Is There Any Way to Convert Bowflex Resistance to Pounds?

Over the years, various innovative products have come into play to open up muscle building to more than just gym-goers. One of such innovative products is the Bowflex home gym. This piece of muscle-building tech is a resistance exercise machine for developing strength and muscle.

Because of the fundamentally peculiar way Bowflex works, various users have sought to determine how they can convert the resistance they experience with the instrument to free weights. As a result, this article will explore whether such conversion is possible and how, if it is. 

What is a Bowflex?

A Bowflex is a piece of training equipment, unlike the cable machine or free weights, that also works to develop muscles and strength. The Bowflex offers resistance through its Power Rod technology or the newer SpiraFlex technology. 

Bowflex Resistance
Bowflex Resistance

Power Rod technology leverages a pulley/cable system, generating resistance from long, flexible rods extending from behind the Bowflex machine. As you perform reps of each workout, the motion is easy at first, becoming gradually more difficult as the rod’s tension increases.

This resistance is especially vital for beginners because it assists them in safely building coordination and strength. As the machine’s fixed parts guide the cables, it becomes difficult to deviate from the correct form. Because of this, it is also easier to avoid injury. 

Converting the Bowflex resistance to pounds?

Trying to determine the equivalent weight in pounds of a Bowflex to free weights is somewhat tricky due to the machine’s peculiar nature. The Power Rods use progressive resistance so that as they bend, they get progressively more resistant, with the rods being more resistant the further it is pulled away from their resting position. 

This means that when you add 410 lbs of resistance to the Bowflex, you will only get 410 lbs when you fully flex the rods. Consequently, it is challenging to compare free weights and Power Rod as they utilize drastically different resistance variations. The Power Rods have no inertia; on the other hand, free weights are generally always under the influence of inertia. 

Nevertheless, this does not imply that Bowflex machines are not useful. This is because regardless of the variant of resistance you subject your body to, it will develop to adapt to such resistance, developing your strength and muscles in the process. What is necessary is that you progressively increase the resistance to overload your muscles continuously. 

Advantages of using a Bowflex

Here are some of the advantages of using a Bowflex machine:

Convenience and durability

Because the Bowflex is much lighter than regular weight training equipment with weight stacks, you can easily move the machine around with minimal effort. The device also affords easy storage as you can fold it when not in use. 

Resultingly, you do not require dedicating a specific area in your home to install your weightlifting equipment permanently. A Bowflex also enables you to perform all the exercises you would typically perform in the gym. Because of this,  you can enjoy a complete workout without leaving your home. 

Alternatively, you can set up your home gym with free weights and cable machines too, if you prefer the full spectrum of weight training. As a result, you can set up a home gym with a barbell, a few dumbbells, a squat rack, a pull-up bar, and perhaps a cable machine if you can afford it.

Complete workout

A Bowflex home gym allows you to perform circuit training with a single machine rather than using several machines in a gym or with a free weight setup. The Bowflex setup lets you work any part of your body, including your chest, abs, arms, and legs. It also allows for setup modification between your exercises, ensuring that you do not miss any fat-burning benefits. 

Some of the exercises that a Bowflex affords you include the front lat pulldowns, leg curls, seated ab crunches, bicep curls, seated rows, shoulder presses, bench presses, chest flies, and leg extensions. Furthermore, you can control the resistance while you exercise, and as a result, you develop more muscles and burn more fat.


The Bowflex usually comes fitted with high-tech Power Rods, allowing you to move smoothly and without interruption as you perform your exercises. This is especially vital because it reduces the risk of injuries in the joints and connective tissues. 

Likewise, because of its lightweight features, Bowflex eliminates injury risks that may result from lifting weights from the floor and adding plates. Changing exercises and resistances is also relatively easy to do, and you do not require a spotter for most activities. These lead to the Bowflex’s brand safety, and it has seen the machine employed in rehabilitative settings.

Better results in a shorter time

A primary reason for Bowflex’s popularity is because it helps users achieve better workout gains in a shorter time. This is particularly vital for busy people who do not have enough time to exercise regularly.

Muscle soreness

Using the Bowflex may also result in less muscle soreness relative to free weights, especially for beginners. The machine typically requires less negative work on the muscles than free weights. This means it causes less stress when your muscle is lengthening to switch back to its starting position. Exercises that require significant negative activity may result in considerable muscle soreness, especially in beginners.

Disadvantages of the Bowflex

The primary disadvantage to the Bowflex is that you require fewer supporting muscles to perform any exercise because of its cable-based setup. The machine supports your body and enables exercises only via a particular range of movement. Because of this, you tend to have exercises that isolate specific major muscles and limit the use of secondary stabilizer muscles. 

A resulting secondary disadvantage is that you typically develop muscles more slowly than you would with free weights. As explained, free weights recruit stabilizer muscles leading to more expansive developments. Likewise, the up-down motion and greater fluctuation of the free weight’s resistance due to gravity results in more shock on your muscles. This also assists in faster muscle development.