An Introduction to Variable Resistance Training

Variable resistance is commonly misunderstood and underestimated. Let us clear the air. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about variable resistance.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • How variable resistance works and why it's so powerful
  • Why traditional weightlifting is a waste of time
  • What types of variable resistance training are most effective
  • How to best leverage variable resistance to build muscle
  • & more

Basics of Strength and Resistance

First, let’s address a few basic concepts, namely strength and resistance.

Muscular strength is the maximum amount of force that can be produced by a muscle or a muscle group against resistance.

That resistance can take two forms: constant (static) resistance and variable resistance (changing). The description “accommodating resistance” is also sometimes used to describe examples of variable resistance.

Weightlifting is a form of static resistance. Free weights deliver the same amount of weight throughout the range of motion. For example, the weight at or near the bottom (weak range) of the bench press is the same as the weight at or near the top (strong range).

Weak Range

Weak Range

Strong Range

Strong Range

Where Weights Went Wrong

With static resistance, weight lifters are limited by their capacity in the weakest part of the movement. If that sounds wasteful, it is—both of time and effort.

Instead of you choosing the heaviest static weight to accommodate your weakest range, wouldn’t it make more sense to match each part of the entire range of motion with an appropriate, and thus changing, level of resistance?

Delivering the appropriate peak force at all ranges would certainly result in a better muscular response—in far less time—than conventional weightlifting.

For example, what if the resistance increased as you reached the top of a bench press? What if resistance got lighter at the bottom of a deadlift, protecting your lower back in the process?

Get this: it’s actually been around for decades. But nobody has fully leveraged its power.

Until now.

This type of exercise is called variable resistance, and it's changing how people work out.


What Is Variable Resistance?

Variable resistance training (VRT), or dynamic variable resistance exercise, is a type of strength training that applies a dynamic degree of force to the target muscle(s). Variable resistance mimics the natural curve of the body’s strength capability as it passes through a range of motion. Variable resistance training compels muscles to work harder when they are strongest, to meet the demands of the exercise.

In other words, the force (or resistance) changes through the entire range of motion.

Dumbbells and barbells provide static resistance, while weightlifting chains, resistance bands, and sometimes cable machines deliver variable resistance. Variable resistance performs best when the force is created by heavy resistance bands.


Because resistance bands, particularly heavy latex resistance bands, provide a greater level of variance than weightlifting chains.

According to renowned strength and conditioning coach Christian Bosse,

“The resistance provided by chains is linear, whilst bands provide the resistance exponentially.”

As you’ll learn in Dr. John Jaquish’s book, Weight Lifting Is a Waste of Time, variable resistance is the safest and most effective stimulus for developing muscle and building strength.

This type of training adds variability to each movement; and traditionally, has helped weight lifters break through plateaus.

But as a stand-alone stimulus, variable resistance has been greatly underestimated, even after a thorough study revealed that variable resistance training delivered significantly more strength gains than just lifting weights. With the advent of Dr. John Jaquish’s X3 variable resistance training system, that all changed.

Now let’s talk about weights.

The Disadvantages of Lifting Weights

Sustaining injuries and underutilizing muscle tissue are symptoms of weightlifting’s biggest weaknesses.

For one, weights overload joints and underload muscles.

In no other type of functional movement would a human voluntarily attempt to deliver the same force through an entire range of motion.

How do you pick up a heavy object?

You would never bend your back as much as possible and pick it up from the lowest point available because that would maximize the opportunity for injury and reduce your lifting capacity.

But that’s exactly how people exercise. The logic just doesn’t add up.

woman in pain
couple lifting armchair
deadlift man

Weights Are for the Weak (Range)

Clearly, a more effective training protocol would be one that challenges muscle where we are most capable and takes stress off joints where we are least capable.

Have you ever wondered why most gym-goers don’t look even marginally athletic?

By limiting strength to our capacity in the weak range, we place limits on our results. Because weights are constant while our muscle force output capability is variable, lifting weights leaves behind significant untapped potential. To create greater strength, muscle tissue in the medium and stronger ranges needs to be completely fatigued. But too often, lifting weights stimulates only our weakest ranges.

As Dr. John Jaquish found in his research, a better stimulus is needed to maximize muscle growth and optimize the inefficiencies of weightlifting.

Why Variable Resistance Is So Powerful

Dr. John Jaquish was the first to discover there is a sevenfold difference between the weakest and strongest range, effectively demonstrating that muscular capacity is far greater than anyone ever realized. His findings also exposed the Achilles’ heel of weightlifting: Because the weight used is determined by the weakest range, there is a vast mismatch between the amount of weight lifted and our actual muscular potential.
The stronger a lifter gets, the more cumulative damage to joints, since they are at their maximum possible capacities in the weakest range of motion. Joint pain stops muscle from effectively contracting through a process called neural inhibition.

How Variable Resistance Works

Weightlifting is counterintuitive. It overloads joints and underloads muscles. Variable resistance does the opposite. With variable resistance, the weight changes as we move, putting less force on joints where less muscle is engaged and more force where more muscle is engaged.

In other words, variable resistance works in congruence with our biomechanics.

As mentioned above, humans are 7X stronger in the impact-ready positions than they are in the weaker, joint-compromised positions. Variable resistance requires a minimal amount of force at the bottom of a movement, a normal amount of force in the middle, and an incredibly high amount of force at the top. This empowers you to expose the musculature to a high amount of resistance where you’re most capable.

Variable resistance exercise maximizes muscular involvement by altering resistance at different points in a movement. It varies the resistance in accordance with our varying strength capacities.

