Bowflex MAX Trainer vs. TreadClimber vs. Elliptical Trainer

Comparison between the Bowflex Max Trainer , the TreadClimber and an Elliptical Trainer

Confused between the Bowflex Max Trainer and the Bowflex TreadClimber? You are not alone.

In this review I'll explain what's the difference between these two Bowflex trainers, and more importantly what machine is good for you.

Which is better Max Trainer or TreadClimber?

What’s the difference between the Bowflex equipment and other Elliptical Trainers?

First let me begin by saying that both the Bowflex Max Trainer and the Bowflex TreadClimber will help you lose weight, burn fat and improve your health.

I will tell you which one to pick based on your needs. And I’ll also include reviews for the best alternatives like the much praised ProForm HIIT Cardio that you might want to seriously consider as well as NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer.

Or if you are on a budget the Schwinn 470 Elliptical is one of the best affordable ellipticals out there.

Read this article before making up your mind.

WHAT IS THE BOWFLEX MAX TRAINER


You can think of the Bowflex Max Trainer as an elliptical cross-trainer on steroids. The motion of the Bowflex resembles an elliptical in that you stride.

The premise of the Bowflex Max Trainer is along the lines of 'get it over with in 14 minutes'. You do a short, but intense workout of just 14 minutes, yet you get the same benefits of working out 30 minutes or more than with other cardio equipment.

How? By using the built-in interval workout that is altering between a moderately paced workout and short bursts of really intense training.

Interval training isn’t something new, but it’s been getting a lot of attention lately. In 2017, a study which included 36 men and 36 women showed promising results and went as far as suggesting it being the fountain of youth.

Dr Martin Gibala, Ph.D is a huge proponent of short intense interval workouts (HIIT) in favor of long light to moderately intense workouts. In his book The One-Minute Workout he explains and proves how much more effective and efficient interval training is than regular workouts.

WHAT IS THE BOWFLEX TREADCLIMBER TRAINER


The motion of the TreadClimber is very different than the Max Trainer.

The TreadClimber has two treadbelts, think of them as two mini narrower treadmills, one for each leg.

The TreadClimber can act as a normal treadmill so you can simply walk on it, it can act as a stair climber or as a mixture of the two.

You can say the TreadClimber is a treadmill, a stepper and an elliptical all in one.

But at the same time, it can't function likes a dedicated treadmill would. For example, you can’t really run on it because it is limited to a maximum speed of only 4.0 MPH (6.4 KM/H), which is brisk walking speed. You can go slower but not faster than that.

Still, even with a limited speed, its key advantage is its innovation in combining a treadmill and a stepper in one machine. The TreadClimber is compact, taking slightly less space than standard treadmills.

WHO IS THE MAX TRAINER GOOD FOR


IS IT GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?

Yes, beginners will benefit from the Max Trainer as long as you are willing to put the effort required.

Let me first tell you what makes the Max Trainer or any specific fitness machine good for beginners.

For a machine to be suitable for beginners it has to answer the following criteria:

NO PRACTICE REQUIRED - It should not require too much practice to be able to perform the exercise correctly. You don't need to master balance, be an acrobat or have the coordination skills of a pilot

JUST AS EASY AND JUST AS HARD - You should be able to start easy, but increase the intensity as you progress. A good cardio machine should be one that you could begin super easy and comfortable, and as you feel more confident you can gradually increase the intensity to get a harder workout.

WHAT ABOUT ADVANCED TRAINEES?

Yes. the Max Trainer allows you to set your resistance level. At medium and high resistance levels it will give even the most advanced fitness enthusiasts a grueling intense workout.

IS IT GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?

Yes, beginners will benefit from the Max Trainer as long as you are willing to put the effort required.

Let me first tell you what makes the Max Trainer or any specific fitness machine good for beginners.

For a machine to be suitable for beginners it has to answer the following criteria:

NO PRACTICE REQUIRED - It should not require too much practice to be able to perform the exercise correctly. You don't need to master balance, be an acrobat or have the coordination skills of a pilot

JUST AS EASY AND JUST AS HARD - You should be able to start easy, but increase the intensity as you progress. A good cardio machine should be one that you could begin super easy and comfortable, and as you feel more confident you can gradually increase the intensity to get a harder workout.

WHAT ABOUT ADVANCED TRAINEES?

Yes. the Max Trainer allows you to set your resistance level. At medium and high resistance levels it will give even the most advanced fitness enthusiasts a grueling intense workout.

