Many people don’t know this, but long before I was a trainer and YouTuber, I worked for 11 years in the fitness equipment industry. Maybe worked isn’t the right word, as I was absolutely obsessed with finding the best home gym equipment money could buy. I even got rid of my bed and slept on the floor, so I could make room for my own home gym.
Of course, these days all I need is some floor space and my $20 Prussic Trainer and I’m set. Still, Even though I’m a calisthenics practitioner, I’m super picky about the equipment I use.
So when I came across the Bodyweight Master at Dragon Door’s Health and Strength Conference I had modest expectations. I’ve long been disappointed by other freestanding pull-up rigs and buying such a piece of equipment seemed to go against my less-is-more Delta philosophy.
After spending a few days playing around with the unit I knew I had to have one. There really is no comparison to anything else on the market.
Here are the key points I was impressed with:
Even though the Bodyweight Master is labeled as a pull-up bar, it’s actually a complete calisthenics home gym. It features both horizontal bars and vertical dip handles that adjust from just above the floor to an overhead reach. This wide range of vertical adjustment offers a wider variety of exercises than the standard pull-up bar especially those units you mount in a doorway. Progressive push ups, rows, triceps extensions, and more are possible through this setup.
The vertical bars allow dips, but also vertical grip rows, pull ups, push ups and levers. They also feature adjustable width, which I think is just fantastic. I’ve always found standard dips bars to be too wide and compromise both the range of motion and shoulder safety. The adjustable width dip bars solve this issue by allowing you to move the bars to the perfect width for your body.
Ease of adjustment is a major issue with units like this. Many pieces are pretty cumbersome to adjust so their set up is seldom changed. The BWM easily solves this dilemma with simple “set-and-go” accessories. Everything is super easy to attach and take down making any set up a breeze. It also didn’t take long to get comfortable with knowing the perfect set up for any exercise I had in my routine.
The Bodyweight Master is solid as a rock. I felt very comfortable putting my full weight on the bars and didn’t feel like anything would slip or come loose. During the conference, we all threw our hardest moves at it including muscle ups, kipping (not my style but still) and even human flags.
Comfort & Security
I found the diameter of the horizontal bars to perfectly fit my hands and the finish on them provided ample grip. I was pleased to see they did not use a glossy paint that can become slippery when your hands are sweaty. I was also pleased to find the dip bars didn’t have a rubber or plastic sleeve over them that will stretch and tear over time. I have noticed that folks with small hands find the horizontal bars to be a bit on the large side but they have no problem holding onto the dip bars which are a smaller diameter.
I love the way the bars and dip handles attach to the unit. Even though they are separate pieces of metal, it felt like the adjustable bars were welded into place once I applied weight to them.
How about suspension training?
Throughout the conference, the BWM was used as the primary support for gymnastics rings and suspension trainers. It was able to handle these tools with ease, however, do note that it’s mostly used for applying force directly against the floor. Suspension trainer exercises that involve leaning away from the unit can cause it to tip over. There are holes at all 4 corners of the base so you can bolt it to the floor if you wish.
I was especially pleased to notice the onboard storage the Bodyweight Master has. Gyms that use attachments and accessories can quickly clutter up a home gym or garage. The dip bars stow vertically in brackets at the base of the frame. The two extra vertical bars hang on hooks on the front of the frame. These were so elegant, I didn’t even notice them until someone took them off to show me how to use them.
Anything not to like?
It’s hard to find any negatives with this unit, and believe me, I was looking for them. The only thing I found was that the diameter of the dip bars are a tad narrow for my taste. I’ve always liked big, beefy bars for pushing exercises. With that said, I didn’t find the dip bars to be uncomfortable or hard on the wrists.
I also noticed there was a bit of flex in the unit when doing pull-ups off of the vertical bars. This makes sense since you’re pulling off the front of the machine and the top bar isn’t anchored to a wall or ceiling. This slight flex is a natural consequence of a free-standing unit and from what I can tell there’s a lot less flex in the BWM than other free-standing units.
Dragon Door really hit it out of the park with this one. Even though you don’t need any equipment to practice calisthenics, there are plenty of reasons to set up a bodyweight home gym. If you’re planning on building a serious calisthenics gym the Bodyweight Master should be the primary piece you invest in.