Bowflex Max Trainer Review – Facts And Figures Under Scrutiny

The Bowflex Max Trainer is a unique, low-impact machine by Nautilus that blends elements of elliptical and step climber trainers and combines them with interval training for increased metabolic rate and fat loss.

Designed to provide a full body workout with pedals and handlebars, it is claimed to burn up to 2.5 times more calories than traditional machines in as little as 14 minutes.

Here you will find out how the Max Trainer works, its pros and cons, and whether it is a valid alternative to elliptical, step climber or treadmill trainers.

Bowflex Max Trainer

Who Is The Bowflex Max Trainer For?

The Bowflex Max Trainer is an uncompromising machine that offers a combination of high quality manufacturing standards coupled with good ergonomics, providing effective workouts for fat loss and improved cardio vascular performance.

It is suitable for those who dislike working out in a commercial gym but still want quality home machines to help them get fit and in good shape and are prepared to go the extra leg in order to have a piece of equipment that not only does the job but also looks the part in a living room or anywhere indoor.

Since the Bowflex Max Trainer is also smaller than traditional cardio machines like treadmills or step climbers, it is also a suitable option for those with limited indoor space available, such as in a condominium apartment.

Their futuristic look coupled with clever ergonomics and workout effectiveness would make them desirable fitness tool for anyone except for their steep price tag.

Not anyone can afford, or is willing to spend, from $999 to $2199 for a machine, many elliptical trainers or basic barbell/dumbbell home kits cost less than that, not to mention that you could do a similar Interval Training workout without any equipment.

The Bowflex Max Trainer is suitable for those who like the best fitness gadgets with innovative and effective workout solutions, sleek design, good manufacturing quality and are prepared to pay for it. 

You should also check our Bowflex HVT review or Bowflex Revolution review.

Bowflex Max Trainer 5 Console

How Does The Bowflex Max Trainer Work?

The Bowflex Max Trainer resembles an elliptical machine with some aspects of step climbing in it.

Total Gym

The machine is very well made and good looking, but the most interesting part is that the pedals and handlebars are designed to maximize full range of motion for your legs and arms with zero impact on your joints.

The pedals run in an oval, reverse motion, like walking backward while the V-bars move in alternate back and forth motion which you can make more or less hard by changing your hand position on the bars.

The whole set up is designed to offer a full body workout and burn as many calories as possible in a quick workout, without affecting your knees, feet and hips.

The vertical built of the machines also means a smaller base area than treadmills, a bit like stationary bikes, meaning the Max Trainer is compact enough to be placed in any apartment.

However, it is also a sturdy and well built fitness machine that weighs in at 143lb, no short cuts have been taken in manufacturing, this is also why the 1 to 3 year guarantee looks so stingy for the price and quality, more on this later.


The Bowflex Max Trainer uses these complex but low-impact full-body ergonomics and couples them with interval training to create super effective workouts that only require 14 minutes to complete.

Interval training has been proven time and time again to boost metabolic rate even at rest well after the end of a workout and is widely considered more effective than slow cardio for burning fat and keeping fit.

Since the Max Trainer was designed for busy people who want the most benefit in as little time as possible, Nautilus has come up with a really original way to keep users motivated and happy to use their machine and keep progressing.

Unlike other machines, the Max Trainer display does not merely count total calories spent and minutes. Instead, it gives an instant “Burn Rate” display of the calories you have burned and the effort range based on the selected program.

All programs have in built different levels of resistance at certain times, but you can override the program settings and the resistance with a twist-knob on the handlebar, not unlike a bicycle gear change.

What Are The Benefits?

Calorie Burning

Bowflex claim in their pitch that the Max Trainer can make you burn up to 2.5X more calories than other equipment and they also back up their claim with a no better identified “University Study” without actually giving a reference-link or a name.

However, whatever the hype and numbers, the Max Trainer workouts do work very well for burning fat and improving fitness levels as testified by ton of positive testimonials by satisfied customers.

Having said this, the workouts are still only 14 minutes, not long enough to burn a lot of calories, even if you have your BMR increased for 48 hours. So if you have a lot of weight to lose, you may want to follow a diet plan as well and check it out with your doctor, as the Max Trainer is a fitness machine that addresses just one aspect of your weight management.

Time Saving

The workouts are structured in intervals, 25 seconds of intense activity followed by slow-paced 80 seconds to recover and so forth. This cycle goes on for 8 times and before you know it the 14-minute workout is over.

You can also customize and change the workouts according to your preferences and fitness levels, but the Interval Training method is always there, increasing your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after you finished your workout.

However short, the workouts are demanding, and even the beginner settings may be a bit to challenging for absolute beginners or people on rehab. This is no rehab machine, but a tool for fitness that requires a minimum level of general good health and fitness to start with, however small. See medical disclaimer.

