More and more people, like you, are realizing the benefits of working out at home. And, that’s most likely why you’re reading this!
It’s easier to stay consistent with your workouts when the gym is right at home — the garage, backyard, living room, or the spare room.
Having a home gym also eliminates the precious time consumed for commuting, waiting for the next available exercise equipment, and the unavoidable broscience small talks.
Not only that, but it can also save you a lot of money in the long run — no more monthly memberships or having to pay for overpriced supplements because you forgot yours at home.
Bowflex has captured this niche and has one of the best reputations as a home gym fitness brand.
But, what makes Bowflex machines the best of its kind?
Read more to find out why.
Table of Contents
- What are Bowflex Home Gyms?
- How do Bowflex Machines Work?
- Power Rod vs Spiraflex
- Which type should you go for?
- Pros and Cons of Bowflex Home Gyms
- Factors to Consider Before Buying a Bowflex Gym System
- Are Bowflex Machines Worth the Price?
- Best Bowflex Products
5 Best Bowflex Home Gyms at a Glance:
- Best Overall: Bowflex Revolution
- Best Value: Bowflex Blaze
- Best Selling: Bowflex PR1000
- Best for Calisthenics: Bodytower
- Best Reviewed: Xtreme 2se
What are Bowflex home gyms?
Bowflex home gyms are compact, multi-station exercise equipment that allows you to train most, if not, all muscle groups by simply configuring easy-to-adjust parts of the machine.
Bowflex machines include equipment such as handles, ankle straps, pull-down bars, and squat bars. They are connected to cables that attach to a source of resistance.
How do Bowflex machines work?
Bowflex home gyms have made their name by introducing an advancement in fitness technology. They moved away from the traditional steel or sand-filled plastic weight plates used by most fitness machine companies for resistance.
Bowflex machines use the principle of elasticity to create resistance, and, hence, tension in the muscles.
Think of it as pulling the string on a bow; the more you flex the bow, the harder the rep gets.
These proprietary elastic materials have been shown to retain their springiness better than steel counterparts. So, Bowflex gets a check for durability.
Bowflex incorporates two technologies, separately, in their machines: Power Rod and Spiraflex.
Power Rod vs Spiraflex
For their Power Rod machines, you pull against a rod that bends. The resistance or “weight” increases as the rod bends.
The movement you perform is easy at the beginning of the rep, and progressively gets harder towards the end of the rep. The resistance increases linearly.
Spiraflex technology, a more recent fitness equipment innovation, uses the same principle of elasticity. The difference is that the resistance stays the same all throughout the movement.
This feels more like lifting traditional free weights.
The advantage of this technology over conventional free weights is that the resistance or “weight” feeling comes from bending the molded elastomer springs housed inside a Flexpack plate.
Thus, you do not need a heavy weight-stack to lift “heavy”.
Which type should you go for?
This comes down to how you want to train.
If you like to exercise where you essentially get to rest every rep, go for a power rod-equipped Bowflex machine.
Power rods allow you to train a muscle where it is mechanically stronger, at the end-range of a repetition.
For constant tension in the muscles, especially if you are coming from a traditional lifting background, then go for the Spiraflex-equipped.
It helps you load the muscles the same way you would with free weights, without having to lift bulky and heavy plates.
Pros and Cons of Bowflex Home Gyms
|Train the whole body with one exercise equipment||Some products have a large footprint|
|Power Rods have a lifetime warranty; Spiraflex Flexipack plates have a 10-year warranty||Limited usability for experienced weightlifters|
|Allow you to perform a variety of exercises (and comes with a manual for them)||Not ideal for building a massive/bodybuilder physique|
|Good price-to-value ratios|
Bowflex Home Gym Buying Guide
Here are factors you should consider to find the best Bowflex home gym for you:
Exercises and Fitness Goals
The first thing to think about is what you want to achieve by working out.
If you want to train your endurance or burn a lot of calories to get rid of stubborn body fat, choose a Bowflex machine that allows you to do cardio exercises like rows.
If you want to get jacked by training for strength and muscle hypertrophy, opt for the Bowflex machine that allows you to upgrade resistance via more power rods or additional Spiraflex plates.
