I'm particularly interested in deep squats up to 250 lbs and want to know if Bowflex's squat attachment can give me as stimulating a squat workout as do free weights.
The Bowflex™ is a good quality home exercise machine that has many good features to it. You can do a reasonably good squat with this machine.
It does, however, have the following drawbacks:
1. It locks you into a pattern of movement
What this means is that you can only push straight up and down. It doesn't require you to balance the load, limiting it's carryover to real-world strength. This locking can be an advantage if you have trouble balancing in squats though.
Locking you into the movement can also be detrimental to your knees as they will be pushing at angles to the resistance rather than directly against it. This can cause torque in the joints, which can lead to knee injuries. If you do use the Bowflex™, be sure to place your feet directly under the bar - don't set your feet forward at all.
2. The resistance curve is different than a barbell squat
The mechanics of the machine change the way resistance is applied to your body during the squat. In this case, it increases resistance as you push up towards the standing position while at the bottom of the movement there isn't as much resistance.
While this more closely matches the strength curve of a squat (weaker at the bottom, stronger towards the top), it means that you will be using less resistance at the bottom, which is actually the most effective part of the squat.
Personally, I would choose the barbell squat over any form of machine squat.
The Bowflex™ squat exercise can be effective when done safely and with intensity.
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