Total Gym model differences, value, & cost – which one is right for you?

Total Gym for fun exercise

You can do any exercise on the Total Gym…works as Pilates Reformer too.

It is easy to stick with your exercise when you enjoy it!

You can do any exercise you need on this fitness equipment and it is fun! It is easy to stick with your fitness program when you enjoy what you are doing. Additionally, the other great thing is that when it is right there in the house with you, you can fit in the time to use it whenever you want. If there is an exercise that you want to do and don’t know how to do it on the Total Gym, it just takes a little search online to find it. Also, switching between exercise types can even be done easily.

Pilates is possible

Total Gym exercises

Total Gym machines can give most gym exercises

If you are a fan of Pilates, this equipment can be used like a Pilates Reformer, plus much more. The old Pilates Reformer does not usually have an incline and the lowest level would be like that Reformer. These are the accessories that give compatibility with the Reformer: the leg pulley system and the Pilates toe bar attachment. Pilates exercise is great for elongating, strengthening, and giving great flexibility to the muscles.

Plenty of exercises and ways to find what you enjoy!

Not only are there lots of instructional exercise DVDs for this equipment, but there are many people sharing their favorite exercise routines on Youtube as well. There are plenty of exercises to try or just to switch up for what you normally do and add some variety.

How they work

This exercise equipment has a glideboard that slides on a rail. You lay or sit on the glideboard and roll back and forth to do exercise on this machine. You set the incline of this track to the level that you want and your exercise is done by means of the resistance of your own body weight.

I do exercise in the standing position, much like the picture shown. This is a great Pilates range of motion exercises for the legs. There is a standing platform attachment for this type of exercise. This platform bolts into place at the base and looks exactly like the equipment pictured.

Pilates foot platform

I was shocked at the cost of this foot platform attachment from most sellers. If you cannot find this for a realistic price, there are other possibilities. All you need to do is remove your squat stand or Pilates toe bar. Use the floor as your platform as you do your workout. Make sure that you will have good footing on the floor and that your Total Gym is solidly placed too (won’t slip).

Incline level & basics

The incline level of the machine adjusts the amount that your body weight increases the effort of your exercise. I do my squats and push-ups on the glideboard. With no attachments, the basic machine is estimated to have over 60 possible exercises. Addition of attachments increases the number of possible exercises.

Which one would work for you?

Look around, you can find some great deals on the Total Gym models. There are many models now, so there are ones offered at good prices. Most all of them fold up for easy storage. The really heavy ones fold in a way that makes them movable on wheels, sort of like a hand truck. Certainly, if you have always wanted to have one, it is well worth looking at them!

New or used?

I have listed the products that are highly rated with well detailed information. Furthermore, if there are used models worth noting, I note them in orange font so that you can find them easily. In this way, you can easily distinguish new from used.

More attachments can add to what you can do!

This exercise machine will always be the right machine for the exercise you want to do. For mine, I have pulleys, Pilates toe bar attachment, and wing bar attachment. That is all that I need for everything I like to do.

The Pilates toe bar attachment is a long U shaped piece for the base. I prefer it to the solid foot platform (called squat stand) that is standard. It is very useful for so many things. I can do exercises that require my feet or hands to be higher up, at the top of the U piece. Pulleys are great for many, many arm and leg exercises. The wing bar attachment allows me to do pull-ups.

Total Gym type exercise machines

Lots of possibilities here…

Basic exercises – jumping

A really great workout for the legs is just jumping as you lay on the rolling glideboard at your desired incline angle. One great thing I have learned about doing the jumping exercises, is that if I raise my shoulders up off the glideboard while doing them, I get a great ab workout at the same time. These are so fun and great exercise for legs, but don’t even seem like exercise. When you get good at them, you can isolate and do one leg at a time, which is more intense (single leg squat). Also, you can use it like a rowing machine in many variations.

Additional exercises

A great exercise for the back of the leg is to be forward toward the top of the glideboard with one knee planted at the base while rolling up and down to work the isolated leg resting on the foot platform (glute kickback).

For the abs, a great exercise is to have your feet at the high top area of the Pilates toe bar attachment and roll up, raising yourself and your knees upward as you roll downward. This rolls through a range of abdominal muscles lifting you up…again it is so fun it does not even seem like exercise. The same ab exercise can also be done with the ab crunch attachments. There are still more ab exercise methods… including my favorite, in the Total Gym exercises page.

Many advantages to the workout

It is easy to do lots of great range of motion type exercises on the Total Gym. Of course these type of exercises add up to a cardio workout, and improve your flexibility as well. It is very quick and easy to run through many exercises without any attachment changes to interrupt your routine. You have the choice of doing a low incline and many reps for endurance improving exercise or small number of reps at a high incline for muscle building.

