The biggest differences between the Weider Crossbow and Bowflex's trademark Power Rod resistance home gyms entail availability and pricing: The Crossbow was discontinued years ago, whereas Bowflex continues to produce new variations on its home gyms. Functionally, however, the two are quite similar, right down to the amount of resistance and number of exercises they offer.
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Bowflex also produces a second type of home gym that uses sturdy elastic bands, hidden inside weight "plates," for resistance -- although years of televised marketing mean the Power Rod gyms are usually what comes to mind first when you hear the term "Bowflex."
Resistance Is Never Futile
Both the Weider Crossbow and Bowflex's Power Rod home gyms use progressive resistance. In other words, the farther you move the machine's handles through the range of motion, the more resistance the flexible resistance bars offer.
Bowflex's Spiraflex "plates" load onto the machine like regular weight plates. Instead of lifting said plates up and down as you'd do with normal weights, the Spiraflex-loading Bowflex Revolution twists elastic polymers inside the plates that offer an unchanging, or linear, amount of resistance throughout the range of motion.
There's a Limit to Resistance
The Crossbow gym originally came with 240 pounds of resistance and could be upgraded to a total of 440 pounds. The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym, by comparison, offers 210 pounds of default Power Rod resistance and can be upgraded to 410 pounds. Bowflex's other offering, the Spiraflex-resistance Bowflex Revolution, starts off at 220 pounds of resistance and can be upgraded to 300 pounds.
Looking for a Quick Change
When it comes to actually changing the amount of resistance, the Weider Crossbow is fastest and easier: You just slip each end of the resistance "bows" you want to use beneath a collar. With the Bowflex Revolution, you adjust resistance by adding or removing the interlocking weight "plates," and with the Bowflex Xtreme SE 2, you clip a cable through the end of the Power Rod resistance bars you want to use.
User Weight Limits
All three home gyms -- the Max Advantage version of the Weider Crossbow, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE and the Bowflex Revolution -- support users that weigh up to 300 pounds. Both manufacturers offered a variety of other models, with user weight limits that sometimes varied. If you're not sure how much weight your home gym can support, check the manual to be sure.
The sheer number of possible exercises is a major selling point for most home gyms. The Weider Crossbow boasts "more than 65" exercises, while the Power Rod Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE offers "70+" and the Spiraflex Bowflex Revolution is advertised as offering "100+" exercises.
With that said, many of those exercises are simply small variations on the same theme. For example, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE's owner's manual lists the "standing hip extension" as an exercise twice, with only a small variation -- bent leg versus straight leg -- to differentiate between the two listings.