Ever since the pandemic hit, going to the gym has become virtually impossible. Even if you follow all the safety protocols, there’s still a chance you might get infected.
But you don’t have to go to a gym if you have one at home – and that’s where Bowflex Ultimate comes into play.
This all-in-one home gym machine has everything you need to get your daily dose of strength training exercise, featuring a lat tower with an angled lat bar for a full range of workout routines. It also comes with a built-in rowing machine, so you can also get some of that much-needed cardio.
If you’re considering getting the Bowflex Ultimate – or any of the other Bowflex home gyms – stick around for the rest of this review!
Is Bowflex Ultimate The Best Choice For You?
Bowflex Ultimate is built to last. The frame is made out of high-quality steel, and it also comes with high-density padding so you can be comfortable while exercising and avoid bruised arms.
It’s capable of providing up to 310 pounds of resistance, and if that’s not enough, you can also upgrade it to take it up to 410 pounds with optional additional power rods.
On top of all this, this Bowflex Ultimate folds in on itself so that it takes as little space as possible. And if you need to move it out of the way, you can do so without breaking a sweat because it features integrated wheels.
The Bowflex Ultimate allows you to do more than 90 different exercises, targeting both the upper body and lower body. You can learn all about the different exercises you can do with this home gym from a detailed manual it comes with – and we’ll go over them later, too.
Consider Buying Bowflex Ultimate If You:
- Need variety – Bowflex Ultimate doesn’t have “Ultimate” in its name for no reason. This home gym allows you to do 90 different exercises.
- Want gains – Bowflex Ultimate comes with 310 pounds of real power rod resistance that can be upgraded to 410 pounds with additional power rods.
- Like cardio – This is one of the very few home gyms that comes with a built-in rowing machine.
Avoid Buying Bowflex Ultimate If You:
- Are on a tight budget – If you’re on a tight budget, this home gym isn’t your best choice. Bowflex ultimate costs as much as two home gyms
- Want something more modern – Bowflex Ultimate is unfortunately discontinued to make way for the Bowflex Ultimate 2.
- Want an extended warranty – This home gym comes with a 10-year warranty. For most, a 10-year warranty is fine, but it doesn’t inspire confidence as much as a lifetime warranty.
- 60+ exercises for a fully body workout
- 210 pounds of Power Rod resistance, upgradable to 310 pounds or 410 pounds
- Bowflex provides 7 free trainer-built workout regimens
- Sliding seat rail allows you to perform aerobic rowing and leg presses
- Multiple cable/pulley positions enable custom workouts
- Lat bar and squat bar included
What Is The Bowflex Ultimate Home Gym?
Did you know that the Bowflex brand has been around for decades?
The Bowflex home gym was patented by an engineering student back in ’79, but it wasn’t until seven years later, in ’86, that the Bowflex Inv. began selling home gyms.
In their early days, Bowflex sold their home gyms via television infomercials. Today, you can buy one on the official Bowflex website, Amazon – or any well-stocked sporting goods store.
Bowflex offers three models of home gyms: Classic, Xtreme, and Ultimate. On each, you can do a wide range of upper body exercises as well as lower body exercises.
With the Classic, you can do 30-plus exercises; with the Xtreme, you can do 70+ exercises – and with Ultimate, you can do more than 90 exercises.
A 10-year limited warranty covers the Bowflex Ultimate home gym in terms of defects in materials and workmanship.
Number Of Exercises: 90+
Maximum User Weight: 300 pounds
Equipment Dimensions: 83 x 98 x 50 inches (211 x 249 x 127 cm)
Folded Footprint: 27 x 49 inches
How To Assemble The Bowflex Ultimate?
Assembling Bowflex Ultimate is no walk in the park. You will need a whole set of tools and at least a couple of hours to assemble it. We recommend you get someone to help you with the assembly because there are a lot of components and different screws.
Thankfully, the Bowflex Ultimate includes a very detailed and fully illustrated manual. If you’ve ever assembled a furniture piece from Ikea, you won’t have much trouble setting up the Bowflex.
Remember to set up your home gym on a hard, level surface and leave a large enough workout area for safe operation. The Bowflex Ultimate generally requires a workout area of at least 7 x 9 feet.
How To Use The Bowflex Ultimate?
The Bowflex Ultimate provides you with a total body workout – with 310 pounds of resistance, no less – so you can achieve all your fitness goals. It utilizes a patented power rod system that provides excellent resistance (or weight) that feels as good as free weights. But that’s the thing:
Using the Bowflex Ultimate is even better than using free weights because there is no risk of joint pain usually associated with free weights.
It also features a lat tower with an angled bar to help with building up back and shoulder muscles. Even more so, it features a low/pulley squat station for training your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Ther’s also a leg extension/curl station for developing muscular legs.
Thanks to the integrated rowing machine, you don’t have to use the original Bowflex Ultimate just for weight training; you can also do cardio.
The adjustable pulley system allows you to change the angle of power rod resistance to increase the effectiveness of many upper body exercises.
The adjustable pulley system and power rods are made of high-quality materials, so you don’t have to worry about anything breaking due to overuse.
What Exercises Can You Do With Bowflex Ultimate?
As we mentioned above, you can do more than 90 different exercises, all in a single unit. Even without optional accessories, you can do quite a lot of effective lower and upper body workouts.
Among the most effective are chest exercises – including press and chest fly exercises. When you do them, your chest muscles won’t only work against the resistance, but they’ll also stabilize against the pulley system.
