Best tonal workouts

Best tonal workouts DEFAULT

The majority of smart home fitness products center around cardio workouts instead of lifting weights. Ride a bike, do some burpees, plank for five. Some systems include lightweight dumbbells or kettlebells, but even when those are part of the package, they are used in interval training workouts designed for toning and slimming down. They aren't helpful for meeting the goals of a structured weight lifting regimen: adding mass and piling on a good amount of strength. Until now, if you wanted a good weight lifting experience at home, your only option was to stack a pile of weights in your garage and grunt away in your self-imposed dungeon like an extra in Orange Is the New Black.

Tonal addresses this home fitness hole with its simple-to-use system. Similar to home fitness competitors like Mirror, Tonal is a large, rectangular, wall-mounted device that displays interactive workout programming on a big screen. The one major difference with Tonal is the pair of adjustable arms that extend from the system. Each arm houses a cable that provides an adjustable amount of resistance of up to 100 pounds per arm. Attach some of the included accessories and you can perform a wide range of strength-building movements, from bench presses and squats to bicep curls and rope extensions.

The programmed workouts that appear on the screen are delivered by knowledgeable, encouraging trainers. The music selection is pretty great too. If you’ve got the cheddar for one—the Tonal unit costs about $3,000, plus a monthly subscription—you'll find it to be one of the most comprehensive strength-building systems in the increasingly crowded “smart home gym” marketplace.

Lift Off

You’re probably familiar with all the clanging and banging a traditional resistance machine makes as the weight plates slap together at the end of each rep. The Tonal emits more of a subtle whirring; the system uses electromagnetic force instead of weights to add resistance to the cables. The cables extend from the arms and attach to a variety of handles to mimic most of the free weight and cable movements you’d find at your standard Planet Fitness. Tonal comes with a bar, a pulldown rope, and a set of handles. The bar and handles are equipped with Bluetooth-enabled buttons that let you switch the resistance off and on. This is a great feature that allows you to keep the weight disengaged while you get into position, then turn it back on when you’re ready to lift.

The workouts appear on a high-definition touchscreen that’s bright, clear, and extremely responsive to taps and swipes. The workouts are accompanied by a wide range of excellent music you can select. (I recommend the ’90s hip hop station.)

The setup routine is simple. After you enter your vitals (age, height, weight, goals), Tonal guides you through your first workout. The instructor takes you through a warmup, then a series of movements designed to teach you how to use the machine. After that is the proper strength assessment, in which you perform a series of movements that Tonal’s software uses to determine your strength levels. For all of your workouts after the assessment, the software automatically sets your weight for every movement, constantly adjusting the resistance as you grow stronger. You also have the option to adjust the weight manually if you’re feeling especially beastly on a given day.

Muscle Memory

Tonal offers hundreds of workouts, from traditional strength and high-intensity interval training programming to yoga, Pilates, barre, and meditation. You can even call up kickboxing classes and dance cardio, as well as more specific training programs, like pre- and postnatal workouts, triathlon training, and family workouts. There are recovery, mobility, and Theragun walkthroughs to help ease those post-workout aches. Tonal can track your heart rate if you wear an Apple Watch or a Bluetooth-enabled tracker.

There’s also a free lift option, where you pick each movement as you go. You can even create your own custom programming via the Tonal app. If you’re working out with a partner, you can do in-person partner workouts; the system will automatically adjust the weights for you and your partner and keep track of both of your reps as you trade turns.

Tonal doesn’t offer live classes. All the programming comes with prerecorded instructions accompanied by videos of coaches doing the movements you’re performing for reference. I actually found this to be a plus, since it allows you to take the lifting workouts at your own pace. I appreciated the Tonal waiting for me to catch my breath between each set.

The programmed workouts are well-designed, and each one comes with a quick, effective warmup at the beginning and a mobility-focused recovery at the end. I especially liked this aspect, as I tend to skip the warmup and cool-down when I’m working out on my own.

Other features meatheads like me will appreciate are the Eccentric and Chains settings. Both settings are used in strength sports. Eccentric lifting adds resistance to the negative (lowering) portion of your lift, while the Chains setting simulates lifting with chains attached to your barbells, gradually adding weight as you perform the lift. Both are used to help speed up strength gains. As a former competitive powerlifter, I found Chains to be a welcome feature. It doesn’t look as cool as having 50 pounds of chains dangling off the bar, but the results are the same.

Heavy Discipline

Since I get most of my endurance and cardiovascular workouts via CrossFit, I focused on what sets the Tonal apart from other home fitness tech: lifting weights. Going through a chest, triceps, and shoulder workout was similar to what you’d get at Anywhere Fitness or World Gym—dedicated sets and reps at specific weights. The big difference in the programming is that the weights are calibrated specifically to your strength levels and goals. When I chose the workout I wanted, the weights and movements were all set up and preprogrammed for me. All I had to do was move the position of the arms and add the appropriate handles.

As a fitness enthusiast, I was expecting an easy workout. Tonal had other ideas. By the end of the second set of cable flys, I was grunting and straining to bang out my last few reps while the Tonal pinged me with a notice that I was shortening my reps and a reminder to extend to a full range of motion.

The result of that reminder was eerily similar to working with a personal trainer in person: I muttered “I am, damn it,” gave the Tonal an angry side eye, then quickly corrected my form. What followed was the realization that my other job as a fitness coach may be in jeopardy.

During the bench press, the ability to disengage the weight on the cables made getting into and out of position under the bar a snap. Since the weights are calibrated to approach the top of your ability level, I struggled to get the last press. At the top of that last shaky rep, I thankfully heard the “ding” that signals a full rep, then thumbed the button to take all the weight off the cables before dropping the bar back to my chest.

