Sweat, Smile, Repeat: A Hands-On Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Review

Some of my articles have affiliate links. If you buy through those, I may earn a commission at no cost to you.
Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Review featured image

Ready to ditch the crowded gym and work out in your PJs?

Home is where the workout is

You know that feeling when you want to work out, but the thought of commuting to the gym just puts you off?

There’s something liberating about being able to squeeze in a workout without ever leaving your home. Gone are the days of rushing to the gym and then waiting in line for the equipment.

Instead you have the freedom to work out on your terms, in your own space, and at your own pace.

Home workouts aren’t just a trend; they’re becoming a preferred choice for many of us because they offer unmatched convenience and flexibility.


Say hello to the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE

I’d like to introduce to you my partner in this ‘fitness journey’ — OK, it’s just an article I wrote on my blog — the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE.

As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in sporting goods stores product-testing everything ‘home fitness’ under the sun, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with with the Xtreme 2 SE on several occasions.

In one sense this is more than just a machine; it’s a compact home gym that transforms your living space into a place of body transformation.

But more on that later, let’s jump right into whether it’s any good or not.

green scientific beaker and test tubes green icon - from Does Maca Root Make You Horny? article heydaydo.com

Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science and medical resources, clinical studies, & nutritional data used in this article.


Sneak Peek: Is the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE worth it?

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? The simple answer is, yes. The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is worth every penny if you’re someone looking for convenience, versatility, and a comprehensive workout from the comfort of your home.

However, if you’re someone who loves & prefers lifting heavy with free weights, I’m not sure this will cut it for you.

But don’t just take my word for it, let’s dig a little deeper into everything about it, from customer testimonials about its quality to its many user-friendly features, as well as what its limitations are.

That way you can see how well it fits what you’re looking for.


My firsthand experience with it

This verdict isn’t just based on specs and features listed on a product page.

I’ve had a chance to “test drive” the Xtreme 2 SE a few times at my local sporting goods store, so I like to think I have a good idea of its high points and what it can & can’t do.

From the moment I tried its Power Rod tech for the first time, I could feel how it was different from other home gyms, or my familiar barbells & dumbbells.

(And I could hear the difference too, since all the exercises you can do with the power rods are almost silent because there are no weight plates clanging during your reps.)

For me the user experience is a testament to Bowflex’s thoughtful design. But we’ll get into all that in a bit. For now, let’s start moving through the details of what makes the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE so well-rated & popular.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym

Unboxing the Xtreme 2 SE & initial impressions

Let’s start at the very beginning. The excitement of bringing home a new piece of equipment can be tinged with a bit of anxiety, particularly when you’re faced with a big box full of parts.

However, fear not.

I don’t have assembly experience with this. But from those I’ve spoken to & the reports I’ve gathered, unboxing the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is like opening a well-packed treasure chest.

You’ll find each part neatly arranged, wrapped securely to avoid damage in transit. Initial impressions suggest a well-thought-out packing design, reassuring you that Bowflex takes as much care in packaging their product as they do in designing it.


Simple guide to Xtreme 2 assembly

Before we dive in, it’s worth mentioning that assembly times can vary. Depending on your skill level, it might take more than a few hours to set up your new home gym.

(The range I heard the most was 3 – 3 1/2 hours.)

Good news is, Bowflex has worked to make the process as uncomplicated as possible, requiring only a few simple tools.

According to sporting goods store employees I’ve spoken to, and various customer testimonials, the instructions are well-written and clear.

As one user put it,

“It came with every single piece of hardware needed to put it together and the parts all fit together perfectly. It is fairly complicated to put together, but this is a beast of a machine! I’d never even used a Bowflex before, but the assembly instructions were clear and accurate. All in all I had little difficulty figuring out how to assemble it.”

Here’s a step-by-step video from Bowflex that takes all the mystery out of putting the Xtreme 2 SE together:


Pro assembly available

However, we all have different comfort levels when it comes to building a substantial piece of home gym equipment.

If the thought of assembling this machine feels outside your comfort zone, you’ll be relieved to hear that Bowflex offers in-home professional assembly.

This is an option many people take advantage of to save time, energy, and potential frustration. Here are a few more customer experiences:

“Instruction manual was clear and easy to use, assembly was a breeze. There is a small learning curve on how to position the pulleys. Once you have flow your (sic) good to go!”

“The professional assembly is definitely worth it…The technician took a surprisingly short amount of time and had it all up and going for me! I would recommend getting a Bowflex to everyone who is shy or just doesn’t have the time to go out.”

“Great assembly directions, does take some time but easy to follow and complete.”

However, as with anything, there are also those who found it challenging:

“Extremely difficult to assemble. Overpriced shipping.” (Note: shipping is currently free.)

“Very hard to assemble. I’m on hour 5 of putting it together with no end in sight. Maybe 4 more hours of work.”