Zero Impact

The Max Trainer is very well designed from an ergonomic standpoint. The foot platforms and bars allow for a smooth, energy sapping motion without any strain on knees, feet and hips.

This is particularly attractive for those who do not want or cannot engage in high impact activities like running, jogging, or tennis, but still want an effective, fast workout.

Full Body Workouts – These are not the preserve of the Max Trainer, as elliptical trainers also offer some sort of upper body exercising. However, the Max Trainer does it better, as the bars are better built with a fuller range of movement which you can adjust by changing your hand position for more or less resistance or range.

Bowflex Max Trainer

Bowflex Max Trainer 3 Handgrip

The Bowflex Max Trainer Workout Plan

Bowflex has partnered with online workout portal Daily Burn to offer a comprehensive training protocol for Max Trainer users.

After buying a MAX Trainer, you are given the option to a free 8-week trial to On Daily Burn (you can read the review here), there is a specific 8-week workout plan called, guess what, Max Trainer designed to improve stamina, strength and cardio with 24 workouts split into two parts and four phases.

However, withing the Daily Burn library you can also access all the workout plans and classes, from muscle strengthening to pilates, from yoga to kettlebells and many more, you are not limited to the MAX Trainer workouts only. At the end of the trial you are then charged $14.99/month which you can cancel anytime.

Bowflex Max Trainer Range

The M3, M5 and M7 came in at the same weight and size. They weigh in at 143lb/65kg and are 117 L x 63.5 W x 160 H cm in size for a maximum weight-load of 300lbs.

The difference are just in the software program complexity and some premium features. Here a quick summary:

Bowflex Max Trainer M3

  • 8 Resistance Levels
  • Workout Programs: Manual, Max Interval.
  • Heart Rate Monitor: Included Chest Strap.
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • Media shelf / Tablet holder
  • Warranty: 1 year.
  • Price: $999 plus $100 S&H

Bowflex Max Trainer M5

  • 16 Resistance Levels
  • Workout Programs: Manual, Max Interval, Smart Max Interval, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Calorie Goal, Stairs, Steady State, Fitness Test.
  • Heart Rate Monitor – Integrated Contact Grips
    + Included Chest Strap
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • Media shelf / Tablet holder
  • Bluetooth (Syncs with App)
  • Backlit Display
  • Premium Grips
  • Warranty: 2 years.
  • Price: $1599 plus $150 S&H

Bowflex Max Trainer M7

  • 20 computer-controlled resistance levels.
  • 11 workout programs.
  • Heart Rate Monitor – Integrated Contact Grips
    + Included Chest Strap
  • Water Bottle Holder
  • Large size display.
  • Backlit Display
  • Bluetooth (Syncs with App)
  • Add-Time Feature for extended workouts.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 compatible with free Max Trainer app.
  • Stainless steel “racing” pedals
  • Warranty: 3 years.
  • Price: $2199 plus $150 S&H

How Much Does Does It Cost?

The Max Trainers are expensive machines, so Bowflex also offers financing at zero interest for the first 18 months, and 29.99% after that.

For the installation, you can either do it yourself or hire a help. Most people are able to set up their Max Trainer in an hour, all the tools, nuts and bolts, spanners are provided.

If you cannot be bothered, there is a $159 optional installation by authorized, third party agents that vary depending on your location.

As for refunds/returns, Bowflex offers a 6-week refund policy if you change your mind or do not like the Max Trainer for any reason. But there is a catch. You need to pay the back-shipping to Bowflex yourself, and this can be quite expensive, as the machine weighs 143lb.

Only then, can you have your money back, plus of course, the machine must be returned in the original conditions with the original box, instructions and the whole set.

Also, in addition to the 1/2/3 year guarantee (depending on model), there is also a 90-day labor warranty in place to cover up for technical assistance, should something go wrong. After this time, you need to be able to fix it yourself. Considering how expensive are the machines, a longer warranty would have been more adequate.

Having said this, the Bowflex Max Trainer are very well built and rarely have problems, though there are few reports of problems with pedal rollers making a squeaking noise.

Some customers seems to be able to fix this inconvenience with some lubricant, while others had to have their rollers replaced.

The Bottom Line

The Bowflex Max Trainer is a top range fitness machine that combines striking style with effective, time saving full body workouts.

With an aura of futuristic appeal, it would look good in James Bond’s penthouse or mansion. However, it is not just good looks.

More to the point, the pedals and bars allow for a more effective workout that traditional elliptical trainers, and the training principles of the different programs are based on solid high intensity interval training, long regarded as very effective for increasing metabolic rate and burn fat well after the workout is over.

However, the short workouts are demanding and even the easiest settings could be a bit too much for absolute beginners without training history. Furthermore, the machines’ high price tag is not matched by a rather “parsimonious” length of warranty.

Overall, the Bowflex Max Trainer is an effective, good looking fitness machine suitable for those who are willing to go the extra leg for a different, quality workout tool.

bowflex maz trainer




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