Let’s use the bench press example again. The amount of force you’re capable of delivering halfway through the movement is nowhere near your maximum force output. In fact, you are somewhere around 25–33% of your full strength capacity.

Can this really be true?

The strength curve spikes drastically at the end of the movement, near full extension. That’s where you can deliver 7x more force.

In traditional weightlifting, your bench press max is limited to your capabilities in the weakest range, when the bar is against your chest, and your wrists, elbow joints, shoulders, and even low back are compromised.

The 3 Key Principles of Variable Resistance Training

To truly understand how variable resistance works, we must first understand its key principles.

Force Variance

The first principle is variance, which we have touched on at length. In order to optimize muscle activity throughout a motion, we need to use a weight that changes as we move. Variable resistance, specifically via heavy layered latex resistance bands, is the best vehicle for delivering the varying forces required to optimize muscle growth and strength.

When applied through the use of X3 Bar, variable resistance can more optimally match biomechanical capability than with any other training tool. The factor that makes the biggest difference is variance. X3 provides the strongest level of variance ever seen in a fitness product.


Diminishing Range

The second principle is diminishing range. Variable resistance enables you to diminish the range of motion in each exercise to achieve maximum exhaustion.

With variable resistance, you perform full repetitions until you can no longer reach the strong range. Completely exhausting the strong range is impossible with weights because you are limited by your strength in the weak range of motion.

If you cannot power through your weakest point in a weightlifting movement, guess what?

It’s quitting time.

With X3, once you can no longer perform full-range repetitions, you continue to perform mid-range repetitions. Your repetitions become shorter as you progress as you exhaust more muscular tissue.

Why is the burn so tremendous?

Because you’re engaging and fatiguing more muscle than you ever have in your life.

Once you have fatigued muscle in the mid-range, you fatigue the last little bit of muscle in the weak range, where the resistance is much lower.

With variable resistance, you’re able to take your muscles to full fatigue in all the ranges of motion with a single set.

No more is needed.

With weights, multiple sets won’t trigger such a high level of fatigue and muscular growth. But over time, it will cause cumulative joint damage.


Constant Tension

The third principle is constant tension. When lifting with relatively heavy static weights, lifters end up sending mixed signals to the central nervous system.

You don’t want to turn the muscle on with a short set, then turn it off while taking a break, and then turn it on again with additional sets of the same exercise.

Constant tension maintained for an extended set, with variable resistance and diminishing range, shows the central nervous system that you absolutely need more muscular tissue, which triggers adaptation.

Variable resistance puts constant tension on the muscle and does so with highly variable forces, and because the set is performed with the diminishing range it can include a high repetition count during which constant tension is maintained. This allows for the most growth without muscle, tendon, and joint damage.

When muscle adapts under variable resistance, it does so much more rapidly than seen through other forms of training.

This adaptive response is part of what makes X3 so powerful.

Example of Complete Fatigue to Trigger More Muscle Growth:


Beginning with full-range reps, and hitting up to 557 lb at peak, continue until Zone A cannot be reached.


Continue doing half reps of up to 300 lb using only Zones B & C until zone B cannot be reached. Usually 5 more reps.


The last 2-3 reps have the user barely moving the bar because of the extreme exhaustion with less than 100 lb, just in Zone C.

After this process, the muscle is taken to fatigue to a far greater level. Greater Fatigue = Greater Gains



Variable Resistance Training

Variable resistance training comes in several forms. Variable resistance machines use a cam and lever system, and then there are lifting chains and rubber-based resistance bands.

Each falls under the category of ‘variable resistance’ because, unlike your free weights, this equipment is designed to vary the resistive load placed on the musculoskeletal system throughout the exercise’s range of motion.

Let’s take a closer look at the three primary categories of variable resistance training.


Cams and Levers

Most weight lifters are familiar with cam and lever systems, such as the Hammer Strength machines at their local gym. These machines use a leverage system to produce a resistance curve that mimics how the musculoskeletal system would naturally move around a joint.

Such machines are increasingly falling out of favor in the weight-lifting community. Leverage length is often fixed and generally the variance is relatively small, often too small to provide substantial benefit. Beyond that, these are machine based exercises, not functional movements, and as such they do not create substantial recruitment of core stabilization muscles as chains and rubber bands do.


Weightlifting Chains

Also known as powerlifting chains, heavy chains are an increasingly popular method of variable resistance training and are used in combination with traditional weight-lifting. Steel chains are set up to hang from the barbell, typically just outside where the weight is loaded. As an athlete performs the exercise, the chains lift and descend.

Weightlifting chains offer a specific, low variation type of variable resistance, which is dependent upon—and limited by—gravity. They are heaviest at the top of a lift when hanging. At the bottom of the lift, where the body is in a weak, joint-compromised position, heavy chains are coiled on the floor and at their lightest. Weightlifting chains can only be used for vertical movements; bands provide resistance in whatever direction is required.


Rubber-Based Resistance

Rubber bands, tubing, straps, and bungees all fall under the category of rubber-based resistance. Properties such as stiffness, strength, density, and elasticity vary depending upon the polymer used to manufacture the band, its shape, and its thickness.

If you’ve ever been injured, you may have been prescribed resistance band exercises as part of your physical therapy, where they are commonly used. It’s increasingly common, however, to see rubber bands used for strength training, with or without weights.

In strength training applications, rubber-based resistance is similar to chain resistance in that load increases as the exercise is performed. The principle difference is the extent of the variability. Rubber based resistance is likely to provide much greater variation in force between weak and strong positions when compared to typical chain arrangements.

