Bowflex Ultimate 2 Review: Does It Still Hold Up in 2018?

You’ve had those days, months, and even years where you’ve avoided the gym. It happens to all of us. Thankfully, the Bowflex Ultimate 2 obliterates any of the excuses you’ve used to fall into those slumps.

We’ve all been there. You take a week off for some reason or another. Then you realize that free time is incredible. And eventually, you decide you’ll just use dumbbells and calisthenics to stay fit. Unfortunately, that never does the trick, and you lose the hard-earned progress you worked so hard to obtain.

With the Bowflex Ultimate 2 in your home, you’ll have no excuse to avoid the gym because the gym is literally in the same house as you! That may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn’t. The Ultimate 2 brings you more than 95 exercises ranging from squats to chest flies. It does have its flaws, but we’ll see just how big those flaws are when stacked up against other high-tier home gyms.

What is the Bowflex Ultimate 2

The Ultimate 2 is a home gym system that uses power rods for resistance. There are various attachments and cable positions that give you the ability to do over 95 exercises with the system. When using the Ultimate 2, you’ll build strength throughout your entire body.

What is the Bowflex Ultimate 2

The Ultimate 2 is a home gym system that uses power rods for resistance. There are various attachments and cable positions that give you the ability to do over 95 exercises with the system. When using the Ultimate 2, you’ll build strength throughout your entire body.

Features of the Bowflex Ultimate 2

At a glance,¬†you’ll notice the Bowflex Ultimate 2 has a lot of moving parts. These moving parts grant an extensive array of versatility. Whether you’re looking for a fit body or to gain mass, the Bowflex Ultimate 2 will be up for the task. There are more than 95 exercises you can do on the Bowflex Ultimate 2. The various stations and attachments of the Ultimate 2 bring the diversity of a gym to your home.

Power rod resistance

The power rods of the Bowflex Ultimate 2 is where its resistance comes from. The rods provide 310lbs, upgradeable to 410lbs of tension. Forget about having to deal with lugging plates or switching cables. Easily switch between weights with the Bowflex’s power rods. All you have to do is attach one or more rods to a hook, and you’re good to go.

Lat tower

No longer will you have to worry about denting your door frames with a shoddy pull up bar. The lat tower on the Bowflex Ultimate 2 gives you the ability to do lat pulldowns at home. And if pulldowns aren’t enough, you’re even able to do pull-ups on the lat tower.

Leg extension/curl station

The leg extension/curl station brings two essential workouts to your home. Now you’ll have more leg workouts than just dumbbell squats and lunges!

Preacher curl attachment

Dumbbell curls can become tedious, no matter how many ways you switch it up. The preacher curl attachment gives you another way to build your biceps.

Squat station

The Bowflex Ultimate 2’s squat station gives you the ability to squat up to 310 pounds (410 pounds upgraded). Squats are one of the staples found in just about every workout regiment. Trying to squat heavy weights with just dumbbells is awkward and even dangerous if done improperly. The Ultimate 2 lets you squat heavyweights in a natural fashion.

Rowing machine

Not only will the Bowflex Ultimate 2 make you big, but it will also get you in shape! There’s a rowing machine built into the Ultimate 2. Through the rowing machine, you’re able to incorporate low-impact cardio into your workout routine.

Multiple cable/pulley positions

Here are the bread and butter of the Bowflex Ultimate 2. Its various cable/pulley positions give you a stunning assortment of workouts from which to choose. From lateral raises to bench presses to rows, the Bowflex Ultimate 2 does it all. Just connect the five-way handgrip/ankle cuffs to any of the positions, and you’re good to go!

Specifications

According to¬†Amazon the Bowflex Ultimate 2 is 82″ by 92″ by 46″ and requires a ceiling with a height of 7’4″ for operation. When in action you’ll need a space greater than 9’4″ by 6’6″. The Bowflex Ultimate 2 does fold up, however, and will only take up 44″ by 46″.

Pricing

Bowflex no longer makes the Bowflex Ultimate 2. Because of this, your options are to buy a used or refurbished model. You can find these models on Amazon, eBay, Fitness Superstore, and Overstock.com for $350 to $2,569.

What Do Reviewers Have To Say?

Price 

$350-$2,569

Dimensions:

82″ x 92″ x 46″

Assembly Time

7-10 hours

Build Quality

Reviewers on Amazon¬†tend to agree that the resistance on the Bowflex Ultimate 2 feels different from free weights. They say it feels more like pulley systems at the gym, and that resistance increases more as you get closer to the top of a rep. It’s not necessarily¬†a downside, but is something that may or may not fall into your preferences.

Most¬†reviews¬†of the Bowflex Ultimate 2 praise the sturdy construction of the device. They say the Ultimate 2’s sturdy and heavy build makes it feel like a real piece of gym equipment. The downside that’s agreed on is that you’re the one that has to build the device. The Ultimate 2 gets shipped in a bunch of separate boxes and will take a whole day of assembly.

The second biggest complaint by¬†reviewers¬†is the amount of space the Ultimate 2 takes up. It’s a large device and takes up a lot of real estate, especially when in use.

All in all, reviews on the Ultimate 2 are positive. Reviewers appreciate the full body workout the Bowflex Ultimate 2 provides. They say it’s a great backbone to their workout regiments. You may have to do additional exercises such as deadlifts to truly bulk up. But for the majority of muscle groups, the Bowflex Ultimate 2 has all you need.

