Bowflex Treadclimber Vs. Max Trainer

If you are in the market for a piece of home gym equipment, two terrific options that you’ll want to sit up and take notice to are the Bowflex Treadclimber and the Max Trainer. Both are excellent options for anyone looking to boost their overall fitness progress, see greater cardiovascular improvements, and lose weight.

Which stands above the other? Let’s look at some comparisons to help you make the most informed decision.


  Treadclimber Max Trainer
Main Movement Pattern Walking and stair climbing Running and stair climbing
Muscles Worked Glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, core Glutes, hamstrings, quads calves, core, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps
Need For Additional Exercise Yes, upper body exercise required No, total body workout
Low Impact Yes Yes
Muscle Strengthening Benefits Moderate Yes
Ease Of Use Moderate High
Injury Risk Moderate Low


Let’s now give you the details on each of these comparisons so you can really pinpoint which machine is going to work best for you.

Main Movement Pattern

Both of these machines work off the main movement pattern of running or walking. The Max Trainer uses one fluid movement pattern where the feet stay stationed to the foot plates, but are still moving back and forth as if you were walking or running while the Treadclimber uses the walking movement pattern but does have you still taking steps. That is, lifting one foot off the platform and then transferring your weight.

This is an important difference to note because it’s going to give each workout machine a slightly different overall feel.

Muscles Worked

When looking at the muscles worked, we see one notable difference between the treadclimber and the max trainer. The treadclimber, as it more closely resembles a treadmill is only going to work the lower body muscles. It works them quite well, but they are the primary focus.

The Max Trainer on the other hand, is going to focus on the upper body as well as there are handlebars that you will move back and forth. This makes it far more like an elliptical machine. In fact, Max Trainer is going to use greater overall muscle activation in the biceps, triceps, chest and back compared to the elliptical machine. So if you want a full body workout and don’t want to include additional weight training exercise, then Max Trainer is likely your better choice.

Need For Additional Exercises

Which brings us to the next factor to look at in the comparison of the Bowflex Treadclimber versus Max Trainer. Some people are just looking for a piece of cardio equipment to do at home and then still hit the gym for their usual weight lifting workouts. If that’s the case, either of these machines should likely work just fine for you. As both offer great cardiovascular benefits, you would see excellent results either way.

But, if you are hoping to do away with other exercises and just use one of these machines, your better bet is most definitely the Max Trainer. This is the machine that will work both the upper and lower body, while the Treadclimber hits just the lower body. If you don’t do additional exercises for the upper body separately, you could risk seeing muscle mass loss as a result of it.

If you are short on time, keep this in mind. Many people are optimistic about how much time they have to devote to their fitness routine, but when it actually comes down to it, ‘life’ gets in the way.

Low Impact

The good news is that both of these machines are very low impact machines. The Max Trainer is essentially going to have the same overall movement pattern as the elliptical and we already know that this machine is designed to be as low impact in nature as possible.

The Treadclimber gets its low impact nature because the belt of the machine will actually raise up to meet your foot and then lower back down as you step on it. So in this regard, it helps to cushion your joints as they come down.

Note however that because you are still stepping up and down, there is going to be some impact involved. With the Max Trainer, your feet never leave the platform of the machine, therefore there is absolutely zero impact associated with this machine.

Those who are suffering from any sort of joint pain at all will likely find that they are better off choosing the Max Trainer for this reason.

Muscle Strengthening Benefits

Looking at the muscle strengthening benefits side of things, the Max Trainer really delivers. You’ll get great conditioning and if you are using the right diet plan, should see your muscle shape and definition taking place.

The Treadclimber is more of a pure cardiovascular conditioning machine, so it won’t be as focused on strength as the Max Trainer would be. You can increase the strength benefits it delivers by ensuring that you are using a higher resistance on the machine, having the treads raise higher so it’s more like a stepper than a treadmill, but this will still only take you so far.

Ease Of Use

In the debate of the Bowflex Treadclimber vs. Max Trainer, the Max Trainer will be the easier of the two machines to use. This may seem counterintuitive as you would think the one that most closely mimics walking would be easier, but most people will find getting the feel for the Treadclimber takes a bit more time than jumping on the Max Trainer and getting going.

The Max Trainer, if you’ve ever used an elliptical before will be very easy to use as you’ll already be comfortable with this movement pattern. If you aren’t, then it should only take a day or two to get comfortable with it.

Injury Risk

Looking at the injury risk, the Treadclimber does pose the higher injury risk. This is because the feet do have to leave the platform so there is always the chance that you could misstep and roll an ankle or just find yourself off balanced and require other muscles to come into play to compensate.

The only real injury you’ll need to avoid with the Max Trainer is an over use injury, so as long as you are taking care to include sufficient rest in your program plan, this shouldn’t be a concern.

There you have the main points to consider when deciding between the Bowflex Treadclimber vs. Max Trainer. Both machines can easily help you reach your fitness goals so it just comes down to which one you are most comfortable with and will provide you the tools you are looking for for this particular workout.

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