Bowflex has been dominating the at-home gym market and television infomercial slots since the 80s (seriously, I remember their commercials coming on as a kid).
They're still coming out with top-tier fitness home gyms, and the Xceed is one of them, but It's still a little pricey home gym.
So, does is It worth Its price? Will It help you achieve a lean, mean muscular body? Check this Bowflex Xceed Review and find out.
Home gyms forgo the need to head outside to an actual gym, saving you time and money on getting a workout. But home gyms aren’t for everyone.
Before we get to the actual Bowflex Xceed review, let’s first discuss what you need to know before buying a home gym.
You should first consider the physical limitations of the Bowflex Xceed.
The Bowflex Xceed’s product dimensions are about six feet long, four feet wide, and eight feet high. It also weighs about 150 lbs, but home gym weight varies depending on how many bars and weights you add.
Repairs and Maintenance
The friction from constant exercises wears down the machine. That’s why home gyms need occasional care to keep it running smoothly.
You should have some level of handiness to do this yourself and avoid calling up a costly professional. The internet helps even clueless folks fix anything at home — especially a Bowflex home gym.
We often tell ourselves that we’ll work out more if we have a home gym. There’s less of a reason not to work out if it’s just sitting in the other room.
But it’s unlikely that purchasing a home gym will uproot habits. I’d recommend those who have a daily or weekly exercise regime purchase a home gym — or else you’ll end up using the Bowflex Xceed as a coat hanger.
Who Should Use The Bowflex Xceed Home Gym And Why
The Bowflex Xceed isn’t efficient at building muscle. Science says that muscles grow when they undergo hypertrophy, or stress causing muscle cells to enlarge.
Weightlifting creates muscular hypertrophy most efficiently. You can either lift a low amount for multiple reps or a lot of weight for a few reps.
The Bowflex Xceed doesn’t provide enough weight to stress your muscles. That’s why I don’t recommend them for people looking to build muscle mass.
Instead, I recommend the Bowflex Xceed for those wanting to create more muscle definition, get lean, or keep weight off.
The Bowflex Xceed uses multiple pulleys, cables, and power rods to provide diverse workout possibilities. This helps you create more definition in your muscles without taking up extra space in your workout area.
The machine comes with 210 lbs of resistance. Optional power rods add 100 lbs, and the most power rod resistance goes up to about 400 lbs.
Use the lat bar, squat bar, and seat to exceed the 65 exercises — create your own.
Position yourself on the Xceed home gym differently to achieve different workouts. Sit in the chair normally for chest and shoulder workouts. You can then turn around and straddle the seat for back and shoulder exercises.
Move the seat to use the squat bar. Once you’re done, sit on the floor and pull the handgrips for core and back rowing exercises.
The Bowflex Xceed home gym provides a substantial amount of workouts. If you get a Bowflex Xceed power rod upgrade, you can go beyond those 65 exercises by adjusting weight mid-exercise.
Ease of Use
The home gym gets easier to use over time. Bowflex Xceed becomes easier to use with time. The heavy duty frame includes an easy to assemble steel frame, seat, leg attachment, vertical bench, and power rods.
The power rod upgrade includes 210 lbs, 310 lbs, and the maximum 410 lbs. These rods don’t actually weigh 210 lbs or 310 lbs — it’s just the resistance weight they supply.
Choose which weight you want to work with and insert, say, the 310 lbs power rod into the designated area. Screw it in and you're set to get up to 310 lbs of resistance.
The screwing system provides a power rod quick change should multiple people use the same home gym.
Using the squat bar, leg attachment, lat bar, and vertical bench will feel like second nature to fellow gym rats. Easily do an ab crunch or two as well as multiple exercises you already know. Noobs, you'll get the hang of it too.
The home gym's user manual makes it easy to figure out where to put the Bowflex Xceed parts. As with anything, YouTube is one great way to solve any Bowflex Xceed home issues.
Our Bowflex Xceed Review
Number of Exercises
The Bowflex Xceed home gym hits all major muscle groups in the body.
You can work your arms (biceps and triceps), chest (pectoids), abdominal muscles, legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves), and your back (rotators, semispinalis, and multifidus).
The home gym provides 65 exercises out of the box. You can get creative and find additional exercises to hit the muscle groups you’d like. Additional attachments even let you target certain muscle groups better, such as your legs.
The 65 exercises you can do with the included 210 lbs power rod include:
One other reason I like the Bowflex Xceed home gym is its safety. You can do all these exercises without someone to spot you. Chest workouts, for example, may not be as efficient as with a bench press, but they’re a lot safer on the Bowflex.