This section is for those who are new to this exercise equipment or who cannot picture the exercise possible on a Total Gym

Dip bars

These allow the dip bar exercises that you can envision being done on parallel bars. They are performed at an angle on this sliding platform instead. These bars are meant for a central location on the rails of the machine. If you don’t have the dip bars, there are ways to do these same exercises with the pulley system.

Press up bars

These allow you to do exercises where you grip the handle in a position that is parallel to the board. Exercises like pull ups, and press ups are both possible and depend on whether you are pushing up from a base attachment or pulling up from a top end attachment on your sliding platform. They are sometimes called press up/push up bars.

2 hand grip bar attachments such as multi-function or wing attachments, and 3 grip such as the tri-grip shaper bars

These can be used for a multitude of exercises much like the above 2 bars. These can also be used to brace your feet in position for doing things like stomach crunches. Although you can probably use most of the handle attachments in this way.

Pulley systems

With the pulley systems, you do all the weight stack type exercises that are performed at the gym. The sliding track allows for greater versatility in your position and use. Row machine type exercise and variations are easily performed. Performing this very same exercise facing the base of the board, works different muscles in your arms in a different way. The way that you move your arms determines what muscles are getting the focus. There are an enormous number of variations possible.


To illustrate the use, picture an exercise at a gym where you are using a pulley and a weight stack. You are gripping the handle palms down and pulling the stack from a position with your hands above your head down towards your knees. On the Total Gym, you can do this same exercise by laying on the glideboard, holding the pulley palms up above your head, and pulling down toward your knees. You will roll upward as you are pulling downward. The weight stack is now your body laying on the glideboard.

Safeguards for long hair

One thing to keep in mind about using the Total Gym is that if you have long hair, you have to bind it so that it cannot hang down and get caught in the track. This should have been obvious to me, but I learned the hard way. Make it part of the routine to put a headband and pony tail band on long hair before any workouts.

My first exercise machine like this was UltraGlide…

My first Total Gym style exercise machine was a brand by the name of UltraGlide. Having never seen these exercise machines before, I saw one on a shopping channel and fell in love at first sight. It was reasonably priced and I bought it back in 1999. I used it regularly, and was extremely happy with it. In fact, I used it so much that I completely wore the machine out. The structure came apart in ways that were not repairable. It took me about 5 years to wear it out. By that time, I had seen the commercials for the Total Gym.

Why Total Gym is my favorite

Ultimately, for my birthday, I made sure to get the better constructed Total Gym. They have the right mix of structural strength and shock absorption. Although my Ultraglide had a heavy metal structure, it broke up in weld areas. This type of failure will not happen to the Total Gym design. I personally believe that if you are going to get one of these machines, you won’t find a better choice than the Total Gym. In fact, this design is a great balance of strong framework and shock absorbing meeting points that hold up well through usage.

My machine – Middle range

I have a Platinum Plus model and love it. The Platinum Plus version is very, very similar to the 1900 family of models. It has less incline levels and handles a little less weight. This might be something to keep in mind when comparing the cost of them. I highly recommend it. As a result of my history with these machines, I feel that all the models in that middle price range are a great investment. They are a quality, durable exercise machine. I have been using my machine for about 11 years now.

High end

The high end machines are more towards the level of exercise gym equipment that have to hold up for heavy traffic. Moreover, the main models offered on the Total Gym Direct site are the Supreme, the XLS, the Fit, and the GTS, which are the more expensive models.

Total Gym manuals

You can find most of the manuals for the models on the Total Gym site, with the exception of the 1200. At the lower end, the Achiever is very similar to the 1100 model.


Typically for a new machine, there is a five-year frame warranty, a one year parts and upholstery warranty, and a 90-day foam and rubber warranty.

Total Gym Attachments for early models

Early model Total Gyms were designed before many of the accessory attachments now in use. The 1100, Achiever, and 1500 do not have the foot platform, called the squat stand. They do not have the built in locations to attach one. On the other hand, they do have pin locations that may be used to add attachments. There is a hole location at the base and one at the top of the rail.

The dip bar is an attachment for the unique central area of the rail. There is a new compact dip bar that can be added to these 3 models and others as well. It is made for 5/16″ holes models: 1100, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, Pro, Ultra, Platinum, Achiever. The 1100 and the Achiever manuals only list the multi-function attachment and the leg pulley system as additions to them. The 1500 manual only lists the wing attachment and the leg pulley system as additions to it. Look for attachments that are compatible with the 5/16″ holes.

Many kinds of attachments


These machines have many attachments to grip and give better versatility in exercises. There are dip bars (2 piece), and press up bars (2 piece). There is a mult-function attachment, and wing bar attachment (1 piece and 2 piece versions) that have 2 handle positions. A tri-grip shaper bar set (2 piece) has 3 grip positions. These handle type attachments can be attached pretty much anywhere you want.