No matter the type of variable resistance, they each work similarly. These methods support you at the weakest point in the exercise, thus allowing you to lift more where you are strongest. Variable resistance is valuable to the rehabilitation community because it reduces the risk of injury. Strength training communities see the value in maximizing power output at one’s strongest range of movement, thus maximizing available strength gains.

Is TRX Variable Resistance?

TRX™ is a suspension training system in which fabric straps are hung from a fixed anchor point. When using TRX you are lifting against the resistance created by your bodyweight, which is obviously constant during the exercise.

Depending on how you move your body during the workout, and where you might be standing, you may offload some of your weight during certain parts of some exercises.

How to Start a Resistance Band Training Routine

There are several methods for strength training with resistance bands. One can use the bands alone, anchor the bands to a simple and sturdy device such as a pull-up bar, or use the resistance bands with weights. There’s also the X3 Bar, which allows for resistance band training for every major muscle group.

Before you start using resistance bands, it’s important to understand the different methods of training.

Training With Bands Alone

Strength training with bands alone typically entails standing on the bands to create an anchor or using the body itself as an anchor within a closed-loop band.

Resistance bands can be added to bodyweight exercises to increase (or decrease) the intensity.

Training with Bands Alone

Using Bands With Weights

When used with weights, resistance bands are either attached to power racks and weight bars or held in the hands along with your free weights. Bands help athletes overcome the initial load, which allows for the completion of heavier lifts. While offering this degree of unloading may seem like it would make the lift easier, studies find resistance bands actually allow for an increase in force generation and peak power output.
Using Bands with Weights

Training With the X3 Bar

The X3 Bar is a unique strength training device that utilizes highly durable heavy latex resistance bands. To prevent injury to the wrists and ankles, these bands are anchored to a steel bar and ground plate, which allows for powerful, strength-building lifts.
x3 system complete

How to Train With Chains

Training with chains offers fewer options than training with rubber-based resistance, yet it’s a viable method of increasing strength training loads and thus improving gains.

Training With Chains Alone

Although it’s far less common to see people training with chains alone versus using them as an accessory to weight-lifting, it is done. Chains can be used in a manner similar to rope training, or draped around the neck during bodyweight exercises, such as tricep dips and push-ups.

Training With Chains and Weights

When chains are added to free weights, the loading pattern becomes mildly variable. Similar to resistance bands, chains offer reduced weight in the initial stages of a lift which can permit you to lift heavier in your stronger range and thereby improve upon the peak force generated. The method is increasingly popular with powerlifters but impractical for many users due to the required equipment.
Using Bands with Weights

The Benefits of Variable Resistance Training

Variable resistance training benefits athletes by reducing loads on joints at their most vulnerable position. This potentially makes training safer and more sustainable and allows for greater forces to be generated through the strongest part of the exercise.


Variable resistance via a cam and lever device is perhaps among the easiest methods of strength training. The motion of the exercise is guided through a fixed path and requires minimal skill to complete.

Proponents of functional fitness, however, argue the isolation of a single joint and muscle group is impractical and can in fact lead to imbalances and risk of injury in the long term.

Chains and rubber-based resistance theoretically make lifts safer since the body is better supported at the weakest part of the lift. There have been relatively few studies on the subject, but at least one study has shown the use of chains reduces shoulder pain connected to the bench press.


Because chains and resistance bands don’t travel along a fixed path the way cam and lever devices do, they require the recruitment of stabilization muscles, including the core. Rubber-based resistance, however, offers far more options in terms of total-body fitness through multiple planes of movement.

Chains offer the benefit of variable resistance but must work in partnership with gravity. So, chains are only an option for lifts that take place in a vertical plane. Rubber-band resistance allows for variably resistance movement in multiple planes and is not dependent upon gravity. This increases the range of functional movements that can be performed with rubber-based resistance.

As you’ll see if you keep reading, recruitment of stabilization muscles also has a special effect on the hormones that promote muscle growth.

Strength Gains

We’ve already described why the strength gains associated with dynamic variable resistance workouts are far greater than those offered by traditional weight training alone. But let’s look again at a barbell curl as an example. In the initial stages of the lift, the elbow joint and bicep muscle are extended.

It is difficult to overcome the initial resistance in this position, as your musculoskeletal system is in a relatively weak position at the starting point of this movement. As your proceed with the movement and your elbow bends more, your joint position becomes less compromised and you are able to utilize more muscle to produce more force, allowing you to complete the movement more easily, or with more force, in that range of motion.

Variable resistance helps match the mechanical advantage gained by the exerciser as the lift is completed. The addition of a chain or rubber band requires increasing muscle recruitment as you move through the lift, thus increasing power demands during the strongest part of the lift.

Variable Resistance Machines

Variable resistance workout machines have long been seen in gyms and homes worldwide. Now, new devices such as the X3 Bar have simplified these variable resistance devices, whittling them down to their most essential function, while increasing the level of variance and magnitude of force involved.

Variable Resistance Devices

Cam and Lever Devices

Cam and lever devices that offer variable resistance over the path of the lift include traditional large strength training machines such as those made by Bowflex, Nautilus, Cybex, or Hammer Strength.
Variable Resistance Devices

X3 Bar

The X3 variable resistance training system is a home-use device that offers variable resistance training without the limitations of a cam and lever machine. Latex resistance bands of superior strength forgo the need for free weights even while providing higher forces, making the device compact, easy to store, and easy to travel with.
X3 Bar

Variable Resistance Exercise

Exercising with variable resistance bands is useful in strength training and rehabilitation settings thanks to the variety of band strengths and their application for both reducing and increasing the intensity of movement.

Exercises for Rehabilitation

Long used in rehabilitation circles, rubber band resistance enables one to gradually build strength and control around injured joints. It can also make exercises that are inaccessible to some, such as pull-ups, achievable.

