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Which total gym to get? [Article, Video]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Mar 26, 2020 10:44:38 AM

Which toal gym to get

Which total gym to get?

The best total gym to get to exercise at home is the Total Gym XLS. In commercial settings you either get the Total gym GTS if you only buy one or two stations or the Total Gym fit if you buy in bulk. You can skip directly to the sections about the Total gyms if you are not interested in the general information about health and fitness I provide in this article.
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Index of this article

What is your goal
What is your fitness level
How much space do you have
How much money are you willing to spend
Is total gym any good
Is total gym a good exercise
Is total gym cardio
Can total gym get you ripped
Can you use total gym as a rowing machine
Can total gym build muscle
Are squats on the total gym effective
Total Gym GTS
Total Gym fit
Total Gym XLS
Total gym supreme

What is your goal 

This is a section for you to level check what kind of equipment you should look for depending on your goals. More often than not I see the fitness industry taking advantage of some new year's goals or someone who is feeling bad about their appearance. Remember that the art of selling is often related to overpromising and underdelivering.  This does not mean that the fitness industry is evil, just the message "work hard, stay on top of your diet and be disciplined" is not as good a sales line as "It is as easy as 123, it takes little to no time and can be done anywhere. After 30 days you will look like Chuck Norris". 
When people look into fitness equipment they usually want to do one of these things:
  • Look better
  • Stay healthy
  • Increase performance
The total gym is best suited to the group of people who want to stay healthy at home, as it is a moderate exercise with very low risk of injury to round up a healthy lifestyle without having to go to a gym.

Look better

The first group usually focuses too much on exercise and too little on their diet. If you want to look better it usually means dropping a couple of pounds. This often does the trick. So start with your diet, as you can not outrun or out-train a bad diet. The diets I have tried and tested are the following:
  • Weight Watchers / Slimming World
  • Keto diet 
  • Dukan diet 
  • Professional coach

WeightWatchers / Slimming world

Weight Watchers and Slimming world have very similar approaches. They both work with weekly or monthly weigh-in meetings on a local school or community center. You will have a local WeightWatchers leader who then, in turn, will build a community after people around them to lose weight. This has some of the mechanics of a pyramid scheme marketing approach to it. Just know this when you join and see what you can get out of it. The main idea of the diets of Slimming world and WeightWatchers is that you can eat anything you like, but have a limited amount of points per day you can use up. So to keep it easy let's say you have ten points a day and a piece of cake is worth 10 points while steak is worth 2. So you can either 5 steaks or 1 cake per day. Over the course of a week, you can play around with your points.

Pros of WeightWatchers and Slimming world

If you like to be in a group and make new friends via a shared goal, WeightWatchers and Slimming world is for you. If you can not stand the idea of cutting out entire groups of food like in the keto diet or juicing, WeightWatchers and Slimming World are good approaches too. If you stick to the program you will get results. Just be careful not to be sucked into the pyramid marketing scheme of things, unless you want to. The approach does work, if you stick to it, as it ultimately boils down to portion control, which has been scientifically shown to work to lose weight.

Cons of WeightWatchers and Slimming world

To make this really work it is best to attend the meetings regularly. If you do not want to be weighed in public, this might not be for you. There is an element of public shaming in it which my wife did not like and ultimately quit the diet as she had to make times for the meetings and be exposed to being weighed publicly. Even though the group leader has been trained to make this as positive an experience as possible, it still can go very pearshaped if you step on the scale and gained 5kg despite your best efforts. The other downside to WeightWatchers and Slimming World is that you lack the right vitamins and macronutrients in your diet. The focus on points does not track for iron deficiencies or other special medical conditions you might have. You can quickly get into a rud where you have optimized for your favorite foods with the lowest amount of points while overlooking your sodium and cholesterol levels. The older you are the more important it becomes to look at a balanced diet to stay healthy. Both franchises have recognized this risk and are modernizing their brands and plans accordingly, still, if you can eat whatever you want against a point system, this risk is inbred. 

Keto diet

The keto diet is the modernized version of the Atkins diet. The main idea is that you minimize the intake of carbohydrates to a point where your body burns fat instead of carbohydrates. This way you optimize your body for weight loss and also have to eat fewer quantities, as fat is higher in energy density than carbohydrates. The approach works and is mainly about controlling the intake of food which contains carbohydrates. My wife and I used the keto diet to lose weight for our wedding and had great results. We recommend the Diet Doctor as a source for recipes and meal plans. 

