Bowflex Max Trainer vs Elliptical Machine: Full Comparison

Many people are intrigued by the Bowflex Max Trainer, as it is a relatively new exercise machine from the makers of the TreadClimber, Select Tech dumbbells, and of course, the eponymous home gyms.

So, how does a Bowflex Max trainer compares to an elliptical? Is it better? Is it worse? Is it worth the $999+ price tag? Here is my comparison of the Bowflex Mat Trainer and elliptical machine to help you make a decision.

Size and weight comparison

When comparing Bowflex max trainers and elliptical machines, the most notable difference is the dimensions and weight. Bowflex max trainers are small and occupy half the space of an elliptical.

From the Bowflex max trainer Max 1 to Max 8, they all occupy around 50-inch in length and 30-inch in width while generally an elliptical is 80-inch long and 35-inch wide.

While the 30-inch in length may not seem much but when I tried the Bowflex max trainer and then later an elliptical machine, I noticed it makes a huge difference.

In terms of height, Bowflex max trainer M8 is 66-inch while an elliptical machine such as Precor EFX 885 is 65-inch so they are pretty similar.

However, the motion of these two machines is different. An elliptical motion is horizontal while a Bowflex max trainer’s motion is more vertical.

So, basically, you go up and down on a Bowflex max trainer rather than going forward and backward. Therefore, you need more ceiling height in order to use a Bowflex max trainer.

In order to see if the height of your room or garage is enough to use a Bowflex max trainer, you need to measure from your chest to the top of your head and then add 66-inch.

Here is how I measured the required ceiling height: 15-inch from the top of my shoulders to the top of the head + 66-inch for the machine and I needed an 80-inch ceiling height.

My room has a standard ceiling height which is around 9 feet (108 inches). So, before buying the Bowflex max trainer, I knew it would fit my room without my head banging to the ceiling.

Now that I compared and explained the length, width, and height of Bowflex max trainer vs elliptical, let’s talk about the weight which is often a major factor.

The Bowflex max trainer is significantly lighter than elliptical machines, with the Max 8 weighing in at 149 pounds versus the 340-pound average weight of a solid elliptical machine from a reputable brand such as Precor.

This makes the Bowflex max trainer much more convenient for storage and transport. So, if you think you would have to move the machine when you have guests over because it’s in the middle of the way, Bowflex max trainer is probably a better choice.

Keep in mind this companion of dimensions and weight is based on a Bowflex max trainer and a solid high-quality elliptical machine. This means the elliptical in this example is a little bigger and heavier than the cheaper-built ellipticals like Sole Fitness E35 or ProForm and others.

Price and technology comparison

Price vs quality is always a difficult question when it comes to technology. In the case of the Bowflex Max Trainer, you are getting a quality product at a much lower price point than similar elliptical machines.

The M1 is the basic Bowflex Max Trainer model, and it starts at just $999. The Max Trainer Total, which is the most advanced model, costs $3000.

That may seem like a lot of money, but when you compare it to the Life Fitness X95, which has similar features and costs around $6000, it’s a great deal. So, if you’re looking for a quality exercise machine at a reasonable price, the Bowflex Max Trainer is a great option.

Now, in terms of technology, I think Elliptical machines are a clear winner. Except for the Bowflex Max Trainer Total, the other 8 models come with pretty basic non-touch consoles.

On the other hand, pretty much most elliptical machines above $1500 come with touchscreen monitors, a cooling fan, even folding Fram, and a fully electric incline decline system.

Noice and resistance comparison

Noice and resistance are two important factors when choosing an at-home cardio machine. In terms of resistance, Bowflex Max Trainers are the obvious winner for HIIT workouts because they all have dual resistance of magnetic and dynamic air systems.

You get a good amount of intensity from level 1 to 20 with a Bowflex Max Trainer, plus, its dynamic air resistance responds to your effort so if you pedal harder, the resistance will increase dynamically to keep up with your demand. On top of that, the air from the turbine fan keeps you pretty cool during the exercise.

An elliptical machine on the other hand only has magnetic resistance and it’s not dynamic because there is no air turbine. Honestly, I don’t find the magnetic resistance of my elliptical engaging for a short HIIT workout. But I always have fun when I do standard longer cardio workouts with elliptical machines.

So, if you are in good shape and trying to do more High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and challenge yourself often, I would highly recommend a Bowflex Max trainer instead of an elliptical machine.

As for noise, elliptical machines are the best. They are much quieter than Bowflex Max Trainers because they don’t have air turbines. They only have magnets which literally make zero noise.

