129 of 144 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2007
I have never been in to the Bowflex infomercials, but I was fascinated by the new technology behind this Bowflex model. I researched this Bowflex Revolution on the internet and found mostly positive reviews. This item was one of Mens Health Top 100 Products of 2005, and these guys are the experts when it comes to Mens fitness. Popular Mechanics says "We don't normally endorse anything sold via infomercials, but testing is believing and the Bowflex Revolution is the first Bowflex we've tried that lives up to its own hype." Even football legend Brett Favre believes in this product enough to endorse it. I do not work for Bowflex, but I do believe in this product enough after using it and seeing results. I can truly say is this is an amazing machine. After one heck of a nightmare with other machines the Bowflex Revolution has finally met my fitness goals. I have had the Revolution since August 2006 and am very familiar with it and I love it. I loved my bench and free weights, but you usually need a spotter to max out otherwise you risk hurting yourself. After my free weights I went to the Crossbow and the Crossbow Platinum from weider. I had my original crossbow about 1 year and I hated the inconsistent feel of the bows (just like the regular Bowflex models) compared to free weights. I eventually upgraded to the Crossbow Platinum with the built in personal trainer. That machine was ok and worked for about 2 years before the electronics console completely stopped working and my machine would not calibrate properly. After having 2 cheap machines I ended up going with the Bowflex Revolution. I am about 5'10" and this machine works great. It is a little strange at first, but after a week or so you get the hang of it. The workouts are harder because you truly are getting an even constant resistance both positive and negative making exercises that may have been easier on other machines or free weights feel much harder on the revolution. This machine makes you use all those extra muscles that you would not ordinarily use. The machine has over 100 exercises with 400 variations, along with a CD-ROM personal trainer and DVD that shows you how to properly use this machine and perform each exercise. This is an expensive machine, but after my experience with two cheap machines the Bowflex Revolution is well worth it. The 10 year warranty and the results I have seen are just an added bonus. For people who are independent and do not always have time to go to a gym this is well worth the monthly payment which is comparable to a GYM membership in itself. The customer service from Bowflex is top notch compared to the rude customer service I got from Icon regarding the Weider Crossbows. I truly believe you get what you pay for and I can truly say this is one great well built machine and one of the best investments I have made toward my health. The only negative thing I can say about this machine is the high price tag, but other than that this is a great machine that is built to last.
135 of 154 people found the following review helpful
This review may sound a little negative, but . .well, I'll explain. I do use this machine pretty regularly and enjoy working out on it. But it ain't cheap, and it ain't perfect, either, especially if you're a complete novice to weightlifting.
Over the years, I've worked out in gyms and I've worked out at home both with older Bowflex power-rod models and with this one. I'm about the furthest thing there is from a walking mile of muscle, but I try to at least maintain a basic fitness level. Overall, I prefer lifting in a gym with a friend as a spotter, for a lot of reasons -- working out with a friend helps educate you about proper lifting technique, the buddy system works as motivator, and many of the most efficient excercises for muscle gain -- deadlifts, military press, squats -- require either free weights or a dedicated Smith machine, and can't be performed on this machine.
But if you don't have any friends to lift with you and there aren't any gyms nearby, or if (like me) you simply don't have the time to make it to the gym regularly, you can get a decent workout with a bowflex system. I've had this machine for about three years now, and I use it fairly consistently (usually in six month on/ six month off cycles, as I watch my belly fat expand and retract). If you do choose to get a home gym system, this one is a good choice. It does let you fit a lot of exercises into a small space, and it's great for working out at home safely without a spotter -- essentially, it functions as a combination cable machine and adjustable-weight dumbbell set, with some qualifications (as noted below). You can do a lot of basic exercises on it -- incline and decline bench; leg presses, extensions, and curls; preacher curl, resisted crunches; chest and shoulder flies; it doubles effectively as a weighted rowing machine. Overall, you can hit pretty much any individual muscle group in the body with this thing.
As to durability and construction, this machine has also stood up reasonably well over time, despite several moves and long periods of daily use; the "power rods" on my old bowflex lost a fair bit of their elasticity over time, but the the resistance plates on this machine are (as far as I can tell) just as tough now as they were when I purchased the thing. You will probably need at least two people to put the thing together (unless you're fit enough already to make it redundant). You'll have to do some partial disassembly when moving it through a doorway, too -- the horizontal rod on which the plates fit sticks out too much to fit through a standard doorway -- but all that takes is ten minutes or so with the included allen wrenches (make sure to keep all the tools it ships with in a bag somewhere, so you can disassemble it later if you need to move). It does creak a little on some exercises, but overall the construction has held up pretty well (so far). [Edit: shortly after I wrote this review, i.e., after using the machine on and off for about three years, one of the plastic parts snapped while I was changing out plates. I contacted the company and was shipped a replacement part within the week, no charge or question].
