Last updated on February 28th, 2021 at 07:28 pm
I’ve owned two Bowflex home gyms in my life. Their late-night infomercials featuring super-fit models training for “20 minutes a day, three days a week” hooked me. Twice! While I don’t still own either of those machines, I do look back on them and wish I’d used them more often.
Both times, they became very expensive clothes racks for me. Not because they weren’t decent machines, but because I bought into the 20 minutes a day, three times a week thing. I fell for the marketing.
There’s no chance that the models demonstrating those Bowflex machines actually got those bodies on a Bowflex. No way, no how. But that doesn’t mean that Bowflex home gyms don’t have value. They do for the right people.
Bowflex home gyms are an excellent option for people who either can’t or don’t want to train with free weights. They are beginner-friendly, don’t require a spotter, and can adjust to almost any fitness level. They are also incredibly versatile and take up less space than many other options.
Before we go any further, I think it’s important to stress that a Bowflex is not a substitute for free weights. If it were, commercial gyms would be full of them. They aren’t. In fact, I’d be willing to bet there isn’t a single commercial gym out there that rocks a Bowflex on its training floor.
Free weights and all in one home gyms like the Life Fitness G3 are both more effective at building muscle. But those options aren’t right for everyone. Sometimes a Bowflex is an ideal choice.
But for who? Is a Bowflex the perfect option for your home gym? Let’s take a much more in-depth look to find out.
What’s the “best”?
Here on the GymCrafter site, I try to stay away from writing articles like “the best squat racks of 2020” or “The ten best treadmills for your home gym.” The reason I don’t is that “best” is highly subjective.
Which one is best for you depends on you! What are your goals? What is your training background? What will you use consistently? You have to answer all of these questions and more before determining which option is best for you!
You may hear or read about people knocking Bowflex (and I was one of them for a long time) for various reasons. In the end, the real reason is that a Bowflex home gym just isn’t right for those people. That doesn’t, under any circumstances, mean it’s not right for you.
On top of that, let’s also consider consistency. A lot of people simply can’t or don’t want to train with free weights. They wish to resistance train, but free weights aren’t in the cards for them. In these cases, something like a Bowflex could be ideal.
3 “must-have” parts of a home gym
I’ve addressed this in quite a few of my posts and videos, but I want to touch on it here quickly. Too many people get caught up thinking that a home gym “must-have” this or that. They’ll tell you a home gym must have a squat rack or a treadmill or a barbell and so on.
In truth, there are only three things your home gym “must-have”:
- Space to train
- Resistance to train with
- An indoor cardio option
That’s it. What you choose to fill those three spots with is up to you! Looking at it this way, a Bowflex can undoubtedly fill the resistance slot on that list.!
Who is Bowflex?
Bowflex started selling home gyms way back in 1986. They have always been a direct to consumer company. That means that most of the people that own a BowFlex ordered one over the phone or online.
While there are a few stores out there that sell Bowflex machines, they are few and far between. That means that Bowflex relies on effective marketing to sell their products, not in person trials in stores. And, honestly, their ads are a little far-fetched.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t make quality products. They wouldn’t have stuck around this long if they didn’t. But it does mean that you need to take their ads with a huge grain of salt.
Take, for example, the “20 minutes a day, three times a week,” I mentioned earlier. I promise you that you will not end up looking like the models in their ads with that little training unless you start in amazing shape.
But you can get in great shape with a Bowflex with the proper programming. And that’s why so many people who own a Bowflex recommend them to others.
On a final note, the company has broadened its product line from solely home gyms to include a nice array of cardio options: some gimmicky, some quite good. When building your home gym, you could conceivably use a product from Bowflex to fill both the resistance and indoor cardio slots.
Bowflex vs. Free Weights
So this is the big debate. Detractors of Bowflex will continually point out that free weights are more “effective at building muscle.” They are right, but that doesn’t make Bowflex ineffective.
Bowflex fans will cite quite a few things that a Bowflex home gym can do that free weights can’t. Both sides have valid points.
That means the best way to figure out what might be best for you is a good old fashioned pro and con comparison.
Bowflex Benefits vs. Free Weights
Ease of use. Hands down, Bowflex wins here. To effectively train with free weights takes skill, practice, and, more often than not, some in-person coaching. Barbell training, if done incorrectly, can easily result in injury.
This is one of the primary reasons so many people avoid training with free weights. They simply don’t know how to do what they need to do without risking injury or, at minimum, looking dumb in the gym.
Not only is a Bowflex easy to use, but they also come with amazingly good support material and tutorials. And even if you mess up, you most likely won’t end up injured.
Low injury risk. This is a big one. When using a Bowflex, you don’t need a spotter because the resistance used doesn’t put you in a position where something may fall on you. On a Bowflex, you end up performing most of the movements from an upright or seated position.
Even when you are working laying down, the load is never directly above you. Nothing can come crashing down. Nothing requires safety pins or straps.