And one final piece of advice from a customer: “If you pay the $300.00 for assembly be prepared to wait for them to show up. However, there are excellent videos online to assist with assembly.”

(They’re talking about the video I put up above.)

There you have it from the unboxing to assembly. The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE may be an adventure for some to set up, but one that for most is ultimately rewarding.

Let’s dive deeper into the features and functionality of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE in the next section…


The Unique World of Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE

The Power Rod Resistance System and its benefits

One of the unique — well, maybe the most unique — feature that instantly grabbed my attention while testing the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE was its Power Rod Resistance System.

Instead of traditional weight stacks, the Xtreme 2 SE uses flexible rods that provide resistance. I found this technology resulted in a quieter, smoother, and more fluid motion compared to the ‘universal’ style home gym systems, those with the metal weight stacks.

It comes with a wide range of resistance levels out of the box — from as little as 5 pounds to 210 pounds — and if you need more resistance, Bowflex has Power Rod upgrades you can check out.


The Quick Change System for seamless transitions

Another feature that caught my eye, or rather saved my time, was the Quick Change System.

Nothing disrupts a good workout flow like having to wrestle with weight adjustments between exercises. But the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE has made transitioning between exercises nearly seamless with their system.

No more long pauses between sets, swapping dumbbell weights or adding plates; I could easily shift between two different exercises (with different loads) without breaking my rhythm.


Overview of key features and tech specs

Looking closer at the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE, I notice how much thought Bowflex has put into the design and how it works.

With over 70 exercises, this machine lets you work every major muscle group in multiple ways to keep your workouts interesting.

The Xtreme 2 SE also comes with many pulley and cable positions. Changing these positions lets you adjust the angle of resistance, making many exercises more effective & better tuned to your height, range of motion, etc.

I liked how the seat is adjustable and has a soft comfy polyurethane cushion, and “cush” always makes longer workouts more comfortable.

I wouldn’t call the Xtreme 2 SE small by any means. But its floor footprint is only a little bigger than 4′ x 4′. So for all the exercises & levels of resistance it offers, the term ‘relatively compact’ comes to mind.

53″ L x 49″ W x 82″ H are its exact specs, so an 8 foot ceiling is needed (I think) if you plan on doing pull ups. Bowflex suggests an 8′ x 6.5′ floor area to allow you to perform all the exercises with adequate room.

It’s designed to match different fitness levels and workout styles, and is very beginner-friendly, which I find very appealing.

All of these features make the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE a complete home gym workout solution for many people.


Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE exercises & routines

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE boasts a number of versatile exercise stations designed to cater to a whole range of workout regimens.

While I haven’t broke out a full workout on it, my time spent using the Xtreme 2 SE on the store floor allowed me to gain a good understanding of its features.

The Xtreme 2 SE has a nice leg extension/leg curl station, then there’s the lat tower, which comes with an angled lat bar. So you have pull ups, chin ups, & lat pulldowns all in one spot, that’s smart.

A quick adjustment and now you’ve got a squat station, or a chest press (or pec flys), or a seated shoulder press, and so on.

Looking at the Xtreme 2’s exercise list, I see:

  • 6 chest exercises;
  • 14 shoulder exercises (!);
  • 15+ back exercises;
  • 25+ arms (bi’s & tri’s) exercises;
  • 3 ab/core exercises;
  • and 10 leg exercises.

Umm, that’ll do.


Different workouts for different fitness goals

One of the things that makes the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE stand out is its adaptability to different fitness goals…70+ available exercises will do that apparently.

Whether you’re aiming to bulk up, lose weight, improve your athletic performance, or simply maintain your current fitness level, you can tailor your workouts to suit your objectives.

For weight loss, a HIIT-style circuit training approach can be effective. This could include cycling through a series of exercises on the Xtreme 2 SE with minimal rest in between, maximizing calorie burn and cardio conditioning.

For muscle building, you could focus on training heavier with lower reps & compound exercises that use the Power Rod System, targeting specific muscle groups each workout day for a well-rounded routine.


Voices from the Crowd: User Reviews and Ratings

The overall sentiment towards the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is overwhelmingly positive, and I counted up every buyer who left a review I could find.

Over 4,000 buyers have left reviews online, with the machine receiving an impressive average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. This is a strong indicator of the product’s quality and effectiveness in delivering on its promises.

For a reviewer like me, who’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in the world of home fitness equipment, these figures speak.

In my years of critiquing fitness equipment,  few home gym products have been so highly endorsed by users, with over 90% of the reviews being either 4 or 5 stars.

Most tellingly, a whopping 97% of buyers said they would recommend the Xtreme 2SE to a friend. This is a strong testament to the machine’s appeal and effectiveness.