In addition, whenever I crapped out on a set and couldn’t finish my reps, the Tonal automatically lessened the weight resistance so I could finish the set. This mimics the act of spotting, where someone hovers over you as you lift and stands ready to help you raise the weight if you falter. It’s a huge plus for people who work out by themselves and is a safety feature that I wouldn’t be surprised to see in cable machines in commercial gyms in the near future.

For people used to free weights, using cables is going to feel different. The lack of inertia and the constant cable tension makes every rep feel unstable at first, but after a few workouts it becomes familiar.

I have to admit that I missed the feel of hauling a 500-pound deadlift off the floor, but the 200 pounds of total resistance is more than enough for beginner and novice users. Even advanced lifters like me can get a solid workout, thanks to a variety of lifting modes.

However, if you’re looking for a monostructural cardio workout like a stationary bike or a treadmill, you’re out of luck. Cardio on the Tonal takes the form of HIIT training classes and plyometric programming. These workouts require you to pay attention to the screen at all times. Tonal isn’t built for people who prefer to zone out and disengage when they work out.

The Cost of Fitness

At just under $3,000 for the wall-mounted unit, $250 for the professional installation (which is required), and $49 a month for the membership, Tonal is a major commitment. But that cost buys you a full home gym that fits within a few square feet of floorspace, comes with unlimited training sessions, and hosts the smartest fitness tech I’ve ever used. You can easily spend double this amount on enough traditional gym equipment to fill half of your garage, none of which can spot you if you fail a rep.


There are a lot of ways to work out at home. You can install the quintessential suburban home gym—that is, a treadmill and a set of dumbbells beside a dusty ping pong table and a media shelf containing Grease and Rat Race on VHS. You can use the glow of your laptop to lead the way through an exercise routine from one of the many fitness gurus that run rampant on YouTube, or go old school by revving up a classic Jane Fonda video.

Or you could take it next-level by investing in Tonal, a smart connected home workout system with digital weights that possesses aspects of all, without the clutter of free weights or the monotony of a video—and, of course, with a hefty price tag.

That price starts at $2,995, plus tax; plus delivery and professional installation ($250); plus “Smart Accessories,” the handles, bench, and mat that you need to do a lot of the exercises ($495); plus a monthly membership fee ($49), which adds up to a (very) grand total of about $4,400 for the first year. There's also a financing plan of $149 a month for 36 months—on par with the high-end gym membership it’s designed to replace. For that kind of money, it has to be a great product—right? I tested it to find out.

What is Tonal?

Tonal is a Peloton-esque smart device that offers streaming workouts that include strength training, thanks to its resistance cables that go up to 200 pounds. All of this is condensed in a wifi-enabled vessel about the size of a flatscreen TV turned on its side. Like a lot of new, smart fitness equipment, it comes from a company based out of San Francisco, and looks something like The Mirror, a similar smart fitness device, but with arms and handles. It achieves its function and compactness thanks to internal electromagnetic resistance that, when paired with its “Smart Accessories,” allow you to do much of what you'd usually do in a gym's weight room—bench presses, rows, lat pulldowns, deadlifts, and so on—with a single machine. You can pair it with your phone to play music, or connect to one of Tonal’s music channels, which have options like pop and hip-hop. These stations play actual artists, not covers or instrumental songs, which is nice.

Tonal also uses AI to identify which weight is best for you and your abilities for each exercise, and automatically adjusts the weights in real time as you go through a workout. As you get stronger over time, the AI increases your weight for each exercise. Tonal offers multi-week workout programs that include strength training, cardio, yoga, partner exercises, and more, all of which are led on the screen by a rotating cast of trainers. Classes are available on-demand for you to do at any time, but Tonal doesn’t currently offer live classes like Peloton or The Mirror. You can also connect Tonal to a Bluetooth heart-rate device as a gauge for exertion, but it’s not mandatory and the classes don’t seem to hinge on calorie burn as a motivator.

In its ads, the device seems akin to a strength training machine geared towards more serious weight lifters (with an emphasis on upper body strength, based on the ads I saw). Fitness-wise, I do not identify this way. I am more of a group fitness person who tends to veer towards spin, yoga, barre, and Pilates classes, and I’ve always been nervous about trying heavy-duty weight lifting in a public gym, where great pain—or worse, humiliation—could befall me. In trying the Tonal machine, I hoped I might learn some lifting techniques (beyond my usual lightweight bicep curls) to make me stronger overall and help me gain confidence at the gym.

How do you use Tonal?

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

When you order Tonal, you pick a time and date you would like it to be installed, and wait for it to arrive. Our delivery guys arrived to Reviewed's offices on time (though they were sent by the PR team, who offered to lend us a test unit). The overall installation process—which involves bolting the appliance into the wall—took about 30 to 45 minutes.

Once installed, you perform a fitness assessment to gauge your starting strength, which includes a seated lat pulldown, a bench press, a shoulder press, and a deadlift. You also pick out a few fitness goals, like “lose weight,” “maintain fitness,” or “boost energy,” and are prompted to join one of Tonal’s programs, which are classes led by certain instructors that you do a few times each week in order to meet a goal. (You don’t have to join a program right away, however—I opted out initially and joined a program later.)

Like most things, Tonal has a learning curve. You adjust the arms alongside the screen and clip the smart handles, bar, and rope in and out depending on the workout, which can be a little challenging at first, but grows routine after a few tries. As with most cable machines, the weights have an inherent instability—particularly when using the long bar—so they can feel heavier than they really are. The machine provides some form feedback, which is helpful when you're getting started.

What are the classes like?

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

There are a few ways to do classes on Tonal. One is by joining one of the programs, which is best for someone looking to meet a specific goal. You can also pick classes a la carte on Tonal's homepage, which are sorted by muscle group and workout type (such as “lower body,” “high-intensity,” and so on). Each of these is between five to 50 minutes long in a range of difficulty levels. Finally, you can build custom workouts in Tonal’s app by picking exercises and assigning your own reps, sets, and rest periods.

