Bowflex vs Total Gym: Which is the Best Home Gym?

When talking about home gyms, Bowflex and Total Gym are two brands that will always come up. They both offer a range of fitness equipment and accessories useful for a wide variety of different workouts. However, choosing which brand and which model is best for you can be a daunting task.

If you’re here, you must know how a Bowflex home gym or Total Gym can be a great alternative to going out to an actual gym. These versatile pieces of equipment target different muscle groups to provide cardiovascular exercise,  improve strength, and build muscle throughout your body. You get to save on a gym membership, travel time, and gas, and you can also enjoy the privacy of working out from the comfort of your home. 

And if you’re short on space for multiple home gym equipment, you’ll definitely want to invest in one of these versatile total-body gym setups. Before you make a purchase, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting. To make the decision easier for you, we’ll take a look at a comparison of the Bowflex and Total Gym products currently available.

Total Gym vs. Bowflex Brand Comparison

Total Gym and Bowflex are two of the most popular brands to offer home gym systems in recent decades. Both have produced a wide range of fitness training equipment for home use and commercial gyms or studios and both have hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers all over the world. So if you’ve ever seen any fitness infomercials on TV, then you’ve probably heard about these brands. 

Bowflex Brand Logo

The Bowflex brand started in 1986 with the very retro Bowflex 2000X home gym machine advertised on television. The brand name has since grown to include a range of fitness training equipment such as treadmills and stationary bikes. But the Bowflex home gym solutions are still its most popular products. Although now manufactured under Nautilus, Inc., Bowflex remains a household name in home fitness equipment.

The first “Total Gym” product (an incline trainer) was designed in 1974 and a couple of years later gained popularity through a TV infomercial. Total Gym then started producing fitness machines for physical therapy and rehabilitation. The brand has since become one of the most widely known home gym equipment having acquired millions of satisfied customers. As the brand grew and gained endorsements from movie star Chuck Norris and fitness expert Christie Brinkley, more people have discovered total gyms for total-body workouts.

Chuck Norris Model for Bowflex Brand

Both brands are quite popular in the home gym category but have slightly different goals, especially considering the rest of the products each brand is offering.

Bowflex Home Gym Review

From the Bowflex website, there are currently two home gym machines the brand offers: the budget-priced PR1000 and the full-featured Xtreme 2 SE home gym. 

Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym

Bowflex PR1000 home gym

The Bowflex PR1000 home gym offers a variety of exercise options perfect for all levels of fitness, especially beginners who want to get in a good workout at any time in the comfort of their own homes. Currently, at the lower end of the Bowflex home gym range, the PR1000 utilizes the same Power Rod Technology but only with a resistance of up to 210 pounds.

This home gym also features a horizontal bench press that can be converted into a rolling seat allowing users to perform aerobic rowing exercises. The pulley can be adjusted to five different positions to change the resistance with more than 25 exercises you can perform. This model also includes a built-in media rack to hold your device so you can follow along with trainer-led videos while working out.

If you are on a budget and want to get a total body workout from home, then the Bowflex PR1000 home gym can serve as your full workout while you can throw in some free weights exercise for strength training. It also folds away easily for compact storage. However, this low-priced Bowflex home gym doesn’t really offer a lot of variety but makes up for it with its affordability and reliability. You get a one-year warranty on the machine, 60 days on parts, and five years on power rods, but it may vary by country so you should ask your retailer for more information.

Check the price on Amazon or Bowflex.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym 

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym 

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE (or X2SE) is currently the brand’s premium home gym now that the famous Bowflex Revolution has been discontinued. The X2SE also uses the Bowflex weight resistance technology with flexible nylon rods. Compared to the PR1000, it provides a lot more variety suitable for a whole range of workouts customized to different types of people, from beginner to advanced levels of fitness.

It comes with two 5# rods, four 10lb rods, two 30lb rods, and two 50lb rods, giving you a total of 210lbs of resistance. This is usually plenty enough for the average person, but if you want to focus on increasing muscle mass and strength, you can add rods in 50lb increments to raise the total to 410lbs. This flexibility makes Bowflex a great option for many levels of strength training.

There are currently at least 70 exercises you can execute using the base X2SE home gym system. Adding components will increase your ability to change up your workouts even more, so you never tire of using this system. You also get seven free trainer-built workout regimens included in the manual. It comes with a seven-year warranty on the machine and lifetime for the power rods, but it can change per country, so check with your local retailer first.

Check the price on Amazon or Bowflex.