Woman using Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE for leg raises

Customer comments

Let’s check out what a few customers have to say. Many users have shared their satisfaction with the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE in their reviews.

Here are a few standout comments that represent the general consensus:

  • I couldn’t be happier!! At 46 yo I needed to invest in something that I can use at home that offered a variety of exercises. I work out 3-4 times a week just to stay moving and keep up with my kids! After just a month of using it I feel better and can see physical results!”
  • “I would buy this Bowflex Again! My Bowflex is Awesome! I go through and do my whole body around 3 times a week. Honestly the workouts I get are quicker than going to a gym. I Love my Bowflex! Easy to use and get a really effective workout!”

These testimonials indicate that the Xtreme 2 SE is a machine that people enjoy using and see results with, but let’s also consider the minority view. Here are a couple of comments from users who were less impressed:

  • “Performance just ok. I use the product about every other day for strength training. I am a little disappointed in the system. The cables are jerky and the machine is noisy. It is not the assembly of the unit as I am 100% positive it is correct.”
  • “Meh… Had it about a month, it’s ok. I wouldn’t purchase it again. I get a better workout from a bench and free weights for less money and less dedicated space.”

These criticisms are important to bear in mind, as they remind us that no single piece of equipment will be perfect for everyone.

Although I gotta say, the guy complaining about a “noisy machine” and “jerky” cables is all alone in that experience. My guess is he either he got shipped a lemon or he didn’t put it together properly.


User Experience Insights

Evaluating comfort, adjustability, and operation

In terms of comfort, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE ticks that box. The machine features padded, adjustable seats, a feature that’s quite welcome, especially for those longer workout sessions.

During my brief test runs at the store, I was particularly impressed by the ergonomics of the seats and how they added to the overall workout vibe.

Next up, adjustability, and the Xtreme 2 SE doesn’t disappoint. The adjustable pulley system allows you to change the angle of resistance, so you can work your muscles in multiple ways, catering to a broader range of exercises.

The seat is also adjustable, catering to users of different heights.

In terms of operation, the Xtreme 2 SE is straightforward and user-friendly. The transition from one exercise to the next is smooth, thanks to the Quick Change Power Rod system.

This feature really stood out during my play sessions with the machine, as it makes it easier to switch from one workout to another without any time-consuming hassle.


Safety features to give you peace of mind

Safety is another crucial aspect when it comes to workout equipment, and the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE doesn’t overlook this. It’s really beginner-friendly, something that doesn’t always happen for someone just starting out using free weights.

The Power Rod resistance system is a standout here with the basic compound heavier movements, offering a safer alternative to free weights by eliminating the risk of dropped weights or pinched fingers.

While I was using it it felt robust and sturdy, with no feeling like it was creaky, wobbly, or liable to start tipping over at any point. And even with all 210 lb. in use on a set, my time spent on the Xtreme 2 SE felt quite secure and stable.


Maintenance and longevity

With a bit of attention, you can keep your Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE in great shape for a long time.

Make a habit of doing a quick wipe-down after each workout to prevent buildup of sweat and grime. Regularly inspect the machine, especially the Power Rods, for any signs of wear and tear.

The Power Rods are designed for durability, but like any component, they can wear out with extensive use.

The resistance of the rods can vary depending on environmental conditions and usage patterns. The product manual suggests disconnecting the cables from the Power Rods when the gym is not in use.

Doing so, along with keeping the rods and cables bound when not in operation, can help extend the lifespan of your Power Rods.


Investment Considerations vs. a gym membership

At a price of $1199, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is indeed an investment. So let’s put it into perspective.

Compare the price of the Xtreme 2 SE to belonging to a gym. Factor in:

  • the average annual cost of a gym membership (at $50/month, that’s around $600),
  • the time spent traveling to and from the gym,
  • the cost of car gas or transportation,
  • and the potential inconvenience of waiting for equipment.

Now the value becomes clearer. Not to mention, there’s something to be said for the comfort of working out in your own home.

Check Out Bowflex


The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs. home gyms & commercial gyms

Comparing the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE with similar home gyms, it holds its own. While it doesn’t replicate the exact feel of using free weights like dumbbells and barbells, it offers consistent resistance from start to finish of each exercise.

It won’t be a perfect match for the hardcore lifters, but it provides a level of resistance more than adequate for most recreational workout enthusiasts.

In contrast to the traditional gym experience, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE in your home has some distinct advantages.

You could do a few sets in the spur of a moment’s notice, waiting for your meal to cook or your laundry cycle to end. Work out in your underwear at whatever time you feel like.

Plus it’s much quieter than a conventional gym, where noise from dropped weights and high-volume music can be disruptive if you’re not in the mood.

This Bowflex machine provides a convenient, full-body, personalized workout environment right in your home, 24/7/365.


