency is to bring the arms too far toward the floor creating increased stress on the shoulders.
2. Initiate the movement by sliding the shoulders away from the ears and the ribs toward the hips.
3. To facilitate greater strengthening of the spinal muscles, lift the hips off the glideboard entering a bridge position.

Overhead Press

If available, use the press bar or wing attachment at the base of the Total Gym. Lie on your belly facing away from the tower with the chest at the bottom edge of the glideboard, elbows bent and hands aligned with the shoulders. Then press the arms overhead.

1. Initiate and focus on drawing the shoulder blades down the back.
2. Avoid excessive extension of the spine. In other words if you are feeling this in your lower back, you might be compensating by lifting your chest off the glideboard too much.
3. As you lower yourself back to the start position, focus on sliding the shoulder blades down the back.

Seated Backward Cuban Press

Sit facing the tower holding a handle in each hand and reaching your arms toward the tower. Pull the arms up and back, bringing the hands toward the armpits, similar to the movement of a high elbow row. Keep the upper arms still and rotate the forearm up so that the palm of the hand faces the tower and the arms form an “L” shape (external rotation of the shoulder).

1. To learn the exercise, break the exercise up into high elbow row and external rotation. As you learn the movements, start to vary the tempo of the exercise.
2. Avoid hyperextension of the back or leaning backward, especially with external rotation.
3. Pay attention to your wrists and make sure they stay neutral (not turning one way or another). Focus on gently pushing the knuckles up and back to avoid excessive wrist flexion.

Inverted Supine Cuban Press

Face the tower in an inverted supine position and hold one handle in each hand. Perform on one side at a time to help ensure full range of motion. Start with a straight arm, initiate the movement by bending the elbow. Allow the hand to slide alongside or slightly above the torso, similar to an upright row movement. Keep the elbow bent, rotate the forearm up and back, forming an “L” shape with the arm. Press the arm overhead. Reverse the movement.

1. Keep the shoulder sliding away from the ears.
2. Avoid excessive movement of the trunk to compensate.
3. To ensure full range of motion, keep the buttocks at the top edge of the glideboard. The legs can be bent in the air or resting on the rails to self-spot.

Seated Lateral: Abduction with Triceps Extension

Sit lateral to the tower, holding the handle closest to the tower with the hand closest to the base. Bring the upper arm up and out to the side, like performing an upright row. Then extend/straighten the elbow toward the base and/or sky.
Think of the fencing move of pulling a sword out of the opposite pocket and to the sky.

1. Keep the shoulder sliding away from the ears, especially as the elbow straightens.
2. To focus on the triceps, maintain an upright row and only bend and straighten the elbow.
3. To vary the exercise, perform the movement with a straight arm. In other words, pull up and across the body along an imaginary diagonal line.


Remove the base. Stand facing tower and place the hands on either side of the glideboard. Note that the hands can also be flat on the glideboard. Hold the plank position for 45 – 60 seconds.
NOTE: The higher the incline, the easier the exercise (if facing the tower).

1. To increase the intensity the exercise, the incline can be lowered or the exercise can be performed inverted.
2. Try a variation of this exercising by performing the movement on your forearms.
3. A dynamic variation is to move back and forth from a forearm plank to a plank position for 45 – 60 seconds. The glideboard can be open or closed.

Plank with Shoulder Flexion/Extension

With the base removed, stand facing tower and place the hands on either side of the glideboard or flat on the board. Focus on moving from the shoulders, and press the glideboard up the rails then back down.

1. To increase the intensity the exercise, the incline can be lowered or the exercise can be performed inverted.
2. As with the normal plank, try doing this exercise on your forearms for variation.
3. For a dynamic variation, move the glideboard up the rails while lifting a leg. Then alternate sides.

Side Arm Plank

Remove the base. Entering into a side plank position can be accomplished a few different ways. One is to stand sideways to the base and bend the knees and place the hand or forearm closest to the tower onto the glideboard. Another transition is from a plank position. Bend the knees then place a hand or forearm toward the middle of the glideboard, then enter into a side plank position. The knees can remain bent on the board, straight and lifted off the board, or scissored off the board. Focus on pressing the hips up toward the sky and shoulders away from the ears.
The higher the incline, the easier the exercise (if facing the tower).