The main problem with this machine is that it's hard to hit groups of muscles at once, and that's the best way to build overall strength. You can't do squats or deadlifts on it or a number of other compound exercises -- they've got an isolation excercise for every muscle, but it's harder to do whole-body workouts on them. (You can *try* to mimic deadlift and press on it, but you end up straining at odd angles that beg for injury). I've had to buy a chin-up bar to do pullups, and I generally have to do dips between my kitchen counters. This is a problem for two reasons: isolation exercises are less time-efficient -- working out each body part separately takes a lot longer than working them together in compound exercises like deadlifts and presses -- and there's a second problem that shows up after you've been using this for a few months. If you don't plan your workout carefully, an unbalanced set of isolation exercises can overdevelop your strength in one area and underdevelop another, creating a potential risk of injury. To explain, I've strained my arms once or twice on this machine because I'd let my bench press get so far out in front of my chest fly that it became difficult to pull the strap handles in to position for the press. So you have to pay attention and plan your excercises carefully, for even muscular development. That's something you have to do with any workout plan, of course, and in some ways is a problem general to any machine-based exercise program, but you'll want to pay especial attention to it with the Bowflex machines.
The chief advantage of this "revolution' model over the more standard "power rod" bowflex model is that the "power rod" basic model has an additional flaw that's kinda hard to explain -- the tension on the rod increases slowly as you do each excercise, so if you pick, say, the two "fifty pound" rods, you're only getting 100 pounds of resistance at the peak of the curve, and a lot less at the start and finish. The Revolution solves that by using, basically, plastic plates filled with rubber bands, that you twist as you do the motion, providing constant resistance. Of the two, the "revolution" style machine is a lot closer to providing a "weight-like" workout, and the power rod model is a lot closer to total crap (but also a lot cheaper).
Finally, the "resistance plates" have an additional shortcoming: the smallest increment is five pounds per side. A lot of weight training programs (Starting Strength, etc.) try to have you increase resistance in five-pound increments from session to session -- so you need 2.5-lb weights to do that (2.5 on each side), and you can't do that with this machine. Again, you can compensate for it by just working out longer with lighter weights before making the ten-pound jump, but again, it's something you have to compensate for, and it could end up slowing down your training a bit relative to the rate of gain you'd have with free weights in a gym.
I'd advise going to the gym with a partner first -- a knowledgeable friend or a personal trainer -- before buying this machine. It's the best way to learn exercises, learn how to structure your own workout plan, etc. If you don't know proper form, there's a fair chance all you'll do when you get the home gym machine is flail around for a while and try unsuccessfully to ape the guy in the videos, because you won't know what you're doing. Because this system lets you do so many different exercises, it's really easy to do silly or unbalanced workout programs on it, and even easier to do the right exercises in the wrong way (and doing things with improper form can get you injured, which generally derails newbie lifters). You can get this knowledge on your own if you're willing to put in the research time, but it's generally more effective to learn with a coach (just like it's better to learn a martial art from an instructor than from a DVD).
That said, the main thing is just working out consistently, every other day. If having a home gym system in your house (or spending over a grand on an excercise machine) means you'll work out more consistently, it might be worth getting. If you're not self-motivated to work out every day, I'd find a partner and go to the gym with him or her every other day instead.
If, on the other hand, despite all the caveats above, you like working out at home instead of in a gym (I do), you can get a decent workout on this machine. There are a lot of benefits to working out at home, too -- you don't have to compete for the machines, you can work out at any time at all, you can work out without having to find a lifting partner for safety, you don't have to waste time travelling to and from the gym, and so forth.
All in all -- if you're a novice to weightlifting, the best thing you can do is get a friend and go to the gym regularly together. If that isn't an option for whatever reason, or if you aren't a novice and/or know you would just prefer to work out at home, period; and if you're strongly self-motivated to work out regularly; then you can get a very good workout on this machine. You'll only get out what you put in, but if you have the dedication to consistently push yourself, you can get decent results with this thing.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2014
First off, I think this machine is probably fine for someone who doesn't plan on using a lot of weight in their workout or doesn't work out very frequently. It's relatively compact for what it does, easy to use and safer than using free weights.
However, while the quality of most of the materials used in its construction is decent or good enough, one of the most important components is junk. Specifically, there are two yellow straps made of nylon, or something similar, that connect the cams to the cables. As you pull the cable out and let it back in, the yellow strap comes away from a small pulley and then wraps around it again. This repeated action creates a small amount of visible wear on the strap over time and eventually causes it to break.
I broke my first strap about five years ago and have been breaking one every 9 or 10 months lately. If it breaks while I'm doing a bench press, I have full weight on one cable while zero on the other so it pulls me off one side of the bench and onto the floor. Admittedly, I probably use this thing at the edge of what it was designed for. I use it two or three times a week with around 300 lbs (220lbs included + 80 purchased separately) for a few of my exercises, three sets each. However, since this was designed to handle 300lbs, it shouldn't break at all. These straps are simply too thin and it takes way too much effort to replace them. If one breaks, you don't just change the strap but, instead, you have to replace the entire cam. That's just bad design.
This thing has a 10 year warranty so Bowflex has been good about sending out replacement parts. However, I'm concerned about how expensive this will get once the warranty expires in a couple of years.