Xtreme 2 SE cost & Bowflex financing options

Thinking about buying the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE home gym? Then let’s talk money. The gym costs $1199, which may or may not feel like a lot to pay all at once.

If it does no worries since Bowflex lets you split that cost. You can pay about $67 every month for 18 months.

The best part? You get to start your workout routine with the Bowflex as soon as you set it up, even if you’ve only made the first payment.

Just remember that if you don’t finish the payments in 18 months, they’ll add interest from the day you bought it, and you’ll end up paying more.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Is the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE right for you, or does it not tick all the right boxes? Here’s a couple of things I thought of, and add your own too.

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE may be a good fit for:

  • Individuals looking for a comprehensive home workout solution
  • People aiming to save time by avoiding gym commutes
  • Users who appreciate a quieter workout environment
  • Those who desire a variety of exercise options from a single piece of equipment
  • Anyone who appreciates the flexibility of exercising at any time of day or night, without the constraints of gym hours
  • People seeking a fitness solution that can adapt with them as they improve their strength and fitness levels
  • Individuals who value their privacy when exercising

On the other hand, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE may not be the best choice for:

  • Hardcore weightlifters or bodybuilders who prioritize using free weights
  • Individuals who enjoy the social aspect and motivational atmosphere of a gym setting
  • Those who prefer using multiple, dedicated machines for specific exercises
  • Users seeking the exact feel and mechanics of free weights
  • People who like to engage in heavy powerlifting
  • Anyone who enjoys frequently changing up their workout environment



Here are answers to a few of the commonly asked questions regarding Bowflex’ most popular home gym, the Xtreme 2 SE.

Is the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE suitable for beginners?

Yes, the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is a very good fit for beginners. It provides adjustable resistance, allowing users to start at lower levels and gradually increase as their strength improves.

How much space is needed for the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE?

Although it only has a footprint of around 4' x 4', the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE requires a workout area of at least 8' x 6'5" (L x W). This extra space is recommended to allow for safe and comfortable usage.

Can the Power Rods be upgraded for more resistance?

Yes, the Power Rods on the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE can be upgraded. It comes with 210 lbs of resistance, which can be upgraded to 310 lbs or even 410 lbs.

Is the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE good for tall individuals?

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is suitable for tall people, though Bowflex doesn't specify a height range. The seat rail adjusts to accommodate different user heights, and the multi-position pulley system allows for varying workout postures.

What is the weight capacity of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE?

The maximum weight capacity of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is 300 lb. or 136 kg.

What is the warranty coverage for the Xtreme 2 SE?

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE's warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship for 7 years on the machine and 5 years on the Power Rods. It is valid only for the original purchaser in the US/Canada. Nautilus, Inc. will repair or possibly replace defective parts.

What exercises can you do with the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym?

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym supports over 70 exercises. You can work on all muscle groups, including chest (e.g., Bench Press, Chest Fly), shoulders (e.g., Shoulder Press, Lateral Shoulder Raise), back (e.g., Pulldowns, Bent Over Row), legs (extensions, curls, & squats), and arms (e.g., Triceps Extension, Biceps Curl).


Related articles here on heydayDo

It’s Settled! Verdict In: Bowflex vs Ativafit Adjustable Dumbbell

Bowflex Velocore Bike Review: The Great Bike That Leans

Total Gym Fit vs XLS: What’s the $500 Difference?

Bowflex Blaze Review: Because “Flaming Fitness” Was Too Dramatic

Fitness Gear Pro Utility Bench Review

Read My Hands-On Gorilla Bow Review & Embrace Your Inner Tarzan

Creatine vs. BCAA: Less of a Battle, More of a Ballet

My Best Cheap Power Rack Review (Squat & Half Racks Too)

My Best Compact Home Gym Review – 6 Picks For Any Budget

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Review featured image 340w

Wrapping up

In my hands-on experiences with the Xtreme 2 SE, it showed itself as a versatile home gym that’s  a good fit for many homes. It’s not perfect for everyone of course, but its popularity & excellent product ratings say it works well for a lot of people.

With all of its 70+ exercises and its quiet, smooth personality, you could be addressing strength or flexibility goals, shaping a full-body transformation without waking the baby in the room next door.

I hope this review of the Xtreme 2 home gym is useful to you, and I wish you well on your fitness journey.

– greg

About The Author

heydayDo author Greg Simon

Hi, I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition) Pro Member. MBA, B.Sc.

Author. Surfer. Organic food grower. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

heydayDo.com is my wellness blog that’s about encouraging a healthy lifestyle as we age. 

I share my fitness training experience as well as the sports science research I’ve done on the many benefits strength building, exercise, & good eating habits offer us. 

I also write review articles after product testing home gym equipment & fitness supplements.

My hope is that you’ll find useful or encouraging information here on my website that will benefit your unique fitness journey.

Scroll to Top