The strength training community is quickly catching on to variable resistance training as the most effective means of building muscle and burning fat. Band training can be easily done at home or on the road with minimal equipment for a safe and effective total-body workout.
But not all resistance bands fall into the ‘safe and effective’ category. Thin bands are prone to snapping or breaking, which can lead to injury. They’re also ineffective. To change your body composition, you must lift heavy. Thicker, stronger bands are available, but quickly become unmanageable without the appropriate accessories.
A resistance band barbell and ground plate allow you to select the strongest bands possible and reap the promised rewards of variable resistance training. Without a bar and ground plate, your movements won’t be meaningful. We explain which resistance band bar is best and why you need one.
Table of Contents
What are Resistance Band Bars?
What to Look for in a Quality Resistance Band Bar?
Why You Need a Resistance Band Bar
Resistance Band Bars Versus Handles
What are the Different Types of Bars Available for Resistance Bands?
What Exercises Can I Perform Using Resistance Band Bars?
Why Push and Pull Workouts are Best
Which Resistance Band Bars are Best?
X3: The Best Resistance Band Bar
Why Closed Loop Bands?
Resistance Bars and Ground Plates: Why You Need Both
Why Not a DIY Resistance Band Bar?
What are Resistance Band Bars? #
Resistance band bars are a type of portable exercise solution gaining popularity among the home gym crowd, and for good reason. They allow you to attach resistance bands in order to perform various exercises without the need for weights or exercise equipment. The best resistance band bars allow you to switch out multiple resistance bands to achieve an amazing full body workout.
Some have rubber grips, and other bars come with a bar attachment like resistance tubes or a door anchor. The best resistance band bars will allow for additional resistance bands to enable users to progress over time, and use the bar for classic gym exercises like bench press, triceps curls, and a wide variety of other exercises to gain strength and improve conditioning.
What to Look for in a Quality Resistance Band Bar? #
Once you start your resistance band bar search journey you’ll come across a lot of different options. Your goals should be the main thing driving your choice. You’ll see many companies claiming to have the best bar, boasting about multiple bar attachments and gimmicky features in their ads.
Others may try to get you with free shipping and handling, delivery, or price. If you’ve given your email address to learn more about similar items, you’ll probably notice a lot of the bars are just slight variations of the same product shipped in different packaging.
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If your goal is to build strength and lose weight you’re going to want to shop for a resistance band bar that gives you the closest experience to lifting weights at your local gym.
You’re going to want a bar with a ball bearing swivel to allow for multiple heavy resistance movements. You’ll need a durable bar to bear the loads required in strength building workouts.
The bar should be solid and have the shape of a workout bar you’d find in the gym. You’ll want to take it out of the box and start your workout without enduring a complicated setup process.
Why You Need a Resistance Band Bar #
As mentioned above, to build muscle and lose fat, you must lift heavy.1 When it comes to variable resistance training, this means selecting the thickest, strongest bands possible. The greatest gains are realized when the following parameters are met:
- FATIGUE: Select a band that allows for a maximum single set of 15–40 repetitions
- CONSTANT TENSION: Move slowly and steadily through each lift (2 seconds up and 2 seconds down) without ever releasing tension
- DIMINISHING RANGE: When the full movement gets too tough, continue to perform within the range you can until complete fatigue
Most people can’t hit all three of the above parameters with tube-style resistance bands, mini-loop bands, or thin rehab-style bands. These bands simply aren’t strong enough.
Select a strong, latex closed-loop band, such as those that come with the X3 bar, and you can satisfy the above requisites. This creates the optimal hormonal and physiological environment for muscular gains. For total physique transformation, add a low-carb, high protein diet, and you’re good to go.
So why can’t you do this with resistance bands alone? Grab a band that’s rated for 100 pounds of tension or more, and you’ll soon find out why. Standing feet-only on super strong bands while attempting to hold on with bare (or even gloved) hands is a recipe for disaster.
