Bowflex Vs Total Gym – (In-Depth Comparison) Read This Before Buying

Bowflex and Total Gym have always been among the top home gym brands!

They both boast a wide variety of different workouts and compelling features.

However, choosing which brand to buy is never easy.

Today we compared the Bowflex vs Total Gym to identify which is the best!

Let’s face it… Having a Bowflex Home Gym or Total Gym is always a great alternative to going to an actual gym. You get to save on travel time, gas, gym fees, gym machine lines, and a wasted membership. The fact is that most persons with a gym membership never show up. And to make matter worse, most people have no idea what they should be doing in the gym!

That’s where having a Total Body workout equipment from one of these brands fits in your lives. To start things off, we’ll take a look at a comparison of both brands.

Total Gym VS Bowflex Brand Comparison

Total Gym and Bowflex are two of the most popular brands in the Home Gym category. They have both produced quite many pieces of equipment. And both have hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers. So most persons should be aware of both brands. But for those who aren’t, here’s a quick overview.


The Bowflex brand was established back in 1986 and have since been a brand name for a wide range of fitness training equipment. Some of the more popular products they sell are their home gym solutions. Bowflex has produced several variations of home gyms.

Initially, Bowflex sold their home gyms through television infomercials but have since started selling them through their website and other vendors. With a Bowflex, you can do pretty much every strength-training exercise you do in your typical gym. Additionally, some home gym models that they produce do offer the ability to do squats, aerobic rowing and ab workouts. In a nutshell, Bowflex is great for anyone serious about getting in shape.

Total Gym

About 20 years ago, Total Gym released its first model through an infomercial. Since then, they have become one of the more recognized home gym brands having over 4 million satisfied customers. Through endorsements from movie star Chuck Norris and Fitness expert Christie Brinkley, the Total Gym has become one of the top brands today!

They first started producing their products for rehabilitating physical injuries. However, as the brand grew, more and more users have begun using total gyms for total-body workouts. A typical Total Gym home gym is far less complicated than any Bowflex model available now. And often can accommodate far more variances in exercises. Total Gyms are reliable, sturdy and will fit just about any home or user!

Now, pay attention: Bowflex home gyms are significantly different from Total gym home gyms mainly because of the design and “weight resistance concept.” However, both models efficiently allow you to get a total-body workout.

In the section below we’ll briefly explain how each resistance type works.

Resistance vs Bodyweight

Essentially both Bowflex and Total gym use a form of resistance training to ensure you get the best result. The significant difference between the Total Gym vs Bowflex is that Total Gym uses bodyweight resistance. While Bowflex, on the other hand, uses an innovative method known as Power Rod Technology.

Total Gym Bodyweight Resistance

Total Gym Bodyweight Resistance
Image Credit: totalgym

The Total Gym home workout machines feature an inclined glide board which uses the weight of your body plus gravity as resistance. On a total gym, you can increase the resistance to use up to 56% of your body weight. Additionally, some models also allow the capacity to add a weight bar to increase that weight further.

Bodyweight systems are excellent for those just starting and want to increase their strength gradually.

Also, it makes rehabilitating physical injuries easy as it gives greater control over the intensity of your workouts. To increase or decrease the difficulty you merely need to adjust the incline level of the machine.

Total Gyms are great for just about every type of fitness goals. From weight loss through aerobic exercises or building muscles through strength training exercises; it’s useful for both.

Bowflex Power Rod Technology

Bowflex Power Rod Technology
Image Credit: twitter

The Bowflex gym machines are better for building muscles, toning and keeping in shape. However, you can also do a few aerobic exercises with it. The resistance technology of the Bowflex is perhaps the more unique in the home gym category. It uses flexible tensile steel rods that bend when pulled.

Each power rod on the Bowflex has a different weight ranging from 5lbs to a maximum base weight of 210 lbs on their best selling model.

However, some models do allow for power rod resistance upgrades of 310 lbs or 410 pounds. One thing to note with the Bowflex is that the resistance increases gradually. We’ve attached a Power Rod Resistance video to clear up your doubts.

Comparison of Exercises

To compare exercises we have decided to put both brands best sellers head to head. For Total Gym, their current best seller is the Total Gym XLS. On the Bowflex, their current best seller is the Bowflex PR1000. At present the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE has become the top model to buy. However, the cost is a lot higher than the Total Gym XLS so we used the PR1000 for comparison instead.

Both brands have several models that have a varying number of exercises. Moreover, each model has different weight resistance.

On the Total Gym Best Selling XLS model, you get the ability to do 80+ exercises. The exercises include everything from strength training, ab workouts, squats, cardio, and leg workouts. On the total gym, you can also do Pilates if you purchase the corresponding attachments.

The beginner-friendly Bowflex PR1000 model is slightly less capable than the total gym xls. It only offers the ability to perform 30 exercises. However, these exercises are more focused on strength training and building muscles.

