The Bowflex Revolution is the top-of-the-range home gym offered by Bowflex. Unlike regular home gyms featuring pin weight stacks, this unique piece of equipment works by using a resistance system called SpiraFlex® designed for astronauts to work out in space.
This resistance device was developed by inventor Paul Francis from Kansas City-based SpiraFlex, Inc. for NASA in order to give astronauts a viable possibility to workout effectively despite the lack of gravity.
Training is mandatory in long space missions in order to prevent muscle atrophy and osteoporosis from setting in but is severely limited in its practical application by the lack of gravity, as standard equipment would be totally useless.
This clever resistance system makes do without gravity by relying on a smart combination of elastic bands set inside plate-like containers with a sort of counter-balance mechanism to make resistance linear through the range of motion.
This is very important, because regular elastic bands or straps you are familiar with can only offer progressive resistance, which can be either too little at the start or too much at the end of any given exercise, and do not mimic the gravity-like, linear resistance necessary for optimal muscle-building.
Here a question comes to mind: why on earth (no pun intended) use space technology when the same can be achieved with standard weight plates or stacks?
There may be a variety of reasons as to why Bowflex decided to market such an unusual resistance technology for its home gym which, strictly speaking, is not absolutely necessary at all.
Two come to mind. One is exclusivity: in a market saturated with all possible gadgets, gizmos, gears and options, a high-end home gym equipped with a space-technology resistance system sets itself instantly apart from the rest with a cutting edge aura, making it a desirable piece of equipment to own.
The other one could be convenience and materials. Yes, because the SpiraFlex® system is much, much lighter than conventional, gravity-reliant plates and stacks for the same level of resistance offered.
Since the Bowflex Revolution offers up to 300lbs resistance for the upper body and 600lbs for the legs (with upgrade), a range and power unheard of for a home gym, that’s a lot of iron saved for manufacturing and a lot of weight reduced for delivery and installation at home.
It could be hoped that the lightweight of the machine would translate into a light price tag, but that is not the case at all, as in the end, you pay for the cutting edge technology more so than you would pay for regular iron.
The review below will unravel all the aspects, workings, specifications, and nuances of this machine so as to make you aware of what it does and does not, and how it can help you train at home.
Bowflex Revolution Target Market
Ideally, the Bowflex Revolution would be just another piece of equipment in the jungle of home gyms, albeit a top-range one.
It could be said that this gym may be suitable for anyone who needs a well-manufactured home gym by a reputable maker that does not weigh too much, is flexible enough to allow for the majority of exercises, and looks good in any adobe.
That certainly fits the bill, but there is more to this than meets the eye. If that was the case, there are plenty of options out there that meet these criteria, a lot of traditional and sturdy home gyms for all pockets that do what they were designed for at a fraction of the price.
What sets apart the Bowflex Revolution from the rest of the pack is advanced design and technology. Quite frankly, it does not look like any other traditional, compact home gym with a regular stack and pins. Indeed, it could well fit in the “2001: A Space Odyssey” movie set with the astronauts working out on it.
It looks futuristic and it is, its modern design merely reflecting the advanced technology employed. It also does everything well, as explained down below, and turns out to be an excellent training tool that works just as well as it looks, albeit not without flaws.
However, if the effectiveness of the workouts is all you are after, there are cheaper and just as effective solutions on the market. Not only is the Bowflex Revolution for those who need a practical workout tool, but also want advanced, flexible, and modern home equipment made to last and are prepared to pay for it, bluntly put.
To sum up, the Bowflex Revolution is a top range home gym suitable for fitness enthusiasts who work out regularly as part of their lifestyle and are therefore willing to invest in a unique piece of equipment that offers uncompromising qualities like space technology, futuristic looks, complete flexibility, sturdily built and a high price tag all rolled into one.
Conversely, if you are just looking for an effective workout machine and do not care about space technology and futuristic looks, but you do care about NOT going bankrupt in the process, there are cheaper, traditional but still quality alternatives out there.
