Can the Bowflex Build Muscle Mass?

While you can perform a number of different workout types on a Bowflex, it was designed primarily to help you build muscle mass. Although you can decrease the amount of resistance for each exercise to create muscular endurance and cardio routines, the makers of the Bowflex market it as a muscle-building machine — and it can do that. 

The Technology

Bowflex home gyms do not use weight stacks, as some machines do. You create resistance moving a bar or handle or pulling cables against a series of rods or wheels, depending on which Bowflex model you own. Unlike free weights, Bowflex machines create constant resistance, rather than the variable resistance you experience with equipment like a resistance band. There is little difference in benefit between constant and variable resistance equipment, according to a review of multiple strength studies by fitness expert Chris Beardsley.

What is Hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy occurs when your muscles experience resistance to the point they are damaged. As you body recovers from this stress, the repair process creates larger muscles. A Bowflex can provide enough resistance to provide you with your maximum muscle-building benefit, depending on your strength. For example, if the maximum weight you can lift of move for a particular exercise is 180 lbs., and the Bowflex you own provides up to 210 lbs. of resistance, you can bodybuild at your max on the machine. If you regularly lift 400 lbs. during your workouts, a Bowflex that offers only 210 lbs. of resistance may not provide you with the workout you’re seeking.

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It Provides Full-Body Workouts

A Bowflex home gym lets you work all of your muscles, including the arms, legs, back, core and chest. Depending on which machine you use, you can perform exercises standing or sitting. You can perform many traditional bodybuilding exercises, such as curls, kickbacks, rows and presses. All of the Bowflex home gyms come with leg bars to let you do leg presses, curls and raises. The Bowflex Ultimate and Extreme models come with an overhead bar that lets you perform more familiar lat pulls.