To get a feel for the breadth of Tonal’s offerings, I mostly did the pick-and-choose workouts. And they kicked my butt. I tried both high-intensity and strength training classes, and even though I mostly picked 25- to 35-minute workouts, I felt like I had done the equivalent of one of the hour-long studio workout classes I'm used to. I also felt noticeably sore in the days after my first few workouts. This is probably because I’m not as used to straight-up strength training as I am to lower-impact classes, and the soreness and fatigue I felt after a 30-minute workout receded as I grew more used to Tonal and strength training in general. Still, it was cool that the classes felt as efficient and effective as they did.

I also thought Tonal provided a decent way to learn the basics of lifting. The system offers demos taught by Tonal's on-demand personal trainers that you can watch before you start a set in a workout, and the screen is a little reflective, so you get a glimpse of what you’re doing and can size up if it matches with what the instructor is doing. The nature of the machine means I still don’t know much about how to use free weights at the gym, but I have a better idea about how much weight I can bear for different exercises. And the cable machine there no longer intimidates me.

As for the AI weight adjustments? In almost all cases, it was smarter than I am. Sometimes I had to adjust the weight a pound or two, but in most of its workouts, it was spot-on. In fact, a few times, I was assigned a seemingly low weight that I scoffed at, deciding I would be fine bumping it up a little. But by the halfway point in the set, I'd realize that, yes, for the reps required, I needed the lighter weight originally assigned to me.

What isn’t so great about Tonal?

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Despite the tutorials and reflective screen surface, there were a few instances in which I worried about my form. This was particularly true during exercises where I couldn’t look at the screen, like bench presses, to verify that my technique was correct. I dealt with this by watching demos and listening to instructions extra-carefully before starting the exercises, but my form still could have been totally off and I had no real way to know. You also don’t get to join in on live classes, so you don’t get the sense of community that comes with some home workout devices.

Also, the machine is bolted to the wall. This means it’s sturdy and secure—and it can be removed, with effort—but I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who rents or moves frequently, because heavy, semi-permanent fixtures tend not to mix well with lease agreements and moving trucks.

Finally—and this is more of a quibble than a real complaint—the trainers, though clearly human, take on the appearance of Sims or computer-generated Instagram models during certain parts of the workout. They don’t stop doing reps until you stop or tap the screen to go to the next exercise, so if you happen to rest for a moment without pausing the video, they keep doing squats or deadlifts or whatever on a loop, without any change in form or appearance, and keep going until you finish the set or power off the machine. I don’t know what I would have them do instead (turn their head a little bit? Wipe their brow? Stop and yell at me for slacking off?) but it felt odd enough to me during almost every workout that I wrote WEIRD!!! in my notes.

Is Tonal worth it?

From the perspective of making strength training accessible and fun, Tonal is excellent, and arguably the most robust at-home system for total fitness that you can get. Its competitors—the Pelotons and Mirrors—focus on cardio or body-weight training and don’t involve weights unless you buy them separately. Tonal combines top-notch instruction with up to 200 pounds of resistance, in a compact and attractive package that’s mostly unobtrusive in the home.

I thought every Tonal workout I tried was effective, efficient, and enjoyable. But I also found myself missing some aspects of my beloved group fitness classes. I don’t mind paying for workout classes because part of what I’m paying for is a 45- to 60-minute period of time in which I am separated from my phone and I don’t have to look at a screen. I also don’t find motivating myself to work out on my own to be too hard. What is hard is tearing my eyes away from my phone and laptop if they are not physically taken from me. You don’t get that with Tonal—you can play music from your phone if it's connected to the Bluetooth, but you have to stare at the Tonal screen to do the workout. This happens with most other home workouts, too, and l would say that the Tonal screen falls into the good screen category as opposed to the bad screen one. But I did find myself missing the eye break I get when I go to a studio workout.

That said, the workouts are great. If you don’t mind the screen factor, and you feel the price is in your budget, and you know you will use it, Tonal may be worth it for you.

Should you get a Tonal?

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

I loved working out with Tonal. If I had the money (I do not) and lived in a large space I owned and did not rent with several roommates (ditto), I would get one for myself. Tonal is a great for someone with some fitness experience—though not necessarily in traditional weight training—who is interested in working more with a weights machine, learning more lifting techniques, getting into cross training, and doesn’t want to leave their house to exercise. Sound like you? If so, you’ll enjoy this home gym upgrade.

Get the Tonal starting at $2,995 or $149 a month

The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.

Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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Fitness 18 Workouts Tonal Members Swear By

a screen split into six with different people working out in the six sections

The Official Tonal Community loves a spicy workout, and Tonal has hundreds of options that will bring the burn or the bliss. So whether you’re looking to crush your cardio or core, rinse your upper and lower body, a juicy stretch, or some meditation and mobility, here are 18 workouts Tonal members swear by. 

Pro Tip: Throughout the month of April, you’ll find some of these workouts highlighted on the Tonal Spotlight Row. 


These strength workouts are Tonal member favourites.

1. Better Body, Better Life – Coach Pablo

Michelle Kenyon-Young swears by this advanced full-body workout — which is all about supercharging your strength — in between Tonal’s multi-week programs. “It was the first workout where I encountered front raises, which seemed impossible at first. I kept coming back to doing them and getting better at them, and this workout always reminds me of how much stronger I’ve become!”

2. Upper Body Pump – Coach Jared

This fast-paced workout with Coach Jared is everything for your upper body: pushing, pulling, core, and accessory moves to sculpt those arms. Megan Philman Pace is fond of this one because “there’s just something about a good upper body workout, and I love the moves they selected — very similar to what I would choose if I were at the gym.” 

