People are interested in space-saving, portable home gyms with easy-to-follow workout instructions. Many manufacturers attempt but miss the mark, including Zeno Gym. The home gym bench and squat board are founded on a good idea, but the ‘most versatile workout bench’ could be promising more than it can deliver.
Zeno Gym Reviews
Zeno gym is a home workout bench with fittings for resistance bands, promoted for versatile all-level strength training. The company also sells a squat board, which is used with resistance bands for squats and standing upper-body strength moves. The home gym bench promises over 100 exercises for a full-body workout, but according to most reviewers, fails to deliver results.
About Zeno Gym
The Zeno gym bench and squat board are packaged in several iterations based on three workout bench options.
- Zeno Bench One ($349) comes with the bench, three pairs of rubber resistance bands (50 lbs, 30 lbs, 15 lbs), 6 D-rings for resistance band attachments, two resistance band handles, two ankle straps, and one accessories bag.
- Zeno Bench Pro ($749) arrives with the same accessories, which include Zeno Gym bands. For a hefty $400 more, the Pro bench offers five incline levels.
- Zeno Bench Pro Sound ($949) offers a built-in speaker (but no additional workout features) for another $200.
- Zeno Bench Home ($495) comes equipped with a premium wood laminate bench, three pairs of rubber resistance bands, 6 V-rings for resistance band attachments, two resistance band handles, two ankle straps, and one accessories bag.
- The Squat Board is sold separately for $199 or may be added to any bench purchase. When purchased on its own, the wooden board comes with the same three resistance bands (50 lbs, 30 lbs, and 15 lbs) and accessories as the bench, plus a metal bar with foam padding.
Accompanying resistance bands claim to offer a maximum of 260 pounds of resistance, although this varies depending on the exercise. Resistance bands clip to the bench or board using metal carabiners and D-rings.
Equipment arrives with a 16-exercise instruction guide. A series of brief YouTube videos explain each movement. Full workouts are available via a paid zeno gym app at an additional cost of $12.99/month or $50 for the year.
Does Zeno Gym Work?
Users are mixed about Zeno Gym’s effectiveness, but those looking for genuine strength training are unanimous that the home gym bench fails to live up to expectations. We take a look at the top reasons why.
Limited Resistance Limits Strength Gains
Zeno Gym arrives with three sets of resistance bands, the heaviest of which tops out at 50 pounds. For most people, the hollow tube rubber bands fail to offer enough resistance for strength gains. This is especially true for compound movements involving the large muscle groups of the lower body.
Some users purchase additional bands to make up for the deficit, although how they incorporate these bands is unclear. As Ken Z says, “Squats felt good, but need some more weight. Next purchase – more bands.”
Other Zeno Gym reviews seem resigned to low expectations, Steven H says, “I’ve been squatless for a month…Even though the weight isn’t much, it’s better than nothing!” What Steven doesn’t realize is that squatting with limited weight is indeed similar to doing nothing. For strength gains, muscular growth, and weight loss, you need to lift heavy.
Portability Reduces Stability
The Zeno home gym bench is made of plywood and vinyl, guaranteed to support up to 800 pounds. The company proudly claims the 35-pound bench weight lends itself to portability. Portability around the house, perhaps; few would attempt to take the bench on the road.
As it turns out, the light weight may offset its usefulness as a stable base for strength training, especially for those attempting to push or pull a large amount of resistance.
User Jaclyn C says, “there are moves they are doing that are pulling the bench off the floor. I’m not a large person, 5'7", 140 lbs. and the bench feels a little light to use with the resistance bands. I get very nervous I’m going to tip it over and sometimes have to go out of my way to hold it down with a foot or hand so I can continue working out. I’m not even using the large bands, I’m doing 15s!”
Not All Resistance Bands are Equal
Zeno’s hollow tube rubber bands use carabiners to clip to accessories, which makes it difficult to loop bands for shortening or lengthening as needed.
Tall users complain back squats, and overhead presses are simply impossible because the bands are not long enough. Others find the bands are too long.
Due to this lack of versatility, Ryan S ultimately returned his bench. “Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get comfortable working out on it due to the band length. It was suggested that you can loop the bands to shorten them, but I found it to be uncomfortable working out on them.”
Zeno gym’s own squat bench instructional video clearly shows the bands going slack at the bottom of several lifts. Failure to maintain resistance through the full range of movement inhibits muscular growth and simply makes workouts too easy.
Zeno Gym Review from Real Users
Users expecting a complete experience after their $349+ purchase are disappointed the bench and squat board come with limited information regarding workouts and programming. Many find the available free instruction lacking, making the bench difficult or awkward to use.
Some users have struggled with certain Zeno Gym exercises. For 6’2” Patrick L, “Leg extensions and leg curls are almost impossible. The demonstration video for leg curls seems to show the ankle strap in combination with the second ankle strap, but how this is accomplished is unclear since the video is less than 5 seconds long.”
Others, like Brian L are simply frustrated, “The extremely short YouTube videos of the various exercises are little or no help in understanding how to correctly do each one; some are as short as a few seconds. This lack of instruction(s) can lead to injury or in my case, total frustration with the leg exercises.”
There is a zeno gym app that provides over 60 training videos presented by five trainers, yet it comes at a price. As Brian says in his Zeno Gym review, “If I had known originally the way to understand the mechanics of each exercise was to pay for the App, I doubt I would have purchased the equipment.”
A Good Idea Gone Wrong
Zeno Gym is founded on a good idea, variable resistance. Yet the awkwardly executed workout bench serves as a reminder that for variable resistance to lead to real gains in strength and fitness, the following must be true:
You need strong, durable resistance bands
Not all resistance bands are created equally. Rubber tubing doesn’t have the same strength or elastic properties as closed-loop latex bands. X3 Bar uses strong latex loops, which are not only easy to wrap for shorter bodies but capable of stretching further for strong, taller users.
Importantly, X3’s durable resistance bands offer more than 600 pounds of resistance, making them suitable for recruiting muscle fiber and triggering muscle growth. To access strength gains, you need to lift heavy.
You need a stable, trustworthy base
When using strong bands for a tough workout, one needs a trustworthy, stable base on which to anchor. Stepping on resistance bands with feet alone just won’t do the trick, and neither will a lightweight bench or wooden squat board equipped with D-rings.
X3’s heavy-duty ground plate and grip bar offer stability and safety when working to fatigue. Because the closed-loop bands wrap underneath the grounding plate, there’s no danger of a lightweight carabiner stretching or flipping open against the force of a strong band.
You need a simple, joint-friendly grip
Ankle straps, triangle handles, and foam-padded bars just make things complicated. Clipping and unclipping accessories between movements is not only inefficient, but these types of anchors add risk where you need it least, close to the ankle and wrist joints.
X3 Bar’s steel grip bar is familiar to any weight lifter. It’s simple and easy to grip. Using the same bar for each exercise means only the bands need to change.
You need an easy-to-follow exercise program
Science has shown there’s no need to spend 40–60 minutes on your workout. Among the benefits of building strength with variable resistance is that 10 minutes daily is all it takes. Complicate things, and you’re less likely to do your workout at all.
X3 comes complete with a simple, effective, full-body workout X3 Bar , and it’s free. No need to purchase an app, connect to the internet, or pay a monthly subscription. Just grab the bar, do the work, and reap the rewards.
X3 vs Zeno Gym
When it comes to X3 Bar versus Zeno Gym, one clearly out-functions the other. X3 continues to be the only on the market that delivers on performance. It may not include a speaker or come in 4 different colors, but it’ll help you build muscle and lose weight.
Optimize your health through science