All in all an elliptical machine produce a gentle hum that shouldn’t bother anyone in your household. However, the Bowflex Max Trainer can get a bit noisier when you increase the intensity of your workout.

I even thought about putting my Bowflex Max Trainer in the garage so that I don’t bother my wife and neighbors early morning. So, as you can imagine Bowflex max trainers are pretty noisy.

Maintenance and assembly comparison

Bowflex max trainer is the winner when it comes to assembly and maintenance. It is easier to assemble as most parts come pre-assembled and of course, it has less maintenance because there are fewer bearings and moving parts compared to elliptical machines.

Elliptical machines on the other hand have more moving parts such as incline, decline, and adjustable stride systems. While all these features of an elliptical machine can help you reach goals quicker, they also require more upkeep.

Bowflex’s quality construction and simpler mechanism mean that it will last for many years with minimal upkeep, making it a wise investment for your home gym. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance piece of cardio equipment, the Bowflex Max Trainer is the way to go.

Number of calories and impact on the body

For a long time, elliptical machines have been the go-to choice for people looking for a low-impact cardio workout. However, recent studies have shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be more effective for burning calories and improving fitness levels.

As a result, many people are now looking for workout machines that are specifically designed for HIIT. The Bowflex Max Trainer is one such machine. It is compact and easy to use, making it ideal for busy people who don’t have time to go to the gym and want to lose weight quicker.

The Max Trainer also provides a more intense workout than an elliptical machine, making it a better choice for people who are already reasonably fit and in good heart condition.

If you are just starting out on your fitness journey, however, an elliptical machine may be a better choice as it is lower impact and easier to use.

As for the number of calories, you can burn up to 300 calories in a 25-minute HIIT workout with a Bowflex max trainer and up to 200 calories in a 25-minute cardio workout with an elliptical machine.

Which one offers more exercise veriety

If you’re looking for more exercise verity, an elliptical machine is a clear winner. For instance, a good elliptical machine allows you to increase the incline and do stepping, decline and pedaling, or adjust the stride and run.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Bowflex Max Trainers as they don’t have any of these options. With a Bowflex max trainer, you can only do a stepping workout. As a result, if you want more variety in your workout, an elliptical machine is the way to go.


The Bowflex Max Trainer is a hybrid between an elliptical and a stepper. It has a small footprint and is very lightweight, making it easy to move around and store.

It also features adjustable resistance and twenty pre-set workout programs. The elliptical, on the other hand, is a larger machine that can take up more space. It is also heavier and bulkier, making it more difficult to move around. However, it does offer a wider range of motion and can be better for beginner users. Additionally, ellipticals typically have a quieter resistance system than the Bowflex Max Trainer.

In terms of price, an elliptical machine is definitely more expensive than a Bowflex. If you are looking for a compact machine for a lower price that will get the job done, then a Bowflex max trainer may be a better option for you. However, if you are looking for a machine that offers more features and options, then the elliptical machine may be worth the extra cost.

Another key difference is that the Bowflex max trainer uses a combination of air and magnetic resistance systems while most ellipticals use only a magnetic resistance system. The magnetic resistance system is smoother and quieter, making it more comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Finally, the Bowflex max trainer offers a greater range of motion than an elliptical, making it a more effective workout tool.

Here are a couple of additional notes to remember when choosing between the two:

  • Center drive and front drive ellipticals are more compact than rear drive ellipticals
  • Budget ellipticals are often lightweight than solid more quality ellipticals
  • Ellipticals are more gentle on the knees and have less impact than Bowflex Max Trainers
  • To use a Bowflex max trainer, remember to checkup with your doctor because its workout is intense
  • If you have bad knees or back, you should consider an elliptical machine rather than a Bowflex Max trainer
  • A cheaper alternative to Bowflex Max Trainer is the Proform HIIT Trainers

Sayed Hamed Hosseiny
Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Hi, my name is Sayed Hamed Hosseiny. I am a professional health and fitness trainer with nearly 20 years of experience using ellipticals, rowing machines, and spin bikes. I also have my own EU-based Rock Fitness Pro fitness brand where I design, import and sell exercise equipment such as rowing machines and spin bikes. I and writers on my team also often receive fitness equipment to review and evaluate their functionalities and performance from tens of different exercise machines manufacturers. Fitness equipment tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on this website are my opinion (and opinions of my fitness expert colleagues) based on tens of criteria. I never accept payment to write reviews of products or say positive things about fitness equipment products. If brands are interested to have me review their rowers, ellipticals, or spin bikes, they can get in touch with me via email provided on the contact page and send a sample of their product.