Bowflex Max Trainer M7: What You Need to Know

Bowflex Max Trainer M7
Bowflex Max Trainer M7. Nautilus

Bowflex is known for its innovative exercise machines. There's the Treadclimber, which, amazingly, combines the movements of a treadmill with a stairclimber for an excellent low impact workout.

And then there's the Bowflex Revolution XP Home Gym, so small and efficient, it fits in even the smallest of spaces and gives you endless ways to strengthen and tone your body.

Now, there's a new Bowflex in town, and this one is almost like a cross between an elliptical trainer and a stair stepper.

No, it's not called an elliptistepper, although maybe it should be. It's called the Max Trainer M7, with a hard focus on the word "max," is in taking you to your maximum intensity.  

The Basics of the Max Trainer

The Max Trainer looks a bit like an elliptical trainer, with pedals on the bottom, a resistance fan in the middle and dynamic handlebars at the top. You can hold onto the handles at the bottom, which helps when you're doing high intensity intervals, or you can hold onto the top handles, which feels more like an elliptical trainer.

However, unlike an elliptical, your legs go up and down rather than forward, which is where the feeling of stair stepping comes in. It's completely low impact, making it a great workout for anyone with joint problems.

The Max Trainer Features:

  • The display is lovely and includes an Interval Mode, where you can choose from a variety of interval training workouts, or a Performance Mode for other, more standard workout programs. 
  • You can create four different user profiles and keep a record of each workout.
  • It includes 11 programs and 20 levels of resistance, although level 20 is so hard, it feels like you're climbing Mt. Everest while wearing lead boots. Most of my workouts were at a much lower resistance.
  • There's an add-time feature—this allows you to add time if you want to go longer, which is a nice feature and one I haven't seen on many machines.
  • Adaptation - One really interesting feature is that the M7 can adapt to each user's fitness level over time to set new targets, which is another thing I love about the M7. That means you're always progressing, which allows you to avoid plateaus.
  • It works with the Free Max Trainer® App where you can sync your workouts.
  • Soft, comfortable handles with multiple options for how to use them.
  • A compact design that takes up very little space.  I have a very small workout room with low ceilings and it fit perfectly. 

The Max Trainer Experience

The Workout

The big thing about the Max Trainer is the main workout they offer, which is a 14-Minute Interval Workout. There's even a button on the console just for that workout. As they put it:

"Research tells us that "lack of time" is the #1 barrier to working out. That's why the breakthrough Max Interval workout was designed for those with speed in mind. You'll get all the cardio benefits of a much longer workout in just 14 minutes. Strengthen your heart and lungs and improve your endurance and stamina — all while incinerating calories faster than you ever thought possible."

High intensity interval training has been shown to burn more calories, particularly after the workout, or during the afterburn. The idea is to get into your anaerobic zone, or what would be about a Level 9 on this Perceived Exertion Scale, so far out of your comfort zone that your body burns extra calories just to get back to where it was before the workout.

That means going all out every time you get to a work interval, something most of us probably don't do very often since It's an uncomfortable place to be.

However, the Max Trainer Interval Workout encourages you to get out of your comfort zone with a dial on the console that shows you exactly how hard you need to work, and it's harder than most other high intensity workouts you may have tried. 

The workout itself involves doing eight high intensity intervals for 25 seconds while resting for 80 seconds. The harder you work, the higher the dial goes and when you reach your highest level, it lights up and it stays lit, pushing you to hit that level every time you do a work interval. 

That workout is incredibly intense and, by the last interval, I was raising the white flag.

Of course, you don't have to do the 14-minute workout. There are plenty of other workouts you an try with the Max Trainer or you can try manual mode, allowing you to adjust the resistance to your own liking.

The Movement

As far as the feel of the Max Trainer, what struck me was the amount of work involving the lower body, specifically the quads, something I felt right away and throughout the workout. It's easy to think that because you can do other exercises like running or the elliptical, it should be easy to get on any machine and workout.

However, the Max Trainer challenges your lower body in a whole different way, so you will need time to get used to that challenge. After a few workouts, you'll notice the movement gets much more comfortable as you build endurance in your lower body.

The handles are great—if you're doing high intensity, you push down on the lower handles and if you're recovering or doing a steady state workout, you can use the upper handles.  

Overall, the machine was very smooth and the motion felt very natural.

Burn Rate Target 

The other feature that stands out is the Burn Rate Target. There's a Burn Rate Display on the console which shows the level of calories being burned per minute. The number there is a function of your level of intensity, a mix of pedal speed and resistance level.  

What's interesting is that there's a Burn Rate Target LED Range—basically a workout coach that is based on your user settings. A range of five LEDs are activated during the workout. The first range is beginner level and, of course, the higher the LEDs the more intense and advanced the workout.

I really like this feature because it shows exactly how hard you work during each workout and you can see your progress throughout subsequent workouts. Very motivating.

The Pros and Cons


  • Small, compact and fits in very small spaces.  
  • Offers an amazing low-impact workout - If you're looking for a great workout while protecting your joints, this is a winner.  It's great to have more options than just a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer. 
  • Smooth movement - This is a very high quality machine and the movement is smooth and quiet, so you can easily hear your TV or music while you're working out. 
  • Sturdy and powerful - The machine doesn't shake, even when I was pushing as hard as I could.  The pedals move up and down with ease, allowing for seamless movement.
  • Easy to use - It's so easy, anyone can use it without so much as cracking the owner's manual.  You can push the button for the 14-Minute Workout, choose another program or do manual.  Press the start button and you're ready to go, although there are a few more steps if you want to record user information.  
  • It comes with a heart rate strap, so you can monitor your heart rate.  
  • Gorgeous display - I love the display, which shows just about everything you need to know while you're working out.  The dial in the middle really is motivating and you'll probably work harder because of it.  
  • Great, short workout - The 14-Minute Workout is killer and perfect for those days when you want to blow it out in a short amount of time.  


  • Might be tough for beginners - Anytime you do something new, you always need time to condition your body and the Max Trainer is no different.  However, the amount of leg work involved can be challenging and beginners may have to do shorter, less intense workouts until they adjust to the movement. 
  • Pricey -With fitness equipment, you get what you pay for and quality is very important for cardio machines like the Max Trainer. The M7 costs around $2199-$2499 which is a lot for any piece of fitness equipment. However, they do have other models with different prices, so be sure to check that out.
  • Really hard - The idea of working hard with interval training is much different than the experience of going all out.  A lot of people may be uncomfortable with that. Of course, you don't have to choose that option, but if you're getting it for that reason, be aware that working that hard is very uncomfortable. On the bright side, you only want to do that kind of training two, maybe three times a week, so you can always intersperse those workouts with more moderate exercise.


Overall, I really love the Max Trainer, even more than the TreadClimber.  It is a very high quality machine and meets my personal standards for home fitness equipment—it's quiet, it offers tons of workout options, it's sturdy, it's easy to use and it doesn't take up much space.  

I think this would be a great choice for any exerciser, although I would suggest that beginners start slow and work their way up. More advanced exercisers? Go for it. 

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