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Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE offers over 210lbs of upgradeable resistance and supports over 70 different weights based exercises, but is it varied enough for a proper workout?

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review
(Image: © Bowflex)

Our Verdict

The Bowflex Xtreme 2SE is a highly-rated home gym that is versatile, compact, and upgradeable in terms of resistance. It provides you with 70-plus exercise options, and is the perfect system for beginners up. Yes it takes a few workouts to get used to it, but this is a weights system that can grow with you as you get stronger and seek new workout challenges.

For

  • Over 70 exercises
  • No weights needed
  • No cable changing needed
  • Squat bar included
  • Upgradeable resistance

Against

  • Expensive
  • No instructional videos

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is a popular choice among people looking for ways to effectively build strength and muscle during home workouts, yet don't necessarily want to contend with too much equipment. This weights system is made by one of the best home gyms companies in world and features power rod technology to create resistance. Power rods work like a bow, providing increased tension as each rod’s curve becomes tauter, then easing as the rod straightens out. 

What does this mean? Well, as we cover in more detail in our Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review, it means that this system doesn't require you to use weights or to change cables, so it's a good choice for beginners. The design also makes it relatively compact and therefore ideal for smaller homes. Despite its smaller size compared to bigger systems, the Xtreme 2 SE still offers over 70 different workout options, so it's more versatile than it looks.

The system comes with 210lbs of resistance as standard, but you can upgrade it to either 310lbs or 410lbs. Being able to upgrade is important as it ensures the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE grows with you as your strength and stamina increases.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: Overview

As mentioned above, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE works like a bow, with the arch causing tension and resistance. The cables offer the resistance which means you don't have to change any cables, just grab the handles and work with the muscles you want.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: Specs

Design: Power rod

Weight: 185 lbs

Exercises: 70+

Supported weight: Up to 300lbs

This can mean a higher pace of workout is possible that traditional weight based systems. For an alternative body weight-based glideboard system, we'd recommend reading our Total Gym FIT review, which is a superb machine, or read our Total Gym XLS review for a more affordable option.

To get the most out of this weights system, we recommend pairing it with a tracking system so that you can monitor your progress. Check out our best fitness trackers to find one that suits your goals and can help you get the fitness and health you're seeking.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: An image showing a woman using the system to build muscle in her thighs

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: Design

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is made from heavy duty steel, making it a really rugged machine that offers a solid platform. The power rods offer resistance with different weights allowing you to add more rods for heavier lifting.

The rods break down into 5lb, 10lb, 10lb, 30lb and 50lb. That's a total of 210lb of weight that you can use as you need. It is possible to add more with up to 410lb – a nice option to help as you progress – if lifting more weight is your goal.

The unit doesn't take up a lot of room standing at 53 x 49 x 82 inches (length, width and height). It's also lighter than a lot of systems thanks to those rods with a total weight of 185lbs. Despite that, this solid platform is good for user weight of up to 300lbs. For a higher max user weight, read our TRX GO Suspension Training Kit review.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: Features

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE features a lot of options for upper and lower body workout as well as core exercises. For the upper body you can do all this lot: bench press, seated shoulder press, reverse fly, chest fly, biceps curl, hammer curl, wrist curl, rear deltoid row, bent over row, front shoulder raise, triceps kickback, low back extension, resisted dip, triceps pushdown, seated lat pulldown, and reverse grip pulldowns.

For the lower there are these options: leg extensions, deadlifts, leg kickbacks, squats, hip adduction, calf raises, hip flexion, and standing hip extensions.

And for the core you've got the options of: trunk rotation, seated weighted oblique crunch, and seated weighted abdominal crunch. All in all, this adds up to a total body workout, and with enough weight to cover most users, especially if you add in those extra rods. 

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: A woman with blonde hair and wearing a blue fitness top uses the machine to workout her arms

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review: Performance

That Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE doesn't require you to change cables, just grips. That means you can keep your workout moving along between body parts quickly. As a result your heart rate is kept up to offer positive cardiovascular benefits as well as toning and muscle building.

That said, this smooth transition is between muscle group areas. Going from upper to lower means a little adjusting so takes a bit longer – but not much. Hooking up rods, to add resistance, requires a bit of learning. But once you've got the hang of it this can be a quick and easy process allowing you to vary resistance quickly.

Unlike weights, the resistance amount is a rough idea. So if you want very accurate transitions from gym to home this might not be ideal. If you don't need that and are just after results, this will serve you well.

One big positive for the rod system, aside from the easy adjusting of weight, is the silence of use. No more worrying about clunking of weight plates, as you move through smooth cable based resistance. 

Should you buy the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE?

With the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE you get an easy to use weights system that doesn't require the clunky weights that lots of systems use. The resistance is safe and stable with plenty of weight options and body workouts. This may take some learning and isn't the cheapest but for a modern take on home gym systems it's a really powerful tool that help you work towards a better you.

If you're considering a more heavy duty weights system that also supports intense cardio workouts, we'd recommend reading our Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym review too.

Looking for other exercise equipment? We recommend our guides to the best treadmills and the best exercise bikes for more intense cardio workouts, plus the best bike trainers for off-season training, and the best elliptical machines for full-body workouts. 

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.