Bowflex Max Trainer M3 vs M5 vs M7 Review

Technically speaking, Bowflex’s Max Trainers aren’t ellipticals. They like to call them “cardio machines.” Bowflex says users burn more than double the calories on the M3, M5, and M7 as compared to treadmills, steppers, and ellipticals. In just 14 minutes, you can get a full cardio workout. Let’s take a look at these three machines to see which one is the best for you.

Bowflex Max Trainer M3 Cardio Machine

Bowflex Max Trainer M3 Cardio Machine
Bowflex Max Trainer M3 Cardio Machine

The Bowflex M3 Cardio Machine is super compact so you can create your own home gym without sacrificing a whole room. It’s simple to use and yet gives a workout to your whole body with its 8 levels of resistance and two workout programs. It also comes with a heart rate monitor in the form of a chest strap.

The two built-in programs are Max Interval and Manual. Manual is created by the user as they exercise. The Max Interval is a complete 14-minute workout for all the major muscle groups.

The LCD screen is mounted between the two stationary handles. The handles have a dial to raise or lower the amount of resistance. The whole setup is reminiscent of a motorcycle, especially with the speedometer display on top of the screen.

The maximum user weight that the M3 supports is 300 pounds. There’s no specification on stride length as the M3 resembles a stepper more than an elliptical. But do keep in mind it needs 15 inches of clearance over the height of the user. If you have difficulty with your knees or ankles, keep in mind this is quite a step up to mount the machine. Plus, there is no machine assist to begin so you have to learn hard on the pedals to get started.

The M3 is the entry-level model. If you would prefer more workout programs and features, take a look at the M5 and M7 described below.

More features of the Bowflex Max Trainer M3 Cardio Machine:

  • Footprint measures 46 by 25 inches
  • Weighs 143 pounds and has transport rollers
  • Covered by a 1-year warranty


Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Cardio Machine

Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Cardio Machine
Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Cardio Machine

The M5 takes training up a notch with 16 levels of resistance, double that of the M3. It has 8 workout programs including the 14-minute Max Interval and Manual options. You can view your target zone, calorie burn rate, resistance level, RPM, and heart rate information on the backlit LCD screen. The M5 comes with a chest strap like the M3 has.

The fan at the base of the machine circulates air as you exercise, but unfortunately makes quite a bit of noise. You may also find it a little difficult to get started because you’ll need to learn hard on the pedals until they begin to move. But it’s not far to reach forward to the console to select your workout.

The eight programs include a new Smart Max Interval trainer, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Calorie Goal, Stairs, Steady State, and a fitness test. You can export the data from your exercise sessions because the M5 communicates over Bluetooth with the free Max Trainer app created by Bowflex for both Android (4.3 and above) and iOS (8.0+).

You may notice that the coloring of the M5 varies from the M3. You can see this in the design of the display as well. There are also premium grips on the handlebars instead of the standard ones on the M3.

More features of the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Cardio Machine:

  • Footprint measures 46 by 25 inches; needs 15” of clearance above user’s height
  • Machine weighs 143 pounds and comes with transport roller wheels
  • Covered by a 2-year warranty
  • Has a water bottle holder mounted behind the console


Bowflex Max Trainer M7 Cardio Machine

Bowflex Max Trainer M7 Cardio Machine
Bowflex Max Trainer M7 Cardio Machine

The Bowflex M7 has even more features than the M3 and the M5. It’s packed with 11 programs and 20 levels of resistance so you get the most for your money. The targeted programming actually learns and adapts to your fitness level over time so it can help you set new goals. Bowflex says the M7 is perfect for high intensity interval training. If you haven’t had enough after 14 minutes, hit the button to add more time to your workout.

Unlike the other machines, the M7 can remember up to 4 user profiles so you can share the machine with others without having to reprogram it each time. The new style display gives you a full overview of calories burned, time elapsed, and more, plus your heart rate. The stationary handles have pulse sensor grips so you don’t need to use a chest strap if you don’t want one. Or if you do, the included chest strap communicates wirelessly with the machine.

In fact, the handlebars have a new design on the M7. They are commercial-grade like you’ll see on a health club machine with Bowflex’s aero bar. The pedals are stainless-steel for long life and improved grip. Everything about the M7 is made to give you a serious workout regularly in the years to come.

While you exercise, the M7 can sync data over Bluetooth 4.0 with your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet. The Max Trainer app from Bowflex is free to download and install.

More features of the Bowflex Max Trainer M7 Cardio Machine:

  • Covered by a 3-year warranty
  • Footprint measures 49 by 30.5 inches
  • Maximum user weight supported is 300 pounds
  • Water bottle holder and media shelf to hold phone, book, tablet



If you like the idea of combining an elliptical with a stepper, the Bowflex Max Trainers were made for you. They are compact machines that won’t take up much space butthey give an intense workout in just 14 minutes.

The entry-level M3 has plenty of resistance for beginners and it’s straightforward to use. You can create your own workout or follow the 14-minute Max Interval program.

The M5 adds more programs, more levels of resistance, and has Bluetooth connectivity.

The M7 has even more programs, more levels of resistance, Bluetooth connectivity, and premium features like you might see on health club equipment.

If you want to invest in home gym equipment on a budget, the M3 will give you a complete workout for the least money.

If you like to track your fitness progress, consider getting the M5 or the M7 since they can sync data with your smartphone.

If you have more than one cardio trainer machine user in your home, consider investing in the M7 since it can remember 4 profiles instead of just one.

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