Home gym machines have been at the forefront of living spaces for a while. Still, while there's no questioning the fact that you can get a quality workout with at-home fitness machines, there's something about heading to the gym that remains enticing, especially for those that favor barbell or freeweight exercises.
Finding an at-home alternative for barbell bench presses, deadlifts, rows and more can be troublesome, especially if you're light on space — just think about housing a rack or bench in your apartment. But what if there were a device that gave you that barbell feel without the spatial requirements?
Harnessing the space-saving effectiveness of resistance bands, the Original Gorilla Bow — which resembles a traditional longbow — offers a fresh take on resistance training. The bands are stretched across the frame as a fitness-ready bowstring, and the bow — an aircraft-grade aluminum bar — is your pressing-and-pulling point-of-contact as you train.
To see if this innovative home fitness device was on-target or off-the-mark, we tested the Original Gorilla Bow for a number of weeks, swapping the archery-inspired tech for our traditional nighttime gym routine. Here's what we learned.
The Original Gorilla Bow offers plenty of versatility in an easy-to-use profile
Anyone that's used resistance bands in their training can attest that one of the most difficult endeavors is finding a comfortable, secure anchor point, either on the body or elsewhere, like a door frame. The tubed bands used with the Gorilla Bow notch easily to the ends, and we never felt like the bands would slip out of place when taut.
The base kit includes four bands ranging from 10–50 pounds, but Gorilla Bow offers other sets for additional intensities, including a Heavy bundle that adds two additional 50-pound bands and two 60-pound bands. The Bench bundle, which we tested, includes the four standard bands as well as an 80-pound band and two "shorty" 90-pound bands that offer more resistance for exercises with less range of motion like the bench press or bent-over rows.
The kit also includes a hook-and-loop band wrap that goes around the bands for a convenient brace point when pressing the bar or standing on the bands. This made it easier to secure the tubes against our back or under our feet, eliminating any fear of snapping ourselves with the stretched bands.
Additionally, each notch can hold up to two bands for a total of four bands per bow at a maximum 300 pounds of resistance. This allowed us to quickly switch up intensities, depending on the movement. The tubed bands are also labeled with their pound tension, so you don't have to remember the color-coded system when choosing which band to work with — although each band has a specific color associated with it for additional identification.
The Gorilla Bow offers effective training
Upon first glance, you might write off the Original Gorilla Bow as another at-home fitness gimmick. Don't. After only a few minutes into our first workout with the device, it was clear this was an effective alternative to barbell training. The bands provided plenty of resistance that kept the intensity high without the strain on our joints that would normally hinder our traditional freeweight exercises. In just 10 minutes, we were able to target multiple muscle groups with one device, easily switching intensities for a full-body workout that was taxing yet enjoyable.
We also appreciated how similar each exercise felt to traditional barbell training, as you grab the aluminum bow rather than the bands themselves. Squats, presses, curls, rows and more were easily accomplishable, offering a more controlled motion that's inviting to users, regardless of their knowledge in barbell movements.
Speaking of exercise knowledge, if you aren't as versed in some of the movements, Gorilla Bow offers live and on-demand classes for a monthly charge of $14.99. These classes, led by the brand's certified trainers, can help you get the most out of your resistance training as you learn and get comfortable with the modalities.
You can train anywhere with the Original Gorilla Bow
Despite coming in at over four feet in length, the Original Gorilla Bow is portable enough for indoor or outdoor training. The aluminum bow is lightweight, so lugging it room-to-room — or outside on those particularly nice days — is easy enough. A convenient drawstring bag houses all the bands as well, so everything is kept nice and tidy when not in-use.
If you travel a lot but still want to reap the benefits of resistance training, Gorilla Bow makes a Travel model that breaks down for a more compact package. While the Original doesn't disassemble for this convenient perk, storing the bow was not an issue. And when you compare it to other barbell-centric home gyms, this is definitely a space-saver.
The cost is reasonable...if viewed through the right lens
At a starting price of less than $200, the Original Gorilla Bow skews from the traditionally cheaper resistance band market. Other band sets can offer similar resistance intensities at a lower price point.
But in our opinion, it's wrong to compare this to just resistance band bundles. The Original Gorilla Bow is much more a barbell alternative that accomplishes what it sets out to do through resistance training, rather than simply serving as another resistance band package. And when squat racks and benches can reach into the thousands of dollars, not including the added costs of barbells and weights, the Original Gorilla Bow's wallet appeal grows a little more.
So, if you're looking for at-home bands to add to your training, there are other, more cost-effective options. But if you're looking for a barbell training alternative, it's hard to not consider the Gorilla Bow.
Original Gorilla Bow: The Verdict
With a streamlined profile that's simple to set up, easy to store and versatile enough for a great workout, the Original Gorilla Bow seems to be more than on-target when it comes to at-home training. Working out with this device gave us a sense of accomplishment other banded workouts couldn't, and we really appreciated how similar the movements felt to our standard barbell exercises.
We can't say that this completely replaces our normal routine, but with the Gorilla Bow offering what it does, we don't feel as guilty opting for an at-home workout over our nightly ventures to the gym.