What the Bowflex lacks in weight training possibility, it makes up for in the diversity of exercises available and improved safety.
Power Rod Technology
We’ve been talking a lot about power rod technology but never actually explained what it is.
The power rods increase resistance each time the rod flexes. The more reps you do, the heavier the weight you’ll lift as you move on.
Let's say you have a 100 lbs power rod. When you first start lifting, the weight will feel closer to about 70 lbs.
The weights in the middle of the rep session will feel around 90 lbs. You’ll lift the full 100 lbs toward the end. It’s quite a revolutionary way to exercise — each rep gets harder the more you progress.
But your muscles don’t experience the same level of stress initially as they do with weights; only fatigued muscles bare the brunt of heavier weights, making them less likely to stress and thus hypertrophy.
That’s why traditional weight plates are better at bulking up compared to power rod systems. Power rod systems better suit those who wish to define their muscles better or get lean.
It’s this power rod system that also improves the Bowflex Xceed home gym’s safety. You don’t need free weights or even weight stacks to stress your muscles.
The lightweight rods simply screw into the home gym. You don’t have to worry about dropping weights or accidentally harming yourself under a weighted system.
It’s hard to precisely describe what resistance level exists within this home gym. The power rods gradually increase resistance as you train.
But I’d categorize the Bowflex Xceed’s home gym power rod resistance as the following:
- There are three weighted power rods — 210 lbs, 310 lbs, and 410 lbs.
- Each starts at a lower weight then gradually increases to the full weight resistance.
- There are about three modes per each power rod (easy, medium, and hard) corresponding to the length in which you use the rep.
- Thus, nine total power rod resistance levels exist in the Bowflex. (Multiply the three resistance difficulties by the available power rods 210 lbs and up).
The power rod resistance levels are less precise than traditional weight stacks. You know exactly how much weight you’re lifting when using weight plates, taking the guesswork out of your exercises.
Your muscles don’t care whether the weight you’re lifting comes from a weight stack or power rod resistance — a strained muscle still enlarges.
But the imprecision behind power rod technology makes it difficult to steadily grow muscle mass compared to traditional weightlifting regimes. That’s why I don’t recommend the Bowflex Xceed for bulking up.
The Bowflex Xceed home gym uses a complex series of pulleys for power rod resistance. There are four pulleys in total — two on the top of the bar and two toward the bottom.
The two pulleys at the top let you train your upper body. Do chest, arm, and ab workouts using them. The bottom pulleys allow you to work your calves and thighs. You can even get on the floor and use the bottom pulleys as a rowing machine.
You never have to change the cables and thus do exercises with the pulleys and cables available. These materials are also durable enough to not need a replacement for at least a few years.
The pulleys sometimes squeak if the cable coating or metal wear down. It’s an easy problem to solve. Just add some lubricating oils like DW-40 to stop annoying noises.
Footprint and Dimensions
The product dimensions are about six feet long, four feet wide, and eight feet high.
Home gyms from Bowflex often have lots of dead space since they’re composed of cables and rods. Therefore, it looks like it takes up a lot less space than it actually does.
You could store additional workout gear like water bottles, ankle or wrist weights, and extra shirts toward the base or even under the seat.
Frame and Sturdiness
The Bowflex Xceed feels like a solid total-body machine you’d find in the gym. The heavy duty steel frame doesn’t bend or crack under the stress of workouts.
The 210 lbs to 410 lbs power rods feel like they’re made of high-quality material, as do the cables, pulleys, and seat.
This machine doesn’t rock or move much during exercises. That’s perhaps due to its 150 lb weight. While that weight makes it difficult to move the home gym around, it enhances the Bowflex Xceed home sturdiness and durability.
You must assemble the Bowflex Xceed home gym out of the box. However, it comes with all the tools and materials you need for installation — though having personal screwdriver and Allen wrench sets will certainly help.
Refer to the user manual to put the machine together. The heavy steel frame may be cumbersome to place on your own. Having a friend aid in machine assembly would make the process smoother.
The quick change leather seat feels like the kind you’d find at a gym. You’ll tell when you’re doing one good workout since any exposed skin will stick to it.
Thankfully, the seat wipes down easily — as well as the handgrips and any bars. It’s easy to keep the seat as well as the rest of the machine clean.
I’d recommend a light alcohol-based disinfectant to help remove residue from the seat. Bleach-based products could stain the black material.
Max User Weight
The maximum user weight for the Bowflex Xceed home gym is 300 lbs. Most other Bowflex machines also have 300 lbs as the maximum user weight.
That’s what the manufacturer recommends, and thus what I officially recommend (but I do also think the heavy duty steel frame can handle more weight than 300 lbs).