3. More Gains With Chains – Coach Paul

A time-honored Tonal workout, community members loved More Gains With Chains so much it went on to become a multi-week strength program. This all-around upper body workout targets the chest from different angles, using Tonal’s dynamic weight mode — Chains — to maximize muscle growth. 


Tonal also has lots of fantastic cardio content to get that heart rate up and complement your strength training routine.

4. Dance Cardio – 305 Fitness 

It didn’t take community member Heather Rose Assal long to find a really enjoyable cardio workout with Tonal. “The 305 Fitness dance workouts are such a fun burn after a heavy lift! Heart rate is up, and you dance to burn off calories. Great extra to add every week.” 

5. Metabolic Moves – Coach Jared

This workout has been Theresa Yu’s absolute go-to ever since it came out. “I used to do it at least once every week. It gets my heart rate up at a slow and steady pace. It gives me just enough breaks that I don’t feel like I’m struggling. None of the moves last longer than 20 seconds. I always always feel so much better afterward.”

6. Core Boxing – Coach Pablo 

Deidra Rice suggests this boxing workout because it keeps her moving while strengthening her core. Throw some punches, challenge your coordination and mental focus, and work up a sweat as you get a taste of the athletic demands of boxing. 

I’ve been enjoying the Dance Cardio workouts. It always puts me in a good mood and makes me feel more comfortable in my body.

Kevin Alyona 


Target your core with these community picks. 

7. Six Pack Attack – Coach Jackson

Looking for a speedy core challenge? This advanced workout from Coach Jackson comes highly recommended by the Official Tonal Community. It’s a great one for lighting up your core after strength training and had a little cardio thrown in for good measure too. Luke McCage seconds all of this! “Perfect post-workout ab burner if you’re in a crunch for time.” 

8. Super Abs – Coach Gabby 

Nikki Callahan Golden’s favorite core workout is Super Abs, and that’s because you can add it to any Tonal program or workout. “It’s fast-paced, high-intensity, and easily works alongside any program. I also love Coach Gabby’s energy and instruction.”  

9. Quick Core Burner – Coach Nicolette 

First shared in the Official Tonal Community on Facebook, this is Coach Nicolette’s personal ab workout, and it’s super popular with our members because you get so much bang for your buck. If you’re stuck for time but want to sneak in a solid core workout, Christa Hayburn always feels this one the next day and says it’s great if you only have ten minutes to spare. 

There is so much to love about Tonal, it’s awesome for building strength and even losing weight, but it’s also so valuable as a therapeutic tool. The one thing that really stands out is the versatility of the workouts.

Jeremy Oviatt


Tonal members’ go-to workouts for some well-earned stretching and relaxation.

10. Sunrise Yoga – Coach Frances

Want to wake up your mind and muscles first thing? This meditative flow from Coach Frances will help you build strength, flexibility, and mobility. For community member Susan Johns Campbell, this go-to yoga workout is “the perfect way to start the morning and a great warmup before lifting.”   

11. Lower Body Bliss – Coach Frances

Not a fan of yoga? Neither was Amy Eroh until discovering this calming flow. “I never enjoyed yoga, but Lower Body Bliss is my go-to workout. It’s the perfect length of time and uses multiple moves, so I don’t get bored. Most importantly, it helps keep my lower back pain-free.” This yoga workout is tailor-made for recovery days and will help stretch your lower body, open up hips and help you find some stillness on the mat. 

12. Beginner Mobility Flow – Coach Venus

Tonal helped Selina Andrea realise the importance of mobility. “I do this one weekly, and my body feels looser and better every time. It’s also helped me increase my mobility and strength. We don’t focus enough on staying mobile, and Beginner Mobility Flow is a perfect start to doing so!” Tonal’s mobility flows focus on strength, stability, mobility, flexibility, and coordination. 

Warming up and cooling down with Tonal’s Theragun workouts are a must in my book. I can tell the difference in my performance if I skip one. They are also great throughout the day if I’m feeling tight or sore.

Travis Stowell

13. Back Relief – Coach Liz 

This gentle flow is one of the hottest community recovery workout picks. Created especially so people with back pain can enjoy some active recovery and relief, it’s great under any circumstances. 

KerryAnn Lussier says, “anyone who has experienced any stiffness or soreness in their back will benefit from this workout. It’s not too long or short, and you could combine it with any other yoga or recovery workouts or regular Tonal multi-week program. I do many of the exercises from this workout throughout the day whenever I feel any stiffness in my back.” 

14. Beginner Leg Stretch – Coach Natalie 

Coach Natalie designed this recovery workout for beginners, and it’s especially great for anyone that isn’t always able to get down to the floor. Richelle Martin repeatedly comes back to Beginner Leg Stretch. “I love this workout because it stays off the floor, which means I can do the whole thing without having to come up with modifications, and I feel so much better after doing it.” 

15. Full Body Foam Roll – Coach Liz 

Tyson Wade Hadfield has been a fan of foam rolling for years, and learning more about this practice first-hand from Coach Liz on Tonal has been a game-changer. “I thought I was doing just fine, but Coach Liz’s knowledge, tips, and guidance have taken foam rolling to a whole new level for me. I focused more on foam rolling after a workout and only recently learned the benefits of also doing it before. I admire the meditative and mindful aspect of this workout as well, [it helps me feel more connected] to my body.” 

I love Tonal Meditation because I get to focus on my goal over and over to make sure I am keeping it at the forefront of everything I am working towards.  

Richelle Martin 


Strengthen your mind, body, and soul on Tonal. 

