Are you interested in learning about the Bowflex and Bowflex rowing machine models?
In this review, I break down the different benefits of using a Bowflex, as well as which Bowflex models change into a rowing machine. I’ve used a couple of different models at this point and have several thoughts to share.
We’ll also discuss how to use each Bowflex rowing machine and the differences between “traditional” rowing and Bowflex rowing.
In short, some Bowflex machines offer a rowing capability. If you’re looking to take up indoor rowing as a sport (e.g., compete in CrossFit competitions), the Bowflex is not recommended. If you want a machine that provides a great workout, including the ability to row, the Bowflex is your best choice.
Also, since you can increase resistance beyond what conventional rowers offer, the Bowflex is a great choice for those who want to emphasize strength and muscle tone in addition to cardiovascular conditioning.
The best Bowflex machine currently available with a rowing capability can be found here. It’s one of the only widely available models right now that has a seat that slides back and forth.
You can also read my opinion on choosing between a “traditional” rowing machine and Bowflex machine in my “Final Thoughts” section. Feel free to reach out with any questions as well!
What is a Bowflex?
Bowflex first started selling home gyms in 1986 to give consumers an at-home solution for working out.
They wanted to create a machine that could perform every exercise provided by a gym within the comfort of a person’s home. Plus, it needed to be at an affordable price!
Their first model was a big success and their home gyms began gaining a ton of popularity. This popularity and success allowed them to innovate and expand their product line into many different categories.
They now have products in many different fitness niches but their “Home-Gyms” are still the most popular.
The Bowflex Home Gyms allow users to perform almost every workout you can perform in a regular gym. However, a Bowflex can fit in the corner of a room and is a fraction of the price of multiple pieces of equipment.
Bowflex Home Gyms utilize advanced resistance technology which has many benefits over free-weights. I will describe some of the Bowflex benefits below.
The Bowflex Home Gym offers a ton of benefits that can be achieved through performing over 100 different available workouts.
These 100 different workouts are powered by two types of resistance technologies called “Power Rod” and “Spiraflex”.
The “Power Rod” system is where Bowflex received its name, due to the “bow-like” shape it forms when in use.
The system allows users to connect cables to different resistance rods. Each rod is assigned a “weight” value that can increase resistance when added to the cable.
As a user performs an exercise, the resistance gradually increases throughout the range of motion.
It also supplies constant tension during the entire exercise. This helps to reduce stress on joints and push your muscles to the absolute limit.
The “Spiraflex” system was designed by NASA for zero gravity exercise. “Spiraflex” works by utilizing elastic straps that wrap around a rotating plate as a user exercises.
Like the “Power Rod”, the “Spiraflex” resistance gradually increases throughout the entire range of motion and creates constant tension for maximum muscle growth.
Here is a video explaining how it operates and some additional information about “Spiraflex”.
The resistance technology is not the only benefit of Bowflex Home Gyms. A Bowflex will also:
- Burn calories and blast away fat
- Build strong and lean muscles
- Increase metabolism
- Increase daily energy levels
- Reduce blood pressure
- Increase cardiovascular health
Any benefit achieved from regular exercise can also be achieved with the Bowflex!
Another great benefit many of you are wondering about is rowing on Bowflex Home Gyms.
Can You Perform Rowing on Bowflex Machines?
I often receive emails from people who are torn between buying a Bowflex or a rowing machine. This explains why many people who want to buy a Bowflex look for a Bowflex with rowing machine capabilities.
But is a Bowflex rowing machine combination even possible and is it effective? The answer is yes, to some extent.
Certain models can perform rowing on a Bowflex. However, it is not exactly identical to rowing on a traditional rower like a Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine.
You can perform rowing on a Bowflex with any model that has a sliding seat.
The Bowflex will have different angles at which you pull the handles to your chest and different positions for your feet. This makes them slightly different than a “traditional” rowing machine.
I will cover the different Bowflex rowing machine models below and how each can perform a full rowing stroke.
Best Bowflex Rowing Machine
As I mentioned above, not all Bowflex models come with rowing machine functionality. This is due to some not having the sliding seat rail which is required for rowing.
Below are the best Bowflex rowing machine models and how each can perform the rowing motion.
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym
The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is also another great option for a Bowflex with rowing machine functionality.
This model utilizes the “Power Rod” technology and claims to have over 30 strength training exercises.
The Bowflex PR1000 is a bit more basic than the Revolution but also has a much more affordable price tag.
Many users rated this total body machine very highly and it was a top seller for many years in the “Home Gym” section.
Below I will discuss the Bowflex PR1000 rowing machine capabilities.
Bowflex PR1000 Rowing Machine
Like the Bowflex Revolution, the PR1000 can easily switch to an aerobic rowing exercise.
The handle placement and movement will be identical to the Bowflex Revolution rowing machine shown above.
However, the Bowflex PR1000 rowing machine does not have designated foot plates. Users will have to rest their feet on the support bar while rowing. This is not a huge downside but does take away from the overall comfort of the rowing stroke.
There is not a full video demonstrating the Bowflex PR1000 rowing machine motion, but there is a short clip in their promotional video.
If you are interested in reading more details about the Bowflex PR1000 functionality, check out some of the consumer reviews.
