The Xtreme 2 SE is Bowflex’s premiere home gym that still uses their famous power rod resistance system. They recently released a newer model that no longer uses power rods- the cleverly named “Revolution”. But when it comes to the old Bowflex gyms most of us are familiar with, the Xtreme 2 SE is the top dog. It combines the strengths of the lower priced models to provide a home gym that offers a ton of exercise variety with the convenience of the quick change pulley system.
The question though, is whether or not the Xtreme 2 SE has enough to offer to justify the added cost. Often we find that the mid-range products have the best bang-for-your-buck effect. As Bowflex’s high-end gym, can the Xtreme 2 SE prove precedence wrong?
Let’s take a look at what this home gym has to offer and find out. After reading this review, you will have a clear understanding of what this gym is all about and hopefully be able to determine whether or not it’s the right option for your home.
Welcome To Bowflex
I’m guessing most (if not all) of us have seen the old Bowflex infomercials on tv. They used to be on all the time, I’m not sure if they still are. Although I did see one on tv early in the morning about a week ago, so I guess they still are.
Anyway, Bowflex gyms are easy to spot a mile away because they all (except for the aforementioned Revolution) use the same “power rod” resistance system. These stretchy rods are located on the back of the machine and help us instantly identify a Bowflex product because no other brand uses them.
And that’s because they are patented to Bowflex.
I would also assume that’s where the name “Bowflex” came from- the rods “flex” or bend to provide the resistance? The name is catchy and makes sense, but it also provides a unique system to create a gym around.
The power rods are stationary. To provide resistance for the different exercises, you have to connect different series of cables to the power rods. Through the use of pulleys, you are able to perform literally dozens of different upper body, lower body, and core exercises.
Which brings me to one of the biggest benefits of a Bowflex gym- the large number of exercises you can perform from a single machine. The only home gyms that I’m aware of that can compete (and beat) the Bowflex’s in terms of exercise variety are the Total Gyms. That said, you can expect anywhere from 25-70+ different exercises options from a Bowflex, depending on the model you choose.
Another benefit is that Bowflex gyms are safe to use. There are no free weights involved, so you don’t have to worry about crushing fingers while choosing resistances. You also don’t need a spotter- which is handy if you find yourself working out by yourself, as I often do.
The power rods provide a smooth resistance to work against too. If you’ve never used one before, it feels similar to the feel you get when working out with a nice resistance band set. Unlike free weights, the resistance on the power rods increases as you move through the range of the exercise.
The resistance is lighter at the beginning of the move and increases as you reach end range (and the rod is maximally bent). Some people prefer this, because it is comfortable. Folks who use free weights might not like this because the resistance isn’t constant, as it is with dumbbells and barbells.
Either way, one thing is for certain- the power rods offer a smooth, safe form of resistance with very little impact through your joints. The Bowflex Blaze actually made my best gyms for seniors list because of these qualities.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym
I mentioned at the beginning that the Xtreme 2 SE (long name) is Bowflex’s nicest power rod gym. It offers the most exercise options, comes with the quick change system, and includes additional attachments. Bowflex basically combined some of the features included on previous gyms to form their higher-end machine. Let’s take a close look at each feature.
Power Rod Resistance
We discussed the power rods a little above- they are locked in place at the rear of the gym and do not move. They provide the resistance for every exercise you perform on the Xtreme 2 SE. In order to do this, you have to attach one or more rods to the appropriate cable being used for that exercise.
This gym comes standard with 210 lb worth of resistance. I want to point out that the resistances listed here are estimates- remember, the actual resistance changes as the rod is bent farther down. So if you are a stickler for knowing EXACTLY how much weight you are lifting, you may be disappointed with the uncertainty.
The 210 lb of total resistance come in the form of:
- 2 x 50 lb rods
- 2 x 30 lb rods
- 4 x 10 lb rods
- 2 x 5 lb rods
The Xtreme 2 SE can be upgraded to provide 310 lb or even 410 lb of resistance by purchasing pairs of 50 lb rods, sold separately. Don’t quote me on this, but I think a pair of 50 lb rods will run you about 90 bucks on Amazon.
Bowflex gyms are known for offering a lot of exercise options- their versatility is definitely something they are proud of. I think it’s a good idea to be skeptical when shopping for home gyms. I don’t think we should blindly trust a company just because they say you can perform over 70 different exercises on their gym- don’t tell us, show us.
Well, that’s what Bowflex does with the Xtreme 2 SE.
They advertise this gym offers over 70 different exercises and they back it up by giving you 73 different workout examples in the owners manual. And I what I find most impressive, is that they don’t just list the exercises, they actually provide a detailed explanation of each exercise, along with a picture of it being performed and tips to get the most out of each move.