Now, this is not to say you can’t get injured on a Bowflex. I’m living proof that you can. Push too hard on anything with poor form and injury is in your future. But when you compare a Bowflex to free weights, the odds of getting injured go down considerably.
All that said, I do think it’s important to point out that resistance training of any kind can be dangerous if done incorrectly. But if done with proper form and respect for the weight being moved, resistance training can be done safely for a lifetime with no injuries.
Easy to change weights and exercises. One of my favorite things about the Bowflex gyms was that you could quickly transition from exercise to exercise. Same with changing the amount of resistance being used within a single exercise. Over the course of a training session, this extra time adds up.
Not to mention, I’m lazy. I can imagine that there are more than one of you out there in the same boat. The less I have to do between exercises, the more likely I am to continue working out. Bowflex machines are great for this!
Low impact. People recovering from injury will appreciate this feature. Because Bowflex gyms are cable and pulley systems, they are very smooth. Every movement is set up with good support from the bench, and the way everything moves is very easy on your joints.
Check with your doctor before starting resistance training of any kind, especially if you are recovering from an injury. But if you are cleared to train, a Bowflex is much easier on healing tissue and muscles than free weights are.
Versatility. The base model Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym allows you to perform over 70 exercises with one machine. Their step-up Bowflex Revolution allows over 100.
To do this with free weights, you need quite a bit of gear. When you add up the cost of all that gear along with the amount of space used, Bowflex comes out ahead here.
Beginner friendly. When I started training, I was injured and weak. I couldn’t move a lot of weight at all (not that I’m Hercules now). Having a Bowflex in the privacy of your home can be a godsend for beginners.
It’s extremely intimidating for people to go to a gym and bench press the bar with no weight on it while other much stronger people watch. Having a machine that allows you to safely lift and do it with lighter weights in the privacy of your home is precisely what some people need to train in the first place.
In fact, without options like this, a lot of people simply skip resistance training altogether. And that’s a shame. I love a Bowflex type option for a lot of people in these types of scenarios.
Apartment friendly. This is why I bought my first Bowflex. In a second-floor, one-bedroom apartment, there wasn’t another option for resistance training in my home at that time. I wrote an entire article for folks who want to do formal weight training in an apartment to read here. But for many, weights aren’t an option.
Bowflex gyms are quiet and take up less room than most other choices. This makes them an ideal choice for apartment dwellers.
Family-friendly. My girlfriend won’t use my garage gym. She uses the heck out of my resistance bands, though. At about 100 lbs soaking wet, she can’t even lift an unloaded barbell. So she stays away.
This is the case for many people with families. One person uses the free weights while the significant other and the kids stay away.
A machine like a Bowflex changes all that. Because of its ease of use, safety, and variety of exercises, you’ll find that it’s used by more people in your household simply because it’s more accessible to them overall.
I’d bet money that if I added a Bowflex to my current setup, my girlfriend would regularly use it.
Bowflex Drawbacks vs. Free Weights
Squats and deadlifts. Arguably the two most effective whole-body muscle-building movements, squats and deadlifts, are a cornerstone of pretty much any effective weight training program.
While you can technically do both on a Bowflex, neither is ideal. That’s a polite way of saying that doing squats and deadlifts on a Bowflex sucks. There, I said it. Sorry Bowflex, but you simply fail on these two movements as compared to free weights.
Not only does the load feel wonky (watch as the model demonstrates doing squats and notice how shaky the bar is through the whole movement), but you can’t add enough load to be effective for many lifters. Not to mention that the setup with those straps is a giant pain in the you know what!
This is especially true on the entry-level Xtreme 2 SE. Because the amount of resistance changes throughout each movement’s range, you have almost no load at the bottom of either pattern. This is not only not ideal; it’s just terrible for training these movements for strength.
Hypertrophy and Strength. If your goal is to gain muscle and strength, free weights will do it better than a Bowflex. It’s not that you can’t build those things on a Bowflex, but you just can’t do it nearly as well.
Free weights are also a more functional way to build muscle and strength. They much more closely mimic how you would move heavy things around in real life.
There isn’t a serious lifter in the world training on a Bowflex as their primary modality. It just isn’t happening.
Quality. While Bowflex’s overall build quality is good, there are a few things to be desired.
When you grab a steel barbell, you are firmly connected to the weight you are lifting. When you hold a plastic and foam handle attached to a cable, it just feels off. It’s not as nice. It’s not bad, but it’s just not a barbell.
The bench also leaves a lot to be desired. It sure looks cool, but compared to a Rogue or Rep Fitness bench of any level, it’s not in the same ballpark.
The last point here is that a Bowflex is a bit of a contraption for lack of a better word. There’s a lot going there. Too much, in my opinion. Some of it just feels kind of cheap. That’s definitely not the case with a solid bench, power rack, barbell, and plates.
