NordicTrack Incline Trainer X3 VS. The Bowflex Treadclimber

I noticed that the kid gloves have come off when competing for the best overall calorie burn machine. I was watching ESPN and Jillian Michaels (AKA Biggest Loser TV program fitness guru) came on talking about a piece of fitness equipment! This got my attention due to the fact she knows what she is talking about, and they must have had to pay her a pretty penny to endorse their product! I was listening thinking she was going to announce her love of the ever popular Bowflex Treadclimber (popular with consumers, as well as fitness service technicians… We will get into that later). To my surprise she was talking about NordicTrack, and they have launched another incline treadmill! They did have the 5x and 10x incline trainer, which they phased out (no idea why?). I guess that the business needed to be split, hopefully making the price of both machines more affordable for consumers!

All of the facts about a higher calorie burn in less time are absolutely true! Both machines are fantastic for weight loss, and cardio health. I wanted to give my opinion of which machine is the most versatile and easily adapted to a home environment, as well as service and other concerns.

Bowflex Treadclimber

The Bowflex Treadclimber works with “treadles” that move up and down and also move forward via a belt mechanism on the treadles, so you are not only walking but you are stepping. Now this is an awkward movement by anyone’s standards, and the home version is much more awkward than the commercial version. Muscle memory on the home version is not so quickly learned and this frustrates those who have opened the box and expected to use the machine without problems. The only people that I have found that are content with their decision to purchase the Treadclimber are those that actually take the time and study the instructional DVD and book that are shipped with the machine! Now I know that sounds easy, but many people do not do this (including myself) when purchasing an item like fitness equipment. This information needs to be studied, just like any machine that is going to be in your home for maximum usability and enjoyment.

Besides the awkward feel in the beginning, this machine is also very difficult to repair, because access to the movable parts – they are very difficult to approach. Besides the access issues, the weld and connections on the treadles (like any connection) becomes weak after time. I have also noticed that there are problems with the treadle encoder and hydraulics (on the commercial units), which is a chief concern due to the fact that this is the major component of the Treadclimber.

Now the positive aspects of the Treadclimber are the major core strengthening and low impact on joints. Besides the core and low impact benefits, the heart will get a great workout in a very short time. Bowflex also has done some extensive research and has found that at the same speed and time on a treadmill vs. the BowFlex Treadclimber, users burned twice the calories! Now that is something everyone would consider a huge advantage.

NordicTrack X3 Incline Trainer

The X3 Incline Trainer will give a more versatile workout, and is much easier than the Treadclimber to use out of the box. The Incline Trainer can be used for walking, but due to the short length of the belt (only 51 inches long); I would not recommend jogging or running. This also makes the X3 a little more compact than the average 56 to 60 inch belt found on most treadmills.
The X3 also will incline to a 40% which is extreme compared to most treadmills at a 10 or 15% incline. The motor on this type of machine also is very difficult to regulate due to the fact that the user is putting a strain on the motor and is almost driving the machine, in turn the motor has a major strain to slow down when being used. This tends to burn motor out rather quickly. I have also heard of decks breaking, but have never come in contact with this personally. It would not be impossible due to the lack of strength you are giving the deck when in incline mode.
This machine does perform all of the health benefits advertised, but I am afraid that after the 1 year in home service warranty is out…. you’re stuck! If NordicTrack would back this with a longer service warranty, I would loooove this machine, but I also think that may put them out of business, due to the inevitable repairs that WILL have to be made. This is not a bad machine, it just defies all laws of gravity and with a motor that is driven by AC current, and you can’t expect zero repair issues.
Now to the positive aspects of this machine! This is a more multifaceted machine than the Treadclimber, due to its ability to function as a treadmill for walking and an incline trainer when at up to a 20, 30 or 40% incline. The x3 is iFit compatible which means that you can have Jillian Michaels screaming in your ear and adjusting your workouts as if you were on the “Biggest Loser”….. Wait, is that a positive or negative?

Final Thoughts
I did not mention all of the fun stuff, like the workout fans, programs, and all the accessories because that is all stuff that is fun to compare. I wanted to give you the real “scoop” and make buyers aware prior to making the big leap. I know I don’t always feel so bad about a decision if I have “the facts ma’am, just the facts” pointed out to me when something does go wrong.
I hope this has informed you, and if you are still yearning for this type of equipment, please be aware that there will be service issues. Your best bet is to make sure and have a good certified fitness technician in your address book, and pray for major issues to pop up while these machines are still under warranty.
If I were to go with one of this machine, I would select the NordicTrack X3, just because I get bored easily and like the versatility.

The list of features of the NordicTrack Incline X3 includes:
2.8 HP Drive Motor
0-10 1-Touch ™ Speed Control
0-40% 1-Touch ™ Incline
9 Incline Trainer Workouts
iFIT® workout card technology
iPod® Compatible Music Port
Intermix Acoustics™ 2.0 EQ Sound
20″ x 50″ Tread belt
Heart Rate Monitoring; built-in hand grips & wireless telemetry
Reflex™ Cushioning
300 lbs. max. User Weight
CoolAire ™ Workout Fan
SpaceSaver® Design
Lifetime motor warranty; 1 year parts & labor

The list of features on the BowFlex TreadClimber includes:

The TC5000 features an LCD screen display to track your speed, distance, total steps, time, calories per minute, total calories, climb indicator, and heart rate.
· Maximum speed: 0.7 to 4.0 miles per hour/1.1 to 6.4 kilometers per hour
· Resistance range: 0 to 12 levels
· Electronic functions: Speed, distance, total steps, time, calories per minute, total calories, climb indicator, and heart rate
· Wir
eless heart rate monitor display shows heart rate at a glance for optimal fat burning (machine includes wireless chest strap monitor)
· Computer indicator shows calories per minute and total calories burned
· Quick start feature remembers your last weight and resistance settings
· Ergonomic console provides easy accessibility to water bottles and magazines
· Climb indicator visually tracks your elevation gain in feet
· Dimensions: 46 inches long by 30 inches wide by 55.25 inches tall (117 by 76 by 140 centimeters)
· Assembled weight: 185 pounds/84 kilograms
· Maximum user capacity: 300 pounds/136 kilograms
· Tailor your workout specifically to your fitness and comfort level–from beginner to elite athlete–with 12 intensity settings
· Get motivated with the climb indicator that displays every 100 feet of elevation
· Calorie-burn calculations are based on body weight and intensity inputs (in addition to distance and speed) for greater accuracy
· Powerful commercial-grade motor for years of trouble-free use
· Starting or stopping exercise is safe and easy with large footboards along tread belts
· Some assembly is required


  1. Kimberley says:

    Thanks this was a great help. I was considering buying the boxflex Treadclimber until I read your review. The Mechanical problems on the Nordic Trac do concern me a little bit, but like you I get bored easily. So, I think I’ll be checking out the Nordictrac instead. Thanks for the heads up!

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