WHICH MAX TRAINER SHOULD YOU GET - MODEL COMPARISON - M3, M5, M7


The Max Trainer comes in three versions.

At first glance, at least visually they look pretty much the same, but there are differences between the models.

Let's discuss and compare the models:

MAX TRAINER M3 - That's the basic model

  • Enough for most folks
  • Resistance Level may not be enough for serious athletes, but for the general population that is more than enough
  • A limited number of Workout Programs - I don't consider that a big deal. You have the 14 minute built in 'Max 14' program' or go manual and workout for a long as you want at whatever intensity you want
  • No Bluetooth and app sync - These are bells and whistles, nice to have and could keep you motivated. But it won’t give you a better workout
  • No fancy backlit display - There's no touch screen display with many options. Considering this is a budget model that is understood. The display you will get with the M3 is OK but if you are in a dim lite environment, it will be hard to read the display
  • Cheap grips and standard pedals - Not a deal breaker, the grips are standard non-padded ones; I don't consider that a reason to go for the M5 or M7
  • Only one year warranty - The higher-end models, the M5 and M7 have two and three years respectively.

Bowflex wanted to cut corners with the M3. They wanted to offer a machine that gives a good workout while keeping the price low, to achieve that, they had to use a simple mono display and not to include Bluetooth app sync.

Customer Complaints about the M3 are mainly due to the display not being backlit and hard to see the heart rate of other readouts on the screen without light.

If that's a critical feature for you and you are training a dim or dark area you might want to go for the M5 or M7 instead.

The M3 pedals and grips feel somewhat cheap; the M5 has improved pedals, and grips while the M7 include pro level sturdy pedals and extra comfortable padded hand grips.If you are just starting out get the M3 it's enough.

MAX TRAINER M5 - The M5 is Bowflex best selling model among the three

  • ​Backlit color touch display
  • Double the resistance level of the M3
  • More workouts programs, the M3 has just two, the M5 has nine programs
  • Have Heart Rate Monitor built on the grips, besides the included chest straps. The chest straps are anyway much more reliable. So I consider the built-in grip heart rate monitor to be in case you're lazy or don't care too much, and just want an occasional heart rate reading, so it's nice to have. Wearing the chest strap can be boring
  • Sync with the Bowflex App, My Fitness Pal, Apple Health Kit and Google Fit via Bluetooth
  • Slightly better pedals and grips than the M3
  • Two year warranty compared with one year only you get with the M3

If you are a bit more advanced or simply want a sturdier machine with a better feel to it, go for the M5. Bluetooth app sync for syncing your workouts with Bowflex app, My Fitness Pal, Apple Health Kit or Google Fit are available in the M5 and M7 models.

MAX TRAINER M7 - The Top Pro Model

  • More user profiles - Can save up to four users instead of two you get with the M5 and M3.
  • Improved overall build quality
  • Much improved grips and elite quality pedals - For those intending to use the machine rigorously, the added comfort of the padded grips and better stability of the improved pedals may worth the upgrade to the M7
  • Three year warranty

If you have the budget, you are serious and determined to put the machine to good use than by all means go for the M7. Not only is the M7 screen gorgeous, but the built quality and feel are also superior to the M3 and M5. The M7 is an expensive machine, don’t go for it unless you are sure you’re going to use it.

PROS AND CONS OF THE BOWFLEX MAX TRAINER


Advantages

  • Compact design - Takes less space than a treadmill does
  • Get a good workout in just 14 minutes
  • Assembly is relatively easy

Disadvantages

BOWLFEX MAX TRAINER & TREADCLIMBER VS. ELLIPTICAL TRAINER


There's no question about it, Bowflex makes innovative fitness equipment. They make great all-in-one home gym machines, especially their PR1000 Home Gym and the PR3000.
(Reviews about Bowflex' home gym and other can be found here)

Their cardio machines Max Trainer and TreadClimber are no exception. While I have nothing bad to say about ellipticals, in fact you can get great some great affordable ellipticals for home use If you are on a really tight budget, there are some surprisingly good, yet cheap treadmills that will help you to lose weight just as well.

The Bowflex spice things up by making their machines work muscles slightly differently either by using various grip positions and high intensity interval training program or trying to incorporate different machines like an elliptical, treadmill and stepper in one machine.

