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Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Rating: 94.5%

Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Review

This product has been discontinued

Quick Summary

Editor’s Note: The M5 has been discontinued and replaced by the M6 Max Trainer.

Once upon a time, the Bowflex M5 was the premium model in the Max Trainer line. And the fact is, it remains a great model for those seeking a used machine. With a price still lower than other highly-rated ellipticals, it brings many of the features one would expect to cost more. While still in the active production, the M5 was our Editor’s Choice in this small but powerful new product category with more features than the M3. If properly maintained by someone, it’s most likely a great bargain. A veritable swarm of Earthlings bought home exercise equipment during the COVID-19 quarantine and are now looking to sell online. Is it right for you? Read our in-depth Bowflex Max Trainer M5 review below…

Our Rating

Editor’s Choice based on rating and value for price. The M5 has a terrific feature set, solid warranty, and an affordable price compared to ellipticals that don’t burn as many calories.


  • Burns a ton of calories in about 15 minutes
  • 16 resistance levels to keep it challenging
  • Gauge readout is motivating and easy to read
  • Solid set of 8 workout programs built-in
  • Very small footprint with a compact size of 46″ x 25″ and weight of 143 lbs
  • Solid 300 lbs weight maximum
  • Zero impact on your joints (knees, back, etc)
  • Media shelf and cup holder are convenient
  • Great design, made to work for beginners and pros
  • Easy to move about the house due to integrated transport rollers on the front
  • Improved heart rate monitoring and tracking capabilities with premium contact grips and chest strap


  • The 2-year warranty is relatively short compared to competitors
  • No iPod connection or speakers included
  • More expensive than the lower-rated M3 (but less expensive than the M7)
  • The unit lacks a workout fan

Max Trainer Overview

So what makes the Max Trainer different? Is it like an elliptical? Is it better? The idea behind this new type of fitness equipment is simple: Combine the motion of a stair stepper with an elliptical for a low-impact exercise that burns more calories in less time. According to an independent university study, the Max Trainer burned up to 2.5 times the calories of an elliptical per minute, and 1.56 times the calories of a treadmill. Some users have reported burning 600 calories in a 30-minute workout with this style of machine, compared to only 240 calories on an elliptical, which is why users are able to do an intense 14-minute workout and burn more calories. This means that one could burn about 280 calories with an elliptical in 30 minutes, but it would only take 14 minutes with the Max Trainer.

Sounds great in theory, but why does it burn more calories? It’s all in the combination of the resistance, the upward step-style motion, and the upper body workout from the handles. Together with the kind of High Intensity Interval Training that is found on users’ apps, this means one can burn a lot more calories per minute.

Max Trainer Features

As you go about searching for your perfect trainer, there are select features to keep in mind. Here are the main ones that the Bowflex M5 has to offer:

Resistance: If you want to increase the overall intensity of your training workouts, one of the best ways to do this is by adding more resistance. The Bowflex M5 Max Trainer delivers. It offers 16 different resistance levels, so no matte where you happen to be in your fitness journey, you can find the level that will challenge you.

This makes this machine great for beginners and more advanced exercisers alike. It also makes it very possible to do high intensity interval training easily, which is one of the best ways to build your fitness and burn fat.

Upper Body: One unique element that separates the elliptical and max trainers from all other cardio machines is that you get both a lower body and an upper body workout. The Bowflex M5 is one of the best machines to get an upper body workout because of how it’s built.

You can expect to work your biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, as well as your chest. This means you really don’t need to do any additional training beyond this exercise in your workout program.

The more you increase the resistance on the machine, the greater the challenge will be and the more superior your muscle strength results will become.

Heart Rate: Keep tabs on your heart rate is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re on track to reaching your cardiovascular fitness goals. It’s also a great strategy to ensure you are burning the calories you want to be burning. With M5, you’ll have contact heart rate monitors right on the grips of the handle bars, so as long as you’re using the machine, you can easily keep tabs on this. You don’t have to worry about any annoying chest straps or other tools required to get this data immediately.

Display: If there’s one thing you’ll fall in love with when you choose to purchase the Bowflex M5, it’s the display. It has a readout that shows you your intensity along with your total calories burned, so you’ll stay up to date every step of the way. It also is able to sync with a mobile app and Bluetooth 4.0, so no matter what type of technology you prefer to keep track if your workout stats, you’ll be covered. The Bowflex unit also features a unique display for caloric burn rate and activity levels.

