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Our Running Guru
Amanda Brooks
Amanda Brooks
Running Guru

Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Review

Treadmills Editorial Team | Last Updated - Jul 29, 2020
Editor's Rating: 9.6 /10

Interested in a challenging alternative to the treadmill? Consider the super-efficient Bowflex M5. 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 is the top model in its series. It has 16 resistance levels and nine built-in workouts. The M5 can also sync with a free with free Max Trainer® App for Apple iOS and Android devices.

The Bowflex M5 sells for $1,599 online with free delivery. The purchase price 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.

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:4.8-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:8 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:

  • 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.
  • Price: This series of Bowflex fitness machines do not have the best combination of price and warranty. The Max Trainer M5 costs $1,599 and is under warranty for two years and the high end Max Trainer M8 costs $2,299 and has a three year warranty. With a comparably priced treadmill you could get more generous consumer protection.

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 price/warranty combo. 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.


Best Alternative

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Bowflex Max Trainer M6

The Bowflex Trainer M6 is all about a high intensity, low impact workout. This machine boasts design and motion emulates a... read more

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This model has been discontinued.