Yes, some Bowflex home gyms allow you to only do resistance training only or cardio only — even a power rod-equipped machine can turn into a piece of cardio equipment if your strength surpasses the available resistance level.
I recommend buying a Bowflex model that lets you train holistically — do cardio and resistance training.
This way, there’s no need for you to buy additional exercise equipment or visit the gym just to be able to follow your workout program.
Bowflex home gyms use two types of fitness technology to produce resistance: the Power Rod and the Spiraflex.
If you like doing higher repetitions for exercises or you simply want to pump and tone your muscles, go for the Power Rod.
For tension and stimulation similar to barbells and dumbells, choose the Bowflex exercise equipment with the Spiraflex technology.
Choosing the right type is important because they have very different resistance profiles.
You don’t want to end up regretting buying a home gym and putting a halt to your health goals just because performing the exercise does not feel right.
Consider the dimension of the particular equipment you are eyeing. Compare that with the space or area in your home where you are planning to put it in.
Although Bowflex machines are not hard to move around, you’d want to designate a specific place for working out.
Do not just measure if the machine will fit, but also take into account if it will obstruct foot traffic in that area.
Above all, see if you can perform the movements you are supposed to, in your full range of motion, within that space.
The heavier or harder you are able to go, the better — and this applies for any home gym system.
I don’t expect you to max out the machine in a month or two. But, following the principle of progressive overload, there should be an increase in the resistance, sets, and reps you are able to do for a specific exercise over a period of time.
So, if you are training hard enough, you’ll eventually reach the limit of your Power Rod or Spiraflex plates.
Thus, you should go with a Bowflex machine with upgradeable resistance.
Some Power Rod machines, for example, max out at 210lbs. But, the good thing is some Bowflex machines allow you to go as high as 410-600lbs.
This is a fairly obvious consideration to make; it is usually the determining factor for most people.
You know that you should spend only what you can — let’s avoid hitting a budget deficit on the other important things you spend your hard-earned money on.
My advice, though, is not to choose the machine that fits your allocated amount. Rather, choose the Bowflex machine that has the best price-to-value ratio.
Consider all the things mentioned above, especially the number of exercises you can do and the upgradeability of resistance. The more you can do with the machine, the longer you’ll be able to use it.
If that requires you to spend a little bit more than you want, then save up and accept the short delay of your purchase.
Think of the Bowflex exercise machine as a long-term investment for your health and longevity.
Are Bowflex home gyms expensive?
If we compare it with other fitness equipment you can buy like power racks, barbells, weight plates, and dumbbell sets, I’d say Bowflex home gyms are not expensive.
And, I say this because a Bowflex machine allows you to do at least 20 exercises. Some Bowflex models even allow you to perform 100+ exercises. Now that’s value for money.
The best part about it is each purchase comes with a manual that teaches you all the exercises you can do for each specific machine.
You can only do so much with a barbell and some plates. To utilize these best, you’d have to buy a bench, a rack, and others. Although, admittedly, free weight training has its advantages.
If you want to go hard but not too hardcore, Bowflex home gyms are worth their price.
Best Overall: Bowflex Revolution
- Notable Features: Uses Spiraflex for best resistance profile, best for maximal muscle and strength gains
- Dimensions: 65”x38”x73” (LWH)
|100+ exercises for full-body training||Can be quite expensive|
|For cardio AND strength training||Weight capacity could be higher|
|Easy to adjust the resistance|
The Bowflex Revolution uses Spiraflex technology to create resistance, requires an area of 65”x38”x73” (LWH), and has an upgradeable resistance feature.
You might think I am biased with this one just because it resembles what lifting with free weights — like at a gym — feels like.
But, the reason why it is the best overall is the resistance it creates.
It allows you to tick the boxes for established training principles that help you progress faster: constant tension, adequate stimulation, and progressive overload.
The Bowflex Revolution also allows you to perform more than 100 exercises. With a little bit of studying on exercise variations and with experience, you’ll be able to do more than that.
Even better, you can do both strength training and cardio training with this Bowflex model.