Pros of the keto diet

A big pro of the keto diet is that you still can eat meat, cheese, and other animal products. You can also use cream, coconut oil, and other fats to make your food taste nice and not bland. If you like cheese, cream, and meat, you will be a fan of the keto diet. The recipes of the keto diet are also often quite good for batch cooking, which other diets do not always take care of. 

Cons of the keto diet

On the keto diet, you will have a lot of cheese and beef. If you are vegan or a vegetarian, this diet might not be the best choice for you. The same goes for people who have medical problems with animal products like lactose intolerance. This diet is also very hard to maintain. If you want to go strict keto you can not even eat an apple a day, as it already brings you almost over the threshold to stay in strict keto because of the fructose in it. Also wave goodbye to pasta, bread, and potatoes when you are on the keto diet. 

Dukan diet

The dukan diet earned its claim to fame because Princess Kate used it to lose weight successfully. It has its origins in France. Therefore the recipes you will find in the Dukan diet have a lot of vinegar, oil and other Mediterranean ingredients in them. The main idea of the Dukan diet is that the week is a pyramid. On day one you are allowed the least amount of food groups while it steadily increases until day 7. This way you control your portions and lose weight. As with all diets, it works if you stick with it and take a balanced approach. The questions is whether this thinking is for you.

Pros of the dukan diet 

The stepped approach means that you can look forward to the weekends. You do not have to reign yourself in, while others around you are having fun. This diet is also a good option if you are a vegetarian or vegan as the recipes are easily adapted. If you are a big fan of salads and pan-fried chicken and meat, this diet is for you. 

Cons of the dukan diet

If you have the Monday blues or most of your stress and workload early in the week, you might find it hard to follow the Dukan diet. It is also not the best diet to use for batch cooking on the weekend. The recipes are mostly made on the spot and don't age well in the fridge. 

Professional coach

The last option is to work with a coach. This approach brings in external motivation with a coach without having to go to a group setting. You will also be able to eat most of the foods you like as many coaches take a very balanced approach to dieting, The focus will be on adjusting your habits and slowly changing your eating behavior so that the impact is lasting. With a good coach, you will have adjustments for your personal medical record and also get ideas based on their experience. I personally used a professional coach to bulk up to 110kg and then cut back down to 95kg at 185cm to set a personal powerlifting record in 2020. 

Pros of a professional coach

Many professional coaches now work with apps. Based on your profile they will be on top of your sodium, VItamin and Macronutrient levels. This will lead to adjustments in your diet in real-time with maximum impact. They can also adjust the diets based on whether you want to gain weight or lose it. A very good coach will also guide you to find the solutions yourself, rather than spoon-feeding you the solutions. This way knowledge will be transferred and you will become a better eater.

Cons of a professional coach

A professional coach does not work for free. While most of the knowledge for the other programs can be obtained for free via the internet, the customized knowledge of a nutritionist usually comes in at $100 to $200 a month. That is more than most gym subscriptions in discount franchises. In addition, coaching also needs the ability to self reflect and change. That is not for everyone, so be sure that you are willing to listen and adapt before you fork out the money. Otherwise, you might be disappointed. 

Stay healthy

Staying healthy is more often than not related to physical activity. You are not obese or obsessed with your appearance, but you know that your blood pressure is too high, the joints are aching, or you just simply not more air to get. IN the staying healthy category you usually have the following factors to consider:
  • Outdoor vs indoor
  • Group vs. Single 

Outdoor vs indoor

Let's just assume that your diet is fairly under control. This would mean no excessive amounts of sugar or alcohol, three meals a day which you prepare yourself, and a cake here and there as a treat. Then the next question is to have some activity. Here you have the choice between outdoor and indoor to stay healthy.
If you like the outdoors to stay fit and healthy all you need is a good pair of shoes. Depending on the climate you are in and which activities you like most this might be a pair of runner or hiking boots. An interesting book to read on activity levels for staying healthy is "The first 20 minutes". It describes how the first 20 minutes of exercises are usually the most impactful and that any added stress will decrease the effectiveness. 
Outdoors is an option when you are generally healthy and live in the countryside or suburbs.  In city center areas you will likely need more time to get to the outdoors than you will need to go exercise to stay healthy. You also might find that parks in the city are not as safe and prefer to exercise indoors. The good thing about the outdoors is that exercise is cheap. 
If you want to exercise indoors you will usually need a little bit of equipment. Kettlebells are a very good option if you are fit. If you are older in age and don't want to stand for a long period of time, the total gym is a very good option. 

