The events of 2020 have many people rethinking their home gym setup. With high demand and minimal space, fitness lovers are getting creative with their solutions to maintain their strength. Fortunately, HIIT workouts are ideal for home workouts.
Combining strength and cardio is an effective way to build muscle and burn fat, making HIIT training an ideal exercise style for body recomposition goals— and the Bowflex HVT offers both.
Here's everything you need to know about this multipurpose home gym equipment in a full Bowflex HVT review.
What is the Bowflex HVT?
Bowflex has long been a renowned brand of in-home fitness equipment. The Bowflex HVT is an evolution of their older products, targeting the changing mindset and goals of the modern athlete.
HVT stands for Hybrid Velocity Training. The idea behind this revolutionary machine is to create a one-stop-shop for circuit training. The Bowflex HVT has pre-programmed workouts and an interactive coaching feature to allow athletes to get a full workout in as few as 18 minutes.
Prior to the release of the Bowflex HVT, much of the equipment manufactured by this company targeted either cardio or resistance training. This hybrid approach seeks to combine both for a more effective workout using cable pulleys and adjustable resistance.
Can One Workout Machine Cover Cardio & Strength Training?
When you ask a powerlifter how they do cardio, the comedic response is usually, "I lift weights faster." Joking aside, that's pretty much how the Bowflex HVT works. This machine combines resistance training with rapid movement and intervals to combine cardio and strength training.
While this Bowflex machine isn't going to replace the effects of lifting heavy weights, you can adjust the settings to increase the resistance. There are also three program settings: sprint, circuit, and builder. Using these program settings allows you to adjust the ratio of resistance to speed for a more cardio or strength-focused session.
Full Bowflex HVT Review
Now that you know the basics of how this machine works, it's time to get into the full Bowflex HVT review. Here's everything you need to know about the machine's makeup, how it performs, and some caveats to watch out for.
The Specs & Warranty
The overarching benefit of the Bowflex HVT is that it's compact while still offering a full-body workout. That being said, it's still a substantial machine. This Bowflex measures 65.6 inches long, 46 inches wide, and 83 inches tall. While it's compact enough for a small home gym, you will need some space to operate. This Bowflex home gym weighs 182lbs and has a maximum capacity of 300lbs, making it fairly accessible.
The simple-yet-effective layout speaks volumes to Bowflex's leader as an innovator in the home gym industry. The platform is designed with hard plastic grooves to offer adequate grip when things start getting sweaty while still providing cushioning and comfort. The platform is framed with sturdy aluminum construction to maintain the equipment's integrity during those tough training sessions.
The Bowflex HVT machine boasts six cables, with two at floor, chest, and head level to offer various movement options. The cables are affixed with rubber stoppers to prevent slamming the carabiners upon release, which will help maintain the equipment's integrity over time. The carabiners allow for interchangeability, though the rubber handles are more than sufficient for a comfortable grip.
Bowflex didn't become such a well-regarded brand by making low-quality equipment. They offer decent warranties on all of their products. Your Bowflex home gym is covered for two years when there's an issue with parts, electrical, mechanical issues, or the frame. Additionally, there's a six-month warranty on labor. Bowflex also offers a 90-day money-back guarantee.
What It Does Well
While the compact measurements and quality of the equipment make it stand out, the console and computer are the masterminds of the piece. As mentioned before, it offers a variety of preset workout programs. It also has a manual programming option that allows you to build your own workout from a selection of 50 different workout techniques.
The display is a bright, vibrant LCD screen that lets users enter up to four different athlete profiles, making this a fantastic addition to a home gym for couples and families. The Bowflex HVT also comes with Bluetooth connectivity and a smartphone app that syncs with other fitness apps for detailed tracking.
This machine is ideal for athletes who want to add strength training to their home workout routine without investing in a ton of equipment. It's also fantastic for improving endurance and conditioning with limited space— perfect for runners during the winter or CrossFitters who can't get to the Box.
As the cable components and programmed exercises are designed to explore the athlete's range of motion, this system is built to improve mobility and core strength. The adjustable settings and resistance modification make this a fantastic piece of home gym equipment for people who sit all day and experience low back pain, as well as athletic seniors looking to improve their quality of life.
