How to Use a Bowflex for Bodybuilding

Regular use of the Bowflex machine can help define muscles.
Image Credit: golero/E+/GettyImages

The Bowflex is a series of home gym machines that use resistance rods to help consumers build muscle mass. When used in conjunction with an active lifestyle and healthy diet, Bowflex machines help you strength train using a variety of 90 or more exercises.


While the Bowflex can be an effective piece of home equipment, experienced bodybuilders utilize more than 90 exercises to work large and small muscle groups. Using the Bowflex for bodybuilding is generally not recommended by lifters seeking a professional workout. Talk to your doctor before starting a strength-training program.

Video of the Day

Video of the Day

Step 1

Set a workout schedule that allows you to exercise at least two to three times per week on the Bowflex. You want to work different muscle groups on separate days, giving each at least one day of rest between workouts.

For example, set chest and back muscles on Day 1, legs on Day 2 and arms on Day 3. For leg workouts, perform squats and hamstring curls with the machine. Squats are done straddling the bench with the grips in your hands sitting on your shoulders. Sit back to the bench and back up.

Step 2

Find the resistance levels that cause your muscle to nearly fail within one set, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fail means you are barely able to complete the last repetition, if you are able to. The goal is to find the resistance level for each of your major muscle groups so you can perform 12 to 15 repetitions in the set.


For example, a seated bicep curl is performed facing the resistance rods. The Bowflex provides resistance when curling up and keeps tension on the way down. If you are unable to do 12 reps, go to a lighter resistance rod.

Step 3

Start slowly and give yourself time to work up to heavier resistance levels. Increase resistance when you can easily finish the set.

Step 4

Focus on your form when using the Bowflex. While it is a machine, it allows more freedom of movement and range of motion than many other home gym machines. Building the right muscles requires proper form.


A lat pull-down looks different on a Bowflex than it does with a lat-pull machine. Lie on your back with your head near the resistance band post. With the grips attached to the ends of the resistance bars, pull the grips from above your head across your body to your waist. Vary the exercise by pulling from above your head over your body to your hips.

Step 5

Eat a healthy diet with 1 to 1.5 g of protein per kilogram of body weight a day. Protein helps muscles rebuild themselves after workouts. Reduce fat intake, helping your body develop a leaner look.


Step 6

Perform cardiovascular activities that help you burn calories, such as running, kickboxing or swimming.

Step 7

Drink water throughout your workouts and include two glasses with each meal.


Other bodybuilding schools of thought recommend three repetitions with the last at increased weight. While you should be able to complete eight to 12 repetitions in the first two sets, the last set should be heavy enough to allow only four to eight repetitions.

Learn more Bowflex exercises by reviewing the video that comes with your machine.


Once you develop many of the major muscle groups, you may need to incorporate free weights to work specific muscles and perform exercises beyond Bowflex's capabilities.




Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...