The availability of bands in multiple strengths and configurations allows for a wide range of applications. Resistance is typically measured in pounds and may range from less than 1 pound of resistance, to over 600.

triple the gains

Exercises for Building Strength and Muscle

When using rubber band resistance to build strength and muscle, heavier weighted resistance bands are necessary. Lighter Bands may be used alone or in combination with free weights, but heavier bands used alone twist the delicate joints in the hands, wrists, and ankles, thus limiting their applicability. This limitation led to the creation of the X3 Bar.

Normally, when weight lifting with no bands, one is limited by the amount they can lift at their weakest point. For example, at the bottom of a chest press with the bar against the chest. With resistance bands, the exercise increases in difficulty throughout the range of motion, challenging the user to resist against more weight at the point in the lift where they are strongest.

X3 Training

The X3 training program requires no free weights, only the X3 device itself. This 12-week program alternates between pushing and pulling movements to build functional, total body strength. The program emphasizes the 3 key principles of variable resistance training,
  • Constant tension
  • Diminishing range of motion
  • Working to fatigue

The addition of breath control and stabilization firing sets the foundation for a hormonal environment that promotes muscle growth and fat loss like no other.

The program is made accessible to all, from detrained individuals to professional athletes, thanks to a wide range of available resistance band strengths.

X3 Program

Weightlifting vs. Variable Resistance Training

dumbbells x3 equipment

Traditional weightlifting and bodybuilding utilize a static weight load throughout the exercise. To maximize gains in strength and muscle mass, you need to go heavy, but this presents a dilemma.

If you go too heavy, you won’t be able to move through a full range of motion, which is necessary for hypertrophy.

If you go too light in an attempt to accommodate your weakest range, you won’t access the resistance needed for optimal growth.

So, is there a way around this? Can you increase the weight load at your strongest point and lighten the load at your weakest point WITHOUT changing the piece of equipment mid-set?

Absolutely. You can do this with heavy latex resistance bands.

Unlike traditional weightlifting equipment, variable resistance with heavy resistance bands changes the weight load throughout the exercise. It ensures that the resistance is heaviest when you are at your strongest range of motion and lightest when you are at your weakest range of motion.

Variable resistance offers the best of both worlds.

Building Muscle With Resistance Bands and X3

Weights are not the only way to build muscle—in fact, they aren’t even close to being the best method for muscle growth.

A powerful variable resistance tool like X3 is the ideal way to build muscle because it provides you with all of the benefits of high intensity variable resistance applied to self stabilized barbell style exercises, in a protocol that also incorporates diminishing range and constant tension.

Here’s a proven recipe for increasing size and strength with resistance bands:

Bodybuilding With Bands

First, let’s take a look at the basic idea of muscle building – something that professional bodybuilders have known for decades.

Muscle growth with traditional weightlifting protocols involves alternating between two types of training:


Lighter Weight with Higher Volume (Overall Workload)

Fewer sets but higher repetitions, no less than 12 per set.


Heavier Weight with Lower-Volume

More sets with fewer repetitions, usually no more than seven per set.

The problem with both types of training is that you are limited to the amount of weight you can hold at your weakest range of motion. And since it’s essential to go HEAVY to maximize muscle building, you miss out on a lot of untapped potential.

When interfaced with a bar, resistance bands allow you to maximize muscle fatigue while reducing the risk of muscle and joint damage.

Traditionally resistance bands allow for two types of training; lighter weight with higher volume, and heavy weight with lower volume.

Through variable resistance, bands get heavier at your strongest range of motion, providing the stimulus of a heavy weight. And they get lighter at your weakest range of motion, supporting the high-volume requirements for muscle fatigue.

With bands and a resistance band bar, you no longer have to worry about switching between light and heavy workout days.

X3 empowers you to train with greater force than you would with weight—and with higher repetitions.

Greater the Variance, Greater the Gains

The more variance you have in your workout, the greater the muscle growth.

Variable resistance provides optimal variance and force curves. This allows someone who is using X3 to reach complete muscle fatigue with higher-loading forces and yet none of the muscle damage associated with traditional weightlifting. Wait, don’t I have to damage my muscles to build muscle? The necessity of muscle damage for growth is a myth that just won’t go away.

A 2018 study the subject, among the best to date, found muscle damage is not the process that induces hypertrophy. Further, avoiding muscular damage makes the recovery process and subsequent growth, that much quicker.

Muscle hypertrophy occurs in two ways; via myofibril and sarcoplasmic effect. Both of which are most effectively stimulated through variable resistance.

exercise technique

Strength Output Potentials by Range of Motion

(Bent Row/Row Movements)

Variable resistance triggers both myofibril and sarcoplasmic effects in the same working set. The myofibrillar effect is described as increasing the density or size of the muscle. The sarcoplasmic effect increases the contractile fuel storage of the muscle cell.

If you can tap into both effects at the same time, you can increase both the size of the muscle AND its storage capacity for work.

Maximum force output potential from rest. Maximum force output potential when approaching complete fatigue, in all ranges. Force output potential of the X3. Notice, below the maximum force output potentials but matching the curve of variability in the exercise, therefore greater levels of fatigue and more resulting growth. Because later reps meet this curve, the diminishing range is used earlier in the set. Standard weight lifting, showing little fatigue ability compared to potential.

Constant Tension

As discussed earlier, it’s critical to keep constant tension on the muscles to trigger muscle growth. Why? It’s all about hypoxia. When it comes to your muscle tissue, hypoxia refers to an environment that is low in oxygen.

While excessive hypoxia has been shown to negatively impact hormone levels and muscle mass, intermittent hypoxia can do just the opposite.

