For 15 years, we’ve seen them on those annoying late-night infomercials, but Bowflex home gyms are actually pretty good.
In fact, when it comes to crossbow home gyms, they’re the market leaders.
Bowflex offers premium models with prices almost as high as Body Solid home gyms, but they also have several options for those with smaller budgets and don’t intend to enter bodybuilding competitions.
What Is Bowflex Best Known For?
Bowflex’s unique resistance technologies, known as Power Rod and SpiralFlex, is what keeps them apart from their competitors.
Let’s take a look at what these two technologies are.
1. Increasing Resistance Through Power Rods
Power Rod technology uses rods to provide progressive resistance as you move through the range of motion. They are very similar to resistance bands.
As you move farther from your starting position, the movement becomes harder and your muscles get a more intense workout.
The power rods make it easier for beginners to ease into their exercise routine. You can start with five pounds if you’ve never exercised at all in your life.
As you progress, you can add more pounds simply by hooking the appropriate rods to the pulley system.
But some people are skeptical. Why would you choose a five-pound rod that doesn’t offer five pounds of resistance all the time if you can use a five-pound dumbbell that is five pounds all the time?
Truth is not even your five-pound dumbbell is always five pounds. Free weights rely on gravity for resistance. As you move your weights vertically, you feel the resistance. But move them horizontally and they’ll feel as easy as pie.
Power rods, on the other hand, provide continuous tension whichever way you move.
Resistance in these models is up to 210 pounds. For the Bowflex PR1000, 210 pounds is all you get. Other models are upgradable.
The solution to your problem about not getting constant resistance is not Power Rod. It’s SpiralFlex.
SpiralFlex is used in Bowflex’s next-generation home gyms, including everything in the Bowflex Revolution range.
SpiralFlex technology, in a nutshell, is constant resistance. The engineers at Bowflex created a coil wrapped around special elastics that uses rotary motion to offset the resistance provided by stretching bands.
Simply put, when you’re exercising using 220 pounds, you’re actually exercising the same amount all throughout your range of movement.
SpiralFlex models offer up to 220 pounds of constant resistance, with upgrades allowing up to 300 pounds.
Bowflex Power Rod Models
All Power Rod models have a lat tower, squat station and leg attachment. They also have a cardio rowing station except for the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE.
The Bowflex Ultimate 2 features an optional ab crunch, something that isn’t available in other Power Rod home gyms. It also has a five-position adjustable pulley as well as a preacher curl attachment. Both features aren’t available in any of the other models.
It isn’t surprising that the Bowflex Ultimate 2 is the most expensive Power Rod model, commanding a price of $3,000.
It’s costly but that’s what you pay for a home gym that allows you to do more than 90 exercises and 310 pounds of resistance, upgradable to 410 pounds.
The Blaze and Xtreme 2 SE come in second, providing around 60 exercises and 210 pounds of resistance, also upgradable.
Lower-end models like the PR1000 allow you to do around 30 exercises for $500. This is the cheapest Power Rod model.
Bowflex home gyms take up a lot of space. You’ll need at least 8 x 6 feet of space in your living room for you to be able to use one comfortably.
All Power Rod models are foldable, but you’ll need to find ample storage for the Bowflex Xtreme and Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE as they don’t fold like the rest.
Bowflex SpiralFlex Models
The Bowflex Revolution comes at a hefty price tag of $2,800. It is $200 short of the price you’d pay for the Bowflex Ultimate 2.
However, the Revolution is more superior when it comes to its features. The fact that it has SpiralFlex alone speaks volumes.
Not that Power Rod models aren’t awesome in their own right. If you’re starting out and you want to start light, we recommend you get a Power Rod model.
But if you’re in awesome shape and you want to bulk up, get the Bowflex Revolution. It features a leg press plate, something not available in any other Bowflex model, an ab attachment, a preacher curl attachment and a five-position foot harness.
Aside from that, there’s also an optional cardio rowing station, a lat tower and an 80-pound upgrade once you’re used to 220 pounds.
The Bowflex Revolution Home Gym isn’t as compact as the Power Rod models, but that’s a small price to pay for allowing you to do more than 100 exercises for variety.