Type of resistance. Some of the movements (a lot of them, actually) as performed on a Bowflex are a little awkward. Because you are working with a cable and pulley system, the cables end up pulling across your arms and body.
This doesn’t happen with free weights. They are much less distracting in this respect.
I’m also not a fan of how the resistance feels across the entire range of motion on any movement. The Xtreme 2 SE, in particular, has a wide-ranging power curve.
This basically means that you have the max resistance you’ve dialed in at one end of the movement. At the other end, there is almost nothing. It’s weird.
The Revolution is much better in this respect, but it’s still not free weights. It’s close, but just not the same.
Bowflex vs. other home gyms
Xtreme 2 SE
|Bowflex Revolution||Life Fitness|
|Rep Fitness FT5000|
|Accessories included||Leg Developer|
5 Way Grips
|Leg Developer5 Way GripsDVD||Med. Handles|
|Additional Accessories Available?||Y||Y||Y||Y|
|Pull up bar?||N||N||Multi Angle||Multigrip|
|Total Resistance||210 lbs.|
Upgradable to 410 lbs
|220 lbs. Upgradable to 300 lbs||320 lbs|
Effective weight is 160 lbs per side
Effective Weight is 110 lbs per side
|Approximate Room Needed to Use||8’ x 6.5’||10’ x 7’||7’ x 7’||7’ x 7’|
|Max User Weight||300 lbs||300 lbs||Matching Bench has 300 lbs capacity||Rep AB-5200 has 1000 lbs capacity|
|Total Weight||185 lbs||336 lbs||400 lbs||1,001 lbs|
|Warranty||7 years machineLifetime on Power Rods||10 years parts90 days labor||Lifetime Frame, welds, pulleys, and parts.|
3-year on upholstery pads and cables
1 year on hardware
|Best place to buy||BowFlex Direct||BowFlex Direct||Abt.com||Rep Fitness Direct|
I’ve spent a lot of time comparing Bowflex to free weights. But what about other, more similar home gyms. Functional trainers (all in one home gyms) like the Life Fitness G7, or the Rep Fitness FT5000?
Here we have a similar footprint, all cable and pulley systems, and adjustable resistance. These all have a lot in common.
So which is better? As usual, the answer depends on what you want out of your home gym and what your goals are.
Life Fitness G7
Widely recognized as the best all in one home gym on the market, the Life Fitness G7 can be found in corporate and hotel gyms across the country. It can also be found in quite a few home gyms.
Coming in at $2999 before you add a bench (the matching Life Fitness bench is priced at $449), it’s the highest-priced unit we’ll look at in this comparison. With dual 160 lb weight stacks, total resistance tops out at 320 lbs.
The G7 boasts at least 60 exercises and comes with a variety of accessories to facilitate them:
- One pair of medium handles
- Triangle clips/carabiners for traditional attachments
- Ankle strap
- Thigh strap
- Straight bar
- Exercise ball
- Exercise Book
- Training DVD
- Water bottle
- Integrated pull-up bar
The build quality of the G7 is top of the line. The fit and finish are some of the best out there, and the cable system feels butter smooth.
I’ve used the G7 quite a few times, and I like it better than the Bowflex options. But once you add a bench, you are almost up to $4k. That’s pretty much the same price as the Bowflex Revolution and $2500 more than the Xtreme SE!!!
I’ll tell you right now that the G7 is not $2500 better than the SE. But it is a LOT better. Personally, I’m not a fan of the SE simply because of the change in resistance across every movement I referenced earlier.
The Revolution doesn’t have this resistance issue, but you certainly pay a premium to have sets of springs simulate a stacked weight column’s feel. In my mind, at that point, why not just go for the stacked weights? Especially since they both offer virtually the same amount of top-end resistance.
The other deciding factor here is feel. The G7 simply feels better when using it. The resistance is more consistent. The positioning of the handles and pulley points is more conducive to the movements you are performing. And it’s just a whole lot more substantial feeling.
I also like that the bench is not attached on the G7. It gives you more freedom. With the Bowflex models, the bench is attached. That restricts some of the things you can do. You also can’t pull it out to use for other things like you can with the G7.
If you decide the G7 is the home gym for you, I’ve found the best place to buy it is here.
The Rep Fitness FT5000 Functional Trainer
Coming in at $1899, a full $1100 less than the G7, the FT5000, in my opinion, is better in almost every way.
220 lb weight stacks combine for a total of 440 lbs but with how the pulleys work, you are getting a working weight of 110 lbs per stack. At over 1000 lbs of total weight, it’s the most solid option we’ll discuss. The build quality and feel are on par with the Life Fitness unit.
The FT5000 is also the largest of all the units being compared here. But I think that’s a benefit. You simply have more room to work and maneuver with the FT5000. Pull-ups are more accessible, and there are more ways to do them than on any other machine discussed here.
The additional room gives you the space you need to do dynamic movements as well. This opens up a world of training options not available on the Bowflex models.
