Home gyms have risen in popularity as a more convenient, cleaner, and more cost-effective alternative to subscribing to your local gym. For serious athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and CrossFitters, the only true replacement for a gym is a complete set of dumbbells, barbells, and fixed bars. But accommodating these pieces of equipment can be difficult and expensive.
Bowflex has come to challenge that notion with their PR1000, an all-in-one resistance training machine that’s affordable and takes up much less space. But can such a machine really replace all your gym equipment?
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym Review: At a Glance
The verdict: The Bowflex PR1000 provides a functional home gym for amateur bodybuilders and includes a versatile set of exercises to target all muscle groups.
And for beginners or people with injuries, the risk of injury is lower than with free weights. Overall, it's a very affordable strength training piece of kit.
- Durable with a five-year warranty on power rods
- 30 exercises with a built-in rowing machine
- Safer than free weights
- Can’t be upgraded beyond 210 lbs
- Warranty on some parts is too short for some
- Not enough for serious bodybuilders (i.e., no deadlifts)
With a footprint of 84 x 38 inches (213 x 97 cm) and a height of 81 inches (206 cm), the PR1000 isn’t a huge machine, but it isn’t the smallest in the world either.
However, the machine’s rods expand sideways during movement, and exercises like rows and leg extensions require more length. Factoring in movement and wiggle room, you’ll need 103 x 80 inches (262 x 203 cm) of space during workouts for safety. Generally, it can fit users up to 6’7” (200cm) tall.
The PR1000’s frame is made of steel coated with anti-corrosive and scratch-resistant paint, while the bench is made of faux leather upholstery, designed to avoid stiffening, cracking, or tearing.
The machine’s maximum user weight is 300 lbs (136 kg). But due to its sturdiness, it could handle heavier users at the cost of wear.
The bench’s backrest is adjustable with a range of 45° to 180° (flat), and it can be removed entirely for specific exercises like rows. Moreover, the bench’s position on the bottom frame bar is adjustable and can be locked in several positions. It can also remain unlocked when performing rowing exercises.
The cables are made from steel and covered by plastic sheets, while the pulleys are made of heavy-duty urethane. As for the hooks at the end, they’re made of steel with an anti-corrosive chrome finish and can withstand all the machine’s resistance levels.
At the front end is a leg attachment consisting of four rollers, each covered in 4 inches (10 cm) of thick roller cushion.
The machine comes disassembled in a box with dimensions 54L x 33W x 8H inches (137L x 84W x 20H cm) and weighs 147 lbs (67 kg). Due to its weight, you might need two people to move the box in.
Overall, the assembly isn't complex, and there's a manual that includes detailed instructions. However, the process can take hours to finish. Also, while the manual recommends two people assemble the machine, you should be able to do it alone.
However, bear in mind that the box doesn't come with assembly tools, so you'll need an adjustable wrench and a Phillips screwdriver. If you aren’t interested in doing the assembly, you can order models that are mostly or fully assembled but they may not fit through your front door, so compare your door’s dimensions with the exercise machine’s first.
Power rods are the iconic feature of the PR1000. They work similarly to pulling an arrow on a bow or a resistance band. This mechanism offers some great benefits overweight plates, including:
You don’t need to tug weight plates around when increasing or decreasing resistance as you do so by a simple hook mechanism. The rods are also labeled. You also don’t need extra space to keep your plates, nor do you need collars to stabilize the plates during workouts.
The lack of inertia during movement helps prevent cheating during exercises, making you benefit more from the movements. The smooth movement ensures you’re always positioned correctly, which helps against common injuries.
Overall, power rods are a very safe alternative to weight plates. Unnatural movement and damage from falling weights are the 1st and 2nd most common causes of injury during fitness activities. Eliminating these two factors gives the PR1000 bonus points for safety.
When the bench is unlocked, it can slide back and forth to perform aerobic rowing or leg presses.
This rowing machine alone makes for a great cardio workout. Rows are a vital compound exercise in this machine as they work out several muscle groups. Pushing hits the hamstrings, glutes, and calves, while pulling hits the quads, forearms, biceps, and lats. Due to intensity, rowing also elevates your heart rate and burns a lot of fat.
The PR1000 offers resistance of up to 210 lbs (95 kg), which isn’t enough for serious athletes. It should be enough for most people for a few years until they develop enough strength, though it may last less for leg exercises that typically use more weight. You can add load in increments of 5 lbs (2.2 kg).
