In this X3 Bar review I will discuss the strengths and weakness 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.
Is the X3 Bar perfect? No. It is the best available device designed for training with resistance bands in a safe and efficient fashion so that your results are as good or better than you could achieve with any other resistance training method.
Many people wonder if the X3 bar is worth what it will cost you. Just the day before I sat down to write this review, one of my IG followers messaged me this:
“3x bar. Worth it? Seems very pricey. Appreciate your time and opinion.”
Well, here’s my opinion. Yes, the X3 Bar is worth $500.
The entire device consists of a bar, some rubber bands and a platform. Put that way, it sounds crazy to spend $500 on it.
But that’s like saying that a Ferrari consists of a box on top of a chassis with two axles and four wheels. Its no different from a golf cart and it would be crazy to spend $100,000 for that, right?
The X3 Bar is not a lightweight, half plastic toy that will fall apart or bend in a few months or years. This specially machined steel alloy bar is made in the U.S.A. and can handle more than 500 pounds of loading.
The 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. 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 CAP 1200-pound capacity bar is $130.
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 going to haul your Olympic barbell set out to the park 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.
So I think its reasonable to pay $100-150 for the X3 Pro Bar alone.
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 Serious Steel loop resistance bands with the same resistance capacity as those standard with the X3 Bar costs about $125.
Now, how much would you have to pay for 400-800 pounds of barbell plates? Cap brand 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 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.
Marine grade HDPE is costly. The X3 platform is textured surface, 1" thick, 18" long and 12" wide, and machined with a groove to accommodate the bands. The closest item I can find on Amazon is StarBoard AS Sheet, Arctic White, 1" Thickness, 12" Width, 24" Length, with Diamond Pattern texture. It costs $63. Then each platform must be precision machined to hold the bands. 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 and exercise capacity as the X3 bar you are looking at this investment:
Low grade Olympic bar: $110
400 pounds Olympic plates: $400
Power rack: $200
Flat bench: $100
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 squats, deadlifts or rise on toes for calves. With a Bodylastics set you 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.
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! Think long term and you will avoid being dependent on paying someone else for training equipment.
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.
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 these advantages by simply providing the feel and capacity of an Olympic barbell so that you can perform basic exercises with an effective level of band resistance.
The X3 Bar is literally 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.
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. That’s it! Nothing more is required for full body training for the average person, although I would add a set of chin ups on Day 2, or alternate chin ups with the bent over row.
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. 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, you can improve this by adding rubber or wood to the feet to increase the leg height. I chose to use horse stall rubber matting because it won’t slip on or damage smooth floors, and is both light weight and resistant to outdoor elements. I used some old 0.5” rubber gym floor mats and used outdoor duty double sided tape to attach them to the HDPE.
You could also substitute the heavier, bulkier wooden platform (photo below) that I originally designed for use with Bodylastics bands, 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 probably increases wear and tear on the bands compared to the X3 platform. I actually prefer it to the X3 platform for indoor use because it feels more comfortable under my bare feet, and is longer which increases band stretch and resistance.
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.
Links to the products mentioned in the video:
Another issue is that the jumps in resistance between bands may be too large for many people, particularly for the upper body exercises. Where I want smaller increments of resistance increase, I use the more graduated Bodylastics bands if the range of motion permits. You can also get the #0 and #1 bands from Serious Steel for small resistance increases.
A final issue is that the band resistance curve is very poor for the bent over row. I personally prefer chin ups, pull ups and ring rowing variations (especially 90º pulls) because these have greater ranges of motion and a better resistance curve than the bent over row. Combine a pull up bar and some rings with the X3 Bar and you have the ideal home gym in my opinion.
Nevertheless the X3 bent over row is workable and if you follow the X3 Bar Users Group on Facebook you will see that people have built substantial upper back muscle with it. Ultimately your level of effort and proper use of the equipment you have is more important than the tool you use.
The X3 Bar is a good value for a home and portable gym device that provides a high level of resistance in a compact package. It has a few minor design flaws but these have easy fixes.
Before you purchase, check out the X3 Bar Users Group on Facebook to see what others think of it after using it for months at a time. You can also get an additional $75 off your X3 bar purchase by using the following code at checkout: X3usersgroup.
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