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    Registered User gidoeneer's Avatar
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    Total Gym XLS - is it enough to build muscle?

    Hi, I'm 21, very skinny (130-135lbs), 5'8. I'm thinking of ordering this because of all the great reviews but will it help build muscle? There aren't weights, it only uses your body weight and I've been the same weight for years and think I'll remain the same weight for a while. So that means max is 135lbs resistance, right? That isn't much...

    Am I right?
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    Hi, I'm 21, very skinny (130-135lbs), 5'8. I'm thinking of ordering this because of all the great reviews but will it help build muscle? There aren't weights, it only uses your body weight and I've been the same weight for years and think I'll remain the same weight for a while. So that means max is 135lbs resistance, right? That isn't much...

    Am I right?
    You'll be better off looking for some other solution. As I recall, the Total Gym consists of a sled on an inclined track where the maximum incline is approximately 30 degrees. That being the case, the maximum resistance is actually sin(30) * (weight-of-sled + bodyweight). Since sin(30)=1/2, this means that the maximum resistance is only slightly over half your body weight.

    You'd be much better off with dumbbells or even bodyweight exercises.

    If you have the resources, a bar, plates, bench, and power rack is an excellent place to start.
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    Originally Posted by KBKB View Post
    You'll be better off looking for some other solution. As I recall, the Total Gym consists of a sled on an inclined track where the maximum incline is approximately 30 degrees. That being the case, the maximum resistance is actually sin(30) * (weight-of-sled + bodyweight). Since sin(30)=1/2, this means that the maximum resistance is only slightly over half your body weight.

    You'd be much better off with dumbbells or even bodyweight exercises.

    If you have the resources, a bar, plates, bench, and power rack is an excellent place to start.
    Thanks for the reply. I'm looking to tone my entire body (six pack, calves, pecs, some biceps). So just getting dumbells isn't going to help me much, I'm really looking to cover the entire body. Plus I live in a very small apartment so no room anyway.

    But the reviews for this thing are so good. It's hard to imagine nobody else would have caught on to that... we must be missing or misinterpreting something. Because as it is, it seems that this (what is the term for this Total Gym?) thing is no good for skinny people and only decent for overweight people because they'll have more weight to work against them/with them
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I'm looking to tone my entire body (six pack, calves, pecs, some biceps). So just getting dumbells isn't going to help me much, I'm really looking to cover the entire body. Plus I live in a very small apartment so no room anyway.

    But the reviews for this thing are so good. It's hard to imagine nobody else would have caught on to that... we must be missing or misinterpreting something. Because as it is, it seems that this (what is the term for this Total Gym?) thing is no good for skinny people and only decent for overweight people because they'll have more weight to work against them/with them
    You're correct and incorrect about dumbbells. You can work just about any part of your body with dumbbells (given you have the proper surfaces - preferably a workout bench - to make the best use of them). Even dumbbells + a floor + a sturdy chair would still allow you to do what you need to do. Dumbbells aren't the only thing you should use in a fitness routine (that's what I mean by "you are correct"), but they certainly can be the only thing you use if your goals are relatively simple (heck, you could only use machines and never use freeweights and you'd get somewhere -- not recommended!).

    When I tried to get into a healthier lifestyle for the first time, before I knew anything, I picked up a pair of 25 pound dumbbells and thought all they'd be good for is chest presses and curls. That's all I thought dumbbells were for. I knew very little about the various exercises that could be performed with freeweights (the same went for barbell exercises -- I had no idea). I'm mentioning this because you appear to be new to this, and you may also lack that same knowledge I lacked when I started getting into fitness. Speaking about dumbbells, you can work your legs, your core, your arms, your shoulders, your back, your traps... etc... you can work basically anything. You name the body part, and there's an exercise. For back, there's dumbbell rows, rear delt flies; for chest there's chest press, flies; for biceps there's various types of curls. The list goes on. I just listed a very select number of exercises just to get at the point.

    If we're comparing the total gym to dumbbells in a direct 1-on-1 comparison, dumbbells are the more versatile and overall better fitness tool by far.

    One thing that's important to take note of about the Total Gym you are looking at, as well as many other fitness items (ex. Bowflex contraptions), is that they will help you get fit. You will generally build a certain amount of muscle and strength. However, that doesn't necessarily make the items a great buy. As a general rule, beginners who get their diet into proper shape to build muscle (or lose fat), and put in a genuine effort into their lifting and/or fitness routine, will start to notice a fairly significant difference in their body fairly quickly regardless of whether they're using a Total Gym contraption, or are actually visiting a gym. That isn't to say that their progress will be identical though (the real gym is going to be superior). As time progresses (as in, within a month or a couple of months) the Total Gym will become increasingly less useful as a muscle building tool, and you will notice this.
    Last edited by PaulWog; 11-02-2011 at 04:53 PM.
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I'm looking to tone my entire body (six pack, calves, pecs, some biceps). So just getting dumbells isn't going to help me much, I'm really looking to cover the entire body. Plus I live in a very small apartment so no room anyway.
    You can work your entire body with dumbbells.

