The Bowflex Max Trainer is an extremely popular exercise machine, giving you the benefits of an elliptical and a stepper combined. The company claims that you can burn more calories, engage your upper body more, and significantly reduce impact on your joints more effectively than a traditional elliptical or treadmill.
Compared to the company's other popular machine, the TreadClimber, the Max Trainers are much more affordable, giving more people the opportunity to try out the "Max Interval 14 Minute Workout".
Bowflex is currently offering three Max Trainer models: the M3, the M5 and the all new M7 that was first introduced back in 2016. All are very compact, about half the length of a traditional elliptical machine, so they are ideal for smaller gym spaces.
All of the models have a sleek, modern-looking design inspired by race cars and motorcycles, so they are very unlike your typical elliptical trainer. Depending on your tastes that can be a good or a bad thing. We personally like the way these look as it makes them more appealing, and they stand out from the crowd.
Let's take a look at all three Max Trainers...
The Max Trainer M3 is all black with fire red accents, offering 8 resistance levels and 2 workout programs (Manual, Max Interval) and includes a chest strap for heart rate monitoring, a water bottle holder and a shelf for your magazine or tablet.
The Max Trainer M5 is silver and black with red accents, and offers 16 resistance levels, 9 workout programs (Manual, Max Interval, Smart Max Interval, Fitness Test, Calorie Goal, Fat Burn, Calorie Burn, Stairs and Steady State) and includes everything the M3 offers plus contact grip heart monitor, Bluetooth capability to sync with the Bowflex health app, a backlit display and premium grips.
The Max Trainer M7 looks like the M5, but the red accents are gone and it has more commercial-grade touches. There are 20 resistance levels, 11 workout programs, enhanced grips, pedals and display and up to 4 user profiles, as opposed to 2 on the M3 and M5. It also includes performance targeted programming that can adapt to your training level and set goals for you to reach, something the other machines don't have.
All Bowflex Max Trainers come with a free wireless chest strap, a free 8 week Daily Burn trial program, full body workout capability, after burn effect, water bottle holder, media shelf and an AC adapter.
Deciding which Bowflex Max Trainer to choose comes down to your budget and the features that you are looking for. All three will provide a solid workout, allowing you to burn calories and tone up the entire body.
The Max Trainer M3 is going to be the least expensive model, at around $999 last we checked. It is a good entry level choice if budget is an issue, and you can do without the extras that the upper level models provide.
Our favorite Max Trainer here at Treadmill Talk is definitely the M5, which also happens to be the most popular model and biggest seller for the company. Why? Because it's a pretty big upgrade over the base M3 model in major areas.
For starters, you get twice as many resistance levels to choose from. You also get a lot more workout options. Even though the Max 14 Minute Interval program is great, it's nice to have other options to change things up.
Another thing missing on the base model is the tracking capability that the Max Trainer M5 and M7 have. This allows you to keep tabs on your workouts and monitor your progress over time. The Max Trainer App allows you to sync all of your results with many popular fitness apps.
What about the M7? Why is that not our favorite? Because the jump from the M5 to the M7 is not as great as that from the M3 to the M5, meaning that the upgrades on the M7 don't necessarily justify the price increase of $600.
You do get more even more resistance levels and workout programs, and some enhanced touches here and there, but we believe the Max Trainer M5 has everything you need. Unless your budget is wide open, go with the M5.
The experts give the Max Trainers very good reviews. They like the fact that they are very affordable, around $999 on sale for the M3 and $1599 for the M5 model. The new M7 is on the pricier side though, at around $2199 on sale. They are all very compact which makes them ideal for the home setting.
The unique selling point of the Max Trainers, as well as their counterparts, the Bowflex TreadClimbers, is definitely the fact that you can burn a ton of calories in a relatively short amount of time. You'll notice that the focus of the company website and commercials is not really the machines themselves, but rather the results that you can by using them.
The 14 Minute Max Interval workout is a series of high intensity and low intensity movements (8 high, 8 low) that lasts for a total of 14 minutes, which will give you all of the cardiovascular benefits of a much longer workout in much less time. The new M7 also has a Max 7 Minute Interval workout in case you don't have 14 minutes to spend on the machine.
Bowflex also claims that an independent study showed that you can burn up to 1.2x as many calories as you can on a stepper, 1.6x as many as you can on a treadmill, and up to 2.5x as many as you can on a traditional elliptical machine. Whether or not this is true is debatable, but the point is you can shed a lot of calories and get a very good cardio workout in, which you can do with most good cross trainers.
Some other Bowflex Max Trainer benefits: 80% more upper body engagement, 200% less impact and additional calorie burn long after your workout is complete. Keep in mind that last claim applies to any interval training that you do. :)
(Just a side note: the company introduced two new traditional Bowflex ellipticals in 2017 as part of their Results Series.)
We like the Max Trainers, especially for those who don't have a lot of time and want to maximize their results. Although the display is very basic, they do have a Burn Rate meter that actually shows you how many calories you're burning per minute and target levels to hit...so that's pretty cool for those looking to drop a few pounds.
Keep in mind that only the M5 and M7 sync with the Max Trainer app to track your results, so if that's important to you go with one of those over the M3. They also give you twice the resistance levels and many more workout programs as well as a better warranty.
Also, note that the M7 model is a learning machine, so it actually monitors your workouts and suggests new targets based on your fitness goals. So that's an additional motivational tool.
Either way, these are good machines with a unique angle that makes them very appealing.
Check out all three Max Trainer models and decide which one is right for you.
Bowflex Max Trainer M3 - The entry level model featuring the MAX Interval 14 minute workout, 8 resistance levels, wireless chest heart rate monitor and 2 user profiles.
Bowflex Max Trainer M5 - The mid-level and most popular model, this one offers 16 resistance levels, 9 built-in workouts and Bluetooth syncing with the company's fitness app.
Bowflex Max Trainer M7 - The newest model in the series, introduced in 2016, with learning capability, upgraded features, heart rate monitor and Bluetooth syncing.