Bowflex Revolution Home Gym [Discontinued]
This machine is no longer made but can be found used if you want to check out classifieds and auctions like Ebay and Offerup.
The Bowflex Revolution was one of the most advanced models of “Home Gyms” on the market.
It utilizes the “Spiraflex” technology and provides over 100 exercises with up to 400 variations. The Bowflex Revolution is truly an all-in-one exercise machine that provides many full-body workouts.
Users can focus on strength training, muscle toning, and cardio with a single machine.
Most consumers have given it a high rating with many positive reviews. There are only a few negatives such as a high price point and long assembly time.
Bowflex Revolution Rowing Machine
The Bowflex Revolution can easily switch to a rowing machine to work on cardio as well as strength conditioning.
One great feature on the Bowflex Revolution is the custom footplates made specifically for rowing. Users now have a designated area to place their feet and perform a proper rowing drive.
The rowing stroke is not exactly the same as a regular rowing machine but it is fairly similar.
One difference is the cable attachment point is lower on the Bowflex Revolution than a traditional rowing machine. This creates a slightly lower “pulling” angle, whereas a traditional rowing machine pulls almost in a direct line with your chest.
Below is a video demonstrating the Bowflex rowing machine motion.
While this video is a great demonstration of the Bowflex Revolution rowing machine, please do not listen to the technique advice.
It is not bad advice, but do not try to perform the motion “all at the same time” like instructed. Please see the technique section below for more information.
Bowflex Blaze Home Gym
The Bowflex Blaze is almost identical to the Bowflex PR1000. A main difference is the Bowflex Blaze claims to be able to perform double the amount of exercises.
After some research, I reached out to Bowflex to ask the differences between the two and why the Bowflex Blaze is not listed on their website.
They replied stating the models are almost identical and the Bowflex Blaze is no longer a “current” model. Meaning it is no longer manufactured but still sold by Bowflex retailers.
The Bowflex representative assured me they are still excellent home-gyms, still covered by the amazing Bowflex warranty, and still serviceable with spare parts.
The Bowflex Blaze rowing machine functionality is very similar to the PR1000. If you have to choose between the Bowflex Blaze and PR1000, I would choose the model with the best price.
Bowflex Blaze Rowing Machine
There’s not much to say about the Bowflex Blaze rowing machine capabilities because it is so similar to the Bowflex PR1000.
The seat, hand placement, resistance, and functionality are all the same. There is a small portion of grip on the “support bar” for your feet but overall the foot placement is the same.
In the “Reviews & Pricing” button there is a short clip of the Bowflex Blaze rowing machine motion. The video shows the man performing the leg press with a “harness”.
This is the same motion as a rowing machine except to perform a full rowing stroke you would replace the “harness” with the “handles” and pull/row to your chest.
You can learn more about what consumers think about the Bowflex Blaze by reading some of the reviews listed on Amazon.
Bowflex Blaze Rowing Machine Reviews & Pricing (Amazon):
Proper Bowflex Rowing Machine Technique
Using a Bowflex rowing machine is no different than a traditional rowing machine. The stroke can be broken down into 4 easy steps:
The catch is the starting position where your knees are bent, body is leaning slightly forward, and your arms are extended forward holding the handle.
You then drive with your legs keeping your arms straight and body still leaning forwards. As your legs begin to fully extend, you can lean backwards and pull your arms to your chest.
At the finish, your legs should be fully extended, the handles at the base of your sternum, and you are leaning backwards slightly (11 o’clock).
The recovery is everything that was just performed in reverse order. First, you extended your arms straight and lean forwards. After the handles have cleared your knees, you can begin to bend your knees and slide the seat back to the catch position.
Earlier I mentioned not to perform the motion “all at the same time” like the video instructed. This is because the rowing stroke is a series of different steps that are all connected and performed fluidly.
The sequence goes: legs, core, arms then arms, core, legs.
Below is a video explaining this further:
Due to the Bowflex rowing machine having a different handle, there will be a slight technique difference.
However, emulating this video closely will ensure proper technique that will give you the most effective rowing workout and avoid any injuries.
There are many different Bowflex models that can perform a rowing motion. While the rowing stroke will not be identical to a traditional rowing machine, it will be similar and can “get the job done”.
If rowing will not be your main workout and you are more interested in total-body “weight” lifting exercises, then a Bowflex is a great option. Having a Bowflex with rowing capabilities is just a huge bonus and another great workout to include in the over 100 different exercises you can perform.
If you do buy a Bowflex, I highly recommend incorporating a rowing workout into your routine!
However, if you are more interested in a rowing machine and rowing workouts, I do not recommend buying a Bowflex.
A Bowflex cannot perform the same as a traditional rowing machine and you may not be satisfied with the results. There also won’t be a monitor to track the right metrics and you will not be able to row as intensely.
If you want a traditional rowing machine I recommend checking out the #1 bestselling rowing machine. It is similar in price to the lower-cost Bowflex machines and will still give you an excellent full-body workout!
Just check out all the muscles worked while rowing in this article.
I hope you enjoyed my Bowflex Rowing Machine article! If you have any questions about which model to choose or how to decide between a Bowflex and a rowing machine, leave me a comment below.
Rowing Machine King Founder and Author.