- Preset workouts are really good
- Easy to use, especially considering there is a Bowflex HVT mobile app
- Dozens of exercise possibilities with adjustable resistance levels
- Durable design and doubles as a FreeMotion machine
- Tedious to assemble
- Takes up a decent amount of space
- Platform shifts around
The Bowflex HVT Machine is great for quick, high intensity workouts. It’s expensive, but if you use it regularly you should get in much better shape.
Because I know you were wondering, HVT stands for “Hybrid Velocity Training,” which is fancy talk for cross-training. The Bowflex HVT is part Concept 2 Ski Erg and part FreeMotion machine. It’s designed to improve your cardio and strength, all in one workout. And we think it does so indeed. We were pleasantly surprised at how good the workouts were. Not only did they tax our cardiovascular and respiratory system, but also our muscles started to fatigue mid-workout, every workout. We actually workout quite a bit (at least one time per day, if not more) and we were pretty challenged by what HVT had to offer. When you first see it, you think it’s sort of gimmicky, but after you try it, you realize, “Hey! there’s something here.” It’s kind of neat.
The exact dimensions of the HVT are 83” tall x 46” wide x 66” deep, which translates into “taking up a good portion of a normal room, but fitting comfortably in a garage gym.” While it has cables overhead, it’s short enough that it will almost certainly fit into your apartment, house, or garage. We had no issues with the size of the HVT. As far as the build quality goes, it’s solid and feels durable despite the fact that it incorporates a lot of plastic. It has cables overhead (as previously mentioned), attached to the platform base, and at chest-level. These allow you to do a myriad of exercises, which I will cover in a bit. At no point did we wonder about the integrity of the cables or handles. Everything feels solid and well built. Like any cable machine, however, not all movements allow the cables to move freely so occasionally they will stick, but it’s not really an issue. And as far as the resistance goes, the HVT actually incorporates a fly wheel like you’ve seen on rowing machines. Basically, it will allow you to work as hard as you want. The more you push or pull, the more it will resist, although technically the resistance levels go from 1-16, adjustable manually.
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The HVT also has a handy spot to put your phone, tablet, or the training manual and a dedicated water bottle holder. This allows you to quickly reference workouts and movements and better follow along with the workouts. In addition to that, the HVT has a display that guides you through each workout and allows you to switch settings, resistance and users. Actually, the HVT remembers up to 4 different users and allows you to input your weight and age to better calculate your effort level. It will even remember your resistance levels by workout so it’s much easier to jump in and start a workout.
Workouts with the Bowflex HVT Machine
The HVT has 3 different preset workouts as well as a manual mode and iOS/Android app where you can create additional workouts and track your progress. You can even put your phone or tablet on the HVT to follow along to trainer-led workouts, which is pretty neat. In terms of the three preset workouts, however, there’s Sprint, Circuit, and Builder. The Sprint workout, as the name implies, is run and gun for 18 minutes, at the end of which you will be sweating, even if you’re pretty fit currently. That’s because the fly wheel system fights back quite a bit and you can always increase the resistance levels if things are getting too easy (which hopefully happens over time). The Sprint workout is a series of movements coupled together that you repeat for the duration of the workout with minimal rest.
The one thing that I really enjoyed about the HVT is that the movements are challenging, yet still fairly natural and easy to perform. It really does strike a good balance between beginner and advanced mode, although CrossFitters will be bored to death with the HVT. The second workout is Circuit and it’s about 50/50 cardio and strength training. You basically complete four rounds of a series of exercises and you’re done. It lasts 21 minutes, and again, you’ll be sweating and breathing.
The third workout is Builder and it’s about 30/70 strength training to cardio. It is an ascending ladder of exercises. Round 1 includes 1 movement, while round 2 has 2 movements, and so on. By round 8 you’re doing 8 movements with very minimal rest. It’s taxing and definitely fatigues your muscles.
Bottom line with the HVT
It’s a really great piece of fitness equipment. If you use it diligently you will get in better shape. But you need $1,800 laying around. Very expensive. As a heads up, as of July 2017, Bowflex was running a $200 off summer special. With that said, people spend much more on a road bike so if you think you’ll use it, perhaps it’s worth a go. For comparison, however, $1,800 is 3-4 years worth of gym membership fees. Think about that. We really like HVT and think it’s a unique machine that we haven’t seen before.