If you don’t have quite enough room for the FT5000, Rep makes a smaller, more compact, FT3000 model. This unit takes up a fair bit less space, has less resistance (a total of 360 lbs), and may fit better in an apartment or small room application.
One thing I wish was different about the FT5000 is that it only comes with one set of handles. Any other accessories, bars, etc. that you want need to be bought separately. This, like the G7, includes needing to add a bench.
Luckily, Rep makes some of the best benches on the market, so they have you covered if you decide to go this route.
One last point about the FT5000 (and even the G7) vs. the Bowflex models is their weight. Yes, they are bigger and beefier and better built. But they are also very heavy. Once set up, you aren’t going to be able to move them around. The Rep machine comes in at right around 1000 lbs once completely installed!
The best place to buy the FT5000 is from Rep Fitness directly. You can check out its full specs, current availability, and pricing here.
Bowflex model breakdown
Xtreme 2 SE
|Accessories included||Leg Developer|
5 Way Grips
|Leg Developer5 Way GripsDVD|
|Additional Accessories Available?||Y||Y|
|Pull up bar?||N||N|
|Total Resistance||210 lbs.|
Upgradable to 410 lbs
|220 lbs. Upgradable to 300 lbs|
|Approximate Room Needed to Use||8’ x 6.5’||10’ x 7’|
|Max User Weight||300 lbs||300 lbs|
|Total Weight||185 lbs||336 lbs|
|Warranty||7 years machineLifetime on Power Rods||10 years parts90 days labor|
|Best place to buy||BowFlex Direct||BowFlex Direct|
I’ve referenced the two Bowflex models several times, but more detail is needed. They are two very different units with vastly different performance and price tags. Here’s a quick breakdown…
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym
This is the newest version of the classic Bowflex with “power rod” technology. It has multiple sets of pulleys and cables that can be attached to one or more of these rods to provide resistance.
The rods don’t provide a consistent level of resistance across the movement. They are much lighter at the start and reach their full “weight” at the top of the concentric portion of your rep.
All exercises are done in an upright and seated position. Here are the highlights:
- It comes with 210 lbs. of resistance that can be upgraded to 410 lbs. with the addition of an extra weight kit.
- Capable of over 70 exercises
- Leg attachment
- Ab and curl attachment are optional
- 7-year warranty, lifetime on the rods themselves
- $1499 plus $170 in shipping
- $1850 with optional accessories and additional weight kit
The best place to buy the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is from Bowflex directly. You’ll get the best service there, and they usually offer some type of special financing to allow you to purchase on a budget.
Bowflex took a lot of heat from serious lifters when it comes to how their power rods provided resistance. It isn’t anything like lifting an actual weight. Their answer to that criticism is the Bowflex Revolution.
They use “SpiraFlex” resistance, which provides a much more consistent feel across the entire rep. This makes it a lot closer to lifting actual weights.
Here are the high points:
- Comes standard with 220 lbs. of resistance and is upgradable to 300 lbs.
- Capable of over 100 exercises
- Leg attachment
- Curl attachment
- No ab attachment available
- 10-year parts warranty, 90 days on labor
- $2899.00 plus $200 in shipping
The best place to buy the Bowflex Revolution is from Bowflex directly. You’ll get the best service there, and they usually offer some type of special financing to allow you to purchase on a budget.
So which one is the best?
For my money, free weights are still the best option. I fought this for the longest time. As I mentioned at the start of this article, I’ve owned TWO Bowflex gyms!!! I also did a good deal of kettlebell and bodyweight training before finally dipping my toe into free weights.
My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
But as we’ve noted, free weights aren’t an option for everyone. Some people can’t get them due to space or budget constraints. Some people won’t get them for a variety of other reasons.
When free weights are off the table, one of the options you have is an all in one home gym, aka functional trainer. When you look at this type of equipment, you have two basic options.
The first is a traditional weight stack type machine. These have been around a very long time, and odds are if you’ve ever trained at a commercial gym, you’ve used one.
The second is a Bowflex. Their gyms are lighter and smaller than traditional functional trainers. They are more beginner-friendly. And they can be better suited to most people looking to start their fitness journey.
Between those two, here’s how to pick. Pick the one you would use the most. Honestly, either option, if used consistently, will produce results. It’s that consistency thing that will get you every time.
If you think you would use either one about the same and still can’t decide, honestly evaluate your goals. If your goals are to lose weight, get fit, and build a little bit of muscle, then the Bowflex is an excellent choice for you. Here’s a list of the customers that are perfect for a Bowflex home gym:
- People new to weight training
- People recovering from an injury (please consult your doctor first)
- People with a low level of starting strength
- People who are looking more to get in shape than to “get jacked”
- People who want something easy to use
- People with space constraints
- People in apartments
- People who need to be able to move their home gym around
If your goals include building anything more than just a little muscle, you want a functional trainer like the Rep Fitness FT5000. You’ll spend less money, and you’ll get better results. Here’s a list of customers that are perfect for a more traditional functional trainer:
- People who have some previous resistance training experience
- People looking to build muscle as a primary goal
- People concerned with the safety of lifting heavier weights alone at home
- People who have a dedicated gym space
- People looking to add to an existing free weight setup
As you can see, which one is best for you will depend on what you are looking for and your goals. Either can be exceptionally good for the right person.