Bowflex Revolution Specifications And Illustration
- Dimensions – 9′ 4″L x 3′ 2″W x 6′ 1″H (248 L x 97 W x 185 H cm)
- Workout Area – 10′ L x 7′ W (305 x 214 cm)
- Folded Footprint – 4′ 7″ L x 3′ 2″ W (140 x 97 cm)
- Assembled Machine Weight – 336 lbs. (153 kg)
- Maximum Capacity – 300 lbs. (136 kg)
- Resistance – Standard configuration: 220 lbs (100 kg) – Maximum configuration: 300 lbs (136 kg)
The machine is an ergonomics and bio-mechanics dream, allowing for up to 100 exercises with pulleys and cables connected to the SpiraFlex® system, thus making it possible to fine-tune all movements from a great variety of angles to naturally match your particular body size and limb length, up to 400 variations and 170-degree adjustments.
It is not the smallest machine out there, but it is smaller and lighter than it would have been with regular, unfolding weight stacks, particularly when folded in the rest position.
The standard working station features two independent Freedom Arms® for your upper body that you can set in 10 different positions to perform all types of exercises for all muscle groups, both compound, and isolation, plus a leg press and leg extension attachments.
Leg capability can be increased with the option of bringing the resistance from 220 lbs (100 kg) up to 300 lbs (136 kg), and all the way up to 600 lbs. If you need to increase or decrease resistance, you can do so quickly and easily thanks to the light and fast-release SpiraFlex® plates.
These look similar to standard plates but are anything like it. Like standard plates, they come in different grades of resistance, like 10, 20, and 40 lbs, but they are much lighter because they are basically containers for the elastic band mechanisms inside which are set at different resistance levels: this means the 40 lbs resistance plate is marginally bigger than the 10 lbs plate and just as light, but it offers 4 times more resistance.
SpiraFlex® Technology – How Does It Work Exactly?
SpiraFlex® was originally developed to enable astronauts to work out in space with a compact strength machine that would mimic the linearity of weight resistance training, without the bulk.
The deal was done under duress, so to speak, since weights are out of the question in space.
It just happens so that this resistance system works just as well on earth. While there is no reason why stacks and plates wouldn’t do the same job, there are other reasons why this technology may be desirable outside space and down on earth, even though not strictly necessary.
For a start, it is lightweight. The resistance is offered by elastomer compounds that are shaped into particular containers called FlexPacks, with the net result of creating linear, or isotonic, resistance properties, just like regular weights, but unlike rubber bands which offer a progressive resistance instead.
The FlexPacks can work standalone or together with other units in order to increment resistance, just as you would do with plates on a barbell. These FlexPacks units are then connected to the trainee through a set of pulleys and cables, not unlike you would experience working out with a regular cable cross-over machine.
The degree of the resistance in a single unit is pre-set at the manufacturing level by varying the size of the elastomer compounds, the number of spokes inside each unit, and the corresponding casing.
This way you have plate-like containers with different resistance levels that you can mix, add to, or remove from other plates in order to increase or decrease resistance, exactly as you would do with plates or pin stacks.
When you work out, the cables make the plates rotate, stretching the elastomer bands inside, thus creating more or less resistance depending on how many plates you use.
The advantage is clear: the same resistance levels and training capabilities at a fraction of the weight.
By all accounts, the life cycle of these FlexPacks is greater than that of steel torsional spring and has been tested for up to 2.5 million cycles without failure or degradation of the force curve (source).
So, here we go, another tool in your training arsenal to take advantage of.
Bowflex Revolution Accessories
This home gym comes with a variety of accessories, some are standard included in the price, others are extra tools that you have to pay more for.
The standard accessories are:
- Leg Press Seat Back
- Leg Press Plate
- Leg Extension
- Biceps Preacher Curl Unit
- High Seat Back
- Handles And Ankle Harnesses
- Resistance Units
The extra accessories include:
- Leg Press Station 600 lbs upgrade
- Bowflex Revolution Accessory Rack (to hold all the accessories organized and in one place)
Bowflex Revolution Workouts
The Bowflex Revolution shines when it comes to workout flexibility and capability. It offers the ability to target a wide range of fitness qualities like strength, hypertrophy, and cardio and to switch seamlessly from one exercise to the other, thanks to the ease of use.
For a start, ergonomics are very well designed to suit all mechanical leverages for different body types and sizes so as to offer a full range of motion with constant resistance to any movement.
This allows for a productive workout similar to that offered by using commercial-grade gym equipment. There is a number of factors that come into play for this level of results.
The 400 exercise variations and 170-degree adjustments offered by the 10-position independent Freedom Arms®, leg press unit, and the other accessories are some of those.
