Body by Bowflex - The plan


Ever since I reintegrated into civilian life, my weight has been a nagging problem. During my military service, I had cultivated a voracious appetite. Two large Papa John’s pizzas with garlic butter dipping sauce in one sitting? Nema problema. However, I had offset the calories consumed with daily rigorous physical activity.

More PT, Sergeant, more PT!
We like it; we love it; we want more of it
Make it hurt now, Sergeant; make it hurt

Throughout my last two years of college, my sedentary lifestyle caused my weight to hover in the 200-220 pound range. (I’m 6 foot 2 inches, BTW.) However, I hit the proverbial bottom of the rock in autumn of 2001, right around the time I lost my job in advertising. Reaching a zaftig 274 pounds, I swore that I would take the weight off and never let myself go like that again.

I had bought myself a Bowflex PowerPro XTLU in late 2000, and let me tell you, it made an excellent thousand-dollar clothing rack. Finally realizing that I actually had to use the thing in order to lose weight, I looked through the manual that came with my Bowflex, and near the end was a section titled “The Bowflex Body Leanness Program” by Dr. Ellington Darden.

This 6-week program involves four key factors:

  • a strict, but balanced low-fat, calorie-counting diet (1300-1500 calories per day for men)
  • superhydration (working up to approximately a gallon and a half of cold water per day)
  • working out on the Bowflex three times per week
  • repeat the six-week program as needed

Some parts of the program defy conventional wisdom, such as only working out every other day and skipping weekends. However, within six months of religiously following the program, I dropped down to 216 pounds. Unfortunately, I reached a plateau and did not know how to push past it. I hovered between 215 and 220 for close to a year, which wasn’t a bad weight, but it left me with enough of a gut that I was embarrassed to take my shirt off in front of females.

I decided to join Gold’s Gym, and started taking protein supplements (cue Cartman: “Beefcake!”). I also reverted to an eating habit of occasional 3,000-5,000 calorie binges; they do add up. After a year of this, I was out $650 (Gold’s Gym membership fee) and weighed in at 246.5 pounds. I had sworn that I would not do that to myself again, but sometimes the easiest promises to break are those made to oneself.

I decided to go back to the tried and true, remove the dirty clothes draped over my Bowflex, and try the calorie-counting Bowflex thing again. Fortunately, in the interim, Dr. Darden had published a book called The Bowflex Body Plan. This book expanded the 24 pages in the Bowflex manual to 300 pages, and helped me understand a bit better why the program worked the first time. It also showed strategies for getting past plateaus.

The Bowflex Body Plan cover

So far, so good. I am at the beginning of week six, and have lost 21 pounds to date. My goal is between 190 and 200, so I will have to continue the program for at least another six weeks. I am using a post in this blog to log my weight-loss progress.

I do not expect “Brad Pitt in Troy” results, but the need to be at least comfortable with my own body appearance has never been more important to me than it is now.

Disclaimer: I have no direct association with Bowflex, the Nautilus Group, Dr. Ellington Darden, or even that pretty-boy from the infomercials (Randy). There is no fitness program out there that will work successfully for every individual, but this one has for me (twice). And, damn it, there is not going to be a need for me to do this a third time.


…and why cold water for the superhydration? Interestingly enough, aside from all of the other benefits of water, which include aiding kidney and liver function to accelerate the metabolization of fat, controlling appetite, and speeding calorie-burning body heat loss by increasing urine production; cold water supplies negative calories.

Water chilled to about 40°F has to be warmed by the body to 98.6°F. It takes about a calorie to bring an ounce of cold water up to body temperature. Drinking a gallon of cold water burns 123 calories!

There are a lot more gems like this in the Darden book.

is taking a very optimistic view on the economy green card and feels that the company is insulated from green card lottery the current economic downturn, because people dv2006 still value personalized gift type products. dv2006

Ooh, my very first piece of comment spam! I think that I will save the meaningless gibberish above for posterity (stripping out the real URLs of course).

Looks like it is finally time to install MT-Blacklist.

I wish you’d update us on your progress and status. Great blog entry.

Thanks, Trevor.

I have added minor updates to my “No pain, no gain” category, but I really haven’t kept a detailed log since December.

Throughout the first five months of this year, consistency was my main problem, so I dropped down to 180 (mostly muscle loss) and then backslid to 193 pounds.

I am finally getting back into a normal routine (down to 191), and I hope to get to a point where I can post “before and after” pictures, but right now I’m just not to that point.

I have had a Crossbow now for over a year, I have not really worked out on it though, because it never came with a workout guide. Would a bowflex workout plan work for this machine, I know they are about the same. I cannot find another workout plan on the internet for the crossbow.

Mike, my far-from-expert opinion would say that the exercise machine is probably not the most important part of his workout plan. In fact, in Dr. Darden’s latest book, The New High Intensity Training, his examples use free-weights and standard gym equipment. The Bowflex is a great machine, but definitely not the be-all-and-end-all of exercise equipment.

The most important part is consistently getting three days a week of intense resistance training or weight training to build lean muscle and raise your metabolism. The challenge for you, I think, would be finding equivalent Crossbow exercises that work the same muscle groups as the routines in the Bowflex plan.

A number of things that Dr. Darden advocates in this book are sort of common sense, like superhydration and burning more calories than you take in. He just goes into a bit more detail to explain why. His book has a water drinking schedule that builds you up to around a gallon and a half per day. Also, he has a sample meal plan to help meet calorie counting goals.

The only things in his book that seemed contrary to conventional wisdom (or a least different from anything I had done before) included only weight training three times a week, not doing aerobic exercise during that initial six weeks, and only doing a single set of each exercise to complete failure.

That all seemed to work, though. Although, I am now at kind of a plateau now, which is why I am reading through his H.I.T. book.

Mike, I was wondering, since I also purchased a bowflex but failed to receive a booklet of exercises, what exactly they are. could you possibly share? thanks,


hey could email me copy off this book

You might want to Google: Bowflex Exercise Manual. Below is one of the results that is for the Bowflex Ultimate2 however it does contain exercises that can be performed on the previous models. I purchased my Bowflex used (from a neighbor, who also used it as a fancy clothes rack). Lets hope I can make better use of it.

Oddly enough above link didn’t post correctly…

Copy entire link and place a / (forward slash) between BFX and Ultimate.

Again the wonders of script interpreters..

last part of link reads: Bowflex/BFX(us)Ultimate2(us)OM(us)RevB(us)web.pdf

where (us)=underscore so replace all (us) with _ without the parenthesis.

please ignore first attempt to correct hyperlink.

Hi Mike,

I did the weight loss program for 5 weeks and lost 20 lbs last year. Did it right before summer. I didn’t use the machine I spent 30 minutes on an elliptical machine. Burning 300 calories 3 times a week. It was great watching 3/4 of a pound drop a day!! So consistent. I’m starting again this time summer is a little farther off so who knows when I will stop.

My thoughts on the plateau is that your body adjusts to the amount of calories you consume. This is why in the 6 week program to change the calories and water consumption every two weeks. So taking a break for a couple of weeks before continuing might work.

Good Luck

I Love doing my bodybuilding exercise in the afternoon . It gives me energy throughout the day. If my workouts were highly intense, I feel great all day long. Supplements are not really necessary with the proper hiit routine , really good nutrition program and the proper rest.