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Elliptical Vs Bowflex Max Trainer: Which One Is Best for You?

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

Are you on the fence between getting a Bowflex Max Trainer or an elliptical? Don’t have much time to research the differences? Well, then, strap in and enjoy the ride – we’re here to help you make your pick with the help of our comprehensive Elliptical vs Bowflex Max Trainer comparison.

In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks

BowFlex Max Trainer M3
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Schwinn Fitness 470 Elliptical
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Product's nameBetter Efficiency
BowFlex Max Trainer M3
Greater Versatility
Schwinn Fitness 470 Elliptical
VerdictFor a high-intensity cardio workout, the Bowflex Max Trainer is unbeatable.Those that are looking for a complete workout without putting too much strain on their bodies should consider the Elliptical experience.
Resistance1-10 levels of resistance14 levels of resistance; provides low-impact, full-body workout
Calorie BurnTargeted muscle-building preset programs with specialized purposes Its preset programs and resistance levels create a challenging yet enjoyable experience that maximizes your calorie burn and fat loss.
Build and DesignMonitor could use some improvements, limited workout stats and information available; textured grip handles and non-slip footrests for easier maneuverabilitySturdy frame and comfortable grip handles offer greater stability and safety as well as a more natural feel when you're transitioning from one exercise to the next.
StorageAt less than half the size of the average treadmill, this space-saving, compact elliptical might just make your room look bigger.Somewhat monotonous and repetitive range of motion
Learn moreSee at AmazonSee at Amazon

How Am I Qualified to Write About These Two Machines?

As an ardent gym-goer and fitness enthusiast, I’ve had the privilege of trying out several cardio machines. I’m well-versed in the features, performance, and design of different models, knowing full well that even the slightest differences can make a huge impact on your workouts.

A woman on an elliptical comparing a regular elliptical vs bowflex max trainer
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When I decided to transfer some of my workouts to my home gym, I quickly realized the importance of gathering as much information as possible, so I can make a well-informed decision on which pieces actually matter. After all, there’s no point in spending your hard-earned cash on something you’ll never use.

And that’s exactly what I’m here to do – provide you with valuable and up-to-date information about the Bowflex Max Trainer and Elliptical machine, so you can have a better idea of which one might be better suited for you.

A woman comparing regular elliptical vs bowflex max trainer
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Who Is This Guide For?

If you’re the type of person who leads a busy lifestyle and wants to chip in a full-body workout without taking off too much time from your day – then you might want to look more closely at this comparison.

It’s the kind of thing that would be of interest to those who don’t have much experience with machines like these but want to learn as much as possible about them in order to make a wise purchase. They’re not overly technical, so even the less-experienced fitness lover can understand what’s going on.

How We Picked the Best Products

Of course, the two products are quite popular in the fitness industry, so it wasn’t hard to find some relevant information. As we put on our detective hats, we skimmed through some interesting reads on GarageGymReviews and TreadmillReviews, with some contributions from forums like Reddit and Quora.

People have an amazing way of getting their message across, so we read through several comments, reviews and threads to get a better idea of what people had to say about each product.

And as if that wasn’t enough, we also visited the relevant Amazon pages for each product and scoured through their customer reviews. We also compared prices from credible retailers in order to get a better idea of the value for money you’d be getting.

A group of people comparing elliptical vs bowflex max trainer
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How We Compared Each Product

Naturally, when you’re putting two separate products side-by-side, there should be some sort of common ground that tells you how they differ. That’s why we opted to focus on the following areas:

  • Resistance Levels – How well each machine does when it comes to providing a solid workout that can help you push your fitness goals is a major factor. Having varying preset workouts and levels of resistance adds a lot of value to your exercise routine.
  • Calorie Burn Rate – These days, there are numerous innovative features that give you a better idea of how much energy you’re actually burning while working out. Some have a greater focus on the way you’re burning calories, whereas others are more tailored to your overall progress.
  • Build and Design – It doesn’t matter if you’re doing basic workouts or more complex ones – having a well-built machine that can handle your exercise routine is necessary. Not only do they need to be safe, but they should also have an appealing look that can fit within your home environment.
  • Storage and Maintenance – Given the limited space of a home set-up, we can’t ignore the importance of having a machine that can be easily stored and maintained. The simpler the process, the better – after all, no one wants to spend their entire weekend tinkering with a machine that’s failing to work properly.

The Products

For the main event, we’ll be putting the Bowflex Max Trainer and the Elliptical machine head-to-head with each other to see which comes out on top. Some of the following features are only available on one of these devices, perhaps serving as a head start in the race for gold.

Bowflex Max Trainer – Greater Versatility

This is essentially a hybrid machine that’s a combination of the classic stair-stepper and a traditional elliptical. Its main focus is to provide a full-body workout that usually has greater variety than what you’d get with the other two options. As such, it gives you full control over the intensity of your workouts as well as the combination of exercises you want to do.