If you’ve been lifting for a while, you’re probably familiar with callus developing on your palms from gripping metals. Bowflex counters this with foam-padded grips, giving you a comfortable, firm grip during lifts.
The machine allows for natural movements and does well in preventing you from accidentally exceeding your range of motion, which is another safety bonus point. Plus, the bench and backrest are made from comfortable two-inch-thick faux leather, further ensuring your safety.
Bowflex added a neat device holder that can shrink or expand to fit any tablet or smartphone. I found this very useful as I struggled with placing my phone somewhere to enable me to watch a video and keep up with the machine simultaneously.
When not using it, you can fold the machine by locking the bench in a flat position and folding the bottom bar upwards, reducing its length footprint by half. The tall power rods can’t be folded, though, so the height and width can’t be minimized.
The PR1000 offers 30 exercises to hit every muscle in your body, so it’s a reasonably versatile home gym. Here’s the list of exercises it caters to:
- Triceps pushdowns
- Triceps extensions
- Biceps curls
- Wrist curls
- Shoulder presses
- Front shoulder raises
- Crossover rear deltoid raises
- Scapular retractions
- Flat, incline, and decline bench presses
- Narrow pulldowns
- Stiff arm pulldowns
- Seated lateral rows
- Reverse grip pulldowns
- Lower back extensions
- Abs crunches
- Trunk rotations
- Leg extensions
- Calf raises
- Hip adductions
- Hip abductions
- Leg kickbacks
- Leg presses
When it comes to versatility, the Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym has a lot to offer!
In theory, you can improvise new exercises. For example, you could do butterflies, face pulls, oblique crunches, and more that aren’t listed in the manual.
Unfortunately, the PR1000 can’t be upgraded beyond its 210 lbs weight limit.
Ease of Use
The PR1000 is a straightforward machine compared to other Bowflex models. Therefore, it’s recommended for beginners whose primary goal is to get in shape with no specific hardcore goal.
The machine’s settings are easily adjustable with simple hooks and lock mechanisms, and the manual is helpful for the workouts it offers.
The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is relatively cheap and is a good option for those on a budget. Depending on where you live, it can cost less than a yearly gym membership fee. If you’re a beginner or an amateur bodybuilder, it’s a good option that should last you several years until you reach its weight limit.
If you’re looking for a more serious option, you may want to look at the Bowflex Xceed or the Bowflex PR3000, which are both more expensive and have more options (65 and 50 exercises, respectively) than the PR1000.
Bowflex home gym alternatives
A couple of alternative Bowflex machine products you might want to look at are the
Bowflex Revolution Home Gym ($2899) – offers over 100 exercise possibilities
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym ($1499) – offers over 70 exercise possibilities
The PR1000 is a budget home gym, so it naturally comes with more limited warranties than its counterparts. The power rods have a five-year warranty that applies to any material defects, while the frame itself has a one-year warranty. Also, the other parts have a 60-day warranty.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between Bowflex PR1000 and PR3000?
The PR1000 is a cheaper home gym for the amateur bodybuilder, while the PR3000 is significantly more expensive and versatile.
Which Is Better: Total Gym or Bowflex?
Generally, Total Gym is better for hypertrophy (leanness) while Bowflex is better for strength.
Can the Bowflex PR1000 Be Upgraded?
No, it can’t be upgraded beyond its 210 lbs weight limit.
Is a Bowflex the Same as Lifting Weights?
This is debatable. If you're serious about performing strength exercises for power, flexibility, and overall health, it's hard to beat dumbbells and barbells. But multi gym products like the Bowflex PR range are great for some additional training modalities. These types of weight resistance machines can isolate muscles more than free weights. So if that's something you want to focus on, Bowflex is perfect.
What Exercises Can You Do With Bowflex?
You can do 30+ exercises, including cardio aerobic rowing, with the PR1000 model.
If you’re a beginner or an amateur fitness enthusiast or just looking to stay in shape without hardcore workouts, the PR1000 is a useful piece of home gym hardware and can replace many pieces of essential home workout equipment.
However, due to its shortcomings, most notably the 210 lbs weight limit, it won’t be enough if you’re serious about building strong muscles or if you’ve been lifting for long enough that 210 lbs aren’t that much. In that case, you can opt for other options such as the Xceed or the PR3000.