When it comes to home workout machines, Bowflex has always been the innovator. Their unique power rod resistance system has remained an extremely popular training option for decades.
The top selling machine in their home gym line is the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE, which is an upgrade of the original Xtreme. However, the Bowflex Xceed is also very popular. Overall, the differences between the Xtreme SE2 and the Xceed are minor. They do not make up for the greater cost of the Xtreme model. We, therefore, feel that the Xceed is the better buy.
In this article we zoom in on these two machines, comparing and contrasting them so you can make a smart buying choice.
The System 2 and the Xceed are quite similar machines, with the Xtreme 2 being a beefier version of the Bowflex Power Rod home gym system. It provides you with about ten more exercises than the Xceed (75+ compared with 65+).
The Xtreme 2 also provides you with a quick-change system that doesn’t require a cable change. This allows you to move from bench press to squats and lat pulldowns without ever having to change cable settings. This allows you to maintain a continuous flow throughout your workout without your heart rate dropping.
The steel framing of the Xtreme 2 is slightly more heavy duty than that of the Xceed. In addition, the Xtreme 2 has 7 free trainer-built workout regimes included in its manual.
The Bowflex Xceed Up Close
- 210 pounds of Power rod resistance as standard
- 65+ exercises
- Compact design
- Heavy duty steel frame
The Bowflex Xceed is a compact, complete home gym that is built for serious strength athletes. On this machine you can perform more than 65 exercises to work every muscle group in your body.
With this machine you get 210 pounds of power rod resistance, which is upgradeable to either 310 or 410 pounds. This provides you with the equivalent of some heavy free weight resistance without the actual weight of the resistance and the safety issues that come with free weights.
The resistance increments on the Xceed go up in lots of 5 pounds.
The heavy-duty steel frame of the Xceed is built to last. It feels solid, giving you the assurance that it will not wobble when you are going heavy on your workout. The seat on this machine is stylish and comfortable, being made from heavy duty polyurethane foam. It is completely adjustable to allow users to customize their positioning.
On the Xceed you get a range of cable and pulley options that allow you to work your muscles from a range of angles. Your purchase comes with an ab strap, squat bar and lat pulldown bar.
The Xceed has a relatively compact footprint, requiring just 7’ x 4’ of floor space. As a result, this is a good option for people who have limited workout space at home.
Bowflex provides a 7-year warranty on the Bowflex Xceed home gym. This covers the frame construction and the pulley system. When it comes to power rods that provide the resistance, Bowflex are so confident in the strength and integrity of their system that they offer a Never-Ending warranty. That means that they will replace the rods if they become defective at any time for life!
When you receive your Bowflex Xceed it will arrive fully unassembled. Some reviewers have mentioned that assembly is quite confusing. You will have to put aside a couple of hours and need a helper to put the machine together.
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Up Close
- 210 pounds of Power rod resistance as standard
- 75+ exercises
- Quick Change system
- Compact design
- Heavy duty steel frame
The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is an updated version of the original Bowflex Xtreme. It provides you with 210 pounds of Power Rod resistance, upgradeable to 310 and 410 pounds, which is a match for the Xceed.
On the Xtreme, you have provision for more than 75 exercises. This includes many angled cable moves which allow you to work your muscles from unique angles. This machine gives you about ten more exercises than Xceed, and dozens more than most home gym competitor units.
The required workout area for the Xtreme SE2 is 8’ x 6.5’. This is slightly larger than that required for the Xceed but still very compact, especially when you consider the huge number of exercises that you can do within this space.
The polyurethane foam-covered seat on the SE2 is fully adjustable, allowing you to customize your body positioning. You also get a five-way grip to allow for workout variation. These grips are regular grip, non-grip cuff, foot cuff and shoulder cuff.
The machine comes complete with a lat pulldown tower and an angled lat pulldown bar. The cable resistance provides a smooth, natural pulling action that allows you to fully extend and contract the working muscle group.
You can purchase optional accessories to extend your workout even further. These include a preacher bicep curl attachment and an abdominal attachment.
One thing we would have liked to have seen included in the purchase package is a workout DVD. The Bowflex Power Rod system introduces trainers to a new and different workout system. It would be nice for Bowflex to have explained their system on DVD while also providing some workout programs that are fully demonstrated on video.