When used properly, resistance bands are safer than free weights. But if your movements are limited by the strength of your wrist and ankle joints, or if the band is stretching underneath your feet or while in your hands, there’s going to be some give. Your grip isn’t safe and you’re putting yourself at risk for a very uncomfortable snapback.
A stable resistance band ground plate and bar allow you to work with the strongest bands possible without compromising on safety or comfort. So which type of bar is best? Let’s explore.
Resistance Band Bars Versus Handles #
Using a single barbell versus two unconnected handles maximizes the amount of force you can produce and withstand. As mentioned above, maximizing force is key to stimulating the right hormones for fat loss and muscle growth.
The Bar is More Functional Than You Think #
As humans, we instinctively pick up heavy objects symmetrically using both hands and legs. We refer to the movements we perform naturally as ‘functional movement.’ The fitness world sometimes gets this backwards. Nobody would put one hand in their pocket and attempt a heavy lifting task with the other. (I’m looking at you, Turkish Get Ups).
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When we use both arms or legs bilaterally, we’re able to lift heavier. The weight we can move using a single bar and both hands to do the task is much higher than what we can push or pull with one hand grabbing a handle. Using a resistance bar maximizes opportunities for growth, while resistance band handles hold you back.
In traditional weightlifting, unilateral use of dumbbells does have some advantages for athletes. Specifically, these movements recruit more of the core.2 Interestingly, what type of strength training lets you employ bilateral movement to lift your heaviest and recruits more muscle fiber, including your core? Variable resistance training with bands and a band bar.
So which type of bar is best? Let’s take a closer look.
What are the Different Types of Bars Available for Resistance Bands? #
There are various types of resistance band bars, each claiming to be the best. Let’s take a look at the top 3 types of exercise bars and why the straight bar is the best one out there.
EZ Curl Bar #
A resistance band curl bar is similar to the curl bar you’d find in the gym. Unlike a straight bar, an EZ curl bar offers a few kinks so the wrists are positioned more naturally, in a way that benefits the elbow and wrist joints.
While the EZ bar might help some weight-lifters prevent wrist injury, it’s well-known the straight bar is better suited for building biceps. When grabbing a straight bar, the biceps both supinate and curl, thus recruiting more muscle fibers for greater growth.3
Why Is X3 More Powerful Than Weights?
- More Resistance Where Your Body is Stronger
- Less Risk of Injury Than Traditional Weights
- Easier On the Joints, Harder on the Muscle
- Complete Muscle Fatigue for Greater Gains
Bow-Shaped Bar #
The bow-shaped bar looks just as it sounds. This bar functions as a straight bar would, but the ends are curved inward, allowing for the connection of shorter resistance bands.
The design of this type of resistance bar prevents the use of closed-loop bands, which would put too much pressure on the curvature of the bar and get in the way of most movements. This inherently makes the bow-shaped bar less optimal for heavy lifting. Because as you’ll see later, loop resistance bands are far superior to rubber tubing.
Straight Bar #
The straight, Olympic-style barbell is the gold standard of weight lifting. It’s simple and it works. The straight bar is the most commonly used weightlifting bar, which makes it familiar for most users making the switch from static to variable resistance training.
A straight bar for resistance bands need not be as long as an Olympic bar, since there aren’t any plates to make space for on either end. A little more than shoulder-width distance suffices, which is exactly what the 21.5 inch X3 bar offers. It’s portable, offers a familiar grip, and accommodates 95%4 of the population with a narrow or wide hand placement.
What Exercises Can I Perform Using Resistance Band Bars? #
A good workout bar will allow you to perform nearly any type of exercise imaginable to meet your fitness goal. Quality workouts depend on great form and of course, the ability to to follow instructions. The nice thing about working out at home is you can forget the days of waiting in line for the bench press and squat rack.
