If you’re interested in Bowflex Max Trainers, settling for the right model can be a real chore. This is why I reviewed each model to help you make an educated choice based on your budget, fitness level and personal preferences

What is a Bowflex Max Trainer?

Unlike what many people believe, a Bowflex Max Trainer is neither an elliptical trainer nor a treadmill. In fact, this machine combines the movements involved in running and stair-climbing but with extremely low impact on the joints. Unlike other exercise machines, Bowflex trainers are quite compact in size. Designed for interval training, Bowflex machines are also known for their “after-burn” effect which ensures that your body keeps burning calories for 48 hours after your workout.

There are currently three types of Bowflex trainers available on the market: the M3, the M5 and the M7.

Bowflex Max Trainer M3

Priced at $999, the Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is undoubtedly more affordable than its M5 counterpart. This machine offers a wide range of benefits, namely its zero impact design, making it ideal for elderly or severely obese individuals.

This Max Trainer is delivered with a chest strap designed for wireless pulse monitoring. The main differences between the M3 and the M5 lie in the number of resistance levels and preset programs.

The M3 actually offers 8 levels of resistance that you can change using the dial button set on the handlebars. If you’re a beginner, this option can be quite handy since you can start off at a slower pace and gradually build up your resistance towards a more intense workout.

Because of its maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds, the M3 is also suited to overweight users. The console is quite basic and devoid of any monitor. Users can benefit from a water bottle holder and a media shelf which can be used for your tablet or mp3 player. With this trainer you also have access to two user profiles as well as two built-in workout programs.

Best of all, the trainer can help you burn 2.5X more calories per hour than treadmills, step climbers and elliptical trainers. As a result, you get a more intense upper body workout with at least 20% less joint impact than other types of exercise machines.

Pros & cons of the Max Trainer M3

Pros:

  • Zero Impact: Contrary to popular belief, impact does matter. Even experienced athletes can get injured during their workouts. Unlike other machines, however, the M3 is nearly completely impact-free which radically lessens – if not eliminates – any risk of injury.
  • Compact: With dimensions of 46” x 25” for 143 pounds, the Max Trainer M3 needs very little floor space, especially when compared to other fitness equipment such as treadmills.
  • Resistance: I particularly liked the fact that I could shuffle between eight different levels of resistance. This let me to personalize my workout while avoiding the much-dreaded fitness plateau.

Cons:

  • Complicated assembly process: I am no novice when it comes to assembling fitness machines, but the M3 was quite complicated to set up and the whole process took over an hour.
  • Price: Personally, I wasn’t overly fond of the combination of warranty and price. While this fitness machine cost me around $1000, I only received a year’s warranty. The warranty can be extended to 3 years for an additional $69 and to 5 years for $99 though.
  • Limited choice of programs: With this machine, users can only choose between a program known as “Max Interval” or manual mode. For this reason, if you can afford to splurge, it’s best to opt for the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 which has a wider range of options.

Buy the M3 for $999

Bowflex Max Trainer M5

A more professional version of the M3, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is best suited to athletes who want to benefit from a wider range of features and a more robust frame. Like the majority of Bowflex trainers, this apparatus boasts a compact design which can easily fit in just about any space.

With a price tag of $1599, it is admittedly more expensive than the M3 but it’s certainly worth the upgrade if you can afford to splurge.

Unlike the M3, users will be able to shuffle between 16 different as well as nine pre-programmed workouts. More importantly, it is compatible with Android and iOS devices, enabling you to sync your workout  to your device. This trainer is equipped with a contact heart-rate monitor as well as burn-rate and target-zone indicators.

Additionally, the M5 has Bluetooth 4.0 which will enable you to track your data in the long-run. Like the M3, it can accommodate two user profiles and has a media ledge which can support your book, Kindle or computer. Users can also benefit from a water bottle holder.