The total gym is more versatile with the number of workouts you can do. But it offers less control in your workouts unless you buy a model with 12 resistance levels.

Bowflex home gyms offer far greater control and muscle building as it is closer to free weights than a bodyweight system. You are also able to change the resistance rods starting at 5 lbs to 210 lbs. When you buy the Bowflex, you may get access to some Trainer-Built workouts. Similarly, most total gym models come with free workout DVDs that will guide you along.

Equipment Size Comparison

The equipment size of the Bowflex vs Total Gym is another area that they differ significantly. All Bowflex home gyms are in the form of a tower. Which means they are usually very tall and wide, so it takes up quite a bit of space.

Total Gyms, on the other hand, are more similar to an iron board. They are longer but still more compact than Bowflex gyms.

For the actual dimensions, the Bowflex PR1000 measures 82″ H x 86″ W x 76″ L. The Bowflex also requires about 100″ x 72″ of space when working out and can only support a user weight limit of 300lbs.

Total Gyms measure 19″ W x 90″ L x 43″ H when unfolded for use. When folded up the equipment measures 19″ W x 51″ L x 9″ H. Besides, the xls model has a user weight capacity of 400lbs.In a nutshell, a total gym is far more compact than a Bowflex. They’ll take up much less space when working out and can be quickly put away unlike the Bowflex. You also won’t need to do any assembly when you purchase the Total Gym. While on the Bowflex you’ll need at least an hour to set it up.

Ease of Use – Total Gym vs Bowflex

Ease of Use - Total Gym vs Bowflex

Now, you’re probably wondering…Which one between the bowflex or total gym will be easier to use? That depends.

If you have a large enough room to workout in and don’t plan to move them, then both are easy to use.

However, if you are tight on space and need to move things around then, the Total Gym is definitely the better option.

For exercise, the Bowflex is a little more straightforward with the workouts. On the Total Gym, you can do a larger number of exercises targeting different muscles. So without the included workout guides that they give you, the total gym would be more difficult to use.

On both home gyms, you can change the attachments to target different muscles easily. On the Total Gym, all the individual parts are easy to clip on and set in place.

Price Comparison of Bowflex Versus Total Gym

The price difference between the Bowflex and total gym also differs a lot. Total Gyms current cheapest model at the time of publishing this article is the cheapest Total Gym 1400. In contrast, the cheapest Bowflex model is the Bowflex PR1000! However, if you want the best selling Total Gym XLS model which we compared here the cost is roughly $$$. You also have the option to buy the slightly better Bowflex PR3000 at $$$ or the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE!


On the Bowflex you get a 1-year warranty on the frame, 60 days on parts and five years of warranty on the rods. The Total Gym gives a lifetime warranty on the frame and six months warranty on parts.

Pros and Cons of Bowflex


  • More strength and muscle building focused.
  • More precise control in resistance increase.
  • Offers a good enough warranty.


  • Resistance Rods loses tensile-strength overtime.
  • It can’t be relocated quickly.
  • Takes up more space than a total gym.
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Pros and Cons of Total Gym


  • Total Gyms offers more exercises variations.
  • It has a higher user weight limit than the Bowflex.
  • They include more workout content than the Bowflex.
  • Models can be cheaper than a Bowflex depending on the model you buy.
  • Can be easily stored away after use.
  • Total Gyms take up less space than Bowflex home gyms.


  • Bad for persons with large ear canals.
  • Cone Shaped which may allow sound to slip through.
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You May Want to Buy a Bowflex Home Gym If:

  • If you weigh less than 300 lbs.
  • You mainly want to focus on strength training and building muscles.
  • Your home has a good enough room space to set up a Bowflex.
  • You want to save $100 on your total gym home gym machine.
  • You don’t need more than 210 lbs or 410 lbs of resistance weights.

You May Want to Buy a Total Gym Home Gym If:

  • Your body weight exceeds 300lbs.
  • You are recovering from a physical injury.
  • Your home requires you to be able to put away the machine after use.
  • You want to be able to perform more exercises on one piece of equipment.
  • Don’t want to spend less but be able to do more exercises.

If any you answer ‘YES’ to any of those questions more than the other then go with that brand. Both brands are among the best home gym makers. And both brands have products that can satisfy all your requirements. Be sure to check out our posts for the Best Total Gym and Best Bowflex to buy!

Wrapping Up…

Buying a home gym is never a bad thing! But buying the right one is always hard to do especially when they all offer so much. From this comparison of the Total Gym vs Bowflex, you can see that both brands offer great value. But they have many differences that may or may not be suitable for you.

So before you chose one brand over the other, you need to know why you want a home gym. Is it for strength training or to keep in shape? Your answer will help you decide which brand to choose! To help your decision, we’ve listed some crucial reasons why you may choose one over the other.

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