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Bowflex weight the same as benching with a Bar?

21st June 2007


I bought a bowflex about 6 months ago and have been consistently training on it. I am very, very happy with it. I’m 155 pounds and my bench has gone from 4 sets of 120 to 4 sets of 240 with a max of 300. I’m wondering if anybody who has used one knows if bowflex weight is the same as the weight on a flat bar bench at a gym? From what i’ve read on the internet and articles on it, it has a 1:1 ratio being exactly the same. I would just like to know if I go try to show up one of my buddies at the gym with my 300 pd bench, is the bar going to collapse on my chest like a douchebag because i’m being fooled by the weights on the bowflex?

Answer 1: not the case at all. You build stabilizers using dumbbells more so then a barbell. Cables won’t give you mass.

Answer 2: It really is two different exercises. If you use the bowflex a lot and do not use a regular straight bar to bench, you will not be able to do the same weight. Just like if all you do is bench with a straight bar and then you just try use the bowflex. You will definitely be able to do more than you normally would have with a straight bar but it will not be one to one. There is a different form. When you use cables, your arm angle is always changing. With a straight bar, your arms are in a fixed position. I stopped using the straight bar for awhile and only used dumbells but when I went back to regular benching there was an adjustment period.

Answer 3: You never watched their infomercials? They have these jacked guys that work out in the tradition ways and then they try to use the bowflex and are all over the place and the weight is too much. This has the same effect when you reverse it.

Answer 4: While not everyone has used the same exercise you’re using a lot of people in the gym will use cables to do certain exercises they do other than bench, such as curls, raises, upright rows, etc. From my experience, the numbers on the cables are significantly higher than the amount of weight I would be using on a free weight. You also have to consider that the hardest part of the movement in cables is at the highest point/peak, whereas with the same free weight exercise (say for example flies) the tension is actually the least at the top of the movement.

Answer 5: you are only 155 lbs., correct? Don’t go into the gym and try to be Johnny Weightlifter. Don’t go putting a crap load of weight on the bar and try it. You will look like a fool and hurt yourself. Make sure you have a spotter and gradually increase the weight starting from what you normally would do. I would say start with 135 and work your way up.

I am 165 now. When I was 155 to now, I put up anywhere from 225 to 245 depending on how often I work out. I think that is pretty good but I have been lifting for most of my life. That is why I am telling you to start at 135 and gradually increase. I think it was just this year that somebody posted a newspaper article about a guy in Jersey that killed himself benching. That sounds pretty ridiculous but stuff like that happens.

Answer 6: if you could do 135 I’d be surprised- are you kidding me? First off- you weigh 155 pounds. Benching your body weight is a good standard, if you can bench your body weight your doing OK. Second off- for a 155 pound person to max at 300 lbs should let you know how much of a joke a bowflex is. Only the upper, upper echelon of body builders can lift twice their body weight. To put into perspective how much weight 300 pounds is, its the bar, 2 45 plates on each side, then a 25 on each side, a 10 on each side and a 2 and a half on each side. There is literally no physical way you can lift 260 pounds man, sorry. Also- to double your bench from 120-240 in 6 months is also basically impossible without the use of illegal substances(or legal prohormones).

Answer 7: I have a bowflex along with dumbells. There is no comparing the “weight” on the cables with the bowflex to the true wt of freeweights. The weight you’re lifting with the bowflex is highly variable and depends on body position, how far you pull down the wt bars, etc. That said, the bowflex is an excellent home gym that’s quite safe and will build muscle.

Answer 8: an apples and oranges comparison – The lifting mechanisms are obviously very different, you’re going to have to hit an actual gym and see what you can do. I’d wager you won’t be able to press anywhere near 300 lbs using free weights, however. In other words yes, you’re being fooled by the bowflex … so be careful when you hit an actual gym and free weights, and make sure you’ve got a spotter to help.

Answer 9: Compare bowflex to a bow and arrow. When you first start cocking the string back, there’s not as much tension, but the further you go, the more tension. Same for a bowflex. When you’re benching 300 pounds it’s likely that it’s not a constant pressure and it maxes out at 300 towards the top, and at that stage you can extend your elbows to support the weight rather than have the pressure work against your muscles. Contrast that to free weights, where there is a constant pressure bearing down on you throughout the entire workout. Don’t be surprised when you are lifting significantly less with free-weights.

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