    But the reviews for this thing are so good. It's hard to imagine nobody else would have caught on to that... we must be missing or misinterpreting something. Because as it is, it seems that this (what is the term for this Total Gym?) thing is no good for skinny people and only decent for overweight people because they'll have more weight to work against them/with them
    I think the Total Gym is intended for people who are so overweight and detrained that that they can't do bodyweight exercises. The Total Gym allows them to work with varying fractions of their body weight. Plus, it's a cool looking machine, so that must be better than dumbbells, right?
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    I didn't know that about dumbbells (don't really know anything about working out). But knowing myself.. dumbbells aren't fun and I know I'll dump them real quick. With a machine like Bowflex or this, I know I'll be able to keep it up (been to the gym in the past and very much enjoyed the weight machines).

    But can anyone else chime in on the subject of whether it's worth buying this machine for someone that isn't overweight? Right now it's between the Bowflex PR1000 or the Total Gym XLS.

    I was leaning for the XLS because it's a hella more compact and reviews in general are much better for the Total Gym
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    I didn't know that about dumbbells (don't really know anything about working out). But knowing myself.. dumbbells aren't fun and I know I'll dump them real quick. With a machine like Bowflex or this, I know I'll be able to keep it up (been to the gym in the past and very much enjoyed the weight machines).

    But can anyone else chime in on the subject of whether it's worth buying this machine for someone that isn't overweight? Right now it's between the Bowflex PR1000 or the Total Gym XLS.

    I was leaning for the XLS because it's a hella more compact and reviews in general are much better for the Total Gym
    First point: don't buy either! Second point; if there's no convincing you otherwise, the Bowflex PR1000 is better than the Total Gym, if price is no issue.

    Freeweights are really a great idea. However, if you really feel you won't be able to keep up with your fitness routine if you were using free weights, then get a machine now... and once you build up your strength and physique, you may feel differently about freeweights in the future. So, keep an open mind about that.

    You could get something like an Inspire m4 or other home gym all-in-one unit, which is compact (I mention the m4 since you can check a picture of it out, there's a thread about it that's going on right now). That's your first option. Your alternate option which I really like the idea of is going with something more like a Powertec option: this would be nice since most Powertec equipment is going to be useful even if you do have freeweights.

    So here's something you could buy: http://powertecstore.com/p-12-workbe...m-wb-ms11.aspx

    Alternatively:
    http://powertecstore.com/p-29-workbe...e-wb-ls11.aspx
    and you'd need to get this curl attachment as well: http://powertecstore.com/p-18-workbe...-wb-cma11.aspx

    Those two different machine options are really fun in my opinion, and you'll end up getting to work all of your muscles. I will stress that freeweights are ultimately going to be necessary for you to really progress, but what I've linked (in my opinion) is not a waste of money, and will really seriously be useful to you even if/when you decide to pick up free weights.
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    I didn't know that about dumbbells (don't really know anything about working out). But knowing myself.. dumbbells aren't fun and I know I'll dump them real quick. With a machine like Bowflex or this, I know I'll be able to keep it up (been to the gym in the past and very much enjoyed the weight machines).

    But can anyone else chime in on the subject of whether it's worth buying this machine for someone that isn't overweight? Right now it's between the Bowflex PR1000 or the Total Gym XLS.

    I was leaning for the XLS because it's a hella more compact and reviews in general are much better for the Total Gym
    You might find it beneficial to read the following sticky threads in this forum:
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    Registered User gidoeneer's Avatar
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    Ouch, those are way way way way too expensive for me. I'm not looking to spend more than $500 The m4 is $4000!

    Maybe the Bowflex dumbbells? But those are really expensive for dumbbells. The Amazon listing for them shows a ton of available exercises, that's awesome. I'll have to look up some videos on dumbbell exercises

    edit: thanks for the FAQ above, guess better stay away from Bowflex then. But that's really the only decent/rated option on Amazon (other places would charge crazy amounts for shipping ontop of their higher than Amazon's prices).

    So what can you recommend aside from dumbbells for a 'total home gym' all in one type of machine for under $500? I realize it's nowhere near as good an option as to have a variety of stand alones but I don't have that kind of money or space
    Last edited by gidoeneer; 11-02-2011 at 05:25 PM.
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    Ouch, those are way way way way too expensive for me. I'm not looking to spend more than $500 The m4 is $4000!

