on March 1, 2012
The Bowflex Ultimate 2 Is great machine. I have had mine for a little over 3 months now and I use it every day. The facts are if you use it you will get the results you are looking for. My job is very demanding on my time so driving to a gym is out of the question. I bought all the attatchments that can go with it(there are a few) and the rod rejuvenator. The rejuvenator does help. It keeps the rods strait. The dvd is very helpfull in understanding the bowflex and its execises. That said the workout on it does not work for me but it guided me to create my own. You can get the same workout with this bowflex that you can at a gym. Here are the pro's and con's of the bowflex. Pro's: Contruction is extremely good and durable, it's cables and rods so it's more safe to work out by yourself then it is with free weights (this was a big deal for me) I can do squats and bench presses without having to worry about getting a bar back in a cradle. It folds up and can be rolled around which is good because this thing is quite large and heavy. Make sure you measure and have enough room. I would say you need a 10 foot long by 7 foot wide by 7 foot tall area to use this bowflex. You will want to put it together in the room you plan to use it. Hallways and doorways are not really an option when its assembled. Assembly for me was easy (I am a mechanic). Con's: It's big.
Is it worth it? That depends. If it stays hidden for eternity or may become a really expencive clothes hanger then no. If you are serious and will use it then yes.
A little background on myself. I'm a US Navy Veteran and have used conventional barbells/dumbbells, Hammerstrength, Nautilus machines, the Nordicflex Gold, the original Bowflex, the Total Trainer DLX Chrome and Powerblocks. I have used weight machines all of my life to stay in shape. Since most of us cannot dedicate a house to a large complex gym, a home gym is a great option. Though I love my Total Trainer, its limitations are for leg exercises such as leg curls and extensions.
This is the mother of all assembly nightmares. It's time consuming and painful. Everything in this gym, from the bench, the tower, the base, and attachments must be assembled. Routing of the cables is not intuitive and one must be careful when doing so. I don't personally recommend using the supplied tools. I recommend using a ratcheting wrench, ratcheting screwdriver and such. It will speed your progress by several-fold. Believe me, I hate to assemble things, and this will try the most patient person's patience.
Construction is solid and heavy. That is an advantage and disadvantage. Yes, it's stable and will less likely fall apart. BUT it is a pain to move from one room to another, if necessary. This is several hundred pounds. The bench is stable but not very sturdy. The rods have a lifetime warranty for weakness. If not cared for, the rods will lose resistance.
One of the biggest advantages of the system is the ability to change weight resistance very easily. Transition from one exercise to another is easier than most gyms except when it comes to doing dedicated leg exercises such as a squat, since the bench configuration changes. I keep the leg curl/extension attachment on but the use requires a riser that takes a few seconds to attach and it also requires elevation of the upper part of the bench. This bench is NOT sturdy enough to use as a conventional dumbbell weight bench since it's not stable enough for heavy weights.
I was looking for a machine that allowed a quick change from one exercise to another for circuit training. For the most part this allows me to do it. If the concentration is upon major muscle groups, then the transition will be a little slower: the bench has to be removed and and the rail lifted up to allow for squats when transitioning from Chest/Back/Shoulders to Squats. The lat tower is solid and it's easy to transition from bench presses/fly to a lat pull down.
The plastic base is slip resistant. Definitely a positive attribute to this machine. The footprint is large and requires a 7 foot long by 3 foot wide by 6.5 foot clearance. Low basement ceilings will be suboptimal. This does fold to reduce the floor space when it's not in use but that is not a major concern in my gym.
Use of the rowing function is surprisingly smooth though there is not secured base with straps for your feet.
So how does this feel when compared to conventional weights? Well, the resistance doesn't feel exactly like real weights. The initial concentric contraction is low but then exponentially increases through the range of motion. The eccentric (Negative) is good but at the point of least resistance is when your arms are at near rest. It feels more like a cable machine in the gym than conventional weight stacks. If that's ok by you, then this machine will do fine. I do find the resistance of some exercises closer to conventional than others. For example, the leg extension and leg curls feel more like a regular machine. However, doing a bench press or a lat pull down does not.
As the user goes through the motions there are times when it squeaks and it will need oil or a lubricant for those periods. Otherwise, it's not a noisy machine. Why is that important? Well, if it's in a room near a sleeping area, you won't be disturbing your neighbor/roommate/loved one, like a conventional iron weight stack would do (Clanging steel is quite loud).
The bench and arm rest padding are average for durability and comfort. This is not "gym quality" material. The multifunction grips for doing arm and upper body exercises are good once you get used to them. They're durable enough and will likely last a few years before requiring replacement.
The power rods will required a tether or tie around them when not in use to improve long term durability. One must be very careful with resistance changes since this is essentially a spring feeling rod that can break bones or cause some serious injury to the ones who are not careful. Bear in mind that the rods flare out to the side or slightly back so you need enough clearance for space when placing this gym somewhere.
Overall, the construction is solid and changing of resistance is quick. You won't become a powerlifter or professional/amateur body builder, but it will be enough to keep you looking fit and good for the beach.
FINANCIAL CAVEAT: One of the biggest negatives for this type of system is the resale is very poor. You can find a used set for $300-$500 on Craig's List. Depreciation for these systems are always your biggest issues with most home gyms. Obviously the big negative is no warranty coverage, just so you know, since it only covers the ORIGINAL BUYER.
I'm very pleased with the machine.
on August 23, 2014
Great item, quick shipment. Not to difficult to put together, just takes time and a few tools. BUT, think about how often you will use this for the price, to be honest, i wish i bought used from craigslist.
on November 27, 2012
I have had this equipment for 6 years and it has performed and held up great. I use it 3 to 4 times a week and it still performs and looks new. After 6 years one of the power rods broke. I called customer service and they sent me a new set of power rods within 2 days! And because the rods are guaranteed for life, they were free - including shipping. If you have the space for this machine (it's big) you will like everything about it.