Less is More: Simple, Efficient Exercises for When You Are Crunched for Time

“If I only had more time!” An expression, I often hear, and one I am doing my best to get away from. Why…because the expression became an excuse as to why I was not getting in all the stretching and strengthening I knew I needed to prevent pain and promote wellness. So, I started to end a cardio session with 10-20 minutes of strengthening a few times a week. Research in high intensity training show is as effective for metabolic and strength gains. The key is to make sure you keep the INTENSITY.

Below is one of my go to Total Gym workouts when I have as little as 10 minutes. Because I want to focus on my form and not be learning new and complex movements, I use exercises commonly performed on the Total Gym and give it my all. The variation in this routine will be based on your intentions.

Do you want to focus on strength, endurance, power, or combination of all three? Set your timer for 45 -60 seconds, with an optional 20 second rest between exercises.

For strength, your focus will be on slowing down the movement and performing 8-12 reps within a 45 second time period.

For endurance, your tempo will increase to complete 15-20 reps in a 45 second period or perform as many reps as you can with good technique in a 45-60 second time period.

If the focus is power, then add a plyometric, like burpees or jump squats. The number of reps will be based on your fitness level, you may start at 5 reps for beginners or 30 reps for more advance participants.

There are 3 circuits each with 3 exercises, providing a 10-30-minute routine depending on how many sets you perform. Typically, I mix up my routine, with one day picking which exercises I will perform slower than the next time, I will do the slower paced movement faster or with power. I have yet to get bored, I continue to be sore in a good way, and I no longer let time be my barrier!

TG Level/Equipment
Lying down on the glideboard, place the feet on the squat stand and bend and straighten the knees.
Lower the incline
One Legged if timeRaise the incline
Top 3rd / Squat Stand
Plyo Squat Core Focus
Lying down on the glideboard with optional hands behind the head and lifted, place the feet on the squat stand then add alternate the bending and straightening the knees
Eliminate the plyometric component.
Reach the arms overhead
Middle to top 3rd / Squat Stand
Push Ups
In a plank position with the feel on the floor and hands on the glideboard, bend and straighten the elbows.
Perform on your knees
Lifting a leg while pushing up / Burpees
Middle to top 3rd / easier the higher the incline
TG Level/Equipment
Squat On Floor
Standing side ways to the Total Gym, place the inner foot on the glideboard. Bend the knee whose foot is on the floor while the other legs remain straight, pushing the board up the rails.
Limit Range of Motion
Jump Squat
Chest Press
Attach the pulley to the glideboard. Holding the handles, face away from the tower and straddle the glideboard. Sitting toward the top 1/3 of the glideboard, bring the arms out in front of you. Turn your palms down, ensure the cables are running under the arm. Bend the elbow to 90 degrees then return to the start. The feet can lift off the floor, placed together on the board with legs in a diamond or feet on the board with legs crossed.
Use feet for Assistance
Raise Height of the Tower
Lower to middle 3rd / Arm Pulley
Pullover Crunch
Holding the handles, lie on the on the glideboard with the feet bent. Start with reaching the hands to the mid thighs and lift the head. Reach the arms overhead toward the tower while lowering the head, then keep the arms straight reaching for the thighs while lifting the head.
Limit Range of motion
Legs in table top or to a diagonal or Legs to V sit with roll up
Lower to middle 3rd / Arm Pulley
TG Level/Equipment
Side Lunge with Rotational Reach
Standing sideways to the Total Gym, place the inner foot on the glideboard. Bend the knee whose foot is on the floor while the other legs remain straight, pushing the board up the rails.
Only Lunge or Limit Range of motion
Hold last rep and move the glide board in and out 10-20 times
Holding the handles while kneeling facing the tower, allow the arms to reach for the tower as the body leans forward. Keeping the arms straight, pull the arms back toward the hips while simultaneously lifting the body up into a kneeling or upright kneeling position.
Seated or low or high kneeling only perform the arm motion of keeping the elbows straight and reaching the hands back to the hips then to the tower.
Enter a high kneeling position.
Lower to middle 3rd / Arm Pulley
Mountain Climbers
Facing the tower in a plank position, alternate bringing one knee into the chest.
Raise the incline.

Step forward and to the side placing the foot on the ground to the outside of the tower.
Maintain an open glideboard

Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

Elizabeth Leeds, 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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