The bottom line is that this machine will probably last a reasonably long time if you don't plan on purchasing the extra weight set but, if you think you'll use something heavier, you should probably get a nice set of free weights at a much lower price.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2014
The Bowflex Revolution: (TL;DR review at bottom)
Background: I am a 28 year old male, 5'11" / 180lbs. My wife is a 28 year old female 5'7" / 120lbs. We are of above average fitness, but are in no way comparable to athletes, body builders or frequent gym attendees. We stick to at-home calisthenics, running and swimming. Our fitness goals are to become overall more physically fit, NOT to become professional bodybuilders.
Decision: We already have a good diet and consistently exercise. We wanted to work out together in the privacy of our own home. We wanted an at-home machine that would assist us in our fitness goals and be potentially more effective and entertaining than calisthenics. We looked at several home gyms and decided to go with the Bowflex revolution because of primarily two reasons: 1) Rowing machine with free moving chair. 2) Leg Press built in.
Shipping: This product was available with Amazon Prime shipping, so it was shipped as expected. Promptly and intact. No issues here.
Assembly: The assembly was surprisingly easy. It took approximately 2 hours from the time I opened the first box. The instructions are very clear and concise and the boxes are labeled 1 through 5. Box one has the words "Open this box first" which I thought was pretty awesome. Advice: Do NOT open any other box except box 1 until you have read the directions. The installation manual instructs how to assemble the machine from INSIDE the box...
Look/Feel: After the installation, I am very satisfied with how sturdy and well built the machine is. It is definitely made from good quality parts. The pulley system is very smooth and very quiet. I am able to work out when people are sleeping in the next room (Given my music isn't too loud)
Weights: The weights are... interesting to say the least. I have no proof or facts behind this, but I don't believe they are intended to "match" traditional free weights. I believe they are made solely for use with a Bowflex workout programs and not to be used with other "weighted" programs. For example: 130lbs on the Bowflex Revolution is A LOT heavier than 130lbs free weight barbell. I don't know why it is this way, it's just something I have noticed. The weights were originally difficult to put on due to the method that is required. After practice and use though, it became very easy and have no trouble with them.
Manual: The manual is very informative. It contains pictures and descriptions of all the workouts on the Bowflex. It also has many prearranged workout programs to fit your needs.
Cons: A couple things I am not completely satisfied with are unfortunately what made me buy the machine the first place. 1) The row machine was slightly disappointing, not quite what I expected. 2) The leg press caters to the tall. My wife is 5'7" and finds a hard time to get a good workout with it. When she gets low to get a deep press, the machine loses resistance (due to size, not due to defect). This means she cannot get a full press and defeats a lot of the exercise. Despite these minor complaints, the machine is still everything we wanted.
Warranty: With a 10 year warranty that is backed by Bowflex, it guarantees that you get the life out of your machine. **I called Bowflex and the sales representative stated that Amazon was an authorized distributor thus warranties are honored if purchased through Amazon**. 10 years is more than enough time to get your money's worth. We have a 9 year old son who can use this all the way through high school and have it STILL be in warranty.
TL;DR: If you are looking for a home-gym to either 1) work on general fitness or 2) supplement your current gym regime, the Bowflex can do it well. It is well designed, well made and well supported. Do not expect this to make you a body builder or anything close to that. Expect this machine to make workouts fun and private. DO NOT EXPECT RESULTS WITHOUT PROPER DIET!.
5 out of 5 stars - Easily - Would purchase again.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2013
- Bowflex top of the line model.
- Little background on the person using it: worked out for years in gyms, free weight bench press was 225lbs x 15-18 reps personal best, dead lift 315 for sets, etc. Not bragging at all, but giving you idea of the fitness level of person who used it.
- First of all, its a quality machine. I noticed right out of the box this was a real deal fitness machine. Bowflex did not cut corner on materials and buiild quality. It's solid. You can tell just by sitting on the bench that this is a sturdy strong build.
- I used this for about 6-7 workouts. My goal was to replace the gym for the winter months as its dark early, cold, snow, etc.
- Problem is while this is an excellent machine to get a good workout on, I personally didn't feel like I was getting nearly the work out of my muslce groups that free weights and gym machines were able to produce. It's not a bad system at all, there is resistance, plenty of settings and exercises. The issue was the feeling of lifting actual weight vs what seemed like simulated weight.
- My real issue was this could SUPPLEMENT my gym workouts, but I wanted to REPLACE it, and it didn't seem like I could get that out of this machine.
- I ended up calling bowflex and boxing it up and shipping it return shipping on me (expensive, somewhere around $300 if I remember correctly ) to get the unit back to them and refunded. They were very understanding, hence the 6 week trial period, but that return shipping, and getting the large 6 boxes to the shipping store, was quite a challenge. Was it a huge deal? No..but it took an afternoon to get thigns boxed back up and brought box by box to the shipping store with help from a friend.
- I'd really recommend going to a sporting good store that has this model (not sure which do) and giving it a good try. I've seen the power rod models at stores, but this is years ago.
- Finally, its a great machine. It does what it says it does. Just be aware that you probably need to supplement it with the gym, or with the selectech free weight system, an extra bench, a few other "gym" items in your home gym to make it work for those stronger more advanced lifters. Try it..know your level and if it fits, enjoy it! If not, pass. Good luck!