Gaining Strength X3 Bar Training Vlogs

Wondering what Gaining Strength training looks like, using an X3 Bar and resistance bands integrated with bodyweight training?  On this page I will post vlogs of my training sessions, in most of which I use the bar and bands for at least 1 basic exercise, in combination with bodyweight and gymnastics strength training.

X3 Bar Training Vlog Chronology

This log starts on May 21, 2020 when I started a new training cycle with a push-pull routine at the age of 58 years and 10 months.  Each new entry will be added at the bottom of the page.  This way you can scroll through the page from top to bottom and track my progression.

Band Notes

I use bands from X3, WODfitters and Serious Steel.  In my notes on the vlogs below, I use short hand reference to these.  Here are the codes and the resistance ratings of the bands, in pounds, according to the manufacturers:

X3 bands

  • X1 10-50 (20-100 doubled)
  • X2 25-80 (50-160)
  • X3 50-120 (100-240)
  • X4 60-150 (120-300)

WODfitters bands

  • R(red) 5-35 (10-70 doubled)
  • Ba(black) 10-60 (20-120)
  • P(purple) 25-80 (50-160)
  • G(green) 50-125 (100-250)
  • Bu(blue) 65-175 (130-350)

Serious Steel

  • O(orange #0) 2-12 (4-24 doubled)
  • P1(purple #1) 5-35 (10-70)

For example, I will record using Bu+X2.  That means I used the WODfitters blue band plus the X3 light gray band.


Foot plate

When doing front squats or deadlifts, I usually add a 1" thick piece of horse stall mat on top of the standard X3 foot plate, to increase the thickness of the foot plate and therefore increase the resistance of the bands in the bottom position.  This is useful for shorter people.  Assume I have done this unless otherwise noted.

When doing X3 deadlifts I put a yoga block between my feet to prevent the bar from slamming into my bare feet in case I should ever lose hold of the bar due to grip fatigue. 

May 21, 2020

Push day.

  1. Handstand shoulder taps x 20
  2. X3 front squat Bu+X2 x 13
  3. X3 chest press, Bu+R x 8
  4. Floor straddle forward bend x 8
  5. Pike 90 degree pseudo-planche push up x 4

May 22, 2020

Pull day.    

  1. X3 bar deadlift  G x 15.  
  2. Natural glute ham raise x 7
  3. Front lever hold x 15 seconds plus 3 pulls
  4. Full lay chin ups x 6
  5. X3 bar rise on toes with Ba x 20

May 25, 2020

Push day, at Tracy's mother's condo in Chicago.  After working on handstands, I did:

  1. X3 bar front squats  Bu+X2 x 13
  2. X3 bar overhead press with X2 x 11
  3. Floor straddle forward bend (aka pancake) with O x 6 
  4. Archer push ups x 5 each side, followed by 1 regular pause push up to failure

May 26, 2020

Pull day, my last session in Chicago.  

  1. X3 bar deadlifts with G+O bands x 18 (up from 15 previous session)
  2. Natural glute ham raises x 6
  3. Thick bar front lever hold x 26 seconds plus 1 front lever pull
  4. Thick bar full lay hollow body chin ups x 6
  5. X3 bar rise on toes with Ba x 28 (up 8 repetitions)
View this post on Instagram

Pull day. #x3bar deadlift, added the @serioussteelfitness orange band to the @wodfitters green band and did 3 more repetitions than last session with only the green band. Natural glute-ham with more control than last session. Tuck front lever mechanical drop set (tightened up tuck as I fatigued), then a pull and a slow eccentric into L-sit and finishing with as many scapular pulls as possible. Next, one continuous set working on 6 hollow body chin ups, not all of which were fully hollow body, after which I did 10 more hollow body chin ups in rest pause fashion. Finished with X3 bar rise on toes, didn't film that but increased 8 repetitions with same band I used last session. #fitafter50 #gainingstrength #highintensitytraining #resistancebands #resistancebandsworkout #homegym

A post shared by Don Matesz (@donmatesz) on

June 1, 2020 

After 6 days off during which I spent a day working hard helping Tracy move her mother out of her condo in Chicago, then driving home.

  1. Handstand training, 3 sets not to failure, working on alignment to overcome my banana tendency.
  2. X3 bar front squats with Bu+X2 x 15.  I increased by 1 repetitions, but might only be due to lesser band resistance than last session, since I forgot to use the 1" thick layer of horse stall mat this morning.  
  3. Pike 90 degree pseudo-planche push ups x 5
  4. 5 second pause single-leg pistol squats x 2 full and 1 eccentric each leg
  5. X3 bar chest press with Bu+R x 6.  Too much resistance.
  6. Straddle forward bend (aka pancake) with O x 10 (increased 4 repetitions).

June 2, 2020

Pull day:

  1. X3 bar deadlift, G+O x 20 (up 2 repetitions)
  2. Standing leg curl, Bodylastics green band x 10
  3. Front lever work: advanced tuck hold > pike pulls > tuck hold > eccentric L-sit.  
  4. Full lay chin ups, more difficult on rings than on a bar, x 5
  5. X3 bar rise on toes, Ba x 36 (up 8 repetitions)

June 4, 2020

Push day.