They are both excellent options for people building a home gym and working up to free weights as well. Both can still serve a purpose in the training regimen of someone who has moved on to a barbell and power rack.
In the end, for the right person, a Bowflex is an amazingly good fitness option. If you go into it knowing what you are getting (and hopefully, this article has helped to show what that is), you’ll be happy with the product.
If this is you, head on over to the Bowflex site here to see both of the options I covered here.
Bowflex Home Gym Review: Pros, Cons, Cost, and More
If you hear “Bowflex” and a ’90s infomercial comes to mind, think again. The company, which has been developing home workout equipment for more than 30 years, is at the forefront of the industry — and its home gym remains popular today.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many people out of traditional gyms, forcing a transition to home workouts. Today, it’s more important than ever to maintain physical activity amidst quarantines and physical distancing.
In fact, one recent study found that people who performed more than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity or more than 15 minutes per day of vigorous physical activity had a lower risk of prevalent depressive and anxiety symptoms ().
While you don’t need fancy equipment for an effective workout, home gyms may provide many of the perks you’re missing from a traditional gym setting. Bowflex currently offers two home gym models.
This article explores the Bowflex home gym, discussing its pros, cons, and cost, as well as whether it’s worth the investment.
Bowflex’s product line
While you can still purchase the company’s older home gym models, Bowflex currently offers two new models of its home gym — the Revolution and Xtreme 2 SE. Each offers unique features.
The Bowflex Revolution home gym comes with 220 pounds (100 kg) of SpiraFlex resistance — a type of technology that replaces weights — and can be upgraded to 300 pounds (136 kg) at an additional cost.
You can execute up to 100 exercises on this machine, which features a Freedom Arm system that adjusts independently based on your workout. The Revolution requires a 10×7-foot (3.1×2.1-meter) area, according to the company.
The Xtreme 2 SE
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym comes with 210 pounds (95 kg) of Power Rod resistance and can be upgraded to 410 pounds (185.8 kg) for an additional cost.
You can perform 70 exercises on this model, which features a lat tower with an angled lat bar and a no-change cable pulley system. Floor space of 8×6.5 feet (2.4×2 meters) is required, according to the company.
At $1,499, the Xtreme 2 SE model is less expensive than the $2,899 Revolution. This article focuses on the Xtreme 2 SE model.
The Xtreme 2 SE home gym is the more affordable of Bowflex’s home gym options. It offers 210 pounds (95 kg) of resistance and 70 different exercises.
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE product overview
Bowflex’s Xtreme 2 SE home gym is based on its trademarked Power Rod resistance system, which provides resistance that feels comparable to that of free weights but without the associated inertia. Free weights may pose a risk for injury because they aren’t fixed.
In fact, in a study of emergency room cases involving gym accidents, overexertion was the most common cause of injury, plus the main cause related to general free weight activities. Crush injuries due to falling weights were common for all free weight activities as well ().
Another benefit of the Xtreme 2 SE home gym’s resistance system is the no-change pulley apparatus, which relieves you from adjusting any cables or handles when moving from upper to lower body exercises, for instance.
Atop the machine, a lat bar tower allows you to target your upper body, such as your back and shoulders, with exercises like lat pulldowns and rows.
At the bottom, a four-position lower pulley station lets you do squats, deadlifts, and other lower body exercises. There’s also a leg extension bar off the seat to target your quads.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym features a lat bar tower and four-position lower pulley station to provide a full-body workout. An easy-to-use pulley system ties everything together.
Accessories and workout manual
Five-way handgrips and ankle cuffs are included with the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym, as well as a squat bar and ab crunch shoulder harness. A preacher curl and gym-style ab crunch are optional attachments.
The manual offers seven workouts for those looking for some guidance on how to utilize the machine:
- 20-Minute Better Body: a full-body conditioning routine great for beginners
- 20-Minute Upper Body: targets the chest, back, shoulders, and arms
- 20-Minute Lower Body: targets the legs and core
- Bodybuilding: a focused program that strength trains each body part individually
- Circuit Training Anaerobic: a full-body resistance training workout
- True Aerobic: adds a burst of cardio in between each strength exercise
- Strength Training: an advanced program designed to boost strength
The Bowflex home gym includes several accessories, such as handgrips, ankle cuffs, a squat bar, and an ab crunch shoulder harness. Sample workouts are also available in the manual.
