Total Gym Workout Routine

For those looking to get started on a Total Gym workout routine, I have put together a bodybuilding program for beginners as well as a power program for advanced users. There are many different ways to workout on this versatile machine. The following workouts are some of my favorites.

For detailed descriptions of the exercises I list in the routines, click on the Total Gym category on the side.


The beginner program is for those new to training and need to lay a foundation.

Beginner program

Day 1:

  • Flies: 2 sets of 10-20
  • Chest Press: 3 sets of 8-12
  • Lying Down Triceps Extensions: 2 sets of 8-12
  • Lying Down Triceps Pushdown (between your legs): 2 sets of 8-12

Day 2:

  • Front Raises: 2 sets of 10-20
  • Punches: 2 sets of 8-12
  • High pull: 3 sets of 12-20
  • Pullover Abdominal Crunch: 1 set of maximum repetitions

Day 3:

  • 1-Arm row: 3 sets of 12-15
  • Pull-ups (with the wing attachment): 3 sets of 12-20
  • Leg Curls: 3 sets of 12-20
  • 2 Handed Curls: 2 sets of 8-12

This can be done on a 3 day split such as M-W-F or T-THURS-SAT. On your off days I suggest you do some conditioning training such as bodyweight calisthenics or roadwork to aid in the fat burning process.


Next is a Total Gym workout routine geared towards Power for those that have trained before. The repetitions are in the 6 and under range with no more than 2 working sets a piece per exercise.

Power Program:

Day 1:

  • Chest Press: 20-6-4
  • Shoulder Press (with wing attachment on the bottom of the machine): 20-6-6
  • Dips: 20-6-6
  • Pull-ups: 12-8-6

Day 2:

  • Iron Cross: 12-6-6
  • Around the Worlds: 12-6-6
  • Pullover Crunch: 12-6-6
  • Upright Row: 10-6-6

Day 3:

  • Wide Grip Chin-ups: 10-8-4
  • Underhand Pull-ups: 8-4
  • Scarecrows: 6-6
  • Lying Down Curls: 6-6
  • Big Dawg Curls: 6-6

Day 4:

  • Front Raises (alternate): 20-6-6
  • Punches: 20-6-6
  • 2 Handed Row: 20-6-6
  • 1 Handed Row: 10-20, 6-6
  • Flies (flush the muscle, this is the reason for the higher repetitions): 2 sets of 20

There is not hardly any direct abdominal work so on your days off make sure that you are doing conditioning work with plenty of abdominal training. For information on good abdominal routines be sure to check out my DVD’S Armored Core 1 and 2 located in our products section.

And remember, just like on any other training method, your routines must be periodized. Periodization is a way of cycling your training routines to avoid getting stuck in a plateau. For example, one might do a certain routine for up to 8 weeks before results start to diminish. Then, the training objectives, rep schemes, etc. need to be adapted to ensure continued progress.

I am currently accepting online consultation clients for strentgh & conditioning mentoring and program design. Feel free to contact me by email for inquiries. Purchase a Total Gym® XLS today

The Machine

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56 thoughts on “Total Gym Workout Routine

  1. Hi Mike.

    I am looking to start this power program as I have been using the total gym but maybe mixing the muscle groups a bit.  Are these routines for every other day like the beginers so its an eight day routine ? Or everyday ? 

    • The power program is to be done on a 4 day split.

      This means that you can do the program on
      monday and tuesday and then thursday and friday. Your reast days would be wednesday, saturday and sunday. It is a 4 day per week program.

      You want to make sure you get plenty of rest, sometimes more is not better. I suggest 4 days per week, then you have the whole weekend to rest up and start again.

      The Machine

  2. I’m a bit confused on the advanced work out scheduled. Could you explain to me what you mean by 20-6-4 for Day1 chest press…. Does it mean 6-4 rep 20 times?
    Thanks in advance
    Eric

    • I sent you an email answering this for you. Our site is almost up to date with the revamp. Sorry for the delay. Please check your email.