    Maybe the Bowflex dumbbells? But those are really expensive for dumbbells. The Amazon listing for them shows a ton of available exercises, that's awesome. I'll have to look up some videos on dumbbell exercises
    If you can stretch the money out, the items I listed are quite nice to have. However I'm not trying to promote machine-only workout routines.

    Anyway, if you're stuck with $500 and can't go with anything more, the first thing is this: you won't be able to get a fun machine that works your entire body unless if you go on craigslist and find one for sale second-hand.

    So, yes, adjustable dumbbells would be awesome. The two different kinds you should look at are Ironmaster, or Powerblock. The third kind that's worth paying attention to (cheaper, but a lot more annoying to switch weight with) is traditional spindle-lock dumbbells.

    [edit]: keyboardworkout below is quite right though. Joining a gym is probably the best bet given your physical condition, fitness goals, and budget.
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    As an ectomorph myself, let me pass on what works.

    Nothing will put on muscle like the barbell. Since it doesn't sound like you have the ability to set up a power rack to safely train with a barbell at home, your best bet is to join a gym.

    You also need to eat a lot. Do not even consider cutting for six pack abs until you weigh 3 pounds for every inch of height. A realistic goal to have is 2.8 pounds per inch of height with body fat at 12-15%.
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    Take a look at this bench and dumbbell package from Ironmaster. Does that look cool enough to keep you motivated?

    The maximum weight per dumbbell with that package is 75lbs. If you use them for dumbbell squats, that'd put you at 150lbs total. That's not a lot, but it's a start. Ironmaster has an add-on kit to bring the dumbbells up to 120lbs per dumbbell and then a further add-on kit to bring them up to 160 lbs per dumbbell. The reason that I mention this is that the squat is a very basic movement that ought to be used by just about everyone to build strength.
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    Originally Posted by keyboardworkout View Post
    As an ectomorph myself, let me pass on what works.

    Nothing will put on muscle like the barbell. Since it doesn't sound like you have the ability to set up a power rack to safely train with a barbell at home, your best bet is to join a gym.

    You also need to eat a lot. Do not even consider cutting for six pack abs until you weigh 3 pounds for every inch of height. A realistic goal to have is 2.8 pounds per inch of height with body fat at 12-15%.
    Well seeing as I've been in the 130lbs range for the past... 5 years steady and no signs of changing, I guess a six pack is out of the question until I'm in my mid 60's LOL. There's no way I'll be 190lbs... ever
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    Well seeing as I've been in the 130lbs range for the past... 5 years steady and no signs of changing, I guess a six pack is out of the question until I'm in my mid 60's LOL. There's no way I'll be 190lbs... ever
    A six pack and being in the 190lb range is completely irrelevant.

    I don't know many professional athletes off-hand, so I'm just using one of the paid Powertec models as an example. Rob Riches weighs in at about 180 pounds, and this is what he looked like for his photoshoot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7bozE4wmWM

    Mind you, that's a very low body fat %. But that's just to give you an idea. He's a pro bodybuilder and looks like that at 180 pounds. A lot of people can't even get close to where a pro bodybuilder is, but they can still manage to look good. If you put on 10-20 pounds of muscle, you'd notice a HUGE difference.

    Realize that being 190 pounds at say a 5'10 height with 8% bodyfat basically means you're one jacked guy (I'm speaking arbitrarily, as these numbers are no longer about Rob Riches above). Heck, being 5'10 and 170 pounds with 8% bodyfat, you'll look jacked and have an awesome six pack.

    I tend to type too much to get a simple point across, so this is what I mean to say: don't fixate on your body weight. Just work on building muscle, and things will work out quite well as you progress.
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    Originally Posted by KBKB View Post
    Take a look at [this bench and dumbbell package from Ironmaster[/url]. Does that look cool enough to keep you motivated?

    The maximum weight per dumbbell with that package is 75lbs. If you use them for dumbbell squats, that'd put you at 150lbs total. That's not a lot, but it's a start. Ironmaster has an add-on kit to bring the dumbbells up to 120lbs per dumbbell and then a further add-on kit to bring them up to 160 lbs per dumbbell. The reason that I mention this is that the squat is a very basic movement that ought to be used by just about everyone to build strength.
    Sorry but that price is out of whack. over $800 shipped for some round metal pieces. That's crazy. Even if I did have that type of money no way would I ever spend that much on some weights.

    Really $500 is my limit. Anything over and I might as well sign up for the gym. Only reason I'm not signed up any more is because I'd rather do it at the convenience of my home and in the long term, $30/month is a lot. So I thought buying one piece of equipment for $500 would solve both problems but it seems the consensus is that it isn't a wise investment.