Studies show that a moderate level of hypoxia can increase both growth hormone levels and the hypertrophic effect in muscle tissue.

Keeping constant tension on the muscle during a variable resistance workout helps you enter the hypoxia zone.

No matter which exercises you are performing, it’s crucial to maintain constant tension—Don’t relax at the bottom or lockout at the top. Keep each movement slow and controlled.


Training to Complete Fatigue

Ideally, you want to create a hypoxic environment, but you don’t want to overdo it.

So, where is that sweet spot?

Given the intensity and muscle fatigue with X3 resistance band workouts, it only takes ONE set to achieve complete fatigue.

When you follow the X3 system, you perform each movement to exhaustion. Since the levels of muscle exhaustion are so high—thanks to the promotion of both types of training mentioned above – we’ve found most subjects only need to complete one set.

exercise technique

Stimulating HGH Through Stabilization

Let’s do a quick recap…

X3 allows you to train both for heavy loads and high volume simultaneously. To see maximum benefit, keep constant tension on the muscle and repeat the exercise until you absolutely cannot perform another repetition. One set of each exercise is all it takes.

That’s the breakdown of what YOU can physically do to build muscle. But what can you do to encourage your body to step up its game?

Growth hormone and testosterone are responsible for weight loss and muscle growth. The best way to promote more production of both is through variable resistance training.

With that said, half-hearted working sets won’t do anything. What’s more, the fewer muscle groups you’re activating, the weaker the response you’ll see.

But there is a way to recruit several muscle groups at once during every exercise. It involves putting yourself in an unstable situation.


When we’re standing up straight with our feet shoulder-width distance apart, we aren’t challenging our stability. But stand on one leg and what happens?

Your body works hard to maintain your stability. THIS is the key to pushing your body to increase growth hormone production.

Instability activates more muscle groups than you would normally be able to if you remained in a stable environment.

Now, couple this with the idea that muscle will only grow if you go heavy.

So, if you want to optimize your hormone production—and as a result, your gains—you need to go heavy, work with high-volume sets, and introduce the element of instability.

One study found that squats were far better at activating growth hormone production than leg presses, even with the same weight.

When you are performing a squat, you reflexively engage stabilizing muscles throughout your entire body. But when you are performing a leg press on a machine, you are isolating the working muscles.

We even did our own study, and what did we find?

Demanding MORE stabilization activity from muscle tissue dramatically increased growth hormone production. How much more? Between 200% and 2,600%!

The amount of growth hormone production is determined by a combination of loading and stability.

In other words, the greater the load and the more you challenge your stability during an exercise, the more significant the hormonal response.

So does this mean you have to do your resistance band exercises while standing on one leg? Of course not. Increased recruitment of ancillary muscles is inherent in resistance band training.

How to Gain Muscle Quickly Through Variable Resistance

If you’ve been struggling to see real results with the same old cliche bodybuilding routine, you’re not alone.

And hey, it’s not your fault.

There’s simply too much misinformation out there. A lot of the muscle-building information that’s out there has passed it’s expiration date. What’s been passed from one gym-goer to another just hasn’t kept up with today’s science.

Modern scientific literature shows time and time again the best way to build muscle is with variable resistance training.

X3 is based on variable resistance, but it goes one step further.

X3 is designed to safely and effectively maximize muscle fatigue without muscle damage. And it won’t take two hours. One X3 workout takes as long as a traditional weightlifting warm-up.

With that said, talk is cheap. Results are what matter.

We’ve read the scientific literature, we’ve done our research, and we have literally thousands of testimonials to back up the X3.

The X3 Bar has been shown to help you gain muscle up to three times faster than played-out weight-based resistance training programs.

And yet building muscle is not all the X3 Bar is capable of. Contrary to popular belief, strength training, and specifically variable resistance, is also the most effective way to burn fat.

Johan Bicep Curl

Burn Fat With Fasting and Variable Resistance

Doing hours of cardio for fat loss is a waste of time. Research reviews have shown that in practice, long term sustained cardio programs lead to little or no weight loss. Looking specifically at “long term” (6 months or more) results for cardio exercisers in one literature review, we observe average weight loss of just .04 to .18 pounds per week of exercise, with no dose response relationship between exercise volume and change in body fat specifically.

Given the lack of relationship between exercise volume and body fat, it is entirely possible that the small exercise induced weight loss seen here was caused in part by loss of muscle mass rather than fat.

The problem is, prolonged “cardio” exercise, by which we mean longer duration lower intensity non-strength training workouts, like distance running, causes hormonal changes such as the up regulation of cortisol, which is associated with maintaining, rather than losing body fat, and is also associated with loss of muscle mass.

In older subjects research has shown that strength training is a preferred means of weight loss because it preserves valuable muscle mass during caloric restriction, whereas cardio combined with dieting led to significant additional losses of muscle mass.

Strength training could provide lasting weight loss benefits too, because strength training builds muscle tissue, which in turn improves resting metabolic rate and encourages calorie burning long after you’re finished with your workout.

So when looking to burn fat, perhaps the better question is, what’s the most effective way to build muscle?