      Thanks very much,
      Machine

      • WTF you are joking.  You answer his question and don’t post it?  Is the advanced plan for toning or growth?

        • Yes I answered his question and Yes I posted it to his email at the time because I felt like doing it that way. If someone else asked me to post my answer in a respectful manner, unlike you then I would repost it.
          In your case I’m not going to.

          The Machine

  3. Mike

    Ihave been using total gym for awhile, and really like your advance routine and plan to start it. Like the previous post I am little confused about the reps. 20-6-6, do you mean that many reps each set while raising the resistance up? Thanks for input.  

    • Yes you are correct. Do 20 reps, this gets the blood flowing. Then raise the tower up and shoot for 2 sets of 6 reps. If you are strong enough to be at the top of the tower then do your reps super slow on both the positive and the negative of the rep. This will make it hard for even those that are very advanced with their training.

      Machine

        • I do not have a set plan for resting, I suggest you go by how you feel. If you feel you need more than 1:00 of rest then take it, if you want to keep your rest periods to a minimum of :30 then go for it. It all depends on the person.

          Machine

  4. Multi-joint resistance training has been shown to not merely help sculpt and lower overall body fat, but by training at lower repetitions of 8, the body reacts by increasing metabolic rates inside the body. When this occurs, there is certainly increased fat burning resulting within the consequent appearance of six pack abs. Training our abs is also beneficial in strengthening and defining the six pack, specifically when the outer layer of fat is reduced and also the six-pack abs become more visible.

    • Very well put, we all have a 6pack it just depends on the person if there’s can be seen or not. By reducing ones body fat the abs will become more visible. With the added abdominal work the abs will become more prominent.

      Machine

  5. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any way you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  6. Hey Mike,
    I plan on starting the power program.  The only problem is I can easily do 4 sets of 12 on any wing attachment excersise at level 6.  What would you recommmend?  The only thing I can think of is to go extremely slow?  Also, will this program bulk as well as shed fat?  I have been researching proper nutrition and adjusting my diet accordingly.  The inly supplements I take are creatine,  and I am about to begin a protein powder for recovery because I am extremely fatigued the day after hitting it hard.  I think my caloric intake is too low.

    • You are correct you can go very slow on th exercise with a 10 second count on the positive part of the exercise then do 5 second count on the negative. This will make things much more difficult.

      If you need further resistance I suggest ordering the weight attahment bar. This allows you to add weights to the machine.

      Bulking and cutting is all diet. If you want to lean out then decrease the calories taking in. Type in leaning out or diets into my search button. I have both weight gain plans and leaning out plans.

      Yes protein is a great source, creatine too. Another good one that I take is MG’s Super test. Go to trueprotein.com it will take you to a different site. With all the crap out there as supplements this stuff is great.

  7. Machine,
    I found the two hand row way to easy even going at an inch worms speed…one handers as well.  What I ended up doing is using both handles for one arm rows.  It’s a bit awkward because the cable opposite the arm I’m pulling with crosses over the toes, so I sit at an angle while mainting my form. This way I get a good burn maxing out at 10 reps.  My question is that Day 4 in the power workout requires the two handed and one handed rows.  Should I just do two sets of one handers?

    • Brett,

      Yes sir you are correct. I also suggest you order the weight attachment bar if your total gym allows it.

  8. Daaaaang!  I am sore this morning!  These power workouts rock!  Its a real deep tisse pain.  Not the average pain like a higher rep workout.  Nice.  ;)

  9. Hey Mike;

    I just bought a used total gym off craigslist and ran across your site while trying to find workouts and instructions on how to use the machine. I started with the beginner routine, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping I can make some visible progress over the next three weeks while I try to make a habit of using it. I’m hoping the low impact and reduced stress will keep me in it for the long haul.

