The Bowflex Revolution Home Gym is the top-of-the-line model in a collection that also features the popular Blaze, Xtreme 2SE, PR1000 and PR3000 designs.
But as the only home gym to feature their patented SpiraFlex® resistance technology, is it really any better than their Power Rod® systems? Does this new technology result in a wider range of exercise options?
These are two of the questions that we’ll be answering in this review, as well as taking a look at the assembly process, maintenance routine, and attachment options to help you decide if this is the best choice of workout machine for your own home gym.
Combining award-winning design features
Since the creation of their 2000x home gym system in 1986, Bowflex have been revolutionising the industry with their combination of cardio and resistance equipment.
The 25 years that followed saw Bowflex grow into one of the most successful fitness equipment companies in the world, leading to the acquisitions of Nautilus Corporation, Schwinn Fitness, and Stairmaster. We even featured their blog as the top fitness company blog for 2015.
In 2006 the Bowflex Revolution Home Gym was introduced, which combines many of the design features that have made their weights benches two of the bestselling designs on ecommerce supersites like Amazon.
Comfort and stability
Regardless of the weight you can lift, if you’re going to be using a weights bench then you want the back and head support to be comfortable.
That’s why Bowflex have developed a bench and seat combination that addresses many of the problems associated with lower priced designs. This includes closing the gap that’s commonly found between the seat and back support, providing additional cushioning for your lower back.
Each section has also been tapered to be wider at the seat, with the top section of the bench narrowing to allow greater range of motion when retracting your shoulder blades for exercises such as cable flys and incline chest press.
In much the same way as their PR1000 Home Gym, the Revolution has mounted the entire bench on a sliding rail system. This lets you make quick adjustments to the incline and positioning of your body to better suit specific exercises.
But what is it that makes the SpiraFlex® resistance system so unique, and how can the Revolution be used to benefit your own home workouts?
Bowflex Revolution® – Features Summary
- 220 lbs SpiraFlex® Resistance (Upgradeable to 300 lbs)
- Up to 600 lbs of resistance available for the leg press
- 170° of movement in the Freedom Arms® to duplicate exercises you perform in your local gym
- 100+ Exercises available
- Space-efficient design
- Preacher Curl Attachment
- 5 Position Foot Harness
- Hand Grips
- Leg Press Plate
- Instructional manual provided
- Workout DVD included
What is the SpiraFlex® resistance system?
One of the things that Bowflex tend to specialize in is their unique design of resistance systems.
Whether it’s their twist-lock style of SelectTech dumbbells or Power Rod® system for their PR1000 and PR3000 home gyms, the manipulation of resistance to create a more effective workout can be seen across their entire range of weight training equipment.
The Bowflex Revolution introduces yet another unique resistance system, which uses a combination of cables, SpiraFlex® plates, a tension control knob, and adjustable Freedom Arms®.
You’ve probably already seen weight plates being added to a barbell or dumbbell for free weights exercises, but the SpiraFlex® plates aren’t simply to add more weight to a weight stack, as they don’t move through a plane of motion.
Instead they remain stationary, with a heavy-duty elastic strap inside that stretches as the plate rotates, creating the resistance.
SpiraFlex® vs. Selectorized resistance systems
The plates themselves provide a similar level of resistance to conventional cast iron plates, but at a fraction of the weight.
For example, if you were looking to lift 80 lbs of weight on a conventional weight tower, you would slide the locking pin into the plate stack at the 80 lb mark. This would require 80 lbs of weight plates. Alternatively, you can attach two of the 40-pound packs to the Bowflex Revolution to create the same resistance, but with each weighing just a few pounds.
Not only does this make them a lot easier to move around, but also reduces any damage done to flooring if dropped, saves on space, and results in a much quieter workout.
In most cases when you buy the machine it will provide you with 220 lbs of resistance. This can be upgraded to 300 lbs by purchasing additional weight packs, in a similar way to upgrading the Power Rods® on their PR home gyms.
In summary, the SpiraFlex® resistance plate system is quieter, lighter, more compact, and can provide more resistance than similarly priced systems, such as the Body Solid G6B and BodyCraft Xpress Pro.
Transport and storage
If you’re looking for a high quality home gym that doesn’t take up much floor space, you’re usually going to be restricted to selectorized designs with a single weight stack.
In most cases a single stack won’t weight more than 200 lbs, which can be an issue if you pay $2000 for a machine that doesn’t provide a challenging level of resistance in 12 months time and isn’t upgradeable.
Although the Bowflex Revolution can’t exactly be classed as lightweight (336 lb product weight), you do still have some options for reducing the space it takes up and transporting to a different room if needed.
The seat rail and arms can be folded down to minimize the space it needs when not in use, and there’s a handle fitted to the backside of the engine. Lifting by the handle will tip the machine onto transport wheels fitted to the base plate, allowing you to roll it to a different location.