While the upper body exercises have a limit of 300lbs and the leg station a limit of 600lbs, this is higher than most of us will be able to reach in our lifetime
If you are not looking to be a pro bodybuilder or powerlifter but love training hard and intensely, this is the best Bowflex home gym to buy if you have the dough.
“Had it for a year now and use it daily. This piece of equipment is incredible. I love pretty much everything about it. It’s an engineering marvel and with a set of select tech dumbbells and a pull up/dip bar I have an entire gym in my garage. Absolutely recommend and bravo to bow flex for this amazing product!” – Amazon Customer
Best Value: Bowflex Blaze
|60+ exercises for full-body training, cardio, and strength-wise||Lighter resistance at top ranges of motion|
|Offers the same features as higher-end models||Can be a chore to assemble|
|Upgradeable resistance up to 410 pounds|
The Bowflex Blaze uses the patented Power Rod technology to create resistance, requires an area of 90″x38″x83″ (LWH), and has an upgradeable resistance feature.
With this machine, you’ll be able to do more than 60 exercises like the more expensive Bowflex models such as the PR3000. This number is more than enough to diversify your training.
Speaking on exercise diversity, the Blaze lets you do both strength training and cardio as well. This is perhaps its best selling point, besides the value you get for its price.
The sliding seat allows you to turn it into a cardio rowing machine. And, the seat can be adjusted for flat and incline bench pressing.
The basic package comes with 210lbs of power rod resistance. But, this can be upgraded to 310 and 410 pounds.
The Bowflex Blaze gives you the best bang for your buck, without a doubt.
“Very good home machine. Let’s get something out of the way now. This is not supposed to be like free weights. That said, it’s a great little machine if you upgrade to the 410lbs. I am a fairly big guy, and can deadlift and squat over 500lbs. Is this true weight, of course not. It’s tension resistance from bending a material. It is going to be progressive. This works out in a home gyms favor, as it is lightest at the weakest part of a movement. Eliminating the need for a spotter or anything of the sort. I can lift by myself, and I can push myself.” – Amazon Customer
Best Selling: Bowflex PR1000
|A great beginner exercise machine||Resistance cannot be upgraded|
|Can be used for both strength and aerobic training||Not for experienced gym goers|
The Bowflex PR1000 also uses the patented Power Rod technology for resistance but is not upgradeable. It requires a floor space of 103″x80″x82″ (LWH).
This is the least expensive machine among the Bowflex models and is great for those who want to get into the fitness lifestyle. It is a starter home gym and the best-selling Bowflex machine on Amazon so far.
The PR1000 lets you do over 30 exercises, which are enough for whole-body training. Plus, it also transforms into a rowing machine for endurance work.
Thus, this Bowflex model can be used for strength training and cardio training.
You should take note, though, that the 210-pound resistance rods cannot be upgraded. Hence, you are stuck at this resistance.
This is why it is a great home gym for beginners; those who do not need a lot of “weight” and those that simply like to sweat it out.
This is a great choice if you want a cheap home gym that won’t hurt your wallet.
Best for Calisthenics: Bowflex Bodytower
|Adjustable horizontal bars||Having a low ceiling height may be an issue|
|Sling straps and hand grips equip for a complete workout|
There are only so many calisthenic movements you can perform on the ground. And, it’s all pretty much push movements. The Bowflex Bodytower helps you train the two main movements, push and pull, for a whole body calisthenics workout.
With the adjustable horizontal bar, you can work the whole chest: lower, mid, and upper pecs. Go from dips, to incline push-ups, and even do tricep dips.
The horizontal bar also assists you in doing lunges or split squats to really tax your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
With the pull-up bar, you can use up to 4 different grips. Vertical pulls work the lats more, that’s why the handgrips are a great addition so you can do horizontal pulling. Thus, you can train the whole back optimally.
The frame is sturdy, but it would be best to use a rubber mat under the Bodytower to remove unnecessary vibration or movement while going through your workouts.
The adjustability and exercise versatility makes the Bodytower better than most exercise power towers out there.