    So that leaves the gym (expensive in the long run), or a really expensive set of dumbbells and a bench which I can't afford
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    Originally Posted by gidoeneer View Post
    Sorry but that price is out of whack. over $800 shipped for some round metal pieces. That's crazy. Even if I did have that type of money no way would I ever spend that much on some weights.

    Really $500 is my limit. Anything over and I might as well sign up for the gym. Only reason I'm not signed up any more is because I'd rather do it at the convenience of my home and in the long term, $30/month is a lot. So I thought buying one piece of equipment for $500 would solve both problems but it seems the consensus is that it isn't a wise investment.

    So that leaves the gym (expensive in the long run), or a really expensive set of dumbbells and a bench which I can't afford
    Well, again, spindle-locks are an option, but it's really not all that fun to use them. You can have a pair of spindle-lock dumbbells with all the weight you need for a fraction of the price.

    I'd say stick it out with the gym until you decide to invest more into a home gym.
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    Originally Posted by PaulWog View Post
    If you can stretch the money out, . . .
    You should get a Tug Toner!
    You need a rack, bench and 300-lb. Oly set. Now, what was your question?

    "Get it on, Bang a gong, Get it on." - Marc Bolan and T-Rex; Power Station.

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    Either keep going to the gym or get yourself a power tower if deciding to take the home workout route. Power Tower is a dip and chinning station,not a power rack. Or,you could get that thing they now sell in sporting goods stores called "The Rack",its a sturdy dipping station with a 300 lb capacity so you could do very heavy weighted dips on it until you weigh over 250 yourself. The rack would take up less room than a power tower,which itself is quite space saving compared to a regular power rack or benchpress. Also,one of those IronGym doorway chinning bars to go along with the rack would be a good option,if you're doorway cant accomodate one of them,like my apt cant,then get the spin lock db's and 100 lbs worth of weights and you'll be set for a good while.

    I go to a park regularly to do my chins and dips,plus i do by db and bb exercises in my apt.I dont have a bench and i really dont need one.I started doing one handed pushups recently while using the iron gym,its great for that,not just for chinning.So yeah,theyr'es various options if you use a bit of imagination and practical creativity,nothing ingenius about it.Pretty straightforward simplistics the workout game is. For resistance training on legs,i rely on single legged squats,i open my closet door and hold onto the side of the doorway,i like to lean way back while doing these to minimize excessive knee strain. And yeah,i actually have a total gym clone myself called the body former,got loads of vids using that thing on my old yt channel "bobbyd7085",truth be told,i use that thing sparingly,especially these days,actually lost the handles,gotta find em coz i actually am starting to miss that thing,havent used it in months.

    But yeah,like someone allready mentioned earlier,bodyweight exercises are great and always effective. Another idea for bw exercises along with using belt chain and weights for added resistance is using a backpack and loading it with some resistance weight,thats what i started doing recently to do on the one handed pushups coz they were getting not challenging enough for me after awhile. Finally,there are those resistance bands i've been noticing at the sporting goods store in the mall. The ones they have at this particular sporting goods store are 180 lbs total,three 60 lb bands.Online,you can get the 240 kit,three 80 lb bands.I'm seriously considering getting them,they look legit,and the kit is modestly priced,40 bucks.
    Check out my YouTube Channels. "RobsterRulzDude0518" & "bobbyd7085".
    The channels are for motivating other natural workout enthusiasts.
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  19. #19
    Registered User comicthought's Avatar
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    I just recently purchased the Total Gym XLS and love it. Of course my goals were different, I'm 39 (almost 40), with lower back issues and want to lose weight and tone up.

    Anyway, you can buy a "Weight Bar" that slides into the 'sled' to increase resistance. So with me being around 200lbs, I could add 200lbs of weights to get the 400lb capacity of the XLS. Now as someone else already pointed out, you're not lifting 400lbs. The resistance at max height with 400lbs on the sled would be about 184lbs of resistance, and only 92lbs if the pulley's are used.

    So for me, I love the Total Gym and wouldn't trade it, but there may come a time when I need to do certain exercises on a regular workout bench. And it is a little awkward getting into position with a lot of weight on the Weight Bar.

    Good luck with whatever you use.
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  20. #20
    Registered User donforeman's Avatar
    Join Date: Feb 2011
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    I had a Total Gym XL. It was very poor quality. I did however like the total gym 14000 http://www.physiotherapie.de/attachm..._physio.de.jpg Don't confuse the 14000 or the 26000 http://www.home-gym-information.com/...e%20gyms29.gif
    with its infomercial/department store brothers with similar numbers. They are much wider and better built. You cant even get parts at the same place, the send you to a different business for the parts on the better models. The cost.... $250 used on ebay.
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