1. Ensure the elbow and shoulders are aligned. The tendency is for the elbow to push up toward the tower, losing the shoulder stabilization.
2. Keep the hips stacked. Avoid the hips rotating forward or backward, as that will affect shoulder alignment.
3. Press through the entire hand or forearm to assist with activation. Avoid locking the elbow out if on your hand.

As you begin to feel more confident with all these exercises, start to mix up the routines. The idea is to have a balance between working the front and back of the body, and to sprinkle in some side work like lateral raises. Remember, strong shoulders help decrease strain to the wrists and neck, and help to assist in spine stabilization.

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Week 3: Intermediate Workout Routines on the Total Gym

Intermediate Fitness Routines

– Relating to or having the knowledge or skill of someone who is more advanced than a beginner but not yet an expert.

Intermediate workouts are designed for individuals who have been participating in a regular exercise program for six or more months and are able to perform different exercises with correct form. You should have knowledge on how to execute a variety of workouts and be familiar with all the major muscle groups in order to choose the appropriate exercises.

When training at an intermediate level, you should become familiar with various techniques and concepts associated with different workout formats such as pyramiding, super sets, push/pull routines, intervals, circuits, etc. It’s also important to understand how to manipulate an exercise to accomplish a specific fitness goal, like increasing lean muscle, definition, muscular size, reducing body weight, or a combination of these.

Intermediate levels should also be knowledgeable on the basic nutritional requirements needed to support training efforts, the amount of rest and recovery for specific workouts, and the difference between good and bad pain. One must be able to listen to their body and know when rest is needed. This is an important concept to understand to progress to higher levels of training.

When Should An Intermediate Progress To An Advanced Workout?

If you are at the intermediate level, and feel that the workout has lost its challenge, then it’s time to increase the intensity by manipulating some of the variables to offer a challenge. At this point, your body has developed a framework of flexibility, cardiovascular and fundamental strength. You can increase the effectiveness of your workout by changing the variable of your current program to make it more intense, change the routine, or incorporate exercises that challenge your body completely.

Here are some basic questions that can help determine if you’re ready to move into an intermediate fitness program:

  1. Have been consistent with a program for 6 months or more?
  2. Do you understand the basics of manipulating exercises and how to intensify them?
  3. Are you familiar with a large number of exercises and proper form?
  4. Can you complete each workout in its entirety and within a defined time period?

If you are having difficulty advancing, try these tactics to achieve more out of your fitness ability:

  • Continually challenge your body with intense exercises over time.
  • Change the resistance, speed, and balance component of your exercises.
  • Be patient and wait for your body to adapt. Some days will seem easier or harder than others based on previous workouts.
  • Give your muscles rest when they need it. This will help prevent injuries and achieve greater benefits from your workouts.
  • Stick to a specific program for a set period of time. When certain exercises become easy, then it’s time to progress to more advanced movements!

Total Gym Intermediate Workout

GOAL: Intermediate Total Gym full body routine that is easy to set up and will increase your fitness ability.
* The intermediate workout is a progression of the beginner workout from last week’s blog (link to It adds an increased core and balance challenge for your muscles.

  • Perform 5-10 minutes of familiar warm-up exercises to prepare your muscles for the workout.
  • Cool down with 5-10 minutes of stretches, foam rolling, or light cardio for muscle recovery.
  • Perform each exercise in circuit format (one after the other with little to no rest).
  • 10-15 Reps, 1-2 Sets (based on time of workout)
  1. Side Squats & Kneeing Glute Press
    • High Incline
    • Squat Stand
  2. Plank, Push-Up, Mountain Climbers
    • Low Incline
    • Glide Board Open
  3. Crunch-Up Triceps & Biceps Repeaters
    • Medium Incline
    • Cables-Static Equilibrium
  4. Half Kneeling Rows & Flies
    • Medium Incline
    • Cables
  5. Half Kneeling Rotations
    • Medium Incline
    • Cables

*Refer to the accompanying video to see how these exercises are performed.

