The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro is one of several home fitness machines currently on the market designed to offer intense workouts that are gentle on the joints. The “Pro” machine is the upgraded version of the Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer, but are the upgrades enough to warrant paying the additional cost? And what about the competition, namely the Bowflex Max Trainers. Can the Proform HIIT Trainer outperform the rest?
As we take a detailed look at what the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro can offer, I hope to answer these questions as well as determine whether a HIIT trainer is the right choice for you in the first place.
The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro
HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a style of exercising where the goal is to perform at near max potential for short bursts (or intervals) and then rest. These intense exercise intervals and following rest periods are repeated for the duration of the workout. The result is that you spend more time with you heart rate (HR) elevated beyond where it would normally be during a more traditional cardio workout.
Folks have started going to HIIT type workouts because they can be incredibly effective at burning more calories, losing more weight, and improving cardiovascular performance. The secret is that your body continues burning more calories even after your workout is finished.
However, the key to these workouts is (you guessed it), exercising intensely. The best way to measure workout intensity is by your HR. How fast your heart is beating is a direct measure of how hard you are working- the harder you work, the faster your heart beats.
For these HIIT workouts, your HR needs at 80-90% of your max HR. You can get a good estimate of what your max HR is with this easy equation:
Max HR = 220 – your age (in years)
I’ll use myself as an example. I’m 35 years old, so my estimated max HR would be: 220 – 35 = 185 bpm.
A little more math will help me figure out where my HR needs to be during the intense part of a HIIT workout:
0.8 x 185 = 148 bpm
0.9 x 185 = 167 bpm
So, in order for me to gain the full benefits of my HIIT workout, I need to be pushing myself hard enough so that my HR is in the 148 – 167 range. It also means I would need a way to monitor my heart rate, but more on that shortly.
I wanted to bring this up before we dive into the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro because any machine claiming to be a HIIT trainer needs to be capable of getting our HR up high enough. I think the best way to determine that is to look at the resistance and the type of exercise movement the machine is using. Sounds like a good place to start.
- Fully body workout
- Low impact, gentle on joints
- 34 workout programs
- 26 resistance levels
- 30 lb flywheel with Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR)
- 10″ HD color touch screen display
- iFit compatible
- Great warranty
- 350 lb weight capacity
- Small footprint
- Includes grip and wireless chest strap HR monitors
- Workout fan
- Water bottle holder
- Some complaints about customer service
- Some complaints about machine wobbling during use
Total Body Workout
The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro is somewhere between a step machine and an elliptical. Actually, if a step machine and an elliptical got in on, this HIIT trainer would be the result. Nice right? Anyway, I say that because the movement your legs are doing isn’t completely vertical like a typical stepper, it has a horizontal component as well.
Technically speaking, the arc is 10 inches vertical and 5 inches horizontal. So if I had to pick one or the other, I would say the HIIT Trainer Pro more closely resembles the feel of a stepper. But the elliptical part will make it feel a little more comfortable than a standard step machine. It will reduce the stress through your knees too.
Another nice thing about the arc of the footplate is that your foot never has to leave the pedal. This really reduces the compression forces through your knees and hips (and ankles too). This is important if you have arthritis or achy joints, or are just prone to injury. Less compression forces means less discomfort and safer exercise, something that is good for all of us.
But the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro also has handlebars for working your upper body. The handles move in a pattern that is suppose to mimic a boxer throwing jabs. So while your legs are working on the steps, your arms are punching. The multi-grip handles are great because you can concentrate on different upper body muscles depending on your grip- wide grip to hit the chest and shoulders more, close grip to punish your triceps.
I like to concentrate on either pulling or pushing when I’m on a machine like this to really isolate my upper body. Pulling will activate your lats and biceps more. Concentrating on one, and then switching, is a nice way to keep the workouts interesting.
The combination is an effective total body workout. But don’t forget about your core too. You will definitely be activating your core to stabilize yourself while you are punching and stepping simultaneously. You could isolate your core more by taking your hands off the handles and stepping unsupported- watch out it will really challenge your balance too.
The more muscles we work at once, the higher our HR is going to get. And your HR will rise faster by working your entire body at the same time. So the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro has that going for it, so far so good.
Resistance and Workout Programs
The Proform HIIT Trainer plus utilizes a 30 lb flywheel to provide resistance. This is the first upgrade we see from the Proform HIIT Trainer which is only using a 28 lb flywheel. Will you be able to feel the difference? Probably not, but in terms of flywheels, heavier is usually considered better- gives it a smoother, more fluid resistance.
The Pro comes with 26 different resistance levels, 2 more than their standard HIIT trainer. This gives you a lot of play with fine tuning how much resistance you are getting during your workout.
The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro also comes loaded with a 34 workout programs. This is a boat-load of workout variety and is really one of the biggest perks of this model. Again, their standard HIIT trainer only comes with 32… “only” 32.
If you subscribe to iFit you can really get unlimited workouts through this machine. I want to talk about iFit more below, but this HIIT trainer is really designed to be used with iFit. I’m not sure what type of partnership they have with Proform, but Proform is pushing iFit pretty hard with this model.
So in terms of resistance and workout programs, the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro does have a lot to offer. Let’s take a look at what features are included.
10 in HD Color Display
This display screen is the Proform Pro’s pride and joy. This is probably among the nicest displays in home fitness machines, definitely within this price range. The screen is 10 ” measured diagonally, which is massive. The full color high definition display will come in handy if you are using the iFit functions.
iFit is basically a fitness app on steroids. Through it you can get personal training with personalized workouts. You can also use Google Maps through it to see different trails and whatnot during your workout. This is a paid subscription though, I think it’s around $15 a month.
