Bowflex vs Total Gym Review – Everything You Need to Know

So before Covid, the most common place I would see equipment like the Bowflex and Total Gym was either in the garage covered in dust and junk, or in a spare room showing no signs of being used recently. It’s unfortunate actually, to see these machines sitting idle.

But now things have changed dramatically, causing people to dust off their machines, and put them to use. And indications seem to show that home equipment might become the new wave for a while (at the time of this post). So, if you’re in the market and can’t decide between Bowflex and the Total Gym, you’re in the right spot.

In this article, I’ll discuss in detail who the Bowflex and Total Gym cater to, as well as the size of each, their components, along with the pros and cons of each home workout system. By the end, you’ll have a firm grasp on which system would work better for you.

Is Bowflex and/or the Total Gym Better Than Free Weights?

Both Bowflex and Total Gym claim that you can get the same great workout using their machines vs going to the gym. I think this is a pretty bold claim.

Home gyms and bodyweight workouts can keep you in shape and they can build muscle.

But a gym typically gives you access to machines and equipment that most home gyms just don’t have. That being said, let’s take a closer look at the Bowflex and the Total Gym and see what they offer.

The Bowflex Blaze Review

When Bowflex first came out it, it opened a lot of eyes. If you were watching infomercials back in 1986 you might have seen their introduction to home fitness enthusiasts. Suddenly, an entire gym’s worth of weight lifting equipment could be stuffed into one simple machine.

It was small enough to fit in the home and easy enough for even the most beginner lifter to use. The power rod technology is a very innovative design and makes it unique. As you pull the weight, the bow flexes with increasing difficulty. If you’ve ever pulled a bow back, the feeling is similar.

The Bowflex Blaze might be the culmination of the Bowflex company. There are others, and over time, they have improved, but to date, the Blaze is probably the best value for the buck. Before I jump into the pros and cons of the Bowflex, here’s a quick video tutorial showcasing the Bowflex Blaze.

Bowflex Blaze Components

The Bowflex Blaze is larger than your basic home gym equipment, but the nylon and steel components make it a durable product. The padding is comfortable and resilient to wear and tear, making it last for years. The power rod technology is no joke. It’s easy to use and changing weights and exercises is quick and easy.

But is this product really worth it? Let’s see the pros and cons.

Pros of Bowflex

  • Access to 65+ full-body workouts (more if you’re experienced)
  • Able to upgrade to 410 pounds of resistance. For some, this might be more than enough. If you’re a competitive lifter, this might not give you the resistance you need.
  • Folding bench and wheels provide flexibility with storage.
  • Multi-function hand grips.
  • Easy to assemble. Directions are clear and concise.
  • Especially great for upper body workouts. The pulley system is a little unstable, requiring your muscles to not only lift the weight but stabilize the pulley and rod mechanism. In this sense, it’s similar to free weights.

Cons of Bowflex

  • Need a minimum ceiling height of 87 inches for ease of use. It requires a larger footprint, as it doesn’t fold up to a smaller space.
  • The power rod technology takes some getting used to.
  • The resistance is not consistent throughout the movement.
  • The tools they provide for assembly are lacking. Use your own tools.
  • It’s heavy to move so once it’s set up, it’s best to leave it there.

To see more reviews and the specs of the Bowflex Blaze, click here now.

Also, I tracked down the manual for the Bowflex Blaze and you can see it here. It does a great job of visually showing the different types of workouts you can do, along with instructions on how to do them.

The Total Gym XLS Review

The Total Gym XLS is the machine most people recognize by its celebrity endorsers, Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley.

Yes, the same Chuck Norris that has been exposed to Covid 19, and now Covid 19 has been in quarantine for 2 weeks.

When the Total Gym first came out its primary purpose or selling point was for rehabilitation. The reason being is that the resistance being used is bodyweight resistance. As the Bowflex uses its rod resistance technology, the Total Gym just uses bodyweight.

Bodyweight resistance or light weight is great for recovering from injuries. It allows the muscles to build back up after atrophying. Fast forward about 30 years, and the Total Gym is a legit piece of equipment for strengthening and toning muscles. It’s not just for rehabilitation anymore.

Before I get into the pros and cons, here a quick video reminding you of the keynote celebrity for the Total Gym.

Total Gym Components

The total gym is made of steel tubing making it a solid structure. The aesthetics are pleasing to the eye and don’t look like ugly gym equipment. They did a great job of powder coating and the colors look great. If your home gym is going to be visible to guests, the Total Gym does a great job of making it visually appealing.

The pin and pulley system is smooth and the bodyboard glides well. As you sit on the bodyboard, it feels secure and well made. Nothing gives you trepidation like equipment that feels like it’s going to give out or snap. The Total Gym is a solid piece of gym equipment.

The amenities like the wall chart, nutritional program are a little gimmicky and lack a bit, but they do provide some use. The DVDs they include are great for showing beginners how to use the equipment and do well with explanations without using too much jargon.

