In this X3 Bar review I will discuss the strengths and limitations of the X3 Bar device for training with resistance bands. I will explain why I sold a 400 pound Olympic barbell set and replaced it with the X3 Bar.
Just the day before I sat down to write this X3 Bar review, one of my IG followers messaged me this:
“3x bar. Worth it? Seems very pricey. Appreciate your time and opinion.”
Many people wonder if the X3 bar is worth what it will cost you, so in the X3 Bar review I want to address this first, because in doing so you will understand what makes it valuable.
In a nutshell: Yes, the X3 Bar is in my opinion well worth $500 . Here's why.
I have seen some people (who have not used the X3 Bar) give an X3 bar review something like this: "The entire device consists of a bar, some rubber bands and a platform. Its crazy to spend $500 on it." Then they listed off various cheap pieces of equipment you can purchase or construct in your garage from materials purchased at a hardware store, implying that these are comparable to the X3 Bar and platform.
That’s like saying that a Ferrari is just a box on top of a chassis with two axles and four wheels. You can build a go cart in your garage for a few hundred dollars and it would be crazy to spend $100,000 for the Ferrari, right?
The X3 Bar is not a lightweight, half plastic piece of Chinese-made garbage that will fall apart or bend in a few months or years. It is unlikely you can replicate its features or quality tinkering with pipes in your garage. This specially machined steel alloy bar is made in the U.S.A. and can handle more than 500 pounds of loading.
The X3 Bar is precision machined with bearings so that the heavy duty band hooks remain parallel to the ground during all movements, ensuring that the bar remains stable (rather than being twisted by the bands) and no harmful torque is applied to your wrists when you perform various exercises.
Essentially, it is a 2-foot long high grade Olympic bar. Most of the people I saw suggesting that you can replicate the X3 Bar with hardware from Home Depot would never suggest that anyone could replicate a quality Olympic bar in such a manner.
How much do you have to pay for a high quality Olympic bar that can handle loads greater than 500 pounds without bending? Take a quick trip over to Amazon and you will find that the least expensive bar with a 600 pound limit is the Body Solid bar that costs $110. The Titan 700-pound capacity bar is $110. That's for the bar alone, without any plates.
Granted the X3 Bar is only 2 feet long versus 7 feet for a standard Olympic bar. However, the X3 Bar has two heavy duty hooks that hold the resistance bands in the proper position, and it is made in the USA. Further, a 7 foot bar takes up a lot of space and is not very portable. To store the Olympic bar you need a dedicated space, and you aren’t going to take it with you on your business, vacation or camping trips. Nor are you likely to haul your Olympic barbell set out to the park or even into your back yard to train several days weekly. You are paying not only for the quality of the X3 Bar but also its convenience and compactness which allow you to take your training anywhere you can take a suitcase or backpack.
I have a basic CAP 1" diameter 6' long bar that only cost about $50; it has a load limit of about 250 pounds, and has no bearings so the plates do not rotate smoothly as you move the bar, which makes the bar difficult to handle as load increases. I tried to set it up to use Bodylastics bands with it but the results were unsatisfactory. I have owned two basic grade Olympic bars and the X3 Pro Bar is definitely of higher quality in workmanship, materials and smooth operation of its bearings. So I think the X3 Pro Bar itself – without the bands and base platform – is worth at least $125, probably more.
Now, the "rubber bands." The X3 comes standard with 4 bands of different resistance ranges:
This set of bands provides a total resistance level of about 400 pounds when stacked but not doubled over, and 800 pounds with all bands doubled over and stacked!
A set of Bodylastics bands with only half the resistance capacity (404 lbs) costs $125. A set of WOD Fitters loop resistance bands (black, purple, green and blue – not a standard set) with a similar resistance capacity as those standard with the X3 Bar costs about $125. However, the X3 bands are custom engineered layered latex to provide durability and the level of resistance advertised.
Now, how much would you have to pay for 400-800 pounds of barbell plates? CAP brand Olympic barbell plates cost about $1 per pound new, so about $400-800.
Finally, you have the X3 base platform, which is made of marine-grade HDPE material, and also capable of withstanding the forces exceeding 500 pounds. You can make a platform with a similar strength very cheaply from 2 x 4s, but it weighs 3 times as much as the X3 platform, is not as smooth and friendly to the bands (more wear and tear), nor resistant to outdoor elements (e.g. moisture), and is not as compact for travel.
A 0.75” x 54” x 24” sheet of marine-grade HDPE costs $110 without any cutting or machining. This company charges an additional $20 to make 1-9 cuts. From a single sheet you could obtain five 11” x 24” basic platforms at a cost of $25 each for the raw material. Then each platform must be precision machined to produce the groove on the bottom to hold the bands. These would be unfinished platforms, unlike the finished X3 platform. Quality labor is costly as well.
If you were to use an Olympic barbell, you would need a proper platform, a squat or power rack and a flat bench to safely perform the same exercises you can perform with the X3 as it comes out of the box.