This TG workout is based on a total body routine designed for overall strength accomplishments at a beginner, intermediate, or an advanced level. This routine is beneficial for an overall strength and conditioning program. If you have specific goals you want to achieve based on a specific sport, developing muscle mass, etc., then I suggest incorporating other routines set to accomplish more specific goals.

Factors That Make A Total Gym Workout Intermediate:

  • Level of incline depending on the exercises.
  • Tempo of exercise.
  • Lessen the base of support.
  • Increase number of reps.
  • Moderate number of sets (from 2 to 3).
  • Little rest between sets to keep the intensity higher.

Enjoy this intermediate level workout. Focus on executing proper form and changing up the way you perform your workouts. Before long, you will be ready to progress to an advanced intensity!

Best to you always,

P.S. Next week we will discuss an advanced workout program!

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Want to Find Your Internal Motivation? Just Ask Yourself Why

How to Find An Emotional Catalyst To Meet Your Fitness Goals


The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” observed Mark Twain. Ok, so maybe he wasn’t talking about motivation to workout or to develop a healthy eating plan. Then again, living to 74 in the early 1900’s, maybe he knew something about the value of meeting fitness and health goals.

Too bad we can’t say the same thing for the half of our population that doesn’t meet the recommended minimal 150-minutes per week of exercise, or worse, for more than a third of us who don’t work out at all. I’d call that “subconscious suicide,” given what we know about the health values of exercise and healthy eating, and the motivation to get going and stay moving.

For many, the big four motivators for healthy behaviors—eating healthy and working out—are:

  • Getting and staying healthy
  • Looking good
  • Connecting with friends
  • Feeling happier and more positive

I find that the word why can be a great starting point for someone to create their emotional motivation to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Why is important for stirring what’s in your heart and connecting that inner drive to your mind. When your heart and mind are in sync, you are turbocharged for a healthy, happy and fit life.

The more quickly you find your why—the internal reasons you have for putting one foot in front of the other—the more likely you’ll do it with pleasure and stay doing it. Don’t try running someone else’s race—a celebrity, a friend, an ad you see on TV—you’ll trip every time. Remember it’s YOUR race. You are running and digging deep into what YOUR race is all about and can bring you through your finish line.

I advise replacing pain-prevention thinking with pleasure promotion thinking. Are you running towards something positive or running away from something negative?

Be sure the music you listen to, the friends you surround yourself with, the books and magazines your absorb, allow you to pick those behaviors that support success and accomplishments that you are seeking, instead of the discomfort you are trying to avoid. This is the way to advance your goal whether it’s to play more with your kids or go to your high school reunion with increased confidence.
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Super Effective Total Gym Workout With Kettlebells

Total Gym and Kettlebell Supersets

The kettlebell weight (resembling a cannonball with a handle) is used to perform exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. The kettlebell allows for swing and release moves. Additionally, its unique shape provides the “unstable force” for handling, which makes it a very effective complement to exercises on the Total Gym.

We’ve combined the core strength focus of the Total Gym with the power handling of the kettlebell, to demonstrate some superset options for exercising the upper body and quads. In this instance, superset refers to performing two different exercises for the same muscle group, without rest. This series can be performed as a circuit with 2 or 3 full repetitions.

I would like to acknowledge the staff at Sky Club Fitness, located at 750 Bloomfield Avenue in West Caldwell, NJ, for providing their beautiful facility and Total Gym equipment.

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Week 2: Beginner Fitness Routines on the Total Gym

Beginner Level Workouts

– Beginners are those who are either completely new or somewhat new to participating in a consistent fitness program or activity.

Some experts say that you need six consecutive months of training under your belt before you can progress into a more challenging program. I agree that you should give it some time, however, I believe that it depends on the individual and the consistency with which they work out. If you haven’t kept up with some sort of fitness routine long enough to produce positive results, then you are most likely a beginner.

If you are someone who used to train consistently in the past, but had to stop for a significant period of time, you may be considered a beginner again until you know you are able to perform beginner exercises with ease.

How To Tell If You’re A Beginner

Here are some basic guidelines that categorize you into a beginner fitness level:

  1. Never worked out before
  2. Do not know how to perform basic exercises properly
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