So let’s discuss the pros and cons of the Total Gym.

Pros of Total Gym

  • Easy to assemble.
  • Access to over 80+ exercises.
  • Up to 6 levels of resistance. This is easily adjusted by increasing or decreasing the angle of the board.
  • Offers several upgrades/attachments.
  • It can support up to 400 pounds.
  • Low impact on joints. This makes the Total Gym great for rehabilitation physical therapy work.

Cons of Total Gym

  • The only resistance is bodyweight resistance. There is no added weight resistance other than gravity and your own weight.
  • Limited maneuverability.
  • Not great for people under 5’0″ or people over 6’2″.
  • It’s heavy and awkward to move by yourself.
  • Its primary use is for upper body workouts.

To see more reviews and specs of the Total Gym XLS click here now.

Size of Bowflex Blaze vs Total Gym XLS

The amount of space you have available for a home gym will depend on each situation. If you have a garage, a workout room, or if you’re just putting your equipment in a bedroom, you want to make sure you’ll have the room.

I’m not talking just to fit the equipment, but you’ll be moving around and lifting, so you need to have actual room around the equipment too. This is often overlooked, but it’s something you need to think about.

Total Gym XLS Size

The Assembled Product Dimensions: 19″ W x 90″ L x 43″ H | Folded: 19″ W x 51″ L x 9″ H. The weight of the total gym home unit is 66 pounds. As you’ll see (compared to Bowflex) this is pretty compact and light for a home gym. Of course, the design and purpose of the Total Gym are different.

Bowflex Blaze Size

The Bowflex Blaze isn’t the bulkiest of home gyms, but it definitely will take up more space than the Total Gym. The assembled product dimensions are: 82.5L x 38W x 84.5H inches (210L x 97W x 215H cm). Once assembled, the weight of the Bowflex Blaze is 195 pounds.

Again, depending on where you plan on putting this, with carpeting, or any other restrictions, it’s best to give yourself extra room for actual use.

Wrapping up Bowflex vs Total Gym XLS

The two pieces of equipment tailor to two different kinds of workouts. The Bowflex gives you access to actual weight resistance while the Total Gym is limited to your body weight and gravity. The Bowflex has a significant leg up (pun intended) on leg exercises. The leg extension and leg curl capabilities are better and provide for a hypertrophic exercise.

If you’re looking to tone and maintain your muscles, the Total Gym will be better equipped to perform these functions.

If you’re looking to maintain and build muscle the Bowflex will be your best bet.

This isn’t to say the Total Gym can’t build muscle, but the access to resistance supported by the Bowflex will allow you to achieve a higher level of resistance beyond that of using your body weight.

Depending on how much space you have, they both will take up a bit of room. They are both fairly heavy and cumbersome to move, so once you find a spot to place it, it will probably stay there. The Total Gym does fold down, so it will fit better in a smaller home or apartment, but the process of unhooking everything can be tedious. So choose wisely!

Which is Better Bowflex or Total Gym?

If you have the means I would recommend the Bowflex. While it will cost a bit more, having access to the resistance band technology is worth it in my book. It’s likely your strength will overcome the usability of the Total Gym in a matter of months. This is where the Bowflex would capitalize.

If you like the concept of having access to resistance vs just your bodyweight, Bowflex does offer a line of home gyms. These include the Bowflex PR1000, the Bowflex PR3000, and the Bowflex Xceed. They each have their unique features and benefits. If the Blaze isn’t what you’re looking for, or at the price point that fits your budget, check out their entire line.

Have you used either of these before? Tell us about your experience below.

FAQ on Bowflex Blaze vs Total Gym

Can you build muscle with Bowflex?

Yes, while the Bowflex isn’t something you would typically see at a gym, it’s considered one of the premier home gym systems around.

Can you get ripped with the Total Gym?

The Total Gym will do its part in making sure you gain some muscle if used correctly. Reducing body fat is more about what you eat. The Total Gym combined with proper nutrition can help reduce bodyfat.

Is Bowflex better than free weights?

The Bowflex uses a cable and pulley system, which can increase as you pull on the handles. Free weights will be the same weight throughout the lift. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Both can stimulate muscle growth.

Is Total Gym XLS good for weight loss?

The Total Gym will help burn calories. If you have a calorie deficit consistently, it can lead to temporary weight loss. The best system for weight loss is proper nutrition combined with frequent exercise.

What is the best home gym?

Bowflex and Total Gym are staples in the home gym equipment category. They each provide a line of home gyms to fit different needs. Either company can provide you equipment based on what your goals are.

Which Total Gym is the best?

Total Gym has a variety of different pieces of home gym equipment. The Total Gym XLS is the culmination of their line and is often referred to as their number 1 product.

Does the Total Gym fold up?

Yes, when your done using your Total Gym, you can fold it up and place it under a bed, in a corner or closet. If space is an issue, the Total Gym will fit better in your home compared to the Bowflex.

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