  • Targeted muscle-building with custom workouts
  • Compact design that doesn’t take up much space
  • Superb value for money


  • Somewhat basic monitor compared to other models
  • Shorter warranty period

Key Specs:

Size 46″ L x 26″ W x 64.2″ H
Machine Weight148 lbs
Pedal TypeTextured
Range of Resistance Levels14
Maximum User Weight Capacity500 lbs

Why It’s So Great

For a high-intensity cardio workout, the Bowflex Max Trainer is unbeatable. Its preset programs and resistance levels create a challenging yet enjoyable experience that maximizes your calorie burn and fat loss.

Plus, its sturdy frame and comfortable grip handles offer greater stability and safety as well as a more natural feel when you’re transitioning from one exercise to the next. As you change the intensity, you can modify the motion and even adjust the foot pedals to suit your needs.

Regular Elliptical Machine – Better Efficiency

Standard Ellipticals like the Schwinn Fitness 470 are designed primarily for an effective workout that’s meant to simulate walking or running without the impact of a standard treadmill. Since they don’t require you to put your entire weight on the machine, they’re mainly used for light to moderate aerobic exercises. The way they are designed, they tend to suit users who want to extend their endurance levels by keeping up a steady pace for longer periods of time.


  • Smooth ride with minimal impact
  • Low-impact workout that targets your entire body
  • Straightforward pacing and intensity adjustments


  • Shorter stride and reduced range of motion
  • Slightly monotonous mode of operation

Key Specs:

Standard Size68″ L x 28.5″ W x 65.5″ H
Machine Weight60 – 450 lbs
Pedal TypeOversized
Range of Resistance Levels1 – 10
Maximum User Weight Capacity250- 400 lbs

Why It’s So Great 

Those that are looking for a complete workout without putting too much strain on their bodies should consider the Elliptical experience. With the low-intensity, smooth experience the device offers, you can keep your heart rate up for longer and really hit those target areas with minimal effort.

Plus, its efficient design allows you to get the most out of your daily workout with minimal energy expenditure. The longer strides and cylindrical motion help to burn more calories without making you feel as though you’re struggling to keep up. You can easily get through your training session with a greater sense of accomplishment.

The Buying Guide

Whether you’re buying your first entry-level model or upgrading to something more advanced, there are always some tell-tale signs to look out for when it comes to quality. These fundamental aspects of high-tech features should definitely be on your radar regardless of your fitness goals.

Performance and Training Levels

Both the Bowflex Max Trainer and Elliptical have multiple tiers of performance that cater to different needs. The way they work is usually quite similar, but the overall execution can vary. For instance, the Bowflex is designed for a more vigorous workout, while the Elliptical is better suited for moderate to low-intensity exercises.

A man using an elliptical to compare classic elliptical vs bowflex max trainer
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Exercise Adjustments

Of course, as you move further up your training program, you’ll also need to make sure that the machine you choose can handle a more challenging workout. Both devices should offer customizable strides, motion types and power levels.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll probably want something that’s more basic, but as you become more experienced, you should be able to tweak your unit to accommodate your changing needs. Naturally, if you have more options to begin with, you’ll be better prepared for more complex routines in the future.

Quiet Operation

When it comes to home workouts, having to listen to the droning sounds of a machine can become annoying very fast. Not to mention, it also disrupts the peace and quiet of your living environment.

But as we’ve come to find out in our Elliptical vs Bowflex Max Trainer comparison, both options are designed with noise reduction capabilities, which are definitely nifty extra features to look out for. That way, you can go about your training without having to worry about putting a damper on anyone’s day or subjecting your ears to excessive noise.

Progress Monitoring

Finally, if you’re serious about pushing your limits, having dedicated monitoring features would easily help you stay on track. Most of these machines nowadays come with custom fitness apps that can keep tabs on your progress and even provide helpful advice through intuitive coaching.

You can also access useful workout stats such as heart rate monitoring through a chest strap or wristband, and even set individual goals so that you can adjust your routine as you go. This will prove invaluable if you’re serious about reaching new heights in your fitness journey.

A woman at home using an elliptical to compare classic elliptical vs bowflex max trainer
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Is Bowflex Max Trainer as good as an elliptical?

Since it’s basically a hybrid machine, the Bowflex Max Trainer offers a unique combination of cardiovascular exercises that you won’t find in an Elliptical trainer. But this doesn’t make it any less effective in burning off excess fat and improving your overall fitness.

Is Bowflex Max Trainer worth it?

For anyone that uses it frequently and properly, the Bowflex Max Trainer is definitely worth its price. It has all the bells and whistles to ensure a high-performance training tool, with variable intensity levels, adjustable strides and efficient calorie burning capabilities – all the ingredients for custom workout creation.

Is 20 minutes a day on elliptical enough?

If you want to stay consistent and maintain your current weight, then 20 minutes on the Elliptical trainer per day should be enough – as long as you keep at it regularly. Of course, if you want to get more advanced with your routine, then you should look into adding more variation to your workouts, better nutrition and other lifestyle changes.


Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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