The upper back exercise such as the lat pulldown and seated row (done with the lat tower bar) are also incredibly effective. The cool thing about these two exercises is that you can modify them by changing the position of your hands and elbows to target different back muscles.
Here’s a full list of exercises you can do with Bowflex Ultimate:
- Bench Press
- Chest Fly
- Incline Bench Press
- Decline Bench Press
- Resisted Punch
- Lying Cable Crossover
- Flat Barbell Bench Press
- Seated Shoulder Press
- Front Shoulder Press
- Rear Deltoid Rows
- Standing Lateral Shoulder Raise
- Seated Lateral Shoulder Raise
- Scapular Protraction
- Scapular Depression
- Shoulder Rotator Cuff Internal Rotation
- Shoulder Rotator Cuff External Rotation
- Shoulder Extension
- Shoulder Shrug
- Barbell Shoulder Shrug
- Lying Front Shoulder Raise
- Reverse Fly
- Military Press
- Standing Rear Deltoid Row
- Standing Cable Cross Rear Deltoid Row
- Standing Shoulder Extension
- Standing Shoulder Internal Rotation
- Standing Shoulder External Rotation
- Lying Shoulder Pullover
- Wide Pulldowns
- Narrow Pulldowns
- Lying Lat Pulldowns
- Lying Narrow Lat Pulldowns
- Low Back Extensions
- Seated Lat Rows
- Lying Lat Fly
- Reverse Grip Pulldowns
- Scapular Retraction
- Stiff Arm Pulldown
- Barbell Bent Over Row
- Standing Lat Row Alternating Motion Low Pulley
- Standing Single Arm Lat Row Low Pulley
- Standing Low Back Extension
- French Press
- Lying Triceps Extension
- Lying 45-Degree Tricep Extension
- Triceps Pushdown
- Rope Pushdowns
- Single-Arm Pushdown
- Cross Triceps Extension
- Triceps Kickback
- Seated Triceps Extension
- Standing Biceps Curl
- Seated Biceps Curl
- Seated Wrist Extension
- Standing Wrist Extension
- Seated Wrist Curl
- Standing Wrist Curl
- Reverse Curl
- Lying Biceps Curl
- Reverse Grip Barbell Curls
- Barbell Curls
- Seated (resisted) Abdominal Crunch
- Seated (resisted) Oblique Crunch
- Reverse Crunch
- Resisted Reverse Crunch
- Trunk Rotation
- Abdominal Crunch
- Leg Extension
- Leg Curl
- The Squat
- Leg Press
- Lying (Prone) Leg Curl
- Standing Hip Extension
- Standing Hip Flexion
- Seated Leg Curl
- Lying Leg Extension
- Seated (straight Leg) Calf Raise
- Standing Leg Kickback
- Kneeling Leg Kickback
- Standing Hip Abduction
- Seated Hip Adduction
- Seated Hip Abduction
- Ankle Inversion
- Ankle Eversion
- Stiff-Leg Deadlift
- Standing Hip Flexion
- Standing Hip Internal Rotation
- Standing Hip External Rotation
Common User Issues and Concerns
The biggest complaint users have about this home gym is how difficult it is to assemble. Although the manual it comes with is quite detailed, some might still find it challenging to follow the instructions.
Thankfully, there are a couple of videos online that go through the entire assembly process. So, if you get stuck, you can refer to those to fix any mistakes.
Another concern users have with this home gym is the lack of an accessory rack. This item is sold separately, just like the power rods. But, since the Ultimate was discontinued, finding accessories might be a bit tricky.
A couple of users complained about the leg attachment being too flimsy. However, that might not be the problem with the machine itself but with the quality of assembly. If you don’t tighten the screw enough, some components of the unit will be flimsy.
Lastly, users had trouble finding the motivation to start exercising. Then again, this has nothing to do with the actual machine but with the person. We know that finding the motivation to start exercising can be difficult and the best advice we can give you is to start slow.
You don’t have to go hard from day one; start your workout slow.
Even if you take 15 minutes out of your day to exercise, you will see results and develop strong muscles after a month or two thanks to the great resistance it offers.
Overall, the Bowflex Ultimate is an incredible machine for anyone looking for a great at-home workout – but it’s not without its issues. You’ll find the main pros and cons outlined below.
Bowflex Ultimate Pros
- It’s an excellent choice for anyone that wants to maintain – or even up – their level of muscular fitness in the comfort of their own home
- Changing resistance levels and switching between exercises is incredibly easy and takes less than a minute
- You don’t need anyone to spot for you
- Exercising with this home gym is less straining on the muscles than lifting free weights
- High-density padding ensures comfort during exercise
- It’s a great investment if you’re looking to lose weight because it provides you with an excellent source of resistance training and even cardio, thanks to the integrated rowing machine
Bowflex Ultimate Cons
- If you’re looking to develop lots of muscular size and strength, you should probably stay away from this machine
- This home gym is quite expensive compared to other home gyms on the market
Even with its downsides, this is an excellent machine for anyone that wants to maintain their level of fitness in the comfort of their home. With more than 90 exercises to choose from, you can tone your entire body.
You can start working out with the basic model and gradually buy upgrades to push your limits.
Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer Bowflex Ultimate models on the market; they’re discontinued. Granted, there are newer Bowflex Ultimate models out there that are easier to find.
But if you don’t mind taking things slow and if you can find one for a reasonable price, then getting the Bowflex Ultimate might work out great for you.