  1. Handstands facing wall, 3 x 30 seconds alternated with circumductions for shoulder mobility.
  2. X3 bar front squat, Bu+X2 x 15 (increased 2 repetitions)
  3. X3 bar overhead press, X2 x 12 (increased 1 repetitions)
  4. Floor straddle forward bend (aka pancake), increased to R band x 7
  5. Archer push ups, starting from bottom (makes it more difficult), 5 each side then regular push ups AMRAP (2)

June 5, 2020

Pull day.

  1. X3 bar deadlifts, G+R x 16 (increased band resistance)
  2. Natural glute-ham raise x 6
  3. Front lever holds and pulls, 1 pull > 23 second open tuck hold > 5 pulls > 5 second closed tuck hold > eccentric to pike hold (about 90 s total under load)
  4. Full lay chin ups x 5 > incline pull ups x 4 (mechanical drop set)
  5. X3 bar rise on toes, Ba+O x 32 (increased band resistance, about 120 seconds time under load)

June 8, 2020

Push day:

  1. Handstand practice: wall handstand 3 x 30 seconds alternated with wall slide for shoulder mobility.
  2. Pistol squats, 5 second pause in the hole x 3 each side then 4 alternating side to side one by one.
  3. X3 bar chest press, Bu+R x 10 (increased 2 repetitions compared to last time I did this as third exercise)
  4. Floor straddle forward bend, R x 10
  5. Pike 90 degree + pseudo-planche push up x 4 > pseudo-planche push up x 2

June 9, 2020

Pull day.   I sped up most of the video 20X to condense it all down into less than a minute.  

  1. X3 bar deadlift, G+R x 20 (added 4 repetitions)
  2. Natural glute-ham raise x 6
  3. Front lever, kept shoes on (makes it more difficult by adding load to end of legs) open tuck > closed tuck hold x 37s, followed by tuck pulls
  4. Hollow body ring chin up x 5 > incline chin up to failure
  5. X3 bar rise on toes, Ba+O x 36 (added 4 repetitions)

Followed by front split training.

View this post on Instagram

Still working on that #frontsplits. #fitafter50

A post shared by Don Matesz (@donmatesz) on

JUNE 12, 2020

Push day.  Delayed this session by a day because I was not feeling fresh on the 11th.

  1. Wall handstands 3 x 30 seconds; my shoulder mobility is improving such that my hands are directly below my shoulders for a shoulder width grip; alternated with
  2. Shoulder mobility drills
  3. X3 Bar front squats, Bu+R+O x 14.  I had planned to do Bu+X3+O, but I misread my notes.  When I was about repetition 6 or  8 I started wondering why it felt so easy, by the 12th repetition I realized I had chosen the wrong bands and decided to terminate the set and try the correct resistance in another set.  In hindsight I think I would have been better off just taking this first set to failure because I had already achieved significant inroad and cardio-respiratory fatigue.
  4. X3 Bar overhead press, X3+O x 10, increased resistance with Serious Steel orange #0 band, was surprised I achieved 10 repetitions, was expecting only about 8.
  5. X3 Bar front squats, second set, Bu+X3 x 12.   This spent my wad.
  6. Archer push ups x 6 each side, an increase from 5 each side, immediately followed by regular pause push ups x 2 to failure.
  7. Floor straddle forward bend (aka pancake), 5 second pause in stretch position each repetition, R x 6.  Using the band engages the gluteus to abduct the thighs while also loading the forward bend.  

June 14, 2020

Pull day.

  1. X3 deadlift, G+R+O x 16, added the orange band
  2. Natural glute-ham raise x 5, this was more difficult because my lumbar erectors and hamstrings were spent doing the increased resistance in the deadlift
  3. Front lever pulls x 5 > tuck front lever hold
  4. Hollow body chin up x 5
  5. X3 bar rise on toes, Ba+R x 30 (increased resistance)

June 17, 2020

Push day.

First, wall handstand practice 3 x 30s alternated with wall extensions and bar circumductions.  Video at 8x actual speed.

  1. Single leg pistol squat, 5 second bottom pause, x 3 to failure each side, then alternated 1 each side, then 2 each side, to failure, then bilateral squat eccentric, thighs were exhausted and could not perform even one strict concentric.
  2. X3 bar chest press, Bu+R x 9, held ninth at arms length as long as possible with very slow eccentric; then immediately pause push up to failure (2 reps).  Although one less repetition than last time, I was moving more slowly and time under load was 1.3 minutes, about 0.1 minute longer than last session. 
  3. Floor straddle forward bend, R x 8 
  4. Pike+pseudo-planche (aka 90 degree) push ups x 3 > pause push up to failure (2 reps)

June 18, 2020

Pull day.

