T Nation

Bowflex vs Body Weight Exercises

Okay well I am not able to get to my gym with my beloved free weights for the time being since I am currently at my parents place taking care of our ranch which they are with my brother in the hospital.

I also may need to stick to either one of these when I get back to my apartment because I cannot drive for the time being either and sometimes my workout buddy doesn’t workout. Okay so thats the background information on my situation.

I have own a Bowflex Power Pro which I used during high school because well I was uneducated with the difference between free weights and machines alike.

So basically I am wondering which one I will benefit more from, the Bowflex or body weight exercises. My goals are to get get as big and strong as I can basically. I am currently bulking up this winter and I think I will go through this coming summer also since I know I need more mass.

So what do my fellow T-Nation members have to say on this topic?

Neither are really going to help you. However, combined, they may diminish the amount of progress you’ll lose.

Use both. Think in terms of load of resistance- pushups aren’t a great load compared to benching, but handstand pushups are a hell of a load for your shoulders.

Damn so there isn’t much hope for me and my goals unless I am able to get to a gym really.

I think there is definitely hope. The Bowflex will allow you to progress by increasing the load much easier than the bodyweight exercises.

Perform similar exercises that you would do on freeweight exercises, try and get as strong a you can on them, and I bet you will have gained strength when you go back to freeweight exercises. Of course, this all has to do with how dedicated you are to progression.

I read that the normal bowflex can provide 210 lbs of resistance and 410 when upgraded. Get strong with 210 for reps with the bench and you should have some decent gains ahead if that’s something that you haven’t yet attained, for other exercises 210 pounds is enough to keep progressing for a long time.

For some functions the bowflex is quite machine like but a lot of trainers have respect for exercises using cables as it’s like a free weight but with the force of gravity redirected. Where the bowflex fails to provide you with adequate resistance there are bodyweight exercises that require monumental strength, which are made even harder especially if you’re bodybuilding and actively trying to gain size.

With a bowflex and a chip up bar you can atleast maintain to a point where youll be back up to speed within a week.

If 210 is just way too light for bench, do flys.

Even better, if you have some parallel bars for dips you can just hold something heavy between your feet and do weighted dips.

Just don’t try to squat (with the bowflex).

Or rather, try to. Enjoy that hearty laugh afterwards too.

Bulking without barbells is a tough thing to try and pull off, but not impossible. You can probably maintain or even build strength if you work on one-handed push-ups and pull-ups, and one-legged squats. That way you’ll be ready to bulk when you hit the gym again.

If you’re on a farm, there are pretty much unlimited conditioning exercises you can do. Find something heavy, throw it as high/far as you can, run to it, repeat.
Push a tractor up and down the driveway.
Bearcrawl.
Deadlift the Bowflex.

The list is only limited by your imagination and tolerance for cold.

haha cold is nothing for me from growing up on a ranch in north dakota all my life. As far as pushing a tractor around well…its a lot easier just to jump in it and drive it :P. But yes I have been doing a few things around the ranch to use as a good workout.

Ok Dark I’m going to let you in on a little secret… psst… come closer… JUST WORKOUT! lol. While a bowflex may not be perfect- it is far from worthless. while body weight exercises will let you get to over 50 reps on some exercises (which won’t induce hypertrophy) The bowflex’s
weighted resistance" will still allow you keep you reps from 5-15.

Which is the range for hypertrophy in simple terms. A couple problems you may see is when you go from the Bowflex to free weights- 1. the feel will be VERY different and will require you to lower the weight until your body can use the strength you built from the bowflex.

  1. You may be weaker in the lower portions of your lifts because the bowflex uses the “power rods” which will be eaiser to life in the lower portion and harder in the high portion because of tension of the rods.

But one thing is for sure- it will be better than not working out or working out with just bodyweight exercises. Now get to it!!

You do realize that I will be calling Mens Fitness and revealing to them your secret for a handsome sum of money evil laugh. Now that I have let you in on my plan…I have been working out doing body weight exercises and using the bowflex, I was just a bit curious if there was one that was better than the other.

One being better than the other is not the right question IMO. It depends on the amount of reps you can complete per set with body weight. If your body weight exercises keep you within a 5-15 rep range then you’re fine to use bodyweight exercises. All body weight exercises for me are above 15 reps so I either need to add weight ie- weighted dips, weighted pullups etc or use free weights, benches, or in your case, the bowflex. Stick with compounds movements and add weight as necessary to keep your reps 5-15 per set.