You may be skeptical of “total gym” equipment for the home, but the Total Gym X-Force is undoubtedly a versatile, efficient option for getting a workout in without a trip to the gym. It certainly has its limitations and may seem like a non-traditional way to work out for those that are used to dumbbells or other machines but, overall, it can get the job done. It’s capable of working every muscle group, as long as you take the time to learn all of the movements. Many of the exercises may feel familiar, but due to the pulley-style design of the machine and the fact that it uses your bodyweight as resistance, you’ll get to do classic movements in a new way.
We put the Total Gym X-Force to the test, and checked out things like the design, the features, the overall usability as well as the ease of assembly for a fully comprehensive review. If nothing else, the Total Gym X-Force is a unique, convenient way to strength-train without the need to purchase loads of equipment.
The Benefits Of Bodyweight Training
Many fitness enthusiasts assume that you need a ton of equipment to lose weight or define your body, but the reality is that your own bodyweight can usually provide enough resistance—at least in the beginning of your program. Body weight training is incredibly efficient, and allows you to seamlessly blend cardio and strength training because of how little equipment is usually involved. The Total Gym X-Force accomplishes this by being one piece of equipment that covers a variety of different movements, allowing you to move quickly from exercise to exercise.
Body weight training is also beneficial because it increases core strength significantly. The core is a group of muscles primarily contained in the lower back and stomach, that help us with standing up, changing directions and posture. Machines that you might find in your health club do almost nothing to work these muscles, mainly because many of them require that you sit down. Body weight training usually requires that the body move through free space.
This recruits the core muscles and doubles the benefits of your workout. The Total Gym X-Force may be a machine, but it does require core activation due to the pulley system. You’ll have to tighten up your obliques, abdominals and even glutes to properly perform many of the exercises.
Lastly, for those that may have a hard time dragging themselves to a workout, body weight training leaves you with no excuses. If you have the Total Gym X-Force already in your home all you have to do is jump on and start exercising. There are no weights and there is no set up involved.
The Total Gym X-Force
The Total Gym X-Force is a pulley-based machine that requires that the user sits on a movable board during use. The board is covered with a padded pillow, and has an auto-locking mechanism, making it adjustable for a number of body types. The resistance is dependent on your weight and the angle at which you set the machine. For example, a higher angle will yield more resistance, while a lower angle will make certain movements easier.
It folds up into a convenient package for easy stowing when you’re not using it. When it’s unfolded it measures in at 16 x 92.5 x 43 inches. Folded, it measures 16 x 50.5 x 8 inches. The machine also weighs just under 75 pounds, making a little difficult to move around. It doesn’t have wheels, so if you do decide to move it to a different part of the house, you’ll have to fold it up and carry it with you.
Ease Of Assembly
The Total Gym X-Force comes mostly pre-assembled. However, folding up the machine and packing it away isn’t easy as it seems. You won’t be able to fold it up if any of the included accessories are still attached, and you’ll have to adjust the height to its neutral position. It isn’t a really long process, but still isn’t as simple as just compressing the machine into one piece.
The Total Gym X-Force also comes with a number of accessories. You’ll get a leg-pulley accessory kit that includes a foot harness, a rope and o-ring, a clip and the pulley assembly. You’ll also get ab crunch boards, wing attachments, tri-grip shaper bars and dip bars. Most of the accessories are pretty intuitive to use, and hook up to the machine easily. Last but not least, the Total Gym X-Force comes with a 2-piece mat set to prevent sliding or damage to your floor.
The Total Gym X-Force enables you to do over 60 exercises, and has a 350lb user weight capacity. Using each of the included accessories, you can target a specific muscle group. For example, the AbCrunch accessory is designed to help work the abdominals and help build core strength while the wing attachments can be attached to either the top or bottom rails to do exercises like leg curls, pull-ups and shoulder presses. Additionally, the dip bars allow you to target your pecs, triceps and deltoids.
Another advantage we found to this machine was that it was suitable for those who may have joint pain, or those who may be recovering from an injury. All of the exercises are very low-impact, and with the adjustable resistance levels, you’ll be able to work your way up to a more intense workout as you continue getting accustomed to the machine.
You may not be used to using pulleys as resistance, and while some of these exercises may resemble some that you’ve done using traditional strength training machines, the X-Force can be confusing. Luckily, it comes with two workout DVDs to get you started. Considering that the machine may be a new method of exercising for many people, we found that the included DVDs were not only helpful, but also essential getting started quickly.
The Total Gym X-Force is a very easy to use, effective machine, but it did have some minor drawbacks. First and foremost, we found that, for the beginner, it might be too complicated to navigate. Traditional dumbbell training may not be for everyone, but some of the movements suggested by the Total Gym X-Force seemed even more advanced.
Considering that Total Gym recommends the machine for all age-groups, the amount of coordination required to pull off some of the movements seemed like it might be too much to handle for someone who may have never worked out before.
We also found that the Total Gym X-Force was limiting in that the resistance will be capped at the user’s own body weight. Strength training usually requires variability if gains are to be made long-term. You will make progress using the Total Gym X-Force, but eventually your own body weight won’t be enough resistance to stimulate muscle growth or strength gains.
It would have been optimal for the machine to come with weights that could be attached somewhere on the moving board that could add resistance in the event that a user’s body weight isn’t enough to provide an adequate workout.
A Note On The SAID Principle With Respect To Home Gym Equipment
In exercise science there exists something called the SAID principle. SAID stands for “specific adaptation to imposed to demands,” and it denotes the body’s ability to change and adapt to the tasks that you put it through.
It’s the reason muscles get bigger with strength training, runners can run longer with regular training and athletes get better at their sports with practice. Their bodies respond to their training with improved ability. However, there is a downside. The body’s ability to change and adapt means that it will also eventually plateau. At this point, a new type of exercise will be required to stimulate change.
Machines like the Total Gym X-Force are certainly effective for a given time period. However, like most strength training machines, the body will likely adapt to the movements as well as the limited resistance over time. If you plan on using the Total Gym X-Force consistently, be sure to vary your workouts as much as possible and blend some traditional weight training into your routine.
This will keep your body from adapting to the Total Gym X-Force too quickly, and will ensure long-term results without the possibility of a plateau. Using just one piece of equipment is never a good idea, regardless of how useful, well-made or effective it may seem.
The Total Gym X-Force can certainly deliver some excellent results once you get used to it. However, if you’d rather structure your workout using even less equipment, there are a number of workout DVDs available that can easily rival the Total Gym in intensity and effectiveness.
For example, the P90X3 program offers a ton of variety, and promises results in just 90 days. All you’ll really need is some free space and some light dumbbells to pull off most of the workouts. If you have a smaller living space, and don’t love the idea of wasting room on an exercise machine, you may want to consider P90X3 or another similar set of workout DVDs.
As far as home gyms go, there are a lot of Total Gym competitors, which we cover in our Best Home Gym article.
It may a little unconventional, but the Total Gym X-Force can certainly provide solid workouts right in the comfort of your home. Its pulley-based resistance system is ergonomic and will provide you with some challenging movements, and the included accessories ensure that you’ll have enough variety to stay busy.
Our only concern was with how long you’ll be able to get results from the machine, but this idea applies to any piece of exercise gear. If you can find ways to be creative with the Total Gym X-Force, you’ll be able to make it work for you long-term. It’s also easy on joints, requires very little assembly and won’t take up too much space.
As a part of your overall fitness regimen, or as a way to get a quick sweat going from your living room or office, we’d strongly recommend the Total Gym X-Force.