- By Shawn Baker MD on October 7, 2020
X3 Bar honest review
An honest review on the X3 workout bar system by Dr. Shawn Baker.
Shawn Baker: Okay. X3 Bar resistance band training system review. All right. I’ve been using it exclusively, until yesterday for about eight weeks now. Just a full disclosure, john Jake has sent me this product free about a year ago. I’ve used it kind of off and on since that time. Never really fully committing to it. So this is the first sort of time period where I was going to say, let me give this a full completely exclusive try. Further disclosure, at the beginning, the first two or three weeks, I was on a very aggressive low-calorie experiment, very high fat, low protein, low calorie experiment, looking around blood glucose numbers. Trying to sort of troubleshoot things for diabetics in our meter X community. And seeing blood glucose in the sixties for me, which is relatively low.
So I knew that definitely worked, but at the same time leads to significant body weight loss, some of it being muscle. And so it’s only been in the last three or four weeks where I’ve been able to have added in more calories. And so let’s talk about the X3 Bar resistance band bar system, as you can see behind me here, I mean, it’s a series of bands. There are five of them. I’ve got the Elite Band shown there, which is what I do deadlifts and shrugs with. It’s got a platform and then it has a bar. Okay. And so fairly simple. The question is, could you make it yourself at home? Yeah, probably you certainly could. Are the components high quality? I’d say definitely they’re high quality components. I think the bands are very, very solid bands. They provide a hell of a lot of resistance.
I’ve been using bands off and on since the late eighties, 1990s. I think the [inaudible] stretch bands came out when I was deadlifting. I would often add bands to my dead lifts. At one point doing deficit pulls in conjunction with bands. When I was pulling close to 800 pounds was something that I did on a regular. So I’ve been a very big, big fan of accommodating resistance or variable resistance. And I think there is some good evidence to show that there is a benefit to doing that. When it comes to muscle building, and one of the reasons I do a lot of other things is because my main focus is not always muscle building, it’s been performance, it’s been about sports and things like that. And so I think to be good at sports or competing, you need to actually practice those skills.
If you want to be a good powerlifter, then you need to bench squat and deadlift with the weights you’re going to be using. The bars and so on and so forth. If you want to be an Olympic lifter, same thing in hand. If you want to be a high-level CrossFit athlete, you need to practice the CrossFit exercises. If you want to be, you name it sport, you got to do the sports. Basketball players, you better be out there on a court with a basketball, right?
Having said that there are a lots of ways to develop muscle. There are lots of tools out there. There are lots of different schemes to do that. All of them require some form of resistance training. Whether you get that through a standard barbell, through very resistance through machines, plate loaded machines, hydraulic machines, magnetic resistance machine. I mean, there’s all kinds of ways, with [inaudible] type levers, or this X3 Bar variable resistance training system. There’s lots of ways to develop or to create muscle fiber recruitment. Okay. So that’s what it takes. To grow muscle, I mean, we know what we need from a dietary standpoint, we need adequate protein. We need obviously leucine to stimulate. Also, perhaps the arginine has a secondary role. Primary leucine to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, via mTOR, We need a caloric surplus, can be done with fat or carbohydrates, or I guess, protein, if you want to eat caloric surplus of protein, which is extremely hard to do. And then obviously recovery and then the adequate training stimulus.
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And so let’s talk about the adequate training stimulus. Recruiting muscle fibers, to a high degree of that can be done with lifting very, very heavy things or lots and lots of heavy resistance at one time. It can be done with lighter resistance, done with greater amounts of repetition.
So now let’s go onto the X3 Bar fitness band bar system in particular. So the pros for the X3 portable gym, and I think there’s many. You definitely, definitely, definitely can recruit a maximum number of muscle fibers by doing the exercise. Particularly if you do it as prescribed with regards to going to failure. That is to say, if you’re doing say the chest press, you come to an almost complete lockout. And the reason behind not locking out is to maintain tension on the muscle. And then you kind of bring the weight back down towards your chest, not letting all the tension go off. So you kind of see, it’s kind of just shy of lock out to the beginning of the range kind of ends when you start to lose any tension on the bar itself. So you do that.
You go to failure in that range of motion, and then you will go to partial rep failure. And so by the end of the set you should be doing, your repetition might only be an inch or so you might only be moving the bar an inch and you do that two or three reps until you completely fail. If you do it in this way, I think you will see significant benefit. There are some exercises I like better than others. Part of that is probably due to my sort of build. I’m pretty tall, pretty lanky, six foot five. I’ve got extremely long arms. I found some of the exercises to be more favorable to my anatomy. Some of them were certainly harder. I mean a bench press for me is much harder than for someone with short arms, just because I’m going to have to stretch that band out a hell of a lot more than the person with the shorter arms.
And it’s not literally harder. It becomes logarithmically harder to push it the more you stretch it. So if you got longer arms or you’re taller, you’re going to have a harder time with it, than someone who’s shorter, as far as the tension you’re developing. What I’ll say, so let me just go through some of the individual exercises. I didn’t do every single one of them, and I didn’t do it ultimately as it was prescribed. And I’ll talk about why that is for me. So I certainly, the chest press, let me say this for all the exercise, there is a feeling out, a learning period, a period to get comfortable, to learn how to kind of stabilize things to where you feel like you can really direct the force into the bar.