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If your goals are gaining strength and losing weight make sure to choose a workout bar with the components that allow you to perform the following exercises:
- Push Exercises: Chest press, tricep press, overhead press, and front squat
- Pull Exercises: Deadlift, bent row, bicep curl, and calf raises
- Variations: Pec crossover and split squat
Why Push and Pull Workouts are Best #
The best program, when it comes to results and time, is a push and pull program with a quality workout bar with resistance bands. There are clear benefits to all lifting routines but not everyone has enough time to lift six days per week. A well designed push and pull workout can hit all the key areas that affect muscle growth and stimulate muscle growth in a fraction of the time.
Here’s a quick rundown of why push/pull routines are superior:
- More Efficient — Less time working out = more time doing other things that you love. Spending time with family, building a business, or enjoying your hobbies.
- Creates Better Muscle Balance — Dividing each muscle group into different days can create imbalance. The most common is overworking the chest versus back, which creates a hunch in your shoulders and upper back. Simple push and pull workouts create a more balanced physique.
- Prevents Injury — Overtraining major muscle groups is a common way to get injured. Balancing push and pull moves will help you not overwork and stress your muscles and provide for plenty of recovery time.
- Increase Overall Muscle Mass — A push and pull routine increases time spent on all muscle groups.
Which Resistance Band Bars are Best? #
There are a variety of band bars on the market, each with its own set of gimmicks. Multiple attachment types, foldability, or additional accessories might help sell bars but aren’t necessary for function.
When it comes to building muscle and burning fatg, the X3 Bar stands above the rest. Still, let’s take a look at what’s out there.
The Bodylastics Resistance Band Bar #
The Bodylastics Resistance Band Bar is an EZ curl style bar that offers several options for hand placement. Ironically, shaping the bar in this manner means you lose options when it comes to the width of hand placement. If you’re petite or wide-shouldered, a 43.5” bar with hand grips at specified intervals may not be best suited for you.
The Bodylastics Bar has three attachment points, two at each end of the bar and one in the center. Elastic rubber tubes connect to the bar via carabiners. The ring attachments at each end of the bar don’t swivel, which further limits the grip you choose.
This bar is sold alone with bands available separately. Bodylastics does offer a band package that totals 404 pounds of resistance, but you’ll have to clip on 14 bands to reach that number. Whether or not there’s space for seven bands to clip to each ring at the end of the bar remains to be seen.
Doubling up, however, is the preferred method of generating resistance since none of the bands are that strong alone. Further, to prevent the tubes from snapping, each band is fitted with a piece of safety rope inside. This limits their elasticity and hence their range of motion, which limits Bodylastic’s applicability to strength training.
Gorilla Bow #
The bow-shaped Gorilla Bow measures 56 inches in length and arrives with an underwhelming 110 pounds of tension. Heavier resistance bands are available for purchase. For most people, this isn’t enough force to trigger exhaustion, especially when doing compound lower-body movements like squats or deadlifts.
Like the Bodylastics bar, Gorilla Bow requires you to layer on multiple bands to produce a heavier force. You can load a maximum of 3 bands onto each end of the bar. These tube-style rubber bands attach to the claw-like slots at the bow’s end with a rubber extension.
- Up to 600 lbs of Available Force
- Full-Body Muscle-Building Workouts
- Build Strength Faster
- Greater Gains In Just 10 Minutes a Day
Anytime an extension is added to the band, you’ve created a weak point and increased the risk of breakage. This risk builds as you attempt to lift heavy. As we’ve said before in this comparison article, the Gorilla Bow itself is durable, but the bands will limit anyone who’s capable of heavy lifting.
Lest you think you’ll get around this by using Gorilla Bow with your own, stronger bands, remember the attachment points are unique and only work with Gorilla Bow branded bands.
Innstar Portable Gym 3.0 #
Innstar Portable Gym 3.0 comes with a 38-inch bar and 4 resistance bands. The strongest package available offers a total of 200 pounds of resistance, which again, isn’t much for those who squat or deadlift. When choosing which package to purchase, you better be certain how much you can lift, because each option comes with the same 4 bands. Will you max out at 105 or 152 pounds of total resistance? You better know for sure, because this is the difference between the pro and advanced.