“Love this piece of equipment. Was heavy and took some time to set up (45mins). I’m 6 foot and weigh 170 pounds, tends to rock around a bit, but nothing major. My room is about 7 foot 2 inches and I can comfortably do a chin up without having my face hit the ceiling. Good for low ceilings. I got this on sale, and wouldn’t pay full price for it.”- Amazon Customer
Best for Efficient Workouts: Bowflex Xtreme 2SE
|An upwards of 70 exercises can be done to tax every body part||Needs a larger floor area|
|Great for experienced lifters as the power rods are upgradeable to 310 and 410 pounds||On the higher end of the Bowflex price range|
|Offers more exercises for the lower body compared to other models|
Intramuscular tension is the primary driver for muscle hypertrophy. Having to change cables between exercises can give you too long of a rest period that may significantly decrease muscle activation; thus, you get fewer gains from the workout. With the Xtreme 2SE’s quick-change power rod system, it’s easier to effectively stimulate the muscles.
This is for people that like the workout intensity and variety that Spiraflex offers, but want the resistance profile of Bowflex’s patented Power Rods.
It has low, mid, and high pulleys that you simply attach a handle or bar to. No excessive rest between sets, hence, a more efficient workout.
The Xtreme 2SE lets you perform around 70+ exercises. Plus, you can upgrade from the standard 210-pound power rods to a more challenging 310, or even the highest resistance of 410 pounds.
Besides being adjustable, the seat can be entirely removed to allow you to add more variety while training. It also comes with an ab strap, squat bar, and a pulldown bar to stimulate all the muscle groups.
“So far, with two weeks and a handful of workouts under my belt, I’m pleased with the Xtreme 2. The unit is very well built, with heavy gauge steel tubing and platform, and the cables and pulley system appear to be very durable. It’s very easy to adjust the pulleys and install/remove accessories. Moving from one exercise to another is very quick once you get into the routine.” – Amazon Customer
Other Bowflex products to check out:
This upgrade of the PR1000 (now known as the Bowflex Xtreme Home Gym) doubles the exercise you can do with the original. It also now has the upgradeable resistance feature so you can go even harder in your gym sessions.
|Lets you perform over 50 exercises||No cardio feature|
|Power rods can be upgraded up to 310 pounds for intermediate to advanced lifters|
Bowflex SelectTech 1090i Dumbbells
The SelectTech 10-90i is the best pair from Bowflex’s dumbbell line-up. Why? Because it goes from super light to really heavy (10-90 pounds). Other SelectTech DBs only reach up to half of that. From warm-ups to max-out sets, you’ll only need this pair.
|Removes the need for about 34 pairs of dumbbells making it extremely space and money-saving||Since it starts at 10 pounds, it may not be ideal for real beginners or those that like doing high-rep workouts|
|Widest weight range|
Bowflex Max Total
The Max Total is the best Bowflex equipment for cardio bunnies. Most forms of cardio involve moving only your legs, but this piece lets you have upper body and lower body-focused training sessions so you work the whole body.
|Whole-body cardio sessions||Can be a bit pricey|
|Contains virtual coaching, pre-programmed workouts, and milestones to help motivate you better|
The 840 Adjustable Kettlebell is as sturdy as any of the top-of-the-line cast iron kettlebells out there. The difference is, you basically have 6 kettlebells in one with this Bowflex product. For those that want a single, simple tool for working out, kettlebells are a great tool to train with. Swing, hinge, pull, and press your way to fitness with just one piece of exercise equipment.
|Replaces 6 kettlebells||Weight jumps may be too big for optimal progressive overload|
|Very sturdy design, even while in use|
Bowflex Home Gym Workout Routine
Knowing that you are looking for a home gym, it is safe to say you are looking for an efficient way to exercise.
Having that in mind, you would want your workouts to be quick yet hard. Thus, it would be best to use the muscles that function the same way in a single workout, push or pull.
Dividing training days into push, pull, and, let’s not forget, legs lets you really work the specific muscle groups so they grow and become stronger.
When you work out this way, you are training all push or pull muscles at the same time, what changes only is the push or pull muscle that is emphasized.
For example, the bench press and the shoulder press are both push exercises, one activates the pecs more, the other activates the delts more.