The maximum user weight is for the seat area. Do not try to do pull-ups on the upper bars or apply body weight on any other part of the machine. You could break your costly fitness investment by doing so.
The Bowflex Xceed home gym offers one available quick change leg attachment. You secure it to the bottom of the machine to use for leg curls.
As with other exercises, use the leg attachment to gain definition and lean muscle in your lower body.
I find the attachment obstructs my ability to do squats, though. I either need dumbbells off to the side or to remove the leg attachment before doing squats.
The somewhat cumbersome leg attachment is not crucial for gaining leg definition. It would, however, help those who want added striations in the calves (particularly that sexy gastrocnemius and soleus) and the thighs (like the rectus femoris and vastus lateralis).
So don’t stress about the additional quick change leg attachment if you think you have leg day already covered.
What Others Have To Say
The Bowflex Xceed home gym review section on major shopping sites exceeds 1,500. They’re mostly positive.
I quite like this review from Steve. He encapsulates why the Bowflex is great for certain home fitness goals.
“Very good home machine. Let's get something out of the way now. This is not supposed to be like free weights. That said, it's one great little machine if you upgrade to the 410lbs. I am a fairly big guy, and can deadlift and squat over 500lbs. Is this true weight, of course not. It's tension resistance from bending a material. It is going to be progressive. This works out in a home gyms favor, as it is lightest at the weakest part of a movement. Eliminating the need for a spotter or anything of the sort. I can lift by myself, and I can push myself.”
The Bowflex Xceed home gym lets you get a robust set of workouts all by yourself, allowing you to obtain your fitness goals on your own.
Alternatives To The Bowflex Xceed
If the Bowflex Xceed just doesn't cut it for you, here are three home gym alternatives you should also consider.
1. Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE
The Xtreme's 2 SE 210 lbs of power rod resistance and no-change pulley system provide over 70 exercises on this machine. There are additional attachments like the squat bar, ab crunch shoulder harness, preacher curl, and ab crunch shoulder harness.
The squat station allows you to hit lower body muscle groups like the glutes, hamstring, and quads. Quickly wipe down the leather vertical bench once you’re done.
Those who want to build exercise habits but don’t know where to start can refer to the user manual. It includes seven free trainer-built workouts such as the 20-minute better body, 20-minute upper body, true aerobic, and strength training exercises.
Check it out here.
2. Total Gym XLS
The first thing you’ll notice about the total gym XLS is that it comes fully assembled. You can use it immediately after taking it out of the box.
The Total Gym XLS includes a free subscription to Total Gym TV Basic. The channel lets you watch workout videos and gives you ideas on what types of exercises you can do at home.
This machine provides six levels of resistance. You can do over 80 exercises on the Total Gym XLS in total. The frame has a lifetime warranty, whereas the parts only have a six-month warranty.
The machine comes with multiple cable and pulley positions, an adjustable quick release seat, an ab training strap, a squat bar, lat bar, and a vertical bench press.
The maximum user weight is 400 lbs — about 100 lbs higher than other home gyms thanks to its heavy-duty frame.
We've managed to get 10% discount for our readers, claim It here.
3. Marcy MWM-988
The 14-gauge steel tube frame with vinyl coating makes for one durable home gym. The weight of the Marcy MWM-988 is also 150 lbs, coming in with similar dimensions to the Bowflex Xceed home.
The double pulley stations include two separate lateral bars. They give you different options for strengthening your upper body muscles.
The adjustable bicep pad lets you do reps with lower pulleys from a seated position. It feels more comfortable and ends up being safer for your joints.
The dual-function press arm gives you two settings: a vertical butterfly and chest press. You can easily switch between either setting to achieve your desired workout.
The Marcy MWM-988 provides a similar workout style as the Bowflex Xceed home gym. The difference comes with the resistance.
The Marcy uses weighted resistance — allowing you to build muscle. The Bowflex Xceed home gym uses power rod resistance bands to help you cut and gain lean muscle mass.
Check the MWM-988 here.
The Bowflex Xceed home gym gives you a whole body workout in one compact machine.
You get substantial power rod resistance without using weight stacks. This lets you gain muscle definition and build lean muscle without lugging around heavy materials.
If you’re curious about the Bowflex Xceed vs Blaze — another Bowflex offering similar workout styles, the Xceed suits lower body exercises more.
The Blaze suits upper body exercises as well as cardio. But the home gyms are otherwise comparable, and there are not many other differences between the Bowflex Blaze vs Xceed.
To summarize this Bowflex Xceed review, the Bowflex Xceed home gym would be one good fitness investment for those who don’t/can’t hit the gym and want to improve the muscle groups they’ve already built.