Bowflex goes above and beyond with their owner’s manuals. Not only do they spent about 40 pages going over the exercises with you, but they also offer multiple workout plans/schedules as well as nutrition tips for losing weight.
The Xtreme 2 SE comes with the following attachments:
- Multi-use hand grip/ankle cuffs
- Angled lat bar
- Squat bar
- Ab harness
- Leg developer
Overall, all the attachments necessary to perform these 70+ different exercises are included with purchase. This gym offers a ton of exercise variety, which is a good way to keep your workouts fresh and entertaining. You can get a great full body workout with this machine, no question.
Most users agree that assembly is pretty straightforward. There are a lot of pieces involved in this gym, but Bowflex has some of the best assembly instructions I’ve ever come across. The steps are logically ordered. Each page is it’s own step with a large illustration. I also love that the directions specifically tell you which pieces, hardware, and tools you’ll need for each and every step.
They also include additional notes with tips to make assembly run smoothly throughout the instructions.
Speaking of tools, all of the required tools ARE NOT INCLUDED. The Allen wrenches are included, but you will also need to have your own screwdrivers, wrenches, socket wrenches, and cutting tools to get this job done.
Overall, most users can assemble the Xtreme 2 SE in 2-4 hrs, depending on your handiness and the availability of assistance. This is a pretty complex gym, but the instructions Bowflex provides are excellent.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE comes with the following warranty for home use:
- 7 year machine
- Lifetime power rods
I think this is a very generous warranty for a home gym in this price range. Seven years is great for the frame and a lifetime warranty on anything is awesome. The power rods are bound to start breaking down eventually- after all, everything does. It’s nice to know you will never have to worry about paying for replacement rods.
Seeing a good warranty like this shows us that Bowflex really believes their product can handle the daily use being thrown at it.
I always, always, always tell people to check weight capacity before purchasing any fitness equipment. It’s always one of the first things I look at when comparing equipment because it gives us an objective measure of how sturdy a piece of equipment is.
Higher is always better.
The Xtreme 2 SE, like all of the Bowflex gyms, has a weight capacity of 300 lb.
For the price range, I think this is on par for what we should expect. It’s high enough to support most users as well as show us the machine is pretty well built. Larger users should look for a bigger machine though.
Quick Change System
The quick change system allows you to switch between exercises a lot faster. One of the biggest drawbacks of the Bowflex gyms without this feature is that it takes a little time to set up the machine to switch between moves. It all depends on what exercises you are switching between, but it can involve moving a few pulleys and re-routing a few cables in order to get the gym ready for the next exercise.
The quick change system was designed to eliminate this wasted time between exercises. The Xtreme 2 SE has additional pulleys and cables positioned conveniently to make switching cables out unnecessary.
Only 2 other Bowflex gyms offer this feature- the PR3000 and the Revolution.
Personally, I think the quick change feature is a game changer for the Bowflex lineup. I like to do circuit style workouts that involve short rest periods between exercises, so this feature would be a necessity for me. I don’t want to waste minutes between exercises switching cables and moving pulleys.
Speaking of pulleys, even with the quick change system, you will have to occasionally move pulleys on the Xtreme 2 SE. You’ll notice there is a horizontal bar (center cross bar) with multiple pulley positions in the middle of the lat tower- you can easily adjust the position of these pulleys for different exercises. For ab crunches, you also have to put the middle pulleys on the ab bar right above it. These changes are fast though, taking only seconds.
The Xtreme 2 SE is Bowflex’s most expensive power rod home gym. After taking a close look at what the gym has to offer, I think it makes sense for this gym to cost more than their other models- it offers the most exercise variety, it has the quick change system, comes with the most attachments, and is backed by a great warranty.
To answer my original question- yes, I think this gym is a good investment because it has a lot to offer.
That said, is the Xtreme 2 SE the smartest buy when compared to the rest of the Bowflex lineup? Maybe.
To answer that question, you really have to think about which features are most important to you. The most comparable gyms to the Xtreme 2 SE are the PR3000 and the Xceed (and the Blaze if you are more interested in a horizontal bench).
The PR3000 costs about $400 less and still offers the quick change system, but has a few key differences:
- only upgradable to 310 lb of rod resistance
- only offers about 50 exercises
- doesn’t come with a squat bar
- doesn’t come with a lat pull down bar
The Bowflex Xceed costs about $600 less (on sale) and is upgradable up to 410 lb, does include a squat bar and lat pulldown bar, but doesn’t have the quick change feature.
So, as you can see, if you are on a tighter budget, you have some thinking to do. What’s more important- exercise variety and attachments or the quick change system?
Personally, I’d say the quick change feature. Fifty exercises is more than enough for me, so if I were choosing between the PR3000 and the Xceed, I’d go with PR3000.
Of course if you have the budget for it, you could get it all and go with the Xtreme 2 SE, easily Bowflex’s most advanced power rod system.