Rich Ouano Before & After

X3 Bar Results

X3 Bar Results: Before and After

  • David Fish before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    David Fish

    "One year ago, I started using the X3 and I’ve been following the workout program. My midsection has always been a problem area and I am finally starting to get the results I want. I’ve done a lot of other programs with similar or even harder work, but never saw results like this."
  • Alex Naymark before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Alex Naymark

    "Since I started X3 about 17 months ago, I’ve completely transformed my body by losing 35 lbs of fat and putting on 12 lbs of lean muscle. I’m still getting leaner while increasing muscle mass. This has been a life-saving workout regimen coming from an injury ridden powerlifting world. X3 is the best workout ever designed for putting on muscle. Thank you, X3 team!"
  • Stephen Heston before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Stephen Heston

    "I started X3 at 185 lb and between 12-15% body fat. I am currently at 190 lb and between 7-9% body fat. What I found remarkable about the X3 is that I was able to add pounds of muscle mass while my body fat % saw a steady decrease. All while training MMA full time. When I was hitting the gym to lift weights, I never saw results like that. I use X3 right before I work a heavy bag, and it’s made a BIG difference in strength and performance."
  • Dan Quigley before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Dan Quigley

    "The X3 Bar has completely transformed my fitness journey, enabling me to achieve incredible results with minimal time commitment. Within a short span, I went from 197 lbs to 180 lbs, while simultaneously reducing my body fat from 22% to around 10%, thanks to its efficient 15-20 minute workouts. Not only has it helped me achieve a more defined physique, but it has also helped significantly improve my performance in obstacle course races, enhancing my strength, grip, and endurance."
  • Aaron Legassie before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Aaron Legassie

    "I stopped training for over 10 years. I just lost the desire to weight train because of the lengthy sessions with minimal results. I’ve been utilizing X3 for 8 months now. It has changed my life. I’ve lost 117 POUNDS! The program, as-is, is absolutely amazing. I have gained an incredible amount of mass and can see definition in my abs for the first time."
  • Grant Denham before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Grant Denham

    "Beyond grateful for you (Dr. J) educating the world on variable resistance and the creation of the X3! It’s all I used in my fitness transformation for exercise. I also use fortagen twice daily and eat carnivore. I’ve read your book twice and watched every podcast you’ve done on YouTube. I would always injure myself in the gym and never had consistency. Weightlifting sucks compared to X3!"
  • Rich Ouano before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Rich Ouano

    "I’ve been using X3 for just over four years. I haven’t stepped inside of a gym since then. I will NEVER ever go back to free weights again. My life, as well as my physique, have completely transformed. I barely recognize myself in the mirror, and the gains continue, week after week. Thanks so much to Dr. Jaquish for this amazing, life-altering, and life-changing invention!"
  • Mabel Fornos before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Mabel Fornos

    "I lost 30 pounds of fat in 4 months and gained muscle. My body has transformed. X3 is Amazing! THANK YOU!"
  • Caleb Demmons before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Caleb Demmons

    "I started at about 190 pounds in March. Today I weighed in at 173. Being light but strong is exactly what I need and x3 has helped me skyrocket my results and training. As a professional parkour athlete, regular weightlifting always left me too sore. With X3, I can lift as heavy as possible and jump right into training afterward. I’m never sore and I perform better. X3 is the perfect supplement to my training."
  • John Cannon before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    John Cannon

    "I had consistent lower back and knee issues prior to X3. After using X3, I have had no injuries or ailments. My starting weight was 278 lbs and my current weight is 243 lbs (I’m 6’10”). I follow the nutrition protocol discussed in the book and strive to hit complete exhaustion on every workout with good form and repetitions."
  • Mandy Watson before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Mandy Watson

    "I lost 25 pounds! I’m really short so it shows incredibly, and with the X3 deadlifts, my hamstrings got bigger and stretched the skin on the back of my legs so I have no more cellulite!"
  • Martin Vida before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Martin Vida

    "It’s been 8.5 months since I started my journey with X3 bar. I’m down from 255 lbs and 35% bf to currently 220 lbs and 15% bf. Definitely the best investment I have ever made. X3, OMAD, and carnivore has become my lifestyle!"
  • Ted Radkoff before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Ted Radkoff

    "An inch up on my arms, 6 inches down in my waist: seven months. This is far surpassed my expectations. Never picking up a weight again."
  • Dan Rodriguez before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Dan Rodriguez

    "I followed Dr. Jaquish’s protocol, and used only the X3. I lost 2 inches around my waist and my weight stayed the same."
  • Patrick Tims before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Patrick Tims

    "I’m Active Duty and have to maintain a certain level of conditioning for my annual physical fitness test. With X3 I’ve seen an increase in muscle mass and toning. In 8 months, my waist went from 35 to 31 and my run, definitely feels easier to do since my legs are stronger."
  • Keith Bout before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Keith Bout

    "Best shape of my life, and I am in my 40’s. The X3 is super efficient. Not only do I use it, but I have the football team I coach using it too. Amazing results."
  • George Hayworth before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    George Hayworth

    "The results are outstanding but the other really surprising thing for me was how X3 hasn’t aggravated my existing injuries. In many ways it has rehabilitated them. I also went from 32 waist to 29-30 waist but had to have most of my pants tailored to be let out to make room for my bigger glutes."
  • Tim Bertrand before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Tim Bertrand

    "In 12 weeks: Arms 5/8 bigger. Chest 7/8 bigger. Only worked out 10 min-ish per day. X3 is super efficient, and more effective than weight training. I am getting better results with this than with the 2 hour per day program I was on before."
  • Eric Bourgeois before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Eric Bourgeois

    "My results in a year. I am a first responder so keeping fit is required, and now I am stronger and better conditioned than I ever imagined I could be. I liked the X3, but couldn’t understand the price. I started using just regular bands, but realized if I wanted to do meaningful strength training, the bands alone were hurting my wrists and ankles. NOW I understood X3 and pulled the trigger. Best decision I ever made."
  • Jason Young before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Jason Young

    "In 15 months, I have gained 35 pounds of muscle using just X3 while maintaining the same body fat. I was always a hard gainer with weights, and hardly got any results. X3 changed everything."
  • Michael Patterson before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Michael Patterson

