Today, we’re reviewing the Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym. We’ll start by saying that if you’re just beginning you’re home fitness journey, or you’re getting back into shape, and are looking for a good quality and versatile home gym, then this is one of the best home gyms for you. If, however, you already have a lot of training under your belt, and are looking for a home gym to take you to the next level, then the PR1000 is probably not what you’re looking for. Instead, try something more like this one .
The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is a great entry-level home gym. Like all exercise equipment, it has pros and cons, but ultimately it’s a very good machine for beginners who want to do a solid workout at home.
So, let’s get into the review!
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym Review
If you’re not familiar with the Bowflex home gyms, they use flexible polymer (nylon composite) rods, called ‘Power Rods’, to create resistance instead of stacks of cast iron weights. There are good things and bad things about creating resistance this way, but in the end resistance is resistance and it will force your body to work harder than normal, which is what exercising is all about.
Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym
|Range of exercises|
|Design and quality|
|Ease of use|
|Ease of assembly|
|Value for money|
Range of exercises
As far as entry-level home gyms go, the range of exercises you can do on the Bowflex PR1000 is very good. Bowflex themselves say that you can do over 30 strength exercises on the machine, but as with most workout equipment, with a little bit of imagination and creativity your options are almost endless. On top of that, because the bench section can be set at 45° inclined and flat positions, if you have a set of dumbbells like these ones, or these ones, you can also use the machine to do a good range of free weight exercises. Nevertheless, here are a bunch of exercises you can do, sorted by area of the body:
With the bench set to the incline position you can do bench presses, chest presses or flyes to work the pectoral muscles (pecs). The angle of your arms will determine the area of the pecs being worked most intensely. Angling your arms so that they are 90 degrees with your body will work the mid-part of the pec (also called the sternal head) most intensely. Angling your arms upwards will work the upper portion of the pecs (also called the clavicular head) most intensely, and angling your arms more downwards will work the lower portion of your pecs (also called the abdominal head) most intensely. Doing workouts that incorporate all of these variations will ensure that your chest muscles develop nice and evenly.
Use the Bowflex PR1000’s handles in the high position to do seated pull-downs, or standing straight arm pull-downs, and the handles in the low position to do seated rows and upright rows. All of these exercises work the major muscles of the back, primarily the lattisimus dorsi (lats), trapezius (traps) and rhomboideus (rhomboids) to a lesser extent, your deltoids (delts) will also be working.
With the handles in the low position, the Bowflex PR1000 allows you to do resisted crunches, resisted reverse crunches, resisted oblique crunches and trunk rotations. Together, these exercises will give you an intense abdominal workout.
The range of arm exercises possible on the Bowflex PR1000 is actually pretty impressive. We’ll mention just a few: For your triceps you can do standing or laying tricep extensions, and for your biceps, standing or laying bicep curls. And for your deltoids you can do shoulder presses and standing or sitting front shoulder raises.
As we note a bit later, the range of leg exercises you can do on the Bowflex PR1000 is pretty limited. Theoretically you can do heaps, practically you can do a few. The main ones are leg extensions for your quadriceps (quads) and leg presses for your gluteus maximus (butt muscles).
The instruction manual has a more extensive list of exercises, as well as a bunch of workout programs. And, as always, YouTube has a heap of good free videos if you’re looking for more exercise and workout ideas.
Design and quality
Let’s start with the quality: The Bowflex PR1000 is made from good quality materials, and once assembled feels very solid and sturdy (it has a 300 lb (136 kg) weight capacity). All of the pulleys and cables are strong and should stand the test of time. The bench is easy to adjust into the incline and flat positions, and it’s also easy to remove when you want the seat to be ‘free-sliding’ (this is necessary for aerobic rows or leg presses). The padding on both the seat and bench is comfortable, and the seat slides very smoothly on its rail, which is great. All of the handles and the belt (for leg presses) are good quality, with the padded grips nice and comfortable. The foam rollers on the leg extension attachment are pretty standard. There’s very little to complain about there.
The Power Rods themselves work as intended. Bowflex has obviously put a lot of work into getting them right, and they work quite well (depending on what your fitness goals are). One thing to note is that the rods will naturally degrade over time, and with heavy use. So don’t be surprised if, after using them for a while, they stayed slightly bowed.