How We Reviewed

To review the Bowflex Ultimate 2 we summed up all of the available information we could find on the machine online. This includes reviews and descriptions on Amazon, reviews from publishers including Smart Monkey Fitness, as well as YouTube videos showing the Ultimate 2 in action. After gathering our information, we focused on creating an unbiased look at the Bowflex Ultimate 2.

Alternative Home Gyms

The Bowflex Ultimate 2 has been around for a long time. Ever since the Ultimate 2 made its debut, various companies have started coming up with their own home gyms. Many of these take the core purpose of the Bowflex and make it their own. Some of the top alternatives to the Ultimate 2 are the Marcy Diamond Smith Cage, Bodycraft Galena Pro, Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM 2500S, and Total Gym XLS.

Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage

Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage

Price 

$900-$1035

Dimensions:

95″ x 79″ x 86″

Assembly Time

6-8 hours

Build Quality

The Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is more expensive than a used Ultimate 2 but costs about half as much as a refurbished Ultimate 2. The Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage provides a tremendous full body workout. Where the Bowflex Ultimate 2 provides fitness, the Marcy Diamond Smith Cage provides bulk.

Bodybuilders will appreciate the traditional design of the Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage. The smith machine will allow you to do squats, bench presses, and more with an actual barbell. The built-in pec deck allows you to do flyes as though you’re in a real gym. There’s also a lat bar, various attachment points for straps, an included row handle, as well as a preacher curl and leg curl station. With all of these options, you can fully isolate and train all of your major muscle groups at home.

The one big drawback of the Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is that you’ll have to buy your own plates. On the other hand, this same drawback is why serious bodybuilders will love the machine. Because you’re using real weight plates, the device has a serious feel to it that the Bowflex Ultimate 2 lacks.

Bodycraft Galena Pro Home Gym

Bodycraft Galena Pro Home Gym

Price 

$470-$1,999

Dimensions:

72″ x 58″ x 82″

Assembly Time

6-9 hours

Build Quality

The Bodycraft Galena Pro Home Gym is less intense than the previously mentioned home gym. With a max weight of 200lbs on its pulley system, the Galena Pro will keep you fit but not massive.

To make up for its limitations, the Bodycraft Galena Pro covers all of your major muscle groups. The Galena pro has three main stations: a pec dec, chest press, and low pulley. The pec dec and chest press stations give you multiple ways to hit your chest. In addition, the chest press has a leg extension/curl attachment, a lat bar, and an ab cruncher. The handles of the chest press move out of the way so you can focus on the other workouts. There’s also a pulley attachment on the pec dec station at chest height, furthering the number of workouts possible.

The low pulley station rounds out the Galena Pro. Giving you the option of shrugs, lateral raises, and more, the Bodycraft Galena Pro Home Gym keep your entire body fit without having to leave the house. Speaking about home use, the Galena Pro is even designed to fit in a corner to save you space.

Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym

Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S Home Gym

Price 

$475-$1,299

Dimensions:

83″ x 51″ x 83″

Assembly Time

5-8 hours

Build Quality

In a similar manner to the Galena Pro, the¬†Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500S has a pulley system with a max weight of 210lbs. The StrengthTech EXM2500S also has similar stations to the Galena Pro. It has a pec deck, chest press, leg extension/curl, lat bar, and ab crunch. There’s also a mid-height pulley and low pulley to expand your option of workouts. Overall the StrengthTech EXM2500S is a well-built machine that will cover your upper body well, and do just enough to keep your legs fit.

Total Gym XLS

Total Gym XLS

Price 

$325-$1,999

Dimensions:

90″ x 19″ x 43″

Assembly Time

10-30 minutes

Build Quality

If you don’t have the space for the previously mentioned home gyms, the¬†Total Gym XLS has you covered. Taking up a little more space than a traditional bench press, the Total Gym XLS uses your bodyweight as its main source of resistance. Two pulleys connect to the bench you sit on, and as you pull the pulley, it pulls you up the bench. This unorthodox design lets you get a full body workout in a very space efficient manner. You won’t be able to get as intense as a workout as the other home gyms. However, if you’re looking to stay fit rather than get huge, the Total Gym XLS will get the job done.

Bowflex Ultimate 2 Pros and Cons

The Bowflex Ultimate 2 is a heavy-duty home gym that’s worth its hefty weight. You can get a full workout using the Bowflex Ultimate 2. The power rods allow you to get greater resistance than other home gyms without making you lug around heavy plates. Furthermore, the various stations, attachments, and pulley positions give you an incredible amount of workouts to choose from.

On the other hand,¬†reviewers complain it will take you a long time to assemble the Bowflex Ultimate 2, and that it will take up a lot of space. Then again, that’s the case for just about every heavy duty home gym. The power rods also tend to lose strength over time, but if you keep them tethered together when not in use that seems to fix the problem. Bodybuilders may miss the feel of a barbell when doing squats and bench presses, but it’s still a feat that the Ultimate 2 provides those exercises with up to 310lbs or resistance.

PROS

  • More than 95 exercises
  • Sturdy design
  • 310 pounds of resistance
  • Easily switch between weights

CONS

  • Arduous assembly
  • No barbell
  • Takes up a lot of space

‚ÄčOur verdict

If you’re anything but the most serious bodybuilder, the Bowflex Ultimate 2 will cover all of your workout needs. If you’re new to lifting, you’ll have plenty of room to grow into. Those who know their way around the gym will appreciate the number of workouts they’ll be able to now do at home. The Bowflex Ultimate 2 is built very well and makes a great base to branch your workout routine around.

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