Bowflex Max Trainer M7 vs M5 vs M3 Comparison
The Bowflex Max Trainer is known for the 14 Minute Workout. In just 14 minutes, burn 2.5x more calories than with traditional workout equipment while engaging your upper body up to 80 percent more than with traditional elliptical trainers. With these uniquely designed machines, it’s possible to burn calories and not time with fast, effective workouts.
Three models make up the line of Max Trainers by Bowflex: The entry level M3, mid-range M5, and top-of-the-line M7. Each trainer is designed with Bowflex ingenuity to create challenging, low impact workouts like none other. Combining the motion and design of a stair stepper and elliptical trainer, the Max Trainer focuses on interval training using its steep incline design and unique programming.
Console Area and Display
Each Max Trainer features a unique “burn rate indicator,” which is a gauge readout that shows you the intensity level at which you’re working, with an analog speedometer to indicate your speed. While the burn rate indicator is featured on all models, only the M7 has performance targeted programming with Target-zone indicators that sets targets based on your individual progress.
With the M3 and M5, there are two separate set-ups: one control panel to the front and just behind it, the display screen with burn rate indicator just above it (as you can see pictured above). However; on the M7, Bowflex has combined the control panel and display screen to create a dual mode LED/LCD display that is easier to use, and read.
For heart rate monitoring, all three models come with a chest strap but only the M5 and M7 also have integrated contact grips. And only these two models are Bluetooth enabled, with the ability to sync personalized workout data to the free Max Trainer ® app (for either Apple or Android devices). The M3 cannot do this.
Each model offers resistance controls from the console area. The M3 provides 8 levels of resistance that can be changed by turning a dial, the M5 provides 16 levels of resistance that can be changed with the push of a button, and the M7 provides an impressive 20 levels of resistance that can also be modified via the key pad.
All of these models offer basics like a water bottle holder and tablet holder, but none offer audio options or cooling fans, probably to keep the trainers more compact.
Programming and Monitoring
While programming is really looped in with the console and display, for these trainers it needs its own explanation. Most of the success and powerful results from the Max Trainer is in its programming, with a focus on interval training.
Each model comes with a manual program and the MAX Interval Program. The Interval Program is at the core of these trainers as interval training is a proven method to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time. The idea is to get your heart rate up to a working state that can only be maintained for a short period of time, alternating with short rest periods. On the M5 and M7, the program will automatically set the pace for you so that you can be confident you are getting the most of your workout with no guessing. The M3 requires that you make resistance changes when prompted using the turn dial.
The M5 takes it up a notch to also offer Smart MAX Interval, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Calorie Goal, Stairs, Steady State, and a Fit Test. However; the M7 takes the cake with 11 programs that include all 8 of these “Performance Mode” programs offered on the M5, but also a “Target Mode” set of programs that feature a Max 7 Minute Interval, Max 14 and Max 21 minute interval in addition to a Power Interval Program. By offering additional interval-based programs, you can choose what’s going to be the best use of your time to burn the most calories, whether it’s 14 minutes or 7 minutes.
No matter what program you use, it’s easy to track your progress using the burn rate indicator, which acts as not only a tracker but also motivator as you can watch the dial swing to the right as your intensity builds! And only the M7 offers performance targeted programming (see image to the left) that uses your individual progress to build your endurance by setting personalized targets. The three zones featured include: Fat Burn, Endurance, and Performance.
For tracking and storing workout data, using a workout program can help you monitor your progress and stay motivated. If multiple people use the same machine, you may want to consider the M7 which comes with 4 user profiles, as compared to 2 profiles with the M3 and M5 models. The M5 and M7 models will also sync with the free Max Trainer app, available for both Apple and Android devices. This app will allow to track calories burned and give you visual readouts for fast tracking.
Overall, there are few differences in the dimensions of these models, with the M3 and M5 being fairly similar in size, but the M7 is wider and taller by a few inches. It’s a more powerful trainer than the other two so that makes sense, and it’s also equipped with additional performance features like commercial-grade handlebars and racing pedals.
The handlebars on each trainer differ. The M3 comes with standard grips ergonomically designed to offer 3 positions, as does the M5, but the M5 adds comfort padding to the grips. The M7 is the only model to offer commercial-grade grips that come with an aero bar upgrade. Aero bars can be found on competitive racing bicycles used by cyclists to help with aerodynamics. While you won’t be racing and in need of aerodynamic aids, these aero grips make it easier to power through more challenging workouts. These sculpted, dipped handlebars are also longer than the other two models and allow for multiple hand positions.
The pedals on each model have their individual pros and cons as well. The M3 is going to have your basic, standard foot pedals that are spacious but nothing too special. The M5 and M7 are the only models to feature advanced cushioning and a guard at the top of the pedal to keep your foot from moving up and out of the pedals. The M3 lacks this small feature. However; once again, the M7 takes it one step further to offer sport performance, stainless steel racing pedals.
Price, Warranty, Etc.
The M3 is the entry-level trainer and most affordable at $999. The M5 retails for $1599, and the top M7 model for just over $2000. Warranties range from 1 year for the M3, 2 years for the M5, and 3 years for the M7.
These are interesting trainers in that they are fairly compact but also 15” tall and cannot really be folded up to store away. Each model is only about 150 pounds and comes with transport wheels, so you can move it around pretty easily.
If you want a “bottom line” best model for your money, the M5 is a nice middle of the road compromise between the flashy M7 and basic M3. It has the Bluetooth connectivity and nice program variety and it’ not too expensive either. However; the console/display screen lay out on the M3 and M5 models can be hard to read (and you have to look down….a lot), so if you have the extra money to spend, the additional features and upgrades to the console area on the M7 are well worth it!