I was looking into the stronglifts workout routine. It kind of caught my eye after finding Brett McKay aid it's the workout he does. I was wondering if i could do those exercises with a Bowflex. I don't have the money right now to join a gym and I exercise seldom on it due to my study load. Would I get similar results?

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Free weights are always going to be better than machines because using free weights forces your body to utilize range of motion. Machines restrict natural movement and they do not translate as well into building raw strength. If you can afford paying $20-$30 monthly, you will be able to find a decent gym with free weight equipment. If you are in college, your school should have a fitness center. 

Ain't no way you'll do SL 5x5 on a Bowflex. I'm 10 weeks into it and free weights are absolutely essential. If you can't afford monthly dues a lot of gyms will let you do "drop in" workouts for $5-10 a pop but that defeats the purpose because SL requires 3 workouts per week. Use your school's gym if you can.

Why is a bowflex so unsuitable for stronglifts?  I don't understand...

 

From what I've read, it is the unbalanced nature of free weights which is their strength, and the reason why free weights are preferred for those looking to build real muscle, since they engage the smaller stabilizer muscles when doing a motion.

 

I have a bowflex, and that unbalanced nature is well reproduced by this machine.  If the weight limit is the concern, I have the 420 pound version, and it would provide plenty of resistance for me, at my current stage.  (But I have a proper gym membership, so I don't use it right now)

Well, according to what Mehdi, the creator of SL says, there's no other way because machines do the balancing for you. Generally I find his research to be so thorough and detailed that if Bowflex were an exception to this rule, he would probably have said so. I could be mistaken but resistance machines tend to work more for split routines and isolation exercises, of the very kind Strong Lifts eschews.

But that's the point.  The cabling system of a bowflex offers no balancing...it is akin to having a separate dumbell in each hand, and there's a solid bar which approximates (most effectively) a barbell.

 

I can see outgrowing it...but the type of resistance it provides is *quite* different than the absolutely restrictive machines usually found in a gym.

 

It's actually a beautiful engineering solution.

@Chuck: Your post kicked off quite a fun conversation within the StrongLifts "inner circle" as several of us tried seriously to figure out how one could do effective squats using a BowFlex machine. The best example we could come up with was this video:

I'm sure your beloved BowFlex is good for other things, perhaps as a very expensive shirt hanger or something for your gal to dry her stockings on, but certainly not useful for squats. You could purchase a power rack, Olympic bar, bench and 500+ lbs of free weights for half the price of this contraption and you'd also get better results with the free weights.

If we listen to this official "Bowflex Trainer's" advice to "only go as low as is comfortable" there would be very little benefit to the squat. That shallow squat will work the quads only, and quite likely cause knee problems later due to quads becoming dis-proportionally stronger than the rest of the leg. A full range of motion is thus required in order to work the glutes, hams and quads together so that they balance one another.

Notice also how the squat (if you could call it one) is performed with the BowFlex. There is zero resistance at the bottom of the squat, providing little benefit for the glutes and hams. Compare this to a free-weight squat in which there is a constant weight (resistance) throughout the entire range of motion. 

Lastly, we could all probably Squat 500lbs tomorrow if we just "go as low as we're comfortable going". :) The squat is the king of strength training because - when properly done to full range of motion - nothing works the posterior chain more completely. The BowFlex machine just doesn't make this possible.

For a more complete explanation of why weight machines can not match the benefits of free-weights, I recommend you read Mark Rippetoe's book, Starting Strength

Well, no disrespect to Bowflex users, but I ran this question by the Strong Lifts community, of which I am a member, and got quite a unanimous response of "no." The SL workout done according to Mehdi's prescribed methods do not allow for dumbbells or cable machines, and one reason for this is that it centers around the squat. We are discouraged from squatting by any method other than a free weight, barbell squat, the force and gravity of which cannot be replicated by any machine unless you heft that machine onto your shoulders and squat it. While I do not imply that one cannot achieve fitness goals using Bowflex, it remains that the Strong Lifts workout (developed from powerlifting programs by legends like Reg Park and Olympic coach Glenn Pendlay) is intended as a free weight, barbell workout.

Get your schooling over with; that's what is important. You have the whole rest of your life to join a gym and hit weights.

Do what you can for now to stay in shape; run, push and pullups, and even that bowflex. Just don't expect you can do everything at once.

Yeah I do feel I get kind of lethargic about still being in school. I subconsciously compare the time I have with other students when other students aren't in the major I am in. I know some do sports while being an engineering major. But there is no way I can do that nor would I want the work load. Most of the people I know that can hit the gym a lot are business majors.  

This is brilliant advice. 

As others have said, you wouldn't be getting the full effect or results from using a Bowflex for Stronglifts 5x5.  I'm sure there are plenty of decent workouts you can do with the Bowflex though.  

Yeah the more i think about it. I have a few resources that I can tinker with that will allow me to get a good work out from the bowflex. I do wonder would I do the reps part of the SL 5X5 you know the 5 reps, rest repeate? 

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