The Bowflex Max Trainer is like an upgraded elliptical. The handles have two positions, using different grips, you can work out your upper body and arms in a different way. The 14 minutes interval training is aimed at giving an intense albeit short workout in favor of long workouts.

On the other hand, the Bowflex TreadClimber is a combination of a treadmill and a climber, allowing you to walk and climb at the same time.

A standard elliptical trainer has a more limiting range of motion so your movement is constrained, as a consequence it may not work as many muscles.

The TreadClimber have a different motion; it works more muscles than a traditional elliptical because you are walking and climbing at the same time, so more lower body muscles are worked.

TREADCLIMBER MODEL COMPARISON - TC100 &TC200


The TC100 is the basic TreadClimber model followed by the more higher-end TC200.

Note:
The TC100 replaced the older TC10.
The TC200 replaced the older TC20.

The differences between the old models and the current ones are pretty much the same.

Here's a comparison between the TC100 and TC200

SPEED - The TC100 reaches a maximum speed of 4 mph (6.4kph), The TC200 can reach a maximum speed of 4.5 mph (7.2kph). Not a huge difference in speed.

BLUETOOTH & APP SYNC - The TC200 can connect via Bluetooth to apps such as Bowflex own app as well as apps like My Fitness Pal, Apple Health Kit, and Google Fit. Connecting with apps and showing you progress over time can motivate you.

HEART RATE MONITOR - The TC 100 can check your heart rate by holding the hand grips. The TC 200 on the other hand, includes a chest strap that works wirelessly to monitor your heart rate. Chest straps are more reliable in reading your heart rate than contact hand grips.

Other extra features available only on the TC200 are:

LONGER TREADLES - So walking is more natural. Treadles are the same as tread belts of conventional treadmills, the longer and wider the more comfortable it is to walk on them.

BETTER HAND GRIPS - Makes for a more comfortable grip.

BETTER WARRANTY - The TC200 has two years warranty, the TC100 comes with only one year.

MAX TRAINER ALTERNATIVES - Max Trainer vs. ProForm HIIT Elliptical


Best alternative to Bowflex Max Trainer

The ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer is by far the best alternative to the Bowflex Max Trainer. It has got more features than the Bowflex M3 yet costs less!

Like the Max Trainer, the ProForm Cardio HIIT machine focuses on HIIT workouts (more on that later) and it's in the same price range of the Max Trainer M3.

But Proform was able to keep the cost of the machine low while giving extra features that you would only get by using the higher-end Bowflex Max Trainer M5 and M7.

You get more bang for buck with Proform's Cardio HIIT Elliptical machine than you would with Bowflex entry level Max Trainer M3.

Don't get me wrong the Max Trainer is a good machine, but you simply get more features and a better value for your money with the ProForm Cardio HIIT than you would get from the Bowflex Max Trainer M3.

As I mentioned, like the Bowflex, the ProForm focuses on HIIT workouts, thus its name.

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. Essentially it means the machine has a built-in program that alternates between short intense workout movements and slow-moderately paced intervals.

A major advantage of the Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical over the Bowflex Max Trainer is that the ProForm is less noisy.

The relative quietness of the ProForm Cardio HIIT is appreciated by many users, though it deserves saying that no elliptical is silent by any means, but the Proform is much quieter than the Bowflex Max Trainer.

The ProForm doesn't take up much space at all, but when striding/stepping your body will be quite elevated off the floor.

But even if you're tall, at 6'2" (1.88 m), with an 8-foot ceiling (2.44 m) you should have no problems and have enough clearance above your head. Much taller people may need a room with a 9-foot ceiling (2.74 m).

The ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer is popular, highly recommended and gives excellent value for money. You can get it on Amazon here.

Cheaper Alternative to Max Trainer - The Schwinn 470

If you are looking for a cheap alternative, the Schwinn 470 is a highly recommended elliptical trainer that you get get for a fraction of the cost of the Max Trainer or the TreadClimber.

The Schwinn 470 is a basic but a good elliptical cross-trainer. It isn't an HIIT specific machine like the ProForm Cardio HIIT or the Max Trainer but you can't beat it as an affordable elliptical.

Review of the Schwinn 470 can be found here.

TREADCLIMBER ALTERNATIVES


The NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer is a direct competitor to the Bowflex TreadClimber.

Just like the TreadClimber, the NoridTrack FreeStride combines three machines in one.

The NordicTrack gives the effect of treadmill workout, elliptical trainer and a stepper through its unique strides mechanism that adheres to your body movement. It doesn't restrict you to fixed motion like normal elliptical trainers do.

