We have been aware of the Xtreme 2 SE for a while now and thought it was high time we took it under our wing and gave it the full Fitness Brain testing. Find out what we thought right here in our full Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE review.
When it comes to finding an affordable yet truly compact home multi-gym that offers good all-round workouts you will be hard pressed to find something that ticks all the boxes.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is hardly a new kid on the block, but it is just one example of a compact multi-gym that is highly effective, truly compact and with over 70 exercises at your disposal, gives you the possibility of a full body workout.
So, let’s check it out and see what it can do…
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Overview
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym looks a little different to many other compact multi gyms thanks to its patented rod system, which creates resistance rather than the usual weight stack that you find on most home gyms. This design brings with it a range of advantages which we will cover through the review, but first let’s take a look at what we know about Bowflex.
Bowflex is a well-known brand and one that we are pretty familiar with here at Fitness Brain having reviewed a range of their products in the past.
The company dates back to 1986 and is based in Vancouver. The name stems from the use of their patented polymer rods (that are used to create the weight and tension), and we would generally consider their products to be in the mid to high-end in terms of quality.
Although they do create a range of high-quality products it is fair to say that prices for Bowflex products are generally not overly expensive and as such are affordable for most home users.
Over the years, Bowflex have acquired other fitness brands such as Nautilus, Schwinn Fitness and Stairmaster and now the company now goes under the guise of The Nautilus Group.
The Xtreme 2 SE has been one of the group’s flagship products and although more recent iterations have moved away from the rod system, the Xtreme 2 SE is a customer favourite which can be seen in the highly-rated product reviews it receives.
We took the Xtreme 2 SE for a full month to give it a thorough testing through a full range of workout types.
Xtreme 2 SE Specifications
Once fully assembled the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE stands at a height of 211cm and has a footprint of 147cm (l) by 123cm (w). This makes it comfortably one of the more compact multi-gyms we have tested and as it features no kind of pull-up bar means that 211cm is the maximum height you will need in terms of ceiling height – we would advise you clear another 10cm at least on top that though just to be safe.
The Xtreme 2 SE does require a little more space besides its footprint as the rods flex out either side and you will need space for performing extension exercises. So you should expect to need a workout space of at least 244cm by 196cm. It weighs in at 84kg and has a maximum user weight of 136kg.
The weight load is created by the Power Rods (the official Bowflex term) and provides a maximum resistance of 95kg which isn’t too shabby. If you require more weight then you do have the option of adding additional rods to the setup with a maximum achievable weight of 185kg.
Most users will be fine using the standard level of resistance, but it is good to know you can increase it over time if needed. It is also worth noting that in our experience Bowflex have exceptional customer service, so even if these rods go out of stock with retailers we would expect Bowflex to get hold of them.
Installing the Xtreme 2 SE is actually not that daunting compared to some home gym setups, and most competent DIY-ers will be more than capable of setting it up hence not needing to pay for installation and setup.
The pulley system is so designed that there is no need to change cables over or change settings mid-workout. This is a real game changer as it makes workouts easy to complete and time efficient too.
There are over 70 different exercises that Bowflex recommend and there are likely more than that if you get creative with your workouts. The range of accessories and cable positions allow for a full range of exercises, allowing you to target pretty much all the key muscles including the back, shoulders, arms, legs, glutes, abs and chest. The following attachments are included with the Xtreme 2 SE:
- Lat tower and angled lat bar (two adjustable positions available)
- Squat station with squat bar (four adjustable positions and adjustable strap)
- Ab crunch harness and ab crunch bar
- Leg extension bar
- Multiple cable positions with handles for a huge range of push and pull exercises
- Hand grips (mentioned above) and ankle straps for added leg exercises
There is a comfortable padded seat included with this multi gym and it is at the more comfortable end of the spectrum when compared to others we have tested. It is fully adjustable and very stable. The whole unit is very sturdy thanks to the high quality of materials used and the clever X shaped design of the base.