  1. X3 bar deadlift, G+R+O x 18 (increased 2 reps)
  2. Standing resistance band leg curls, Bodylastics green band and band protector x 8 each side.
  3. Rings front lever hold (on CAP rack), advanced tuck > full tuck x 48 seconds
  4. Brute belt & band (used Cartman strap to attach band to belt) rise on toes on homemade block, Bu x 19 (1.6 minute TUL).  These provide much more stretch than rise on toes with X3 bar.  
  5. Hollow body chin ups x 3+ (almost 4 plus partial attempts) (~59 seconds TUL)
  6. Hurdler's stretches and front splits 

June 29, 2020

Full body routine.  Ten days since last session. 

  1. Wall handstand 3 x 30 seconds alternated with bar circumductions.
  2. Front lever pulls (on CAP rack with rings) x 7, then tuck front lever row x 2 partials (60 s TUL)
  3. Archer push up x 7 each arm (increased 1 rep each side)
  4. Pull up behind neck (on CAP rack) x 4 (33 s TUL).  Haven't done these for about a year.
  5. Ring dips (on CAP rack ) x 3 (~27 s TUL)
  6. Hollow body chin ups (on CAP rack ) x 3+ (almost 4, 50 seconds TUL)
  7. Pause pistol squats x 3 each side (L 46.7 s TUL, R 47.7 s TUL)
  8. X3 Bar front squats Bu+G1 x 5 (41 s TUL).  Not used to the full body routine, was gassed after 5 repetitions.  Still close to my goal of 60 seconds time under load
  9. Suspension leg curl on rings x 5
  10. Rise on toes on block with Brute belt and Bu band x 15 full+5 partials

Had planned to do mobility at end of this session but I was out of condition due to having done shorter sessions for nearly a year, and I didn't have time as I had another appointment.  These longer full body sessions definitely impose a greater cardio-respiratory demand than the very short half body sessions I was doing. 

July 1, 2020

Full body session.  I really prefer and most highly recommend full body sessions, including both push and pull, upper and lower.  The total body and cardio-respiratory effects are much more powerful than any split routine, and even if you train thrice weekly you get 4 rest days.  Train the whole, rest the whole.  You also save time with set up, since you get the equipment out half as often as if you split the routine in two.

  1. Front lever, half lay eccentrics x 4 plus 1 open tuck eccentric.  Haven't done these in a while and it looks like I may have lost some strength.  I wanted to do them on the CAP rack bar because I can hang fully without an L sit but indoors I can't go to a full lay at the top.  I think I might switch to rings so I can get the full lay.
  2. X3 bar press, X2+O x 9 (1.4' TUL).   Time to increase band resistance.
  3. Hollow body pull ups x 4+ (53 s TUL).  
  4. Ring dips x 3 with rings turned out support and a slow eccentric (55 s TUL).
  5. X3 bar front squat Bu+X2+O x 10 
  6. Suspension leg curls with 5 s pause in contraction x 4
  7. Rise on toes on block with Brute belt and bands, Bu x 17 (up 2)

For mobility goals:

  1. Front lever > German hang combination
  2. Straddle forward bend with R resistance band
  3. Reclining hero x 43 seconds
  4. Front splits x ~30 s each side

July 3, 2020

Full body session.  

Strength portion:

  1. Wall handstand x 2 (40 s and 27 s), alternated with bar circumductions.  
  2. Front lever open tuck holds on rings and CAP rack with pull to inverted layout x 4.
  3. X3 bar chest press, Bu+R x 9 (1.3' TUL).
  4. Hollow body chin up on CAP rack  x 3+.
  5. Tuck split squat on X3 bar foot plate, LW x 6 (~1' TUL).
  6. 2-zone pistol squat to failure.
  7. X3 bar deadlift, G+R+O x 13.
  8. Rise on toes on block with Brute belt and bands, Bu+O x 14.

Mobility portion:

  1. Hanging cobra x 30 seconds.
  2. Feet elevated bridge (no video) x 30 seconds.
  3. Hurdler's stretches (no video).
  4. Pancake forward and side bends.

July 6, 2020

Full body session again.  

  1. Front lever eccentric work on CAP rack, half lay x 2, tuck x 2
  2. X3 bar press, X2+O x 10, increased 1 repetition instead of increasing band resistance
  3. Pull ups x 4, range of motion isn't full due to fatigue from front lever work.
  4. Archer push ups with feet elevated about 2" x 5 each side.
  5. X3 bar front squat, Bu+X2+O x 11, increased 1 repetition.  As you can see from video, at this point in session I was sucking air from oxygen debt.
  6. Suspension leg curl on rings with 5 second pause in contraction, x 4.
  7. Rise on toes on block with Brute belt and bands, Bu+O x 18 (big increase).
  8. German hang with tuck front lever x 4.
  9. Floor straddle forward bend, R x 7
  10. Reclining hero x 42 seconds.

I attempted my usual front splits but I had some discomfort in my right groin/psoas that warned me to stop.  Always pay attention to warnings from your body to avoid injuries.

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