Other Bowflex Products

Other Bowflex Products

Full-body workouts are the norm with home gyms by Bowflex, but if you want to add free weight exercises into your routine or maybe just need some extra assistance in certain areas then there’s no better place than their adjustable SelectTech weights. These innovative tools allow you not only to select specific dumbbells and barbells according to their fitness goals – they can also be locked at any level, making it super easy to further expand your home gym needs. 

Bowflex now includes more smart features in the JRNY app designed to help you customize workouts for your body and goals. This app requires a membership accessible on the newer machines or any device that supports the app. 

One of the newest Bowflex additions is the Max Trainer, a cardio machine combining a stair-climber plus elliptical in one for space-saving and maximum cardio flexibility. It is compatible with the JRNY app as well, so you can experience curated workouts while streaming entertainment options with access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ on the interactive touchscreen. Bowflex also offers four types of treadmills, all with options to access the JRNY app through the built-in display or through your mobile device. 

Total Gym Home Gym Review

Total Gym currently offers two home gym systems, the flagship XLS, and the more recent FIT, model. The differences between the two aren’t so noticeable at first glance.

Total Gym XLS

Total Gym XLS

The XLS machine is the Total Gym flagship model, succeeding the Total Gym Supreme, incorporating all of the brand’s basic features. Although you can only choose from 6 levels of resistance on the XLS, you can do 80+ exercises on this model, making it more versatile than the Supreme. It can handle a maximum weight of 400 pounds so you can add heavy weights while training.

The XLS allows users to stream workouts from Total Gym TV for extra guidance and training, as well as an exercise chart to hang on the wall for easy reference to 35 possible exercises. With this many examples already available, planning workouts should be a breeze.

The XLS comes with a Wing Attachment, Ribbed Squat Stand, and an AbCrunch component. But the best part of the XLS (and other Total Gym equipment) is the ability to fold it up for compact storage when not in use.

Check the price on Amazon or Total Gym.

Total Gym FIT

Total Gym FIT

FIT is the most recent addition to Total Gym and it’s a little more costly than older models. The Total Gym FIT includes features characteristic to the brand. It offers a choice from 12 elevation levels and 85+ possible exercises, with a weight max of 450lbs.

The FIT version ships with the components included with the XLS model, in addition to a 2-piece wing attachment. It also comes with a lifetime frame warranty and a two-year warranty on parts. However, the extra $600 cost is worth considering.

One of the best things about Total Gym is that all models come with a nutritional program and meal plan for overall fitness inspiration. The Total Gym FIT rrives fully assembled and ready to use. It also folds quickly for easy storage.

Check the price on Amazon or Total Gym.

More Total Gym Products

Looking for more variation in your home equipment? Total Gym is one of the best options for you. Along with offering a range of single-machine full gym systems, the Total Gym also makes a rower with an inclined bench. Like other rowers, the Total Gym Row Trainer is designed to target the core, improve stability, and provide a cardio exercise at your desired intensity right from your home. Besides rowing, Row Trainer also allows at least 20 more exercises for low-impact full-body workout.

Aside from home fitness equipment, Total Gym is originally known to produce equipment for physical therapy generally used in hospitals and rehab clinics. It also offers heavy-duty equipment suitable for any fitness level used in a commercial gym or fitness studio. Check out other fitness training accessories from Total Gym.

Bowflex Vs. Total Gym: In-Depth Comparison

Total Gym and Bowflex Home Gym utilize resistance to work out different muscle groups at the desired intensity. However, the main difference in the two home gym systems is that Total Gym utilizes body weight to resist your movement and Bowflex has a proprietary system called Power Rod Technology.


The Total Gym home gym machine famously features a glide board on an incline. This uses gravity along with your body weight for resistance. On these machines, it’s possible to increase the resistance to around 56% of your weight. And so, for example, an individual who weighs 200 pounds can use their Total Gym with a resistance of up to 112 pounds. But if you want to take the training up a notch, you may increase the resistance further by adding a weight bar, as some Total Gym models may allow.

Bodyweight training is particularly good for beginners who want to gradually improve their strength, and even for more advanced fitness enthusiasts who want to change up their routines. Bodyweight gym systems also aid in injury rehabilitation. To increase or decrease the intensity, you only change the level of incline on your Total Gym.

On the other hand, the Bowflex home gym machines use adjustable power rods to provide resistance training. The power rod system is unique to Bowflex and machines used at home as it utilizes tensile steel rods that will bend when you pull on them. This is overall a better way to build muscle mass and strength, and tone the body. The Bowflex pulley machines can also be used to do a few aerobic exercises for cardio strength. 

