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Is total gym Cardio? [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 25, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Is total gym Cardio? [Article, Video]

This is an article which discusses whether the total gym is cardio. If you are able to sustain the same amount of intensity over a stretch of time with the total gym it is cardio. However, the setup of the total gym is not laid out for cardio if you compare it to treadmills, rowing machines or a Airbike.

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What is cardio 


To know whether working out on the total gym is cardio training or not we need to define what cardio training is. As we live in the age of google let’s give it a quick check: 


Cardio is generally a short form of cardiovascular exercise. So let’s check that.


One Definition


Aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is physical exercise of low to high intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process.


Another Definition


Cardio exercise is any exercise that raises your heart rate. 


Now we could go and get a gazillion sports papers written by undergraduates and we will probably find a gazillion by gazillion of definitions of cardiovascular exercise. 


The term ranges from exercise which raises your heart rate, which could be as much as getting up from the couch to grab a beer from the fridge, to running an ultra marathon. 


So this will not get us far. If we ask ourselves why people do cardio the answer is usually that they want to lose weight. Losing weight can be defined as calories burned per minute. Now is the total gym the best possible option to burn as many calories as possible per minute. The answer to that question is no. The Versa climber is probably the best option you can find to achieve this. 


Overview of the Total gym 


The total gym puts you on a bench which is attached to two pulleys and can slide back and forward. This sliding bench is attached to a little tower. The tower is the anchor and also helps to determine the resistance at which you train. The steeper the incline, the harder the workout. 


Depending on the model attachments you get the total gym is also enabled for squats and more exercises. You work the arms by doing pulley work while the legs can be worked with squats at an incline. After use, the total gym can be folded up and stored under a bed or in a closet. 


With pulley and sliding bench arrangement you can simulate many of the machines which you will find at a commercial gym. The total gym will not be a replacement for a cardio machine or free weights for athletes but can keep you fit if you are older or rehabilitating from injury. 


Pros of the to total gym 


The pros of the total gym are: 


  • Low footprint 

  • Low injury risk 

  • Versatile 


One pro of the total gym is that it has a relatively low footprint and can be stored away easily. If you live in a small apartment, the total gym will not take up an entire room of your already limited space all day. Just fold it up and put it next o the ironing board or under the bed. 


For an exercise machine that forms muscle and tones, the injury risk is very low. You can sit or lie on the bench depending on how comfortable you feel. There are no weights that can fall on you. The machine itself is also not too intimidating. A big bonus is that you can even use the total gym if your hips, knees or rest of your legs are not well enough for walking. 


The pulley mechanism makes this a versatile machine to be used in many directions and combinations. This way you can get a full-body workout out of this one machine. 


Cons of the total gym 


The cons of the total gym are: 


  • Low impact 

  • Prone to failure 

  • Hard for prolonged cardio 


Overall the total gym is pretty low impact as it only uses your body weight. This is more than enough to get in shape, but if you want to set world records and pack on muscle you will also need some free weights and proper runs outdoors or on a treadmill. Of you are in the senior citizen target group of the total gym that is probably not of interest but for commercial and home gym owners might want to consider this. A rogue echo bike is roughly the same price as a total gym. 


The pulleys and the sliding bench can break and it is usually hard to fix them yourself. They are also quite noisy after a good time of use. Combined with that the construction is light and foldable you get the benefit of mobility at the loss of stability. The total gym is still top of the line but more prone to error than a stationary machine. 


If your main goal is weight loss one of the best ways to get your goal is to do cardiovascular exercises for 20 minutes. If your joints are aching swimming might also be an option. On the total gym, you might be hard-pressed to do the same thing for 20 minutes. 


Alternatives to the total gym


Alternatives to the total gym are: 



The Rogue echo bike leaves out the impact of a treadmill while still being cardiovascular. If you can still cycle and mainly want to lose weight and stay fit this is your choice. It won't do as much for toning as the total gym. 


Kettlebells will take up less space and work as cardio and strength training. If you are still very to moderately fit they are a great option as they are better faster cheaper than the total gym in my opinion. 


The disadvantage is that they are quite hard to use. If you have some coordination problems or can’t take big swing movements you might want to opt for something which produces less g force. 


If you like the great outdoors and have your hips and legs in check a good pair of runners will do great things for you. Fresh air, meeting some people and staying fit. Go with this option if you are still mobile and do not want to stay at home. 



Is total gym cardio 


In the sense of raising your heart rate and burning more calories than sitting on your couch, it is a yes. Based on the nature of the exercise and calories burned per minute it is no. You will neither spend an hour on the total gym in the same position nor burn as many calories per minute as on a Versaclimber or stiff 10k run. 

Topics: Total gym