Group vs single

This is also a matter of preference. Some people get excited and motivated by exercising in groups, while others dread to be there in time or feel like other people are slowing them down. Whatever is your preference, stick with the one which makes it most likely for you to keep exercising regularly. If you are more of an indoor person who does like to do their own thing, home gym equipment like the total gym is a good option. 

Increase performance

The last group which is interested in fitness wants to increase performance. These are either ambitioned amateurs, semi-professionals or professionals. This group is usually willing to take more risks of injury to reach their desired results. Therefore the equipment they choose is more extreme and the same goes for their diets and other parts of life which play into overall fitness. You will find two broad groups amongst the extremists: 
  • Endurance athletes
  • Strength athletes
Apart from the specific sport they play and the relevant skills to do it these are the two main concerns. They either want to get stronger or faster over a certain period of time. 
Endurance athletes will usually focus on equipment that will help them to train endurance. These can be weighted vests, skip ropes, balance boards, and other gadgets to measure their performance or improve a weakness they have. Endurance athletes are often more related to the outdoors, as most endurance events tend to be outside rather than indoors. Of course always to be proven wrong when you point towards indoor long-distance skating. Endurance athletes will not get a lot of use out of the total gym as you will not exercise on it for more than 20 - 30 minutes. There are better training methods than this to get endurance up. These can be altitude training, intervals, which are also hard to do on the total gym, or negative split runs. 
Strength athletes are usually interested in getting their maximum power and their explosiveness up. This is often achieved by hammering and throwing medium weights is pushing maximum weights around. These athletes usually prefer dumbbells, barbells, maces and other equipment to increase performance. As the total gym is limited in maximum resistance it is not necessarily the best tool for strength athletes to achieve their goals.

What is your fitness level

Whether or not to get a total gym will also depend on your fitness. Generally, I think the fitter you are the less likely it will be that the Total gym will be of benefit for you. The fitter you are the more likely you will either just go outside to exercise or use heavy equipment. If you have a lower fitness level, especially if you are worried about your spine, hip, knees, and other lower body parts because of injury or age than the total gym is a great option for you to keep fit from home. 
The same goes for occasional exercise all year round. If you are in the stay healthy bracket of fitness and exercise two to three times a week at medium intensity, the total gym is a great tool to be stored away when you do not use it while still being challenging. Compared to kettlebells you have an added layer of security by laying down on the board. 

How much space do you have 

The total gym will roughly have the length of a couch or bed when you want to exercise. When folded it can be easily stored under the bed or couch. This lends itself to an easy and quick setup and store scenario. Compared to two kettlebells it takes up more space. Just check the specifications of the different total gyms on offer before you buy to make sure you actually have the space to use it.  

How much money are you willing to spend

The total gyms for your home start at $600 and go up to $4.000 depending on your needs, size, and warranty. Keep this in mind when you set out to get a total gym as it is not a huge, but considerable expense depending on your monthly income. It is always good to test before buying. So if you can find a gym near you which has a total gym, give that a good go before you hit the buy button. 

Is total gym any good

I answered the question of whether the total gym is any good in a dedicated article. Overall the total gm has been around for several decades. The quality of the total gym is great based on what you pay for and the company can stick to their warranty agreements as they have been around for a long time. If you spend your money on the total gym you will get a good quality product and it will do what it says on the tin. Whether it is the right fit for your needs is a different matter. 

Is total gym a good exercise

The total gym is multiple exercises and I answered the question of whether the total gym is a good exercise in more detail in a separate article. In short, it is a good exercise to stay generally healthy from home. If you want to lose weight, focus on your diet. If you are a peak athlete the total gym becomes more of a toy to challenge some of your weak areas in a fun way. If you are worried about your lower body and still want to stay fit the total gym is a perfect fit.

Is total gym cardio

I have answered the question of whether the total gym is cardio in more detail in a separate article. Overall the total gym can be used for cardio training but hasn't been designed for sprints, intervals or long term cardio training. The fact that Totalgym came out with their own rowing machine already answers this question convincingly, that the total gym is not cardio. Why else create a separate product in your line up to cover that niche. 

Can total gym get you ripped

You can learn more in my article which is titled "Can total gym get you ripped". Whenever I get the question "Can [Equipment of your choosing] get me ripped?" the answer is no. Getting ripped is mainly a result of diet than exercise. Of course, it helps to have big abs to make them pop and this can be achieved by training. Ultimately the deciding factor on whether your abs show is your bodyfat percentage and your genetics. The only one you can influence is the body fat percentage through diet. 

