Bowflex PR3000 Reviewed and Rated
The Bowflex PR3000 is a smaller and more compact version of Bowflex’s Xtreme 2 SE. The 2 SE offers over 70 exercises in a unit that is over 7 feet tall and includes a lat pull-down tower. This home gym gives you around 50 exercises and comes to 82 inches, or just under 7 feet, from the floor. It has a squat platform and both squat and ab crunch attachments as part of the base package. Like with so many home gyms, there are optional attachments you can add on at no charge. The PR3000 uses Bowflex’s patented power rods, which are easier on the joints than free weights and do not actually weigh as much as the resistance you pull against. With the PR3000, you can max out at 210 pounds of resistance or buy the upgrade kit. The kit gives you 310 pounds.
Either way, with or without the extra attachments and additional power rods, the Bowflex PR3000 is a compact whole-body strength tool with 6 fixed cable pulley stations. That means you are more efficient because you are not stopping to adjust cables and can instead just grab the ones matching your desired muscle group. Read on and learn more.
Over 50 exercises and they are easy to learn with the manual/DVD
Can switch between muscle groups quickly and easily
Power rods are easier to store than free weights, and lower impact
Switching quickly between muscle groups adds a cardio training element
Seat/bench can adjust for different height users, or come all the way off for squats
Faux leather upholstery, 2-inch padding is comfortable and durable
Hand grips, ankle cuffs are interchangeable, and each creates a different exercise with pulleys and d-rings
The bench cannot lie all the way flat for traditional bench presses or pec flys
Can only upgrade resistance to 310 pounds (some Bowflexes go to 410)
No sliding rower bench or other cardio station
You do get a leg developer with this machine, Bowflex multi-gyms do not always offer that. You can do leg extensions with the sturdy padded foam rollers, or take the whole leg attachment off if it gets in the way of your upper body workouts.
One of the advantages of a multi-gym is that you can use it almost every day if you learn about the different muscle groups and rotate them out. For example, you could do leg extensions one day and then use the ab attachment the next day. That way both large muscle groups are getting a workout, and you are giving yourself time to rest and recover between strenuous sessions. The helpful manual suggests 20 minutes 3 times a week as a starting benchmark. It may not sound like much, but that hour a week on the PR3000 will start to make a difference.
If you are already advanced, of course, you can do more right away or use the machine to supplement your more intense lifting or endurance workouts. The manual is full of workout plans that you can use as starting points or guides, though more seasoned athletes will be able to invent their own. And as much as Bowflex praises and wants you to use their product, even Bowflex mentions getting in cardio work, away from the PR3000, at least a few times a week.
This puts us in the mind of what is, perhaps, the real benefit of multi-gyms like those made by Bowflex, Total Gym, and others. That benefit is in cross-training. If you are not physically active, the PR3000 can be your only regular activity. It will keep you moving and, with consistent use and a healthy eating plan, give you a better quality of life. It may also encourage you to get out and do other athletic pursuits, perhaps taking up a sport like running. If you have been working out for a long time, and you know your way around the gym, then the PR3000 will most likely not be your only regular activity. Either way, the Bowflex is a convenient cross-training tool that will support whatever else you decide to do for your body. And with the PR3000, you can spend a bit less money and have something that will not take up excess space in your home gym.
At the very top of the tower, you will find a lat pulldown handle. It is curved to match the palms of your hands. There are a front one and a rear one, designed to strengthen different muscle groups in your back, arms, and shoulders. Sitting and facing the tower, too, will get your trunk and core muscles in on the exercise. Most machines and free weight exercises, including those offered by multi-gyms, will work out more muscles than even the descriptions say they will. But if you want to isolate just your shoulders, biceps, calves, or other muscle pair, the PR3000 offers you isolation exercises as well.
On the bottom, you have the squat platform. It is made of sheet steel, with grooves and a powder coating for traction and safety. To do a squat, you grab two pulleys on either side of the platform. They act like resistance bands, with the resistance coming from the power rods connected to them. It is an adjustment if you are used to doing squats with a rack and the loaded Olympic bar sitting on your shoulders. But it is still an effective workout, using no more space than you would if you did bodyweight squats. And the squat stand is standard, not an attachment you have to pay extra for.
To do the squats, though, there are several pieces you have to remove. That includes the bench. So while the six cables/pulley pairs and easy change hand grips are conveniences, the need to take off equipment may be an inconvenience to consider.
The power rods each correspond to different resistances. To get to 210 pounds, the rods break down like this (each one is marked with the number, though not color-coded):
(2) 5-pound rods
(4) 10-pound rods
(2) 30-pound rods
(2) 50-pound rods
If you want to upgrade to the 310 pounds total resistance, of course, the breakdown will be different. Some Bowflex machines can upgrade all the way up to 410. It is not clear why the PR3000 won't do this. It is also a bit annoying that Bowflex will not sell individual pairs of power rods. What if you'd just like to add 20 pounds? What we do like, though, is that you can use the lower increments to make fractional progress. Lifting an extra 10 pounds for a half an 8-rep set may not seem like much, but progress is progress and you will get a mental boost from the tiniest of gains. Making that possible seems to be part of the Bowflex DNA.