Using The Xtreme 2 SE
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is a great-looking piece of kit, so persuading the guys and gals in the Fitness Brain office to use it was not a hard sell.
That being said, a few of them did have a little trepidation about using the rod system instead of the usual weight stack most are more accustomed to. This was an unfounded concern as it doesn’t really impact on the multi-gym from an operational point of view at all, and selecting the appropriate weight is quick, easy and simple to do.
The Power Rods also have no negative impact on how you lift the weight either, so unlike using resistance bands that might create higher tension at the wrong part of a range of motion for a particular exercise. The Xtreme 2 SE feels just like using a standard weight stack with one major difference – you get absolutely zero plate sticking because… well, you know… there are no weight plates.
Some people say they can tell the difference in the feel of the weight, but the unanimous feeling among our reviewers was that it feels like lifting a normal stack of weights.
Choosing the weight is easy to do and is a case of attaching the rods to the pulley. Each rod has a different amount of weight with 4kg the lowest and 15kg the highest (on each side), so it really does allow you to select a range of different weights quickly and easily.
One aspect of this system which is a little annoying is that you will need to unclip the rods from the pulley at the end of your workout, as leaving them attached could cause the rods to lose some flex over the long term as the pulleys keep the rods flexed at all times.
One of the biggest advantages of the Xtreme 2 SE is how quickly you can switch from one exercise to another. This makes it extremely convenient to use and for anyone who likes to perform supersets or circuit style workouts then this will be an absolute killer feature as it makes it so easy to switch from one to the other.
All of the accessories that come with the Bowflex are well made and work well. The only piece that we didn’t particularly like using was the shoulder harness for performing ab crunches. It wasn’t that it didn’t work or wasn’t comfortable – it just felt like a bit of a convoluted way to perform ab exercises.
Still, for those who want to target their core and obliques with weighted resistance exercises it should prove highly effective.
The range of exercises you can perform with the Xtreme 2 SE really is impressive and if you are looking for a small multi-gym that can offer a thorough full body workout then this is a top option. Some of the exercises we were able to perform with this piece of kit included:
- chest press
- seated shoulder press
- chest fly
- bicep curl
- tricep pushdown, curl and extension
- lat pulldown
- delt row
- leg extension
- lateral shoulder raise
- ab crunch
The list of exercises really could go on and on, but these are just some of the main exercises that you might want to include in your regime.
One thing to note is that even though this machine gives you a quick change system for moving from one exercise to another, there is still sometimes the need to move a pin selector or cable to a different position – so keep this in mind when purchasing.
That being said, this is one of the quickest and most efficient ways of moving through a range of exercises without having 5 dedicated machines as part of your setup.
We used the Xtreme 2 SE for a full 30 days and in that time found it to be a highly capable multi-gym. It is reasonably priced when you purchase from our preferred stockist below (and save 33% in the process), and you also get a free 3 year warranty for home usage.
In the short time that we used it we found there to be no degradation to the equipment at all and so long as you unhook the Power Rods after each workout there is no reason to believe they will not retain their claimed tension for years to come. Online reviews from users who have owned the Bowflex for months have attested to it remaining as good as new.
It is one of the more comfortable multi-gyms we have used and is easy to get to grips with. The padding in the seat is hard to beat and for stability and sturdiness it is right up there.
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Verdict
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is a highly compact multi-gym that offers a plentiful range of exercise choices designed to give you a quality full-body workout. It is not only compact but highly sturdy and durable, and the Power Rods that are used to create resistance work very effectively indeed.
In terms of value for money it is hard to see how the Xtreme 2 SE can be beaten. Not only is it made from high-quality materials, but it replaces 5 or 6 pieces of gym equipment in one fell swoop and should last for years to come.
If you are tight on space but really want to take advantage of a home gym, then the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE and its 3 year at home warranty should not be overlooked.