Can you use the total gym as a rowing machine

Yes, you can. Just like you can use a fork to eat soup. You will get somewhere, but slower and with lower impact. It will also make it very likely, that you will break the total gym pulleys and/or cables. You can read more in my article "Can you use the total gym as a rowing machine"

Can total gym build muscle

As with any other fitness equipment, the short answer is no. Your body builds muscle and it needs the right nutrition and stimulus to build it. This is often overlooked. Focus on your diet first if you want to build muscle and go into a caloric surplus. This means you eat more calories than you actually consume. While in this status, put your body under enough stress so that it builds muscle without breaking it. This can be achieved with the total gym based on your fitness level. The higher your fitness level the higher the stimulus you will need. You can read more in the article titled "Can total gym build muscle"

Are squats on the total gym effective

This depends on what you want to achieve with the squats. If you want to stay generally healthy and shape your butt, then yes, the total gym is effective. If you want to go steroid crazy and become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, then no, as your legs will just not get the stimulus from the total gym for significant growth. Of course, the truth is a little more nuanced, but this is a general guideline. You can read more in the article titled "Are squats on the total gym effective".

Which total gym to get

You should think about the following things to pick your total gym:
  • How much weight capacity do I need
  • How much warranty do I want to have
  • How many exercises would I like to be able to do
These are the three main factors that distinguish the different price classes of the total gym. The sturdier the frame and the more warranty you get, the higher the price for the total gym will be. The Total Gym GTS and Total Gym fit are little more geared towards commercial or heavy use, while the total gym xls and supreme are more geared towards home use. 

Total Gym GTS $3.700 - $4.666

The total gym GTS is the flagship of the total gym generation which can be directly sold to customers. This is the top-end product with all bells and whistles included and therefore also comes with the biggest price tag of $3.700. These are the features you will be getting with the Total Gym GTS:
  • FREE streaming workouts with Total Gym TV Basic.
  • 22 Levels of Resistance
  • Workout DVD included
  • Over 200 Exercises on One Home Elite Gym
  • 650lb User Weight Capacity
  • Hydraulic rail lift assists with level changes & easy two-step folding.
  • 5-year Warranty on Frame, 1-year Warranty on Parts & Upholstery, 90-day Warranty on Foam & Rubber
In addition to this, you will get a multitude of addons that lets you emulate any machine you could possibly imagine in a professional commercial gym. If you want to use this machine all day around and do not have space for a full circuit of machines, this is the machine to get.

Pros of the Total GYM GTS

The total gym GTS comes with a lot of attachments and even lets you add free weights to it so you can increase the resistance even further on certain exercises. The extended warranty and sturdiness of the 650lb capacity give it good protection against break downs under heavy use. Read this 650lb not just as a maximum capacity, but also an indication of how long the machine will last. The sturdier the material the less likely it is to break. This is the right total gym to use around the clock with many clients of different needs. If you have a rehab clinic that wants to cover from old people to recovering high performing athletes, this is a good pick. 

Cons of the TOTAL GYM GTS

For this price tag, it is not really a feasible option for most home users, which is a shame as it provides the most variety of exercises. If you have space in your facility you can also seriously consider building a full gym instead of getting just one Total Gym GTS. YOu may have fewer warranties on each individual item, but more variety and the possibility to train more people in parallel. 

Alternatives to the TOTAL Gym GTS

For the price of a TOTAL Gym GTS you can also get: 
The true form trainer is a self-propelled treadmill that will fit the needs of the top-performing athlete. It works with a slight arch to soften the impact of your feet. As it is set up with bearing it becomes easier to run at top speeds and do interval training compared to conventional treadmills. You will also not need as much power and there is no motor that can break down and needs to be maintained or replaced. 
If you have space and wanted to run spinning classes you can also get 5x Rogue Echo bikes for the price of one Total Gym GTS. Admittedly you will not have the same range of exercises to build strength and tone, but if you are looking for indoor cardio you can either save yourself a lot of money or make more customers happy at the same time. 
For $4.000 you can also get a top-end free weight section from a leading supplier like Rogue fitness. An example configuration can be:
Total: $3530
This will provide a full gym with weights to go into every direction. The shipping will be free with Rogue for this package. The tax might push it over $4000 depending on the country you buy from. Still, A great alternative if you have space and like to lift heavy compared to the Total Gym GTS.