    "In 90 days, worked through a few lingering injuries, lost 13 lbs of fat, and gained 18 lbs of muscle, and still gaining. Since watching my transformation, 4 of my friends have purchased X3s as well. Super happy with this thing!"
  • Todd Stratton before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Todd Stratton

    "In 6 months, I gained 20 pounds of muscle and lost body fat at the same time, which was unexpected. X3 is fantastic."
  • Thomas Kilcullen before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Thomas Kilcullen

    "6 months with X3 only, and I look and feel completely different. Never going back to weights."
  • Bill Broadway before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Bill Broadway

    "I swapped over 20 lbs of body fat for lean muscle in 12 weeks using X3 ONLY. My advice for others, follow the program to the letter. Do NOT deviate, and don’t add other stuff. Dr. J did this right."
  • Brett Delaney before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Brett Delaney

    "My X3 is literally my favorite thing I own. In 9 months, I increased lung capacity, dropped 9 pounds of body fat, and added over 22 pounds of muscle. I’m now sitting comfortably around 9-10% body fat."
  • Sean Williams before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Sean Williams

    "In two months, I have seen fat loss, muscle gains, and definition. I love the accessibility of the product. My wife loves it too and she is also happy with her results. Adding to that, it has helped me in my job because it involves heavy lifting. The little time invested has yielded INCREDIBLE results!"
  • Sherry Waldman before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Sherry Waldman

    "8 months of X3 and I have almost doubled my strength in every movement. My results are incredible."
  • Maykell Lorenzo before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Maykell Lorenzo

    "I received greater gains from X3 in 11 weeks than in 20 years of lifting. I owned $10k of exercise equipment and sold it all now that I have my X3. Best device EVER for gaining muscle and losing body fat."
  • Rey Descalso before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Rey Descalso

    "With weights, each injury meant 3 to 4 weeks of no exercise and reversal of any progress. I’ve had no injuries using the X3 even though the intensity of my workouts has increased exponentially. I used to walk around at 210. Now I’m 195. I can’t believe how good my body looks and feels. More muscular, more vascular, more flexible, and looking forward to the next x3 workout."
  • Raj Jayarama, MD before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Raj Jayarama, MD

    "I am a physician and not only have my results been incredible, but I recommend X3 to my patients as well."
  • Greg Williams before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Greg Williams

    "I’ve been noticing some pretty drastic results after only a month of X3. Before using the X3, I weighed about 270 lbs. After a month of using it, I weigh 235 lbs Feeling pretty good so far."
  • Matt Schweitzer before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Matt Schweitzer

    "Best piece of workout equipment I’ve ever used. Massive strength gains, noticeable aesthetic changes in 4-5 weeks. The amount of muscle and lean mass is better than advertised. My DEXA and the mirror reflect massive changes."
  • Terrell Rainey before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Terrell Rainey

    "X3 put 20 pounds of muscle on me in 24 weeks. I am on the road for work all the time, and by using X3, I have no compromise, better results than with weights, and I can do my workout ANYWHERE!"
  • Jeff Huguet before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Jeff Huguet

    "Got my X3 in March. Been using it now for 8 months (the before pic is about 1 1/2 years ago). I’m 53 years old folks! X3 works. Plain and simple."
  • Sabian Beard before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Sabian Beard

    "In the four months since I started X3 and adopted intermittent fasting, I’ve cut from 188 pounds at 12% body fat to 173 pounds at 7% body fat. I also sleep better and have better recovery. I’ve about doubled my vertical jump for football and ultimate frisbee, and even improved my running performance without any cardio work!"
  • Brandon Witters before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Brandon Witters

    "Leaner and 30% stronger in all lifts on average. Strength gains even translate to weight lifting, though now I am 100% X3 for training."
  • Scott Blasz before and after using the X3 bar workout system

    Scott Blasz

    "I am 51, and 5’ 9. I was injured on the job and lifting weights was not an option. When I started using the X3, I weighed 247 pounds, and was 45-50% body fat. Now, 5 months later, I weigh 193 pounds and I’m about 19-23% body fat."

How to Burn Fat With Variable Resistance

A 2010 review of several studies found strength training is conducive to weight loss because it increases or maintains one’s resting metabolic rate, in addition to the energy expenditure of the strength exercise itself.

In fit individuals, overcoming a plateau in one’s fat loss journey can be a much more challenging hurdle. Variable resistance training offers the solution.

Variable resistance training allows trained athletes to safely increase the intensity of their strength workouts, hence maximizing muscle gains and activating fat loss. Loading more weight on the bar isn’t an option if you’ve already maxed out your weakest range.


With variable resistance training, the strongest part of your lift becomes even stronger, without increasing risk to joints or compromising intensity.

However, while resistance bands perhaps the best source of variable resistance workout forces, they have their own limitations. Without ergonomically friendly attachments, bands alone can put undue strain on your wrists and ankles, which we will discuss later in further detail.

The X3 bar is especially effective at fat burning when used as recommended. The energy expenditure required to maintain constant tension and perform each exercise to complete fatigue burns calories while building strength.

A range of included workout bands makes X3 an accessible mode of fat loss which is appropriate for all levels, even those who are detrained.


Fasting and Caloric Restriction for Fat Loss

While strength training is the preferred method of weight loss, it’s well known that exercise alone won’t decrease your body fat percentage if you’re consuming excess sugars which the body needs to store. A successful diet plan encourages the use of fat for fuel while providing the protein needed to not only preserve but build muscle.