Pros and cons of the Max Trainer M5

Pros:

  • Smartphone Savvy: Its high-tech digital features enabled me to sync my workouts to my Apple Health Kit. As a result, I was able to track the number of calories burned on the machine over the long run. This can be quite a helpful feature to anyone trying to lose weight.
  • Impressive calorie burn: With the M5, you can expect to lose 1.5 more calories than on a regular treadmill and 2.5 calories more than a workout on an elliptical trainer. This allows you to slash your workout time in half.

Cons:

  • Assembly: Just as the M3, the M5 also has a complicated assembly process which can go well over an hour. But you can buy in-home assembly for an additional $169.
  • Poorly-positioned display: While the screen is wide enough to provide an easy display, the protruding tablet holder is placed right in front of the screen. Consequently, you won’t be able to easily view your fitness data during your workout if you use the tablet holder. The bottle holder is also hard to reach as it’s way behind the display screen.

Buy the M5 for $1599

Bowflex Max Trainer M7

Aptly suited to advanced users, the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 costs $2199 and features 20 levels of resistance. With 11 user programs, this fitness machine is also ideal for High Intensity Interval training and can help you burn far more calories than you ever would on a regular treadmill or elliptical trainer. It also has four user profiles as well as a dual backlit screen to track fitness data such as calories burned and time elapsed, among others.

Just like other Bowflex machines, the M7 also sports a water bottle holder and a tablet holder. The handles are covered in rubber, hence providing a firm grip even if your hands get sweaty. I also particularly appreciated wider-than-usual pedals which made it easier for me to indulge in more intense workout sessions.

Pros and cons of the Max Trainer M7

Pros:

  • Ergonomically efficient: The M7 has a functional and ergonomic design which will help you skim over the types of discomforts which are common with other machines. As a result, you will be able to benefit from ergonomically-shaped pedals, textured handlebars and a fluid motion during your training.
  • Tech-friendly: With audio speakers, Bluetooth function and compatibility with Android and iOS alike, this machine also comes with an integrated trainer who will guide you through the different steps.

Cons:

  • Price: This machine is obviously more expensive than the M5. And while it does come with a few additional features, it only has a 2-year warranty which you can extend to 3 years for $139 and to 5 years for $199.

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Workout plans

Buying the equipment is only the first step to reaching your fitness goals. Using it in an effective way is just as important. So here’s some great workouts that you can do with the Blowflex Trainers:

1. The 14 minute interval workout

Entirely suited for beginners, the 14 minute workout is made up of three intervals: you train non-stop for 25 seconds on high intensity then switch to 80 seconds of recovery on a lower intensity. You should repeat these intervals seven more times. With this workout, you can expect to burn approximately 200 calories in those 14 minutes.

2. The abdominal workout

Rest assured, it is entirely possible to target that bulge in your midsection through your Bowflex Max Trainer workouts. To add abs into your training session you should change your hand positions during the high, low and middle phases of your interval training. This strengthens your core muscles while targeting your ab’s different areas.

Alternatively, you can incorporate short blasts of ab sessions into your workout. For this, you need to start your Max Trainer workout on manual mode and then hit pause every two minutes during which you can do 60 seconds worth of sit-ups before getting back on the trainer.

3. The 30 Minute Full Body Circuit

This workout is perfect for experienced athletes with a higher stamina. The 30 minute body circuit incorporates both strength and cardio training. All you need is a simple chair and your Max Trainer and you’re good to go!

First, start off with the 14-minutes interval workout where you alternate between bouts of high and low intensity. After the 14 minutes are over, step down from your trainer and perform the following exercises in two repetitions.

  • 30 seconds of bicycle crunches
  • 30 seconds of push ups
  • 60 seconds of planks
  • 30 seconds of squats
  • 30 seconds of chair triceps dips
  • 30 seconds of cross crunches
  • 60 seconds of burpees
  • 30 seconds of wall sit
  • 30 seconds of right side planks
  • 30 seconds of left side planks
  • 30 seconds of decline push-ups with the chair
  • 30 seconds of lunges
  • 30 seconds of double crunches
  • 30 seconds of arm circles

Conclusion

At the end of the day, your choice of machine essentially depends on how much you can afford to spend and your own individual level of fitness. Personally, I do have a soft spot for the M5 since this machine balances price with its range of features.