16. Envision Your Goals – Coach Allison

This workout for your mind and spirit is a Tonal community favorite. Susan Jean says, “I do it almost daily after weights. I like the pace and how she walks you through [visualizing] your goals — I know that’s the name, but it’s awesome! I don’t feel like my day is complete without getting this in now.”

17. Calm in the Clouds – Coach Allison

In this guided meditation practice for the whole family, both kids and adults will float through a blue sky on a puffy cloud towards a colorful rainbow. Try it as a relaxing exercise before sleeping or when you’re feeling anxious. 

18. Intentional Breathing – Coach Jared

Maximal Expansive Breathing is a diaphragmatic technique that provides centering and empowerment after a workout. In this highly-recommended breath workout, Coach Jared shows you how to take your mind and body to a calm, improved state. 

My two favorites are Intentional Breathing and Calm in the clouds. I’ve realized how key it is to take 10-20 mins and just center and breathe.

Selina Andrea
Tonal. Worth the Hype? (Full Review and Workout Demo)

Workout The Ultimate Tonal Workout Guide: Get Lean, Build Muscle and Improve Fitness

an image with a selection of different windows in which individuals are working out in different ways against colorful backgrounds

Updated: September 3, 2021.

Whether your goal is to get lean, build muscle, or improve fitness, you need a roadmap to help you get there. Tonal’s coach-led strength training content is designed to help you target these goals through individual Guided Workouts or multi-week programs. Tonal’s programs last several weeks and consist of three to four workouts per week.

For any goal, it helps to have a long-term strategy that enables you to undulate your training from one month to the next. For example, if you want to get lean, often, the best way to do that is to spend four weeks building muscle and then returning to workouts geared towards burning calories. 

In this ultimate workout guide, we’ll show you exactly how to utilize Tonal’s wealth of content for the purpose of undulation, one program after another to reach your goals, whether you’re fresh on the scene or a bonafide pro.


When you start your journey with Tonal, you’ll be asked to choose from one of three goals: Get LeanBuild Muscle, and Improve Fitness. Based on Coach Nicolette’s recommendations, you’ll find many different programs in this guide — from beginner to advanced — highlighted within each goal to help you get stronger. 

Each program progresses or undulates in workout time, volume, difficulty, and intensity, helping to build on your strength and fitness as you move from one program to the next. You may notice some programs from different goals and levels appear in more than one category, that’s because some programs are cross-functional, and this precisely is the point of undulation. 

Coach Nicolette explains that “undulation, or adjusting your workout variables is vital. This helps manage fatigue, minimizes joint pattern overload, and helps you reach your goals. Above all, train for the goal you wish to achieve. Working out randomly will produce random results. Training with a purpose and with your goal top of mind yields results.”  

If you’re a newbie to Tonal, this guide will help you figure out how to build a long-term workout plan. If you’ve been using Tonal for a while, this guide will serve as a great resource for building out a long-term strategy for your evolving strength and fitness goals.

Coach Nicolette says it’s not an issue if you have already done some of these workouts. “We are not looking for perfection here, so if you have done any of these in a different order, don’t fret. This is simply a guide, a roadmap. Detours, side roads, and scenic routes are most definitely allowed.”

BEGINNER (new to Tonal or strength training)

After completing your strength training assessment and calibrating your digital weight, Coach Nicolette suggests these programs because they are a good choice for anyone new to strength training or Tonal. “These programs are a great way to start your journey on Tonal, get comfortable with the trainer, and comfortable with healthy movement.” 

  1. More Gain, Less Pain – Coach Liz
  2. Easy on the Joints – Coach Liz


“These groups of programs are designed to help you get lean, build muscle, burn calories and get that heart rate up through high volume and shorter rest breaks. Each program complements the one before and after with varying intensities and rep ranges. The programs grow increasingly more difficult to help you improve body composition.”

Get Lean: Beginner

  1. Starting Out With Tonal – Coach Liz  
  2. Fit For Summer – Coach Paul
  3. Building Basics – Coach Natalie
  4. Lean Muscle Mastery – Coach Jared
  5. Making Muscle: Beginner – Coach Nicolette
  6. The House That Paul Built – Coach Paul
  7. Fit and Focused – Coach Frances
  8. Strong Start – Coach Liz
  9. Burnout Challenge – Coach Paul
  10. Shape Up for Summer – Coach Pablo

Get Lean: Intermediate

  1. Summer Shred – Coach Jackson
  2. Can’t Resist Eccentric – Coach Paul
  3. Everyday Fit – Coach Allison
  4. Making Muscle: Intermediate – Coach Nicolette
  5. Sweaty and Lean – Coach Paul 
  6. HIIT the Beach – Coach Gabby
  7. Burn and Build – Coach Jackson
  8. Sweat and Shred – Coach Pablo
  9. Fast Fitness – Coach Natalie
  10. Energy in Motion – Coach Liz
  11. TonalFit Challenge – Coach Pablo

Get Lean: Advanced

  1. Muscle Building Burnout – Coach Jackson
  2. Lean In – Coach Liz
  3. 4 Weeks to Fat Loss – Coach Jackson
  4. Pep in Your Step – Coach Natalie
  5. Power to the Max – Coach Nicolette
  6. Go Big or Go Home – Coach Jackson
  7. Energy Ignited – Coach Paul
  8. Raising the Barbell 2 – Coach Nicolette 
  9. Radical Body Rock – Coach Pablo
  10. 4 Weeks to Fat Loss 2 – Coach Jackson


“These programs are designed to help you get stronger while building functional muscle mass through compound lifts, power-based exercises, dynamic weight modes, and even some volume. Each program complements the one before and after with varying intensities and rep ranges. Programs grow increasingly more difficult to help you get stronger while building muscle mass.”