    Keep up the good work! S/F

    • Thank you Nick, I appreciate you stopping by. be sure to check out the site for all my Total Gym workouts. Also stand by for my Total Gym dvd that will be coming soon :)

      Keep me posted on how your doing,
      Machine

      • Well I’m up to workout day 3, and I can already feel a difference. After day 1, I already felt better about myself (probably psychologically). After day two, my triceps were sore, so I know it was working. During today’s workout, I felt myself fading on that 3rd set of pull ups, but I powered through and finished the set.

        I will be looking forward to the DVD! Thanks again Mike! 

  10. Hi Mike, just wondering, I’ve been using my total gym for about 40 minutes 7 day a week. Is it bad not to have rest days?

    • Hi Jeff,

      It all depends on how you feel. If you are not wore out and/or really sore then yes you can train 7 days striaght. However I do think the body needs to take a little break and even as much as I love to train I usually take off the weekends and let my body rehcarge and rest up for the coming weeks training.

      As I always say you should no your body better than anyone else so go according to how you feel :)

      Good question and thank you,
      Machine

  11. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long)
    so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for beginner blog writers? I’d
    certainly appreciate it.

  12. Hi
    just bought a total gym 1500 and was cruising the net for some routines and came across your site.
    saw your suggested exercises for beginners
    sorry to sound really dumb but as a beginner I don’t know what the exercises are that you refer to
    can you explain further
    thanks
    kerry
     
     

  13. Hi
    As a beginner, I was wondering, how long do I do the beginner program before starting on the Power Program? Do I just do the beginner program 1 week and then next week do the Power Program? I wasn’t really wasn’t clear on this.. Thanks!

    • Hello Jorge,

      Try the beginner program for at least 3 months. Give it time and put in lots of effort with it. This will ensure you maximum chance of success and browth. Then move on to the Power program.Often times new trainees don’t give a program log enough time to work. So I always suggest at least 3 months per program/. Hope this helps answer your question. Thanks for commenting,
      Machine

  14. i saw the workout here.. but i want to know that on differenet way.. like this ex:
    Day 1 chest & shoulders
    day 2 :  forearms biceps
    …. and simular…
    Can you send me that , i will found execercises for it.. i just want day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3, day 4…. Thanks

  15. These workouts look great! I can’t wait to try them. I was wondering approximately how many weeks I should do the routine before increasing the resistance levels?

    • I suggest do each routine for at least 4 weeks. Try and increase the resistance level every week if you can. Or increase the amount of reps per set to a higher number. This will ensure that you have built up the necessary muscular endurance in the body before increasing the difficulty level.

      great question,
      Machine

  16. Can you give any work out routines on the total gym for the lower body like you’ve done for upper? sets, days off…etc. Thanks!

    • Deb,

      Sorry but I feel the total gym lacks immensely in regards to leg workouts. It is a great piece for everything else but leg workouts it is no good. I do not have any workouts for the total gym using the legs.
      I suggest bodyweight squats, lunges forward and reverse, standin calf raises done straight, pigeon toed and heels together for 3 sets of 15 reps in each postion. Keep the volume high in the leg work such as reps of 30-50 for 3-4 sets.

      Thanks for the question,
      Machine

  17. hi MIKE 
     i am a skinny guy and also have IBS(irritative bowl syndrome) but i crazily want to gain wieght and musles plz help me with this 
        will be waiting for your reply

    • Not really sure how to help you considering your condition. A few of my ladies I train have the same health problem. Tough on the eating side of things.
      Check with your docotor, see what advice they can give you.

      Mike

  18. Howdy, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you
    get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support
    is very much appreciated.

  19. Hey MIke,
     
    I’ve just bought a total gym, and been looking for a workout program and I found this site.
     
    I like the look of the power program, but I have some problems – some of the names of exercises, I do not recognize. Like, around the world – how do you do this one on the total gym? big dawg curls?
    Have you considered, or do you have a youtube channel where you demonstrate these programs (beginner and power), perhaps complemented with appropriate warmup and stretching exercises?
    I think that would be really helpful to the total gym owners.
     
