The Bowflex Max Trainer is an extremely popular exercise machine, giving you an elliptical and a stepper in one. The company claims that you can burn more calories, engage your upper body more, and significantly reduce impact compared to a traditional elliptical or treadmill.
Compared to the company's other popular machine, the Tread Climber, 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 introduced in 2016. All are very compact, about half the length of a traditional elliptical machine.
All models have a sleek, modern looking design inspired by race cars and motorcycles, so they are very unlike your typical elliptical. 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.
The Max Trainer M3 is all black with fire red accents, and offers 8 resistance levels and 2 workout programs (Manual, Max Interval) and includes a chest strap for heart rate monitoring, a water bottle holder, a shelf for your magazine or tablet and 4 free Traxx workouts.
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 grip.
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.
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.