Now onto the design: Overall, it’s a well-designed machine, but this is where the major flaws are. We have two main gripes about the Bowflex PR1000:
- If you are reasonably tall, it’s hard to do good quality lat pulldowns because the handles in the high position hang too low. This means your arms are not fully outstretched when you grab the handles, so you can’t get resistance through the full range of motion. On the flip side, if you’re relatively short, then the same thing happens in reverse when trying to do standing bicep curls; the handles in the low position are too high up, and you can’t get resistance through the full range of motions. Making some adjustments to your body position addresses these issues partly, but it’s still a bit of an annoyance.
- The Bowflex PR1000 has a stated maximum resistance of 210 lb (95.25 kg). This, however, is clearly not the ‘usable’ maximum resistance. In reality, this machine provides about 120 – 150 lb (55 – 68 kg) of usable maximum resistance. Most people, even if they are untrained will be able to leg press and leg extend this weight quite easily. For that reason, the main leg exercises are too easy, and not very useful (for most people). Now here’s the kicker: Bowflex have a number of rod upgrades (100, 210, 310 and 410 lb) to increase the maximum resistance in many of their home gyms, but the PR1000 is one of the models that can’t be upgraded! So you’re stuck with 210 lb, or 120 – 150 lb max. usable weight. That said, 120 – 150 lb maximum weight will be more than sufficient for most beginners (and many others) to get a challenging upper body and core workout.
Another thing to note about the design of the Bowflex PR1000 is that it is not a particularly compact machine. Once assembled it stands approximately 82 inches high (6’9 in; 208 cm), 103 inches long (8’6 in; 261 cm) and 80 inches wide (6’7 in; 203cm). Therefore, You’ll need about an 8×10 foot space in which to comfortably use it.
One thing we do like, however, is that it folds up for easy storage. The process of folding and unfolding it is pretty quick and easy too, so it’s not much of hassle to do it before and after each workout if necessary.
Ease of use
Aside from the design issues noted above, the Bowflex PR1000 is a really easy machine to use. Once you’ve got it together, it’s very simple to work out with. The most difficult thing you’ll need to do is add and remove rods as you change exercises, and this is really quite basic. You just need to bend the rods down until the caps are able to hook onto the cables.
It’s really the rod system itself (as opposed to a weight stack) that may present the most challenge initially. If you’ve used home gyms with weight stacks before, the Bowflex system will probably take a bit of getting used to. This is because the rods have no ‘inertia’ to the resistance they provide. Unlike weight stacks, which are most difficult at the beginning of the movement (i.e. getting the weights to start moving), the Power Rods provide the most resistance at the end of the movement (when the rods are bent). This makes them feel unusual because you can move really quickly through the movements you do, especially at the beginning. What this means is that you need to train yourself to do slow and controlled reps of each exercise. It takes a bit of practice and discipline, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that this system challenges your muscles just as much as a weight stack system does.
Ease of assembly
It’s very easy to assemble the Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym. The instruction manual suggests it is a two-person job, but one person can do it. Be warned though, the box is heavy, so you’ll likely need someone to help you move it to where you plan on assembling it. With someone to help you, it’ll take roughly 1 – 1.5 hours to assemble. If you’re doing it on your own, allow yourself about 3 hours to finish putting it together.
The assembly process is pretty straightforward as long as you follow the instructions. You certainly don’t need any mechanical expertise to get it right. You will, however, need a regular screwdriver, an adjustable wrench, and probably a pair of pliers to assemble it properly.
As is always the case with home gyms, you should assemble it in the space you want to use it, because it’s not an easy thing to move around.
Value for money
As we said at the start of the review, this machine is suitable for people beginning their home fitness journey, or getting back into shape, and looking for a good quality home gym to help with that. If that is you, then the Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym is great value for money. As an entry-level home gym, it is less expensive than many other machines, and considering its quality; it really is a great buy. If you are looking to do serious bodybuilding, or otherwise stack on muscle, then this machine probably isn’t right for you.
Overall, if you’re in the market for an entry-level machine, then the Bowflex PR1000 is one of the cheapest and the best home gyms available. Despite a couple of design flaws, it is made from good quality materials, is very easy to assemble and use, and it’s not particularly expensive, making it great value for money. The Bowflex system also provides a different method of resistance to challenge your muscles. While this home gym won’t suit everyone, it is certainly a worthwhile option for beginners and those getting back into exercise.
Thanks for checking out the review. Leave any questions or comments you have in the comments section below.
All the best with your home workouts. Remember – When it comes to working out, we can make the effort or we can make excuses, but we can’t make both!
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)