Bowflex Revolution workouts
One of things we love about the Revolution is its ability to support a full range of upper and lower body exercises, without having the same large footprint as home gym systems that rely on multiple workout stations or weight stacks.
If you take a look at the front of the seat, you’ll see that there’s a recess in the padding that’s roughly the same width as the seat rail. This is actually to hold the Leg Press Seatback, which is used in conjunction with the Leg Press Plate to enable you to perform one of the best exercises for developing lower body strength – the leg press.
Although the seat itself remains fixed to the rail, the back support that you use to create a multi-position bench can quickly be removed to give you greater freedom of movement in other exercises.
We’ve already mentioned the leg press, but if you want to train your biceps, you can also slide a preacher curl attachment into the leg developer at the front and perform curls using resistance from the lower cable pulley.
It’s worth mentioning that the leg press and preacher curl attachments are two of the items that can be stored in a custom rack (available separate to the main unit), specially designed to hold accessories for the Bowflex Revolution.
Despite not having the single high cable pulley that you’re likely to find on single-stack selectorized designs, the adjustable arms can be positioned closer together to create the same angle.
Providing support for 100+ exercises, we decided to list a few of the most popular options below, categorised by muscle group.
Bowflex Revolution exercises:
- Legs: Leg extension, Leg press, Hamstring curl
- Back: Seated row, Lat pulldowns
- Arms: Preacher curl, Tricep pushdowns, Bicep curls, Concentration curls, Overhead extensions
- Shoulders: Side lateral raises, upright rows, seated shoulder press
- Chest: Incline chest press, Pec fly
- Abs: Weighted crunches, Rope crunches
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
The user manual for the Bowflex Revolution, it’s probably the most comprehensive we’ve seen, with sections explaining everything from the importance of goal definition through to the exercises you can perform on the Revolution.
There’s even a nutrition guide suggesting serving sizes and food choices for meals throughout the day as part of their complimentary Bowflex Body Weight Loss Guide.
Although the manual weighs in at nearly 100 pages, more than half of these are explanations of how to perform the exercises. Each page contains 2 exercises, providing you with a clear picture of the start and finish positions, as well as the muscle groups worked and bench / motion arm / accessory combination needed to perform the exercise most effectively.
The assembly process itself is explained in a separate manual to the owner’s manual, and despite providing you with clear step-by-step instructions and diagrams, you should still allow several hours to get the equipment fully assembled.
As with any piece of fitness equipment, there’s a basic level of ongoing maintenance that’s suggested by the manufacturer if you want to keep everything working safely and correctly.
Although Bowflex don’t specify a particular cleaning solution to use, their list of preventative maintenance tasks is very similar to those we’ve seen on Precor’s UBK collection of exercise bikes.
That’s because the cover for the UBK bikes can be removed to access the internal components and should be cleaned out once or twice per year. The same is true of the Revolution, where you have a removable cover that allows access to the internal parts that make up the engine.
Each time you workout it’s also suggested that you wipe down the machine to remove perspiration, and each month it’s best to check the unit for loose bolts.
For a routine that takes no more than a couple of minutes, it’s an easy way to prolong the life of the machine.
Customer reviews and Bowflex support
Even after finding out more about the resistance system and exercise options, it can still be useful to build up a balanced overall opinion of the Revolution by taking a look at some customer reviews.
In terms of quantity, the official Bowflex website remains the best source, but Amazon also has its fair share, which are also a bit more varied in their conclusion.
But with hundreds to read through on the Bowflex website alone, not to mention the number available on other ecommerce sites like Amazon, reading through them and finding the points that really affect your decision can be a time consuming process.
That’s why we’ve read through them ourselves and picked out the unique pros and cons that were mentioned most frequently as part of unbiased reviews.
Whereas some divisions of Nautilus and Bowflex maintain an active customer support presence in the reviews section on Amazon, the Revolution doesn’t seem to be one of the products covered. However, if you would like to ask a question about the Revolution to Bowflex directly, then they have an excellent response rate on their website.
- Weight plates are lighter than for a conventional weight stack, making it easier to transport than machines that rely on a selectorized weight stack
- Easy to use
- Smooth range of motion is ideal for challenging workouts and rehab exercises alike
- Clearly written assembly instructions backed by excellent customer service
- Accompanying DVD is a useful resource for exercise options
- 10 years of warranty support
- Wide range of exercise options
- Locking pin design in the free motion arms and seat makes it quick to change between exercises
- Assembly process takes longer than their PR1000 and PR3000 home gyms
- Steps for adjusting the cable tension and setting up the low cable pulley was more time consuming than some people expected
- The weight can’t be adjusted in increments as small as on some machines (e.g. 1 lb, 2.5 lb)
- Some reviewers would have liked the leg press plate positioned lower on the frame
What’s covered by the warranty?
- 10 year limited warranty covering defects in material or workmanship