Bands attach to each end of the resistance band curl bar with carabiners. The Innstar website also shows a chest press with bands attached to the bar using velcro straps. If it’s velcro that’s holding your bands to the bar, it may be a good thing the Innstar bands are not that strong.
Body Boss 2.0 Portable Home Gym #
The Body Boss system is the only resistance band bar on our list to come with both a straight bar and a ground plate. While this makes it similar to X3 in some respects, it just isn’t as durable and won’t offer serious lifters a challenge.
The collapsible workout bar is 42” long and ships with just one set of bands which offer roughly 30 pounds of tension. Shorten the bands through one of the platform’s 10 anchor points, and you can max out at 80 pounds of resistance, but with bands too short to use for squats and most other standing movements.
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Body Boss bands clip to the bar along the lower edge, which like the bars mentioned above, limits the flexibility of your grip. Your hands will need to rotate as you move through each range of motion, because the bar doesn’t.
The Bionic Body Exercise Bar #
The Bionic Body Exercise Bar offers a full-body workout. The two piece bar is designed to fit most bands using clips, but it’s recommended you use the Bionic Body resistance bands for the best compatibility.
The 36-inch steel bar can be disassembled for portability without tools and features pads on the end for those who prefer a little extra cushion.
The Bionic Body Bar is a decent choice to maintain tone and flexibility. You can perform a variety of different exercises including chest press, shoulder press, bicep curls, and many more. This can be a good option if you’re not interested in building strength because of its minimal loading capability. If money is an issue, this is an affordable option as well.
X3: The Best Resistance Band Bar #
X3 is hands down the best option on the market. The heavy-duty resistance band bar far surpasses the competition when it comes to efficacy. With the X3 bar, those who can handle an intense, strong workout can certainly hit the parameters needed for muscle growth and a shift in body composition. What’s more, you can do so without compromising safety.
How it Started #
Scientist Dr. John Jaquish and biomedical engineer Henry Alkire came up with the X3 bar after having successfully designed the bone density improving devices used at OsteoStrong locations nationwide.
From his research with OsteoStrong, Dr. Jaquish knew the human body had at least 7 times more strength than conventional weightlifting or exercise bands alone allow for. Training with a familiar, Olympic-style barbell, a stable platform to stand on, and strong, closed-loop latex bands lets you generate the peak forces necessary for accessing this strength.
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John sketched the first iteration of the X3 Bar system on a cocktail napkin and emailed it to Henry. Together, the two came up with a final version that provides the following elements:
- Closed-loop bands attach to the bar with hooks, allowing for stretch and movement
- Internal bearings move the bar with the user’s hands throughout the entire range of motion
- A ground plate provides stability while allowing the bands to stretch and move underneath the user’s feet
Each of these simple but genius innovations puts the X3 Bar in a class of its own. Let’s take a closer look at why.
Why Closed Loop Bands? #
X3 Bar goes beyond rubber tubing and instead works with the strongest, closed-loop latex bands available. There are several reasons why any resistance bar that incorporates such bands is better for strength building.
Using circular resistance bands which attach with a hook eliminates the risk of carabiners, velcro straps, clips, or rubber stoppers breaking or coming loose from the band or bar. The fewer parts and pieces, the safer and more durable your strength training system.
In addition, 30 layers of natural latex add durability and strength to the X3 resistance bands. These individual layers help prevent the bands from snapping or breaking, unlike cheaper alternatives.
Flat, continuous loop resistance bands are simply stronger. Most rubber tubing has a max capacity of 50 pounds of resistance. X3 bands in particular are capable of exerting forces greater than 600 pounds.
Loop bands get their strength from the layering of latex, their width, and the continuous loop construction. This also makes them far less likely to break in a single snap than tube bands. You’ll notice some wear and tear long before getting surprised by a pop.
Rubber tubing bands are naturally more taut, so the levels of resistance for each size don’t vary as much as with closed-loops bands. For example, push or pull on rubber tubing and the resistance may vary by a few pounds. Push or pull against a heavy X3 band, and the variation will exceed a few hundred pounds. What’s variable resistance without much variation? Ineffective.
What’s more, the limited elasticity of tube bands limits the range of motion and muscle activation. You’ll often see tube bands going slack at the bottom of a range of motion. Loop bands, however, recruit more muscle without ever losing tension.
Flat bands are wider and thus have a greater surface area, which puts less pressure on the body when they’re up against your skin. If you’re following the X3 program, the bands will wrap the body during the chest press and tricep pushdown. Try this with rubber tubing, and you’ll get uncomfortable skin pinching, a common complaint from users of the Gorilla Bow.
Resistance Bars and Ground Plates: Why You Need Both #
Most tube-style resistance bands are used in pairs. Each attaches to one end of the bar but needs an anchor on the opposite end. The bars mentioned in this article often come with handles to step on, ankle straps, feet straps, or door anchors. None of these can hold a candle to the X3 Bar ground plate.
X3’s steel ground plate offers a strong, stable platform against which you can push and pull heavy amounts of force. Underneath, the closed-loop bands are able to freely stretch and move, which saves the soles of your feet from rubbing and saves your ankle joints from pressure.
In our opinion, a resistance band bar is not complete, nor effective, without an accompanying ground plate. The ground plate is what makes the use of strong loop bands possible. Maxing out on exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bent rows, and even bicep curls is only made possible with X3’s platform.
The X3 ground plate is unique in its compatibility with closed-loop bands, its strength and durability, and its slim portability.
Why Not a DIY Resistance Band Bar? #
Several have tried and failed to imitate the X3 bar with a DIY resistance band bar. For reasons of safety and efficacy, a DIY X3 Bar is just not a good idea. The craftsmanship of the X3 Bar is no accident. Both the design and the materials were carefully selected to maximize strength and safety of the system. If Dr. Jaquish could have made the same thing from inexpensive materials available at the local Home Depot, he would have, and he’d give you the instructions.
X3 Bar Materials #
Most Olympic bars are made out of regular (not stainless) steel, which means they’re generally a bit rusted and appear worse for wear. Dr. Jaquish wanted X3 to be resistant to that kind of corrosion but also relatively light. After all, the bar is for comfort. It’s the bands that make the workout challenging.
So while the exterior of X3 is anodized for a hard, attractive coating that doesn’t rust or discolor, the interior is made of cold-rolled steel. The bar’s interior is the major load-bearing component of X3 and interfaces directly with the hooks, bearings, and any torque applied to them. Intentionally-selected materials ensure the bar is strong enough to handle peak forces.
The Genius of Internal Bearings #
While stainless steel would have been too heavy for the actual bar, the hooks that hold the bands on are indeed stainless. This makes them rust-proof and durable, ensuring your bands will glide smoothly within them to prevent limits on elasticity.
You’ll also find the hooks aren’t soldered on as the band connectors are with most bars. Instead, the hooks rotate on bearings that allow the bar to move within the user’s hands throughout the entire range of motion.
This not only makes X3 the most comfortable resistance band bar to work with and hold on to, but it also allows for maximum force production. If the hooks were fixed, the bar would twist your wrists, creating unnatural angles, potentially causing injury, and ultimately limiting the load you can safely or effectively handle.
The long-lasting bearings are made of self-lubricating nylon. This intentional decision lets them move at slow speeds, which means their dynamism matches the controlled manner in which X3 exercises are done.
There will always be people who will say, “I can just get a wooden stick or pvc pipe and do this.” But please don’t try this at home.
A Band Bar Recap #
Variable resistance training is the best way to build muscle and lose fat. But to get the promised results, you need strong, closed-loop bands.
Working out with bands like this is only safe and effective when you have a bar to grip hold of and a ground plate to keep you stable.
X3 is the only resistance band bar to offer the following:
- A durable straight bar built for the strongest, flat, continuous loop bands
- The familiar feel of an Olympic-style barbell
- Ball-bearing rotation for a comfortable full range of motion
- A ground plate for access to transformational movement
Try the X3 Bar System for yourself, and you’ll see why it’s the only strength training equipment you need.
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