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July 28, 2020 10 min read

As much as we try to pay our respect to the iron temple on a regular basis, sometimes things get in the way. Maybe your car broke down or buses aren’t running, or you just don’t feel like leaving the house that day. Maybe there’s a quarantine.

Whatever the reason, it helps to have a workout backup plan that you can always do from the comfort of your own place.

A home workout can be just as effective and comes with its own unique benefits, especially when it comes to calisthenics. Many people swear by bodyweight exercises and they’ve been a staple of working out since ancient Greek armies used them before marching into battle. Nevertheless, sometimes you need that little extra edge, or tension, to really kick your gains into high gear.

Which is where home gym fitness equipment comes in.

It can be as simple as a resistance band and kettlebell, but if you’re really into the idea of working out from your home, you’ll probably want something bigger and better. For example, a Bowflex machine.

But even the greatest tools are useless in the hands of an amateur. This is why we’ve compiled a great workout routine for you below that’ll effectively utilize the benefits of owning a Bowflex.

What’s the Deal with Bowflex?

From its humble beginnings in 1986, Bowflex has become a juggernaut in the space of exercise equipment. But while the company has branched out into everything from adjustable dumbbells, kettlebells, cardio machines, and activity trackers, its name still remains synonymous with some of the best home gym machines available on the market.

As we mentioned above, Bowflex now offers a number of different fitness aids and pieces of workout equipment that allow for anything from circuit training, weight resistance training, and weight resistance training.

The main home gym equipment boasts up to 100 different exercises that can be tailored for your own specific goals to build a better body—but for some of us who are less sure what their goals are, this can lead to choice overload. Preventing us from committing to one thing. Hopefully, the workout routine below clears some of the cobwebs. 

A home gym.

Benefits of the Bowflex Home Gym

What makes the Bowflex system unique is that it was the first to use rods to create a constant tension throughout the movement. What does this mean?

You’ve probably noticed in regular weightlifting that some parts of the movement are easier than others. For example, it might be difficult to start pressing the bar in a bench press, but it gets significantly easier the further you press it above you. This is because more muscles are engaged in that particular motion and angle.

However, evidence has shown that it’s this time under tension that is especially important for growing muscles—even when under lighter loads. Strategies can be used in weightlifting to increase the time under tension. For example, spending less time in the lockout part (which is the easiest portion of the lift), and focusing on the eccentric movement (the movement during the lowering portion of the lift).

Much like resistance bands, the Bowflex system utilizes the unique benefits that come with training constantly under some tension.

Adding to this, the system also gives less resistance at the beginning of each exercise—amping up the resistance as the exercise progresses. This effectively reduces the stress on joints and tendons while keeping the same benefits of traditional weightlifting. Not to mention the increased muscle mass gains from a heightened amount of time under tension. 

If you’re ready to dive into the home gym world with Bowflex, check out the workout routine below to maximize your gains.

A Full Body Bowflex Workout

The workout below is prepared in a two-day full body split. Each day is repeated twice each week. For example, you do workout 1 on Monday, workout 2 on Tuesday, workout 1 on Thursday, and workout 2 on Friday. This leaves you the weekend and Wednesday as rest days.

While some of the body parts are the same or similar, each day will focus on different parts of the body when it comes to larger ones. For example, one day will have the chest while the other will focus on the back. The same goes for legs and core workouts, with both being on different days.

While you will be hitting some of the same body parts on both days, the emphasis of the movement will be placed in a different part of that body part. So, for example, triceps versus biceps in the arm. Or front delts versus the back delts. 

We’ve included some recommended sets and rep counts, but that ultimately depends on what your goals are. Whether that be endurance, hypertrophy, strength, or just overall general body conditioning.

Day “A”

This day will be done on day number 1 of the weekly regime, and also day number 3—after a rest day after day “B” has been completed.

Bench Press

There’s a reason the bench press is the king of upper body exercises. It remains one of the best predictors of upper body strength, specifically chest strength. Along with the pecs, the bench press will also tone and build muscle on your arms and front delts.

And not only does it increase upper body strength, but also muscular endurance. Any pressing motion you do either in the gym or outside in everyday life will benefit from training your bench press. Not to mention that big pecs look damn good. 

Shoulder Press

As the name suggests, the shoulder press is all about the shoulders. The emphasis with the shoulder press is placed on the anterior deltoids which are at the front of your body. While many upper body weight lifting movements also train the front delts, giving them some attention will improve your other upper body lifts as well.

Along with your delts, your pecs, triceps, and traps will also thank you. The standing variation also trains your core since you need it to keep balanced. However, if you choose to sit you’ll be better activating your arms (namely, the triceps).

Tricep Extension

The tricep extension is one of the best exercises to work, you guessed it, the triceps. 

While everyone wants big arms, the focus usually falls on the biceps—but the triceps are equally as important. And when it comes to things like the bench press or the pull-up, strong triceps can really up your game in these areas.

Furthermore, strong triceps help to also stabilize your shoulder joints and are an essential ingredient when it comes to some functional fitness needs. Examples of this include basketball, volleyball, and tennis.

French Press

The French press is another excellent tricep exercise, but it comes with its own nuances that make it perfectly complementary to the tricep extension.

If you want to focus on arm size, yes, it’s important to train the triceps as well as the biceps. However, we can go even further than that when it comes to activating particular muscle fibers. 

The tricep is made up of three heads, and the long head is the most important when it comes to the perceived size of the entire muscle. While tricep extensions do train all three heads, they place an emphasis on the two shorter ones. The benefit of the French press is that it places more load on the long head of tricep, giving you extremely well-rounded arms. 

Leg Press

The leg press is one of the best all-round lower body leg exercises that one can do. It hits the quads, hamstrings, and glutes—which are already some of the biggest muscles in the body.

