We’ve all seen the famous Total Gym infomercials with Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley. They’ve been on tv for years and are still going strong.
Those actors are great and are both in phenomenal shape, but does that mean that the Total Gyms actually work? More specifically, is the Total Gym 1400 worth the purchase price? All great questions I intend to answer within this article.
Let’s start from the beginning. There are many different models on the market (some of which I have reviewed in the past), but today I want to focus on the Total Gym 1400.
What Is The Total Gym 1400?
The first Total Gym machine was created in 1974 by a competitive body builder by the name of Tom Campanaro and his partners. The goal was to create an exercise machine that mimicked all the functional activities we perform throughout the day. The product got started in physical therapy clinics and rehab settings because they were so gentle to use and allowed for full range of motion (ROM) of the upper and lower body joints.
This is actually where I had my first experience with the Total Gym. For those of you who aren’t aware, I’m a physical therapist. When I’m not blogging away about exercising at home, I’m treating patients with various mobility and gait disorders. I used to work in an outpatient clinic and we had a Total Gym there that we used everyday. We all loved it for its versatility and how easy it was to use.
In 1997 Total Gym aired it’s first infomercial with Chuck Norris and the rest is history. They’ve sold millions of gyms to home users and have raked in over a billion dollars in revenue while doing so.
The Total Gym 1400 is one of several models of Total Gym exercise machines currently available. Other models include the XLS, the Fit, the Supreme, and so on. The Total Gym machines use a pulley system and an adjustable height base to use the users weight as the resistance for varying exercises.
The system really is genius because there is no need to purchase weight plates or dumbbells with this system. Your body provides all the resistance you need.
Well, your body and gravity. Without gravity the system wouldn’t work very well. The idea is that by changing the angle of the base, you are changing how much of your body weight you are working against. When you set the base at the lower positions (closer to the ground), the base is more horizontal and you aren’t working against gravity as much.
As you start adjusting the height of the base higher and higher, you are becoming more vertical. This means you will be fighting gravity more as you push or pull (depending on the exercise). Like I said, it’s a brilliant idea. It’s simple, but effective.
See the Total Gym in action (full disclosure, this is not the 1400, I think it’s the XLS).
If you are interested in more of the history behind Total Gym, Wikipedia has a good article.
But Is The Total Gym 1400 Worth The Money?
Let’s take a closer look at what the Total Gym 1400 is all about and see whether it would be a worthwhile investment for you or not. Everybody’s needs are different and what may work for one person won’t necessarily work for another.
So I mentioned that the 1400 is just one of several models currently available from Total Gym. On the scale from low-end to high-end available models, the 1400 is near the low-end. I want to discuss the differences in a little more detail, but when comparing the different Total Gyms to each other, the big differences are:
- Levels of resistance- as you climb up from the lower-end models to the higher-end models, you will notice there are more levels of height adjustment for the base. This gives you more control over the resistance.
- Weight capacity- the user weight limit also increases with the nicer Total Gyms. This indicates sturdier frames and more robust moving parts. The weight limit for these machines can range between 250 lb and 650 lb.
- More exercise possibilities- the more advanced models have additional attachments that give you the ability to perform more exercises. Exercise options can range between 60 and over 200 depending on the model.
- Price- price of course is the last big difference between the different Total Gyms. More options + sturdier frame = higher cost. Prices for Total Gyms can range between $300 and $3000.
The concept for all the Total Gym models are the same. They all use your body weight and varying heights to provide a full body workout. The key differences to consider when comparing models really boils down to resistance, weight capacity, and exercise options (and price).
The Total Gym 1400, being on the low-end of the spectrum, means that it’s options will be on the low-end of the ranges discussed above.
Levels of Resistance
The Total Gym 1400 offers 8 different levels of resistance. This means there are 8 different levels of height adjustment for the base. Recall that the lower settings (more horizontal) are easier and the higher settings (more vertical) are more difficult.
I’d like to point out that having 8 adjustments vs. 22 doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting less overall resistance, it just means you have less control over that resistance. You have the ability to really fine tune your resistance level with more height adjustments. Less adjustments means there will be larger increases in difficulty per level. Does that make sense?
That said, for most of us 8 resistance levels will probably be adequate. Remember, you can always adjust your reps and sets to accommodate your needs as well.
The Total Gym 1400 has a 250 lb max weight capacity. This is on the low-end for their machines, but if you fall below this number you shouldn’t have any problems. The Total Gyms are well built with few complaints from users regarding quality of materials.