So, if you were to purchase a new Olympic barbell set with the same resistance capacity as the X3 bar you are looking at this investment:
Total cost: $810
Now, you may think “Why not just get a Bodylastics set for only $125?” Well, while I love Bodylastics bands, they simply do not provide an adequate set up for performing heavy squats, deadlifts or rise on toes for calves. As I have discussed in my article on leg exercises with resistance bands, it is possible to set up effective leg training with Bodylastics bands, a Brute Belt, and a homemade platform to a point, but after more than 2 years of experimentation I found there are limits to using only Bodylastics bands for hip, thigh and calf training. With a Bodylastics set you simply can’t perform squats or deadlifts with 200 or more pounds.
In short, the X3 Bar is comparable to an 400-800 pound Olympic barbell set with a power rack and flat bench, which would cost you $810. In comparison the $500 price tag on a new X3 Pro Bar is very reasonable.
After about a year of researching the X3 Bar, I sold my 400 pound Olympic barbell set and purchased the X3 Bar to replace it. As a result I freed up space in my home, and won't ever have to move that pile of iron, yet I can still train my hips and thighs with squats and deadlifts with loads greater than 200 pounds. Moreover, I can take the X3 Bar wherever I want; I can squat and deadlift under the open sky, at a beach or in the forest if and when I want.
At $529 (regular price) an X3 Pro Bar costs you $1.45 per day for the first year of ownership. Are you spending $1.45 daily or most days on something you don’t absolutely need, like a gourmet coffee from a coffee shop? Over 2 years the cost drops to less than $0.75 per day for the highest quality portable resistance bands training device that will enable you to get as strong as possible training as little as 30 minutes thrice weekly. Over 5 years of use the cost drops to $0.29 per day! I plan to use mine for well more than 5 years.
Moreover, your whole family can use it, for years to come.
Aside from the fact that an X3 Bar basically replaces an entire gym containing more than 400 pounds of barbells and plates, a squat rack and benches, in a 15 pound package that will fit in a large drawer, suitcase or backpack, the X3 Bar has distinct advantages over conventional resistance training.
Resistance bands have distinct advantages over isoenertial resistance (like barbells), in safety, variable resistance curve, gravitational independence, versatility, footprint and portability, as I discussed in detail here.
However, without a high quality and capacity bar and platform, one can’t really easily take advantage of the benefits of resistance bands. The X3 Bar truly enables you to capitalize on the benefits of resistance band training by simply providing the the bar and platform that allow you to perform basic exercises with an effective level of band resistance.
The X3 Bar is a stand alone exercise device. You don’t absolutely need anything other than the X3 to have a complete and portable gym you can use at home, at a park, on vacation or on business trips.
If you aren’t interested in mastering bodyweight skills like handstands and levers, you can simply follow the X3 Bar training program which literally takes only 10-15 minutes a day to perform 4 basic exercises. Day 1 consists of one set each of chest press, upright row or overhead press, tricep press, and squats. Day 2 consists of one set each of deadlift, bent over row, bicep curl, and rise on toes. Repeat each routine 2-3 times weekly on non-consecutive days. That’s it! Nothing more is required for full body training for the average person.
Convenience is key to sticking to a physical training plan. Nothing is more convenient than having a complete gym in your home. No commute, no monthly fees, no crowds to contend with.
No X3 Bar review would be complete without mention of the design flaws in the device. The X3 Bar does have a few features that I found necessary to improve upon.
First, the feet of platform are too short to easily accommodate stacking of several bands. The feet of the platform are less than half an inch high (this limit is imposed by the typical thickness of HDPE boards). I think the feet of the platform should be a minimum of 1” high, and preferably 1.5-2” high.
If you purchase an X3 with the first generation base, you can improve this by adding rubber or wood to the feet to increase the leg height. I plan to use rubber matting (horse stall mats) because it won’t slip on or damage smooth floors, and is both light weight and resistant to outdoor elements. I plan to attach them to the HDPE with super glue.
You could also substitute the heavier, bulkier wooden platform that I originally designed for use with Bodylastics bands (see this page), which consists of six 1’ long 2 x 4s attached to two 2’ long 2 x 4s with wood screws. It is bulkier, heavier, and less durable and resistant to water and other outdoor element damage than the HDPE platform. It also may increase wear and tear on the bands compared to the X3 platform. If using a wooden platform like this I would recommend covering the bands with a Bodylastics band protector to protect them.
Another issue is that the 41” band length is not adjustable to users to maintain an effective range of resistance for exercises. I have solved this problem very simply, as demonstrated in this video.
A final issue is that the jumps in resistance between bands may be too large for many people, particularly for the upper body exercises. When I want smaller increments of resistance increase, I use the more graduated Bodylastics bands if the range of motion permits.
To summarize my X3 Bar review:
The X3 Bar makes it possible to take advantage of the benefits of resistance bands for basic exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows and chest presses.
It is a worthwhile investment if you want to be able to train your lower body effectively and progressively with resistance bands without a power rack.
It can serve as a stand-alone, compact and portable gym for people who don't want to have a power rack, pull-up bar, and dip station.
It is a great tool for people who travel a lot and want to be able to take their gym with them while traveling for vacation or business.
It has a few minor design issues that are easily improved. If you have a set of Bodylastics bands, they are very compatible with the X3 Bar and offer a more graduated set of resistance bands.
In my opinion, the X3 Bar is the best available device designed for training with resistance bands in a safe and efficient fashion, at home or anywhere you want to take it, so that your results are as good or better than you could achieve with any other resistance training method.