To start, I had limited to no knowledge about weight training. My wife bought the bowflex for us to start “weight training”.
When we both started using the bowflex, we both thought it was a great machine.
Not knowing any different, we followed the routines in the book that was provided. The routines was more of a circuit training which consisted of about 8-10 exercises with 1-2 sets at 8-10 reps.
The easy to use cable system made changing exercises easy and fast.
The exercises such as the seated bench press did not use a bar, it was individual handles that forced you to push the weight. It appeared at the start that this was working secondary muscles as you had to stabilize the motion under resistance. I felt I was outgrowing the machine when I started benching all the resistance rods (210lbs) for 4-5 sets at 10 reps.
It became quite clear that this machine was not accurate at all when compared to free weights. I am currently doing SS and on my flat bench, doing 140lbs on my 3rd set is difficult to do the last 1-2 reps.
I also couldn’t effectively do squats with the bowlfex as I had to try and get under the bar while under resistance, as the machine does not come with stands.
The bowlfex is a marketing machine designed to induce the thought that doing something is better than nothing to the uneducated consumer. You will get some gains but you are limited to progression on it. You cannot microload and do any proper linear progression as the smallest resistance bars are 5lbs per side, so increasing weight every exercise would be 10lbs.
However my wife does still use the machine for leg extensions, rows, abs (I also use it for abs) but now that she has seen some results already in my glutes, quads, back and shoulders (after 1 month), that she has now altered her routine to include squats and deadlifts using the power rack and free weights.
Why someone is not doing an info commercial with a power rack and free weights blows my mind. I feel very safe without a spotter using the cage and only wish I got this set-up sooner than wasting so much time and $$$ on the bowflex.
The funny thing is that the cost for a good power rack cage and 300lbs and Olympic bar cost $650.00 and the bowflex cost $1300.00, so you are paying twice as much for less than ˝ the results.
If anyone has had a positive experience with a bowflex, please share.