You’ll also find a number of different challenging programs that can help you level up your fitness game and see better results. For those who are easily bored, you’ll fall in love with the various workout program options.

Workout Programs

Speaking of workout programs, that brings us to the next point. The Bowflex M5 offers a manual mode that will help you determine how you want to workout. You set the pace and intensity here, so it’s great for those who like to be in control. The machine syncs with the JRNY Fitness app as well as many others, and is compatible with Apple devices on iOS 9.0 or greater, and Android devices version 5.0 or greater.

Beyond that, you’ll also get the classic programs such as steady state training, which has you going at one pace for the entire workout, stair training, which mimics climbing a flight of stairs and is a sure-fire glute burner, fat burn mode to help you maximize fat oxidation, and a calorie burn mode for those who simply want to burn as many calories as possible during their workout session.

On top of that, if you really want to put yourself to the test, give their interval training programs a try. Users offer mixed reviews as to whether the programs offered for beginners are really for true novices, or perhaps might be a bit advanced. To that end, if you’re looking for a workout, have no fear. This machine is built to go as hard as you can. They have a Max Interval program along with a Smart Max Interval, both of which can help you burn 250% more than you would on a conventional elliptical machine. If you want to see a dramatic transformation, these are the programs for you.


  • What is stride pedal height of the Bowflex Max Trainer M5?
    The step-up height is 15″.
  • What is the minimum ceiling height of the Bowflex Max Trainer M5?
    The manufacturer advises users to add 15″ to their own height to determine ceiling requirements.
  • How long is the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 expected to last?
    With a 2-year warranty, you can figure at least that. But as a rule, machine life expectancy is determined by usage and care. We feel the unit should last at least 5-10 years if proper care is taken.
  • How much does the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 weigh?
    The machine weighs 143 lbs.
  • Does the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 require general/routine maintenance?
    Yes, users should wipe down the machine and ensure that dust isn’t building up around the parts. Also, lubricating the machine is actually quite easy and the manufacturer offers instructional videos.

Warranty & Guarantee

Finally, when looking at the warranty and guarantee, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 is a bit on the short side if comparing it to other machines and companies. It offers two years coverage on the entire machine so no matter what happens to go wrong in the first two years you’re covered. That said, if you are going to have an issue, usually it happens after the first year but before the second, so you can put your mind at ease with this machine.

There is also a 6-week return policy and if you decide it’s just not for you within that time frame, you get a full refund. This is perfect for those first-time buyers who may not be so familiar with max trainers yet.

Bowflex M5 Conclusion

Every year, there’s some new machine or gadget coming out that promises better results than the last. Most the time, it’s a bunch of hype, because the time-tested motions we make on treadmills, ellipticals and steppers get results. Some of Bowflex’s products have been in this category, but the Max Trainer is definitely not. This is a fantastic piece of equipment that gets the job done, quicker than anything else we’ve seen. It’s not an easy workout, but luckily beginners can start with an easier resistance level and the Manual workout program to stay motivated as they build up their stamina and boost their metabolism.

Beyond that, there’s lots of room for improvement by mixing up the workouts, taking advantage of the interval training workout modes, and gradually increasing the resistance level to keep getting better and better results. To top it all off, there’s zero joint impact, so it’s much better on your knees and back than any treadmill out there. We heartily recommend giving a used Bowflex Max Trainer M5 a look. Well-made, if well-maintained, it most likely has a lot of good miles left on it for a terrific price.


  • gary huizenga July 7, 2020 at 4:16 pm from New Jersey
    I use my machine almost every morning but it has developed a squeaking noise on the right side when the pedal is on the downward motion. Have tried to use different lubricants but to no avail. Is this a common problem?
    • FitRated July 22, 2020 at 4:50 pm
      Hi Gary, we have not come across this problem personally. We would suggest that you call Bowflex or chat with their customer support to get the proper steps to fix the squeaking problem. Their number is (800) 605-3369 or you can chat with them online on their Facebook page. Hope your machine gets fixed!
    • Chris August 6, 2020 at 11:34 am
      Gary, mine developed the same issue. I had to tighten the bolts hold the pedal the squeak stopped. I too tried using spray lubricant before discovering tightening the bolts.
  • Tara hunsberger March 6, 2019 at 11:53 pm from Allentown,PA
    Can you still get parts for the Bowflex M5. Since it is discontinued
    • Courtney Grafton March 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm
      Hi Tara. If you visit the company website has a section about replacement parts. If you don't find what you're looking for they also have a phone number you can call (866) 266-8827 to speak directly to a representative.

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