NordicTrack FreeStride is a Stepper, Elliptical & Treadmill in one machine

While the NordicTrack FreeStride doesn't include two separate treadbelts as the Bowflex does, it achieves the same kind of benefits as the TreadClimber, through a smarter machine design.

The NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer comes in three versions:
The basic FS5i, the mid-range FS7i and the pro model FS9i.

Let's go over a quick comparison between the three models.

NordicTrack Trainer FS5i

NordicTrack Trainer FS7i

NordicTrack Trainer FS9i

DISPLAY
The FS5i have a 7" mono display
The FS7i have a 7" internet enabled color touchscreen display
The FS9i have a big 10" gorgeous internet enabled color touchscreen display.

You won't need your iPad or tablet if you have the FS7i or FS9i. The FS5i comes with a tablet holder if you want to attach your own.

HEART RATE MONITOR
The FS7i and FS9i include a chest strap for accurate wireless heart rate monitor.

WORKOUT PROGRAMS
The FS5i includes 32 programs, the FS9i 38 and the FS5i 35. I don't consider that a big deal.

RESISTANCE
The FS9i includes more resistance levels, so you can work out slightly harder. It includes 26 levels, the FS7i 24 levels, and the FS5i only 22 levels. Most people will do fine with the FS5i 22 levels of resistance, more advanced trainees may want to go for the FS7i or FS9i.

STRIDE ADJUSTABILITY
The FS9i and FS7i have a slightly more adjustable stride for greater range of motion than the FS5i.

INCLINE & DECLINE
The FS5i doesn't have an adjustable incline. The FS9i and FS7i have a 10% electric incline, which can make the workout harder.

The FS9i even has a decline, which imitates climbing downhill.

WORKOUT CAPACITY - The FS5i can support a 350 Lb person, The FS7i 375 LB Person and the FS9i 400 lb.

WARRANTY- NordicTrack give an awesome lifetime frame Warranty, five years parts and two year labor on all models.

THE VERDICT - WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY?


Buy The Bowflex Max Trainer If

  • You want a quick yet more intensive workout. The Max Trainer targets more muscles and the 14-minute program is designed to give you a harder but more efficient workout.
  • You are serious and not afraid of working out hard. The workouts are shorter but they are intense.

Don't Buy The Bowflex Max Trainer If

  • You dislike intense workouts. You may feel more comfortable using a standard treadmill or an elliptical and train at a lower intensity. The Bowflex is more for sprinters than for marathoners.-
  • If noise may bother the people around you, don’t get the Max Trainer. This machine does make a lot of noise, that’s the main complaint of various reviews. It may not bother you, as you would be more concerned about the finishing the workout than paying attention to the noise. Or you could just wear headphones.

ProForm HIIT Cardio Trainer

If noise may bother the people around you buy the ProForm HIIT Cardio Trainer.

While no elliptical machine is totally silent, but the ProForm is much more quiet than the Max Trainer.

The ProForm HIIT Cardio it’s a highly recommended machine with lots of positive reviews. Not just for being silent buy for giving more extras than the Max Trainer.

The ProForm HIIT model has more features than the M3. It’s more like the Max Trainer M5 but at a lower cost.

Choose The Bowflex TreadClimber If:

  • You want to have the option to use the machine as a regular walking treadmill
  • You are more comfortable with longer easier workouts than shorter more intense ones

Don't Choose The Bowflex TreadClimber If:

  • You want a machine you could run on, its speed is limited at 4 Mph
  • You are an elite athlete, as it may not provide you with the intensity you are looking for.

The best alternative to the TreadClimber is the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer.

The FreeStride Trainer has a lifetime frame warranty, five years parts and two-year labor on all models. Such warranty proves that NordicTrack is very confident about the built quality of the FreeStride trainer.

Since the NordicTrack doesn’t have a treadmill motor like the Bowflex TreadClimber does, it is sturdier and less likely to break.

On Tight Budget

If you don't want to spend so much, the Schwinn 470 is a basic, yet an excellent elliptical for its price and losing weight doesn’t have to be expensive.


Bowflex Max Trainer M3
Bowflex Max Trainer M5
Bowflex Max Trainer M7

Bowflex TreadClimber TC100
Bowflex TreadClimber TC200

ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical 2018 Edition
Schwinn 470 Elliptical

Best Budget Option

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