    What do you think about adding 2 days of bicycle with the power program? I try to bicycle about 35 miles a week on a road bike. No problem for me to work with a 10 day cycle and not weekly (7 day) cycle. I’m a former sofa man and planning to do some bike competition next year and need the bicycle training, but also want to get the rest of the body well done on the total gym.
     
    Thanks
    Oddvar
    Norway

    • Oddvar,

      Thanks for the comment.
      I show all the exercises at this link on the site:http://www.mikethemachine.com/exercises-for-total-gym/
      I do have a youtube channel you can go to via the front page of the site.
      Yes I am planning on shooting some short videos of workouts for the Total Gym. I just have to set the time aside to do so. Thankfully I’m very busy with my gym training my clients.
      I have never bicycled but yes any form of cardio conditioning will only help speed up the process to a leaner physique.
      You sound like you have already done a remarkable job transforming yourself.
      Keep up the good work and fighting the good fight.
      Stay tuned as I will have a Total Gym video up by end of the week.
      Lord willing :)
      Machine

  20. Hey, I love the site! I’m 16 years old, and just starting the beginner program. So my question was, do you have any advice on a teen using this workout? for instance, should I not push my body as hard, or could I use my youth to my advantage? 
    Thanks!
      Jonathan

    • Jonathon, thanks for the question. Yes you can use your youth to your advantage. I don’t know you or what your build is like so it is hard for me to give you the proper advice because I don’t know you :)
      However I suggest you push as hard as you can within your means/capability.
      Kind regards,
      Mike

  21. Hi Mike,
    I reached yoursite as I own a TG 1500 and there isn’t much out there in terms of beginning exercises. But your site had a lot of info. I started with the beginning program, but my goal is not to bulk up just yet, but burn as much fat as I can and get my muscles more used to it. In talking with a body fitness expert (but not a trainer, someone who does shows) she recommended I do lighter weight, but more reps/sets. So I’ve modifed the plan to do 4 sets (or as much as I can do) and 20 reps each. My body type is this: I’m 6’2, 250lbs, almost 35 years old, BMI is 32’ish. I’m a type 2 diabetic. For the sake of this question, don’t take that into account since most fitness experts don’t go there unless they are trained in it. My goal is to get my BMI under 25 more than anything, simply due to diabetes and a few complications along with it.
    What I’m noticing is the burn. The high reps burn the muscles like crazy. It’s much harder. I can do higher weight with lower sets and reps and it doesn’t burn as much. Doing 4 sets of 20 of each of the exercises (with the exception of the pull over crunches) I can’t do the 4th set on some.
    I guess my question is, am I on the right track for my goals?

    • Nathan, thanks for the comment. You are on the right track. High rep training is a great way to build the muscle. I have trained in the 20 rep range, sometimes 30 reps range many times. I love the feel it gives my muscles, the pump and the hardness (when diet is on point)
      I wish you much more success with all of your future endeavors.

      Mike The Machine

      • Hi Mike,
        I have just a few more questions about your Beginning Routine, which I’ve decided I’m going to stick with for a bit longer rather than adjust (with the exception that I own a small dumbbell set for biceps and triceps I can put in)
        The order you list, is that the exact order that should be done on the TG. Do you do the sets back to back, or do 1 set each, and then maybe the last 2 the next round?
        I can easily do the first, and then the second set gets hard after a 60sec rest, then the 3rd can be very difficult. This doesn’t even seem to really matter based on whether it’s a high or low weight setting (unless it’s really low, which then TG on the first slot is more like pushing and pulling it’s own momentum)
        I’m assuming it’s ok to NOT make the 12’ish rep goal on the last set if they are all concurrent?
        Thanks!

        • Thanks for the question Sir, you can switch the order up. You do not have to do the specific order I listed. Do one set, then take as much rest needed so that you can finish the other sets. If you can’t make the reps as prescribed then go down a level on the total gym until you can :)
          I hope that helps and if you have any other questions, just ask.

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