The M7 is the latest model in the Bowflex Max Trainer series, a group of HIIT workout machines designed for home use. But is the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 a smart buy with so many other home fitness options?
Well, that is what I’m hoping this review will help you decide. Keep reading to see if you should consider the M7 or look elsewhere for your fitness needs.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M7
The Bowflex Max Trainer was designed to provide users an intense workout while avoiding the unwanted stress through their joints. In order to provide the intense workouts, Bowflex designed the Max Trainers as HIIT machines. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, has become increasingly popular over the last few years.
HIIT involves exercising at near max potential (based on your heart rate) for short periods, and then resting or recovering at a much lower intensity. This alternating pattern of high and low intensity intervals causes your heart rate to stay elevated for longer periods during the workout.
The results can be staggering if done correctly. Your body will burn more calories- not only while you are exercising, but also long after the workout is over… up to 48 hrs later. This increased calorie demand as your body recovers from the workout is why so many athletes (professional and recreational alike) have gone to HIIT style workouts.
Of course in order to get this effect, you have to do HIIT correctly. This means getting your heart rate up to 80-90% of your max potential. You can estimate your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 (220 – [your age in years] = your max HR).
This is an intensity that many folks might not be used to exercising at. It’s difficult and uncomfortable. That’s why the intervals are relatively short, usually no longer than 2 minutes.
Let’s take a look at the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 and see if it is capable of working you hard enough to see these types of results.
- Full body workout
- Low impact, gentle on joints
- HIIT workouts
- 11 programmed workouts
- 20 levels of computer controlled resistance
- Bluetooth compatible
- Grip and wireless heart rate monitors included
- Upgraded handles
- Upgraded footplates
- Dual, oversized display screen
- Decent warranty
- 300 lb weight limit
- Small footprint
- Lengthy assembly
One of the most important aspects of a fitness machine is how much resistance it can offer. If the M7 can’t provide enough resistance to push against, it’s going to be difficulty to get your heart rate elevated to that 8-90% max. The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 offers 20 different levels of computer controlled resistance, so lack of resistance shouldn’t be an issue.
The M7 comes programmed with 11 different workouts. Many of these workouts are short: 7 min, 14 min, 21 min intervals. This tells us that Bowflex is taking the HIIT idea seriously. HIIT workouts should not take all day because they are, well, intense. The short workout options offered here are a great sign.
The workouts are divided between Target Mode and Performance Mode. The Performance Mode workouts will adapt the workouts based on your progress to set new goals for you (based off of heart rate). This is a nice feature because it will continue to keep you working hard enough to continue making progress.
Users all agree the M7 can bring it in the intensity department. With the workout program variety and 20 levels of resistance, you should be able to get a great workout in regardless of your fitness level.
Ok, when it comes to resistance the Max Trainer M7 is well equipped. But how about machine design and construction? The Max Trainers are designed to offer a foot motion that is somewhere between a stepper and an elliptical trainer. This is how they decided to solve the dilemma of offering a great workout while staying low impact on the joints.
Ellipticals are very low impact because your foot never leaves the pedal and the motion is more horizontal. Steppers give us a great workout because climbing stairs is challenging. Put them together and there you go- intense and comfortable motion at the same time.
That said, the motion of the M7 is closer to that of a step machine. But you also get the option of using your arms by pushing the handlebars. This gives you the ability to work a lot more muscles than a typical step machine. Including your arms turns this into a full body workout- which means more calories being burned.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 has a max weight capacity of 300 lb, which is pretty good. At this price range you may see machines a little higher in the 350 lb range. But a lot of commercial grade equipment tops out at 400 lb.
The M7 has upgraded, stainless steel footplates. These large pedals will fit any sized foot comfortably and allow your foot to move during the workout. This is important, because if your foot is fixed in the pedal, it makes injury more likely. This ensures a proper fit for more people.
The M7 also has commercial grade handlebars that will make you feel like you are exercising at the local gym. You can always tell the quality of a machine by the feel of it. You know what I mean, if a machine is flimsy and not constructed out of durable material you can tell. This Bowflex trainer feels like it is commercial grade.