So you, you have to first kind of learn how to position everything. And there’s a short feeling out period for that. It might take a few repetitions, a few sessions to really feel that. Particularly some people feel about the chest tress, getting those straps positioned between the shoulder and the top of the triceps on the shoulder. Kind of evening things up. There’s a little bit of learning curve to that. Doesn’t take too long.
But I ended up ultimately doing a few more sets than was recommended. And I’ll talk about the reasons for that. But so the chest press exercise, I actually quite liked. I found it quite enjoyable. I found that relative to even bench pressing, I almost pretty much preferred it with the X3 Bar, just for a number of different reasons. I found the other chest exercise, the kind of the crossover or the fly, whatever you want to call it. You take the band without, just band in hand and you do basically pec deck type motions. And I found if I fully extended my arms, brought them together.
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And then I really, really, I’ve not really trained much as a bodybuilder. I mean, I really have trained always in a functional using momentum using neurologic, I would say skill efficiency to do things. So that’s been my style. But when you train, you know, more in a bodybuilding style, when you really focus on muscle contraction, maybe more on inefficiency rather than efficiency. I found that if I slow the reps down, and this goes for all the exercises, [inaudible 00:09:01], I slow the reps down and really focus on squeezing, squeezing, squeezing the muscle, contracting as hard as possible. And this is with the peck deck type motion, that was quite a good workout. I enjoyed that one. The same thing with the shoulder press, which I felt was an effective exercise. I enjoyed that.
I didn’t do so much of the triceps extension one. I felt a little bit redundant because I was doing shoulder press. I was doing the chest press. And then I ultimately ended up doing more than the prescribed amount of chest pressed exercises. So I said, well, I’m not going to do the tricep push down one. So I can’t really say I did it that much to truly evaluate it, but it was fine. I mean, I didn’t feel any trouble with that. The curl exercise I felt was reasonably good. And one thing I will point out pretty much with all the exercises, it’s quite taxing cardio vascularly, more so than you would think.
When I was doing just set of curls, my heart rate would be up high. I mean, we’re talking 180 or something like that. I mean, you just felt that as you, and again, this all goes down to contracting the muscle in a very deliberate fashion, going to failure, going to partial rep failure, going to quarter rep failure until you completely fail. And then that was a pretty good exercise. The deadlift, I also enjoyed that motion very much. I did not lock out like it’s recommended. I kind of brought it down. Lowered it to a point where there was still tension on there. I found that I had to use a hook grip on the deadlift to be able to hold the bar before my hand gave out with a more standard grip, or you could use straps.
One of the exercises not sort of on the program, which I later added in was the shrug. And so I took that Elite Band, that orange band to full deadlift lockout position. And then I just did shrugs. I found even with the hook grip, I couldn’t continue to hold onto the bar because the bar is got such good knurling on that, that it was just too painful on my thumbs. And I’ve hooked gripped well over 700 pounds on a dead lift, on a competition deadlift with a hook grip. And I couldn’t hold onto that. I think due to the deep knurling and the amount of pressure that’s applied. And so well over 700 pounds is being directed down on your traps when you’re doing the shrugs. And so I ended up using straps. And with that I could get to 15, 20, 25 reps just kind of squeezing the traps in there. And so I liked that exercise.
I didn’t do the calf raise. I just chronically don’t really bother training my calves. I do so much walking, and some people might come on, I’ve fairly skinny calves. So I’m not particularly worried about that. I didn’t do the split squat. I just, for whatever reason, I decided I didn’t want to do that. What I did do was the squat. And that was probably the one exercise I struggled with the most, and the biggest issue for me probably at six foot five. Initially I tried doing with a typical front rack Olympic style, with the wrist back there and putting the bar on my hand. And I found that that was just, it was just too difficult to maintain that rack, to find a band position where I could tax my legs enough without my wrist just hurting.
And it may be a product for me, maybe flexibility issues, but I just think that it just didn’t work very well for me. And I was frustrated with that initially. I finally figured out to change the rack position towards the still front rack, but I just did it on my thumb. And I did that crossover bodybuilder style which also worked with the thumb one, which I kind of watched the videos and that was a bit of an aha moment. And I found that I could definitely get a decent front rack, get it on my shoulders, my clavicles, and kind of maintain that position.
I still felt that for me, it tended to pitch me forward a bit. And the other thing is, I remember I mentioned that it was a cardiovascular taxing exercise. And for me, the squats, the limitation for me on that was not my legs, but it was my lungs. And I generally am in pretty good condition. I can do all these conditioning type things, but I just felt that I was so fatigued cardio vascularly that that would give out on me before my legs truly fatigued like I could see with my upper body stuff. And so that was probably for me the biggest negative was getting a good solid leg workout in because it was so taxing on my general system.