Exercises you can perform
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE provides a full-body workout. Some exercises you can perform on it include:
- Lower body:squats, deadlifts, leg extension, and kickbacks
- Upper body: lat pulldown, chest press, rows, chest fly, raises, and curls
- Core: ab crunch and oblique crunch
Maximize your time by picking a few of the exercises from each area — lower body, upper body, and core — for a full-body workout, or target each area individually once per week.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym allows you to get a full-body workout with exercises like squats, rows, and crunches.
Benefits of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym is a versatile option for someone looking to get a full-body workout at home. Its benefits include:
- Numerous workouts. This home gym offers 70 exercises on one machine.
- 210 pounds (95 kg) of resistance. For a beginner or intermediate weightlifter, this high level of resistance is more than enough. More advanced lifters can upgrade the machine to 410 pounds (186 kg) of resistance.
- No-change pulley system. This simple pulley system minimizes confusion and downtime in between exercises because you don’t have to adjust handles or cables.
- Relatively compact footprint. The Xtreme 2 SE doesn’t have a foldout bench — just a vertical seat — which keeps its footprint small.
- Excellent warranty. The machine itself comes with a 7-year warranty, while the Power Rods come with a lifetime warranty.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym provides a well-rounded, full-body workout and is easy to use and store.
Downsides of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym has a few drawbacks, such as:
- High cost. While cheaper than the Bowflex Revolution home gym, the Xtreme 2 SE is still an investment. Keep in mind that the company offers financing options.
- No bench. The lack of a bench limits the exercises that you can perform, namely chest-focused moves.
- Limited usability for experienced lifters. For someone with bodybuilding or athletic-focused goals, this home gym may not provide enough resistance or exercise options.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym is an investment at nearly $1,500, lacks a bench, and presents restrictions for experienced lifters, especially those with intense strength or muscle goals.
The bottom line
Bowflex’s Xtreme 2 SE is a versatile home gym that provides a full-body workout. It may be especially useful for a beginner or intermediate exerciser.
While its high price tag and lack of a bench may steer some people away, this product comes equipped with 210 pounds (95 kg) of resistance, a user-friendly pulley system, and great warranty.
If working out at home is the best or only option you have, a home gym like this one offers many of the basics you’d find at a commercial gym.
Shop for the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE here.
Bowflex Home Gyms are among the most popular strength training equipment these days. And for a good reason, Bowflex Home Gyms help most trainers build strength and muscles at their home's convenience.
Trainers can complete a full-body workout with Bowflex Home Gym. With its price value, you'll definitely see the results in your body.
However, these gyms are not for everyone. Take note that Bowflex Home Gyms have their benefits and drawbacks.
In this article, I would like to talk about Bowflex Home Gym pros and cons in general. We'll find out these machines' attributes so you can decide whether Bowflex fits your body fitness needs.
Features and Benefits
1. Supporting features
An important factor when buying a machine is knowing the types of exercises we can do with a home gym—the more, the better.
Why? Because we can do more workouts when targeting and toning a specific muscle group. Plus, we can train every part of our body.
In this field, the Bowflex Home Gyms Series are great. Even the basic Bowflex PR1000 model supports over 36 exercises! Here are some additional info that can aid you in choosing the Bowflex equipment for your home.
2. Power rod resistance
If you buy a leverage home gym (the one that needs weight plates), you need to buy plates individually.
Plus, whenever you want to increase the resistance, you have to change them manually. A bit more comfortable option is the weight stack gym.
Typically, these machines have an insufficient amount of friction. You cannot use additional weight stacks to increase the resistance level as well.
The power rod technology of the Bowflex Home Gyms Series is straightforward to use. You can quickly change the resistance level accordingly for uninterrupted workouts.
Finally, this type of power rod resistance has a positive effect on your muscle development since you cannot drop the weight but have to hold the load till you reach the starting position.
3. Leg workouts available
If you check other home gyms at the same price, most of them support only the upper body, such as lat pull down. Likewise, you cannot do lower body exercises with them.
However, strengthening your legs is important. Fortunately, all Bowflex Home Gyms Series come with functions that strengthen your legs.
The cheaper models are made with leg curl/extension. But with Blaze, Xtreme 2SE, and Xceed, you can even squat, which is the most beneficial lower body exercise.
4. Upgradeable accessories
Lastly, most Bowflex Home Gyms Series (PR3000, Blaze, Xtreme 2SE, Xceed) are upgradeable. Each machine comes with 210 lbs. resistance, which is enough for a beginner.
But, as you get stronger, you can purchase additional rods to make your training harder. The maximum load you can get this way is 410 lbs. (except PR3000 where the max is 310 lb.) That level is enough for an intermediate level trainee.
5. Rowing functions
Rowing is among the most beneficial cardio exercises that work all the muscles of the body.
It helps you burn fat and develop your endurance. Thanks to Bowflex Home Gyms Series rowing function; you do need to buy a rover separately which is not cheap.
6. Good/Price value ratio
The simplest model from the Bowflex Home Gyms Series, P1000, costs about 500 dollars.