To make the workouts more challenging, you should use supersets when designing your workouts.
Supersetting is done when you go from one exercise to the next without rest resulting in high intramuscular tension, the primary driver of muscle growth.
Here’s a workout template you could use to help you design an effective workout in the most efficient way possible:
|Vertical Push||Shoulder Press||Heavy – 8-10 reps|
|Horizontal Push||Flat Press||Heavy – 8-10 reps|
|Accessory Work||Lateral Raises||Medium – 12-15 reps|
|Accessory Work||Tricep Pressdowns||Medium – 12-15 reps|
|The exercises should be performed one after the other with no rest in between. Shoot for 3-6 rounds every workout.|
|Vertical Pull||Lat Pulldowns||Heavy – 8-10 reps|
|Horizontal Pull||Seated High Rows||Heavy – 8-10 reps|
|Accessory Work||Y Raises||Medium – 12-15 reps|
|Accessory Work||Bicep Curls||Medium – 12-15 reps|
|The exercises should be performed one after the other with no rest in between. Shoot for 3-6 rounds every workout.|
|Heavy Push||Squats||Heavy – 10-15 reps|
|Accessory Work – Push||Leg Extensions||Medium – 15-20 reps|
|Heavy Pull||Romanian Deadlifts||Heavy – 10-15 reps|
|Accessory Work||Leg Curls||Medium – 15-20 reps|
|The exercises should be performed one after the other with no rest in between. Shoot for 3-6 rounds every workout.|
While it isn’t a complete list, the products on this list are my top 5 picks for Bowflex home gyms.
Bowflex definitely introduced a revolution for home gym systems.
Their products were seen as less intimidating than their heavy and bulky counterparts. Thus, more people found it easier to start exercising from their homes.
It’s now time for you to know yourself better and look at your fitness goals more intently.
Use this comprehensive guide to help you choose the best Bowflex home gym that fits your preferences and goals best!
Are Bowflex home gyms any good?
Yes, they are. Bowflex machines are one of the best-selling home gyms.
Although they won’t get you to look like a jacked bodybuilder, they can whip you into the best shape of your life with the plethora of exercises each Bowflex exercise equipment allows you to do.
Each Bowflex model also comes with a manual for every exercise, as well as several programs you can follow depending on your fitness goals.
Can you really build muscle with Bowflex?
You can build muscle with Bowflex. They have exercise equipment that can offer as much as 600 pounds of resistance.
For hypertrophy, aka beefing up, the best model for you would be the Bowflex Revolution.
Do all Bowflex home gyms have aerobic rowing functionality?
Unfortunately, not all Bowflex models can be transformed into aerobic rowing equipment.
Can I still get an effective leg workout with a home gym?
Yes, you can. More than the equipment that you use, how effective a leg workout is is largely dependent on the effort you pour into the movements.
You can effectively work out your legs even with simple bodyweight exercises.
As for Bowflex machines, the Xtreme 2 SE offers more leg workout features and exercises than any other model.
Which Bowflex home gym is the best?
Which Bowflex is the best ultimately depends on your goals.
For muscle toning and simply sweating it out, Power Rod-equipped Bowflex machines are best, especially those with upgradeable resistances.
If you want to build strength and add mass to your frame, the Bowflex Revolution would be your best bet. It lets you train similar to lifting barbells and dumbbells.
What exercises can I do with a Bowflex home gym?
Depending on the model you purchase, you can do anywhere from 20 up to over 100 exercises using one machine.
The exercises you can do are taught to you using the manual that comes with every purchase of a Bowflex home gym.
Do I need a large area for a Bowflex home gym?
Bowflex home gyms are made to be as compact as possible without sacrificing the quality of the build, the movement of the parts, and your movements while using them.
Thus, you do not need a large area to store a Bowflex machine. It takes up about the same space as a single-sized bed.
Is training with Power Rods different from training with free weights?
Training with Power Rods is absolutely different from training with free weights.
With Power Rods, you are getting resistance from the elastic property of the material used. With free weights, the resistance comes from the weight of the material itself.
Thus, you get a different resistance curve when using either of the two.