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Introducing the Swiss Army Knife of the workout world, the Back Widow by Flex Wheeler. If you aren't familiar with the name Flex Wheeler, let me catch you up to speed. Kenneth "Flex" Wheeler is an American IFBB professional bodybuilder. He won the Arnold Classic a then-record four times and was once described by Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the greatest bodybuilders he had ever seen. All that to say, Flex knows what he's doing. No wonder the Back Widow is the cable attachment to end all cable attachments, this thing could potentially replace more than a dozen separate handle attachments and accessories with a single blow. As the Back Widows' witty name suggests, it was initially designed as a lat pulldown back attachment, with over 15 different position variations, this thing is sure to give you a back pump you'll feel for a couple of days.
Need more? You don't earn the title of the Swiss Army Knife of attachments if you are only good for one thing. The Back Widow is incredibly versatile, working equally well for biceps and triceps work; as a pull-up bar attachment for neutral grip pull-ups; or even as a landmine attachment for t bar rows...heck, you can even use it as deadlift jack. This handy dandy little multi-workout tool is nice to have on hand. No more breaking up your superset fumbling around for different cable handles, the Back Widow is a one-stop-shop, designed to give the user the ideal range of motion. Versatility goes a long way, but when it comes coupled with convenience and efficiency it's a game-changer.
However, with all of this said, is it worth spending the extra money for an all in one back attachment versus buying them individually? No doubt about it, the Back Widow is one of the most expensive pulldown attachments on the market.
The Back Widow’s adjustments can be made without having to remove the attachment; which is a big deal, especially when you are working out in an area with multiple athletes and sharing equipment. The ability to quickly customize your workout without throwing others off their game is huge, it makes the Back Widow uniquely equipped for high traffic gyms.
Maybe, like most of our readers, you prefer your home gym or a smaller gym with less traffic. The Back Widow allows individual athletes to add variety to their training regimen without wasting extra time searching for different attachments or having to take down and set-up a new handle.
The Back Widow isn't just adjustable, it's also collapsible, which makes it perfect for smaller gyms by eliminating the need for dozens of clunky cable handles that can be difficult to store. Flex’s Back Widow is all about versatility, and it fills those shoes well. The Back Widow is designed for someone who wants a ton of variety in one easy to use, compact package. Some people prefer having 20 different attachments, others want something that does it all. This is the device that does it all.
When I first saw the pictures of the Back Widow, then saw the price, I was a bit skeptical. In pretty much every picture and video I saw that was posted, it looked like it was made of plastic. In fact, I decided to run through some photos again as well as checked every product description on every retailer where the Widow is sold and guess what, there’s still no mention of it being made of metal.
So, as of this writing, this is the only place where you will find what material it’s made of: metal. Solid, machined steel capable of handling whatever you want to throw at it.
As soon as you unbox it, you realize why it’s $300. It’s a unique idea that is made of expensive materials. In fact, the weight was one of the most surprising things to me. At 9.25 LBS it’s likely not just one of the most expensive “back blaster” attachments (their terminology) but also one of the heaviest. As previously stated, Flex Wheeler designed the Back Widow with a full metal construction and then tacked on moving parts that lead to resistance up to 16,000 LB shearing, so no weight, no matter if you row a 300 LB stack or use the deadlift jack on a 900 LB loaded barbell will cause the Back Widow to break.
One feature that stood out to use that wasn’t obvious from the pictures was there is multiple styles of knurling on the handles. Knurling is most often used on barbells for added friction to increase your gripping power, but it’s also well suited for pulling movements. The knurling on the round tubes is passive, but enough to increase your grip on heavy lat pulldowns or even cable curls. I especially liked the feeling of the knurl on the outside rounded-square grips. It was something that I didn’t notice in earlier designs and I’m glad they added it, even if I would prefer it to be more aggressive.
Really, where the Back Widow shines is in its versatility. To be honest, it has more features than I think most people realize. Here are just some basic movements we did with it:
And these are just a few of the movements. It only takes a couple quick 'clicks' to adjust the Widow into any one of its 15 plus positions. Between the ability to change grip length without ever having to remove the bar, and the easy set-up for high/mid/low range cable pulls, the Widow makes for a more time-efficient workout and is great for supersets.
It’s also ideal for home gyms that don’t have a ton of extra space of equipment. Instead of having a full set of handles at various lengths, landmine handles, and a deadlift jack, you could opt for just one Back Widow.
Is the Widow expensive for a handle? Yes, the price point is high, but if you compare the cost to how much money you would spend on the pile of handles the Widow replaces...not only is it a similar price range or less depending on which handles you’re looking at, but it’s also going to save you a ton of space.
I like the Back Widow and use it on pretty much every back day. However, there are definitely a few things about the Widow that we would have liked to see differently.
Let me start by saying what everyone is thinking, “for one handle this thing is very expensive!”
And you’re right.
At $299 as of this writing, that’s a hefty price to pay for a handle and it’s at the top of our suggested improvements list. We’d like to see the handle come in at a lower cost. However, I know how these things work. The Back Widow isn’t as expensive as it is just because they’re trying to hit margins, it’s also expensive because of the previously stated build quality, level of materials, amount of handles being sold, and the versatility available with the handle.
I think to appease the crowd, one possible option is to create the product out of injection-molded plastic such as HDPE. This wouldn’t have quite the strength or feel of the metal, obviously, but it may be able to bring the price down for those that want the handle, but can’t drop the cash for it. The current Back Widow could become the Back Widow PRO and the new plastic version could be the Classic or Economy version. We see this often. For me though, I like the metal version.
The other improvement we’d like to see is increasing the distance between the outermost handles and the connector piece fit your hand between. For as much attention to detail that the Widow shows off, this was a missed opportunity for another hand placement, unless you just have small hands.
Lastly, it would be nice if the handle was a bit longer to allow for a wider grip on lat pulldowns. This may limit some of the other functionality if done though so it may not be worth it.
Regardless, if you do a lot of back work and want a versatile handle, the Back Widow is about as good as they get.
If you wanted an individual MAG or Prime handle to replace every position the Widow offers, you would definitely save some cash by buying the Widow. If you are looking at Prime RO-T8 Handles they would be a little more comparable in price depending on the options you choose but you'd still be spending quite a bit more.
One of the big advantages to the Widow is its compact design. It saves a lot of space and let's be honest, nobody likes a cluttered gym. Back to the MAG and Prime scenario, if you wanted an individual handle to replace every position the Widow offers, you're talking about a pile of handles. Which means you have to store them all.
MAG does offer a certain 'feel' to their handles (MAG users know.) So, if you are looking for that MAG 'feel' in your cable workout, the Back Widow will feel very different. It's not bad by any means, it just feels different than a Mag.
If you are looking for more of a traditional bar handle feel, you’ll probably prefer the Back Widow rather than the RO-T8 Handles. These handles are some of the most popular today that are outside the norm and they all have merit because they’re all different. Regardless, the Back Widow feels the most similar to a traditional lat pulldown bar.
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