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Using Total Gym for Spinal Stabilization #2

Spinal Stabilization on Total Gym PartII

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How to Develop a Spinal Stabilization Program, Part 2:  Variations

With an appreciation of how intent can change the emphasis of an exercise, as well as an array of spinal stability exercises on the Total Gym GTS, let’s look at the previous exercises in Part 1 and how we can tweak them with strength and mobility. Strength adjustments may be increasing the intensity to muscle building or decreasing to fine-tune precision and control. Mobility may encourage greater range of motion, as well as exercises that inherently encourage more of a stretch, like a Pullover.

Side Lying

Single Leg Squat

The intent of the exercise is to progress neutral to anterior pelvic tilting during a squat. This movement may also prep the body for lunging.

> The foot, knee and hip are aligned. Note there is a compensatory tendency to place the foot too high on the squat stand.

> Observe the thoracic and cervical spinal alignment. A common compensation is sinking into the glideboard and flexing forward at the upper thoracic and cervical spine.

> The bottom leg can self spot, move forward or backward depending on pelvic positioning and client’s comfort level.

> For safety, ensure the pelvis is a hands distance away from the side edge of the glideboard.

Lateral Trunk Flexion

The intent of the exercise focus on the frontal plane movement of  lateral flexion. Although this is a unilateral planar movement, it is harder the trunk lateral flexion with rotation.

> The legs may be scissored, stacked or the bottom leg hooked over the top leg in a figure 4 position. The latter being more challenging as it is anchoring the hip.

> To modify, the top and/or bottom arm may assist. To progress, the arms may be crossed at the chest, or one to both arms reaching overhead.

> Observe the pelvic alignment. The tendency is to rotate backward.

> For safety, ensure the pelvis is a hands distance away from the side edge of the glideboard.


Alternating arm and leg extension

> The intent of the exercise is to challenge spinal stability while moving both upper and lower extremities. The exercise inherently strengthens both the anterior and posterior fascial slings.

> Observe the stationary arm and leg’s alignment. Avoid hyper-extending the elbow and pushing the hip out to the side. Cue to pull the heel of the hand and the inner knee toward one another to increase anterior fascial sling activation and improve alignment.

> Ensure the shoulders are sliding away from the ears and the pelvis is parallel to glideboard. Note that changing the height of the glideboard may or may not make the exercise easier for a client. If bringing the board to parallel, the pulley and incline height may have to be adjusted.

The chart below are the exercises in Part 1, as well as the addition of side lying squat, lateral trunk flexion and quadruped alternating arm and leg.




About the Author

Elizabeth Leeds, DPTElizabeth Leeds, DPT, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues. Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.

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