Some of the most popular “elliptical” trainers on this site are the Bowflex Max Trainers.
People love these machines – with good reason.
But when looking at the search history logs for this site, I noticed people are asking a recurring question:
“Is the Bowflex Max Trainer an Elliptical?”
Technically no – it’s not. But it can give you the benefits of an elliptical – plus a few more advantages that you may prefer.
This is confusing as well – since some bloggers and websites do market this machine as an elliptical trainer.
I think it comes down to what you consider to be a true “elliptical”. And if that’s really what you want at the end of the day.
This post will help clear up the confusion and give you options – so you can make the right decision for you.
Is the Bowflex Max an Elliptical? Technically No
The true definition of an elliptical is that it mimics the motion of running – without the impact on your joints. Therefore most elliptical trainers have a lower-body motion that mimics this running motion.
There is a set pathway that your foot travels on to give you this flat-surface running motion (see below).
There are also upper body arm bars that were added to later elliptical models in the 1990’s.
Since people liked these moving arm bars, most manufacturers kept them in and they’re pretty much standard on an elliptical trainer today.
So What about the Max Trainer?
Well, the Bowflex Max does not give you the flat-surface lower body running motion of a true elliptical. It’s more of a stair-stepper or vertical climbing motion. So by that definition it’s not a “true” elliptical.
However it does give you the upper body arm bars that you find on a classic elliptical trainer. And it is much lower impact than running.
So really, it’s kind of like a hybrid elliptical-stair-climber mix.
Why Would Bowflex Create A Machine Like This?
Well, Bowflex is the king of making fitness equipment that gives you faster calorie burning benefits (witness the once, super-popular Treadclimber – a faster calorie-burning version of the traditional treadmill).
And the Max Trainer is their version of an upgraded elliptical trainer.
You get benefits of low-impact upper and lower body training – but with an advantage: Because it uses more lower body muscles than a regular elliptical, you burn more calories in less time.
In fact, according to Bowflex tests, you can burn up to 2.5 times more calories on a Max Trainer vs a standard elliptical trainer. Some trial users even burned up to 600 calories in 30 minutes, which is incredible.
Plus, to turn the calorie-burning benefits up even more, Bowflex also added several built-in HIIT training workouts to the Max. HIIT training or interval training workouts can help you burn even more calories – even post workout!
So the Max Trainer is basically designed to give you faster results in less time than a regular elliptical.
It’s more compact than a standard crosstrainer. So if you have a smaller workout area like a condo or apartment this is a huge plus.
So it’s easy to see why – even though not technically an elliptical – these machines are extremely popular.
And with Bowflex adding the new JRNY app to the M6, M8 and Max Total models this year, things get even better.
The JRNY app (there’s a free and paid version) gives you more customized workout training, trainer-led streaming workout videos and more. This can take your training to the next level and is another thing you don’t always find on a standard elliptical.
Is the Max Trainer Right for Everyone?
No – while it does have some great benefits, if you really want that running lower body motion, then you’re better off going with a classic elliptical trainer.
Bowflex has 2 classic elliptical trainers that are extremely solid and well built – the BXE216 and BXE116. They give you nice long stride lengths to fully work your lower body, as well as incline to get added crosstraining.
They’re also made with a heavy-duty, double-wheel-track design for added stability and longevity.
If you want an elliptical with a twist, you might also like the Bowflex Lateral X trainers – which are a new take on the classic elliptical trainer.
These work like a regular elliptical in that you can pedal forward and back. But in addition to that, you also get lateral, side-to-side motion, which is fantastic for crosstraining.
This type of training can also help you use more lower body muscle groups and naturally burn more calories than a standard elliptical.
So if you still want the lower body running motion of an elliptical – but the higher calorie-burning benefits of the Max Trainer, the LateralX ellipticals are a great option.
Hopefully that helps answer the question – “Is the Bowflex Max Trainer an elliptical?” and clears up any confusion.
Technically it’s not an elliptical – but it does give you some of the benefits of an elliptical – with a few added advantages that you may want.
The great thing is that with Bowflex, you have options – whether it’s the compact, high-calorie burning Max Trainer, the classic elliptical or the side-to-side Lateral X elliptical. It’s easy to choose the machine that fits your goals.
Want to learn more? Check out the links below: