The X3 Bar is a very simple piece of equipment. It consists of a specially-designed bar, bands and a foot plate.
The key to how this setup works lies in how you use the three components to perform exercises ranging from standing bench press to front squats to Romanian deadlifts and much more.
The bands attach to the bar via the hooks on the ends. The foot plate is used for exercises that require an anchor point for the bands, such as deadlifts or curls. The foot plate gives you a wider base to loop the bands under so that the bands are pulling up directly against your feet (which can be annoying when using very thick bands).
The exercises you can do with the X3 are many and they consist of the "classic" strength training exercises, such as squats, presses and deadlifts.
The question is...can these exercises be effectively done with the X3 Bar at home or while travelling?
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Sample Exercises For The X3 Bar
In testing the X3 Bar, I worked with a lot of different exercise variations for upper and lower body. Here are few samples of what you can do with the bar (there are many more exercises than this, and the X3 comes with an exercise instruction manual, showing you how to perform the exercises).
Reverse Curls to Overhead Press
Standing Chest Press
Benefits of the X3
The X3 is designed as a portable "home gym" piece of training equipment. It doesn't take up much space...you could potentially even pack it in your luggage when travelling for any length of time. This will allow you to get an excellent "heavy resistance" workout no matter your situation (or if the hotel gym is terrible).
One of the biggest knocks I have against most band training systems is that they're not built for heavy loading. The X3 is designed to take a beating. You can put all the bands you've got on this thing and it will not bend or break. Even if you've got a 500+ pound deadlift and a 300+ pound bench press, the X3 will stand up to it.
The X3 is made of solid steel, not plastic, and it is STRONG. It will literally last you a lifetime.
3. Effective Heavy Resistance
Going back to my previous point about most band training systems being a little flimsy, it's clear they're not designed with the heavy lifter in mind.
The X3 IS.
The X3 comes with a selection of bands ranging from light to heavy that you can use (and double up on) to increase your usable resistance to levels that will challenge you no matter how strong you are.
If you travel a lot and are frustrated with "cardiocentric" hotel gyms or if you have a home gym with very limited space or equipment, the X3 is ideal for you.
4. Less Joint Force and Spinal Loading
I found the X3 to be very useful for "lighter" day training when I didn't want to have heavy spinal loading (i.e. when recovering from heavy loaded carries). This type of band training allows for good muscle stimulation without seriously taxing the joints or spine.
Drawbacks of the X3
1. Learning Initial Setups
The X3 has a bit of a learning curve the first few times you use it. You'll need to figure out which bands you need to use for different exercises, where to hook them on the hooks and how to use the foot plate. This is not much different than most band workouts in general, but the use of the hooks does complicate things a bit.
I also found that the open hook design sometimes made it tricky to keep the bands in the hooks on some exercises. This is actually a design update the creator is working on right now to alleviate that.
2. Strength Curves
This is something that's not unique to the X3 but applies to ALL band training. Some exercises aren't as effective when done with bands as you don't get much (if any) resistance in the bottom/stretched position.
For example, with the standing bench press, there is essentially zero resistance when the bar is at the chest. That resistance ramps up fast as you press the bar away from the chest, making it effective for the top end of the strength curve.
3. Bar Length
The length of the bar will limit you on a few exercises. Using chest press again as an example, the bar length will limit you to a close grip rather than being able to use a wider grip. You'll still get good pec stimulation, but it won't be a directly comparable exercise to the regular bench press.
That being said, the shorter bar length does make it easier to pack in your luggage, so it can be a good tradeoff.
The X3 is not a cheap piece of training equipment. It's not a "gym in a bag" piece of junk that's going to snap when you're in a compromised position.
It is a REAL piece of high-quality equipment, made in the USA from specially-machined alloy steel. It has a 500+ pound capacity, as does the foot plate.
Price will absolutely be a consideration if you're interested in getting one...just know that this piece of equipment is built STRONG and designed to last, which is reflected in the cost.
The X3 is an excellent piece of serious training equipment. Many band training "systems" are cheap and flimsy and not particularly effective for strong trainers.
The X3 is well constructed and versatile.
It does have it's downsides, but if you're truly interested in a piece of portable training equipment that is very effective for building mass and strength, don't let any of those stop you from picking this up.
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