Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Review

Editor's Rating: 8 /10
The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 has been discontinued.

Interested in a challenging alternative to the treadmill? Consider the super-efficient Bowflex M5. Although discontinued from production, the Bowflex M5 can still be found at online retailers and as a used model. This compact home fitness machine is designed to outperform treadmills in several ways. It supports full-body workouts, is zero impact and is designed for rapid calorie burn. Burn calories at up to 2.5 times the rate you achieve with a treadmill!

How it works: The Max Trainer M5 offers 16 resistance levels. Your lower body trains with an elliptical or stair-stepping motion, depending on the resistance setting. Your upper body gets toned with help from moving arm bars. The bars look similar to those on elliptical trainers, but they can be nearly twice as effective at toning your body.

Zero impact fitness machines like the Bowflex M5 are popular in part because they reduce the risk of injury. With an M5, but obviously not with a treadmill, your feet never leave the machine. The fluid motion is gentle on your joints. The zero impact factor also helps you exercise more vigorously than usual.

This treadmill alternative was once the top model in its series. It has 16 resistance levels and nine built-in workouts.

The Bowflex M5 sells for varying amounts online and purchase price typically includes a chest strap for wireless heart rate monitoring.

Bowflex claims the Max Trainers burn 2.5 times more calories than using an elliptical machine

Bowflex claims the Max Trainers burn 2.5 times more calories than using an elliptical machine.

  • A great little model if found online
  • Discontinued models can be tough to service

What We Like:

We feel the Max Trainer M5 has lots of excellent selling features. Some of the benefits it brings to the table include:

  • Zero Impact: If you’re looking for a machine that’s easy on your knees, you’ve found it. This machine stays in contact with the machine the entire time you’re using it, meaning there is no impact on your joints, which can lead to wear and tear and injuries down the road. Less pain means you stay more consistent and that means better results.
  • Higher Intensity: Because there is no impact while you’re using this machine, that translates into you being able to put more energy into the workout session you’re doing. If you’re wasting energy dealing with the impact, that’s energy that could have instead gone towards helping you see better results. You’ll be able to exercise at a higher intensity level since you aren’t in any discomfort, thus taking your fitness up a notch. For those involved in HIIT, this machine lets you do that protocol beautifully.
  • Full Upper Body Workout: One of the biggest drawbacks of many fitness machines on the market today is the fact that they are not going to give you any sort of upper body stimulation. Not with the Max Trainer M5. Your arms will be getting just as much of a workout as your lower body, ensuring that you are challenging both areas of your body effectively. You can build strength and burn fat optimally with this machine.
  • Improved Calorie Burn: If you want to ensure you are burning up as many calories as you possibly can, give the Max Trainer M5 a go. This trainer is ideal for helping you torch fat and reach your weight loss goals in a hurry.
  • Variable Resistance Levels: To ensurue that you can put forth enough challenge in every workout session you do, the Max Trainer M5 offers 16 different resistance levels. This will be sufficient to challenge the beginner to intermediate exerciser, ensuring that you can continue to see progress down the road.
  • Preset Programs: You’ll also get a wide array of preset programs with the Bowflex Max Trainer M5. These programs are designed to help break up workout boredom and challenge your body in a new manner so you can avoid that dreaded progress plateau. The presets that you’ll receive include Max Interval, Smart Interval, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Calorie Goal, Stairs, Steady State, and Fitness Test. No matter what your goals happen to be, you can find a preset program to meet your needs.
  • Heart Rate Tracking Capabilities: Tracking your heart rate is important for success as it can indicate to you how hard you’re working and whether you’re training your desired energy system (aerobic or anaerobic). You’ll receive a wireless chest strap with the purchase of this machine however if that’s not for you, you can also use the contact pulse grip system that’s in place. This way the machine can track your heart rate easily while you exercise.
  • Dual User Profiles: Have more than one person using this machine? No problem. It offers two user profiles so that each person’s data can be saved and they can pick right back up where they left off when they come to do their workout session.
  • Bonus Features: With the Max Trainer M5, you’ll get a place to store your water bottle for easy access as well as a reading rack to set your iPad, iPod, Smart Phone, or any other device you need.
  • Compact: The Bowflex Max Trainer offers a space saving design as it’s smaller than any treadmill measuring just 46 inches by 25 inches and weighs only 143 pounds.

Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Treadmill - Key Specs:

Star Rating:4-stars
Running Area:n/a
Top Speed:n/a
Weight Capacity:300 LBS
Dimensions:46" L x 25" W x 63" H
Built-In Programs:9 workout programs and 16 Resistance Levels
What We Don’t Like:

In our review the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 earns five stars as a treadmill alternative. Here are a few potential drawbacks:

  • Discontinued Model: As a discontinued model, the unit might be tough to service.
  • Assembly: Assembly takes an hour or more. We recommend paying extra to avoid setting up this product yourself. This will save you a headache in the beginning and could also help you avoid problems down the line.
  • Best for Already-Fit People: The lowest resistance level on the M5 is too powerful for some customers. Unlike other zero impact fitness machines, it isn’t intended for gentle rehab.
  • Uncomfortable for Some: This trainer could be uncomfortable for small trainees. They might want the moving arm bars to be placed closer together.

Our Verdict:

The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is a powerful zero-impact trainer for intermediate to advanced athletes that are looking for a treadmill alternative. The main disadvantage of buying the M5 is its discontinued status, and although it’s still available online, we’re not sure for how long. At the same time, it can be a very powerful tool for training your entire body in less time than you thought possible, so for that aspect we give it 5 stars. This unit is a bit more appealing than the M3 thanks to extra programs, app integration and doubled options for resistance. The Max Trainer M5 has been discontinued by Bowflex and may no longer be available for sale. See our review for the successor, the Max Trainer M6.