Bowflex Vs. Total Gym: Which Is Your Best Bet?

Bowflex Vs. Total Gym, side by side

If you are looking to do some strength training at home, you have a number of great options to choose from. While hitting the gym and lifting free weights is certainly one way to change your physique and see great results, it’s by far the only way.

If you find yourself asking about the Bowflex vs. Total gym, we have some information here that you are going to be interested in. Each of these options gives its own unique benefits, so it’s important to know this before making your purchasing decisions.

  Bowflex Total Gym
Strength Building Potential Good Fair
Equipment Size* Larger Smaller
Exercise Variability Good Fair
External Resistance Cables Bodyweight
Storability Poor Good
Weight Capacity 210 lbs. None listed
Ease Of Use Easy Moderate
Agility Benefits No Yes

*Precise sizing will depend on the version of machine you choose.


Now let’s take a closer look at the Bowflex vs. Total Gym so you can get a better picture what each of these is about.

Strength Building Potential

In terms of being able to build maximum strength, both machines rank in at a fairly moderate level. The Bowflex may be slightly better in this regard as you are working against external resistance whereas with the Total Gym, you’re just using your own bodyweight.

In that sense, with the Total Gym, once you can lift your own weight in a maximum movement pattern setting, there’s no real way to increase the difficulty any further. You’ll have to resort to using more reps and sets, which may still help you progress, but may not build strength as readily as simply adding more weight would.

Therefore, if you really want to up your strength, choose the Bowflex instead.

Equipment Size

Red and Black Bowflex EquipmentNext we have to consider equipment size. The Bowflex is definitely the bigger of the two. So if you have a cramped space for your home gym, this could definitely be one factor that pushes you more towards the Total Gym than the Bowflex.

It’s also worth noting that the Total Gym can easily fold up and be hidden away as well, which is a great option for those of you exercising in your living room. The last thing you want is a new piece of fitness equipment as your new décor.

The Bowflex however cannot be folded up, so you’ll need to keep it stationed wherever it happens to be.

Exercise Variability

Next let’s consider exercise variability. With this regard, the Bowflex wins out. You can simply perform more exercises total using the Bowflex than you can with the Total Gym.

This said, if you are willing to get creative there are still plenty of great exercises that you can do with the Total Gym, so it should be enough to keep most people interested and engaged in their workout sessions.

Where this will really matter though is that the more exercise variety you can perform, the better the results you will see over time.

Eventually your body adapts to the particular exercises you are doing so if you are always doing the same ones over and over again, you will stop seeing results eventually.

Ease Of Use

Which machine is easier to use? The Bowflex vs. Total Gym? The winner of this would probably be the Bowflex for most people. It’s quite straightforward to sit on and begin doing your exercises.

The exercises with this machine are more like traditional gym exercises, the primary difference being in the mode of resistance that is being utilized. So if you are quite familiar with gym-based exercises, you should have no problem transitioning to the Bowflex.

The Total gym however utilizes exercises that are much different and encompass a totally different movement pattern due to the fact that you are using bodyweight as resistance, not external weight. So for this reason, some people may find that it’s not the most ideal if you are looking to pick up something and get started right away.

You will have to devote more time and attention to learning how to use the Total Gym, so factor this into your decision.

Ability Boosting Benefits

Red and Black Total GymOne area where the Total Gym shines is the ability to enhance your overall agility. Total Gym users will find that this machine works muscles they didn’t even know they had, and even those who are very fit may find themselves quite sore after doing a workout session.

This is thanks to the fact that you are calling all the smaller stabilization muscles into play with each movement pattern you complete, thus you will engage your core a lot more.

If you are looking to develop all around athleticism, the Total Gym may have a slight leg up on the Bowflex machine.

Injury Risk Profile

Which machine is more likely to leave you injured? When thinking about this, it all depends on how you use it. If you utilize good form, then you should have a fairly low injury risk on either machine provided you use appropriate time off between sessions to prevent overuse injuries.

If you use poor form however, that’s when your injury risk will go up. Some people may struggle to learn good form on the Total Gym machine, so the injury risk may be slightly higher here than on the Bowflex.

But, as long as you take good care, you should be able to avoid this issue.


Finally, when thinking about price, it’s hard to do a direct comparison because the price of these machines will vary so much depending on which model you choose. You definitely have more options when looking at the Total Gym as they have a number of different series that you can purchase.

Do keep in mind that the Total Gym may not provide you with a one-stop-machine that does it all depending on what you want to do. Therefore, you may need to still supplement the machine with other separate exercises using typical dumbbells for instance. So this will need to be added to your overall gym set up costs.

Overall, the Bowflex gym is more comprehensive and should be all you really need if you don’t want to add anything else.

So there you have a quick comparison between the Bowflex vs. Total Gym. Both are great machines for home workouts and can help you gain strength and improve your overall conditioning level. Think about your own personal preferences, your needs, and your space limitations as you make the decision of which machine is right for you.

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