Bowflex Max Trainer M3 Review

Editor's Rating: 8.9 /10
Update: This model has been discontinued. To find a suitable replacement, check out our treadmill finder here.

A top alternative to treadmills, the Bowflex Max Trainer M3 is gentle on your joints and supports wonderfully speedy calorie burn. While discontinued from production, the M3 is still available at many online retailers and as used model. It’s a great deal at the right price. Using the Max Trainer M3, you can burn calories at up 2.5 times your treadmill rate. This is mainly because Max Trainers engage not only your lower body but also your upper body:

  • The lower body exercise is like elliptical training or stair stepping.
  • The upper body exercise uses moving arms. The arm motion is similar to that on some elliptical trainers, but it’s about 80% more effective.

Additional benefits stem from the Max Trainer M3’s zero-impact design. Fitness machines that are zero impact or low impact significantly reduce your risk of injury when compared with treadmills. They also help you exercise more intensely with the same perceived effort, so results come more quickly. It makes sense that the tagline for these Bowflex trainers is “Max results. Max reasons.”

This treadmill alternative is the entry-level model in its series, which also includes the Max Trainer M6. The M3 covered in this review has eight resistance levels, two preset workouts, and two user profiles.

There are some key differences between the Max Trainer M3 and M6 that contribute to the higher cost of the latter. For example, the M6 features more preset programs and the number of resistance levels. However, the maximum and minimum resistance levels on each model are the same. These products have one-year and two-year parts warranties, respectively.

Below are lists of what we like and don’t like about the Bowflex Max Trainer M3. We conclude the review with a summary and verdict.

  • A great machine for beginners who want a simple, but effective workout
  • Service on discontinued models might be tough to come by

What We Like:

There are many features on the Max Trainer M3 that make it stand out from the crowd. These include:

  • No Impact: Even on the most cushioned treadmills out there, you are still going to be subject to some degree of impact. You exercise to feel better about yourself and your body but yet some forms of exercise can actually leave you injured and in pain. That’s why investing in equipment that leaves you pain-free is a fantastic option. The Max Trainer M3 will keep your joints protected and you feeling great as you go about your workout session.
  • Various Intensity Abilities. Since you aren’t losing any energy through shock absorption within your own body, you can put 100% of your energy towards your workout sessions. Those exercising on the Max Trainer M3 are generally able to exercise at higher intensity levels than those who are exercising on treadmills or doing other higher impact forms of exercise. This can lead to better results over the long haul.
  • Upper Body Workout: The upper body workout that you get with many cardio trainers is minimal, if any. Not with the Bowflex Max Trainer M3. This one will even give you a better arm workout than most elliptical trainers, which is important for building a well-rounded level of fitness.
  • Resistance Levels: To help ensure you make ongoing progress, the Bowflex Max Trainer M3 provides eight resistance levels to ensure that as you get more fit, you can up the resistance and see improvements. This also helps you perform high intensity interval training with ease and add enough variety to your workout sessions so you never become bored. If you need more resistance, no problem. Just opt for the M6 model, which offers 16 different resistance levels.
  • Heart Rate Monitoring Systems: Keep tabs on your heart rate easily by using the wireless chest strap that’s included. This will help ensure that you are working out in your target heart rate zone.
  • Dual User Profiles: This machine is perfect for the couple who wants to get in shape together or for two roommates living together. With two user profiles, each person can set up their own information and pick up their workouts right where they left off.
  • Extras: Bowflex designed the M3 for comfort. Your machine will also come with a water bottle holder for keeping your water close by along with a reading rack so you can read a book, magazine, tablet, or just watch a movie on you SmartPhone.
  • Compact: For those who are short on space, the Max Trainer M3 is a perfect option. With a footprint of just 49 inches by 26 inches, you can easily fit it in even the tightest of spaces. It also weighs only 143 pounds, so isn’t too terribly hard to move as needed.

Bowflex Max Trainer M3 Treadmill - Key Specs:

Star Rating:4-stars
Running Area:n/a
Top Speed:n/a
Weight Capacity:300 LBS
Dimensions:49" L x 26" W x 64.7" H
Built-In Programs:Manual and MAX Interval (8 resistance levels)
What We Don’t Like:

We award this machine four stars but not five. Here are a few potential drawbacks of choosing the Max Trainer M3:

  • Discontinued Model: It’s a great deal if you can find it, but service might be hard to come by.
  • Assembly: Assembly takes more than an hour. You can pay extra for setup.
  • Best for Already-Fit People: Most reviewers like to use the Bowflex M3. When we see negative reviews, they’re usually written by people who aren’t ready for its resistance.
  • Simple Console: The M3 Max Trainer has a very basic console when compared with most treadmills at its price point. You’ll get two preset programs and will see a display of calorie burn and other data. There isn’t any built-in entertainment but you can set a tablet computer on the ledge, nor is there a built-in speaker system.
  • Not Backlit: The display isn’t backlit, so it’s hard to read at night unless a lamp is nearby. The M6 has a backlit display.
  • Two Programs: The M3 has manual mode and a program called “MAX Interval.” More built-in programs are provided on the M6, which can also be synced with a free Bowflex app.
  • Uncomfortable: This trainer could be uncomfortable for small trainees. They might want the moving arm bars to be placed closer together.
  • Noise: We have noticed, as have other users, that this model can squeak a bit after extended use.
  • Price: This model has a poor combination of price and warranty. It costs $999 but is only under warranty for a year. With a comparably priced treadmill you could get three years of parts coverage, a year of labor and lengthy protection on the frame.

Our Verdict:

The Bowflex M3 is best for intermediate to advanced athletes with cash to spare. The main “con” of buying this fitness machine is that while it has a low price up-front, it’s not guaranteed to last as long as top treadmills in its price class. But the main “pro” might outweigh that point: The M3 is a wonderfully efficient tool for taking your total body strength and endurance to the next level – again and again. Trainees are proud of their fast results.

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Recent Updates

  • July 13, 2021: Added some FAQs to the page.
  • November 6, 2022: Updated discontinued status and pricing information.

Bowflex Max Trainer M3 FAQs

Is the Bowflex Max Trainer hard on your knees?

The Bowflex Max Trainer is designed to reduce impact on your joints, so it won’t be hard on your knees at all.

What is the size of the Bowflex Max Trainer M3?

The Bowflex M3 is a very compact machine with a footprint of only 49" x 26", and overall product weight of 143 lbs.

What is the weight capacity of the Bowflex Max Trainer M3?

The maximum user weight capacity of this machine is 300 lbs.