Friday, May 06, 2016

Xtreme Doorway Gym by SMAi - Product Review

The Xtreme Doorway Gym is sold by Sports Master Athletics International (SMAI).

My Jiu Jitsu coach Anthony Lange had to buy his in a two for one deal and was kind enough to let me have the extra one. I can't imagine many people would want two - once assembled it is very easy to move between doorways. Unless you want to do simultaneous workouts with a partner or something - though that wouldn't necessarily be simple depending on the design of your house or apartment. Strange marketing strategy (unless, perhaps, they have a huge oversupply). But, what the hell.


It comes in a flat pack box. Made of steel with some rubber for padding. It probably took me twenty minutes to put together - about eighteen of which were getting around a problem with the nuts and bolts that hold it together. The holes in the steel bars are recessed, so the bolt heads and the nuts, which are flat on one side and with a curved half conical shape on the other, can go into the recesses, and also so the bars sort of dovetail into each other to stop them moving after assembly.

At least I think that's the way it's meant to work. I found it IMPOSSIBLE to thread the conical side of the nut onto the bolt. I could thread it the other way, but it would only tighten so far by hand. The issue was some sort of coating on the inside of the nut on the conical side.

I ended up threading the nuts on via the flat side, and with a screwdriver and pliers forcing the bolt thread all the way through the nut so either the paint on the thread or the coating on the nut were suitably worn away. I then took the nut off again, and then, and only then, was able to thread the conical side of the nut onto the bolt. I was then able to assemble the Xtreme Doorway Gym. It required a bit of elbow grease with the aforementioned pliers and screwdriver, but not so much that anyone contemplating doing pullups on the thing would find the task too onerous.

I had another very minor hassle putting in the two little screws holding the main crossbar together - the holes were very slightly out of alignment. But this was workable.

As I explained, the fiddling around with the bolts took by far most of the assembly time. Other than that it was trivial. I'm probably making the bolt thing out to be a lot bigger than it actually was.


You need a standard doorway with a strong architrave. No other type of door will do. It is designed for private use in your own home, and will be of no use in many commercial gyms.

The hooks go on the same side of the doorway to the door itself, and the main crossbar then leans on both sides of the opening on the other side of the doorway. You can't use it on a double doorway or have the hooks on the other side of the opening from the door.

Provided the architrave is strong, gravity will lock the bar securely in place. Especially if you are hanging on it. My architrave on the downstairs toilet door - try it first on a place where messing up the paintwork on the architrave or damaging it won't be a catastrophe - creaked rather disconcertingly the first time I tried it, but once I kept the faith, hung on, and lifted my feet from the floor into empty space Indiana-Jones-and-the-Last-Crusade style, there were no more noises and it felt quite strong. you can't hang full length and have to hold your feet up unless you have a very high doorway indeed.

Putting it up and taking it down is very fast and easy. No issues provided your architraves are sturdy.

The unit has padded handles to allow close grip chin and pull ups, and also parallel grips with the palms facing each other - I particularly like this as regular straight bars cause problems for my Jiu Jitsu afflicted elbows and shoulders. You could do wide grip chins but there is no padding grip for them, and you could not grip wider than the insides of the doorway, which isn't very wide. This doesn't bother me, wide grip chins are anathema for the A/C joint separations I have in both shoulders.

Some more padding on the bottom bar might have been useful, but mainly for protection of the vertical architraves and paintwork rather than for exercise variety.

At time of writing I have a damaged elbow and cannot hang with straight arms. I did isometric holds at the top position for 45-60 seconds, for which the unit was fine, very solid. I would not want to test the limits of my architraves trying kipping pullups, but I would never do these anyway with my shoulders - slow and deliberate is my speed at this stage of life.

The unit can supposedly act as a pair of pushup handles and be used for dips as well. Personally, I don't see the advantage of pushup handles unless you are training for some sort of gymnastics. Dips I feel I can do more effectively on a corner of my kitchen benchtop or using two chairs back to back.

According to the pack, you can also hook the unit to the bottom of the door and hook your toes under one of the bars to do situps. Not the best way to do situps according to many. Might be useful for working the tibialis anterior for your Jiu Jitsu hooks, perhaps.

What is more interesting is that you could hook your *heels* behind the closer crossbar, and use that to put tension on your hamstrings and glutes to perform Janda situps, a very tough abdominal exercise.

Realistically? It's a friggin' pullup bar. They just throw that other stuff in in the hope of selling it to people who can't or won't do pullups.

I'd give it 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5. It'll do the job.

1 comment:

scorpio said...

What a great review, thanks Andrew. You definitely do what you say you are going to do!