Also, there is an arm pulley and a leg pulley. The arm pulley has foam covered handles at the end of the pulley system that are shaped like a triangle or L-shaped for your hands to hold. There is a pulley system with strap attachments for the leg pulley. As previously mentioned, there is a Pilates toe bar attachment that can be used in place of the squat stand.

Holes for the attachments

There are holes for connecting along the rails. You can connect them at many locations at the top, at least one at the base. Additionally, there is a central hole for the dip bars.


Additional attachment information

All attachments with hand hold areas have foam padding for comfort of use. Dip bar handles come straight up from the side of the machine. Any Total Gym model that has the hole in the center area of the rail where the glide track travels can have the dip bar attached. The press up bar make a 90 degree angle for you to hold and comfortably use to pull or push yourself on the glideboard.

The wing bar attachment that I have is essentially like the multi-function attachment. As you use your equipment, you will find that you can do each workout with certain favorite attachments. Changing of attachments will be reduced as you learn your favorite process. I have found that many of mine stay packed away and I have more than I need.

Ab crunch attachment

The ab crunch boards can be used for many range of motion abdominal muscle exercises as demonstrated below. If you do not have the ab crunch board, don’t worry, you can still do these type of exercises. You can plant your hands or grip at the base of the machine and perform these in a pushing position instead of a pulling one. It is also possible to grip at the top of the machine and do these. There is the option of doing both. You can also do many variations. Additionally, I described my lower abdominal exercises that utilize the Pilates toe bar in the beginning of this article as well.



Some example videos of exercises for the Total Gym

TOTAL GYM EXERCISES POSSIBLE My page on Total Gym exercises


$100 to $350 range machines

Models: 1100, Achiever, 1400, 1600, 1700 Club
LOW END TOTAL GYM MODELS My Low End Total Gym Models page

$350 to $800 range machines

1800 Club, 1900, Ultima, Flex, Premiere, Force, Supreme, Elite, Platinum, Platinum Plus, and 30000
MIDDLE RANGE TOTAL GYM MODELS My Middle Price Range Total Gym Models page

Total Gym models over $800

Models: XL, XLS, Fit
HIGH END TOTAL GYM MODELS My High End Total Gym Models page

The Pilates Accessory Kit for Total Gym

Pilates Toebar by itself

Other valuable Total Gym accessories

This is the ab crunch attachment

Press up bar attachment

Weight bar attachment

For use with models: 2000, 2200, 2500, 3000, 300XL, XL, XLS, Electra, Supra, FIT. The older models like the Achiever, 1100, 1500 would need to have the holes added for this weight bar attachment. Also the Supreme doesn’t have the necessary holes. The weight limit for the bar is simply limited by what the combination of your weight plus the added weight. It has to be within the limit of the machine load.

Total Gym Exercise Chart

Total Gym exercise videos…

This is the Pilates video by Simon and Martine Scott It is basic video that comes with the Pilates Accessories Kit. It is a VHS video.

Total Gym Pilates DVD with Simon and Martine Scott
The DVD is set up with 8 blocks of exercises that are 7 to 10 minutes each. There are 3 to 5 different stretches in each block. They give good instructions for form and breathing breathing technique for the exercises.

Total Gym Intermediate Workout DVD Increase Intensity Challenge Strength
This is an intermediate level exercise video by Todd Durkin, MA, CSCS, Personal Trainer and Performance Coach, who gives performance-enhancement to dozens of professional athletes. He explains each exercise.

Total Gym Body Makeover video by Dan Isaacson
This is a Hollywood celebrity fitness trainer who created this program for the Los Angeles Fire Department, so the firefighters could get an effective all-around workout on the Total Gym. It is a 55min workout that is good for men and women because you set it to the incline level that is right for you. Each exercise is well explained and demonstrated.

Total Gym 3 DVD Progression Series
The first DVD is for beginners, the second increases the difficulty level, and the third DVD is for moderate to advanced.

Total Gym 3 DVD set that contain 5 workout programs:
Start It Up! Your Personal Training Guide (55 min)
6-8 Minute Workout (94 min)
Smart Training Workout (30 min)
Pilates for Total Gym* (62 min)
Dan Isaacson’s Body Makeover (50 min)
The people that were unhappy with these were confused about the number of DVDs. There are THREE DVDs in this set that includes a 5 day advanced program, an intermediate program, and a beginner program. This is a great set to have.

The home exercise machines that are competitors of Total Gym.

Maybe you will like one of these more…

Other affordable and valuable home exercise equipment.

I invite you to go there too! There is cheap alternative home equipment for various types of Total Gym exercises and more. These are the exercise equipment items that are affordable and give the best results. I also tell about equipment that is not worth getting or may not be as well suited as it seems.

Didn’t find what you were looking for?

Look here or email me at the contact below…