Two of the most popular and widespread complete home gym packages on the market today are the Bowflex and the Total Gym . These companies put out various models, but at their core, they are systems designed to give you a wealth of options when doing a home workout.
Let’s take a look at a rundown of Bowflex vs Total Gym home gym systems .
About the Companies and Machines
If you are into home gyms, then you have probably already heard of these companies and the products they make. But for the uninitiated let’s inspect each one and see what they make and what they are about.
Bowflex is a name trusted by many. It is owned by parent company Nautilus, one of the first manufacturers of weightlifting and fitness machines and widely considered to be one of the founders of the modern commercial gym.
Their machines are built from top of the line materials and scientifically engineered to be effective. Some might say they are over-engineered, however. Every iteration of their machines give more customization but also increased complexity.
You might recognize Total Gym from their infomercials. Christie Brinkley and Chuck Norris rave about the machine and show users how it’s done. The Total Gym workout system has grown huge in the past couple of decades and is one of the nation’s top-selling home gyms.
Total Gym’s machines are exponentially less complex than other home gyms, Bowflex especially. Their machines rely mostly on the user’s body weight for resistance and utilize it with help from gravity . Instead of picking up heavy pieces of metal or bending and rebending flexible materials, you pull your own weight. See all our Reviews for the Total Gym here.
As they are so different, the Bowflex and Total Gym have a wealth of unique features and capabilities. Let’s take a look at just how different these two popular home gym systems are.
Bowflex’s most striking feature is in the way it trains you. The Bowflex systems use a series of “power rods” to offer an alternative to traditional weights . You pull the cables, and the rods bend down and exert resistance on your muscles. To adjust the resistance, you simply hook up more or thicker rods that don’t bend as easily. No more clanking or dropping of heavy weights.
This system has several benefits. The first being that there is continuous resistance on your muscles while you are doing the exercises. It is much easier to maintain constant tension when gravity isn’t giving you help. As with most machines, the nature of the Bowflex allows you to target muscle groups with laser precision, but at the cost of neglecting stabilizer muscles and “functional strength.” If your main goal is to lose weight or you know how to work around those deficiencies, then there is no need to worry.
Other unique features include:
- 5 lbs. To 210 lbs. of resistance rising in small increments
- Over 30 possible exercises as well as cardio rowing
- Folding bench to save space
- Warranty: frame 1 year, parts 60 days, Rods 5 years
Like we talked about, the Total Gym systems differ from the Bowflex and most other home gym systems in that they utilize your body weight to offer resistance. This reduces some of the customization of workouts available, but it also cuts down on equipment needed, assembly time, space needed and maintenance. Still, Total Gym claims that you can perform over 80 unique exercises on their machines.
To address the resistance drawback, you angle the machine to adjust just how much of your body weight you are pulling. To lighten the load, the bench can be lowered. To increase the resistance for a harder workout, you just increase the angle, so you are fighting gravity more. It’s a simple and elegant way to do away with all of the weights and rods and bands.
Other Unique Features Include
- Five included workout DVDs
- Workout chart and nutrition plan included
- Several accessories and attachments to perform different exercises.
- Warranty: 6 months on parts, lifetime on frame.
Pros and Cons
These systems are unique, and not all of the innovations and features pay off. Here are some the pros as well as the cons you might experience when using these home gyms.
- Dozens of gym-quality exercises possible
- Resistance rod system good for isolating muscles
- Solid construction and easy to use design
- Relatively affordable for a home gym and is occasionally on sale
- Difficult to assemble and move around alone
- Takes up a lot of space
- Most machines cap out at 210 lbs. Some but not all models can be upgraded with kits sold separately
- Some models are missing preferred accessories such as a lat pulldown bar, research carefully
Total Gym Pros
- Easy to assemble, fold up and store
- Takes up little space when stowed
- Large number of exercises possible
- Simple construction, body weight system not complex
- Many included extras such as DVDs, literature and exercise accessories
- Higher user weight capacity than most home gyms
- Not much control over levels of resistance
- Somewhat expensive for how simple it is
- Switching exercises can be time-consuming because of the need to remove and attach different accessories
- Narrow board may not be big enough for some particularly tall or wide users
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