The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro is really designed to take advantage of this product. That’s why the 10 in screen was included and you really need iFit to take full advantage of the screen. The HD screen will make looking at the maps and studio workouts look amazing.
If you don’t think you will be using iFit or don’t want to pay the monthly subscription, you can still use the screen to select from any of the 34 included workouts. That said, should you get the Pro if you aren’t going to use iFit? If you ask me, probably not.
In my book, the display screen is what really sets the Pro apart from the Proform HIIT Trainer. There are other differences, but the screen is the biggest, most obvious upgrade. If you aren’t going to be taking full advantage of what the screen is there for, I would suggest you save yourself some cash and go with their standard trainer. More on that below though.
Heart Rate Monitors
We discussed the important of monitoring your HR during your HIIT workouts. Luckily, the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro comes with both grip HR monitors and a wireless chest strap monitor. These will allow you to keep a strict eye on your HR during those intense parts to make sure you are working hard enough.
Don’t worry, the workout programs will help adjust the intensity to keep your HR up as well, depending on the workout you choose of course.
The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro has over-sized, cushioned pedals. These large pedals give this product the feel of a commercial grade machine. The large pedals also allow your feet to move inside them as you step- this is important because it will make the movement more comfortable and make you less likely to injure yourself.
Users disagree a little on how easy the HIIT Trainer Pro is to assemble. Truth is, I guess it depends a lot on your skill level with putting stuff together.
Just keep in mind that this machine weighs over 200 lb when fully assembled. It also takes up a floor space of roughly 4′ long and 2.5′ wide, which is actually pretty awesome for a home fitness machine.
The Proform HIIT Trainer Pro has a 350 lb weight capacity. This is an awesome feat that many home fitness machines can’t match. Larger folks can have a tough time fitting on home fitness machines, but the HIIT Trainer Pro is designed to accommodate larger users too.
The HIIT Trainer Pro comes with the following warranties:
- Lifetime frame
- 5-year parts
- 2-year labor
This is a great warranty for this price range. This is also another area where the “Pro” is upgraded from the HIIT Trainer which only offers a 3-year parts and 1-year labor warranty.
Taking a close look at the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro shows that it has a lot to offer. But what about the competition? Does the HIIT Trainer Pro outperform the Bowflex Max Trainers??
Really, the only the competition the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro has right now are the Bowflex Max Trainers. The Max Trainers are very similar to the HIIT Trainer Pro in that they also use a stepper-elliptical hybrid type movement with handle bars. They too are designed for HIIT style workouts.
The lowest tech model of Max Trainers is the M3. The M3 only comes with 1 workout program (2 if you count ‘manual’) and 8 resistance levels. The screen isn’t nearly as sophisticated and the warranty is only 1 year. So right off the bat, the HIIT Trainer Pro has the M3 beat hands down.
Up next is the M5, the mid-range Max Trainer model. The M5 has 8 workout programs and 16 levels of resistance. It has a backlit screen (which is an upgrade over the M3) and is bluetooth compatible. However, it’s weight capacity is only 300 lb and the warranty is only 2 years. The M5 is roughly the same price as the HIIT Trainer Pro, fyi.
The M7 is the only Max Trainer model that can hold it’s own with the HIIT Trainer Pro. The M7 comes with 11 workout programs and 20 levels of resistance. It has an upgraded screen that is pretty awesome, but not nearly as sophisticated as the 10 in screen on the HIIT Trainer Pro.
The M7 also has bluetooth capabilities and syncs with their free fitness app. The M7 still only has a 3-year warranty and a 300 lb weight capacity though. I’d also like to point out the M7 costs about $500 more than the HIIT Trainer Pro.
The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is a great home fitness machine, but for the price, I would go with the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro. If you would like to learn more though, click here for my full review of the M7.
Last, but not least, is the Proform HIIT Trainer. There are a few key differences between this and the Pro, some of which we have already discussed. First of all, the HIIT Trainer comes with a smaller, 7″ display screen (not a touch screen). It also has a couple fewer workout programs (32) and a couple fewer resistance levels (24). It also doesn’t include a chest strap HR monitor.
I also mentioned that the Pro has a better warranty. That said, the HIIT Trainer really offers the same workout as the Pro model. It’s really just lacking in the awesome touchscreen display with all the iFit capabilities. The HIIT Trainer is about $600 cheaper than the Pro, fyi. If interested, click here for a full review of the Proform HIIT Trainer.
Overall, the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro is a well built home fitness machine that can effectively provide a full body, HIIT style workout. It’s loaded with features, has a great warranty, and can hold up to users up to 350 lb. For the price, the HIIT Trainer Pro is a good buy.
We’ve taken a detailed look at the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro and compared it to it’s biggest competition, namely the M7. If you compare the machines side-by-side, feature for feature, I would have to say the HIIT Trainer Pro comes out on top. It offers more workout programs, more control over the resistance, and has a better warranty. Not to mention it’s significantly cheaper.
Keep in mind that HIIT training is intense. If you are looking for a more casual workout, you may be better off with a different piece of equipment.
The HIIT Trainer Pro is a great choice for someone who wants to take advantage of the upgraded technology. If you don’t want to use iFit or aren’t worried about the fancy touchscreen, you might be just as well off with the Proform HIIT Trainer.