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Bowflex and Proform are two of the best-known brands of high-end consumer-grade & light commercial elliptical trainer.

We have an in-depth look at 2 of their most popular models, the Bowflex Max Trainer vs the Proform HIIT. In this case, both machines are slightly different from the traditional elliptical machine:

  • The Bowflex machine resembles a hybrid step machine/elliptical, and attempts to include the best features of both types.
  • The Proform device is aimed at users who wish to do High Intensity Interval Training (link) workouts.

Read on to find which of these two unusual exercise machines is the best for you!

For a more in-depth look at these elliptical training machines, check out our Bowflex Max Trainer review here and our Proform HIIT Trainer review here.

Specifications

 Bowflex Max TrainerProform Cardio HIIT Trainer
Bowflex Max TrainerBowflex Max Trainer
TypeCross TrainerCross Trainer
MethodMagnetic ResistanceMagnetic Resistance
Flywheel WeightNot stated30lb
Resistance Levels1624
DisplayBacklit LCD & LED ConsoleBacklit 7″ LCD Console
USB Charging PortNoNo
BluetoothYesYes
Heart RateYesYes
Workout Programs932
Max Weight300lb325lb
Tablet / Book HolderYesYes
Stride LengthNot stated10″ vertical, 5″ horizontal
Built-in FanNoYes
Built-in SpeakersNoYes
Water Bottle HolderYesYes
User Profiles2N/A
Warranty (Frame)2 YearsLifetime
Warranty (Parts)2 Years2 Years
Warranty (Labor)2 Years1 Year
CostCheck Price On Amazon Check Price On Amazon

Similarities

These are both Elliptical Trainers, using the Magnetic Resistance principle

  • An elliptical trainer (also known as a cross-trainer) is a stationary exercise machine. It can be used to simulate stair climbing, walking, or running, and offers a lower-impact method of carrying out these exercises.
  • The resistance is adjusted using magnetism (see this article for a technical description).
  • Bowflex have patented their SMR (Silent Magnetic Resistance) system, claiming it offers a more natural, smoother motion than their competitors.

Both feature a built-in LCD console display

  • Some lower-end ellipticals don’t have any built-in display, while at the higher end of the market, ellipticals are available with the latest touch-screen technology.

Both machines have moving handlebars

  • Both of these devices have moving handlebars, so you can combine lower body exercise using the pedals with upper body toning.

Neither elliptical has a USB charging port

  • You will not be able to plug in your smartphone or tablet and recharge them while you exercise. Most ellipticals in this price range now come with USB charging ports.

You can connect your smart device to both ellipticals using Bluetooth

  • Both ellipticals have Bluetooth connectivity, however the Bowflex device is only compatible with the Bowflex app, while the Proform trainer can connect to the iFit app, and can also connect to an external heart rate monitor via Bluetooth.

A tablet or book holder is included in both cases

  • Ideal if you want to watch a video, catch up with your emails, or immerse yourself in the latest novel, to take your mind off the “pain” side of the “no pain, no gain” equation.

The Bowflex Max and Proform HIIT Trainer both have a water bottle holder

  • Somewhere handy to store your water bottle while working out.

Differences

The maximum user weight is 300lb for the Bowflex, and 325lb for the Proform

  • If your body weight is over 300lb, you should consider the Proform trainer (or Proform’s larger version, the HIIT Trainer Pro)

The Bowflex trainer has a dual LED / LCD display, the Proform HIIT trainer has a single LCD console

  • The Bowflex has a small LCD display, with a large “rev counter” style LED burn rate display above.
    • Displayed functions:
      • Burn Rate
      • Calories Burned
      • Time
      • Workout Profile
      • RPM
      • Level
      • Heart Rate
  • The Proform has a single LCD display, to cover all functions.
    • Displayed functions:
      • Calories Burned
      • Calories per hour
      • Distance
      • Pulse
      • Resistance
      • RPM
      • Time
      • Vertical Distance
      • Speed

The Bowflex Max Trainer has 9 built-in workouts, fewer than the 32 included with the Proform HIIT Trainer

  • More workouts may help alleviate boredom & switch things up.

The Max Trainer has 16 resistance levels, compared to the 24 levels offered by the Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer

  • In reality, this just means the difference between levels is slightly smaller in the case of the Bowflex Max than it is with the Proform HIIT. We wouldn’t expect most users (elite athletes excepted) to find the higher resistance settings of either machine unchallenging.

Only the HIIT trainer has built-in speakers

  • The speakers amplify the sound from your smart device, if you don’t want to use earbuds.

Only the Proform trainer has a built-in fan

  • The fan keeps you cool while you exercise – not to be confused with fan-style exercise bikes & rowing machines, which use a large fan to create resistance. If you want a fan with the Bowflex machine, you’ll need to supply it yourself & find somewhere convenient to place it.

The Bowflex trainer comes with a chest strap heart rate monitor – the strap for the Proform trainer must be bought separately

  • Both devices can measure your heart rate using sensors built in to the handles, but only the Bowflex trainer comes with a heart rate monitor chest strap, which allows you to measure your heart rate wirelessly.

The Proform trainer has a more comprehensive warranty

  • The Bowflex warranty is 2 years for everything except labor (90 days coverage for labor. Proform offers a much more generous warranty on the HIIT Trainer: lifetime frame warranty, 3 years on the other components, and 1 year for labor costs (incidentally, the HIIT Trainer Pro offers an even better warranty)

Conclusion

So which is the better machine in our Bowflex Max vs Proform HIIT comparison? In our opinion, the Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer outperforms the Max Trainer in almost every way:

  • Higher weight capacity
  • More resistance levels
  • More built-in workouts
  • Included speakers & fan
  • More comprehensive warranty, including lifetime frame warranty

The only noticeable advantage of the Bowflex machine is the included chest strap.

Prices vary, but in our opinion, if we were choosing between these two, the Bowflex Max Trainer would need to be significantly cheaper than the HIIT Trainer to represent good value.

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