And so, which bands do you use? I tried the Elite bands. I could kind of do it. Wasn’t really particularly comfortable. I used the black band, which is the second, which what I used, but I’d get to about 20 reps and I was just gassed. And it was just, that was a problem I had a hard time overcoming. So I guess some of those negatives, those might be some of the negatives.
I would say that quite honestly, I would like a little wider bar. I know John says, well, you just kind of, it doesn’t really matter. You get into more of a close grip position. I found that I could get a nice stretch in the pecks with the cable crossover type movements. So it really wasn’t, it kind of worked itself out in the end with that. But maybe a telescoping bar where you could slide in and out, but whether that’s as a minor point.
From a time management… And this is a thing X3 Bar resistance band bar system, three times of muscle games. I can’t say that, I’m not really the best subject. So let me talk a little bit more about the program as written. The eight exercises done for each day, every other day, three days a week for each and then one day rest. For me, I just felt like the volume was just a little bit, not enough for a couple of the exercise. So I ended up increasing the volume. I ended up doing the chest press pretty much every day. Actually ended up doing two or three sets a day for a while, same with the shrugs. And then combine some other exercises in there. Because I was focusing on those muscle groups. And I felt fine with that. I mean, I still pushed it to failure. I kind of came back a little bit later in the day and did it again.
I think one of the things we do know is that, particularly advanced trainees, people have had a lot of experience been training for many, many years. We know that the intensity, the volume generally has to be increased for those people to continue to gain muscle. Now having said that, even with the increasing number of sets I was doing above what the baseline recommendation was, the timeframe to which I was doing those sets in was extremely low relative to what I would spend in the gym. So I think from a time management standpoint, you can get a pretty solid workout. Obviously the footprint is tiny. I routinely bring it in my suitcase I have every time I’ve traveled, and I will continue to do that. I will continue to use it as part of my workout.
For me, I’ve got something like $30,000 worth of home gym equipment, which I’ve accumulated over the years. And so it’s hard to sort of not let any of that use that stuff. And plus I have fun doing that stuff, lifting the medicine balls, doing the jumping and sprinting and some of these other exercises. So I’ll continue to do that. But I will definitely continue to use that X3 Bar resistance band training system by itself when traveling, by itself on certain days. I think there is a great deal of value on that.
The price point, is it worth it? I mean, that’s really kind of one of those up to you decisions. I mean, I know he offers a 30 day money back guarantee I believe, so you could try it out. And I do think if you’re going to try it out, you should give it time to adapt, to learn how to utilize and kind of get comfortable with the exercise and see where you fall. You might find adding a setting here and there might be something you enjoy, particularly if you’ve been training for a long period of time. Again, if you’re a professional bodybuilder, if you’re a professional or a powerlifter, or if you’re a CrossFit athlete, you still got to do those exercises. There’s no way around that. You might get stronger and you definitely will. And I got stronger on the X3 Bar variable resistance training system Bar as measured by the X3 Bar fitness band bar system Bar metrics. I could push more reps once I got kind of set into how to do the repetitions correctly and comfortable with that, I could definitely see progress going.
I saw muscle growth. Again, part of this is coupled from the fact that I had just immediately lost a lot of size and strength basically intentionally before I went into this. So there was some of that confounded as I brought in calories. So I think likely I would have seen muscle growth regardless of the mode I chose. But I definitely saw that with the X3 Bar resistance band bar system. I think for the average person that just wants to get stronger, put on a little muscle, you can definitely do it with the X3 Bar variable resistance training system. Does it make sense if you have nothing in your house and you want to say, hey, I want to do something that’s giving me a lot of bang for my buck, I think this is something is a pretty solid tool with that. You have to just got to use it to the way it’s designed. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it. And so you’ve got to push hard, push to failure, push to partial rep failure, push to, I can only move the bar on inch and continue to go to failure.
And then whether you stick to the program or add in a couple sets, that’s going to be up to you. Again, the price point is really dependent upon your budget. $500 or $550 for one person is a lot of money. For other people it’s not. Could you make something similar on your own? You probably could. I don’t know that it would be as high quality. I don’t think you’d get quite the same resistance. I mean, do you want to do that? Yeah. And that’s really up to you. And it’s, how much do you value fitness? I mean, you could literally lift rocks for nothing and you could get some results. So it depends on where you are. I mean, can you put big rocks in your suitcase? I mean, I guess you could find rocks wherever you travel to. So the short answer is I think for the general average person that wants a well-built effective home gym home gym piece of equipment, the X3 Bar certainly can serve that purpose. Is a price point something that is worth it to you? That’s going to be your decision.
No Weights, No Cardio
Is it the only and best way to do things? No. But like I said, what is your goals? What are you willing to do outside of that? Is the value of not having to go to the gym, meaningful for you? Some people love the gym, like to go there. I did it for 40 years and I enjoy my time in the gym. But more and more I train at home and I certainly don’t miss those times either. I mean, I certainly enjoy the training at home. It’s always open. There’s no lines. You can do whatever exercises you want. So anyway, I hope this has been helpful. I don’t get any affiliate commission on X3 Bars with YouTube or anything else or my Instagram @drjaquish .
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