The M7 weighs 148 lb when fully assembled. This is a good thing, you want your fitness equipment to have a little weight to it. It will help it feel sturdier during use and probably help it last longer. If you are worried about transportation, there are built in transport wheels.
Overall, the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is well constructed and well designed to offer a great workout. The high-end finishes and oversized pedals should increase your comfort during use.
See the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 in action:
We’ve discussed the resistance and design of the M7, now lets get into the features:
- Dual lit LCD/LED display- the display is one of the nicest features on the M7. The first display gauges your intensity and the second screen shows your position in the workout. The intensity gauge is large and well lit- it’s a great motivator during your workout.
- Heart rate sensors- the M7 comes with both a grip sensor and a wireless chest strap. The addition of a chest strap was a nice touch by Bowflex, some of the competitors don’t.
- Bluetooth- the M7 is bluetooth compatible and syncs with the Free Max Trainer app. The app can be used to store and track all your fitness data. The app can also connect with Apple Health app.
- User profiles- the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 can store data for 4 different users. This makes it easy for multiple family members to store their info- just hop on and start working.
- Media shelf- the built-in media shelf makes it easy to park your tablet or smart phone on the machine during use. Listening to music or using your favorite fitness app is easy on the M7.
- Water bottle holder- a built-in water bottle holder may be taken for granted, but not all machines offer one. It’s a convenience that will definitely be appreciated during those HIIT workouts.
- Add-time feature- if you are in the groove and don’t want your workout to end yet, you can hit the “add-time” button and the punishment keeps on going.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 has a nice selection of both high-tech features and down to Earth conveniences. I like the multiple hand positions that can be used during your workout.
You should always consider a machines warranty when deciding on home fitness equipment. It’s a good indicator of quality and durability. Higher-end equipment tends to come with more impressive warranties. The M7 comes with a 3-year whole machine warranty.
This warranty isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. For a machine of this quality (and price), I would expect a little longer. That said, most machines come with separate frame and parts warranties. 3 years for moving parts is pretty good. You shouldn’t have any issues with the frame on the M7 not lasting anyway.
When it comes to home HIIT workout machines, the M7 isn’t the only game in town. Besides the Max Trainer M3 and M5 (which are just less sophisticated versions of the M7), the M7’s biggest competitors are the Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer and Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer Pro. The Proform Pro Trainer has more workouts, a few more bells and whistles, and a smaller price tag, fyi.
But when it comes to offering intense workouts, the M7 might have the rest of them beat. If the price tag on the M7 is a little steep, you may want to check out the Proform Trainers. The M3 and M5 models are also highly rated, but the finishes aren’t as nice and there are less options.
Looking at the Bowflex Max Trainer M7, it’s evident that this is a well-built machine by one of the leaders in home fitness equipment. It’s equipped with high-end finishes from top to bottom and has plenty of nice features to add to your enjoyment during use.
The M7 utilizes both upper and lower body movements to create a total body workout that is easy on the joints. With the addition of 11 different workout programs and 20 different levels of resistance, you have full control over how intense your workout is. Regardless of your fitness level, you shouldn’t have any issues getting a great HIIT workout on this trainer.
Users reviews online are overwhelmingly positive. Owners almost unanimously agree that the M7 is a hardcore “beast” of a fitness machine. The consensus is that the workouts are tough and that you can get a serious workout in half the time of more traditional cardio machines.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is currently boasting an average user rating of 4.2/5 on Amazon. The most common complaints from users involve assembly and the fact that the M7 is too intense to use daily.
This brings up a great point: HIIT should not be done everyday! These intense workouts should be performed 2-3x/wk based on your fitness level. If you are fit, you may be able to handle doing one of the shorter workouts daily, but I would suggest starting slow and working your way up. Most first time users can’t finish the 14-min interval workout…
The M7 is a nice piece of fitness equipment, but is it for everyone? Nope. Like we’ve discussed, the M7 is designed for HIIT workouts. If you want to do HIIT workouts from home, the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is a great choice. If you want a more casual workout, I would suggest something else a little less…intense
To answer my original question- yes, I would say the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 IS a smart buy! It’s a great product that will deliver the results you want if you put the work and time in. Just make sure you really want to do HIIT workouts before purchasing.