Build Muscle: Beginner

  1. Live (Beta): Best For Beginners – Coach Natalie
  2. Find Your Strength – Coach Nicolette
  3. Good to Great – Coach Paul
  4. Great Glutes – Coach Allison 
  5. Strong Finish – Coach Liz
  6. Slow and Strong – Coach Liz 
  7. Get In, Get Out – Coach Jackson
  8. Off the Floor – Coach Natalie 
  9. Barbell Basics – Coach Pablo
  10. Functional Fitness – Coach Liz
  11. Starting Strength – Coach Jackson
  12. Dedicated & Disciplined – Coach Pablo
  13. Making Muscle: Beginner – Coach Nicolette

Build Muscle: Intermediate

  1. Live (Beta): Well Rounded Strength – Coach Frances
  2. Strong is Beautiful – Coach Natalie
  3. How Paul Built His Body – Coach Paul
  4. Stronger Every Day – Coach Natalie
  5. Better Bench – Coach Pablo
  6. Shoulder Strength – Coach Jackson 
  7. Smart Build – Coach Nicolette
  8. Better Bike and Tread – Coach Nicolette
  9. The Daily Build – Coach Liz
  10. Push Pull Power – Coach Jared 
  11. Smart Flex Challenge – Coach Nicolette 
  12. Basic Body Split – Coach Pablo
  13. Brute Strength – Coach Nicolette

Build Muscle: Advanced

  1. Body Blitz – Coach Paul
  2. Hyped Up Hypertrophy – Coach Nicolette
  3. Extreme Strength Challenge – Coach Paul
  4. True Strength – Coach Nicolette
  5. Unleash the Beast – Coach Paul
  6. Muscle Building Burnout – Coach Jackson
  7. More Gains with Chains 2 – Coach Paul
  8. Dead on Deadlift – Coach Pablo
  9. Go Big or Go Home – Coach Jackson
  10. Go Big or Go Home 2 – Coach Jackson
  11. Radical Muscle Rock – Coach Pablo
  12. Advanced 5×5 – Coach Natalie
  13. Raising the Barbell – Coach Nicolette
  14. Raising the Barbell 2 – Coach Nicolette
  15. Power to the Max – Coach Nicolette


Coach Nicolette recommends these programs to improve fitness as they are designed to improve strength, balance, and flexibility for everyday functionality and sports performance. “These programs are great if you want to improve performance of specific lifts, take a break from intense programming, or if you’re concentrating on the performance of a certain sport. They are not in any specific order and can be done however you choose.” 

Improve Fitness: Beginner

  1. Easy on the Joints – Coach Liz
  2. More Gain, Less Pain – Coach Liz
  3. Body Lab – Coach Liz
  4. 5K Strong – Coach Liz
  5. Watts Up – Coach Liz
  6. Winter Training – Coach Kelly
  7. Beginner Boost – Coach Natalie
  8. Good to Great – Coach Paul
  9. Perform a Push Up – Coach Natalie
  10. Balancing Act – Coach Natalie
  11. Live Beta: Better Posture Everyday – Coach Nicolette

Improve Fitness: Intermediate

  1. Super Squats – Coach Paul
  2. Strength for the Slopes – Coach Kelly
  3. Tonal Tune Up – Coach Nicolette
  4. Side by Side – Coach Liz
  5. Better Bench – Coach Pablo
  6. Better Bike and Tread – Coach Nicolette
  7. Triathlon Endurance – Coach Mark
  8. Triathlon Power – Coach Mark
  9. Take a Hike – Coach Nicolette
  10. Stronger for Sport – Coach Allison
  11. Knees with Ease Challenge – Coach Liz
  12. Live (Beta): Full Body Knockout – Coach Pablo

Improve Fitness: Advanced

  1. Better Bike and Tread 2 – Coach Nicolette
  2. Dead on Deadlift – Coach Pablo
  3. Performance Savvy – Coach Kelly
  4. Live (Beta): No Day Off – Coach Paul

Tonal workouts best

Workout Tonal Workouts and Programs to Channel Your Inner Athlete

a woman using a tonal exercise machine to work out

Whether you’re a full-time athlete or someone who enjoys sports recreationally, you can train like a pro with Tonal. From beginner to advanced, we’ve got hundreds of workouts and programs that will help you level up your game. Here are some of our favorite workouts and programs to channel your inner athlete! 

Build up athletic strength

Athletic Barre with Coach Gabby: This barre workout focuses on strength and cardio. Coach Gabby will help you develop greater body awareness, along with flexibility, agility, balance, and posture. Fancy up your footwork as you build leg and core strength for Tonal.

Athletic Pilates with Coach Jeni: This Pilates workout combines with other bodyweight exercises to superset key muscles. Lengthen and tone your muscles and feel the burn.  

Athletic Abs with Coach Paul: Train your core like a pro. Coach Paul will help you work your muscles in different planes of motion, mixing in static exercises for strength, power, and speed. Gain a better understanding of your body and how your core keeps you in the game.

Stretch and Strengthen with Coach Frances: Ease into this short, dynamic flow with Coach Frances. You’ll start with stretches, work up to a core-powering plank series, and finish with a warrior two series to lengthen and strengthen the body. Perfect as a quick practice on busy days. 

For runners

In the Running with Coach Liz: What powers the world’s fastest runners? Muscle strength. In this workout, you’ll train your core for increased speed, developing hip and core stability. Prepare for your next race with the strength to win. 

Running Strong with Coach Liz: Strength is power. In this workout, runners will train the muscles that help them move faster and perform better. Strengthen glutes, stabilize your core, and gain the momentum you need to finish first. 

Running Recovery with Coach Liz: This active recovery workout keeps runners moving on their “off” days. Help your muscles bounce back from hard runs, increase circulation, and get things moving again as you train for your race. 