TOTAL Gym fit $1599 - $2500

The total Gym fit is either a top range option for your home gym for individual use or an option for a professional environment where you have space and want to train more than one person in parallel. The main features of the TOTAL Gym fit are:
  • FREE streaming workouts
  • 12 Levels of Resistance
  • Over 85 Exercises on One Home Gym
  • 450lb User Weight Capacity
  • Arrives Fully Assembled
  • Lifetime Warranty on Frame, Extended 2-Year Warranty on Parts & Priority Processing
The Total gym fit still comes with accessories, but not as many as the GTS. Look closely at which attachments you want to get if the range of exercises is not sufficient compared to the TOTAL Gym GTS set. The warranty is shorter and also the frame is made of less sturdy material. In turn, you get a lower price point. 

Pros of the Total Gym fit 

The total gym fit has twice the levels of resistance and 2 years instead of 6 months warranty compared to the next model down, the Total Gym XLS. It is still a full commercial gym in one machine. You will also have fewer attachments to store and understand compared to the GTS. Overall this is a very solid option for home gym owners or a budget option for a commercial setting.

Cons of the Total gym fit

Compared to the Total Gym GTS the width of exercises drops considerably from 200 to 85. This is mainly due to getting fewer attachments. If you have a heavy use environment you will also have a higher likelihood of having no warranty left when the Total gym breaks down. The price is still high for a homeowner who just wants to exercise at home.

Alternatives to the Total Gym fit 

Here are some alternatives to the Total gym fit, if you were looking for something more challenging:
The concept 2 rower D is the gold standard of rowers in the market. If you want to workout from home and don't like running, this is the machine to get. It comes fully equipped with a computer and different resistance levels. If you have rowed before in a gym you will most likely have sat on the concept 2.
The Rogue Echo bike is the best value for money airbike which is currently available in the market. If you want to save space compared to a rower or just prefer cycling over rowing for your cardio training, then this is the right machine to get. 
If you prefer free weight training at home and have a shed to convert to a Crossfit gym, the Rogue Alpha package will give you everything you need to start and get going. You only might want to add a rack or squat stand if you do not have one already.

Total Gym XLS $799 - $2000

The total gym XLS is my recommendation for home use when you get a total gym. You can stay under $1000 and have a full gym at home. Especially older beginners can consider this option as it can be stored away, does not challenge the lower body too much and still keeps you fit. The specifics are:
  • FREE streaming workouts 
  • 6 Levels of Resistance
  • Over 80 Exercises on One Home Gym
  • 400lb User Weight Capacity
  • Arrives Fully Assembled
  • Lifetime Warranty on Frame, 6-Month Warranty on Parts

This will cover you for a long time to work out at home and improve your fitness to be healthy. 

Pros of the total gym XLS

The pro of the Total Gym XLS is the price point. This is the best value for money options from the total gym you can get for a home user. You only lose little on the exercises compared to the Total gym Fit while saving about $700. 

Cons of the total gym XLS

The total gym XLS has a very low warranty on parts. You will also get fewer increments in resistance compared to the total gym fit. If you are a heavy user or expect to train a lot to get stronger you might be better off with the Total gym fit

Alternatives of the total gym XLS

Alternatives to the Total Gym XLS are:
The Rogue Echo bike will be a good alternative if you want to save space and focus on cardio. compared to the total gym you will give up the option of doing any pulley exercises. 
The dealt CrossFit package will give a starter set for CrossFit with a few things to be desired. You will get bumper plates, a bar, rings, and a medicine ball. You might want to add some kettlebells for more variety.
A Y2 yoke is a great option if you want to build a home gym quick and easy without having to bolt anything to the ground. You will not have the safety options of a rack or squat stand and trade-off for plate storage and extra exercise options as you can use the Yoke for yoke carries and sled exercises. 

Total gym supreme $599

The total gym supreme is the budget version from total gym which forms the lowest entry point into the total gym portfolio. The full feature list includes:
  • FREE streaming workouts
  • 12 Levels of Resistance
  • Over 60 Exercises on One Home Gym
  • 275lb User Weight Capacity
  • Arrives Fully Assembled
  • 1-year Warranty on Frame, 6-Month Warranty on Parts
With this, you can start exercising as long as you are not too heavy. If you are averaged sized you can work away on this. If you are tall and big you might want to consider one of the sturdier upmarket options. 

Pros of the Total gym supreme

The total gym supreme has mainly the price point speaking for it. Compared to the XLS you also get twice the resistance levels. However, you sacrifice on the sturdiness of the frame and longevity of the machine.

Cons of the total gym supreme

The biggest con on the total gym supreme is the maximum capacity of 275lbs. This indicates that is most likely to break out of the entire Totalgym lineup. 

Alternatives to the total gym supreme

If you want to build a full gym that is more focused on free weights for a budget of $599 you will find a good partner in TITAN Fitness. Check out the articles below for details.

Topics: Total gym