Every individual rod holds various weights that range from 5 pounds to 210 pounds on the X2SE model. It is also possible to upgrade the resistance to 310 pounds or 410 pounds for an extra cost. This system is particularly useful if you want to do isolation exercises for different muscle groups. If you have a certain area you want to target, you can work the rods at different angles. Since they’re not affected by gravity, you get more consistent tension.

Exercise Variability

To compare exercise variability, I’ve selected the Total Gym XLS model and the Bowflex PR1000. They are two very common and popular models for these brands.  

Total Gym XLS allows you to perform over 80 various exercises that target different fitness aspects including strength training, core stability, cardio endurance, or upper-body and lower-body workouts. You can even practice Pilates with this machine if you add the necessary components.

Meanwhile, Bowflex PR1000 only allows around 30 different exercises. The focus of this machine lies in gaining strength rather than multipurpose use. 

With a Bowflex, you also get access to some specialized workouts designed by trainers. If you get the Xtreme model, you can perform almost any strength training exercise you may do in a commercial gym. Additionally, you may also add squats, aerobic rowing, and ab workouts. 

While the Total Gym offers a greater number of exercises from one simple machine, it offers less control in your workouts for a more expensive price.

Size of the Machines

While both the Total Gym and Bowflex are built portable to fit smaller spaces in your home, there is some difference in size and design. The floor area required when exercising on the Bowflex is significantly larger than that on the Total Gym. With its build and dimensions, it’s harder to find adequate space to set up the machine for your workouts. 

In contrast, the Total Gym is a great space saver. Due to its dimension, it does not take up a lot of space when in use. Additionally, it’s easily foldable so you can stash it out of the way after each use.

However, if limited space is not a concern for you, then either machine can be good for you. For those who have a spacious room for your home gym and don’t need portable equipment for storage, then you should consider the Bowflex. Otherwise, the Total Gym is definitely the better option for small spaces.


On both home gym systems, you can easily change the attachments or adjust resistance levels to target different muscles. For frequent gym goers, the Bowflex machine may be a little easier to figure out. But with Total Gym, you reap the benefits of varied workouts, once you learn how to use the machine efficiently. 

Bowflex is both easy to set up and use. Once assembled, the Bowflex is ready to be used. You can just sit and start exercising on it as you would in a typical gym setting. The power rod technology also makes changing the resistance levels smoother during your workouts.

Total Gym, on the other hand, comes fully assembled and any additional components can be attached easily. Simplicity and ease of use make Total Gym an ideal choice for those who are only starting out in their fitness journey. Because it uses body weight, it allows for a lot of variations in exercises. Not to mention that Total Gym is compact, foldable, and will fit nearly any home or user.

Price and Warranty

In terms of prices, Bowflex currently offers a wider range over the Total Gym models. It’s hard to compare since actual prices vary per model and depending on the retailer. Between the two Bowflex home gym models we featured, we can say that they are comparatively priced higher than the other brand. Both Total Gym models are priced lower than the comparable Bowflex X2SE but still priced higher than other brands on the market.

Bowflex offers a good warranty policy for home gyms. They offer a lifetime on the power rods and one to seven years on machines. Total Gym also offers a good deal with a lifetime warranty on frames but only six to twelve months on parts.


Who should consider the Bowflex home gyms?

Bowflex home gyms are recommended for anyone who wants to get in shape, build strength and muscle mass, or simply get a versatile full-body workout. It is suitable for beginners who are just getting into resistance training and can increase the workout intensity as they improve. Bowflex equipment is great for those with limited space for a home gym.

Who should consider Total Gym?

Total Gym is recommended for anyone looking to build strength with simple bodyweight training exercises. It’s suitable for beginners who want to ease into full-body resistance workouts and highly fit individuals who want to supplement their rigorous training. Total Gym is perfect for those who have very limited workout space in their home as it easily folds for storage.

Wrap-Up — What is the Best Home Gym System?

What’s great about home gym systems is the variety of strength training workout options they offer, right in the comfort of your home. Skip the gym machine lines, save on travel time, and more importantly on that gym membership you may hardly use. Bowflex and Total Gym are common top choices when looking for home gym solutions, and the best choice for you relies mostly on your preferences.

Total Gym offers less flexibility than Bowflex in resistance levels because it only relies on your body weight and bench incline level. While some people may prefer the simplicity and ease of use that the Total Gym provides, others prefer more control. Also, considering the price of current Total Gym models, one may expect a greater variety in exercises, which you can get only from the more expensive FIT model. The bonus is its ability to fold and store.  

The Bowflex has a wide range of resistance exercises and weights from low impact to tougher high resistance strength training for stronger users. Again, Bowflex allows for workouts using 5 pounds up to 410 pounds. Due to this flexibility, we think Bowflex is a better machine for most home gyms.