Meanwhile, my personal favorite is the Bowflex Blaze that cost 800 bucks, which think it is the best price/value machine among the series.
The prices may seem too much. But if you check out the gym membership prices, we can say they bring back their price in some month.
Plus, Bowflex Home Gym is a great investment since it eliminates the time-consuming activity of traveling from your home to a gym to workout.
7. Compact design and folding
Despite the idea that Bowflex Home Gyms Series has lots of functions, they do not encompass a big footprint.
You will love the idea that some models are foldable, saving you lots of space and storage.
1. Costly upgrade
I do not know why the manufacturer does not add the maximum rods to the machines. The power rod upgrade pack costs about 100 dollars. Ok, I know not everyone needs such resistance, but this seems to a trick to get more money.
2. Weak resistance (for some)
That is particularly true for someone who has been lifting weights. The 210 lbs. machine comes with a resistance enough for a beginner or an average person.
If you are an experienced weight lifter, Bowflex Home Gyms Series are not for you. But these machines may be effective in toning your muscles with high reps.
3. Not ideal for obtaining a "colossal" body
Stay away from Bowflex Home Gyms Series if your purpose is to build massive strength.
Free weights are the way to go. Get a power rack, bench, Olympic weight set and adjustable dumbbells instead and lift weights instead. That is the only way to be colossal.
Is Bowflex Home Gym Worth the Buck?
The Bowflex Home Gyms Series are useful home gym equipment for those who want to get stronger and shape their body. You can choose from a lot of exercises, and the workout experience is excellent. They are made for the average Joe and beginners. Yet, serious trainees will not find them effective and useful.
PR1000 Home Gym
POWER ROD® RESISTANCE
The Bowflex PR1000 home gym provides dynamic muscle tension with its patented resistance system. Simply combine the various poles for maximum resistance. The resistance increases from 60% progressively to 100% during a contraction so that the muscle doesn't get used to the training load, optimising development. The mass-free resistance of the Bowflex PR1000 also dramatically decreases the risk of injury.
CABLE PULLEY SYSTEM
The cable system of the Bowflex enables movement in all directions and guarantees a quiet and smooth run. The Bowflex PR1000 gives you comprehensive training possibilities with over 30 different exercises. The multiple cable pulley positions are designed to change your resistance angle and increase many exercises' effectiveness.
TOTAL BODY WORKOUT
With up to 95KG of Power Rod resistance, this versatile machine helps work the abs, arms, chest, back, shoulders, and lower body. It includes triple-function hand grips for lat pull-down, a horizontal bench press, and four-inch upholstered roller cushions for leg extension and leg curl exercises. The built-in rowing rail adds a cardio component to your home strength training machine.
7 TRAINER BUILT WORKOUTS INCLUDED
The PR1000 Home Gym comes with a new media rack that fits any table and smartphone, providing free Bowflex workout and video content to maximise results. *Tablet not included.
COMPACT DESIGN FOR SMALLER WORKOUT SPACES
Thanks to the vertical structure, the PR1000 Home Gym can fit in compact spaces, when you are done with your workout, hold the bench up to maximise space, reducing the product footprint by 50%. The PR1000 also contains wheels for easy movement and storage.
Cable machine bowflex
Best home gyms and home gym systems, according to experts
As Covid-19 cases continue to rise across the country, many gyms have remained open. Most require you to wear a mask and many limit capacity. But some Americans are skeptical about returning to the gym, and for good reason: the CDC in October reported gyms can contribute to the spread of the coronavirus, often due to poor ventilation and the necessarily confined indoor space. If you’re looking to stay healthy this winter without leaving the house, your best bet may be building your own home gym.
SKIP AHEADExpert guidance on building a home gym
Your perfectly located home gym promises no wait time for machines and no contracts or memberships to worry about (well, not with a gym, anyway) — although you might notice a lack of machines and member benefits like towel service. But if you’re in it for basic workouts without a personal trainer, there’s a lot you can recreate at home. And with higher-end smart equipment and streaming classes, even personal trainers can now show you the ways right in your own private fitness space. For one thing, experts told us the home gym presents a very low barrier to any given workout since it’s right there, ready at a moment’s notice.
“For many people, time is a constraint,” said Tara Hackney, a physical therapist. “So eliminating the need to ‘find time to go to the gym’ by having access at home can assist in this barrier.”
Best home gym systems
To help you find the best home gym for your workout goals and fitness realities, we list your top options below, based on guidance we got from fitness experts, followed by general and more in-depth expert advice.
Best total home gym: Bowflex
1. Best total home gym: Bowflex Revolution
While certainly an investment, this highly-rated home gym equipment from Bowflex offers an experience that rivals what you’ll find in a real gym. The Bowflex Revolution allows for over 100 different exercises (and 400 variations on those), working your legs, chest, arms, core and back. It’s extremely versatile, but does need a bit more space than other types of equipment. Users can adjust the equipment to accommodate for sitting and standing exercises, and can add plates to increase weight. The Bowflex Revolution comes with two pulleys, a bench, pads and more accessories. As with cycling accessories, you may want to consider grabbing the adjoining Machine Mat for your next home gym.