While they do not provide you with DVD workouts, the manual for the Xtreme SE2 does feature 7 workout programs that have been designed by personal trainers and targeted toward specific training outcomes, including muscle building, fat loss and cardio efficiency. The seven programs are:
- 2-minute better body
- 20-minute upper body
- 20-minute lower body
- Circuit training anaerobic
- True aerobic
- Strength training
The maximum allowable user weight on the Xtreme SE2 is 300 pounds, which is the same as on the Xceed. The total weight on the machine is 185 pounds.
The Bowflex Xtreme SE2 will arrive unassembled, just like the Xceed. It is apparently just as tricky to put together, requiring a couple of hours and the work of two people.
The warranty on the Bowflex Xtreme SE2 is the same as that provided by Bowflex on the Xceed – 7 years on the frame and cables and a lifetime warranty on the Power Rods.
Comparing the Xceed and Xtreme SE2
Now that we’ve considered the individual features of the Xceed and the Xtreme SE2, what can we conclude about how they stack up against each other?
In terms of the weight resistance, both machines use the Power Rod system. They both come with 210 pounds as standard, upgradeable to 310 or 410 pounds. The resistance increments both go up in lots of 5 pounds.
The big difference between the two machines is the fact that you can do about ten more exercises on the Xtreme SE2 than on the Xceed. However, with at least 65 exercises available on the Xceed, you get all of the basics and plenty of extras. These include squats, lat pulldowns, leg extensions, bench press, pec deck flies, biceps curls and triceps pushdowns.
The ten exercise extra functionality of the SE2 will not make a whole lot of difference considering the huge range that you already get with the Xceed. We do not think, therefore, that the extra cost of the SE2 is worth the extra exercise range that it offers.
The difference between the two machines that is more meaningful is that the Xtreme SE 2 provides you with a quick-change system between exercises. This means that you do not have to worry about changing cables between some exercises, which you have to do on the Xceed. As a result, the SE2 allows you to move fluidly from one exercise to the next with no downtime. This means that your heart rate will not come down and your muscle pump will not be lost. The end result is a much more productive workout.
The Xtreme SE2 is a slightly more robust, heavy duty and heavier workout machine than the Xceed. However, the Xceed is already an impressively solid unit, so you will have no worries about its structural integrity and rigidity while you are working out.
Neither of these home workout machines comes with a workout or instructional DVD. However, the SE2 does provide you with 7 personal trainer designed workout programs as part of the manual.
The most meaningful difference between the Xtreme SE2 and the Xceed is in the price. The Xceed SE2 is significantly more expensive than the Xceed. Having established that the only meaningful difference between these two machines is the fact that the quick-change system on the SE2 allows for less downtime between exercises, we do not feel that the extra cost is warranted. It is our opinion, then, that if you are looking for a Bowflex Power Rod home gym that allows you to get in a complete full body workout in a compactly designed, functional unit, the Bowflex Xtreme is the better option.
A Word About the Power Rods
Both the Xceed and the Xtreme SE2 use the Power Rod resistance system as the basis of their functionality. The Power Rod system can be likened to a bow and arrow. When you begin to pull back a bow string, it is relatively easy. However, it gets harder the more you pull it back. Similarly, the Power Rod resistance increases as it flexes. So, if you are lifting ‘100 pounds’, you are actually only lifting around 30 pounds during the first 3rd of the movement, going to 80 pounds during the second 3rd and finally 100 pounds during the final third.
Using the Power Rods feels different than using free weights. As you get to the end of the rep, the rods feel tighter and tighter compared to the fluid, smooth feeling of free weights.
The Bottom Line
The Bowflex Power Rod resistance home gym system may not be to everyone’s liking. But, for those people who are after a complete home gym that offers all of the exercises they will ever need in a compact, stylish and functional machine, the Bowflex Xtreme SE2 and the Xceed will both fit the bill nicely. When weighing the two side by side, however, it is clear that the Xceed is the better buy – it is cheaper, offers the same resistance capability and provides all the exercise variety you will ever need.
You can find the Xtreme SE2 along with top Bowflex competitors in our Best Home Gym article.