X3’s nutrition program introduces the nutritional concepts you need to know to lose fat and gain muscle. The sustainable program calls for incremental changes which conveniently coincide with the 12-week training program. Recommendations include the elimination of added sugars and intermittent fasting.

steak dinner

Does Variable Resistance Really Work?

It’s tempting to dismiss variable resistance as just another fitness fad. After all, we’ve been lifting weights without significant changes to how for over 100 years. Dr. John Jaquish claims his X3 Bar promotes muscle growth at rates much greater than traditional means. So is it true?

Fasting and Caloric Restriction for Fat Loss


There is indeed a large body of science that supports variable resistance as a superior means of building muscle. A 2008 study found student-athletes who incorporated band based variable resistance into their standard lifts achieved three times the back squat strength gains and twice the bench press strength gains of the control group.


A 2015 meta-analysis of several studies across varying populations supports these results with the finding that variable resistance training leads to significantly greater strength gains than traditional weight lifting alone, especially among trained individuals.


In 2017 a similar study was repeated with elite Rugby players. In this study, the group undergoing variable resistance training significantly improved their one-rep max bench press over the control group. In addition, the mean velocity and power of their lift was statistically greater than that of the control group at 35, 45, 65, 75, and 85% of their 1 rep max.

These studies combined offer a look at the strength gains to be had across a wide variety of untrained, trained, and elite athletes of different ages and genders.

Why Professional Athletes Train With Variable Resistance

The adoption of variable resistance by professional athletes is a significant endorsement. Elite athletes push right up against the boundaries of what their bodies are capable of. They are continually seeking a means of improving strength, speed, and agility, even as these gains are available in increasingly smaller increments.

Why Ditch the Weights?

Most studies to date have focused on variable resistance bands or chains used in conjunction with free weights. The X3 variable resistance training system offers a means to achieve the same, if not greater results, at home with a compact piece of equipment.

X3 is a convenient, portable device, yet it can replicate the conditions that led to the incredible gains seen in the studies referenced above.

The X3’s steel and aluminum Bar offers the familiar grip of a free weight barbell, while the steel Ground Plate offers a grounded, stable foundation that supports each push or pull.

When exercises are performed as recommended, tension on the bands is maintained. This mimics experience of standard lifts with a free-weight barbell, yet follows a dynamic strength curve that maximizes gains using the principles of variable resistance.

If this simple, compact device can deliver the same or better results as an Olympic free weight rack custom outfitted with rubber resistance bands, why keep your gym membership or hassle with loading and unloading plates?

Can I Use Resistance Bands Alone?

John Jaquish’s X3 variable resistance system is superior to bands alone precisely because of the bar and plate set up. Using bands to provide variable resistance that can match the forces of free weights requires bands of incredible strength.

Without the bar and plate, one would be limited at the wrist or ankle joint when attempting to push or pull against the strength of such bands. The X3 bar and steel plate foundation allow for forces of over 600 pounds without compromising the joints at the wrists or ankles.

Can I Use Resistance Bands Alone?

What Key Influencers Are Saying About Variable Resistance

Key voices in the fitness and strength training community are increasingly in agreement that weight lifting is a waste of time.

Ben Greenfield

Author and human performance consultant Ben Greenfield recently hosted Dr. John Jaquish on his popular podcast. The two discussed why variable resistance training is more effective than lifting weights alone, including how it maximizes muscular tension for sustained periods.

Dave Asprey

The ‘Father of Biohacking’ and Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey was an early tester of the first X3 prototype. He recently hosted Dr. John Jaquish on his podcast to discuss the now popular product, which allows for greater muscle gains in less time than conventional weight lifting. Dave is a proponent of the X3 bar and its ability to recruit tremendous muscular forces with very little risk of injury.

Forrest Griffin

Author, MMA Hall of Famer and former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin credits the X3 Bar for the ability to maintain his size and strength without further damaging his joints, something he experienced with traditional weightlifting.

In his forward to Dr. Jaquish’s book, Weight Lifting Is a Waste of Time Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time, he reminds us that lifting is a means to an end. Unless you’re a professional, the number on the plate doesn’t matter. It’s results that count, and it’s results you’ll get with variable resistance.

Final Thoughts

For anyone looking to feed their ego and lift as much weight as their joints will allow, weight lifting will most certainly suffice. That is, until the body starts to break down.

Like so many proponents of variable resistance, Dr. John Jaquish was a life-long lifter—a hard gainer who dedicated many years to building a moderately athletic physique.

John didn’t develop X3 Bar to uproot an industry. However, in the process of performing medical research for OsteoStrong, his first invention, he was able to quantify the variance in power capacities from weak to strong ranges in weightlifting. As mentioned previously, he found that humans can produce 7X more force in the strong, impact-ready range of a movement than they are in the weak range.

Armed with this newfound data, he was inspired to create something that could potentially make weight lifting all but obsolete.

Further research indicated that X3 was capable of building muscle much faster than conventional lifting in far less time and at the lowest risk of injury.

Did Dr. John Jaquish really invent a device that could deliver force closest to the curve of human force production and stimulate optimal hormonal release, fat loss, and muscle growth for a faster, better workout than anything else available in the fitness world?

We’ll let X3 Bar User Todd Stratton answer that question.

To me, preventing injuries while being able to maintain and grow muscle is the biggest selling point. I used to get injured in the gym all the time (random tweaks and aches), and I could never lift as heavy as I needed to grow without stressing my joints at the same time. X3 resolves all those issues.

For more information on variable resistance training, refer to Weightlifting Is a Waste of Time, a Wall Street Journal best-selling book written by Dr. John Jaquish and Henry Alkire.

Weight Lifting is a Waste of Time by Dr. John Jaquish cover
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