Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: which is the best multi gym?

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: let the battle of silent home gyms begin!

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST
(Image credit: Bowflex/NordicTrack)

When buying a new multi-gym, there is a point when you narrow down the decision to two models but simply can't make up your mind about which one to get. The specs are good, you like the way the machines look, and they are also within the price range you set originally...both home gyms look ideal, and you just can't make up your mind. If the decision is between the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE and NordicTrack Fusion CST, this article might help you in making the right call. Read on to find out which one of the two is the best multi-gym for you.

Before you buy either, though, please consider these seven things before buying a multi-gym in the first place and learn more about the difference between multi-gyms and power racks here: multi gym vs power rack. You might also want to think about getting a Vaha Interactive Fitness Mirror instead of a multi-gym.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: Price and availability

The recommended retail price of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE is $1,499/£1,349 and is available now through Bowflex and selected third-party retailers. The recommended retail price of the NordicTrack Fusion CST is $1.999.99/£1,799 and is available now through NordicTrack and selected third-party retailers.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: Design and features

Both multi-gyms were designed in the name of reducing sound so they could be used outside the confined walls of a commercial gym without bothering everyone around you.

The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE has a more traditional multi-gym structure but replaces the noisy weight racks with the Bowflex Power Rod system. Power Rods produce resistance by bending and make little to no noise in the process. The Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE has a maximum resistance of up to 210 lbs / 95 kg as standard and is upgradeable up to 310 lbs / 140 kg or 410 lbs / 186 kg. Even that 210 lbs / 96 kg is heavier than the weight stack included with most standard multi gyms, which is usually around 160 lbs / 73 kg.

Bowflex's machine has low- and mid-pulleys, so it's possible to perform a range of different exercises targeting multiple muscle groups at a time. Bowflex claims you will be able to do '70+' exercises with the Xtreme 2 SE. The assembled machine weight is 185 lbs / 84 kg.

The NordicTrack Fusion CST has a different approach to the Bowflex: it uses magnetic resistance, which is even quieter than the Xtreme 2 SE's Power Rods if it's even possible. Fusion CST tower has high, mid, low and extended low pulleys and can adjust these individuals based on the workout you're streaming through iFit, NordicTracks workout library.

There are 20 resistance levels, and you can also adjust the pulleys individually with the on-screen sliders. The resistance levels will also automatically adjust based on the workout you're streaming. Talking about screens: the Fusion CST setup includes a Portal 10i HD touchscreen tablet on which the aforementioned workouts can be watched. You can track heart rate levels with the included iFit Bluetooth Chest Strap.

Please do bear in mind that the NordicTrack Fusion CST is huge: boxed weight is a staggering 460 lbs / 210 kg, and the product itself weighs a hefty 350 lbs / 160 kg. You won't be lifting this yourself, for sure.

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: Workout performance

Thanks to the straightforward shape of the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE, working out with the multi gym is a familiar experience. To adjust resistance, you'll need to attach as many rods as you need and use the handles just like you would if you worked out with any ol' multi gyms. You might miss the sound the weight stack makes when you let go of the weights too early, but that's all you're missing out here, really.

That said, the metal clanks might be just the thing that gets your juices flowing when working out. It's the same as electric car manufacturers adding the sound of a petrol engine to their otherwise near-silent engines: without the familiar sound of the internal combustion engine, the feeling of acceleration is not quite the same.

This is also similar to adjustable weights, something Bowflex is most famous for. Both the Bowflex Selecttech 1090i dumbbells and the Bowflex SelectTech 840 kettlebell are excellent home gym equipment but working out with them will not be the same as using hex dumbbells or cast iron kettlebells. You will use them more carefully than sturdy gym equipment.

As well as this, Power Rods have another characteristic hardcore gym fans might loathe. Similarly to resistance bands, they express resistance gradually, so it's not the same amount of resistance you're pulling across the full range of movement. Granted, the difference is not huge but noticeable and anyway, how are you supposed to calculate workout volume when the weight is not the same in each set, right?

The NordicTrack Fusion CST is in a luckier situation as it can't really be compared to other multi-gyms. It can be compared to cable machines found in gyms, though, and despite the lack of sound it makes, it recreates the sensation of working out with semi-commercial machines pretty well.

The available Fusion CST studio session workouts make it easier to get started with the machine, despite the fact that you'll never see people working out in groups using cable machines. But we understand home studio workouts are all the rage, and why wouldn't you create such workouts around a machine that can work out all muscles in the body?

The 240cm independent cable travel allows for a lot of unrestrained movement, so even taller users will be able to perform a whole range of exercises without feeling like Gulliver in Lilliput. And thanks to the 20 levels of resistance, progression is very much not off the table when working out with the Fusion CST.

NordicTrack Fusion CST

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: Verdict

Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST: which multi gym should you choose?

You should go with the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE if you're after a more traditional multi gym for lat and triceps pull-downs but want something that makes less noise. Considering it is a Bowflex machine, you can expect the Xtreme 2 SE to have a decent build quality and thanks to the Power Rod extension options, you will be able to build muscle and bulk up to epic proportions using the Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE, as long as you adhere to basic bodybuilding principles.

You should choose the NordicTrack Fusion CST if you prefer studio and generally more active workouts. The sleek design and interactive nature of the Fusion CST can make it a centrepiece of even shared rooms: no need to hide it away in a garage or spare room; let everyone admire your top-notch workout machine. It will cost a pretty penny, though, so think twice before you buy.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.