For golfers

Above Par with Coach Paul: Tee up with Coach Paul and improve your golf game by strengthening the movements you need on the links. Prep the body to maximize your range of motion and develop more dynamic power. Let Tonal help you become a better athlete. 

For swimmers

Swim to Success with Coach Natalie: Dive into this workout and build the strength you need as a swimmer. Coach Natalie will help you train key muscles in your upper body that translate to better form and more powerful strokes. Level up in your sport and enjoy faster finish times. 

For cyclists

Core Strength for Cycling with Coach Liz: Cycling works more than just your legs. Build an invincible core that can power your rides and withstand heavy climbs. This workout integrates your entire body with an emphasis on the muscles cyclists use most. 

Ultimate Cycling Legs with Coach Liz: Get ready for the ride. Climb those hills with confidence and get better at something you enjoy. Coach Liz will share her method for becoming a stronger, more controlled cyclist. 


Alongside a library of guided workouts, Tonal also offers coach-led programs that last several weeks and consist of three to four workouts per week.

Good to Great with Coach Paul: Looking for a way to break through and take your training to the next level? This program with Coach Paul ramps up the intensity, with movements that vary in the second half. Find your inner athlete and level up your game. 

Triathlon Power with Coach Mark: Join six-time Ironman champion Mark Allen for an in-season strength and power program. Using compound movements with lower rep ranges and heavy weights, you’ll generate the power you need to succeed in your sport.

Triathlon Endurance with Coach Mark: Supplement your triathlon training by building an aerobic base through muscular endurance. Coach Mark will help you work on strength, stability, and core work.  

Better Bike and Treadmill with Coach Nicolette: Accelerate your Peloton performance and conquer your cardio. Designed to be done before a Peloton workout, this program activates the muscles used in running and cycling. Make Tonal your secret weapon for Peloton success. 

5K Strong with Coach Liz: Get the edge you need to run faster and beat your personal record. In this program, you’ll train important muscles for powering your gait and improving core stability. Incorporate Tonal into your running program for winning results.

Watts Up with Coach Liz: Increase your cycling speed when you take this program for a spin. Each movement is designed to train muscles used in specific biking motions. Coach Liz will share her tips for becoming a stronger cyclist.

Meet Tonal - The World’s Most Intelligent Fitness System

Training with Tonal, the ‘Peloton for weightlifting’

The first reaction people have when they see the Tonal, a connected strength training machine, on my wall is often one of two things: 1) is that the Mirror (a different internet-based piece of fitness equipment)? 2) can I try it?

Both are valid reactions, especially when you consider how much money the industry has poured into marketing connected fitness. There are ads for the Mirror all over train stations and cars, Echelon bikes are in nearly every Costco, and, well, you must have seen or at least heard of that Peloton holiday commercial. Five years after the first Peloton product launched, the concept of an at-home workout regimen no longer requires retro workout videos of the past. Even if you’re not interested in buying one, you’re probably at least curious what all the fuss is about.

Tonal is unique in this field for its focus on weight training instead of cardio. Think of the machine like a slimmer, low-profile Bowflex that mounts flush against the wall rather than taking up an entire corner of your room. With arms that can be adjusted and folded away, it’s also a bit less likely to end up as an expensive coat rack.

At $2,995 plus a monthly subscription cost, Tonal’s pitch is that it will replace a personal trainer at the gym by putting an on-demand one inside your home. I’ve been working out with Tonal for a few months, and while it’s got a lot of potential, there are also a lot of quirks and flaws.

Good Stuff

  • Space-efficient design that offers a broad range of exercises
  • Multiuser friendly
  • Dynamic modes like Eccentric and Partner are useful for challenging yourself and / or a buddy

Bad Stuff

  • No live class offerings means programs get stale quickly
  • No one’s really monitoring your form
  • Pricey

Buy for $2,995.00 from Tonal

The Tonal is a wall-mounted machine that has two adjustable arms; you can move them up and down and angle them for various push or pull exercises. The grips can also be swapped out for either two handles, a bar, or a rope. Some of these handles include an on / off button that allows you to get into position before starting the weight. The starter set also comes with a bench and a floor mat.

Inside the Tonal, electromagnets create resistance so that you can push and pull up to a maximum of 200 pounds combined, or 100 pounds per arm. (That might not be enough for some people, but it should suit most beginner to intermediate levels. If you want more resistance, you’ll have to wear your own wrist weights.) The center features a touchscreen that includes a roster of classes to suit your goals, whether it’s to bulk up in muscle or get toned and lean.

When you start up Tonal, you’ll need to perform a strength test to measure just how much weight you can handle. Based on the speed and force you’re able to lift, Tonal will auto-adjust the resistance and recommend weights for each program. You can also select your goals and difficulty levels for suggestions on the best classes to take. The machine keeps a “strength score” that shows you how much more you’ve been lifting over time.

Tonal currently offers a handful of coaches with different personalities, but most of their classes are structured the same way: the instructors start with some small talk then lead you through two to three sets of three to four exercises, which includes a warm-up and cool down. Most workouts last anywhere between 25 and 45 minutes, and you can also select a freestyle mode to perform specific exercises if you want to craft your own sets. Currently, the machine supports hundreds of different movements targeting all areas of the body, from arms and abs to legs and shoulders.

As the instructors talk you through the exercises, a video appears to show you how to adjust the machine’s arms to prepare for what you’re about to do. It’s a little clunky to get accustomed to at first, but I got used to it after a few workouts. As you push or pull, Tonal prepares the weight and counts your reps for you, beeping at the end for your last three reps so you know it’s almost over. If necessary, you can also pause or skip a section.