The Total Gym 1400 boasts that you can perform at least 60 different exercises from this machine. This includes upper body, lower body, and core moves. Although some of the more expensive models offer more exercises, 60 is a lot. Most of us are not performing 60 different exercises when we go to a commercial gym. That is, for most of us, 60 is more than enough.
The great thing about working out on a Total Gym is that you can stretch the muscles as you strengthen them. Many weight machines and home gym machines limit your ROM. This is just the way they are designed. With the Total Gym 1400 (and all other models), you can stretch out as far as you please. There are no weight stacks or lever arms in your way.This is great for toning and stretching all the muscles of your body.
Another great thing about the Total Gyms is that you don’t have to waste time selecting weights or setting up the machine. You can easily switch between many exercises without even getting off the platform. You may have seen Chuck Norris switch between chest press, lat pull down, tricep extensions, and pec flys without even resting between reps.
This benefit will help you get a cardiovascular workout as you tone up. It will also help you burn more calories and burn more fat than you would if you were stopping and resting between each exercise.
Most people can finish a total body workout within 20 minutes. If you are in good shape and don’t need much rest, you could do it even faster. Of course that all depends on how many exercises you are doing.
At around $300, the Total Gym 1400 is one of the most affordable Total Gyms on the market. For that case, it’s one of the most affordable home gyms of any kind on the market. It’s difficult to find a piece of equipment that can provide a full body workout, with over 60 different exercises, for such a low price.
With the Total Gym 1400, there is no assembly. This machine comes fully assembled and ready to use right out of the box. That’s pretty awesome right? Who wants to waste an hour putting their home gym together?
The Total Gym 1400 doesn’t take up a lot of space during use. I would recommend having a space of roughly 8′ long and 2′ wide to ensure plenty of room during use. But the great thing is that this machine can be folded flat when not being used and easily stored out of sight. The machine only weighs about 70 lb, so it’s pretty easy to move around.
Total Gym throws in a few extra features to ensure everyone gets a total body workout with their products. The additional features that come with the 1400 include:
- Multi-function attachment bar- handle bar that can be used for varying upper body exercises
- Dip bars
- Squat stand
- Leg pulley accessory- cuff that can be used for leg strengthening exercises
- Flip chart- an exercise chart that attaches right to the frame; this is very handy because you can look at it for reference while you exercise
- Owners manual
- Workout DVD- instructor teaches you several exercises you can do to get started
- Exercise manual
These are all great additions to the product. I think the flip chart is a brilliant idea. Being able to attach the chart to the frame and reference during your workout is a great touch.
- Affordable price
- Fully assembled
- Ability to perform over 60 different exercises
- Offers total body workout
- Uses body weight as resistance (no weights!)
- Folds for easy storage
- Plenty of additional features included
- Great for stretching and toning up
- Low weight capacity
- Some complaints about board being too narrow
- Not great for adding muscle mass
After taking a close look at what the Total Gym 1400 offers and comparing pros and cons, I would argue that that this machine is definitely worth purchasing. The 1400 has a lot to offer and it’s incredibly affordable (especially when compared to other home gym systems). That said, this home gym is not for everyone.
If you are looking to bulk up and add some serious muscle mass, this is not the right home gym for you. If this is your goal, you will need to incorporate free weights in your routine. Good ol’ fashioned barbells and dumbbells. A power rack is probably more of what you are looking for.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Total Gym 1400 has a pretty low max weight capacity of 250 lb. This means this product would work best for smaller individuals. The board on this gym is fairly narrow too, so even if you are under the max weight limit, if you have a broad frame you may be uncomfortable during use.
However, if you fit well within the weight limit and are looking for an all-inclusive, affordable home gym, the 1400 might be a great fit for you. If you are curious about the Total Gyms, the 1400 would also be a good introduction for you.
It’s a lot more affordable than the other models but uses the same workout principle. If you start working out with the 1400 and love it, you could always upgrade down the road if necessary.
Overall, the Total Gym 1400 is a very well reviewed home gym system. It’s currently boasting an average user rating of 4.4/5 on Amazon. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and most folks love their Total Gym. If you’re not sure about the 1400 and want to see more info on all the Total Gym models, you should check out my complete Total Gym guide.
If you would like to take a closer look and learn a little more, click below.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll get right back to you.