What It Doesn't Do So Well
While the overall Bowflex HVT review is positive, there are a few things this machine doesn't do well. While this type of resistance is an effective form of strength training for beginners and endurance athletes, it doesn't replace the benefits of lifting heavy weights. Barbell athletes can benefit from using this equipment to complement their strength training, but the effects will be limited.
If you're an advanced athlete who prefers long workout sessions, the pre-programmed workouts may not be sufficient for your cardio and strength training needs. According to the customer reviews, many experienced strength training athletes cranked up the resistance and still felt that it was lacking after their workout.
According to some Bowflex HVT reviews, the assembly can be a challenge. As the Bowflex HVT machine has a lot of moving parts, the assembly challenges are to be expected. Fortunately, Bowflex offers an assembly service at an additional cost, which is well worth the investment.
One of the coolest features of the Bowflex HVT machine is the fan resistance. This component works similarly to an Airdyne or Assault bike by using wind resistance to amplify both the cardio and strength training experience. However, when using an air bike, the resistance is primarily controlled by how hard you push yourself while training. With the Bowflex HVT, you have more control, which can improve the consistency of your training.
Another simple-yet-amazing feature of this machine is the water bottle compartment. While it may seem like the equivalent of buying a car for the cup holders, it's a convenient addition that makes working out a bit more enjoyable. The water bottle compartment is at mid-level, just under the console, so you can take a drink without interrupting your flow.
Finally, another subtle feature that makes a huge impact is the adjustable risers beneath the platform. This feature helps make the Bowflex home gym friendly. You can adjust the risers to create stability on an uneven floor, which is common in a basement or garage gym. The extra stability will help reduce shaking and rattling, maintaining the machine's quality, and making your workout more enjoyable. Even so, it's still worth investing in some rubber mats for under the equipment.
Alternative Bowflex Home Gym Equipment
The Bowflex HVT isn't for everyone. Fortunately, this reliable company has a variety of other options available to build a home gym. Here are some of the top alternative Bowflex home gym equipment options.
The Bowflex Revolution home gym setup is notably different from the Bowflex HVY machine. One of the most notable differences is the versatility in setup. This machine can transform into various settings beyond a standing platform, with a weight bench and incline format.
This Bowflex machine uses the company's patented SpiraFlex technology for resistance. While substantially larger than the HVT home gym, the Revolution also has a lot more versatility in resistance and strength training, with over 100 possible exercises and 400 variations of those movements. It also comes with a 10-year warranty to protect your investment.
The downside of the Revolution is that it lacks the same HIIT training capacity as the HVT machine. While you could incorporate cardio movements into your training, it takes some time to transition between different workout techniques— this machine is designed purely for strength training. Whereas the HVT has the cables ready to go at all times, the Revolution needs to be adjusted into the different settings.
The Revolution is a great alternative to the HVT if the cardio component doesn't appeal.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is truer to the original machine design that made this company so famous in the first place. Like the Revolution, this Bowflex machine has an adjustable weight bench set up rather than a platform. The innovative design makes it easy to change the resistance and transition between movements. The Xtreme 2 SE comes with a lifetime warranty on the patented Power Rods and a seven-year warranty on the machine itself.
While it's not as impressive as the HVT app, the Xtreme 2 SE comes with a training manual with a list of different cardio and strength training workouts for inspiration.
While this Bowflex home gym system is more compact than having a full gym, it's a large piece of equipment. According to many Bowflex reviews, the assembly process is a nightmare— if you choose this machine, pay for the in-home assembly upgrade. All in all, the Xtreme 2 SE is a budget-friendly investment for bodybuilding and at-home training.
If the uncertainty and repeat gym closures are throwing a wrench in your training, a Bowflex home gym is a wise investment. The Bowflex HVT reviews speak volumes about the effectiveness, affordability, and versatility of this unique machine.
Whether you're looking to cross-train and build your endurance or getting the whole family working on their fitness during quarantine, you can't go wrong with a Bowflex HVT machine.