Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best Bowflex gyms

If you’ve ever done any archery, you know that even a wooden bow can be hard to pull. The composite bows in a Bowflex machine present an even greater challenge designed to help you build strength and muscle quickly.

That bending resistance of the bow is the secret to the Bowflex line of home gyms. Instead of using unwieldy iron weights that can crash or slip and hurt you, most Bowflex gyms use composite Power Rods to give your muscles the same resistance and workout as weights but without the danger of them dropping on you.

The unique design of Bowflex gyms is a space saver, too. A Bowflex gym can fit into a smaller area than a bench with iron weights. It can fold up for even greater space conservation during storage, and of course, it’s not nearly as heavy as a traditional weight machine.

Bowflex has several gyms to choose from, and their home gyms vary in their resistance range and exercises. To find a Bowflex gym that can give you the workout you need, continue reading our buying guide.

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Bowflex is produced by Nautilus, a company with a long history of building exercise equipment.

Key considerations

Number of exercises

The advantage of a Bowflex Power Rod gyms is the multitude of different exercises that are possible on a single machine.

Some Bowflex machines are outwardly simple in appearance but still have up to 20 exercises you can perform on them. Others offer more than 100 exercises.

Expert Tip
One of my favorite supersets using the Bowflex Home Gym is to perform a set of bench chest presses, which works the pec and tricep muscles, followed immediately by seated lat pulldowns, which work the lats and biceps, the opposing muscles group. Perform for 3 sets of 10-15 reps each.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Type of exercises

The type of exercise is just as important as the sheer quantity of them. The simpler the machine, the narrower the range of exercise types. Larger and more expensive Bowflex machines can give you a complete whole-body workout of every major muscle group. Their smaller models, which may not use the iconic Power Rods, usually focus on one or two areas, like legs or abs.

To decide which type of machine is right for you, consider what your current home gym or weight set is lacking. Are you looking to replace your old home gym with an all-in-one machine? If so, Bowflex’s flagship line of home gyms is probably your best bet. Do you just need a machine to supplement your current home gym? Consider a Bowflex machine with a narrower focus — these models are generally less expensive and take up less space.

Size

Since you’re likely going to be using your Bowflex gym at home, considering its size is crucial.

Bowflex lists the physical size of all of their machines — they also list the required workout area, making it easy to determine where you can put your machine and how much space it will take up.

For an accurate estimate of the space your new machine will take up, cut out a piece of cardboard that matches the workout dimensions. Place it on the floor to determine whether it will fit comfortably.

Features

Weight range

Like a traditional weight machine, Bowflex gyms have a weight limit that is determined by the number and type of Power Rods included. Most of their gyms top out around 200 pounds. If you need more resistance, many of their models can be upgraded to up to 400 pounds or more.

Compatible accessories

Some Bowflex gyms can be upgraded with optional attachments, which you can order when you purchase the machine or purchase separately. Some of these attachments include a preacher curl attachment and gym-style ab attachment.

Storage

If you have limited space, you may need to store your Bowflex gym from time to time. They are typically heavy (50 to 160 pounds), which makes maneuvering them difficult. However, they are far lower than most home gyms.

Some Bowflex gyms can fold up for easier storage. If space is a premium in your home, be sure to check whether the model you are considering can be folded and stored easily.

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Expert tip
Supersets with Bowflex home gyms are a very effective way to maximize time and fitness. For example, perform a set of bicep curls immediately followed by tricep extensions for a total of 3 sets for 10-15 reps.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

 

Accessories

Power Rod upgrade: Bowflex Rod Upgrade
If you need to increase the resistance of your Bowflex home gym, these Power Rod upgrades from Bowflex can help you step it up to 310 or even 410 pounds of resistance.

Cable machine attachments: Powerfly Cable Machine Attachments for Gym (Universal)
If you need more attachments for lat pulldowns, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, or other exercises, these extra attachments from Powerfly have universal connectors for use with Bowflex home gyms.

Floor mat: BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat
If you need an exercise floor mat under your Bowflex gym, these interlocking foam tiles from BalanceFrom start at 1/2 inch thick and 24 square feet of coverage and go up to 3/4 inch thick and 96 square feet of coverage.

Expert Tip
Bowflex resistance rods can lose rigidity over time if they are used frequently, so they will need to be replaced at some point in order to maintain the proper resistance.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Bowflex gym prices

Inexpensive

Entry-level Bowflex gyms start just under $300. These are smaller machines that offer a handful of focused exercises.

Mid-range

From $300 to $1,000 is the middle price range where most Bowflex home gyms are found. They offer more exercises and upgrade options than lower-priced Bowflex models.

Expensive

The most expensive Bowflex gyms cost $1,000 or greater. These almost always offer over 70 different types of exercises and can be fully upgraded to 410 pounds of Power Rod resistance. They are also larger than those in the lower price ranges and usually can’t be folded for storage. Whatever room you choose to put this type of gym in, it should be regarded as a permanent fixture.

Tips

  • Place the back of your Bowflex gym about 12 inches from the wall. This gives you room to reach behind it for making adjustments but keeps it from protruding too far into the middle of the room.
  • To put on muscle mass, focus on compound exercises. These are the ones that work more than one part of your body at a time.
  • Keep the wheels and pulleys on your Bowflex gym lubricated with light machine oil.
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The primary advantage of Bowflex gyms over conventional weight machines is the smaller size and weight.

FAQ

Q. How long is the warranty that comes with a Bowflex gym?

A. It varies from machine to machine, but seven to ten years is the normal range.

Q. Can Bowflex Power Rods lose their resistance over time?

A. Yes, and you may even notice them beginning to develop a slight curve. This is a normal part of their life cycle. However, Bowflex sells “rejuvenators” to extend the lifespan of your Power Rods, and you can always purchase replacement rods.

Q. How easy is it to install a Bowflex gym?

A. The actual setup is easier than it appears, but it is time-consuming. You should allow three to five hours from start to finish.

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