This is a similar setup to many other exercise apps, but what’s interesting about the Tonal are advanced modes like Eccentric, which automatically adds a few pounds to your last couple of reps and the “negative” portion of your lift (when you lower the handle during a bicep curl, for example) to further challenge you. I was often surprised by how much more I could lift even though it felt like I had already maxed out. There’s also Spotter mode, which is supposed to sense when you’re struggling to complete a rep and automatically decrease the weight, though I never found this to turn on unless I am shaking and unwieldy. With any kind of exercise, there’s always a risk that you can seriously injure yourself, so I wouldn’t rely on Spotter mode to save you over your intuition.

Each push and pull from the Tonal arms were smooth and quiet. There’s a small crank-like hum behind the screen, but you won’t hear much of this anyway, as Tonal offers various music radio stations you can listen to while you work out. Unlike the Peloton, Tonal music doesn’t synchronize with each move so it’s not running into similar issues Peloton is with copyrights. However, the music selections are slimmer as you can only select by genre instead of artists / albums, and you can’t personalize your own playlist.

The sleek hardware is cool and all, but the most important thing about connected fitness is whether it’s actually fun to use. After all, home workouts are only effective if it’s entertaining enough for you to do them regularly.

That’s where I found Tonal to be a bit underwhelming. Currently, Tonal doesn’t offer live classes, and it comes with pre-taped programs that you use to work out three to four times a week and repeat over the course of the month. There’s something mildly impersonal about this; whereas Peloton shines in the instructors bringing the boutique workout experience into your home by engaging personally with students, talking about their day, cracking jokes, or even pushing themselves to the point where they’re as out of breath as you are, the Tonal classes feel a bit robotic and rehearsed to the point where some of the script come across as cringeworthy. In one class, a coach flexes his incredibly sculpted biceps to show them off, then smirks at the camera. I found this to be corny, but maybe someone out there in inspired by that.

Since classes are just Tonal coaches narrating what you’re supposed to do next, followed by an instructional video of what you should be doing, it feels akin to watching a YouTube tutorial on how to perform certain weightlifting tasks. The thing about having a personal trainer (aside from someone to yell at you to work out) is someone to watch your form, and that’s just something Tonal can’t quite do. Tonal says it’s programmed the videos to be as detailed as possible, and the coaches do blurt out reminders to check your forms periodically, but without being able to see yourself, it’s hard to tell whether you’re doing a new exercise correctly for the first time.

Once the week is over and you go back to day one of the program, the content also starts to feel stale. Yes, weight training works by repetition and consistency, but hearing a coach make the same cheesy joke gets old after the second time, never mind the fourth. After two weeks of a program, I often found myself starting a different one or ignoring the machine for a few days before being ready to go back to doing the same things over again.

It’s also super easy to cheat the machine. Since Tonal is only monitoring whether a push or pull is being made, you don’t necessarily have to do the exact exercise you’re being told to do. When I was too tired to do a proper bicep curl, I found that performing weighted squat or even just walking the pulley forward still tricked the machine into counting the rep. Whenever I was too lazy to properly warm up or cool down, I skipped during those segments by either using the fast-forward button or just walking away for a drink of water.

You shouldn’t do that, obviously. Part of any physical transformation is your level of dedication, and these programs are designed to only work if you’re committed to following through the way they’re meant to be done.

As it stands, using the Tonal feels like paying to be a beta tester. That’s both good and bad: because Tonal is clearly young, growing, and learning, it’s extremely receptive to current user feedback. Employees are often personally engaging with users on dedicated Facebook groups and via emails; on one occasion where I skipped through a workout and rated it 3 out of 5 stars, someone from the team reached out to note what had happened and asked how the program could be improved. Additionally, the employee suggested other classes I might want to try that might better suit what I was looking for based on my specific reason for rating the class poorly.

The Tonal software is also constantly getting updates. In the six months that I’ve had the machine, Tonal introduced partner mode (for switching between you and a friend while working out), custom workouts, high-intensity mode, progress tracking on the mobile app, and yoga was added to the class offerings. Most of these features were things users directly requested in Facebook groups, and the team seemed to respond swiftly and directly. The whole app even updated with a new font, a cleaner interface, and classes now take place in a mood-lit set. (This all happened so quickly that it made our review photos outdated shortly after the shoot.)

But the con is obviously that the machine costs thousands of dollars for something that’s clearly still relatively early in its stages of development. It’s clear that Tonal wants to be the next Peloton, but it still doesn’t quite have that stickiness Peloton has with getting users —especially ones that are new to strength training — addicted and committed to classes. Peloton forces you to stay through class by not offering a pause button and clipping you into the machine so that getting on and off the bike is an effort in itself. That’s just not something Tonal can easily re-create with any simple formula.

Tonal’s primary focus is strength training, and while it does offer some bodyweight cardio classes, it might not be as challenging as cardio machines like bikes, treadmills, or rowers. Lots of Peloton owners have ended up buying the Tonal to complement their cardio regimen (Tonal even has a Peloton program designed to use in conjunction with Peloton classes), which could mean a lot of upfront costs for those who want a full connected home gym experience. That said, Tonal does offer a financing plan that makes it roughly $199 per month (including the subscription), which compares much more favorably to a gym membership and personal trainer than Tonal’s full hardware cost. (Of course, there’s always the danger of relying on software updates to run the thing, which is now an all-too-common risk with the Internet of Things.)

If you are the kind of person who is already mentally prepared to commit to weight training, the Tonal is an excellently designed machine that’s much sleeker than your traditional home gym equipment. It’s space-efficient and great for multiple people in the house to use since each profile saves their personalized weights for the next time they work out. Plus, you can’t deny the perks of grunting and sweating in your own private space instead of a public gym.

But is the Tonal going to get you the body you’ve always wanted? Not exactly. But really, no machine can promise that since diet is another huge part of that equation. However you choose to exercise, know that working out doesn’t have to be expensive — getting over the mental hurdle is the hardest part.



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