Another reason is the effective leg workout you can get with this machine. With poundage reaching up to 600lbs with an upgrade, the Bowflex Revolution sets a benchmark for all the other compact home gyms.
Only traditional and bulky power racks with barbells and plates will go higher than that. Considering the small size and light weight of the machine, this heavy poundage allows for all but the strongest power-lifters and bodybuilders to train legs effectively at home.
Another reason still is the ability to quickly and safely change resistance levels by removing or adding light resistance units.
This is especially useful for high-intensity techniques like drop sets, ascending sets, pyramid sets, or whenever you want to switch from one exercise to another as in circuit training when you need to quickly adjust the weight depending on the targeted muscle.
This complete flexibility and ease of use make the Bowflex Revolution an effective tool for strength, hypertrophy, and circuit training.
But there is also one more training trick offered by this machine: cardio. You can easily do aerobic rowing by sitting onto its sliding seat and pulling the handles, helping you burn some extra more calories in the process.
Bowflex Revolution Benefits And Strong Points
- Great variety of exercises possible, both compound and isolation movements. The various attachments, cables, pulleys, and 2 adjustable arms allow for a complete total body workout.
- High resistance capability unheard of for similar compact home gyms. This means effective workouts for legs too.
- A very light machine for the level of workout load offered. With the iron removed as a source of resistance, the SpiraFlex® units make it easy, quick, and safe to increase and decrease intensity.
- Comparatively small machine, particularly in the folded position.
- The Bowflex Revolution serves a wide range of purposes: strength, muscle building, circuit training, and even cardio can be done and switched back and forth in little time.
- The machine comes with a complete installation guide with clear pictures and step by step, follow-along assembly blueprint. However, Bowflex also offers an assembly-at-home option for an extra charge, if DIY is not your thing.
- The manual also includes a list of exercises and different workout routines for your own goals.
- Bowflex offers a 10-year warranty on parts and 90-day on labor and financing is also available.
Any Complaints Or Negative Points?
Despite this piece of equipment has been on the market for years with plenty of satisfied customers raving about it, there is also a small percentage of people underwhelmed by some aspects of the machine.
An important complaint is that the minimum increment in resistance is 10 lbs, making it too big a jump for isolation exercises for smaller muscle groups, for example, lateral raises for delts.
Tall people also seem to have a problem adjusting to the size of the machine and getting a comfortable range of motion, specifically because limited by the length of the cables.
Even though the assembly instructions are complete and thorough, some people have complained about how long it takes to actually set up the machine before being able to do their first workout, sometimes several hours.
Also, despite the general consensus being that of a fantastic looking, functional, and strong machine, some customers are nonetheless underwhelmed by the widespread usage of plastic components, even though the metal frame is very sturdy.
That a reduced amount of iron was used in the manufacturing was expected because of the default resistance technology, as it not would make sense to add some more iron just for the sake of it.
However, while the vast majority of testimonials are satisfied with the sturdiness of the components, be it metal or plastic, it is worth mentioning this complaint, if rare, for the sake of objectivity.
Few customers also had problems with components like straps failing after some time when working out in the upper range of the machine resistance capabilities, even though Blowflex does replace them within the 10-year warranty time frame.
To sum up, even the best home gyms are not void of criticism and you should do your own investigation well, before making any decision.
The Bottom Line
The Bowflex Revolution is the most sophisticated of the Bowflex home gyms range. It is built to high specifications and offers an impressive range of functionality thanks to the innovative SpiraFlex® and Freedom Arms® technologies.
The machine enables you to perform effective workouts for strength, hypertrophy, circuit training, or cardio, while the light and easy to use SpiraFlex® units allow for quick resistance increase or decrease changes.
Well-engineered and visually striking, the Bowflex Revolution is a desirable piece of fitness equipment that looks good in any home and works very well.
In conclusion, with a huge range of adjustment and exercise variations plus category-leading top resistance of up to 600lbs (with upgrade), the Bowflex Revolution is a serious tool for fitness fanatics who want to train at home effectively.
Jay always had a passion for fitness. A former skinny guy, he built himself 35 lb of lean muscle over the years using different training strategies, going through failures and eventually succeeding, and now wants to share his knowledge with those who value fitness as a way of life.