While leg day oft goes ignored, well-built legs look good on absolutely everyone and arguably have more functional fitness benefits than upper body strength. If you want to run faster on the treadmill or increase your vertical for your pickup basketball games, the leg press is a good movement to add to your workout roster.

Not to mention that it’s really easy to do. While some people might be intimidated by the technicalities of good squat form, the leg press holds its own while also providing similar benefits.

Leg Curl

While the leg press emphasizes the quads, leg curls are terrific for isolating the hamstrings and improving their strength and flexibility. Strong and flexible hamstrings mean greater overall strength, balance, and endurance. Furthermore, they’ll also help you out when it comes to your main compound movements.  

Hamstrings are more difficult to train than the quads, for example, since compound movements usually rely on knee flexion which isn’t as good for activating the hamstrings. Leg curls ensure that there’s a high level of hamstring activation in your workouts.

Straight Leg Calf Raise

Calf raises activate two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. The former is what gives your lower leg that teardrop shape, while the latter lies underneath it. These muscles are essential when it comes to pointing down your toes and raising your heels.

Stronger calves mean a greatly improved ankle stability. This is a great way to improve your performance when running since your push-off is stronger. Other sports such as skating, soccer, and tennis will also see improvements since these activities require you to be able to turn on a dime.

Along with improving your balance as well, strong calves can help to prevent any nasty ankle injuries from incurring either in daily life, or when playing sports.

Day “B”

The second day in the two-day split, you’ll be doing these exercises on the second and fourth day of training each week. If starting on Monday with Day “A”, that means these are the movements to look forward to on Tuesday and Friday. 

Lat Rows

This day will focus on the back rather than the chest, which is why we’re starting off with the lat row.

A terrific pulling exercise, not only do lat rows activate the lats, but they also engage the biceps and triceps. The latter two serve as stabilizing muscles in this movement. Having a strong back is essential for balancing out a strong chest. While the latter might look more impressive than the former, you’ll get a rounded look to your posture if you don’t balance out the workouts.

This is a functional exercise in that you’ll be using the same muscle groups whenever you pull something towards your chest. It’s also a good way to teach how to activate the glutes and core for stabilization like you need to do when squatting or deadlifting.

Close Grip Lat Pulldowns

Much like the exercise above, lat pulldowns also serve to primarily engage the middle back (lats) and core. However, while the focus is on the middle back, lat pulldowns do a whole lot for your entire back. 

The close versus wide grip is also an important distinction. Much like in pull-ups, a wider grip will engage more of your back and lats than a narrow grip will. But since lat rows came before this exercise, you don’t need to emphasize the lats as much as you would otherwise. 

Using a closer grip will allow your biceps to take more of a load, which is great for us since this is also a bicep day.

Rear Delt Rows

While the previous day focused on the front delts, today we’ll be focusing on the rear delts.

The rear delts are an often ignored muscle since there’s not much of a “wow” factor to them, but they definitely pull their weight when it comes to having a stronger overall upper body and a better posture. Training your chest (and by extension, the front delts) too much without giving the rear delts enough attention can result in a rounded posture that looks anything but good.

A wider elbow positioning with this move will engage your rear delts, traps, and upper back to a greater degree.

Standing Bicep Curls

When it comes to looking good, there are few muscles that can match the aesthetic dimensions of having big biceps.

It’s one of the best isolation exercises which works both the upper arm and to a lesser extent, the lower arm. Furthermore, it’s super easy to do and gives a great pump if you’re looking to stroke your ego a little bit. Outside aesthetics, biceps are functionally useful anytime you try to pick something up.

Reverse Grip Bicep Curls

Although similar in name, this exercise gets a lot less love than its more popular cousin above.

Part of the reason is that it emphasizes the part of the bicep that’s not visible, but still plays an important role in connecting the upper arm with the forearm. Doing this movement will yield a stronger grip strength, a stronger overall arm structure, and it can alleviate elbow pain if there’s an imbalance between the flexor and extensor muscles.

A guy doing back extensions.

Back Extension 

While this day focuses on the core, it might come as a surprise to some of us that it begins with a back exercise. 

A strong core extends much further than just the abs. It includes your lower back muscles as well (not to mention the host of lower body muscles that also make up the core). These muscles are essential when it comes to stabilizing the spine and improving your posture—something that’ll become more and more necessary as anyone ages. 

In terms of functionality, a strong lower back helps you bend forward, turn to the side, and lift things from the ground.

Resisted Crunch

If you’re looking for a 6-pack, resisted crunches are definitely a solid contender for ways to get that chiseled look.

While regular crunches already do enough to challenge the core, if you add resistance to the mix your gains will be that much greater. The importance of a strong core cannot go overstated. It’s either essential or very important in almost every full-body workout, and training it has great cardiovascular benefits as well. 

Add a twist (literally) to the exercise by only using a resistance cable on one side, thereby activating the obliques. 

Reverse Crunch

If the resisted crunch is better at getting a 6-pack than a regular crunch, the reverse crunch is just that much better.

Since your legs are drawn up towards your chest, the full length of your 6-pack muscles is engaged—with the movement even getting into the deep lower abs. Another benefit is that there’s less neck discomfort with this movement than in a traditional crunch.

Programming Exercises and Life Around Your Goals

It’s recommended to do anywhere from 1 to 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps of each of the above movements. Each day can be anywhere from a 40 to a 60-minute workout. Obviously, this will ultimately depend on both your experience level and what your fitness goals are. Whether you’re strength training, bodybuilding, or training for weight loss, the most important thing to remember is to stick to your workout program and keep your eye on the prize the entire time.

And whatever your goals are, you can always get that extra edge on the competition, whether that be supplements, good nutrition, or enough sleep. Just keep that heart rate up.