Best affordable home gym: Bowflex
2. Bowflex Home Gym Series PR1000
This very highly-rated and basic home gym from Bowflex promises more than 25 exercises to hit every part of the body with more than 200 pounds of possible resistance. The cable pulley system means there are no weights to move around but also that your movement is especially fixed throughout your workout. The bench folds up when not in use to help with storage and you can hack the machine to allow for aerobic rowing, giving you a semblance of cardio fitness in your routine.
Best home gym cable machine: NordicTrack
3. NordicTrack Fusion CST
This cable machine combines both strength and cardio exercises for a full body workout. It includes six cables, 20 resistance settings and offers live personalized training, boot camps and strength-training workouts on an included touchscreen tablet — you’ll get one free year of the iFit Family Membership, which will run you $41 a month afterward. Kaitlyn Gannon, who founded prive Texas gym Dallas Iron Fitness, recommended getting a cable machine with cross-over capabilities like this one, which increases the amount of exercises you can do. NordicTrack promises a 2-in-1 experience, too, boasting equal parts strength training and cardio.
Best smart home gym: Tempo
4. Tempo Studio
If you’re looking for an all-in-one smart home gym that offers up free weights and have limited space, Tempo may be the right pick for you. The equipment counts your reps in real time and provides live feedback, including form corrections. Users will get personalized weight recommendations and tracked calorie burn stats, too. Suited for all fitness levels, this smart screen-and-weight-rack in one offers a huge selection of on-demand workouts, which it channels using an Ethernet-ready port and through a 42-inch touchscreen and 60-Watt stereo speakers. A subscription to Tempo's on-demand fitness classes will run you $39 per month. It comes with everything you need for your workout, as well as a few extra: multiple weight plates in different sizes, a barbell, dumbbells, collars, a heart rate monitor, workout mat and even a foam roller.
Best smart home gym and cable machine: Tonal
Tonal works similarly to Mirror and Tempo, with a large screen and a subscription to fitness classes. But this equipment comes with the ability to add attachments, including cables, a bench, handles and rope, creating a full gym in a compact space. Two adjustable arms extend outward from Tonal, much like they do from an all-around cable machine at the gym. They fold in just as easily, meaning Tonal can take up very little space. Like Tempo, Tonal is able to monitor and track your workouts, automatically adjusting the weight and difficulty for you over time. Tonal offers a wide variety of workouts at any intensity and strength level, including strength workouts, HIIT classes and yoga. Shoppers can also set up multiple accounts on the same equipment, making Tonal ideal for larger households. Keep in mind classes aren’t live and attachments cost extra, which can quickly drive up the cost.
Best compact home gym with live classes: Mirror
Mirror was one of the first smart gym screens on the market, and it’s popular for a reason. Slightly more affordable than other smart home gym models, Mirror offers many of the same digital features, including hundreds of live classes and on-demand classes, organized by length, type and equipment needed. Like other smart home gyms, you’ll need to sign up for a subscription ($39 per month). Mirror is much sleeker than other models, though, and can easily blend in as a mirror in any apartment or living space. It’s important to note that Mirror doesn’t come with any physical weights or cables — you’ll have to buy those yourself.
Best power tower: Lx FREE
7. Lx Free Power Tower
This adjustable tower is relatively compact and can be used for upper body exercises, including pull ups, tricep dips, push ups and more. The equipment comes with a support pad for modified exercises and can adjust up to over seven feet. The power tower is also much more affordable than other home gym systems and is easy to set up, making it more manageable than other equipment types. Of course, it lacks free weights and isn’t compatible with most traditional weight lifting exercise, but can certainly promote body weight fitness.
Best home squat rack: Rogue
8. Rogue SML-2C Squat Stand
Missing leg day at the gym and just want to bring home the simplest of home gym options? This bestselling squat rack is perfect for heavy lifters, but probably not for those living in an apartment (imagine dropping a 45-pound plate on the floor). It has two bars — one for pull-up exercises and the other for squatting and can hold up to 1,000 pounds of weight. It’s adjustable for height and relatively compact, a good option if you’re low on space. Generally, fitness experts don’t recommend purchasing a squat rack unless you’re a seasoned lifter, as you can easily get injured. Squat racks also have a much more limited exercise variety compared to other home gym systems.
Best compact home gym: Inspire
9. Inspire M2 Home Gym (pre-order)
This home gym promises a Revolution-like full spectrum of exercises, all built into a compact design. It includes two cables, a leg curl and extension station, chest and shoulder press, shoulder press, pulldown cable and more. This home gym is extremely compact for the amount of exercises you’ll get out of it and is easily adjustable for any exercise. This piece of equipment is best for those who enjoy weight lifting and want a gym-like experience out of their home gym.
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